Mass Effect: Andromeda is here, with a whole new galaxy for you to explore. As Pathfinder, it’s up to you to find, colonise, and settle the promising Andromeda system. And, since it’s a Bioware game, you can have sex with a load of new people, too. You’ve got a new system to populate after all. Anyway, we’re getting off topic; let’s look at everything we know about Mass Effect: Andromeda.
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Mass Effect: Andromeda release date
You can start paving the way for Earth kind right now: Mass Effect: Andromeda released in North America on March 21, 2017 and in Europe on March 23.
Mass Effect: Andromeda system specs
Mass Effect: Andromeda Minimum System Requirements For 1280x720
- CPU: Intel Core i5-3570 or AMD FX 6350
- GPU: GeForce GTX 660
- RAM: 8GB
- OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (64-bit versions)
- HDD: 55GB free space
- DirectX: Version 11
Mass Effect: Andromeda Recommended System Requirements For 1920x1080
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4790 or AMD FX 8350
- GPU: GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, or GeForce GTX 970
- RAM: 16GB
- OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (64-bit versions)
- HDD: 55GB free space
- DirectX: Version 11
If you wish to crank up the graphics settings, or run at higher resolutions with higher framerates, you’ll want to equip your system with a faster GPU, such as the GeForce GTX 1070, GeForce GTX 1080, or the even more powerful GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.
Andromeda also supports controllers on PC, and you’re able to adjust the game's field of view.
Mass Effect: Andromeda editions
There are a lot of different options available when it comes to picking up a copy of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Let’s start with the vanilla game: without any of the digital or physical extras, the standard Mass Effect: Andromeda edition will set you back £34.99 on Bioware’s website and Origin.
Paying extra for the deluxe edition gets you extra goodies. This costs £44.99, and includes: the Scavenger armour set, the Pathfinder casual outfit to wear outside of combat, the Pathfinder Elite weapon set, and a pet pyjak (that’s a space monkey who gets his own spot on the Tempest, like Shepard’s pets in previous games). The deluxe edition also nets you the game’s digital soundtrack and a ‘multiplayer deluxe launch pack’, including weapons and equipment to ‘kick start’ your progress in the game’s multiplayer mode.
Then we come to the physical goodies available in the Collector’s Edition. There are two variations: one with a diecast model of the Nomad – Andromeda’s shiny new Mako – and the other with a remote-controlled Nomad. The former can be tracked down on Amazon’s US store, but you might have to stump up some serious change on eBay for the latter.
Note: none of these bundles contain a season pass, because Andromeda does not have one.
Mass Effect: Andromeda story
The video above shows the start of your journey into Andromeda, so beware of light spoilers.
The fourth Mass Effect game focuses on the Andromeda Initiative. Founded in 2176 and launched in 2185 (the year Commander Shepard was revived in Mass Effect 2), the Andromeda Initiative is a civilian, multi-species project created to send scientists, explorers and colonists on a one-way trip to settle in the Andromeda Galaxy. The Initiative’s ultimate goal is to establish a permanent presence on the seemingly resource-rich frontier of Andromeda, and eventually create a reliable route between it and the Milky Way Galaxy.
You’re one of the Ryders, a brother and sister who live on one of these intergalactic arks, along with your father, Alec Ryder, the leader of the human ark. These leaders, called Pathfinders, are responsible for the people aboard their ship. After waking from cryosleep, something spoilery transpires and you end up taking the Pathfinder title, becoming responsible for the thousands of lives aboard your ark. Of course, the ark carrying the humans, the Hyperion, arrives at the wrong drop point, far from your forward command centre, the Nexus, and cut off from contact with both it and the other arks.
The rest is up to you, but first is a fight with a race called the Kett. A more humanoid styled race than the monstrous Reapers (giant sentient spaceship lobsters are so last decade), they clearly have something equally terrifying planned. They’re naturally armoured, but thanks to strong art design you should easily be able to identify their weaker, fleshy spots when lining up a shot.
Andromeda’s story wraps up as a single game, so don’t go expecting a new trilogy. And, after well-publicised facial animation and other issues, there won’t be any single-player DLC for Andromeda despite promises of “ongoing support”. Sadly, the series has been put on hold as developer BioWare Montreal were turned into a support studio, then merged with EA Motive.
Mass Effect: Andromeda universe
Andromeda is a clean break for the Mass Effect series. Whilst it’s set in the same universe as the original trilogy, this is not a story about Commander Shepard or the Reapers. The setting for Mass Effect: Andromeda is a completely different area of space - the Helios Cluster - which is much larger than the previous games in the series.
Since we’re in a new galaxy, don’t expect any familiar faces to turn up either. Of course, there are elements of the previous Mass Effect games in Andromeda to forge the link between the trilogies. Expect to see returning races - Turians, Asari, Salarians, and Humans.
The Mako also makes a big comeback in Andromeda as the Nomad. It was universally hated by Mass Effect 1 players, but the new Nomad rover is a big improvement. The Need For Speed team advised on its creation, and it goes like a bullet. It’s also critical to your survival; it can travel through planets with hostile ground, like sulfur pools and magma.
The Nomad is stowed away on the Tempest, your base ship. It’s smaller than the Normandy as a scout rather than a warship, but it still houses your crew and takes you wherever you need. As you travel through space the view through the windows changes to reflect your location. The crew moves around, too; none of that endless standing doing calibrations nonsense. Check out the video below for a tour of the Tempest, courtesy of your new salarian pilot, Kallo Jath.
As you can see, your ship is slick, quick, and stealthy. Facilities include a research lab, where you bring back minerals and technology for analysis; an armory, where you upgrade and equip weapons; a conference room, where you get plot exposition; and the usual starship amenities such as engineering, sick bay, cargo bay, crew quarters, a galley, and the bridge. Then there's your personal quarters, where you do at least some of your banging.
Andromeda's planets vary not just by obvious qualities like flora, fauna and climate, but also by their role in the narrative and gameplay that goes down there. Some are more violent and action-focused, while others feature more exploration and lore. Planetary zones may be bigger or smaller depending on whether you're intended to explore them on foot or in the Nomad.
Mass Effect: Andromeda characters
Mass Effect: Andromeda introduces a whole host of new cast members to the series. The first is our main character: you play as either Scott (below) or Sara Ryder (above), the children of Alec Ryder, the human ark's Pathfinder. You can change your first name, but if you keep the default, NPCs occasionally refer to you as Scott or Sara in voiced dialogue.
Meet the voice actors for the Ryder twins: BioWare put out a video in which they discuss their characters and bicker like a real-life brother and sister.
Character interactions are more complex in Andromeda, with the simple paragon/renegade moral alignments scrapped and dialogue wheel actions moved towards Dragon Age: Inquisitions 'tonal' system instead of a simple 'nice/neutral/nasty' structure.
For all the details on your squadmates, check out our in-depth Mass Effect: Andromeda character guide. And for everything we know about how love has changed in the new galaxy, check out our Mass Effect: Andromeda romance guide.
Mass Effect: Andromeda combat
You meet plenty of new races in the Andromeda system, and not all of them will make it on the christmas card list. Here’s what you need to know about Mass Effect: Andromeda’s combat.
The jetpack lets you boost a short distance upwards or from side to side, jump up to a higher storey, dash into (or out of cover) and so on. Jetpacks also have a dash function, so you can charge into an enemy with the sword or hammer. Melee weapons have their own dedicated slot, and there are several to choose from. The trusty omni-tool can be upgraded to stay relevant throughout the game, but who wouldn't want to replace it with a sweet Krogan hammer?
See the jetpack in action in the video above, which shows it in a more sedate setting. The pack is enough to boost jump onto the top of buildings, providing a new angle for planet exploration, or a new escape route in the middle of combat.
Cover is dynamic and Ryder takes cover as you move near it, rather than sticking to it rigidly. BioWare want to switch the pace of combat to encourage players to move around the battlefield.
Powers and cooldowns
Powers have individual cooldowns, instead of global timers, leading to more experimentation.
Classes don’t quite work in the same way they have done in Mass Effects past. You can mix and match skills from all classes, creating a biotic sniper, or an engineer with a love for heavy weapons, for example. Once you pump so many points into a certain discipline, a bonus is applied based on your build, so you can experiment before you're locked in.
Mass Effect: Andromeda crafting and weaponry
Lots of gear travels with you from the Milky Way to Andromeda, including favourite weapons from previous Mass Effect games, so there are plenty of familiar weapons and items to gear up. The bigger change however, is the crafting system. In keeping with the idea that you're an explorer, having to scavenge to survive, Andromeda's crafting system is integral to the game, particularly when it comes to combat. As in Dragon Age: Inquisition, you craft and name your weapons.
When crafting, you can steal and use technology from the Kett, who make plasma weaponry. The gun you're using affects how much mileage you get from ammo mods, such as incendiary rounds. There are also ways to maximise your combos using scavenged tech.
Mass Effect: Andromeda side quests
The Mass Effect games have traditionally relegated side quests to non-combat busybody work on hub worlds. Fetching things for people on the Citadel at worst, exploring a creaking spaceship hull at best, they never felt as expansive as they could. Andromeda changes that with a more Dragon Age: Inquisition-like approach to the way it structures its quests.
The numerous planets in the Helios Cluster need to be explored to find all their secrets. When landing on the surface you’ll need to discover the Drop Zone in order to unlock fast travel, and optional boss fights and enemy bases can be found. As you tame each planet, your presence there transforms them into viable outposts for your colonists.
Each planet has its own unique story, with side quests intertwining through it and/or the main narrative.
Mass Effect: Andromeda loyalty missions
Loyalty missions were one of the best things about Mass Effect 2 - optional side quests that flesh out the cast. Unfortunately, these were dropped in Mass Effect 3 due to time constraints, but luckily they return in Andromeda.
It's up to you if you want to tackle them in Andromeda, at least you can get to know your squadmates better.
Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer
Mass Effect 3’s co-operative multiplayer appears in Andromeda; as Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer was rather well received, it tasks groups of players with holding off against waves of enemies.
In Andromeda, each player is a soldier in a group called Apex Force. A class-based system, with different loadouts and abilities, allows you to select the right soldier for the job. The classes are grouped, and playing with them earns ‘Prestige XP’.
Multiplayer is set in the narrative context of the single-player campaign; you can even switch between each mode without quitting to the menu, making multiplayer feel an integral part of the experience. The multiplayer mode also drops rewards for use in single-player.
You’re not forced to play either mode to get everything you want from the other; no multiplayer maps are gated by campaign progress, the multiplayer mode contains no plot spoilers, and it's not required for anything in the campaign (like a good ending). Multiplayer features real-money microtransactions that can unlock card packs, but an in-game currency can also be used.
That's everything you need to know about Mass Effect: Andromeda. Did you enjoy your trip in the Helios Cluster? Let us know in the comments.