A supposed leak on Reddit, if it is to be believed, has revealed new details about Mass Effect 4. The new information sounds very plausible given what Bioware has set forth as the creative goals for the game, as well as the details of the production we have so far. Even if they are fake or exaggerated, they can still give us an idea on what Bioware has in store for us for their next chapter in the Mass Effect saga.
Last time, we discussed the possible story implied by aspects of the leak. Today, we’ll talk about the gameplay brought up and how it progresses the franchises from earlier installments of the story.
So what’s new?
Everything old, it seems. However, it may be in the best possible way. One of the highlights of the first Mass Effect was its vast galaxy, with multiple planets you could land on and explore on foot or in the Mako. However, it is true Bioware was limited by the technology available to them at the time, thus creating some pretty barren planets and a vehicle with questionable controls.
Despite those drawbacks, the planetary exploration of Mass Effect gave the universe an expansive and tangible quality that made it feel real — a feeling that carried over to the other games in the trilogy despite its absence. Mass Effect 2 and 3 eliminated many aspects of the exploration instead of fixing their problems in attempt to bring more focus to the gameplay. It was an understandable move, and one that delivered a more focused narrative. However, it was hard to shake the feeling that something fundamental was missing after the first game, despite the many improvements that followed.
How has that changed in Mass Effect 4?
It seems a fundamental gameplay tenet of the game is exploration. Exploring the Helius Cluster is one of the basic reasons your character, the Pathfinder, is in the region. You will use a new version of the Mako to explore planets that make up the massive map for the region in an effort to establish new colonies for the Citadel space races. But before you can bring in the new, you have to clear out the old.
Back in our story analysis, we saw there’s another force in the Helius Cluster: The Khet. It seems they have outposts scattered throughout the region that serve as optional strongholds you can clear out. Each one acts as a single player version of the Horde mode, which would be a great time to test out team builds you’re thinking of using on story missions. The Khet, however, won’t be the only opposition you’ll find to taming the wilderness that is the Helius Cluster. The ancient race of the Remnant has vaults hidden across Helius space that you can raid, braving their traps and fellow vault raiders in order to grab special Remnant artifacts that will act as loot. It’s most likely that Bioware will be able to add new Khet outposts and Remnant raids as DLC (free or otherwise) in order to keep player interest alive.
What happens once you clear a planet out?
Building off of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s map missions mechanic, it seems you will have an ability to develop colonies and map units in a strategy/RPG hybrid. You will be actively establishing colonies in the Helius Cluster, but what kind of settlements will you choose? The leak points out Recon and Mining settlements as possibilities, but what about Barracks, Research, and Shipyards? It’s not surprising if we see all of them make appearances, forcing the player into some very tough decisions on how to spend your resources.
You can also create AI controlled “Strike Teams” to deploy on time sensitive missions, which sounds like a minigame similar to the Assassins Creed side missions using Assassin recruits across the globe. You will also be able to level up the strike team to increase their effectiveness. Next page, we’ll get into resource mechanics and multiplayer.