BioWare usually tends to be pretty good about building hype around games and offering up information. Ahead of Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age 2, and Dragon Age: Inquisition, revelations were doled out in a even and steady manner. As the games’ release dates drew nearer, we had an idea of what we’d be doing, how we’d be playing, what our character builds could look like, and who’d be joining us on our journeys. Except now, we’re two months away and there are so many unanswered questions about Mass Effect: Andromeda.
We honestly haven’t even seen that much footage of Andromeda. About one year ago, we received an announcement trailer and N7 Day 2015 teaser. Each one was under two minutes long and cinematic. Six months ago, the EA Play 2016 video was another under two minutes affair that was half cinematic and half an opportunity to watch BioWare staff at work on the game. Three months ago, we received our first 4K tech video trailer, taking us through three minutes of an in-game base. There were no enemies. We only saw the male version of Ryder and one Asari squadmate named Peebee. After that, another two under two minute cinematic trailer. It was only in December and January that we started to get actual gameplay footage and, even then, only seeing one five minute and another two minute trailer isn’t enough to give us a good idea of how anything works. Which is a shame, since this has been our primary means of acquiring information on Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Just sit back and think about what we do and don’t know about Andromeda. The story we’ve been offered is very vague. We play as one of two Ryder siblings, either the male or female one, and act as a Pathfinder. We head out into the Andromeda galaxy to find a new home for humanity. But why are we heading out like this? How come we don’t know more about the organization sending us out there already? It’s one thing to say we’re going to forge a new way as part of the Andromeda Initiative, but this vagueness doesn’t help much. There are no details about how this goal happens. We’ve been told in one trailer that there’ll be multiple planets and exploration opportunities, but haven’t had any way to process that information.
What about squadmates? The Mass Effect series has always put quite a bit of focus on who we’ll be working both with and against. At this moment, we know barely anything about anyone. Ryder is our hero or heroine, and his or her sibling is also working somewhere in the galaxy. So’s his or her father, who’s also a Pathfinder. There’s an Asari named Peebee, someone who isn’t exactly part of the initiative. Liam is a black British (human) cop. Cora is apparently a white human woman. Drack is a Krogan male. I think there was also a Turian in our posse during the December trailer? That we know so little so close to launch is shameful. We should, at the very least, know how many people will be joining Ryder and, at this point, have basic details beyond, “_____ is a member of this race.”
There’s also the concern over classes and abilities. BioWare didn’t go over them with us in a cohesive and comprehensive way. Instead, the NVIDIA CES 2017 keynote included a, you guessed it, two minute trailer very briefly showing these things with no explanation. We saw a menu screen showing Ryder, Peebee, and the we-still-don’t-know-anything-about-her-maybe-she-isn’t-even-human Cora. There was a brief Auto Level Up option. We saw a male version of Ryder go into some Pathfinder Profiles screen and select an Engineer profile, which automatically provided set rank bonuses. A skill tree showed the ability to learn skills from any class, but our loadouts seem to limit us to only three at a time. Wouldn’t it have been better to introduce us to such a complicated system in a more informative manner?
We don’t even know anything about Mass Effect: Andromeda’s multiplayer yet. Which is rather disconcerting, considering there’s supposed to be a beta for it. While multiplayer is never the main focus of a Mass Effect game, wouldn’t you expect a March release to have its multiplayer detailed two months ahead of time? And a beta to be dated for at least a month before, so BioWare and EA can be sure the servers are ready for the load? Both Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 were October releases that had their open betas by August. Why haven’t we heard anything about Mass Effect: Andromeda’s multiplayer yet?
This isn’t my trying to say Mass Effect: Andromeda is going to be bad. Rather, it’s my saying that BioWare and EA are doing the worst possible job of preparing us for what’s supposed to be one of the biggest AAA releases in 2017. This game is a big deal, but we aren’t hearing anything about it. Think about it - the last time we had a game with this little information available prior to launch was No Man’s Sky. There are so many unanswered questions concerning Mass Effect: Andromeda. We need to know more, because the lack of critical details is concerning.