So with little less than a month to go until the return of possibly one of my favourite game series I thought I’d make a post about what I’ve heard, read and think about the upcoming title in the Mass Effect series.

I’ve got to be honest, I think it looks like a lot of fun. The tone that I’ve gotten story wise is very similar to that of Star Trek (The J.J. Abrams version), they’re explorers, they have a cool ship and they even have a view screen which they can talk to their enemies on. All of this is really cool to me as I thought that the grand scale of the later Mass Effect games kind of detracted from the personal story that they game was telling at the same time. The original Mass Effect was such a good game because it gave you an enemy to fight, a single figure that you could see and understand. Yes, he was working for a shadowy group of Ancient super beings intent on killing all life for… reasons (I’m still not sure, the explanation given at the end felt a bit flat and flawed), but Saren was an amazing villain and helped provide the perfect counter for Shepard, no matter what way you played as Shep.

This time around they’ve gone back to that classic style of big bad and underdog protagonist. e Tempest doesn’t even have a gun, so we’re very much going to be playing as the underdogs, which is a good idea given that we’re technically going to be looking for a home in a place we have no right to be in. The whole thing feels very much like classic sci-fi action-adventures,  an enjoyable romp through space fighting the good fight and narrowly winning. Bioware has confirmed that none of the main crew will die so this isn’t going to be the nerve-jangling, possible slaughter spree of Mass Effect 2.

Story-wise then I’m excited, there’s a clear bad guy, you’ve got a family unit and characters that look interesting and fresh but also hark back to the old games. I’m very excited to see PeeBee because she’s the first rebel Asari and I think that’s going to be very refreshing from what we’re used to. The dialogue system has been jigged with too, this time around we’ve lost Paragon and Renegade and gone for emotional and rational. This, for me, is a good idea. It allows for more greyness and gives more depth to Ryder. Personally I’m hoping for some Dragon Age 2 style passive dialogue where the game adapts to how you play and joins in with squad banter or conversations accordingly.

The combat also looks a lot of fun, Bioware have gone down a similar path here, mixing the old with the new. The cover system has been revamped,  the power wheel is gone and being locked into a class is no longer in existence. You can swap on the fly, be what you want and make a character that is truly your own. Some perks will be looked until you ‘master’ the class, something which has calmed me down after this system reminded me a lot of the game-breaking levelling system of Fallout 4.  In terms of the power wheel missing I’m quite sad, I liked having all of those abilities at the edge of my finger tips. But the fact that we can make several different classes and hotkey them means that this won’t be totally gone. It’ll just feel like a varied version of the multiplayer of Mass Effect 3, which isn’t a bad thing. I pumped almost 200 hours into that and loved everyone single minute.

Some people have said that this game is taking a  lot of inspiration from Dragon Age: Inquisition. Now this is where my problems start because I think that is the worst game that Bioware have made in recent years. I know a lot of people loved it and that’s fine, but for me it just felt boring. I didn’t care about the characters, the world-ending scale was tedious and didn’t really feel very real to me, and the combat was sluggish and repetitive. Worst of all though, it forced me to do side missions, which defeats the very point of a side mission. Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic was, for me, the pinnacle of main missions and side missions. There was a lot to do but I didn’t feel like I had to do it. You could complete the game by just doing the main missions and I liked that. It should be my choice if I want to go off and do something else and not the game forcing me to. Now, if Andromeda goes down this route I’m going to find it very hard to enjoy the game. It’s a RPG and so I should control what I do and when. I shouldn’t have to take a break from the main game because I haven’t unlocked the right amount of points to do it yet. So I really hope that feature doesn’t make an appearance.

The crafting, ability to steal objects from bodies and mini-bosses all are welcome additions for me. I loved them in Dragon Age and KOTR so to see them in Mass Effect would be amazing and add something fresh to the game. It’ll help make my Ryder feel like my character. Not only will I play in a particular combat style, talk differently but my loot will be mine and the guns I make will be mine. All of this screams old-school RPG to me. People are worried that the fast-paced combat means it’ll become more ‘mainstream’ or ‘bro-y’. A recent IGN interview described the game like that, comparing it to Gears of War as if that was a bad thing. Banter has been added, combat is faster but that doesn’t make this a ‘bro’ shooter. There’s tonnes of RPG elements in the game so accusations that this is a ‘bro’ game are just nonsense. Banter isn’t a bad thing. Watch some old Star Trek, they’re full of it. If anything that’s where I feel this game has gotten a lot of its inspiration. It seems to be light and fun, more so than the later instalments of the trilogy.

So, in short, I’m excited for this game. Yes, there’s a lot of bugs and glitches that still need to be worked out and with only a month people are nervous. But I don’t play these kind of games to be wowed by their beauty or to examine frame rates. I play them for their stories. It’s why Mass Effect is still my favourite of the trilogy and that’s what I’m hoping Bioware is trying for. The original game’s story and drives, with the combat of the later games and some new features thrown in. From the looks of the many trailers and teasers I’d say that’s what we’re getting. But who knows? I could be wrong.

I just hope I’m not.

Let me know your thoughts on the upcoming game, whether you’re scared or excited or indifferent. I’d like to know!

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