BioWare may have built an epic galaxy-spanning space opera with Mass Effect: Andromeda, but it’s not a purely solo experience. Building upon the foundations established in Mass Effect 3, Andromeda features a co-operative multiplayer mode that sees teams of four band together to fend off waves of enemies. Across a variety of missions you’ll be able to level up and customise a roster of unique characters as part of a multiplayer career. Intrigued? We’ve got the details.
Read everything there is to know about Mass Effect: Andromeda’s squadmates and other characters.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer combat
Among the varied booths and games available at PAX East, none was faster to fill out or as in-demand then Bioware’s Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer room. They were booked out for the entire day within minutes of the doors opening at 10am, while latecomers (like myself) waited it out in the glacially slow standby line. Luckily, once inside, it was worth the wait.
It’s a close comparison with Mass Effect 3’s surprisingly solid multiplayer of four-person squads using a variety of pre-made skillsets fighting off waves of enemies, but the details make all the difference. Combat in Andromeda is faster and more interesting. There are options everywhere - leap on top of a building to get a better vantage, hover in mid-air for an easier shot or cosy up against some cover for blind-fire? Perhaps unsurprisingly, once you add five years of development time and a jetpack to a movement model, it feels a whole lot smoother.
Cover is less of an issue. While the demo we got to play clearly wasn’t the hardest difficulty that will be available at launch (demonstrated most clearly by us managing to actually beat it), there was less of the Mass Effect 3 utter disintegration as soon as you’re in firing lines. Hang out where a sniper can see you too long and you’re going to have a bad day, but Andromeda prefers to throw complex puzzles of multiple angles and enemy types at you rather than the did-you, didn’t-you trick of overwhelming firepower.
What this means is that the new verticality of maps actually comes into play. Far from a simple jump button, you’re able to mantle onto roofs, leap large gaps and use hover - if you’re specialised for it - to gain a more obvious tactical advantage. It’s, simply, more fun, instilling a little bit of super heroics into even the the classes that don’t have access to mind magic or technical marvels.
The theme continues with powers and consumables. Far from what often felt like one important button in 3, Andromeda wants you to be using abilities and items early and often. Cooldowns are reasonable while power has been ramped up. Throw the soldier’s frag grenade into an open area with a few enemies, they’re going down in a dusty explosion of serious damage. This is the second half of the move to more enemies, more fun, removing the bullet-spongy nature, letting abilities and individual shots feel effective.
Well, at least until something like the Hydra mech shows up. This is Andromeda’s version of the YMIR, an obscene hunk of metal spewing rockets, lasers and taking an incredible amount of punishment to go down. Our first just about wiped the squad out when we accidentally set up in a corner and were cut to pieces. A few self-rezzes, one of the multitude of items used to further customise how you play, and desperate sprints towards the outskirts of the map, and we managed to split up and keep the Hydra on its toes until it went down. The second we fired about six rockets at. It didn’t deal with that very well.
That sort of teamwork is when things were at their easiest. Heavier weapons fire, like my soldier’s energy chaingun that took a little time to wind up, can cover retreating allies or allow them to fight enemies its short range can’t reach. When a wave contains snipers, biotic users and melee-focused, extra-fast alien dogs, you need someone who can take them out effectively. Then when I’m running for my life from a series of sniper beams, a Vanguard that can jump in or a well-placed biotic nova to scatter them is going to keep everyone alive.
Even the traditionally weak abilities feel like they’ve had the ante upped, taking off chunks of health and throwing enemies into the air for easier shots or vital spare seconds to reload. The move to distinct cooldowns is most noticeable here, now that even your most basic skills have a place in the rotation, and an impactful one at that.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer missions
Missions are Andromeda’s matches, and are the main activity for multiplayer. Every day new missions will come courtesy of BioWare, and each will feature special objectives. These could be things like eliminating a particular target, or obtaining a technology prototype. Such missions will only be available for a limited time, but should you complete them before they expire you will be granted rewards for both your multiplayer career and your single player campaign.
Don’t panic; these are bonus rewards only and won’t impact the progression of the story in Andromeda’s campaign. BioWare certainly learned that was a bad idea back with Mass Effect 3. You’ll need to claim victory in a mission to gain its rewards, but failing a mission doesn’t mean you lose out forever. You can retry a mission as many times as you want until it expires, which should allow you enough time to gain at least one victory. You can only grab the bonus rewards once though; repeated wins of the same mission will only reward in XP and Mission Funds (a currency used in multiplayer).
Each mission will have a pre-set difficulty, so you’ll want to choose wisely which ones you do if you’re looking for fast victories. You can also solo missions if you fancy, but it’s probably not wise to try the hardest missions on your own!
As previously mentioned, missions will expire after a set period of time. Every day new missions will be posted though, so there will always be fresh objectives to tackle. And if you’ve completed every objective-based mission, there’s always custom missions to play.
Custom missions are always available and can’t expire. As the name suggests, you can customise elements of the match with a variety of modifiers. You could, for example, set weapons to -50% damage to make guns less effective, but increase melee damage to incredibly powerful levels. These modifiers allow you to make an incredible variety of mission styles.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer classes and characters
Like ME3, Mass Effect: Andromeda uses a character-based class system. Before heading into battle you choose one of a collection of characters to play as. Each one has a unique loadout of two weapons and three skills, as well as distinguishing appearance and personality. For instance, the human male Infiltrator will look, feel, and sound different to an Asari Adept. Each has a different voice actor, which should lend them all a unique personality.
There are 26 different characters in Andromeda’s multiplayer, split across 13 different classes. Making up the numbers are a series of humans, Asari, Krogans, Salarians, Angaras and Turrians. Humans have the most variety, but the rare and ultra rare characters are predominantly alien races with unique classes. For example, there’s the Turian Havoc Trooper (a super soldier) and the Asari Duellist (a sort of rapid assassin).
You won’t have access to every character from the start of the game. Available at the beginning of your career are the six basic human roles - Soldier, Vanguard, Engineer, Adept, Sentinel, and Infiltrator - in both male and female flavours. You’ll have to unlock other races and classes as you play.
New characters are unlocked through random reward packs, which are awarded for playing missions. Since these packs are random there’s a chance you could get duplicate characters. In such cases you’ll be rewarded with points to use in the character’s upgrade skill tree rather than the same character again.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer Strike Teams
Strike Teams are squads of NPC soldiers that you can send out on missions. If you’ve played Dragon Age: Inquisition or some of the later Assassin’s Creed games you may be familiar with this type of play. Rather than doing multiplayer missions yourself you can assign one of your Strike Teams to do them for you. If they succeed they’ll earn XP and bring home the bonus rewards with them.
You can recruit Strike Teams with Mission Funds earned by playing. Each team is randomly generated by the game, and while you can’t customise them they are designed to fulfill certain roles. For example, you may have chance to hire an all-krogan Strike Team which would be ideal for heavy assault missions, or a team with night vision goggles for tasks in the dark.
You can have up to six Strike Teams on staff, and when you’ve hired them they can permanently stay with you. They’re some of the best soldier around so they’ll never die, meaning you can’t lose them even if you send the team on a ridiculously difficult mission. They can fail though, and losses will inflict negative traits that they’ll carry like scars. Should those scars become too detrimental, you can retire them and recruit a new team to train up in their place. Wins, on the other hand, will top up a team’s XP and bestow them with bonuses that make them even more effective in combat.
Strike Teams take a few hours to complete a mission, depending on difficulty, which is much longer than it would take a human player. They’re a useful option should you simply not have the time to dedicate to the day’s missions though. And just because a Strike Team has completed a mission doesn’t mean you can’t play too: so long as a mission hasn’t expired, either you or a Strike Team can infinitely replay it.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer progression
Andromeda multiplayer characters level up in a fairly traditional RPG manner, and upon gaining new levels you can choose fresh unlocks from a tech tree. While each character has a predefined set of skills due to the system being class-based, you can decide which of these skills are enhanced and improved as the character advances. Such upgrades are generally buff-based, i.e. decreasing cooldowns or increasing damages as opposed to fundamentally changing how an ability works.
Each of Andromeda’s multiplayer characters level up individually, but advancing a single character can aid your entire roster. Every character has a bonus stat, such as shields or health, that can be levelled up to provide an account-wide bonus. For example, playing one of the several characters with the health bonus stat will contribute to that stat’s overall level, and when it upgrades your entire set of characters will receive a permanent health boost.
Bonus stats require a huge amount of XP to level up, but their roster-wide bonuses can dramatically change your play style. For example, if you find it difficult to play one of the squisher roles, you could wait to level up the max health bonus stat a few times and then start using them. Over time you’ll be able to buff up roles that you’d typically ignore and make the entire roster more applicable to your own preferences.
Mass Effect 3 had a level cap of 20 for each character, and after hitting this there was no further progression. The game encouraged you to ‘promote’ the character, which basically removed them from the game and made you start afresh from level 1 with that class. Andromeda does offer this system, but since bonus stats require a huge investment of XP to level up, it’s best to keep playing your max-level characters in order to offer a continued XP stream.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer customisation
While each of the characters have a set look in terms of armour design, you can customise their appearance. Three different colour tints can be selected from a colour wheel, giving you practically thousands of choices when it comes to the detailing on your armour. A pattern can also be chosen, as well as the colour for that pattern. New colours and patterns can be unlocked by collecting loot packs.
It’s not just cosmetic customisation, either, Weapon modifications can also be collected and attached to your arsenal, allowing you to put your own spin on a character’s established role. Expect to see ammo upgrades and sniper rifle scopes among the vast collections of loot you can amass.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer challenges
Andromeda includes a challenge system within multiplayer, split into three categories: general, weapons, and enemies. It’s overall very similar in design to the challenges seen in Mass Effect 3’s Retaliation update, which in turn was very similar to the system seen in the Battlefield games. Weapon challenges include the likes of Pistol Mastery and Biotic Mastery, while enemies is split into the three main villain races you’ll be fighting. These are also graded with modifiers like bronze, silver, and gold, with completion of one tier unlocking the next. Challenges are completed by racking up points, so simply repeatedly killing one type of enemy or using a specific weapon will be enough to contribute to the completion of a challenge.
Completing challenges unlocks rewards. In the case of the Assault Rifle Mastery - Bronze challenge, it’s a new nameplate dog tag to add to your collection. Other challenges unlock more desirable things, such a random loot packs.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer maps
Mass Effect: Andromeda will not offer a season pass, and will instead periodically offer free new maps for the entire player base. It’s the same system as offered in Mass Effect 3, and should keep the multiplayer fresh and interesting over time.
Map design also is similar to that seen in Mass Effect 3, with small complexes and arena-like set ups being the building blocks for each area. Firebase Sandstorm, the first revealed map for Andromeda, has a similar feel to Firebase Giant from ME3’s original map selection, if only in the basics. If you’ve played BioWare’s previous entry and enjoyed it, you’ll likely feel right at home in Andromeda.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer rewards and loot
As previously mentioned, rewards will come in the form of random packs awarded for playing. Inside each pack could be weapon modifications, new characters, or consumables for use in battle. Consumables will be infinitely collectable; there’s no limit to how many you can keep, so there’s no need to melt them down into scrap of any other similar inventory management solution.
There are also Pathfinder Rewards, a special kind of loot that can only be earned from the non-custom multiplayer missions. These rewards are for your Ryder character in the single player. Don’t panic; they’re not essential to the story akin to ME3’s war assets. Instead they’re just nice bonuses for your character. If you have multiple Ryders (for example, you have a male and a female), you’ll be able to select which save game gets the reward.