Mass Effect Andromeda: Everything you need to know

Mass Effect is a trilogy of games created by Bioware, with humanity being on the brink of taken seriously as a galactic race. In 2148, a team of explorers discovered evidence of an ancient civilization on Mars. The technological progress humanity made since its discovery allowed humans to travel to the furthest reaches of space. The original Mass Effect story follows Shepard, who's navigating the SSV. Normandy around the galaxies, becoming the first Human Spectre, and the discovery of the Reapers — a synthetic-organic race of starships. The Reapers were responsible for the creation of The Citadel and the Mass Relays (used to jump across the galaxy) but will come to wipe out all civilizations that have developed intelligence enough to discover them, making for an otherwise sick cycle of space genocide and space-race purging that occurs every hundred thousand years. Yikes!

This over-the-shoulder action RPG is highly regarded among gamers and critics for its characters, choice-directed narrative, and the universe it is set within. There were different playable classes, making it very replayable, and its depth left an open hole once it was finished.

Mass Effect Andromeda is Bioware's return to the Mass Effect universe, set 600 years after the events of Shepard and the Reapers in the original trilogy, and it takes on an entirely new threat. Mass Effect Andromeda is a fresh start for the series and one that is not necessarily the start of a brand new trilogy, either.

Who, what, why, where, and when? We'll tell you everything we know. And don't forget to check out the newest cinematic trailer below!

We are about to drop on you all the information we have Mass Effect Andromeda. If you don't want to know, back out now!

When will Mass Effect Andromeda be released? What platforms will it be on?

It will be released in the US on March 21, 2017, and March 23, 2017, in Europe. It'll be on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. If you're an EA Access Member, you will be able to play the first 10 hours of Mass Effect Andromeda before anyone else starting March 16.

What happened since the last Mass Effect? What is the rough story now?

Given the Reapers obliterated almost all life in the galaxies and destroyed the habitable planets the intelligent life dwelled on, it's safe to say the human race is in bad shape. Where Mass Effect was driven by an already established race with its own intergalactic weight and colonies across vast expanses of space, Mass Effect Andromeda sees a more gentle yet desperate approach to space exploration. 600 years after the events of the first three games, where Shepard is regarded as some kind of legendary hero (how exactly will likely remain unknown until release), Pathfinders are sent into space to find new planets to colonize. Humans are the alien life forms now. The new threat is called "the Kett."

Who is the main character in Mass Effect Andromeda?

The main protagonists are Sara and Scott Ryder, human Pathfinder siblings, one of whom you will play as. Both characters exist within the story, so if you choose to play as Scott (who can be renamed during customization), Sara will join you later in the game.

Who are the squad members in Mass Effect Andromeda?

If you scrutinized the above cinematic trailer, you'd have caught glimpses of some familiar looking characters. There are definitely humans, since Ryder is of the skinned bipedal persuasion of Earth, and another teammate, Liam, is also human. Cora is a Biotic teammate. Previously seen with her helmet on in past trailers, Cora is seen in the trailer above with the shaved head and white jumpsuit. We also see Asari characters, such as Peebee and Krogan, who is used as a one-man army. We also know that we won't be faced with character-killing decisions again, such as the Kaiden/Ashley decision of Mass Effect 1, or the end of Mass Effect 2.

How will it play?

With much more dynamic cover-based shooting and hot-key abilities, as opposed to a radial wheel selection, the action gets ramped up further with the inclusion of a jetpack for a quick evade or the ability to obtain a higher vantage point. The Paragon/Renegade alignments are now replaced with more emotive reactions pertaining to the heart, head, professionalism and so on.

Exploration will play a huge part in your game, with entire planets and their own biomes ripe for you to find. Each planet may have its own hostile enemy species, and there may even be leveled 'mini-bosses' that you may have to come back to when you're ready.

Will there be romance in Mass Effect Andromeda?

If you didn't see the sneaky split-second cut of Ryder locking lips with who looks to be Cora in the trailer above, it's pretty safe to assume Ryder is going to get as up close and personal with the crew as Shepard did. Just keep away from the engine bay, right? Some characters will be up for casual encounters, and others will be after a more long-term commitment. The developers wanted more one-on-one interaction between the Pathfinder and their crew, like we saw with Shepard and Garrus shooting bottles in Mass Effect 3.

How will classes work?

There will still be the three main classes (Biotic, Tech and Combat), but they are now part of a skill tree, enabling you to mix-and-match skills. When enough points have been banked into a certain skill, enhanced profile bonuses will be unlocked.

What are the vehicles in Mass Effect Andromeda?

The Tempest is the spaceship of choice, boasting a lavish interior set with med bays and galleys and all the accouterment we'd expect to find in a long term space-faring vessel. The Tempest is built for speed and stealth, lacking armor or heavy weapons. The Tempest will also be able to scan planets.

The Nomad, the Mako's successor, will be the ATV. It will still have rocket thrusters and boosters, but let's hope she handles less like a suitcase on wheels. The main thing we can look forward to in handling is that the Nomad was created with help from the Need for Speed developers, which should drastically aid with the maneuvering. Unlike the Mako, the Nomad doesn't have weapons.

Will Mass Effect Andromeda have a season pass?

Actually, no. Arryn Flynn confirmed in a tweet that there are no plans for a season pass, making this a rare and interesting deviation from Bioware's previous attempts at locking story-specific characters and events behind downloadable content (DLC). It is also interesting to note that while there are no plans to make a trilogy from the Andromeda world, it may not only be a standalone game ...

Does it have multiplayer?

Mass Effect Andromeda will have a multiplayer mode, which you'll be able to almost seamlessly switch to when playing the game. Multiplayer will use a card-based system to earn credits and XP, and there can also be modifiers to increase or decrease the challenge in relation to the reward.

Mass Effect Andromeda on Project Scorpio?

OK, it's a long shot. But Mac Walters, Mass Effect Andromeda's creative director recently gave an interview with Official Xbox Magazine, during which he suggested there may be a possibility for a Project Scorpio release.

"Given our Spring release date, I'm not sure exactly what we're going to be able to support at that time, but we have a strong service plan for ME that will continue past our release date," Walters said. "[I]f we do a Game of the Year edition, or a future edition or something like that, that's something we'd definitely consider looking at."

Did we miss anything? Are you really excited for the new Mass Effect? Let us know in the comments.

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Lauren Relph

Lauren Relph is a games writer, focusing on Xbox. She doesn't like piña coladas but loves getting caught in the rain. Follow her on Twitter!