‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ set to go where the series has never gone before

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Bioware’s Mass Effect game series left off in 2012 with the conclusion to Commander Shepard’s adventures across the Milky Way galaxy, clashing with the geth Saren, the Collectors and the Reaper fleets. Shepard’s story was finished upon the defeat of the Reapers, so where to from there? The Andromeda galaxy.

Set to release on March 21 (March 23 in Europe), Mass Effect: Andromeda fast-forwards the game series’ universe by centuries, where the races of the galaxy, including humanity, have built three massive ark ships and sent them to our galactic neighbor, with thousands of colonists in cryo-sleep. In the wake of the destructive war with the Reapers, the citizens of our galaxy need a new home, and Pathfinder teams from each ark are assigned to lead the way.

The Andromeda galaxy, however, is already occupied. The cinematic trailer, released on Jan. 26, showcases a frightening new enemy known as Archon, a menacing, mysterious alien who is less than welcoming to the human Pathfinder team. Other hostile aliens, some sentient, some massive beasts, also await to challenge the newcomers. “Sure, we’ve been outplayed,” says a member of Pathfinder explorer team in the trailer. “The Archon is a master of his game. We’re about to change the rules.”

Mass Effect: Andromeda promises to bring back classic elements to the original trilogy, such as mixing biotic powers and tech prowess during futuristic gun battles, as well as a deep dialogue system and forming alliances for the greater good. But the game is also set to bring a new theme to the franchise: exploration. The Milky Way and its alien inhabitants were well-known to the humanity of the future, but Andromeda is a fresh start for all involved, and Andromeda promises to be a semi-open world game that encourages players to find new technology, meet new aliens and prepare humanity and the other races for colonization and setting up diplomatic ties with the locals.

This could give the game its own identity from the original three, with new stakes and new rewards for the players throughout the campaign. It does, however, revive Mass Effect‘s concept of an exploration vehicle: the Nomad will be the game’s successor to the Mako rover, which will no doubt be a huge asset in the Pathfinder team’s exploration missions.

Mass Effect: Andromeda, based on its currently-released trailers, also maintains the franchise’s exciting diversity, and not just for humans. The characters Cora and Sarah promise to be excellent counterparts to the male leads, and the team even includes a burly krogan named Drack, a cheery man in white armor and a tough-talking turian woman with a high-tech visor. And that’s not even factoring in whatever aliens there are to meet (and hopefully befriend) who already call the Andromeda galaxy home. There will also be loyalty missions (a staple of Mass Effect 2) to boost the player’s relations with these varied characters, granting bonuses as a reward such as new combat abilities or plot advancements.

As a whole, Mass Effect: Andromeda will open up an enormous, exciting and deadly new world for the characters and player alike to immerse themselves into, while providing new features such as jet packs alongside franchise staples such as biotic powers, tech trees and a ground-based rover. Together, these elements should deliver a truly out-of-this-world gaming experience this March.

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