One of the things that has been of concern to longtime RPG fans is how much their favorite games are starting to hold your hand. Going from games that never told you exactly what you needed to do to ones where there was a big, bright objective marker that would show you where the next checkbox on your quest is, fans have definitely wondered if this trend would continue. We saw some faltering with Breath of the Wild’s excellent objective markers, and now it seems like Mass Effect: Andromeda will follow suit, making sure to not just point you at the objective.
“We have a sort of hot/cold mechanic” explained the developer at their PAX East 2017 panel. During the gameplay demo it was obvious that the player needed to go to a specific spot to continue the mission, but there wasn’t a big yellow marker telling him where. The idea seems to be that if the protagonist knows where to go, it will be obvious, but for things that are supposed to be discovered, it will follow this hot/cold mechanic, guiding into more exploration, rather than funneling toward the objective.
This is a definitely good trend to see in the RPG genre, with many series having shifted toward less actual exploration as of late. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrom was a fantastic game, but with its very blatant and informative objective marker it definitely felt, at times, like you were simply moving from place to place, checking boxes along the way. Of course, this is sort of how these games work, but the artifice is important. Players need to feel like they’re a part of the game, making decisions, and finding answers on their own, even if the game makes sure you are always able to find them.
Mass Effect: Andromeda arrives on March 21st for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.