Despite the game having been in development for a while & expected to release early next year, BioWare’s been pretty mum about the next game set in the Mass Effect universe. They’ve only released enough information for people to be intrigued & to give gamers a very broad idea of what to expect. We really have very little solid information, all of which leads to more questions & speculation.
In the past week, however, BioWare has loosened their grip a little to give us some more bites of intel about our protagonist this time around, Ryder. According to a report by Gamespot from an interview with the project’s creative leader, Matt Walters, all the supposed Ryders we’ve seen in the trailers released are actually different people & all exist within game. In other words, when you talk about choosing to play as a male or female Ryder, you’re actually picking which sibling you want to play as, & your opposite will exist somewhere in the galaxy. What’s more, the Ryder we see in the debut trailer (to one playing to western music) is actually the Ryder siblings’ father.
The most interesting thing to me about this is that a lot of fans already suspected this would be the case when BioWare released their trailer at E3 this year. I believe what might have tipped people off to this fact is that both the male & female version Ryders were portrayed in the same trailer. This might not seem like a big deal, but consider that in the previous trilogy, despite knowing from the beginning players would be able to choose the gender of Shepard, both genders weren’t portrayed in the same advertisements. Even during the build-up for ME3, which BioWare specifically began marketing FemShep, they never appeared together.
It’ll be interesting to see how BioWare handles the whole family dynamic. It won’t be the first time they’ve included the protagonist’s family in the game (Dragon Age 2), but I sincerely hope they don’t go the route of sticking them in just to kill them off for some trite motivation for the Ryder we control. At least give me time to get attached before you start threatening characters with bodily harm. That’s what made the deaths in ME3 so poignant.
In other news this week, BioWare released a pre-alpha gameplay demo. While the point of this was to show off the 4K resolution the game will have on the new Playstation Pro, it gave us a glimpse of what to expect in the game. In the demo, Ryder is exploring what they refer to as a “vault,” filled with insect-machine hybrid-looking things called Remnants. The most striking thing to me was how similar the setting was to the Collector ships. Something about the lights & angles of the structures reminded me of when you explore to Collector ships, minus the hive-like, sticky growths. The Remnants themselves have a similar design theme, although they sort of resemble the Keepers in terms of body dimensions. Apparently a big part of the game will involve finding & activating these Vaults, which are scattered throughout the Andromeda galaxy. Just going out on a limb here, but I’m going to guess whatever the big conflict in this game is, it’ll have something to do with a consequence of activating these ancient technologies. Just a hunch. Not like that wasn’t what happened before…
The demo also reminded me of some supposedly leaked data about features & plans for the game. I’ll include the video below, but the jist of it was that someone claimed to have taken a survey on the game to gauge gamers’ reactions to suggested ideas. I generally take any “leaked” info with a grain of salt, but there might be something to this. What really stood out was the reported premise to Andromeda specifically citing Remnants & Vaults. Given that this lead was back in April, & as far as I’ve seen from official channels these terms haven’t been used before the demo footage, the details hinted at in the “leak” might be legit.
While none of the features are ground-breaking, I think if BioWare did successfully incorporate the ideas into Andromeda, it could be an excellent successor to the Mass Effect license. It’ll be nice to see the series going back to actually exploring alient planets. That was the best part of the games, to me, & the subsequent trimming of that in the later titles made the world feel so much smaller. I know a lot of people are pessimistic given the outrage over ME3’s initial ending state, but I at least remain cautiously optimistic. I think each game should be judged on its own merit, & I do believe BioWare has a record of at least trying to learn from their mistakes & listen to gamers. And Mass Effect is my favorite game series, bar none. BioWare would have to really drop the ball, & I think they’re smart enough to realize the value of the IP they’ve got not to deliberately screw it up.
EA on the other hand… Well, that’s why I say cautiously optimistic.
More information is sure to come as November rolls around.