Sharp-eyed fans may have already noticed it while looking at one of the many trailers for the game, but Mass Effect: Andromeda will feature jetpacks in the game, allowing for Ryder to jump that little bit higher and even hover for short periods of time. This is a huge departure for the Mass Effect franchise, as in earlier games Shepard's idea of jumping was just a few inches up and even then only in contextual situations.
In a recent interview, Mass Effect: Andromeda lead designer Ian S. Frazier spoke a little about how jetpacks will change the game, but also reassuring long-time fans of the series how these changes won't influence gameplay too much, either. The introduction of jetpacks is more about adding tactical flexibility to the game, without changing the core, cover-based shooting action. In a way, it's comparable to the changes in the Mass Effect: Andromeda character system: much of it will be familiar, but players will be able to get an edge like never before.
To give an example: in the video linked above, we see Ryder, cornered by several large -- and dangerous -- enemies make her escape by jumping 10 feet into the air, execute a biotic charge while mid-air, then jumping away again to a great cover position on the exact other end of the battlefield from where she was before. These are the kind of crowning moments of awesome Mass Effect was famous for and it seems jetpacks will add to that greatly.
At the same time, the new jetpacks won't be a core mechanic: in the interview, Frazier assures fans that players who like them will have plenty of platform-like levels to play around with, while gamers who prefer to keep their feet on the ground will not need to touch the "jump" button except for a handful of times. Also, jetpacks have limited power and functionality: the combat in Mass Effect: Andromeda, while fast-paced and fun, will not become a rehash of Tribes: Ascend.
Though until March 21 we will have to take Frazier's word for it, a look at the Mass Effect: Andromeda videos released so far shows that the game will be many things except boring: the jetpacks should add plenty of versatility to combat without affecting the Mass Effect gameplay fans know and love.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is set to release on March 21 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.