As part of their month-long coverage output, Game Informer recently released a video interview where Game Director Mac Walters talked about Bioware's vision for Mass Effect Andromeda.
To me, what I started to realize during the course of the Mass Effect trilogy was, yes the story is important and the plot is important, but it's the characters that people love. It's the characters that people remember and they have to be caught up in something special and interesting, but that's really where it needs to start. That's actually, I think, where a lot of the team's confidence came from - we know how to make amazing characters. That's also where a lot of the freedom came from - we were like, okay, if we were to populate Mass Effect Andromeda with characters what would they look like?
That gets the ball rolling, people start talking rather than being too concerned about whether this plot is as exciting as the last plot or whether this story is as epic as the last story. Let's actually start with characters, I think a lot of our early development was around the characters and that really helped.
As someone whose primary interest in any story is always centered around characters, I definitely agree with this approach. There's more, though: Walters also mentioned that Mass Effect Andromeda will have a slightly lighter, more adventurous tone to go with its increased focus on exploration.
If we wanted to explore this new galaxy, I think people were saying 'Don't make me feel like if I go off and do this little sidequest, I'm letting the universe burn'. That led us to thinking more about a slightly lighter tone. There's still going to be stakes, there's going to be huge stakes in this game - as Pathfinder, humanity is relying on you to find a home in Mass Effect Andromeda. At the same time, it's a little different than 'Every fifty thousand years the entire galaxy gets level set, maybe you should get on that Shepard'. It's a matter of degrees, right?
Another term I like to use is, it's a bit more adventurous. I want to just go on and explore, I want to see what's over that hill, I want to see if I can take that large enemy over there. It's a bit of that youthful energy - this isn't a seasoned team.
Mass Effect Andromeda is now planned for a release in Spring 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Bioware is set to debut a gameplay trailer during Geoff Keighley's The Game Awards on December 1st.