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Mass Effect Andromeda: story, gameplay, proposed release date and everything we know

UPDATE: New footage and details from PS4 Pro event.

BioWare's highly-anticipated Mass Effect Andromeda - which many still refer to as Mass Effect 4 - has been in development for ages.

Official information on the game is still hard to find, however, as BioWare have decided to keep its cards close to its chest until an extensive reveal later this year - which we now know will happen in November.

Andromeda will be a fresh start for the series, while retaining much of its past lore; the move to a fresh galaxy means BioWare can leave behind the decisions you made in the original Mass Effect trilogy. To put it bluntly: Mass Effect Andromeda won't acknowledge your choice of ME3 ending.

Here's Mass Effect Andromeda's latest trailer from E3 2016:

Mass Effect Andromeda story - expect new races, planets and a ship

There will be two major new races in the Andromeda galaxy, along with the likelihood of others. Ever since a leak from PAX Prime back in 2013, when select fans were treated to a behind-closed-doors presentation and asked for feedback, these have been known to be an aggressive race and a peaceful, ancient "guardian" people.

A major marketing survey leak in April 2015 named these two races as the Khet and the Remnant, the latter of which has been proven correct by their named appearance in September 2016's PlayStation 4 Pro footage.

It's worth remembering that BioWare told Eurogamer at E3 this year that some information which had leaked is now outdated. However, other details from the marketing survey have also been proven correct, such as the name of your new Normandy-esque ship, the Tempest, and the generic name given to your hero - Pathfinder.

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Alliance Recon something something...

"You are a pathfinder," the leak stated, "a combat trained but untested explorer leading an expedition into the Helius cluster [in the Andromeda galaxy] to establish a new home for humanity. As you explore this sprawling series of solar systems (over four times the size of Mass Effect 3), collecting resources and building colonies, you will encounter the savagery of untamed lands in the form of cut-throat outlaws and warring alien races."

This mention of a "pathfinder" initiative fits logos spotted on the jackets of BioWare staff at events, along with the word "ARKCON", which some fans have suggested refers to an "ark contingency" - ie., Milky Way races using a space ship as an ark to another galaxy to ensure survival from the deadly Reaper war.

Shepard isn't returning in Mass Effect Andromeda - so who is the lead?

Andromeda's main character is named Ryder, and can again be played either as a male or female character. The female Ryder was revealed at E3 2016 and male Ryder at the PlayStation Meeting event, when it was also confirmed the two characters would be siblings.

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Meet the family.

For the first time, both male and female options will exist simultaneously, although it is unknown to what extent the two will interact. It look like you will meet Ryder's father however - he was the helmeted N7 operative spotted in the E3 2014 trailer. As for Ryder's own story, your main character will journey from a regular colonist to a hero, BioWare has said, as opposed to the story of Shepard - who began Mass Effect 1 as a hero already and ascended from there to an almost messianic legend.

Andromeda is set hundreds of years after Mass Effect 3 and in a different galaxy, so there will be no direct continuation of Shepard's story. However, nods to past adventures will be included, along with plenty of fan service for players who want to go seek it out.

Is romance still on the cards in Mass Effect Andromeda?

Trailers have shown that you'll have at least four of the major Milky Way races on your ship: human, asari, krogan and salarian. Although name and details for any of your sidekicks have yet to be confirmed; one leak named a krogan sidekick as Drack, and another biotic squadmate as Cora, who may well be the asari.

Andromeda, like all other Mass Effect games, will again let you engage in romantic relationships. BioWare has said players should expect this to work as other games in the series, and that same-sex relationships will of course be included.

Mass Effect Andromeda gameplay: How does it play?

Despite the new setting, BioWare will not tamper with the overall Mass Effect experience. Expect dialogue wheel conversations, big choices and sci-fi gunplay with biotic "space magic".

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Also expect a vast number of planets to explore, each of which will have one particular biome, according to BioWare. But these areas will be huge, and traversable both on foot and via the returning Mako buggy.

There's no vehicular combat this time around, so you'll be using your Mako just for exploration. Exploring planets and solar systems may sound familiar, but this time the focus is on doing so as an alien yourself.

Co-operative multiplayer will also return, although details of that are thin on the ground. It's likely you'll be able to play as different races of alien again, however.

Multiplayer and mission types expected in Mass Effect Andromeda

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Other information from the leak revealed the kinds of missions you'll face. "Active Strike Team" missions will introduce multiplayer areas to players, which sounds similar to ME3's N7 objectives.

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Dragon Age Inquisition's cut Keep defence system.

There is also expected to be a separate multiplayer horde for you and up to three friends, with rewards for use in the main campaign.

Meanwhile, there are "Deployed Strike Team" missions which take real-time to complete sound similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition's war table missions, where you send out resources to complete missions in real-time. These will allow you to gather resources and keep areas secure, which also sounds similar to a Keep defense system intended for Inquisition but then cut during production. Inquisition's creative director Mike Laidlaw previously told Eurogamer this was due to the problems of supporting last-gen consoles, something which Andromeda will not have to consider.

Other missions will task Ryder with exploring Remnant vaults, as we saw at PlayStation Meeting:

Mass Effect Andromeda release date - when's it coming out?

BioWare has said we'll hear more on Mass Effect Andromeda soon - when the franchise celebrates its annual N7 Day held each year on 7th November. After then, information will likely come thick and fast as March 2017 approaches.

Mass Effect Andromeda is currently set for release in March 2017, on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

In North America you can pre-order it from Amazon, and Best Buy, and in the UK, from Amazon, GAME and ShopTo.

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