Country music and picturesque images of a planet’s landscapes and space, and this isn’t Firefly?
Nope, this is BioWare’s trailer for their upcoming title, Mass Effect: Andromeda.
As a fan of BioWare’s Dragon Age and Mass Effect series, I can’t help but feel the butterflies of excitement bubbling in my chest. But my excitement is stagnated after Mass Effect 3’s infamous ending. Hopefully their trailers give us something to clamor about, even if I do have some reservations.
Here is a list of my hopes, and what I hope doesn’t make it into Mass Effect: Andromeda.
#1 More Open World Exploration
I don’t know about you, but I miss my Mako. As bouncy and glitchy as it was, the tank made cruising around all the more epic. Not only ’cause you’re cruising in an advanced space tank, but also because of all the little intricacies every planet had. Admittedly, the first Mass Effect left some of their planets desolate and empty, but let’s hope they take what they learned from Dragon Age: Inquisition and implement significant details into their environment.
#2 Comic Hero Takedowns
The Mass Effect series has so many character classes to choose from – each with their own distinct style of fighting, and each possessing a variety of different combos to do away with your enemies. Causing an enemy to float upwards helplessly while they get damaged by collateral objects and mass effect energy gives me a schadenfreude smile. But being able to jump ten times my height and then slamming my fist down with biotic energy? Um… yes, please. Adding more movement into an attack that wrecks enemies makes every character more bad-ass and their attack more epic, as opposed to just lifting my palm to force push an enemy. No offense, Jedi.
#3 New Engine, More Depth
After watching the trailers from E3, one can easily see the level of detail that their new engine brings. Just the brief clip of the asari’s facial expressions adds a new level of depth and character. The shifts in her emotions are so smooth compared to some models in the previous Mass Effect games, going from happy to sad to frightened at the drop of a hat. Not to mention the new environments shown, each consisting of different types of lighting and shadow contrast to make the environment more stunning and more immersive. Let’s hope that the writing will be top-notch like the other games.
#4 New Alien Races?
At one point of the trailer in a dark forested land, a large behemoth flies over. So before anything, I want to say: Please don’t kill me, cause I will shoot. With every new Mass Effect comes new races to meet and new enemies to defeat. I still freak out when a Banshee attacks. (Star) Trekking to another galaxy opens worlds of possibilities for what may show up, be it friend or foe.
#5 Original Trilogy References
Not much has been said by BioWare or EA on how the original Mass Effect Trilogy will affect the story of Mass Effect: Andromeda. According to an interview with BioWare studio boss Aaron Flynn and Mass Effect creative Mac Walters by Eurogamer, the upcoming game will not acknowledge the endings of Mass Effect 3. Thank goodness. However, they did say they will make some way to leave your decisions from those games intact and have some things that will (in their own words) make you go: “oh, I remember that character.”
Top 5 Don’ts
#1 Morally Black or White
At the time when the first Mass Effect was released, it was revolutionary in its paragon and renegade choices, where karma affected other characters’ perceptions of your character and the resulting choices. However, in the time of Telltale and other karma based games, some of your choices don’t actually matter, especially when everything ends with the same result. Or in the case of the Mass Effect series, it punishes those who don’t go full renegade or full paragon without addressing the shades of grey in decisions by not letting the player do an action in the final act. BioWare’s previously released title, Dragon Age: Inquisition, allowed players to make some morally ambiguous decisions. It wasn’t perfect; it still lacked finesse in which options were available. Hopefully with the feedback from the recent Dragon Age release, BioWare will adjust how they will address the grey areas of moral decisions.
#2 Past Record?
While I am excited that Mass Effect: Andromeda will address my FemShep’s decisions and not the ME3 ending, I am curious on how they will go about implementing your decisions from the previous trilogy, considering transferring data from previous games especially from the previous gen consoles is no easy feat. Dragon Age: Inquisition tried to allow you to recreate your history with the Dragon Age Keep website. Artful as it was, it had its issues. Download times and load times of the website varied depending on the site’s traffic. Come day one of Dragon Age’s release, I couldn’t get my story to load for hours. And at times, there were parts of my decisions that weren’t programmed in. At one point, I started a new game to make sure it set up correctly and let me tell you, recreating your character model again is hard. In addition, BioWare required you to address decisions from Dragon Age DLC, which some players haven’t played. If BioWare were to use a tool similar to Dragon Age Keep, I kindly ask they avoid using the DLC and also perhaps include it in the game, so download times won’t take forever – especially on the day of release.
#3 Rushed Release
When it comes to epic RPGs, I don’t mind if it takes longer to release games. As long as the game is released in its entirety and comes to a satisfying conclusion, everything is fine. Unfortunately, video game companies aren’t on that bus and rush out games to be released before they are fully completed and quality tested, leaving a sour taste in any gamer’s mouth. And I don’t need to say any more in regards to that ending. Let’s cross our fingers that EA and BioWare will give us a fully realized product.
ME1 offered more customization than its sequel. With guns, powers, and ways to maximize my points and class perks, it made ME1 a joy to calculate the mass damages. Then came ME2, changing everything. While this change helped move along the action in the story, it downsized what an RPG is supposed to be: Strategy, building, and customization. Strategy and character-building are an important component to RPG games, and by simplifying the upgrade system or just limiting what I can do, it made me feel dumb. With some work, maybe BioWare can bring that menu back in a way that challenges players and also is formatted in a way that is easy to understand, a middle ground where action and strategy RPG meet.
#5 Class Limitations
When it comes to most RPGs, every character must start in a certain class and are limited to that class branch with all its exclusive abilities whether they be active or passive. The problem in using this type of branch system is that it limits players’ opportunities to explore all possibilities and mess around with different powers. If they had an open branch to go into different classes, it would add a whole new dimension to the game. If I could be an elite sniper with some bionic powers to help me in close combat, I would be ecstatic. Or I could be some sort of stupid combination of classes that shouldn’t even work, but they do. Of course in doing this, there is a risk of becoming OP. One way that BioWare could avoid having an OP player is to limit the amount of upgrade points a player would receive when leveling up. But we’ll just have to wait and see what they will do with the class system.
All in all, I am excited for the new Mass Effect game, but I do have some reservations. I want to go back to the days and light-years of traversing the galaxy, even if I am not Shepherd. However, I want Mass Effect’s return to be enjoyable and to follow the plot line of the Mass Effect Universe, not just exist as a sequel to cash in more money. I want an experience that takes me back to those days as Shepard but also stands out in showing me what has changed from those Reaper days. I wish BioWare all the best and while I hope they do finish in time for 2017, I don’t mind if they take time perfecting their product.