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Countdown to Andromeda: Exploring the Galaxy

Mass Effect: Andromeda is almost here, and BioWare have released another in their series of gameplay videos, this time focusing on the mechanic at the heart of the new instalment in the franchise: exploration. A returning feature from the original trilogy is the Galaxy Map, which allows the Pathfinder to plot their course and scan for nearby anomalies from the safety of their ship, the Tempest. To quote the official Mass Effect website; “The story in Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place in the Heleus Cluster, a portion of space populated with dozens of star systems. You can navigate these systems using the Tempest’s onboard Galaxy Map and see everything that exists outside your ship’s many windows in real-time. Planets, moons, space anomalies, and starships will all be visible from the Tempest.”

In Andromeda, there will be over one hundred planets to discover, with a handful of these being worlds available to land on and explore on foot. Planets which are unavailable to land on will function similar to the previous games, I imagine, offering the player opportunities to scan for resources and quest items. Each world that the pathfinder can land on is said to be vast and unique, with its own set of stories, characters and challenges to encounter. BioWare have not given a concrete answer as to how many planets are actually available for exploration by the player, but in the Andromeda Initiative briefing it is said that there are seven “Golden Worlds,” which are planets with an environment capable of sustaining life. For on-planet exploration, BioWare have brought back the Mako, which was an all-terrain vehicle from the first game that divided opinion due to its less than stellar handling. The new and improved version, the Nomad, should make those long journeys across planets that much easier, as the Mass Effect website claims; “The Nomad, your all-terrain rover, is key for quickly covering the expansive landscapes throughout the Andromeda Galaxy. You’ll be able to enhance the Nomad with a series of functional upgrades designed to give you better Turbo Boost, higher jumps, better handling, and more.”

IGN recently released footage of the first 13 minutes of the game and we see that the Golden World assigned to the human colonists is being affected by some type of infection. Long range scans had been sent out to determine the viability of the planets in the Andromeda Galaxy but it seems things have taken a turn for the worse during the course of the six hundred year journey. IGN also showed off footage of the Nexus, which is the equivalent of the Citadel from the original trilogy. For those of you unfamiliar, the Citadel was a giant space station which acted as a trading hub for the player, but also held the galactic government which was comprised of the four main races of the game. The player will be able to earn Nexus points and upgrade the station as the game progresses, choosing to focus either on Science, Combat or Commerce. The paths you take will ultimately affect your relationship with the other races who may have a vested interest in one over the other.

Mass Effect: Andromeda releases on March 23rd in Europe and I look forward to bringing you my final impressions once the full game is out.