Mass Effect: Andromeda's multiplayer closely mirrors ME3's frantic wave battles

 The first thing I did at PAX East this year was jump into Mass Effect Andromeda's multiplayer horde mode. As a Krogan Vanguard, I warp-charged across the map to headbutt mostly robotic and Asari rebels on a desert planet outpost. I had a good time fending off waves of baddies with three other people, but as a newcomer to Mass Effect multiplayer, without seeing what the customization or progression systems look like I don't have a big urge to dive in at launch.

The mode I played pit us against seven waves of enemies attacking the small outpost we were held up in. Most waves we just had to survive until the faucet of bad dudes was turned off, but waves three and six shook things up by adding objectives. On wave three, we had to move around the map to find and disable four transmitters. On wave six, three control points appeared that we had to protect for a brief amount of time. Like Mass Effect 3, the final wave had us fight our way to an extraction point until escape arrived. 

Jumping boosted me a full story into the air and could be paired with the quick-dodge mapped to my middle mouse button.

Andromeda didn't encourage us to dig in and set up a front line to defend like some horde games typically do. Enemies appear randomly from all directions, forcing players to move around the map. It feels very different from something like Gears of War 4's Horde mode. Cover is still there, but I didn't spend much time in it—especially considering that my Krogan was built to charge in and attack up close.

But the mobile playstyle goes hand-in-hand with Andromeda's updated movement systems. Jumping boosted me a full story into the air and could be paired with the quick-dodge mapped to my middle mouse button. It felt slick to jump and boost over an enemy hiding behind tall cover, then slam down on them with my charge ability. And the map was littered with boxes and obstacles, meaning sightlines were never too long, again encouraging me to move toward my opponent instead of sitting back and taking far shots.

Once again, hiding behind cover and playing slow is still there if you want it, but Andromeda felt like it wanted me to use that strategy less than I was expecting. For example, there was a very common dog-like alien enemy that would rush toward me and often root me out of cover. If it managed to bite, I was forced to smash the E key in a quicktime event to get it off—which was less than amusing, especially when two dogs would annoyingly chain this together. When I did manage to set up behind a wall, Andromeda's gunplay felt familiar but fun. But it's better on the run, thanks to the new jump boosts and dodges.

But by far my biggest complaint is how bullet-spongey even the most basic enemies are.

But by far my biggest complaint is how bullet-spongey even the most basic enemies are. It wasn't uncommon for me to unload a full clip into an opponent without killing them, This feels even worse because it seemed like enemies rarely, if ever, reacted to being shot. Harder enemies like a giant mech would just walk toward us dealing death as they were whittled down. It's one of the reasons I liked using the Krogan Vanguard's charge and AOE ability so much, it actually evoked a response from the enemies I was hitting in a way that repeatedly shooting them in the face didn't.

We managed to complete all seven waves with only a few revives needed, so it wasn't too difficult, but it was set to the lowest difficulty. I'm hoping the higher difficulties ramp up the complexity or objectives somehow, as more enemies with more health won't necessarily equate to a more enjoyable time. The other part of Andromeda's multiplayer I'm hoping will add depth is the customization, which we didn't get to see. There could be some strategic nuance hidden in coordinating abilities and loadouts with your team. If nothing else, Mass Effect Andromeda's multiplayer has gotten me more excited to play its singleplayer.

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.