So the latest trailer for Andromeda has us all squealing like school girls, but before I get too carried away I wanted to think on what I’d really like to see in it. Obviously we are on the next gen after ME3 was released so I’m not going to go into graphics or sound, as these things already look fantastic in the trailers. The music has always been amazing in Mass Effect also, so I’m going to go ahead and presume that will be excellent too. Outside of that I’ve been pondering what improvements could be made while still maintaining that ‘Mass Effect’ feel – and I’ve narrowed it down to the five points below.
I’d really like to see the ability to switch between squad mates added. It was always quite frustrating when Shepard went down and it was mission over when Garrus and Liara were standing right there. Although I expect I would primarily play as my main character, sometimes you may want to cycle through your squad to check their line of view, their cover etc. If not this, some kind of tactical view so you can place your squad more effectively, and more quickly than holding up the wheel to pause the action while you try and get someone to take cover. With the paused action – I’d like to see the ability to queue actions for squad mates. Interrupt once, queue up moves and then go back to the action, rather than pausing repeatedly as you manage each persons’ cooldowns etc.
More complex NPCs
I’d like to see squad mates have their own moral compasses – and disagree/agree with Ryder when they do something that goes with or against it. This is reminiscent of Dragon Age, especially inquisition, but I really liked it. It’s more realistic to think that some people will flat out refuse to work with someone who is completely cutthroat – just the same as the paragon who always looks for a diplomatic solution will be seen as soft by some. I like the idea of managing squad and NPC expectations, and accepting that sometimes people just aren’t going to agree with you. I think this helps create a more immersive experience.
A return to its exploration roots
The first game had so many different and interesting planets, but the exploration was largely arbitrary. Same as in ME2 – the side missions with the mercenary groups made zero difference to the overall story line. ME3 it was flicked completely. I’d like to see a mission structure similar to 3, but with the ability to land anywhere on the planet and make your way to the objective however you see fit. Perhaps being able to scout for places for settlements, water, resources etc. on your way. This gives us some of that freedom of the first ME, while avoiding that pointless drawn out experience. It also means that for those who just want to do the missions they can land closer to the objective and run in. Win-win.
I know I loved a great deal of the characters from the trilogy, they are as memorable as they are quirky. But I’m not playing Andromeda looking for a replacement Garrus, Liara or Shepard. I want characters I’ve not seen before. I want them to be more complex and involved, and I want to learn more about them. I want some of them to not get along, some of them to be funny, serious etc. What I don’t want is to play and think, oh here’s the cheap knock off of the old gang.
The ability to fail
Hear me out – I’m not talking about cranking the difficultly for a frustrating experience a la Dark Souls. What I’m saying is, my issue with the original trilogy was that there really was no way to fuck it up. Just keep choosing the blue or red responses and you’re good to go – even the mid ground answers, although boring, still yielded results. By the end of the trilogy Shepard was faced with the same three options no matter how you made the decisions prior. I’d love to see more complex morality – some people respond to a renegade type action, someone else will see it as you trying to bullying them and refusing to help. Hide whether a response is paragon, renegade, humorous or whatever – just present the options and let the player try to determine the best way forward, and have players who stick with one approach constantly, fail. Reach a point where you can no longer achieve the main objective because you haven’t thought about your responses. I know this isn’t for everyone, but I would enjoy actually thinking about my responses more – and would enjoy playing with the different options to see the different outcomes.
So there you have it. Some of my thoughts around what I’d like to see in Andromeda, while still having it feel like a Mass Effect game. What about you? Any make or break things you’d like to see? Disagree with some that I’ve suggested, have some suggestions of your own?