Team 17, publisher of games like Worms and the upcoming Yooka-Laylee, has announced a new "mix of roguelike shooter, base building and survival" titled Genesis Alpha One.
The game's debut trailer shows off how those disparate elements come together to create a coherent sci-fi thriller. As you build your base through an isometric interface, you'll discover aliens aboard your newly-built station, which means you'll have to take care of them yourself or build limited-use defenses to help you out. With this being a roguelike and all, proving yourself fit to be one of the last remnants of mankind will likely be no easy task.
The trailer also hints a few story details, such as computers determining that in order to save mankind, you'll have to build "a new one." Whether that means repopulating the planet or creating a new species is unclear. The game does not currently have a release date, but will be coming to both consoles and PC.
BioWare has released a new trailer, presented as an in-universe training video, that breaks down the sorts of weapons and powers you can use in Mass Effect Andromeda. The trailer's narrated by squadmate Liam and you can watch the whole right here, getting the lowdown on guns, special ammo, and even swords:
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Be sure to check out our hands-on preview of the game as well as 50 details we noticed during the hands-on. You can also check out all our cover story content about the game by clicking on the banner below.
DotEmu is bringing back a pretty deep cut, with the remastered version of the Sega Master System game Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. The game, now called Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap, features an impressive new hand-drawn art style, but developer Lizardcube is going the extra mile for retro fans. A new trailer shows just how far they're willing to go.
You can swap between the new visuals and the original 8-bit style at the press of a button. The screens above and at bottom show the same level in both formats. Take a look at the clip below for more examples.
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Best of all (at least, if you still have your copy of the original), you'll be able to put in the passwords you wrote down when the game first launched. You see, back in the day, games didn't necessarily have the ability to save your progress. Instead, you'd have to go to a special screen and write down a series of seemingly random characters. When you put them back in later, you'd be right back where you – wait, where are you going?
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch this spring.
When it comes to ambition, it's impossible to fault Ride 2. It seeks to combine the thrill of riding a motorbike--that sense of exhilarating exposure that comes from hurtling across tarmac without the insulation inherent to sitting in a car--with the form and depth of the likes of Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport.
It's an admirable goal, an attempt to give bike lovers the same kind of exhaustive outing that car nuts have been spoilt with for years. And considering developer Milestone had the original Ride to gain experience and test the design philosophy, it's more than reasonable to expect this sequel to offer something slick and highly tuned.
Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Ride 2 stutters at first gear and that awkward first spin off the line plagues the rest of the journey.
One of the great achievements of both Forza and Gran Turismo is that they instil a sense of aspiration among their players. We want to move through the ranks, to earn cash and unlock new vehicles. These games tempt us to learn new skills and put them to the test across new tracks and against more accomplished opponents, online and off. This aspirational drive provides the motivation for self-improvement and when we're rewarded for achieving as much we feel good about ourselves. The cycle of effort, reward, and satisfaction is in place.
Ride 2 offers only the effort portion of this cycle thanks to a series of mishaps that consistently undermine your time spent with it. A uninteresting presentation results in muted enjoyment at every turn, the in-game financial model forces you to grind through your career in the most restrictive, stilted manner possible, and despite the huge number of available bikes it doesn't take long for a sense of repetition to rise to the surface.
Individually, none of Ride 2's problems are drastic enough to be game breakers. In unison, however, their collective impact is impossible to overlook.
The in-helmet camera is just one example of an admirable goal being poorly executed. Racing from this perspective is fine when you're travelling in a straight line, but as soon as you make even the slightest attempt to turn your entire view is warped in such a way as to create an unwelcome and unforgivable disconnect between what your brain expects and what your eyes are telling it.
Your helmet stays static and straight, even as your bike--visible at the bottom of the screen--leans into and out of corners. This has the effect of making it feel as though you, as the rider, exist in a completely separate space to your bike and you soon develop a distrust of the visuals as a means to communicate whether you should be heavier or lighter on the analogue stick. Not ideal for a game with simulation ambitions.
World Tour is where most of the single player content is stored, its combination of events and challenges tied into a system of earning money in order to upgrade and purchase new bikes. It's a straightforward affair of the kind that has been seen many times before, but it's the way its finer points work (or don't) that prevents it from satisfying.
Upon completing the game's initial tutorial you're asked to choose your first bike from a small selection of different kinds, from dirt to road bikes. From there you move on to choose which event you're going to enter as the first of your career, but there's no indication as to what your selected bike is eligible for until you're deep into the multitude of menu layers.
Couple this with an excessive number of loading screens and you're left with an initial user experience that does everything to convince you to stop playing before you've even started to compete. The dreadful voiceover that plays over the World Tour intro video offers little in the way of charm, either, as does the soulless shop housing new bikes.
Individually, none of Ride 2's problems are drastic enough to be game breakers. In unison, however, their collective impact is impossible to overlook.
Acquiring new bikes is essential to progression and engaging in the potential for diversity that such a broad range of vehicles allows. The problem here is that new bikes are not cheap in comparison to earnings for winning races, and your initial hardware doesn't keep up with the competition for long. As such, you soon find yourself racing like a menace in order to give yourself a chance at a podium finish and lining your bank account with enough coin to give yourself a sporting chance.
Simply, the fact that you can race so angrily and aggressively works to undermine the core structure of Ride 2 and its attempts at being the real riding simulator. Cutting off opponents to slow them down, purposefully hitting into them when entering corners and using them as a tool to improve braking all works once you've grasped the physics model. Of course, you don't have to engage in any of this but its mere existence is enough to break your suspension of disbelief and cause you to question whether you're playing an arcade game in simulator clothing.
When you're out in front and given free track to race through things do feel energetic in a realistic, interesting way, and you're motivated to improve your skills. As soon as you're surrounded by competitors, though, the experience devolves into something closer to stock car racing.
You can earn greater financial rewards by increasing the difficulty, but ramping up the AI to its most challenging setting equates to only a five per cent boost in earnings. It's tempting to simply compete against opponents on 'Very Easy' in order to quickly gain enough financial power to buy the kinds of equipment suitable for the tasks levelled at you. Thereafter you can stop worrying about money and race on the difficulty that's right for you.
But this turns Ride 2 into an exercise of grinding through the easiest and least interesting of races until you reach that tipping point whereby you can begin to play as you always intended. The financial formulas underpinning World Tour need serious attention in order to work properly and allow for the kind of personalised approach that other games using this sort of career progression allow for.
Multiplayer is more engaging in that you can bypass those elements that force you to grind your way to a healthy bank account and lock you into a repetitive structure. Here Ride 2 shines slightly brighter, but proceedings only ever reach mediocre entertainment thanks to a physics engine that is not realistic enough to pass for a simulation and not filled with enough simple joy to be an arcade experience. As such you never feel totally convinced that you should dedicate yourself to racing as you would in reality or whether you should be pushing to achieve crazy, impossible feats. This lack of definition is not welcome in the competitive world of online racing.
Just as you try to focus yourself online to one playstyle or the other, you're either thrown off your bike due to being knocked into during a corner turn or you finish last thanks to being too diligent and professional by making sure you avoid contact altogether. At every corner you're reminded that this is a game that doesn't really know how to refine the details of the avalanche of content it offers in the form of tracks and bikes.
Simply, Ride 2 doesn't make a convincing case for more motorcycle games to be produced. Yes, it is a genre that is underrepresented in comparison to its car-based siblings, but the level of expected quality across racing games as a whole is so high that anything other than an outstanding release is impossible to recommend.
On paper, then, Ride 2 is an exciting proposition that bundles the promises of aspirational game design with the raw power and fun associated with motorbikes. Unfortunately, those promises are broken and the resulting game falls flat. Unless you're so enamoured with two-wheeled machines that you simply can't help but pick yourself up a copy, you should wait for a new contender to try its hand at delivering a biking game of this scope.
The most recent addition to the game is a Dyrwoodan sloop called the Defiant. This ship not only acts as players' base of operations to interact with party members, but also allows them to freely navigate and explore the world. Aided by a new world map, players can now enjoy a more open-world experience as they sail around the Deadfire Archipelago, discovering uncharted islands and stumbling onto special ship-related events.
As the trailer shows below, players can also customize and upgrade their ship. Sails can be changed to reflect players' alliances, the Defiant's hull can be repainted, and the cannons can be improved for more power in combat.
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With this announcement, Obsidian has also revealed several new stretch goals related to the game's new seafaring content. The first two of these goals, which add new ship upgrades and more islands to explore along with more language options, have already been met. If the $4 million goal is reached, players will gain the ability to purchase or even steal new ships.
The Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig campaign ends February 24 at 5 pm PST.
For more information about the crowdfunding project, check here. You can also read Matt Miller's review of the original Pillars of Eternity game here.
NetherRealm Studios continued its recent string of Injustice 2 reveals with a new trailer showcasing some of the fighting game's cinematic story mode. This trailer is the first major look at the story, and manages to fit an awful lot into its brief runtime.
In the trailer, we see Batman and Robin working together, as well as Batman trying to reason with a newly liberated Superman before inevitably coming to blows. Later, players get their first look at Cyborg battling Blue Beetle in a facility that looks similar to the one Superman is being held in. It's too early to tell for certain, but if his character retains the same allegiance to Superman as in the first game, he could be partially responsible for the Man of Steel's escape. At this time, it's unknown if Cyborg is playable, as only a few moments of gameplay involving him are present here. It wouldn't be the first time NetherRealm has featured a non-playable character in story mode, as Sindel, Baraka, and Rain all made appearances in Mortal Kombat X's narrative and were never made playable.
You can watch the trailer below.
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NetherRealm also showed off a new piece of art, depicting an embattled Superman struggling against the combined efforts of Catwoman, The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Harley Quinn.
You can watch the last Injustice 2 trailer, which revealed gameplay for Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and more, here.
The ability of some of the aliens in Prey to mimic environmental objects and surprise you is unnerving. But, it's also useful when you learn how to use this power yourself.
The latest trailer for the game showcases how handy this ability is, and some of the objects in the game you can use it on. You may start with teapots and toilet-paper rolls, but later on you'll be mimicking more impressive objects such as turrets and robots.
Prey comes out on May 5 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
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For more on Prey, take a look at the first hour of the title and click on the banner below to check out our cover-story hub of exclusive content.
At a recent preview event hosted by EA and BioWare, we got the chance to play sections of Mass Effect Andromeda. After the play session, we also sat down to chat with producer Mike Gamble about the legacy of the series, the love for its characters, and what fans can expect from (and after) Andromeda.
Game Informer: Mass Effect Andromeda was pitched to the public as a standalone game apart from the trilogy. What have been some of the challenges in breaking away from the first three games to create something that has to stand on its own legs while respecting the legacy of what came before? There have been a few definitely. So moving away from the Unreal engine to Frostbite, there’s been a lot of tech and engineering around that, which took us some time to do. Frostbite allows us to do some cool things, which we couldn’t do before.
In terms of the trilogy itself, we have a lot of fans who love a lot of characters – whether it’s Liara, Javik, Garrus – they’ve grown to love these characters over a decade nearly. Starting out with a new game and introducing new characters, you have to make the characters interesting from day one, make sure they’re fun to romance and get to know. That was a focus for us because we don’t have the inheritance of 10 years of being with these characters.
The story as well. We wanted to do something fresh and new in Andromeda and to do that from the ground up just means we have to make it so new players don’t feel ostracized at all. If they don’t understand what a Turian is, it doesn’t matter. All that kind of stuff, we have to build into it, but at the same time we have to build in things for existing fans. So bringing all these things together is probably the biggest challenge.
For us, it’s not only “let’s make a new Mass Effect game in Frostbite,” but also, “how can we take Mass Effect back to its roots and make it the game we’ve always wanted to ship. So you’ve got the open exploration planets, you’ve got critical path stories with characters, but you’ve also got a lot of side content to do in the game. It’s the biggest game we’ve got.
What makes the new cast stand out? It depends on the character, honestly. They’ve all got their quirks, their idiosyncrasies, and luckily we’ve been able to build on a decade of knowledge and building that knowledge of the franchise in order to make them cool.
PeeBee, for example, is bubbly and whimsical and wants to give the impression that she really ties into the exploration mission. And Vetra, first of all she’s very organized, very logistical – the person who keeps the wheels on.
So she’s Ship Mom? [Laughs] Yeah she’s kind of Ship Mom. And then we’ve got Drack, who’s older than any Krogan we’ve ever had, wisdom way beyond his years, he’s seen some stuff. He’s been in the Milky Way and he’s been around and he can bring that knowledge to Andromeda. Having that narrative of the trilogy to build these characters on really does help. Returning players know what Krogans are and who Wrex and Grunt were, so they can say, “oh, this is how [Drack] is cool and new.”
The squad rounds itself out nicely. We haven’t introduced everyone yet, but when do I think players will be like, “Oh yes, there’s ship mom, there’s old and wise, angry Krogan guy,” and so on.
We’ve seen fans get really hyped up over Mass Effect and Dragon Age characters before, but it also feels like fandom has reached its zenith in the past year with the likes of Overwatch. Do you think the characters of Andromeda will hit that level of fever pitch? I hope so! I really hope so. I mean, you want these characters to get a life of their own and then we build on that. For example, Garrus in the first Mass Effect was not Garrus in Mass Effect 3; we grew him with the players and we hope to do that with these characters as well.
So is there a hardcore defense force for the Mako at BioWare? Some people like the Mako, some people like that it’s an attack vehicle, but it didn’t work for this game because we have massive planets and we have to be quick. I mean, some people like the way the Mako handled, but let’s say that most people didn’t so we had to do something about it or we’d be in trouble.
So the Nomad is the response to that. It’s quick. It’s agile. It can go around planets quickly.
The planets in the game are all crafted, not procedurally generated, correct? That’s right. No procedural generation.
No Man’s Sky was the center of quite a bit of controversy because of its planets and how many people felt there was nothing to do on them. Is the team nervous about how players will react to planetary exploration, if they’ll feel that these planets are huge but have nothing to do on them? I mean, all they have to do is play it, really. People can come in with preconceived notions that they have because of other games they’ve played, but once they come in, play it, and see how the narrative ties in and once they see the gameplay stuff they can do on the planets, once they see how the planets have been hand-crafted – I think all those concerns will be addressed.
If someone mainlines the story, how long will it take them? We don’t talk times, but this is certainly larger than any other Mass Effect game. The critical path is larger. The side content is certainly larger. You’d be hard pressed to find any Mass Effect experience that didn’t take longer than this one.
Video game series seem to escalate, in terms of action, as they go on. Gears of War did it, as did Resident Evil, and it seems Mass Effect is doing it now as well. Is Andromeda a de-escalation for the series? I’d say the scope of the story is tighter. Mass Effect has always had these epic threads. Andromeda still has that, but we wanted to tell a focused story, a story of explorers, a story of coming to a new galaxy and being the alien, basically.
And call it what you want but it is definitely a more central, a more grounded story. So you’ve got the story aspect and the exploration aspect, and I do harken those things back to the first Mass Effect. That was a game that was about becoming the first human Spectre or wandering into the Citadel and thinking, “wow.” We want to try and capture that again with Andromeda, so it’s less about a fight against the Reapers or a threat and more about, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we just decided as a species to go to Mars.”
So much of the appeal for the original series was tied into having one character and going on a journey with that one character for three games across a number of years. Will Andromeda remain its own self-contained story or will there be a continuation? Honestly, it’s impossible for us to say that right now. We don’t know how many people are going to fall in love with the Ryders. There are definitely stories we want to tell that are related to this story, there’s definitely continuation, escalation, a metastory that ties everything together. But it’s too early to say whether it’s going to be one of the Ryders. What I don’t want to do is tie players into… “Well, if you don’t know what happened with the first one, you have to play the first one to understand the second.” We have to do better at that because that’s isolating for certain people, but at the same time we have to maintain character continuity and choices and all that kind of stuff. And I’m not saying we have to import anything at all or anything like that. What I’m saying is the Helius cluster is a living thing; things are happening in it, decisions are being made, and we have to make sure we reward players for that.
If you want more Andromeda coverage, you can check out my impressions from the time I spent with the game here or our cover story hub by clicking on the banner below.
I recently had the chance to play three hours of Mass Effect Andromeda. If you want in-depth impressions, you can find those here. However, there were also A LOT of details I noticed as a fan of the series that I thought were worth collecting, so here they are. All 50 of them.
1. Since our protagonist, Ryder, doesn’t have a military background like Commander Shepard, the character creator has a plethora of customization options for face and hair. Want a character with a pink mullet? Go for it.
2. You are not locked into classes like you were in the original trilogy. The training you choose at the beginning of the game just gives you a boost in certain skills.
3. The training options you can select are as follows: Security, Biotic, Technician, Leader, Scrapper, and Operative.
4. Outside of your player character, you’ll also be able to customize the look of your twin, who will play a large part in the story, according to BioWare.
5. We didn't see Ryder's father get customized, though BioWare mentioned during our cover story that would be an option. That doesn't mean that option isn't in the final version of the game, or some variation of it, but I didn't see it in action.
6. Before you get into the game proper, you can choose the gender of the Shepard you played in the original trilogy and it will affect Andromeda’s story somehow.
Combat And Loadouts
7. Enemies are still bullet sponges and the guns feel kind of weak as a result, but the powers you can use during combat are fierce and made me feel powerful.
8. Squadmates seem as, or more, competent as they were in the first three games, hurling their special attacks at foes and laying down cover fire.
9. Weapons from the original trilogy return, including the M-8 Avenger and M-96 Mattock.
10. As far as biotic powers go, old favorites like Pull and Stasis are back. However, there are new powers as well, including one that lets you pick enemies up and throw foes into each other.
11. Elemental ammo (fire, cryo) is no longer a power you can select, but instead a consumable item you find. Each use gives you three clips of elemental ammo before you switch back to normal rounds.
12. Certain enemies you come across can kill you in one hit (hi, yes, this happened to me).
13. The Kett look a lot like The Collectors from Mass Effect 2 and fight like them. I didn’t get any details about their background or motives during my gameplay demo.
14. The armor you wear out in the field is also customizable. You can customize it on your ship.
15. You can upgrade your weapons using a workbench on the ship; you cannot upgrade or modify them out in the field.
16. You can loot boxes for crafting materials and ammo, and the interface looks like a more streamlined version of the looting menu from the first game.
17. Putting a scope on your weapon forces your perspective into first-person mode whenever you aim instead of the typical over-the-shoulder view.
18. The jetpack Ryder wears not only lets you jump to hard-to-reach places, it also has combat functionalities. For example, you can make an enemy levitate helplessly in midair with a biotic blast and then leap toward them and unleash a devastating melee attack that sends them spinning into space.
19. You can combine your powers to do critical combo-specific damage to your enemies, like trapping a foe with a biotic power and then hitting him with a grenade or concussion round.
20. All enemies have life bars over their heads. I could not turn off the life bars in the options menu.
21. In addition to finding and adding firearms to your loadout, there are a variety of melee weapons you can switch between and use, including the fan-favorite Omni-blade from Mass Effect 3.
22. The autosave points seem generous, often restoring me back to a minute or two before Ryder died.
23. The skill tree is massive, granting you access to a number of powers you can mix and match during the course of the game to create different character loadouts for different situations. I mostly stuck to a mix of biotic/tech powers that let me disable enemy functionality and hurl them across landscapes, but it was clearly only a taste of what is available.
24. The Paragon/Renegade binary has been done away with. Instead, Andromeda opts for a more open-ended dialogue system that’s intended to let you build a complex character.
25. Interrupts aren’t gone but they’ve been retooled as "Impulse Actions." I didn't get to see or execute any Impulse Actions during my playthrough.
26. Before venturing out into the planet’s badlands, I explored a station on the planet that had a strong Mos Eisely vibe, populated with scrappers and pirates.
27. One sidequest I didn’t pursue (because of time constraints) would have had Ryder investigating a murder in the station.
28. The main quest on the station involved me having to interrogate a prisoner for the location of an item. I first had to get past his captor, who let me interrogate the prisoner on the condition I let the captor kill him shortly afterward. I could have contested that condition and been noble, but I decided to play my Ryder as a cold, calculating individual who will get her mission done at any cost. It was a branching segment that felt very in line with the sorts of side quests Mass Effect had in the first two games.
29. I didn’t hear Shepard’s name mentioned once during my preview time.
30. I didn’t see any Drell, Hanar, or Quarians. That doesn't mean they're not in the full game, of course, but I didn't see them at all during my preview.
31. The transition sequence of your ship flying to your destination and docking that was a mainstay in the first three games is still here. I saw a fair bit of the Tempest flying and docking.
32. On the Tempest, there’s a war room where you and your squadmates meet to discuss main storyline missions as well as sidequests much like the comm room in Mass Effect 2.
33. The Tempest feels a good bit larger than The Normandy.
34. The Nomad controls a lot like the Mako but less rubbery. You don’t bounce. Sorry, bounce fans.
35. For mountains and inclines, the Nomad has a second mode you can shift into that lets you scale them.
36. The Nomad didn’t have any turrets or projectile-based weaponry I could use, but it sure could run enemies over.
37. While in the Nomad, you can return to The Tempest at nearly any time by holding down the Evacuation button for a few seconds.
38. Doors take a long time to open. No, really. I often found myself holding the action button for 2-3 seconds waiting for a door to slide open. It might sound like a small thing, but it got annoying when I had to pass through two doors near each other.
39. The planet I explored had a varied environment, with plenty of floral life and nice environmental touches like geysers, as well as different kinds of wildlife roaming the plains.
40. Like previous Mass Effect titles, crewmates and squadmates are sectioned off into their own rooms and you can go visit them.
41. You can customize the clothes that Ryder can wear. I switched between a nice suit and a leather jacket complete with a scarf she could wear around her neck.
42. Vetra, the Turian squadmate, is rad.
43. The pilot of The Tempest is a Salarian named Kallo. In the brief scene I saw with them, they seemed a bit more concentrated and serious than Joker was in the original trilogy.
44. I could flirt with every squadmate I came across on the ship (Vetra, Liam, Jaal). That doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship can be born out of all of these during the course of the game, since in Mass Effect 2 Samara shuts you down after you flirt with her, but I did flirt with them.
45. I found the conversations I had with my squadmates to be just as engrossing and confessional as the ones from the original trilogy.
46. There are collectibles littered around the planets you explore that give you insight into the motives and beliefs of a certain other character in the game.
47. The clunky (but also somewhat endearing) animations that have been part of BioWare’s recent games are still here, especially when a character expresses frustrations by waving their hands about.
48. SAM (Simulated Adaptive Matrix) is the Andromeda-equivalent of EDI. He’s an A.I. that eventually bonds with your brain and becomes a part of you. When he isn’t functioning as your HUD or informing you about your environment, you can have philosophical discussions with him about existence.
49. I got a glimpse of the big baddie, The Archon, but he just stood there menacingly for a bit and I didn’t get any details about what he wants, though the Kett’s plans seem to involve terraforming or mining planets for their resources.
50. Party chatter is back. While I drove around in the Nomad, party members would talk about their lives before the Andromeda Initiative in conversations that ran the gamut from amusing to downright sad.
For more on Andromeda, you can check out my in-depth preview of the slice of game I got to play here. You can also check out our cover story hub by clicking on the banner below.
The newest, hotly anticipated Mass Effect game is here in little over a month and I recently had the chance to play a slice of the game. I played through the opening mission and then a section from the middle of the game, where I had almost complete access to my squadmates, powers, and TheTempest, the ship that functions as your base in the game.
I admit that I sat down to play Andromeda with much trepidation. Mass Effect 2 is, after all, my favorite game of all time. Seeing BioWare in the unenviable position of having to carry the series in a new direction while also upholding the legacy of the series had me wondering if the developer could pull it off. Now, with three hours of the game under my belt, I feel pretty excited about Andromeda for a number of reasons.
Let’s get to them, shall we?
The opening is strong Before letting me get to the game proper, BioWare showed off the opening cinematic, which sets the stage for Andromeda. During the events of Mass Effect 2, the civilizations of the Milky Way begin the Andromeda Initiative, sending vessels for each civilization filled with thousands of explorers to find a new home in another galaxy. Each vessel is led by a Pathfinder, a person in charge of finding their respective species a new home.
A little more than 600 years later, these ships reach Andromeda, with humanity waking up to find itself in a strange, dangerous place. You play one of the two Ryder twins; their father, Alec, is humanity’s Pathfinder. Within half an hour of waking up, you, your squadmates, and your father are exploring the planet that humanity thought would be its new home. Surprise: It’s a toxic, deadly wasteland currently being patrolled by the Kett, a mysterious race that doesn’t take kindly to humans.
The introductory segment, both the cinematic itself and the mission I played on the toxic planet, did a great job of introducing the new cast of characters and making me realize how high the stakes are for humanity as well as the other races. I don’t want to delve too much into specifics here given that BioWare games are largely a story-driven experience but I will say that the setup that leads to humanity searching for other planets has its fair share of comedy, action, and tragedy, and is utterly enticing.
The characters are worth getting to know During the second part of my demo, I was given free rein to run around my ship and talk to both the crew and squadmates I found. Cora and Liam, your human partners, are fun, passionate people who want to get away from the life they lead but also yearn to talk about it. Vetra, a Turian, acts as the ship’s stern mother, caring for her crewmates while also being coldly analytical. The Asari Peebee is impulsive and flirty, responding to my attempts to get to know her with, “Buy me a drink, and who knows what will spill out of my mouth.”
Squadmates often chatter amongst themselves when you’re out exploring places. I took Vetra and Drack, the squad Krogan, out on a drive and they chatted about a mutual friend and boasted about their own combat skills in an amusing manner.
Perhaps the biggest draw of BioWare games are its characters. The reason I was nervous about Andromeda was because I was uncertain about whether I could be seduced by this universe again and fall in love with a whole new cast of characters. However, after spending an hour talking with each of the squadmates and learning their anxieties and quirks, I found myself wanting to spend more time with these people.
The combat is more engaging than previous entries While the gunplay is still a little disappointing, Andromeda embraces the RPG powers of the series and turns everything up to 11. You’re not locked into a class system like you were in the original trilogy, so you can mix and match both biotic and technical powers as well as health and combat buffs. With so many powers and abilities, you can create your various kinds of power loadouts and switch them on the fly.
Want to be an invisible rogue who can sneak around and deal critical damage while also throwing enemies into a wall with telekinesis? Or maybe you just like setting enemies on fire with grenades or levitating them and throwing them into their comrades or explosive barrels? These are all things you can do.
There’s simply a lot of variety in the skill system and combat encounters, so much so that I was disappointed when I had to put down my controller and leave the booth. In previous Mass Effect games, the combat was engaging enough to serve as a means from transporting you from story beat to story beat. However, in Andromeda, it’s wildly fun and I can’t wait to get back to hurling foes across great distances with super powers.
Exploring is actually an exciting activity and not a chore Andromeda harkens back to the first Mass Effect’s sense of exploration, where you were allowed to roam entire planets and not the sort of corridors that 2 and 3 forced you into. This is another design decision that I was anxious about since, while bold, Mass Effect’s planet exploration could get quite tedious since they were largely just moons that occasionally had treasures or a single sidequest on them, and Dragon Age Inquisition’s large open-world segments, though filled with content, left me feeling cold.
During my segment, I was allowed to explore a single planet so I can’t speak to how much planets vary from one another. However, the one I rolled across in my Nomad, Andromeda’s answer to the Mako, was massive, lush, and filled with a variety of missions and random enemy encounters that were engaging. I passed massive geysers and green floral life, getting in firefights with pirates, as I searched for a transponder. There was a sense of wonder as I turned through valleys and peered up at the peaks of mountains, airships zooming across ridges.
Without having explored any of the other planets in the game, I can’t really speak to whether or not Andromeda as a whole does anything noteworthy with the ambitious scope of these planets. However, I was really impressed with what I did get to see during my time rolling around the plains in my ATV and exploring stations embedded in mountains. It's an activity that manages to nail that Star Trek feeling of being on an away team and exploring a dangerous, mysterious environment as opposed to the Star Wars-esque intergalactic war tone of Mass Effect 2 and 3. Hopefully it's a feeling that remains consistent across all the locales you can explore but we'll have to wait until release to find out.
It feels like a proper Mass Effect game This is perhaps the hardest point to nail down, because it exists in that sort of nebulous, esoteric, and perhaps slightly nonsensical space: What does it means for a game to feel like something? Can’t you just simply put it into words and say “Andromeda is a Mass Effect game because it follows design principles the series has always followed” or something to that effect? Which, sure, yes, that is a thing you can do.
However, for someone who has an emotional attachment to Mass Effect, or any game I suppose, there’s also something that exists beyond logical. A sense of knowing when something is right or wrong within a series – it’s inherently emotional. And as someone who adores this series, Andromeda hit all those notes from the start. The revised theme music that played during the introduction, the sequences of characters slowly getting to know each other while also trying to navigate the chaos of their own lives, the ridiculous action sequences, the occasionally clumsy dialog and equally goofy character animations – it’s all here, for better and for worse. However, I think ultimately that's a net positive. What I played feels like Mass Effect, down to the bone.
Mass Effect Andromeda releases on March 21, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.