Quite a bit has been said of BioWare’s decision to change Mass Effect Andromeda‘s classes system.
I walked away from my time playing the game still be rather confused about philosophy behind the change, but I’m confident that in the long run it can make for a rather significant shift — for the better — in Andromeda‘s approach to combat and character progression.
The “traditional” system of picking a class and developing skills along that line has been done away with, and players will now be able to freely pick and choose skills under specific profiles, and then, pending they meet certain prerequisites, can switch between profiles on the fly.
I had a chance to sit down with BioWare producer, Fabrice Condominas, and I asked him about what is a rather significant shift for the Mass Effect franchise.
“There’s actually no dominate profile,” Condominas explained. “It’s really about your play style. There are multiple different class profiles you can build and switch between.”
Common concerns among the Mass Effect community were related to the ability to switch between profiles at any time, but Condominas insists it’s slightly more complicated than that.
“Not on the fly just at random,” he said when prompted about changing profiles. “You can switch if you meet the prerequisites. That’s the important part. It depends on where you invest your skill points. You can’t switch if you haven’t invested in a certain area. It’s certainly not a free for all. It’s how you build your character.”
That’s a given: you’ll need to acquire and develop certain skills under particular profiles before you’re within the capacity to switch between, say, Soldier and Biotic profiles.
“It’s a slightly different aspect when applied to combat,” he said. “If you’re more interested in Biotics, for example, obviously that’s what you’re going to invest in. And then suddenly you might unlock different areas of a different skill tree. But even if you’re still interested in Biotics, and then let’s say you start investing in weapons, you’ll unlock the Soldier profile.”
Comdominas says this is important, because different profiles react to the world in different ways.
“Before combat and during combat, you might see that certain enemies, that they find ways to counter, or better Biotic abilities. You can switch to the Soldier profile to have more of an advantage in that environment,” he said.
It’s intriguing change in direction, because it really does away with traditional RPG approaches to classes and character creation.
“The reason we went in this direction,” Condominas continued, “in all aspects of the experience, was we wanted the player to grow the character with as much freedom as they wanted.”
Condominas said that narratively, things generally start off the same way, but that things naturally evolve in ways that the player my not anticipate.
“When you reach Andromeda, the character doesn’t know anything. Nothing goes as planned. So they’re facing a situation they didn’t anticipate. And it’s the same with you. You don’t know your character. So that’s the narrative aspect of it.
“Mechanically, when you come in, everything is open. You will build, mechanically, a character that suits your gameplay style. The more you play, the more you build. That’s the idea we had: that you can shape the personality and mechanically reflect that whichever way you want. You don’t have to make a preconceived choice of who you’re going to be stuck with.”
What are your thoughts on the changes to the classes system in Mass Effect Andromeda? Sound off in the comments below!