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Mass Effect Andromeda E3 Analysis -

After Mass Effect Andromeda was officially announced at E3 last year we all knew that something about it would show up this year. At the EA Play conference we were treated to a video about two minutes long, a lot of which was shots of the devs smiling happily as they animated stuff on huge banks of screens. You might not think there was a lot to see. But oh, there was.

And it's called Tempest! Look at that. It's a little different than the Normandy but built along similar lines, which would suggest that it's on the same technological timeline as the previous Mass Effects, either before or after — although it is always a slim possibility that it's unrelated, and BioWare are just pandering to their audience in a huge way because we're gurning idiots.

We're guessing it's actually further on in the ME timeline, though, because you can see in this shot that it comes out of what looks like an interstellar jump similar to using the Mass Relays (Ed - this is quite sad, Alice). It could be that it's only got a Faster Than Light drive, but with FTL it'd take you ages to get between solar systems and stuff, and although it's confirmed that you do have to wait in stasis for ages while you get to the Andromeda galaxy, there's also a bit in the announcement trailer that makes it look like the ship can make interstellar jumps by itself.

That first teaser trailer had a heavy cowboy theme to it, opening with a rock vista reminiscent of Monument Valley (those orange spires you associate with every Western). The new EA Play footage keeps some of that feeling, showing a lot of desert planets and dry, arid environments. That's not the only thing on offer, though. The video also showed environments with lush foliage, and some that are rocky and barren but subject to rainstorms. In some shots the proximity of huge planets in the sky behind you makes it likely that you'll be visiting some satellite moons as well as actual planets.

One thing to note is that in scenes featuring the new protagonist they had their helmet with full visor shielding on. The practical reason for this may well be that they haven't finalised all the details on the main female/male protagonists they use for marketing (a la Shep and FemShep from the original Mass Effects) but it's also a strong possibility that at least some of the planets we'll be visiting will be pretty inhospitable environments, at least to humans. It's a whole new galaxy, right?

We don't yet know who the new protagonist will be, but they've definitely got the N7 insignia that many people associate with Shepherd. N7 isn't actually a callsign, though, it's just a military code used by Earth's Systems Alliance which effectively boils down to 'this person has been officially designated as badass, back your shit up'. The fact that your protagonist has this would suggest they have some significant military background and an established career by the time you get to play as them. It's also more proof this is taking place along a timeline that is not too far removed from the events of Mass Effect.

At the end of the video we see this woman waking up. From context (i.e. the game is about some humans being sent on an exploratory mission to a far galaxy) we can infer that she's just been woken up from some kind of cryo sleep upon arrival at a destination, and that this will probably be close to the start of the game. It's also an indication that BioWare are planning to move the female version of the protagonist up front, like they did with FemShep by the end of the first Mass Effect trilogy.

Jeeze. Remember how much we all hated this thing the first time around? Anyway, the presence of the Mako in Andromeda means there's going to be some level of all terrain exploration on planetary surfaces, and that it'll happen over an area wide enough to need a car to drive around. Make of that what you will.

There's at least one proper use of biotics in this video, which looks very much like an area of effect slam attack to us. It's also shown being mocapped, as well. It's nice to know that we're still going to have the ability to throw people around with pseudo magic, right?

All your favourite alien races are back too!

Alright, so we know we're going to meet some alien civilisations, but it looks like they might be ones we're familiar with already. This, for example, is definitely an asari, those blue aliens with little swept back head tentacles instead of hair that basically every other race wants to get down with. Look at her. She's having a great time.

Then in this picture we can see a krogan, and he's apparently annoyed with the human he's dropping off a cliff there. The crouching figure next to him could be human, but there's something a little off about the build that suggest to us it could be an alien race — it looks like the figure only has two fingers, which could, for example read as a quarian, but we're not really sure. It could be brand new!

And check out this. This is a shot of what we can assume is the bridge on your new ship, especially since it's got a call back to the way the Illusive Man was framed in front of a burning sun. That's definitely a krogan on the left, there, but you look at the figure on the right and tell us that isn't a salarian. Can't do it, can you? Because that's a goddamn salarian right there. If this is anything to go by you'll probably be putting together a ragtag band of alien misfits again. The presence of all these different races still swilling around together leads us to our final point.

Sort of the Citadel, maybe?

This structure looks a lot like the Citadel of the original trilogy, but also sort of… not. What with everything else we've seen it opens up a couple of possibilities: either this predates the events of the first Mass Effect and Andromeda is the story of meeting our alien pals for the first time, or this is after all the relays were destroyed and we've been trying to get back in contact with those alien civilisations again, whilst we've been rebuilding the Citadel from scratch from where it was destroyed near Earth.

Remember how, at the end of Mass Effect 3, all the means of interstellar travel were effectively blown up and pockets of the different alien races were all left stranded together in various parts of the galaxy? It could be that we've all been gradually rebuilding, independently, and the reason some of the alien silhouettes look a bit wrong is due to taking on bits and pieces of the other cultures over time. That's just speculation though, but either way it looks like these races are already aware of one another and humans have shown up late to the party and decided to drink everyone else's beer, as per. Lot to think about for only couple of minutes of footage, though, eh?

Update: Looks like the protagonist is going to be called Ryder!

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