Update: As pointed out in the comments below, players will still have the ability to command squad members around the battlefield and set them up for automatically chained attacks. The story has been updated to reflect that.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is a few weeks out and previews have started dropping following an exclusive hands-on session media got invited to last week. The event gave outlets the chance to get their hands on the anticipated RPG for the first time. It confirmed a few features – such as the slightly tweaked dialogue system that doesn’t use Renegade and Paragon anymore – but also revealed some features that BioWare have failed to detail. Like big changes to combat, for example.
According to multiple outlets who got their hands on Andromeda, some of the series’ staple combat has fundamentally changed with the transition over to Frostbite from the Unreal Engine. Cover, for example is no longer static. Unlike previous titles where you’d snap into cover with the push of a button, Andromeda instead uses an adaptive system. That means your Ryder of choice will automatically take cover behind obstacles the game deems appropriate, while exiting when you move away from it.
That’s present in many other games already, but it’s a change for Mass Effect. And a change that is definitely subjectively good or bad based on your preference.
Andromeda differs even more in the way that Ryder has control over his squad mates. In previous entries Shepard could bring up a radial wheel and issues commands to two companions in the field. This included attack a specific enemy, taking cover or using a particular ability. In Andromeda, that wheel, and by extension the options to issues direct ability commands, simply don’t exist. In short, Ryder has limited control over his or her team members, aside from managing their inventory and commanding them around the battlefield (which tie into some special moves).
According to Eurogamer:
“One big negative, however, is the removal of the powers wheel, and with it the ability to command squadmates to use specific abilities.”
Those are some big changes which BioWare excluded from its combat overview last week, and it makes me wonder what else they’ve changed in this new dawn for the franchise. They’re not inherently negative changes though, but it does seems like Andromeda is leaning heavily into a more third-person shooter focus if these changes alone are looked at.