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N7 Day Brings New Initiative

It seems like there’s a crummy “national day of (insert random nonsense here)” every single day — at least according to Facebook — but for fans of the Mass Effect series, November 7 brings a certain amount of excitement.  I’m not sure when it started, but BioWare has claimed today as N7 Day in celebration of everyone’s favorite space Commander.  This day is especially important as it has traditionally been the day with BioWare begins their press release cycle for their next game in the franchise.

This year was no different, as BioWare has been teasing that on N7 Day this year they would officially begin releasing information about Mass Effect: Andromeda.  They’ve even gone so far as to create an “Andromeda Initiative” to get people excited for the day.  It’s really strange, when you stop to think about it.  It’s like generating hype for the hype.  A perpetual hype machine!

Regardless, as I seem to be one of the few people who choose not to let the disappointment of Mass Effect 3‘s ending completely ruin the franchise, I have been looking forward to this game, & thus awaiting this day.

Prior to today, BioWare was encouraging gamers to sign up for their Initiative for special “debriefing” and “training missions”, which essentially just sounds like adding yourself to their news letter.  But by adding your name to the list, not only did you get a look at their new cinematic trailer, but access to a more in-depth “training” video on their site.  Both videos have finally started revealing some useful information about the sort of world Andromeda is building.

The training vid, done in the style of a recruitment video, offers some insight into the Andromeda Initiative that our Ryders will be a part of.  Initially founded in 2176, the same years as the Skyllian Blitz, its aim is to be a joint venture between humans & three other species to explore beyond the Milky Way, to find & colonize suitable planets.  The majority of humanity will reside in cryostasis aboard the Arc Hyperion, although some will reside within a separate ship called the Nexus.  It’s being led by Jan Grissom, presumably kin to Rear Admiral Jon Grissom, famous in the ME universe for being the man who led to expedition through the Charon Relay, thus essentially pioneering intergalactic travel.  A class known as Pathfinders will be at the forefront of this mission, acting as the frontman to explore potentially inhabitable planets.  At their lead is Alec Ryder (presumably the other man in the video as he wears the same scarf as seen in previous Andromeda teasers which have since been confirmed to be the father of our PC).  Alec was also part of Admiral Grissom’s team & highly respected.

The arcs are scheduled to launch in 2185, which takes place between the end of ME2 & the beginning of ME3.  The journey will take 600 years, placing it long after the end of ME3.

The cinematic trailer offers some interest tidbits as well.  It’s assumed the game will begin with the Arcs coming out of cryostasis.  But the start of the new trailer shows things going very badly & the default male Ryder getting sucked out of a crashing ship before waking up on a strange planet with a broken helmet.  Intriguingly, the trailer features all three Ryders (the siblings & father) equally prominently.  I’m curious to know if they’ll all interact together.  It looks like in several scenes the siblings are together (they wear the same blue-&-white Pathfinder armor seen on Jan Grissom in the debriefing vid).  But it’s also possible that something happens to Alec.  A scene in the trailer shows him interacting with one of those temples from the PS Pro demo, & a scene earlier has a female voice telling male Ryder he’s now “The Pathfinder.”  As that’s clearly a job title, it’s entirely possible they’re simply giving him his directive, but it seems like a strange thing to say if that was always his position on the ship.  It sounds to me like putting him in charge after something goes awry.

There isn’t much else solid we can glean from the two trailers.  The “three races” mentioned in the debriefing appear to at least include Asari & Salarian as they’re seen in the trailers.  I would guess the third Arc would include the final Council race, the Turians, but I don’t recall seeing them in the footage.

You don’t have to sign up for the Initiative to view the videos, but if you complete this & the five other upcoming “trainings” under your EA account you’ll earn a “Pathfinder-grade Helmet”.

Personally, I’ve very excited about Andromeda.  Yes, the original ending tarnished what would have otherwise been the perfect conclusion to my favorite game trilogy, & the whole stupid Starchild thing still irks me, but I at least felt placated by the updated endings.  Plus, with the new Andromeda timeline being set 600 years after the original trilogy, I feel like there won’t be much reference to the other games aside from characters wondering what became of the Reapers.

There’s no official release date yet, other than Spring 2017.

– GamerDame

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BioWare Wants You To Be An Explorer

So much news from BioWare in just a few weeks.  They must be gearing up for the big promotional time for Mass Effect: Andromeda.  This time, however, the news is actually worth getting excited about if you consider yourself a fan of the series.

This week BioWare officially opened their Explorers Wanted Contest, where they’re offering fans the opportunity to voice a small part in the upcoming Andromeda game.  Interested contestants need only record their vocal take of one of the two character scripts offered on the company’s blog site, email it to them, & wait.

There are two different character scripts to choose from.  Script 1 is for Jordan Tate “a smart and talented indie documentarian eager to give the real perspective on life in Andromeda”, with the one-page script being a very brief interview with Ryder.  Script 2 is for a “tough mercenary” discussing a job with another mercenary & perhaps a little insight into the politics of the region.  Although the initial video I saw reporting this stated the script for Jordan Tate was for women & the mercenary was for men, I saw nothing on BioWare’s official page suggesting these roles were gendered.  After all, there have been plenty of female mercenaries in the Mass Effect, & Jordan is a pretty androgynous name.  So I believe fans can choose which ever they prefer.

The recordings are to be judged in October & graded based on voice quality, quality of the performance & “match to Mass Effect franchise style.”  Whatever that implies…

But this isn’t just a ploy to get some voice snippets from fans to add into the game.  BioWare is going to extra mile for this.  According to the contest page, they’ll pick two winners — presumably the best from each role — & fly them to the closest BioWare studio (Los Angeles, London or Edmonton), put them up at a hotel of their choice for 2-days & 3-nights, & bring them into the recording studio to professionally record their lines.  Given that the time of recording for these roles will be between November & year’s end & that the game is currently slated for release in March 2017, I doubt these will be massive roles, likely only added now to encourage interest in the release.  Still, it’s an exciting opportunity.

If you’re interested, you can get all the information, including the rules & scripts, from BioWare’s blog page.  But be quick.  All submissions must be in by September 28.

– GamerDame

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