The latest Mass Effect: Andromeda gameplay trailer only clocks in at about two minutes but, in that time, we get a good look at several of the games new systems and combat. BioWare is already promising more details and footage in the not-too-distant future but, for now, we decided to pick apart what's on offer and take a better look at what Andromeda will bring to the table when it launches on March 21.
We already knew that Profiles would replace the Class system seen in previous Mass Effect games, but this most recent trailer gave us a better understanding of how the two will differ. In previous Mass Effect games, your player class would determine your stats and what specialized abilities were available to you. In Andromeda, this system is being replaced with Profiles in order to give the player the ability to specialize or shake things up from time to time. In the new trailer, we see the following Profiles are available: Soldier, Engineer, Adept, Sentinel, Vanguard, Infiltrator, and Explorer. While you might have a special ability attached to a Profile, such as the Engineer's combat drone, usually you're only talking about shifts to stats. The Engineer's boosts are almost exclusively on the tech side, for instance, while the Soldier Profile gives you improved weapon damage and accuracy, as well as enhanced abilities when you gun down multiple enemies at once. You can only change your Profile at certain times, though, so there's still some picking and choosing to do. What we like about this shift is that it allows the player to evolve or alter their character a bit without needing to start from scratch.
Skill Trees Take Root
At its heart, Mass Effect: Andromeda is still an RPG. As such, we're excited to see such a strong focus placed on skill trees, which are also shown off briefly in the new trailer. Similar to changing up your Profile to tackle different situations, Skills allow you to fine-tune your character to be the type of player you want to be. If you really like the tech bonuses and drone provided by the Engineer class but also really want to use Skills usually associated with the Soldier, you can now do that. While your teammates will fit the more standard RPG archetypes (healer, tank, caster), the player will be able to build and improve a character to their liking. These skills are broken into Combat, Biotec, and Tech, with the player being able to choose any three to add to their available pool. The Skill showed in the trailer is Flamethrower, which the player had upgraded to full in order to dish out maximum damage.
Combat Gets a Boost
We got a look at combat in an earlier Andromeda trailer and, since it was also prominently displayed in this latest trailer, we get the feeling that BioWare is really proud of the systems they've created for demolishing alien rivals. In the new trailer, we see the player running and gunning in a style more akin to a proper third-person shooter than an RPG, and we're always happy to see the lines between genres blurred in this way. But while the shooting looks rewarding, there's still a major focus on Skills. From shooting flames out of your hand to throwing in a bionic punch, we see the player mixing unique abilities with gunplay on the fly, which should make for faster, more engaging combat. That's another reason we're so excited for skills. Since combat is so big in these games, we're all for players being given more flexibility when it comes to how they want to handle shootouts.
Along with some sweet skill usage, we see lots of mobility shown off in the new Andromeda trailer. The game appears to be more vertical than previous Mass Effect games and, with faster combat, it makes sense that the player would have more ways to get around. In the trailer, we see a sideways dash utilized, as well as a dash while airborne. Another cool move on display was the hover, which allowed the player to leap into the air and get a better view of the surrounding area. Yes, that makes you an easier target for a moment, but the better view offers a brief tactical advantage of seeing "the big picture." Also, it's easier to put holes in enemies that are hiding behind things when you can just shoot them from above.
This last one isn't so much a feature shown off in the trailer so much as everything on display therein. Since Andromeda is not launching on last gen consoles, BioWare had the ability to design the game from the floor up with current tech, and only current tech, in mind. The result is the best-looking Mass Effect to date. One of the environments in the new trailer is a great example of exactly that. The rocky planet is also alive with burning lava and growing clouds of smoke. The character animations look great and the effects when pulling off Skills or making a baddie go boom are pretty dazzling. The Mass Effect series is pretty grand, and we're happy that on top of all of the polish being given to the in-game systems, the devs look to have poured an equal amount of attention into how good the game looks.