5 curious facts about Mass Effect Andromeda

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Here’s a few snippets of info we found out when we caught up with Mass Effect creative director Mac Walters and producer Fabrice Condominas prior to the release of Andromeda

[The full feature and interview can be found in games™ 183, first on sale 26 January]

5 curious facts about Mass Effect Andromeda

Every EA studio helped as BioWare’s tech support

Since the Frostbite engine has been adopted and embraced by several teams across Electronic Arts, BioWare is able to call upon the expertise of other studios for more than just their opinion. They can give Mass Effect real engine-level support to make it better. “Even when we were working on the Nomad, we were able to pull in some people from Need For Speed and send it over to them and say, ‘Hey, what do you think? We’d really like your feedback on this’,” Walters tells us. “And they were able to give us not only subjective feedback on what they thought of the vehicle itself, but also very specific technical feedback that was able to help us improve it in Frostbite.”

5 curious facts about Mass Effect Andromeda

PGA Tour proved to be an unlikely influence

“I think some of the biggest wins on it were the environments,” Walters insists to us. “It does environments so gorgeously. Some of the places you’re going to visit in Andromeda are going to look far and away better than anything you’ve ever seen in Mass Effect before. It really is amazing.” And the team went to an interesting source of information to get the most from Frostbite in this respect. “Our graphics programming team worked a lot with PGA [Tour team, EA Tiburon] on the environment and the quality of the vegetation and the grass,” Condominas reveals to us. “There is a lot of crossover that is not obvious, but actually happened.”

5 curious facts about Mass Effect Andromeda

And there was plenty of FIFA influence too

You may recall that BioWare helped EA Canada with its development of The Journey for FIFA 17 as it applied RPG elements to its story mode, but things went deeper than that according to Condominas. “There was a lot of discussion with the FIFA team actually and if you play the FIFA story mode you’ll notice the BioWare signature in some of the aspects of it. The interesting thing is that a lot of people are mentioning the story mode in FIFA 17 and how BioWare helped to put that together, but it goes both ways, right? For example, we’re using animation systems that FIFA was developing and looking at. It really goes both ways.”

5 curious facts about Mass Effect Andromeda

BioWare likes to think of the side missions as TV spin-offs from the main movie plot

BioWare is hoping to make its side missions and stories feel more connected to the main narrative while also offering a satisfying, self-contained experience. Walters compares it to have both a movie and TV episodes working together. “Each of those planets has its own big choice that you have to make on,” he explains. “If the main campaign is an epic, sprawling movie then each planet is a little TV episode that you can do separately and it all feels self-contained, although they’re all much longer than movies or TV episodes.”

“Gameplay naturally supports that context while working on them, for example, this is why we’re crafting these interplanetary quests and how we build some link between all these activities,” Condominas adds.

5 curious facts about Mass Effect Andromeda

There is one returning character

While it’s been widely accepted that Andromeda will not be leaning on any established characters from the Shepard trilogy, there is in fact one character from the original games that will be continuing through to Mass Effect Andromeda: Avina. Not familiar with the name? Well, Avina is actually the Citadel VI that you will have interacted with rather a lot when you first visited the installation in the original Mass Effect. She will be acting as VI aboard the Nexus for the Milky Way exhibition, a place you can bring species you meet in Andromeda so they can learn more about your home galaxy. It is also a place you can spend some time, of course, and a place for new players to get a little refresh on some of the core groups you’ll be spending time with.