In all the time I have become a gamer, I learned I’m pretty selective about which games I’ll play or invest time and money on. While everyone may be playing the next hot game release to hit the shelves, I’ll be sitting on the other side of the fence either not particularly interested in the title or I’ll have some interest in it but not enough to get the game on Day 1. Video games are an expensive hobby and I’m not willing to buy every single game everyone seems to be talking about. This also helps control my backlog a bit. Not by much, but at least I’m not too bad off on the games in my possession that I may or may not ever play. When the calendar finally flipped to March, my excitement kicked in for the one, rare game I’ll never hesitate to throw my money at before or on release day––Mass Effect.
I’ve never been shy or embarrassed about my love for almost all things BioWare. It’s because of this developer that I discovered video games can be so much more than uninspired first-person shooters or good for a few hours beat ’em up games. Video games can be interactive and fun, while also telling phenomenal stories with characters that will touch your heart. Like many who have played the entire Mass Effect series, I’ve gotten attached to Commander Shepard, the crew, and the world that shaped much of this series. When it was announced a few years ago that fans will see a new Mass Effect game with a whole new story and set of characters taking place after the events of Mass Effect 3, I was both excited and slightly nervous. Can the series survive without Shepard? Will I love the characters and story as much as I loved the original trilogy? How will BioWare expand on the universe they created?
I’m sure I’m not the only fan who are asking these questions. We love the series and we may be a little protective of what we consider to be a big achievement in storytelling and video games. We don’t want the series to be marred by a bad or underwhelming game. But this is BioWare and they are fully aware of how important it is to their brand and fans to create a game that is both familiar yet different enough to bring something fresh to older and newer fans alike.
For a while, the people over at BioWare HQ have been largely tight-lipped on game details for the much anticipated Mass Effect: Andromeda. Any news about their new game felt more like breadcrumbs being fed to the public, a teaser video about what their new characters look like or flashing the name “Ryder” to give fans a little something to chew on. However, in the last month and into the first few days of March, news of what fans can expect from the game have been coming fast and in huge waves. The amount of news that seem to be coming out almost every single week has been almost difficult to keep up with. From announcements like Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer voicing a character in Andromeda to talks about the scope of the game itself, there’s no shortage of news about the game to get everyone itching for its March 21st release date. Let’s not also forget about the gameplay videos the studio have been releasing on their official YouTube channel either. There’s a lot to be excited about and it’s enough for fans to be foaming at the mouth to get their hands on the game right now.
Reading all the news and watching almost all the videos released about Andromeda, I think I’m cautiously optimistic about the game. Why cautiously? While I’m aware this game is a complete departure from the Commander Shepard story in favor of giving players a new character to learn about and go on a new journey with, there’s still a part of me that isn’t sure if I’ll fall madly in love with Andromeda in the same way I did with the original trilogy. Playing a game without hearing Jennifer Hale’s familiar voice for FemShep or Mark Meer’s voice for male Shep will take some getting used to. I don’t doubt BioWare’s capability of telling a good story. I have confidence that they will hit that mark with no real problem. I guess I’m wondering how much of an impression will Andromeda have on me. It’s not like the Dragon Age series where a new story and character have been introduced in every installment they have made. Mass Effect is the exception in that we followed and stuck with a main character and a supporting group of characters for three games. It’s like watching a new season of your favorite TV show. You already know the world and the characters. You’re just eager to revisit them again to see what sort of new adventures or troubles they will be getting themselves into this time. There’s also the added benefit of watching these characters grow and change over time. To have the model shift from sticking with one character over a period of three games to one where the new Mass Effect may tell self-contained stories in any future installments past Andromeda will be an understandable adjustment for longtime fans.
Whatever Andromeda has in store for its fans, I’m very excited to receive my copy of the game on release day and play the hell out of it. Ryder and I will be boldly exploring planets and galaxies like we’ve never done before. What are you hoping to experience from Mass Effect: Andromeda?