First things first, watch the shit out of this:
Now, catch your breath; I know I had to.
All of the delays, the gameplay teases, they all lead up to this trailer, and just delivered in every way conceivable: the animation defies rational speech, the prospect of a new exploratory mission is thrilling, and the promise of capturing the spirit of the first Mass Effect is as bold a claim as it is exciting.
First, let's talk about the new mission.
It seems as though the Reaper attack on Earth has left our home planet in desolation, a long swirl down the drain to oblivion. The logical course of action is to sound out a team of explorers to navigate unknown spaceways and find not just a habitable new world for humanity, but a planet so perfect that we as a species can forget the world we left behind. And the best possible candidate to lead that team is Shepard, the hero of the galaxy.
When Bioware claims they want to capture the spirit of the first game, they mean it: the first one was revelatory in the way it introduces you to the universe itself, exploring a myriad of planets, visiting archeological digs that reveal the secrets of long-dead civilisations. This is a perfect follow-up to a game that left many players (yours truly included) feeling a little burned out by all the death, destruction, and chaos that was featured. Also, part of what makes the first game one of my most treasured games was the newness of it all - learning more and more was addicting.
Complimenting the introductory aspect of the game is enhanced graphics that just shatter expectations - things look so much crisper, convey so much more, and show off landscapes that put Avatar to shame. It's hard not to let the small bits we've seen blow out expectations, but the sheer epic quality of the shots makes it so hard not to. The cinematic qualities look incredible, where all the characters facial expressions and body language are so life-like and easily conveyed...hell, I'm having trouble not freaking out over how damn excellent Bioware & Co are for the advancements in the gaming industry they've cultivated.
We also get a look at a cast of characters that I can't wait to fall in love with. The story seems incredible, new (and hopefully a few old) crewmates joining up, new places to explore... Bioware absolutely delivered the goods at E3, and waiting until the First Quarter of 2017 now seems like an even more exquisite torture.
Am I slightly worried about seeing a MAKO-like vehicle hopping over some sand dunes? Oh yes. Am I a little wary about the Tempest replacing the Normandy? A bit, yes. And yet, all signs point to this game being a worthy addition to a franchise that helped gamers think twice about how impactful a video game could be.