Trailer Breakdown: Mass Effect Andromeda at CES 2017

Following their announcement before Nvidia’s CES 2017 keynote that Mass Effect Andromeda would definitely be releasing on the long-rumoured date of March 21 (March 23 for the rest of the world), Bioware dropped a new gameplay trailer to give hungry fans another taste of what is to come in the hostile galaxy of Andromeda.

The trailer, which sees the protagonist’s new ship the Tempest soaring through the clouds of an alien world before plunging viewers into a full, almost uninterrupted battle filmed entirely in-engine, follows the gameplay trailer we saw at the Game Awards in December and the cinematic trailer which was released on last year’s N7 Day.

To help us get through the last few months before the release of one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year – and generation, depending on your outlook – we’ve taken a look at the trailer and broken it down to see what we can glean from it.

The first thing we notice about the upgrade menus is that they’re strikingly similar in structure to the upgrade menus of the original trilogy, which isn’t really a bad thing.

 

Upgrade Menu

The trailer sees male Ryder land on a dark, dangerous looking planet filled with killer robots, with Ryder claiming they have ‘no choice but to investigate Peebee’s signal’. Peebee is the asari squadmate we’ve seen popping up since the first gameplay trailer was released last year.

As we cycle through the game’s menus, we also see the name Cora, one of the two human squadmates we’ve heard about alongside a character named Liam.

The first thing we notice about the upgrade menus is that they’re strikingly similar in structure to the upgrade menus of the original trilogy, which isn’t really a bad thing, as it’s a proven formula. You can cycle through each character’s page and upgrade either their combat, tech or biotic abilities, using skill points earned during the course of the game.

On Peebee’s upgrade page we see mention of old biotic favourites such as Shockwave and Pull, with a new ability called ‘Invasion’. Peebee’s class is described as ‘Rogue Academic’, whatever that means.

Next we’re shown a list of ‘Pathfinder profiles’, which are a list of classes from the original trilogy such as Sentinel and Vanguard, as well as the addition of a new class named ‘Explorer’. Bioware has already said the game will be less restrictive with classes and that Ryder will be able to experience all of the classes thanks to a plot device in the story. The menu makes mention of an ‘implant’ which can be reconfigured to afford Ryder different abilities, which one would assume is how the developers are planning to provide that flexibility.

As expected, each profile gets different buffs and abilities, including the return of the engineer’s Combat Drone ability. When we are shown Ryder’s upgrade screen, we see a whole swathe of new powers, as well as recognisable ones such as Overload.

One that stood out to us was the Remnant VI power, which allows Ryder to create a Remnant ‘Observer’ that can attack targets, cloak and repair itself over time. The Remnant are one of the two new alien races we’ve been told about, alongside the Kett, who are apparently the game’s main enemies, but with a sympathetic side.

When Ryder’s Flamethrower ability is unlocked – a combat technique previously only available through weapons like the M-451 Firestorm in Mass Effect 2 and 3, and the Flamer ability in 3’s multiplayer – a new profile called ‘Technical Overseer’ is also unlocked, an example of how each ‘class’ now also has different levels of effectiveness.

Ryder and Co are set upon by a bi-pedal murderdroid that looks like it came straight off the set of a Robocop movie.

 

Combat

After our brief glimpses of the upgrade menus, we’re thrown headfirst into combat against some of the games new mechanical enemies. Though we don’t have much context, it’s still interesting to see yet another type of hostile enemy, after the reveal of some more organic foes in the previous trailers.

After messing about with some more strange and super-alien technology (there seems to be a theme here), Ryder and Co are set upon by a bi-pedal murderdroid that looks like it came straight off the set of a Robocop movie called the ‘Assembler’. Mass Effect has an, ahem, storied history with artificial intelligence, so it could be interesting to see how the AIs in Andromeda are different to those seen in the Milky Way.

After Ryder mows down another enemy called a Nullifier (which has to be a WWE wrestler) with the help of his new flamethrower ability, we see some Observers which are much less friendly than ours, maybe because we’ve enslaved one of their own as a pet?

The appearance of these hostile Observers lends a lot of credence to the idea that the Remnant and the Kett aren’t going to be clear cut good guys and bad guys respectively, as they both seem to have it in for Ryder and the rest of the Andromeda Initiative.

As Ryder explodes the last enemy, another fearsome-looking biped called the ‘Destroyer’ (probably no relation to the Geth variety) the trailer ends rather suddenly, but with the disclaimer that all footage was captured in-engine.

 

Conclusion

From what we’ve seen so far, Bioware seem to be sticking close to the successful formula they created with the original trilogy, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Bioware have made a name for themselves as a company which does not shy away from putting the narrative of their games front and centre, and many fans are confident that this is where the game will excel.

Watch the trailer below and catch up with the rest of our ME:A coverage here.

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