Mass Effect may have left our home galaxy behind, but it is taking wave-based cooperative shooting with it.
BioWare’s reboot-sequel (a “requel”) to the Mass Effect series, subtitled Andromeda, will debut March 21 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC with a new underlying graphics engine that runs gorgeous shooters like Battlefield 1 and Star Wars: Battlefront. Despite those upgrades, the space-exploration role-playing game includes many parts that composed Mass Effect 3, and that includes its Horde-style wave-based multiplayer mode.
I played Andromeda’s multiplayer on PC last night in a session that included other reporters and BioWare developers, and I quickly got back into the swing of things. Once I understood my chosen character’s capabilities, I was able to keep up with my teammates in our effort to stave off swarms of various enemies. During each round, I used my “Adept” telekinetic magic to force space dogs, Krograns, and Turians into the air against their will or to hit them with a wave of energy.
Every two or three waves, my team would get an objective on top of fighting off the foes. One character would need to “hack” — stand near a context-sensitive button — for a certain duration while the rest of us protecting them, for example. But beyond that, this multiplayer was just like returning to Mass Effect 3 … or Gears of War 4, or any zombies minigame in Call of Duty. It has a few new moves, some new characters, but they aren’t fundamentally different than what we’ve seen before.
Of course, BioWare separates its take on this style of multiplayer from Gears of War or Call of Duty by enabling you to level up characters over time with Mass Effect’s signature Biotic and other capabilities that echo The Force from Star Wars. Instead of standing behind cover and shooting, you could choose to go the Vanguard route where you burst forward into the center of the enemy position to slam them with powerful melee and close-range attacks.
And no matter how familiar Mass Effect and its multiplayer is, rushing the computer-controlled opponents and punching the ground to create a devastating earthquake still feels out of this universe.