Not much is known about Mass Effect Andromeda. The game has been in development for four years, and takes place after the events in Mass Effect 3.
What we do know, is that you won’t be playing as the iconic Commander Shepard. Instead, Bioware is taking a franchise in a direction more reminiscent of the original Mass Effect, focusing on adventure and exploration in a totally new galaxy: Andromeda. The developer says Mass Effect Andromeda takes place far away from the events of the original trilogy, but staples of the franchise remain: you will have a new team of adventurers to work with, learn from, fight alongside of, and fall in love with.
Recently, a user on NeoGAF shared a survey, purportedly from Bioware’s marketing department. The survey, if legitimate, includes some interesting details about the game’s plot. Naturally, if this survey is real, spoilers follow.
If you can’t view the video:
The survey asks the recipient how they feel about purchasing the upcoming game, which “takes players to the Andromeda galaxy, far beyond the Milky Way, where players will lead the fight for a new home in hostile territory—where WE are the aliens—opposed by a deadly indigenous race bent on stopping us.” This is in-line with the game’s existing trailers: one shows a N7 agent looking for new planets to explore, and the other features a voiceover from Commander Shepard. One of the lines spoken by Shepard hangs in the air, “We will say goodbye, and you will look back one last time, and know that wherever you go, we will be with you.” Check it out below, but be prepared for goosebumps.
The trailer – in no uncertain terms – says our character will be leaving Earth, and won’t be coming back. This isn’t the first time humanity has left the solar system for the unknown, and the last time they did, it resulted in the First Contact War – a three-month conflict with the Turians. Around 600 humans and slightly more Turians died before the Citadel Council intervened and brokered peace. If the marketing survey is to be believed, humanity (and perhaps other races, as a giant ship is seen in the trailer) will find itself trying to carve out colonies on planets already inhabited by another species. It’s a tale as old as Christopher Columbus.
Players would have to work to secure space, either through open conflict or diplomacy. There’s great potential to confront xenophobia and seek a better resolution that what occurred in our own history with Western culture. You could seek cooperation from the native species, instead of submission. Such a game mechanic fits perfectly with the Paragon/Renegade choice system favored by Bioware. Fear and the unknown will likely impact your own decisions, and the decisions of the indigenous race described by the survey.
The survey also says players will “Experience the freedom to traverse and explore a planet-dense but seamless open-world galaxy, rich with discovery. Play as the leader of a squad of military-trained explorers in an intense third-person shooter, with deep progression and customization systems.” An open-world and seamless galaxy? Sign me up. Bioware did a tremendous job with Dragon Age: Inquisition, creating a large and detailed world. It remains to be seen how galactic exploration could be made seamless, but if Bioware can eliminate load screens entirely, I’ll be impressed. Squad-based combat is nothing new, but more complex progression and customization systems are always welcome.
The survey continues, “This is the story of humanity’s next chapter, and player choices throughout the game will ultimately determine our survival in the Andromeda Galaxy.” The fact that this statement is included means failure is possible. If humans are routed from Andromeda, is that the end of our existence? That’s pretty strong motivation for gaining a foothold in the new galaxy, and temptation to react decisively and without conscience – there may be no tomorrow for humanity.
Again, all of this speculation is based upon an unconfirmed marketing survey, and there are a couple things that make me doubt the survey’s authenticity. Following the events of Mass Effect 3, the series was no longer just about humanity – it was about life in general – human or alien. Perhaps humanity’s place in the galaxy has eroded. Perhaps Earth is now uninhabitable. Either way, questions remain about the status of other familiar species like Turians, Krogans, Salarians, and Quarians. Must they also abandon the Milky Way? We don’t know. Hopefully, Bioware will answer some of our questions in the near future.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is slated for release in 2017 on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC.