|Mass Effect: Andromeda|
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Mass Effect: Andromeda is the fourth entry in the Mass Effect series of video games. It was released for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro, and Microsoft Windows on March 21, 2017 in North America, and on March 23, 2017 in Europe, with pre-load on Origin starting on March 17, 2017. Those with Origin Access or EA Access could play a 10-hour trial as of March 15, 2017 on Xbox One or Origin; early access was not available to users of the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro. EA offered a Standard Edition, a Deluxe Edition and a Super Deluxe Edition of this video game upon release.
Mass Effect: Andromeda represents a departure from previous titles in the series using the Unreal Engine (Mass Effect 3 uses Unreal Engine 3), with Bioware instead opting to use the Frostbite 3 Engine - the same engine that powers Battlefield 1.
Gameplay has arguably been refined over Mass Effect 3. Quick-time events make another appearance, and the player gains a functional inventory system, including the ability to salvage components, elements, and compounds from their travels. These can then be used within the research, development, and crafting systems. Combat is similar, but instead of relying on drops of thermal clips, the player has to rely on resupply crates to top-up their ammunition. Medi-Gel has also been removed as a way for the player to regenerate health quickly in combat; instead, certain resupply crates restore health. The cover system has also been improved, with the player character more intelligently making use of chest-high walls and other formations.
The player also carries around a portable scanner. Certain technology, lifeforms, and natural strata can be scanned, providing useful flavour text and a points bonus to research, which can be spent later.
On the ground, the development team recognised that there was a gulf in quality between the two previous vehicles granted to the player; the M-35 Mako and the M-44 Hammerhead. While the Mako was famously described as "handling like a fat man on a unicycle" by Ben Crowshaw due to a somewhat off-balance physics engine, the Hammerhead was too smooth in operation, providing almost no skill requirement by the player. The team thus returned to the drawing board, and came up with the Nomad, an all-terrain vehicle capable of four or six-wheel drive, with vertical jump assist and turbo boost.
The navigation system the player uses is heavily inspired by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, with a compass bearing at the top that shows your specific quest objectives or points of interest relative to your position. The map can set waypoints that then show up on your compass bearing, and it also offers a fast travel system back to specific objectives or waypoints.
The mineral retrieval gameplay element from Mass Effect 2 makes a reappearance; players can deploy mining drones using the Nomad, capable of mining Aluminium, Copper, Iron and Vanadium, while the player can also pick up deposits of other elements, such as Caesium, Element Zero, Fluoride, and Lithium.
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Mass Effect: Andromeda is initially set during the events of Mass Effect 2, and describes what is known as the Andromeda Initiative, an ambitious project to send the "Nexus" and a fleet of Ark ships through "dark space" to the Andromeda Galaxy.
The Nexus is a mobile space station closely modelled on the Citadel already present in the Milky Way, while the Ark ships are to provide the bulk of the personnel, with Ark ships being sent by many species, including Humans, Salarians, Turians and Asari. The player eventually awakens, having arrived at their destination, six hundred years later.
Expectations for Mass Effect: Andromeda were high after what was an overall positive reception for the previous three games in the series. The engine change has not gone completely according to play, with animations and assets being arguably lower in quality than the previous installment, Mass Effect 3. The writing has also come into question, with many players feeling that the quality is lower than it has been in previous installments.