It’s pretty safe to say that the world of Mass Effect is one that players are able to connect with vigorously. Forming relationships with characters, building up your team of specialists and taking down the biggest threat in the galaxy – what’s not to love? Most Mass Effect players can tell you…it’s a lot.
The third game in the trilogy of third-person shooters, Mass Effect 3, gained headlines when the game’s ending denied the end-of-the-series closure that players were looking for. After three games of buildup, players were finally able to see the end of the series they had put their time and devotion into – and were utterly disappointed. Personally, it’s easy to see why. As an avid fan of the series, I was happy when BioWare offered DLC that slightly changed the ending to give us more information.
When the news of Mass Effect: Andromeda broke online, I started to come up with ideas for how it could instantly be a hit with both veteran Mass Effect players and newcomers, without the need for revisionist patches.
1. A protagonist players can connect to.
The original Mass Effect Trilogy was made special by the fact that Commander Shepard and the decisions he or she made in the game would carry over into the next game. It’s clear that Shepard won’t be controllable by the player anymore, and the protagonist will be a different character this time around. To make up for this fact, the new player character must be one that players can be invested in and want to keep playing the game to control. As with previous games, it makes sense to have a character creation feature, romanceable companions and decisions that matter throughout the game’s story, as all of these elements were what made the original games noteworthy and fun to play, and got the player invested in the character.
2. An import feature for completed Mass Effect 3 game saves which have an impact on the new game.
Let’s take a quick look at the end of Mass Effect 3. Based on the size of the galaxy’s forces Shepard mustered to combat the Reapers, and which of the three endings you selected, the fate of Earth and the galaxy’s sentient species changed, for better or for worse.
While the new Mass Effect game is set in the Andromeda Galaxy and not the Milky Way, the effects of Shepard’s choice should be present in one form or another. Even if it’s as minimal as a Quarian appearing with a green glow, reminiscent of the synthesis (green) ending from Mass Effect 3, it was a huge choice, and its impact should show up somewhere in Andromeda.
3. Improved combat that balances weapon power and biotic abilities.
Previous games in the series have all had similar combat mechanics that follow one of two paths: weapons, where bullets get you through situations, or biotics, where microchips and implants give you special powers and abilities. Your choice of one of the six available classes determined how much biotic power your Shepard had, ranging from the Adept class with its inability to use many weapons and reliance almost solely on biotics, to the Soldier class with multiple weapon proficiencies and no biotics at all. It’s a system that works pretty well, but some classes are obviously more powerful than others.
A system that combines the two aspects of Mass Effect combat would be extremely welcome, allowing players who prefer to play the story rather than focus on combat to choice a user-friendly system that provides a challenge rather than simply overpower enemies.
4. More expansive worlds and encouragement to explore.
One thing that frustrated me while playing through the original Mass Effect series was the fact that I wasn’t allowed back into some areas that I had visited
before. The mechanic for some areas or worlds was they only were created for the purpose of the story, and once that part of the story had been completed, I wasn’t allowed to go back.
I think that BioWare should take a page out of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s book and make the areas more expansive for players who enjoy exploration just as much as storytelling. In addition, the only worlds in the original trilogy that you could land on and explore were those directly associated with the story (in some cases, you were only there for a five-minute mission before getting shuttled back to your ship). Worlds in Andromeda should be built for exploration rather than just mined for resources, giving players who enjoy interstellar travel the opportunity to explore.
5. Nostalgic callbacks to characters from the original games.
This is something that really needs to be included, but can’t be overdone. One aspect that was most memorable about the last two Mass Effect games was the inclusion of characters that Shepard had previously interacted with. In some cases, it actually brought a tear to my eye to see old squadmates and how the increasing galactic strife had changed them since I’d seen them last.
It makes sense, from a storyline perspective, to include characters from the previous three games in Andromeda — and not just for the sake of nostalgia; they need to have an impact on the plot in some way. Who knows? Liara T’Soni could pop back up and offer assistance in the final fight against Andromeda’s evil force. Something to include them but keep the plot moving is essential to the game’s story.
While we’ll need to wait for a little longer for Andromeda’s release, we’re still very excited for what BioWare’s newest addition to the Mass Effect universe brings. We can only hope that it lives up to expectations the legacy of the originals, and gives players another unique spacefaring experience unlike any other.