Mass Effect is one of the most widely celebrated gaming franchises of all time, with each instalment of the trilogy releasing to widespread critical and commercial acclaim. It's a science fiction, action, role-playing, third-person shooter video game series which, for the first three games, followed Commander Shepard on his quest to save the Milky Way.
The series is characterized best by its in-depth dialogue choices with potentially far-reaching repercussions, including alternate endings. However, the climax of the saga ultimately left fans disappointed, with the finale of Mass Effect 3 being considered among the worst game endings ever. This was primarily due to the lack of genuine variety in its possible finales. Unperturbed by these mixed reactions to the third entry into the saga, developer Bioware announced as early as 2012 that a new Mass Effect game was in development.
The announcement was made on the official Mass Effect site earlier today: Mass Effect Andromeda will release on March 21st, 2017. In a short post from Aaryn Flynn, Bioware's General Manager, the game was described as:
"Mass Effect: Andromeda is our most ambitious Mass Effect game to date. We’re telling completely new stories, creating new characters, new planets, new species, and introducing new gameplay systems. And for the first time, we’re bringing Mass Effect to the FrostbiteTM game engine, an incredible engine that’s delivering a tremendous graphical jump from the trilogy to Mass Effect: Andromeda."
Bioware also developed the critically acclaimed Dragon Age series. The most recent instalment, Dragon Age: Inquisition saw a similar graphical enhancement using the popular FrostbiteTM game engine, and that game won the developer numerous accolades, including 15 Game of the Year awards. This announcement also alludes to the game's enormous and brand new setting, which will see players leave the Milky Way in favour of the neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy.
While there's a sense of innovation and change surrounding the game, there's a host of recurring elements and refinements alongside these overhauls. Fans and first-time players of the series can expect to build their character from a range of possibilities, including their sex and skill-type. It will also include its traditional dialogue features, albeit with improved AI. Systems such as the dialogue tree and romantic possibilities are all guaranteed to return to the game, and the dynamic third-person combat has already been highlighted by footage released late last year.
These award-winning features, combined with its vast and unique new setting almost certainly make the game an early contender for 2017's Game of the Year. Yet, the most important factor is the potential scale and graphical quality offered by EA's exclusive game engine. FrostbiteTM is known for its easily configured workflows and runtimes, offering developers a host of highly configurable options. This power and freedom will allow for unprecedented physics, AI, animation, cinematic, and visual effects compared to each preceding entry into the franchise.
Mass Effect: Andromeda will release on March 21st, 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.