Mass Effect Andromeda – Multiplayer early impressions

With Mass Effect Andromeda’s launch scheduled just two days from now we decided to take a deeper look at the multiplayer component of the game – it’s available for testing thanks to EA/Origin Access on Xbox One and PC.

If you have played multiplayer component of Mass Effect 3 before, you won’t get lost here as Mass Effect Andromeda uses the same formula and changes only the tiny bits. Basically, it’s more of a Horde mode similar to Gears of War series rather than a standard multiplayer mode. Four players in total gather together to fight waves of enemies.

More of the same

Players, who have their history with BioWare games – played Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, used Andromeda Initiative website etc. – will get a starting bonus with a few different loot boxes. Those contain random characters, weapons and equipment. And I was lucky enough to get an Asari Huntress, a gold-level hero with a decent skill set.

Loot boxes are important in multiplayer of Mass Effect Andromeda. You’ll get common items like ammo for the rocket launcher or health packs that are used in every match. But you will also get character and weapon cards, and if it happens that a duplicate appears, you get +1 level. Getting better with your hero is the main focus, as there will come a moment when you’ll get everything you need for your gameplay. Of course, being versatile is advised, but everyone knows that a gold Krogan card can’t be easily superseded.

There aren’t many differences in how matches work. Your team starts in a single spot and its task is to find and eliminate all enemies on the map. When that happens, you have a brief moment to resupply and the fun starts again. Some waves contain boss-like enemies, but in general waves of 5-10 are the moment you’ll perspire a lot. The eleventh wave uses a timer after which you are successfully evacuated.

Some surprises

The same system is same the one available in Mass Effect 3. While the single player campaign is totally different, the co-op mode works best untouched and I’m happy to tell you that after hundreds of hours in the previous game I’ll happily spend more in Andromeda.

From three factions that are available as opponents I was able to test two especially. The Kett are interesting, with standard troops running everywhere, heavy units taking good spots to flank us and beasts jumping and running to distract us and use their mass to block our movement. There are also other units, but I won’t name them – they appear in the campaign, with one being especially important for the plot. I’ll just say that one enemy has a rather unique shielding ability with quite explosive attacks. When my team – rather reasonable in skill – met it for the first time, our match was lost in a few second (we haven’t met it in single player before).

With this I’m happy to announce that enemy forces are well diversified and a match with the Remnant is a totally different experience. It will take a bit until we learn how to deal efficiently with each unit. And I’m sure that BioWare will quickly expand this module with free content updates – the same way as with previous game.

More to do

There are five maps total available for launch, but I managed to play more on three of them, two of which I like. Fire Base Zero, an outpost built directly on an asteroid, is a fun, rather horizontal experience. There are some good shooting points and it’s easy here to group enemies and use some AoE abilities and items. I also like the Sandstorm, a sandy (surprise, surprise) base with a lot of buildings and well designed vertical points. On the other hand, I probably won’t be a die-hard fan of Derelic, an abandoned Kett ship. There are too many obstacles, bridges and dark spots.

One additional thing are the Strike Teams. This is the place where multiplayer meets single player, as you are able to send your AI squads or decide to play the missions yourself. It’s not a requirement and you can totally skip this aspect, but I like it. The AI-controlled version reminds me of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and I like such a form of micromanagement.

All in all, the co-op mode seems like a solid, less controversial part of Mass Effect Andromeda. I hope everyone will enjoy it as much as I do.