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Speaking with the folks at VG247, BioWare general manage Aaryn Flynn explained how the company is going to try to expand on the core tenets of the original Mass Effect with Andromeda. We're still a ways away from the full media blowout in November, so Flynn is vague, but it sounds like exploration of large scope environments is a huge focus with the team, much like it was a huge focus for the Dragon Age: Inquisition team:
How does the more open play style fit in with the choice-driven nature of Mass Effect? It seems like meshing those two things together properly would make things quite a bit more difficult.
Yeah, it does, oh yeah. It’s one of those things where we didn’t estimate properly I think… [laughs] It’s a lot of work.
I think one of the great things for us is that we’re learning how to still provide a really special narrative experience – one that is beautiful, and polished, and full of choice and consequence all at the same time as having this experience that is still more self-directed and lets you feel like you’re really in the environment and in the space and truly in control of things.
Where do you think Andromeda stands in terms of RPG mechanics? Each of the Mass Effect games has a different balance between the action game and the RPG…
Yeah, they do, definitely. So… we talk about Andromeda as the spiritual successor to Mass Effect 1. To us this means that we think about y’know… really, Andromeda is our chance to do a lot of things that were ideas that we couldn’t really do on Mass Effect 1, but now we have a chance to do them because our own experience is greater, the hardware is greater, so many other things have been pinned down for us.
That really allows us to do that, to return to some of those ideas from the first game and do right by them, and so that’s the way we think about it. Hopefully you feel the same way about the game when you play it.
Frankly, the talk of a "more open play style" raises all kinds of alarm bells with me, because the quest design in Dragon Age: Inquisition was heavily compromised in order to allow BioWare to populate the game's extremely expansive areas. That said, in another interview on another publication, PC Gamer, Flynn assured that the negative feedback from Inquisition would be taken into account (thanks, NeoGAF):
"We learned that there were some quests in Dragon Age that didn’t resonate and were kind of flat – fetch quests and stuff,” says Flynn. “The nice thing is, you take those lessons, you package them all up, and you talk to the Mass Effect team and say, ‘These are the things you should do, these are the things you shouldn’t do.’ And the Mass Effect team get the pencils out and they build all that into it.”
Hopefully, the experience using the Frostbite engine and the long development cycle will allow Andromeda to feel just as deep as it is wide. We'll have to wait for its 2017 release date to find out, though.