During their exclusive EA Play event, fans were treated to a first look at what's in development at EA while also presented with the opportunity to try their hands at playing Battlefield 1. Among the slate of highly anticipated games, Bioware's studio manager, Aaryn Flynn, introduced a new trailer and behind-the-scenes feature for Mass Effect: Andromeda.
The trailer promised bigger adventures and more freedom along with new and familiar faces, but did not offer much additional information for fans of the original Mass Effect trilogy. All the footage presented was simulated, but we also met the new, female face of the franchise. Details were minimal but E3 did provide enough background to keep interest piqued.
In an interview with Polygon, Mac Walters, Creative Director at Bioware, explained the new face of the franchise. She's the character, Ryder, that wakes up near the end of the trailer and whispers, "We made it." He explained that the John Shepard generic lead was the face because it was important to have a uniform look throughout what they once considered a "cinematic and movie-like" world. Now, however, he says:
"I think that's something we've moved away from, and we want to embrace choice and diversity with what you can do in the game. I think you can expect to see more of that in the game as we go forward. It's less about saying, here is a named character who you will play, and more this is the role that you can play and this is the way you can play it in."
With still very few details about the actual narrative or game dynamics, Walters did take to Twitter to confirm that players will still be able to play as either male or female. Walters confirmed that while a significant amount of time has passed between Shepard's legacy and the start of this new game, humanity is still a major focus:
"I think that's always been just core to the story that we're trying to tell — seeing all of this through human eyes. Ultimately we're all humans. That's the story that we're going to relate to and understand the most. It's part of the franchise, part of the IP."
This desire for exploration is part of what made (and hopefully will still make) Mass Effect such an immersive experience. By the time players reached the third game, they were fully invested in Commander Shepard and the unique squad that they'd spent three games building. Another of the big differences between the first trilogy and Mass Effect: Andromeda is that we entered the Shepard narrative after life-altering events had already shaped the character, but Andromeda brings everyone to a level playing field:
"It's new to the protagonist in the story as well, so you get to experience it with them, ask all the questions that they're probably asking as well and kind of go on that journey together... What could be more interesting than a brand new galaxy to explore with who knows what you could find with every planet?"
Bioware promises a "big game," and though they've been mum on details, Walters did say there will be a main campaign and an online component, though one would not have any bearing on the other (which is a departure from Mass Effect 3).
Mass Effect: Andromeda is slated for a March 2017 release to Xbox One, Windows PCs, and PS4.