“Hype” is a word you see a lot of these days; whether it’s in regards to movies, games or TV shows, I feel that my social media is always filled with posts and memes hyping up something or other. Not that I’m a hype-Scrooge or anything (See the intro to my Fallout 4 review for an example of fan girling). I am currently awaiting more information about Bioware’s ambitious new venture, Mass Effect: Andromeda. I was – am – a huge Mass Effect fan. The story, the design, the characters, the romance (Team Shakarian, obviously) appealed to me from the start, even if the original Mass Effect was a little aged by the time I gave it a go in 2012.
Not a great deal of information has been revealed since EA/Bioware’s E3 showcase in June 2015. Speculation has been made that the protagonist of this series will be named “Ryder” or “Rider” as a dog tag can be seen in the clip resembling such a name. It would also tie in with Bioware’s choice of name for the previous hero, Shepard, named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard; the first female American in space was a woman called Sally Ride, hence Rider/Ryder. This theory has been further elaborated on by Bioware’s choice of song, Johnny Cash’s hit “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, which also highlights another key buzzword: “Ghost” is another word for “Spectre”, the council’s elite group of specially chosen soldiers. Could this character have been amongst Shepard’s ranks in the N7 Elite programme? Bioware stated that the individual we see wearing the N7 armour in the clip is not the main protagonist, so who is he? Obviously, these questions are driving me a bit mad, so let’s move on.
We also know that this individual is a “Pathfinder”, charged with seeking out new worlds and cultures – perhaps as a back-up plan for humans/ the known galaxy due to the ongoing Reaper war. We have been told not to expect Shepard to appear in this game, though the lastest clip released in November featured revered voice actress Jennifer Hale reprising her role as Shepard to talk us through our duty to seek out new worlds, signing off at the end (definitely didn’t cry a little here.) Bioware have stated that it takes place sometime before or after Shepard, but since Shepard’s “interjection” in the release on N7 day, some speculate that it will be set during or just after the Reaper war. Certainly, a few familiar creatures feature in the clip – humans, obviously, and a slightly more primitive looking Krogan can also be seen roaring in a dusty landscape and also beside the Pathfinder in what looks like a companion scenario.
We also know that the game will take place in the Helius Cluster in the Andromeda system, hence the obvious title of the game. The map is rumoured to be 3 or 4 times the size of Mass Effect 3’s map, so that will be a joy to see. The new and improved Galaxy map looks impressive, but I am secretly hoping they’ll re-use the “Unchartered Worlds” theme from the original trilogy. There is also a Reaper-esque super alien race that your hero will in search for, rumoured to be called the Remnant, which will be key in unlocking the secrets of and controlling the galaxy. There will also be various factions you’ll have to align with or denounce as you work your way across the galaxy with the introduction of new species alongside the races we are already aware of.
The dialogue is set to be an improvement on the already stellar paragon/renegade/vague choices of the original trilogy, with even more interrupt options. I am looking forward to seeing what they can do with the moral alignment and choices created in this game, hopefully leading to more than just three endings. The speculated choice system for Andromeda is to have both short term, immediately seen consequences alongside longer, not-so-easily rectified decisions, both in a small and grand scale. It’s much like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the various little-known, consequential side effects from choices made in minor and major quests such as “A Towerful of Mice”. Upon completing the seemingly easy and obvious task of returning a ghost maiden’s remains to her lover, her spirit unexpectedly kills him. Whilst every ending of this quest results in their deaths one way or another, on this occasion it leaves a nasty side effect for the realms of The Witcher. You discover the ghost is a Plague Maiden, a Pesta, who upon killing her lover in his home, wreaks a contagious disease – the Catriona – across the lands of Velen, Novigrad and White Orchard, resulting in peasant deaths and illness and can affect your game ending, so I’m told. I only found this out because I decided to read the Bestiary entry for Plague Maiden/Pesta, and there it was. Had I not read it, many of the worlds inhabitants, reportedly major and minor, would be ill and could die. If you like hearing people continuously coughing and vomiting, then that’s the quest for you!
For those who have played Mass Effect since the beginning, you will have undoubtedly suffered at the hands of the Mako. This difficult, unruly vehicle was the source of much frustration and hilarity during Mass Effect as I struggled to get up mountains that were practically completely vertical and shoot at virtually nothing as the aiming sight was pretty poor. We can only imagine a wild-eyed, cackling Shepard at the wheel of the Mako while Garrus and Wrex cling to each other as they are wildly thrown around the passenger compartment. According to Bioware, the Mako has undergone a transformation and will be a key aspect of the game, no doubt as an exploration tool much like in the original Mass Effect.
Disappointingly, Bioware have now delayed its release until the first quarter of next year, as they have had no less than three of the lead developers, including the director Chris Wynn, leave the company and project for new horizons. Whilst I would rather have a delay than a slightly underdeveloped games, as was the territory with Mass Effect 2 and 3, I am SUPER KEEN to have this game already. With The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 already completed, I find myself at a loose end until basically this time next year. I haven’t decided if I will pre-order the game, however; release day bugs nearly made throw Fallout out the window and I don’t want to taint such a fragile experience as starting a new Mass Effect journey.
So what are you getting hyped about? Comment with games you are looking forward to or that did not live up to the hype you were expecting.
Next time on “What’s the hype?”: The Witcher 3 DLC: Blood and Wine.