Mass Effect Andromeda previews have turned up all sorts of information, but here's what we all really want to know.
Mass Effect Andromeda is in full PR blitz mode this month after far too long in silence, and yet BioWare is being annoyingly coy about the subject most dear to my personal heart: whom I can bang.
BioWare knows very well what a lure the romances in its games are, to the point where we've all just accepted that the near-official term for it is "banging" - even as the developer continues to evolve its systems further and further away from the insert-compliments-get-sex-scene model we started with. "Banging", among BioWare faithful, is just shorthand for "forming emotional attachments to these good-looking fictional people". For many of us, it's the whole point - whether there's a softcore space porn scene at the end of it or not.
"If you get very, very close to a character and another character can’t stand him… There will be conflict."
I knew Alex had already gone hands on with Mass Effect Andromeda and found it worth the wait, and also asked some sensible questions about it, so when EA let me at the preview code I felt free to focus on what I most wanted to know about: who would bang me, in what combinations they would bang me, and how quickly we could get to banging.
Unfortunately, BioWare really doesn't want to talk about Mass Effect Andromeda's romances in detail; when story and characters are such a highlight of your releases, naturally you don't want to spoil them in advance for your players. But do not despair, my cherubim: I may not have the bristling dossier of sexual preferences I hoped to bring you, but here are the results of my interrogation of producer Fabrice Condominas.
Down below the interview you'll find a number of observations about bangable characters I gathered from my Mass Effect Andromeda preview, so don't scroll past the picture of Jaal if you don't want spoilers on sexual preferences and flirtation opportunities.
VG247: The first question I have is very, very important. The Angara. Their cheekpads, like by their nose – are they hard like crab shell, or soft like cat face?
Fabrice Condominias: You’ll have to play to get all those answers.
Is there actually going to be a codex that will tell me about their cheek pads?
You will have to play the game to learn all about their anatomy.
That’s very suggestive. You mentioned earlier that the romance system is tied to trust level, which presumably takes a while to build up. Just how early in the game can we start banging? Not necessarily banging, but you know. Initiating romances.
It depends on your choices. There’s no one answer to that. Who you want to bang, how you want to bang.
What if you were really, really efficient? In your quest for banging.
I don’t know. Maybe, uh, three, four hours? Something like that? If you’re very efficient. But again it depends on your choices, and who it is.
This time though it’s not all about love as a binary thing. You can have just one romance if you want, or more, you can just flirt if you want… The thing about the change of engine means a new romance system and again, not everything’s binary this time.
What about collecting all the available squad members? Can you get them all onboard at once?
I think you can. I would guess so.
In the presentation you gave earlier, you made it sound like maybe some of the loyalty missions conflict with each other.
Yes, but notice I didn’t say you couldn’t [finish them all]. It’s just trickier. The characters, between themselves, they have their own relationships. So if you get very, very close to a character and another character can’t stand him… You see the logic behind that. There will be conflict.
But if you play certain ways and you remain more or less balanced and depending on the level… there’s probably a slight possibility that you can get everyone [loyal].
Doesn’t sound like there’d be a lot of banging on that path, though.
Come on. If you're balancing everyone's feelings...?
Depends how many people you wanna bang.
Having established that BioWare really wasn't going to spoil the banging in Mass Effect Andromeda - even if I said "booo" loudly and accused them of dodging questions, my ultimate journalistic technique - I naturally set out to perform some investigative research instead.
Let loose in a preview build of Mass Effect Andromeda, I barrelled my way through the opening mission and then was plopped down on the Tempest a couple of critical path quests in. Handlers gently indicated I should go down to wherever it was Ryder was supposed to be and do whatever it was Ryder was supposed to be doing, but I did not: I took a tour of the ship and talked to everyone I could find to see if they would bang me.
Here are my observations. Note that these are all from the perspective of Scott Ryder; we got kicked out before I could do another lap with Sara.
Scott Ryder could not seem to resist flirting with Peebee; the option came up multiple times in our chat, which seemed to be the first opportunity the pair had had to really get to know each other. Peebee was very open about her life and experiences - I won't spoil what she actually said - but much more guarded about her immediate plans, even as she asked Ryder for help with them. I don't know how she would have reacted to Scott's flirting because I felt I could not make myself vulnerable to someone clearly hiding a potentially dangerous secret. She might be building a Reaper or something. I refuse to have another Anders or Solas moment.
Some people are calling Vetra the new Garrus, but to them I say: nonsense. Garrus was my best bro and comrade in arms, a burned-out cop whose heart of gold I extracted through patience and friendship. Vetra, on the other hand, is a cheerful wheeler and dealer who knows how to work shady, underground connections - and yet comes over all dorky and embarrassed after a good flirting session. I will climb her like a tree. Tall space girlfriends are the best space girlfriends.
A former cop, among other things, Liam fulfills the unfortunate role of early BioWare companion who says a lot of obvious things and asks eye-rolling questions in order for exposition to be delivered to you, the player, who unfortunately cannot be trusted to remember things for whole seconds or form simple connections, due to years of over-stimulation and instant gratification. Hopefully he improves as time goes on. He does not bang dudes and stated this explicitly when I tried it on.
Update: On reflection, Liam actually said something like he wasn't into "that" - as opposed to men specifically. Possibly by "that" he meant banging on short acquaintance - or maybe he meant her's not into banging at all. In any case, we must move this one out of the "sorted" pile and back into "isn't the breadth and complexity of identity and relationships just breathtaking".
Unless there's some scene in Mass Effect Andromeda where you put on a play, we know Cora is at the very least interested in banging one of the Ryder siblings, because she and Scott have a pash in a trailer. And yet I received zero option to flirt with her during my preview, despite lengthy dialogue. This pleased me somewhat because I secretly hope Cora and Sara get together, but I'm guessing she's The Hard To Get One.
There were no flirt options for Drack. Is he off the table? When oh when will BioWare let us bang krogans? Sure, they have four testicles, but Turians and Quarians have, like, poisonous physiology, and they get banged. How on earth do all these species even - well, look, the point is: come on BioWare, let us bang a krogan. Maybe not Drack though; that doctor voiced by Natalie Dormer already called dibs. You can just bet I'm gonna help make that happen.
The Best Boy. 100% omnisexual, I'm calling it now, based on zero hard evidence and purely on how clear it is that BioWare staff consider him the heartthrob. Has a nice voice but, without going into spoiler territory, he's not really in a romance mood during the time we spent talking. We had a pleasant chat and got on very well, but when I tried to talk to him again he snapped at me and told me he was still mad about our argument. I had no idea what argument he was referring to but this is not inconsistent with my real life relationship experiences.
Some guy in the hold
I forget the guy in the hold's name - I don't think he was a party member? - but he was 100% DTB Scott Ryder.
That's everything I discovered about banging in Mass Effect Andromeda in the limited time allotted to me. Never fear, cats; as soon as I have access to the final build of Mass Effect Andromeda, I will devote every spare moment to tracking down and mapping every possible combination, position and permutation of the banging. For journalism.