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The launch of Mass Effect: Andromeda has given gamers another opportunity to explore the stars and experience BioWare’s celebrated mix of epic adventure and intriguing storytelling. Whether you’ve enlisted for the adventure or have yet to venture forth to save humanity once more, the following essential facts will act as your guide to better understand what makes Mass Effect: Andromeda so special. From factoids about the developers to info about the graphics engine to details about the game itself, it’s the perfect way to get up to speed on BioWare’s hit.
Created by BioWare
We know this is an obvious statement, but it’s worth recognizing the company that created the Mass Effect series. BioWare is one of the most respected development studios working today thanks to a portfolio of bona fide hits. Mass Effect definitely tops the list but they’re also responsible for games like Dragon Age and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. That experience and talent is on full display in Mass Effect: Andromeda. As we mentioned above, the game to features a heady mix of compelling narrative, engaging gameplay, and incredible worlds to explore.
Linked to the original trilogy
The events of Mass Effect: Andromeda are connected to the original trilogy in an ingenious way: you’re part of a mission that’s launched during the events of Mass Effect 2 to find suitable worlds that humans can inhabit. The shared timeline means the developers can call back to events of the first three games, but the new world grants them freedom to forge a unique story. It also means they leverage familiar gameplay elements to ensure long-time fans feel comfortable while introducing new concepts that keep the franchise moving forward.
Powered by the FrostBite 3 Engine
To ensure that Mass Effect: Andromeda looks and plays like the best Mass Effect ever, BioWare built the game on the immensely powerful FrostBite 3 engine. This versatile development kit was created by the gurus at EA DICE, and has served as the foundation for recent hits like FIFA 16, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Battlefield 1. As a result Mass Effect: Andromeda is a visual feast that runs well across a range of hardware configurations. Of course, if you play it on powerful hardware like NVIDIA GeForce’s 10-series GPUs, which includes the GTX 1060, 1070, 1080, and the recently released GTX 1080 Ti, it truly shines thanks to features like 4K resolutions and high-dynamic range (HDR).
New races to meet
One of the biggest highlights of the Mass Effect franchise is the roster of intriguing aliens that populate its expansive universe. From the fearsome Krogan warriors to the intelligent yet secretive Salarians, each alien species had a unique look as well as a complex social structure and rich cultural history that adds incredible depth to the gameplay experience. BioWare mined unique personalities of each species for some memorable moments as well. Fans will attest that the two we mentioned above, the Krogan and the Salarians, were at the center of one of the most complex and rewarding questlines—involving the Genophage—in the entire series.
Mass Effect: Andromeda takes ample opportunity to introduce new cultural, political, and emotional aspects of familiar races like the Ansari. The game also introduces new races such as the Angara into the fold, and figuring out what makes these newcomers tick is an incredibly rewarding experience.
A wealth of customization options
Past Mass Effect titles featured near perfect game design, so the lack of deep customization options wasn’t much of an issue. Everything was crafted with such care, and the choices you were allowed were so satisfying, that you didn’t really miss the ability to, say, create a character from scratch. While BioWare built Mass Effect: Andromeda with that same level of care, they opened things up to let you tailor things to your liking.
For instance, you can change the look and name of your main character. While you can head out with the default profile of either Sara or Scott Ryder, you can alter the physical characteristics as well as the first name. You can tailor things like your weapon loadouts, power abilities, and the composition of your squad.
BioWare could have easily released a new Mass Effect game without making any major changes, but they wanted to give fans the best experience possible, so they’ve worked to include a host of improvements in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Core elements like exploration, character development, and the dialogue system have been upgraded with refinements that make playing Mass Effect: Andromeda even more intuitive and enjoyable.
For example, the game features a combat system that’s dynamic and fluid. While combat still utilizes the familiar third-person viewpoint and a radial menu for selecting things like weapons and abilities, things have been streamlined to let you quickly and efficiently change tactics on the fly. Your character also has access to some sweet new moves such as the ability to quickly jet off to the side to avoid attacks and unleash bursts of propulsion to gain air superiority.
Yet still familiar
Of course, for all the improvements BioWare has made, they stayed true to the impeccable formula that made the original games such a success. Huge expansive environments teeming with detail and believable characters with real emotions make the worlds you visit seem truly alive. Well written dialogue and meaningful character development make interacting with others a joy. Complex quests and intriguing missions also make every moment spent in the world seem meaningful and important.
There are also plenty of moments that will put a nostalgic smile on your face. Heading out into the wilderness in the rugged Nomad trigger happy memories of setting out in the original trilogy’s Mako. Watching the Tempest fly past a celestial planet evokes fond memories of exploring the reaches of space aboard the Normandy. For new fans, Mass Effect: Andromeda will feel like the start of a grand adventure. For longtime fans of Mass Effect, it should also serve as a welcome return home.