With Mass Effect: Andromeda just a few weeks away from release, Bioware decided to show off some gameplay at PAX East. You would assume the content would include a small slice of what to expect in the campaign, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, we looked at the game’s multiplayer content.
Similar (almost identical, in fact) to Mass Effect 3’s version, the gameplay consists of you and your teammates working together to take out multiple waves of enemies. With each wave, your foes become harder to kill, not to mention that some waves require you to complete objectives such as standing in a specific spot to send out a signal or defuse bombs in different parts of the map. The final wave pits you against the hardest enemies, and you’ll have to survive long enough for your small ship to arrive and take the whole team to safety.
For the demo, I played as an Adept, whose biotic powers came in handy when I had to severely weaken a foe or stop them in their tracks. From the moment the round started, the muscle memory associated with playing the previous games kicked in, and it felt as if I just finished Mass Effect 3 the day before the demo.
Despite the obvious similarities to the previous game’s multiplayer mode, there were a couple of notable differences. Speed is your best friend throughout the round. The small jetpack fitted behind each character allows you to quickly move a few feet in any direction. It also works as an extra booster to let you reach roofs that would otherwise be inaccessible. Cover also works differently, in that your character will automatically press against the wall or a lower piece of cover, which is supposed to save you time as you move throughout the map. However, it felt strange to not press a button (as you did in previous games) to properly place your character in a covered position.
At first, the game started with basic soldiers and some alien creatures, which were easy to take down. The next few waves then added different soldier variants--some wore armor, and others showed up with stronger weapons. These tougher enemies forced me to utilize my biotic powers instead of exclusively using my main weapon. Otherwise, I would have to waste a full clip (and then some) to take them down.
Eventually, larger mechanized units appeared. Some of my allies and I died a few times throughout these tougher encounters, but fortunately fellow teammates revived us (or we used our own revive abilities). Eventually, we managed to get through seven waves, and then our ship arrived and extracted the team out of the area. The demo was short, shy of 30 minutes, but it was more than enough time to get an idea of what to expect in the final version.
Some might find comfort in the fact that there aren’t too many changes in the multiplayer experience, but I find it a bit disturbing, even though I enjoyed the demo. It doesn’t seem like an evolution of the game’s multiplayer portion, but rather the same gameplay with a new coat of paint. Even Gears of War 4 made significant changes to its wave-based Horde mode by allowing you to build anywhere on the map, but Mass Effect: Andromeda’s multiplayer gameplay isn’t indicative of any major changes from its predecessor, apart from the visual upgrades (which looked impressive on a 4K screen). We’ll find out more about the game’s multiplayer come launch day, but for now it seems that I’ll stick to the campaign unless Bioware adds a new feature that lures me back to fighting alien foes with my friends.