We finally learned a whole lot more about Mass Effect Andromeda yesterday (though we still did not get a gameplay trailer– what the heck Bioware), and more information continues to trickle in. Thanks to Game Informer‘s blowout on the game, and the fine folks at NeoGAF who are collating all the information, we now have a clearer idea of how the game will be.
Take the combat, for instance- traditionally the weakest part of the Mass Effect experience (it was mechanically clunky in the original game, and while refined in the sequels, the combat encounter design dragged it down in 2 and 3), combat in Andromeda looks set to be the best in the series. Among the many changes that Andromeda will have for the combat will be the absence of global cooldowns. Instead, ability specific timers will replace them. Individual abilities can also be bound to specific hotkeys, so you can press a button and queue up the ability for use (like in previous Mass Effect games), instead of having to pull up a weapon wheel and choose (unlike the previous games)- you can still pause the combat and pull up your abilities, but that is not how Bioware intends for the combat to function.
Encounter design will be greatly improved, too. The game will have a dynamic cover system like The Last of Us, and the aim of the combat will be to get the player to move around the battlefield some more. There will be less linear, telegraphed environments that immediately give away an upcoming combat encounter (though those will still be in the game, too).
The addition of the hover ability in the jetpack will also make the combat less static, as players will be able to use the jetpack to try and get at an enemy in cover, or to simply survey their surroundings. Bioware are getting rid of classes, with the goal being to allow for experimentation in combat, and a variety of different playstyles borrowing from each of the previously existing classes, but without locking the player into their choice at the start, allowing, instead, an amalgamation of abilities and combat styles. Bioware will still let you specialize, however, as you can invest points into specific categories of skills, and get massive bonuses for that kind of play style too. Investing in multiple categories unlocks the ‘Explorer’ profile.
Weapons and gear from the trilogy will be returning, and there will be more customization allowed for your armor than the original trilogy. There will also be a narrative reason for why the game allows a class less combat system- but the overall aim here is for Bioware to retain all the elements that make Mass Effect, Mass Effect, while also trying to evolve and iterate on it further.
Mass Effect Andromeda is due out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC next year.