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Why BioWare ditched the power wheel from Mass Effect Andromeda


After years of development we've finally got our hands on Mass Effect Andromeda and posted some detailed impressions of the game's first few hours. It's positive stuff, although one big change to the game's combat came as a bit of a surprise.

The power wheel from the original Mass Effect trilogy.

For Andromeda, BioWare has ditched the series' trademark power wheel, which let you pause combat and assign one of your squadmates to attack a specific target. You choose an ability to combo with your own, or set your team to fight another enemy while you did something else.

You can still pause combat using the weapon wheel, however this has been moved to the slightly more fiddly View button on Xbox One (the left-hand button in the centre of the controller). Additionally, you can still point your squadmates to move to a specific point using the D-pad.

But why the big change with squadmate powers? I asked Mass Effect Andromeda producer Fabrice Condominas for BioWare's reasoning.

"We decided to be way more dynamic and globally have much faster combat - you have the jump now, and the areas are more open. We felt like [the power wheel] was slowing down combat - it was an interruption we were trying not to have," he said.

But sometimes it felt vital - especially on the game's hardest Insanity difficulty.

"This is why we kept the weapon wheel to pause combat," Condominas continued, "and then for the squad - there's another reason which is more mechanical. So already we're not happy with how it feels, but then as we're going down the path of adding jump and evade, you need balance. At that point, we took the decision that a couple of things needed to go away.

"So we decided to take these things which were actually the best and the worst," he continued, referring to the jump and evade on the one hand and the power wheel on the other, "and just remove [the latter]. Also, because we wanted to go more open and diverse in our combat spaces, the level of the AI increased considerably - including the squad. So it was less needed."

BioWare has just published its latest gameplay trailer showing off how players can prime up to 12 different skills and switch between them during battle - it's a good explanation of how combat has evolved. While the disappearance of the power wheel isn't explicitly mentioned, how you can still use squadmates in battle is illuminated upon:

If you've read our big Mass Effect Andromeda preview, here's a whole list of other new Andromeda facts we uncovered.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda

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Tom Phillips


Tom is Eurogamer's Editor-in-Chief. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon. Tom joined Eurogamer in 2010 following a stint running a Nintendo fansite, and still owns two GameCubes. He also still plays Pokémon Go every day.