Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer maps will be free

BioWare said in January that the multiplayer component of Mass Effect: Andromeda will be handled different than it was in Mass Effect 3. In ME3, single-player success was tied to multiplayer: In order to get the best possible outcome, you had to play online enough to maximize your War Assets, which some players, myself included, found objectionable as a matter of both practicality and principle. In Andromeda, however, the multiplayer mode will have no impact on the singleplayer campaign.   

One thing will remain the same, however. Post-release multiplayer maps for Mass Effect 3 were all free, and BioWare general manager Aaryn Flynn said on Twitter that those for Andromeda will be as well.   

BioWare hasn't said much else about how Andromeda's multiplayer component will work, but producer Fernando Melo has been dropping some details in his own Twitter feed, including images of the character selection and customization screens, the new, Prestige-like multiplayer bonus stats, the Missions screen, and—this is the big one—information on multiplayer Strike Teams.

"Don't want to play Missions in MP? Send STs out from either SP or MP," he wrote. "You can recruit/upgrade NPC teams that you send on Apex missions in your stead. If successful, you'll get the msn rewards." 

Missions, which Melo described as the link between single-player and multiplayer, can be taken on in multiplayer mode, or assigned to an NPC "Strike Team." Mission-specific rewards are the same either way, but completing a mission yourself will earn multiplayer experience and loot, while assigning it to a Strike Team will grant your NPC team members experience. Strike team members will have their own unique traits, and while they won't die as a result of failed missions, they might take on negative traits that can hinder their performance in the field. Details will be revealed in the relatively near future, but Melo said Strike Teams will open up Andromeda's Mission system to everyone, even if they can't, or just don't want to, play the multiplayer—or it can be ignored completely with no negative effects. 

Mass Effect: Andromeda comes out on March 21 in North America, and March 23 in Europe. Watch out for Quarians

Andy Chalk

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.