Let’s start out with the hottest take: I *LIKED* the Mass Effect 3 ending. Granted, I played the “complete” version originally, but I did also watch the unedited version as well, and I wasn’t mad at that one either. The way people talk about the last few Elder Scrolls games is the way I feel about the Mass Effect series, even with the slow loss of the RPG elements that hearkened back to BioWare’s KOTOR roots, even down to the 3 person party and light side/dark side (Renegade/Paragon) choices throughout the game. BioWare built a sci-fi universe that I felt truly invested in, and created a sprawling, epic story that spanned 3 games and had your hero (The Shepard) saving the galaxy from an ancient evil. The characters and relationships forged throughout the games I remember fondly even to this day.
Now, five years since the release of the last game, EA & BioWare are FINALLY set to release the next game in their Mass Effect “Universe” subtitled Andromeda. The game is set in a completely different galaxy (hence the subtitle) and has you assuming the role of someone called a Pathfinder who was who was sent on a mission to colonize the galaxy after the events of Mass Effect 2. This allows them to use all the races/classes/tech I’ve become familiar with but also since the game is set so far away in both space and time (approx. 600 years after the first 3 games) it allows them to tell an entirely new story. It’s a bid sad that you can still only play a human character, especially since other BioWare games in the past (Dragon Age for example) have allowed you to play something else. It would be nice to see the game as an Asari or even a Krogan, but I’m still hopeful they have a plan here.
From a gameplay perspective, it seems the game continues the move into a 3rd person action game as opposed to an RPG with action elements, and that’s the most worrying thing for me. I enjoyed the tactical/methodical approach I could take in any encounter, and from the footage they’ve released it seems like it’s less about careful positioning and strategy and more “run & gun” which would be a shame. Heck, I’m one of the few people who used the damm Kinect in Mass Effect 3 to issue commands to my squadmates (one of the few things that the Kinect did well).
Also, the concept of “classes” appears to be gone in this game, as the brief video here shows, and I’m torn on this, since I liked the fact that I had to make a choice about my playstyle up front, but also this meant that certain members of my crew were superfluous as they had my same skills and thus ended up on the Normandy for a majority of the game. I’m hoping that I’m wrong here, but we’re pretty close to release now and details about the game are still pretty unknown, other than there’s apparently a jetpack now. Also, the Mako is back (I don’t care if they call it something else, it’s a damn MAKO).
In the end though, the Mass Effect series will live and die by it’s story and characters, and so far the series hasn’t disappointed. It will be interesting however to see if their storytelling/characterization holds up since the last game released in 2012 and there have been some games which have set a new bar for how game stories can be told [insert obligatory Witcher 3 praise here]. With the departure of the 2 founders, it will be a true test of the studio’s ability to deliver the quality game I’ve come to expect from them. I’m supremely hopeful, but it’s more of a reserved optimism rather than the fervent desire I had during the original trilogy.