Story and gameplay details for Mass Effect: Andromeda are starting to emerge, possibly passed along by whispers stored inside alien monoliths created by a precursor race. Or it could be something to do with a recent Game Informer cover feature. Who knows.
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Thanks to NeoGAF, we now know a fair bit about Andromeda, including backstory, characters, and some rather big gameplay changes.
Let’s start with the setting, shall we?
You might be wondering why protagonist Ryder and co are in Andromeda in the first place. Well,the “Andromeda Initiative” was launched around 2185 – before the Milky Way became aware of the Reapers. The initiative’s goal was to send a variety of different races to the distant galaxy in four arks, each housing thousands of individuals.
Each of these ships are led by a ‘Pathfinder’, a leader who’s responsible for the ship’s inhabitants once everyone awakes from their centuries-long cryosleep. You play as either Scott or Sara Ryder, the children of Alec Ryder, Pathfinder of the human ark.
Whoever you choose to play as, they eventually end up becoming the Pathfinder themselves, even though your character is an untested rookie – a far cry from the battle-hardened Commander Shepard. Of course, the ark carrying the humans, the Hyperion, arrives in the wrong drop point, far from your forward command centre, the Nexus, and cut off from contact with both it and the other arks.
There’s some more story stuff, but I’ll let you decide whether you want to dig into that or not. There are various gameplay changes, though, some of which sound super interesting. For a start, the cover system is dynamic, instead of being sticky, so your character will automatically press up against a surface as you stand or crouch near it.
The idea behind this is to make combat more fluid, with players moving around the battlefield, not just diving out of cover because a grenade landed next to them. Additionally, the jetpack allows you to dash from cover, so flanking should be easier than ever. Melee weapons like swords and hammers will also encourage players to take risks to do big damage.
Elsewhere, powers now have individual cooldowns, instead of global timers, which should hopefully lead to more experimentation. In fact, that seems to be the focus of much of the changes – BioWare clearly want to encourage players to try everything. That’s why classes have been scrapped.
You can now 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, the game then applies a bonus to you based on your build, so you get to experiment before you’re locked in.
Customising your appearance has also been expanded, and you can personalise your helmet, chest, shoulders, arms and legs, far more than previously.
Throw in the Mako exploration, with driving mechanics assisted by the Need For Speed team, larger areas to explore and all these extra options, it seems like BioWare are going for the ‘more is better’ approach to the sequel. Let’s hope it pays off.
If you think more is better, there are a few extra details over on NeoGAF.