It’s getting to be that time of the year again – E3 is just around the corner and the magical tingling anticipation is all too real. There’s always a plethora of games to be excited for, but let’s talk about Bioware for a moment. More specifically, let’s get electronically hyped for the newest space opera adventure they’ve got brewing for us, Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Despite the unrest surrounding the conclusion of the last instalment of the trilogy, Mass Effect 3, the video games have rightfully established themselves a stalwart reputation as one of the most epic role-playing video game series to date. Not a lot of third-person shooters can boast such a huge following, and it’s all thanks to the brilliant developers and storytellers of Bioware, who have also given us the legendary Dragon Age series.
Though the only trailers and leaks we have to speculate from for the new Mass Effect game are somewhat vague and maybe even deceiving, we can already get a solid idea of what’s to come in the next instalment. But, before we dive into what to be excited about for Andromeda, we should discuss what changes we want to see as players and avid story-lovers.
First, to be nitpicky, let’s stop pretending the new ammo system introduced to Mass Effect 2 is anything less than a cop-out from the original system. They gave us a hella cool concept in the first game which introduced the idea of having unlimited ammunitions but having to pace our shots to avoid overheating our firearms. This gave the player other challenges to worry about, such as field strategy and party strengths. But since Mass Effect 2, we’re back to square one as with any other run-of-the-mill shooter, scrambling for ammo and having to strategize our weapons not based on the situation, but because we’ve drained out our inventory. It might be too much to ask, but it would be a titanic blessing to see the overheating limitations from the first game brought back in Andromeda.
Secondly, it has been fully and unequivocally recognised that this will not be Shepard’s story. The game is set to take place long after the events of Shepard and the Reapers, and will thus not include any previous main characters from the original Mass Effect trilogy. Which is fine. It would be silly to ask for any type of resurrection of the Shepard character or their story after the epic finale Mass Effect 3 was dropped on us like a bag of emotionally-traumatic bricks. Let’s keep it professional, and not have any unnecessary throwbacks as well, yeah? I mean, sure, it makes plenty of sense to make reference to Shepard’s legacy in the sense that they changed the future of the galaxy dramatically. Obviously, the ripples are expected to pulse on for light years. But this is a new story almost completely independent of direct Shepard intervention, so keep your fingers crossed that there aren’t too many cheap jokes that pull us out of the new story for the sake of a couple chuckles and two seconds of fan appeal.
And, in close relation, we should hope the success of Bioware’s new adventure comes with sequels of the same nature. That is to say, we should be looking forward to another saga with a character who is given multiple games, as opposed to the Dragon Age series. There was something grand and rewarding about playing as the same Shepard in all three Mass Effect games that made the player feel like they had truly earned and worked for their authority and influence, for better or for worse. It’s like, “Listen: I defeated Saren, took down the Collectors, and I was right about the Reapers. I run this show”. Bioware’s Dragon Age series, though also rightfully illustrious on its own, lacks that same weight to its protagonists if only because they are non-recurring playable characters.
For now, we can only keep our fingers crossed and speculate on so many things. Yet, there still is a lot that we do know that can be hyped. We can say with certainty that not only will the world of Andromeda be substantially bigger than its predecessors, but a large focus of the game will be exploration. You play as a space pioneer, for lack of a better term, discovering and colonising new systems for humanity. This is great news for any players who had grown to miss the multitude of in-person, on-the-ground exploration elements present in the first Mass Effect. We can also be excited for new races of aliens not yet seen in the series thus far. And, of course, our decisions as the protagonist will have just as much gravity and impact as Bioware has always given us, plus some.
Though it’s been pushed back a quarter since its original release announcement, the new Mass Effect game is just within our reach, and yet the sky is still the limit. To be honest, they pretty much had me at the Mako.