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Mass Effect games and the ties that bind

Mass Effect characters.jpg

For me, the greatest strength of the Mass Effect series, and the thing that cements everything together is the people I take with me on every journey. I am not only talking about my crew, but also about the creatures I meet on my travels. The Mass Effect universe teems with life, and every encounter is meaningful. Yes, I know I am a bit of a Mass Effect freak, and it sounds silly that fictional characters can have a real emotional impact on a player, but it did. There, I said it; video game characters elicited an emotional response from me. I spend a lot of time in my inner world, and like all forms of art, video games have that ability to tap into my inner dialogue. Few games have done it as well as the Mass Effect series.

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In Andromeda, Mass Effect steps away from the familiar in so many ways; it's a whole new story and protagonist, new characters, new galaxy, different gameplay, and so on. But there is one thing that I believe Bioware will never change - that connection the player forms with in-game characters. Everything in every Mass Effect game enforces the ties that bind the player to their squad. What I've seen so far of Andromeda promises to not only build upon that trusted mechanic but also improve on it.

Bioware released a new video with the focus on the Asari doctor Dr. Lexi T’Perro, aboard your ship, the Tempest. She is played by the talented Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), who brings the character to life in a remarkable performance. That's the thing about Mass Effect AI - they come across as more than bytes and pixels. Characters are believable - you not only want to buy their story, but you also you want to be part of it.

I cried In Mass Effect 2 when I thought Grunt died because I chose to save the Rachni queen. When the quirky Mordin Solus sacrificed his life to correct and pay for the Krogan genophage, I sat stunned, staring at the screen and unable to move. My favourite times on the Normandy was when I talked with Urdnot Eve about life, children, and the challenges all females of every species face.

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Their stories touch our hearts, and we care for these artificial characters more deeply than anyone anticipated. It is no wonder Bioware faced such a riot with the controversial Mass Effect 3 ending. It mattered - it mattered more than it should've. Bioware's genius is in how they are able to bind the player to the AI - and it had an unexpected fallout in Mass Effect 3. In Mass Effect: Andromeda the journeys begins anew, and I hope it doesn't turn out to be just another space action RPG. I hope Bioware intensifies that connection and weaves us even closer to the characters we meet in the Helius cluster.

"Every single discipline within the project is at its top level," explains  Natalie Dormer (Asari doctor Dr. Lexi T’Perro). "From the design to hopefully the acting involved to just every single level of production. It's people at the top of their game."

It does sound promising.

Mass Effect Andromeda releases on 23 March 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. EA Access members will play 10 hours of Mass Effect: Andromeda 5 days before release.

More about Andromeda

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"Every single discipline within the project is at its top level"

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