It's been almost four years since Mass Effect 3's release, and we still know next to nothing about the successor in the series. Throughout the entire lifespan of the trilogy, the fan base has been divided on deciding which of the three titles was the best. The first Mass Effect began it all, creating an engaging story centred around dialogue choice, and adding a seemingly wide open exploration aspect. Its sequel Mass Effect 2, Improving on the combat system, with an arguably longer and more epic story. And finally Mass Effect 3, adding a large customization option, and honing in on the improved combat and story, also bringing the trilogy to a very controversial close. However, what actions can Bioware take to ensure [Mass Effect: Andromeda](tag:2683449) appeals to new comers and its current community?
As a fan of the franchise I decided to dig in a bit and ask around, as to what parts of the trilogy were favoured and which were disliked. And from the response I received, and from a few personal thoughts, I created a wishlist of ideas for the game that would help mend the problems introduced in the trilogy.
One of the key parts of the first Mass Effect, was the opportunity to explore random worlds scattered across the Milky Way galaxy. This aspect of the game was soon shifted aside as the series progressed, but was undeniably one of the best and sometimes tedious aspect of the first entry. From what little has been announced about Andromeda, it seems promising to believe that we will see the return of this feature, to what extent is yet to be revealed.
As the creators have stated, the new Mass Effect will be much different than the prior games in the series. The trilogy gravitated around an increasingly linear plot, based around combat, however with Andromeda, it seems as though the plot will be centred around exploration. For this idea to succeed, it must achieve what has come to be expected from an open world game, in both quality and size. In no way am I saying that the game has to be enormous, like Hello Games', No Man's Sky, but there would defiantly be some disappointment if we didn't get a few moments reminiscent of the Elder Scrolls Skyrim, where you find yourself wandering the various landscapes more often than not.
One of my favourite things in the Mass Effect Franchise are the space ships, although we likely won't be seeing 'war' ships in Mass Effect: Andromeda. And given this is a game presumably about exploring outer space, we can likely safely assume you are going to well acquaint yourself with a space ship in one form or another. A large part of any good sci fi space story however, is an iconic space ship, Star Wars has the Millennium Falcon, Star Trek has the USS Enterprise, the Mass Effect trilogy had the Normandy SR1/SR2. And as of the teaser released on N7 day, 2015 it looks as though Mass Effect: Andromeda will be no exception, showing off a ship bearing a small similarity to the Shadow Broker's ship from Mass Effect 2. Whether this ship is canon to Andromeda or not, is however debatable.
The first Mass Effect's exploration wouldn't have been the same without the love hate relationship that was the M35 Mako, a vehicle that accounted for quite possibly the majority of every death throughout the entirety the first game. Despite this the Mako will be making a comeback to the series and in a completely new way, with Bioware seemingly scrapping the weaponry and opting for a complete redesign. The newly named M40 Mako has been announced to be player customizable, which hopefully allows us to build something similar to the original, minus the terrible controls.
Combat in the Mass Effect series started out really rough, but quickly evolved into one of my favourite third person shooter games. Although Mass Effect 3's combat system was leaps and bounds, ahead of the first instalment, it still felt like there was a lot of room for improvement however.
One of the hardest and most important choices you make in the Mass Effect series is what class you decide your character to be, the choice is one that sets the course for what abilities and powers your character is granted. To some the choice was clear, and the numbers don't lie, the majority of players gravitated towards the soldier class, the least used being the engineer class. Now, In my opinion Andromeda should try to balance this issue, and this can be done in a number of different ways. From my own experience a large factor for the soldier class to be more appealing was the wide amount of weapon variety (specifically ME and ME2), vice versa for the other classes. The other major deciding factor was the addition of a weight system in ME3, I believe with Andromeda that they should scrap the weight system altogether, and opt for a customizable class creator, that way you decide the what traits your character is proficient in. Obviously there would be limitations so you can't just be the best at everything, but at least you could be a jack of all trades.
The weapons of the Mass Effect series have changed dramatically since there beginnings in the first game, the scrapping of the weapon cool down was king of a shock and a bit of a disappointment but was ultimately acceptable, in the way that it was explained inside of the codex. The move toward a more relatable and conventional means of 'reloading' however was a little controversial, I think that Andromeda could mend the inconsistency by implementing both systems into one, where the weapon can be reloaded quickly but can also slowly cool down over a period of time (like recharging powers). Although the weapons themselves could use a bit of tweaking, mainly in the form of balancing. this wasn't so much of an issue in the first two games, but in ME3 I found myself using a select few weapons more than others due to many of them being inferior in almost every aspect. And one thing I want returned in the series are standard grenades, which surprisingly only appeared in the first instalment.
Mass Effect 3's multiplayer introduced many new and different powers to the series, many of which were unavailable to the campaign, these would make great additions for Andromeda's main character. Although a better button layout for power usage on controllers would be preferable, or at least a faster and better functioning power wheel, without making you feel disconnected from the battle.
The user interface in the trilogy worked very well, it wasn't overtly flashy, and there wasn't anything covering too much of the screen. Although I think the next Mass Effect should reintroduce the inventory system as used in the original Mass Effect, albeit without the clutter and a better item management system.
The control of the character's in mass effect is something that has for the most part gotten better over each new entry into the franchise, although there are a few things I would like to nitpick about over the development of the trilogy. Firstly, weapon holstering, I know how it sounds but this was one thing that really bugged me in Mass Effect 3. Walking around and making small talk while pointing a gun at someone's face was a bit goofy and made a few cut scenes seem like a circus act. Secondly I would like to see a return of the crouching mechanic, or even the option to lie down prone, this feature would be great to improve a weapons accuracy and stability. Lastly, better squad controls reminiscent of Ghost Recon, imagine synchronized shots for stealth missions, that would make things much more tactical.
The single most important aspect to any Mass Effect title, the story must be something worth investing into, or else they risk ruining the image of a franchise built off a very strong foundation.
Mass Effect's strong suit lies in it's vast depth of dialogue options, many of these choices coming back later to give you either neat little references, or outcomes that will haunt you until the games conclusion. For how great the dialogue system is, there are still more than a few things that could be touched up, like the 'renegade' options. It's great to have a 'renegade' option and it wouldn't be Mass Effect without it, but there needs to be a new way of having it present without most of the renegade options making you feel terrible for choosing them. The paragon and renegade morality meter should to be separated as it was in the first Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, allowing for more dialogue options being available later in the game, without compromise. Also the morality based quick time events should be dropped, as it just felt like a last minute unnecessary gimmick, than an intense momentary action.
Characters in the next Mass Effect are one of the factors I look forward to most, and hopefully they are expanded further than they were in any of the previous titles. The most important type of character, the protagonist should be named appropriately by selecting a name that is relatively neutral, and one that can be liked universally. The other essential character(s) is the antagonist(s), and the next Mass Effect should have one that holds up against those encountered in the previous titles, as nothing drives a story better than an enemy that is as equally cunning as the player. Andromeda should also have a larger squad variety, consisting of many races, and maybe some we haven't had on a crew before. One interesting thing to note was a screen grab from the reveal trailer of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which seems to show a familiar figure that looks very much like a Prothean/Collector.
Character customization should take from where Mass Effect 3 left off, having the ability to change the look of your characters outfit whether it's casual clothing or combat armour. Although it should allow for more in depth freedom when customizing specific parts, and finally adding a proper colour selector. They should scrap the silly 'bonuses' that each piece of armour grants to the character, although implementing a system of doing something similar, would be nice. Also, adding back light, medium and heavy armour options, and maybe instead of the weapon weight system, having the type of armour decide the amount of weapons you can carry, at the cost of shorter/longer power cool downs. The ability to take the helmet off of pre set armours, and maybe an option to change the colour of the characters omni tool? Or even a custom movement style for your character, like hopping instead of combat rolling etc.
Weapon customization should defiantly be reworked, first by scrapping the 'Visual' weapon modifications. The visual weapon modifications ruin the aesthetic appeal of the weapons (especially the heavy barrels), which is a shame given their really good bonuses. Andromeda will likely add more weapons in general, as there can never be too many weapons in a game, especially with the Mass Effect games. But heavy weapons should return into the series, after their one time appearance in Mass Effect 2.
From what we have been told about ME: Andromeda, we know that Shepard's story has come to a close, and that it's time for a new protagonist to shine in the spotlight. However Bioware has hinted that the character for the next Mass Effect will follow suit and revolve around a human, this is a bit of a disappointment as many fans were hoping for for an option to select the players race, which could pose many issues in terms of story, dialogue and even the name of the character, although it would make the game so much interesting. Although I really hope with the next game that we are able to change the characters back story as we were able to with Shepard, and a higher level cap would be a welcome addition as well.
One of Mass Effects defining features as a sci fi epic, is the sheer number and variety of alien races. With each game adding more background and story to each culture, but even with the conclusion of the trilogy, there are still many questions that have been left relatively unanswered. After all, it did take up until Mass Effect 3's Omega DLC to show what a female turian looked like, and what does a Quarian's face 'really' look like unmasked? Besides the weak excuse for a reveal with Tali, and that negligible ending artwork. But did you know there was an entire race that was never shown in all three games? a birdlike species named the Raloi, who severed all relation to space flight in an attempt to escape the Reapers, a reveal in Mass Effect: Andromeda would be exciting for me at least. Although I strongly believe that many new species should definitely be introduced with the next game, given how many races were within the Milky Way galaxy alone.
A feature that I would personally like to see more of are hub worlds, large places to explore and sometimes get lost in (Mass Effect's Citadel). In prior titles they were for the most part few and far between with Mass Effect 3 having the least, with essentially just the citadel. As for Andromeda I would like to see many new hub worlds of both planets and space stations, scattered across the entire Andomeda galaxy.
With Mass Effect: Andromeda I would like to see the same wave based cooperative missions, like what was seen in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer. However I have few other ideas that could possibly benefit the series, in the form of an original idea and some other ideas that have been thrown around already. The new mode I thought of is essentially the same wave based cooperative game play, but the twist is you and your three squad mates play as a crew members from all the prior games. You could be fighting mercenaries, Reapers, Cerberus or maybe the Collectors again, just with a few familiar faces thrown into the mix, with a name like 'Legacy Operations'. Another mode I've read and heard people asking for is a competitive mode, this would be a great idea, although I don't see myself playing very much of it as I'm not very competitive myself. And another thing that people have been asking for is for a cooperative campaign, this I would certainly have some fun with. Lastly, just a thought in regards to using a 'second screen' app on a mobile device, they should either do it right the first time or not do it at all, Mass Effect 3's app was an annoying mess, usually not working, and frankly was just a waste of time and effort on the developer's part.
Next year, EA really has to step up their game with Andromeda and it's development time, we don't want the game rushed just to meet the demand of the holiday season. We've seen this tragedy happen time and time again with Mass Effect 3, The Sims and more recently with Battlefield 4, but hopefully this isn't the case with the next Mass Effect. But as it stands now, and I think the entire Mass Effect community will agree with me on this, EA must not rush the development, and listen to what the community wants.
Now here is a topic that I have been itching to relieve myself of, the way downloadable content has been handled in the past with the Mass Effect trilogy, has been a bit of a rocky road. Bioware and EA must stay as far away from day one DLC as humanly possible, that goes the same with DLC announcement's on release of the game. They did this with Mass Effect 3's 'From Ashes' DLC, which mind you came back to bite them in the rear when the community realized it. And a personal note from me, don't lock content away from the rest of the community, releasing extra content early for pre ordering is fine but don't lock away that content from everyone else that bought the game. As was done with the collectors/deluxe edition content for Mass Effect 3, most of which was later included only in the retail version for Wii U.
I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read this article, if you have any thoughts or questions please leave them in the comments below. And if at all possible could you please take the time to answer the poll located below as well, I appreciate any and all feedback.
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