As soon as I sat down at a PC to play Mass Effect: Andromeda last week, I paused the game and started digging into its menus. First, because I wanted to see all the mouse and keyboard bindings before the tutorial mission explained them to me one by one. Second, and more importantly, because I wanted to see the skill system—to get a sense of how much of an RPG this really is. While I loved Mass Effect 2's crew, I'm one of those ME1 diehards who got a bit mopey about the simplified talent systems in and .
Mass Effect: Andromeda's skills system got me excited. Very excited. Because there's no strict class system, you can mix and match skills from all three categories: combat, biotics, and tech. Each skill can be upgraded six times, and each category has 12 entries, with a couple of these being more generalized upgrades, like buffs to your overall biotics damage in the biotics category, or increasing your HP in the combat category. In typical Mass Effect fashion, the higher ranks for each skill will offer two upgrade choices with different effects.
What's different for Andromeda is you'll be able to max out every single skill in every single tree, if you want to. Lead designer Ian Frazier confirmed there's no level cap in Andromeda, which means nothing to stop you from accruing those sweet sweet skill points.
"It would take a long time, but it is technically possible," he said with a laugh. "We don't actually have a level cap, so you could keep going until you have straight-up run out of things to spend points on, which should be around level 123."
Since you won't be restricted to any particular class this time around, experimentation will be much easier. If you spend a few hours focusing on guns and decide to switch over to biotics, the option's there for you. But Frazier also mentioned that you can completely respec by spending credits in your ship's medbay, should you want a clean slate to specialize. This was also possible in ME2 and ME3.
"Every time you do that the cost goes up, so you don't want to do it constantly, but you can do a complete nuke from orbit if you want," he said.
One thing Andromeda does have in common with the more limited talent systems in ME2 and ME3, though: its leveling system is all combat. The first Mass Effect was already light on RPG attributes with its 'charm' and 'intimidate' talents, and since then the series has dropped them completely. Don't expect to be putting points into dialogue skills or classic RPG stats like dexterity or cunning when Andromeda releases on March 21.
For more on the game, check out our Mass Effect: Andromeda news hub here.