Even though the multiplayer tech test for Mass Effect: Andromeda was cancelled, it hasn't stopped BioWare from continuing to reveal more about the game's online multiplayer mode. Producer Fernando Melo recently took to Twitter to post an image showing the "Missions" feature in the multiplayer, said to link the multiplayer with the single player experience, but his photo reveals a bit more than he may have intended, as it confirms that loot boxes are in the game.
Based on the image posted by Melo, Mass Effect: Andromeda will have loot boxes of varying tiers. We can see that there are Gold Item and Research Data loot boxes, but it's anyone's guess as to what other loot boxes may be in the game. Since Melo primarily posted the image as a way to tease fans with the multiplayer's Missions feature, it's not likely that he will elaborate on the different kinds of loot boxes players can unlock in Mass Effect: Andromeda.
In the image, loot boxes are labeled as "Pathfinder Rewards," so it's possible that they are rewards players earn for multiplayer by playing through the single player story. After all, Commander Ryder is one of the four "Pathfinders" in Mass Effect: Andromeda, so it would make sense that one's adventures as Ryder unlock Pathfinder Rewards like loot boxes in the multiplayer.
On the 5th day of MP-mas, the MP dev team gave to you: a new feature in MEA - Missions. Your link between MP/SP. Play & get rewards in both. pic.twitter.com/rBRWxNRHjZ— Fernando Melo (@DiscoBabaloo) March 6, 2017
Another possibility is that these loot boxes are simply earned by winning multiplayer matches or leveling up. Alternatively, they could also be featured as one of the game's microtransactions, which we already know will include things like card packs.
Perhaps certain loot boxes can only be earned through gameplay, while others will be microtransaction exclusives. For example, special loot boxes that contain rarer loot could be behind a paywall, whereas lesser tier items could be unlocked through playing the game. However, a move like this could upset BioWare's community, and after the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy, the studio may want to take every precaution necessary to keep its fans happy.
This is all just speculation at this time, though, and unless Melo or someone else working on Mass Effect: Andromeda decides to share more, all fans can do is continue to speculate until the game launches in a couple of weeks. For the sake of those curious about how loot boxes will work in Mass Effect: Andromeda, hopefully someone at BioWare offers an explanation ahead of launch.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is releasing March 21st for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.