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A new Mass Effect: Andromeda gameplay video digs into the elements of combat

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The first of a series of extended Mass Effect: Andromeda gameplay trailers released today takes a look at the game's basic combat systems, including weapon and tech types, skill classes, and how they all come together in hundreds of possible combinations. 

There are four classes of firearm in the game—pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and sniper rifle—each of which is based on one of three types of technology: Milky Way (ammo-based projectile weapons, basically the stuff you bring from home), Remnant (heat-based beam weapons, no ammo worries but watch your rate of fire) and Helios (plasma-based, with advanced features like charging and heat-seeking). There are no class restrictions on weapon handling, so characters can wield whatever guns they want simply by switching up their loadout.   

There are also melee weapons for when the situation gets up-close and personal, ranging from flashing swords to Krogan hammers, which I would assume weigh a ton and hit like a Mack truck. And while they're not technically weapons, the enhanced mobility enabled by a jetpack will give you some new and interesting places to shoot from. The trailer shows a player jumpetting into the air, then aiming in mid-air to pause their descent. It also shows them making a quick dodge with a jetpack-enabled burst of movement along the ground.

Players will customize their Pathfinders by advancing through three skill classes, which, like the weapons, can also be mixed-and-matched. Combat skills help improve damage and accuracy, and enable the use of specialty weapons and grenades; Tech skills open up access to more experimental weaponry and equipment that provides unique offensive abilities and debuffs; and Biotics enable the use of dark energy to manipulate mass and gravity. Skills can be upgraded through multiple levels, and, at higher levels, further customized through A/B skill branches. 

The last couple of minutes of the trailer demonstrates how it all works, as the team uses cloaks, sniper rifles, grenades, tech skills, and biotics to attack an enemy base. It has the familiar Mass Effect look to it, but it also appears more open and fluid than previous games in the series—as much as you can judge such things based on a trailer, anyway. 

Future Andromeda gameplay videos will dig deeper into the game's systems, with closer looks at Pathfinder profiles—classes, basically, each with its own unique abilities and bonuses—and squad skills and commands. Mass Effect: Andromeda comes out on March 21 in North America, and March 23 in Europe. 

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.