Some of the best parts of Mass Effect 2 weren’t in the critical path narrative but rather in the side stories. Specifically, it was the companion loyalty missions that were so good — individual missions for each squadmate that were designed to give more backstory and resolve a lingering conflict. Successfully completing them would mean that companion was more loyal to Commander Shepard.
After being omitted from Mass Effect 3, companion loyalty missions return in Andromeda. Creative director Mac Walters confirmed this in an interview with Game Informer. Walters offered some insight as to how these missions add to the game from a writer’s standpoint: “I loved the loyalty missions. As a writer, one of the things I loved was the freedom to say ‘I know this character is coming along,’ so they can carry a lot of the narrative. That made my job easier, but it also made it more fun, because I could tell a more specific story in one of those missions.”
Walters continued “That philosophy is carrying over to Mass Effect: Andromeda, along with the spirit of experimentation that these missions have; the development team can use loyalty missions to play with some non-standard gameplay elements, and have some extra fun with the dialogue.”
There’s a key difference between how Mass Effect 2 and Andromeda use these loyalty missions, though. Specifically, they won’t impact the ending of Andromeda. Walters explained “They’re much more optional in this case. If you don’t want to engage with them, you don’t have to. If you want engage with them after the critical path is done, you can do that.”
One of the major contributors to the success of the original Mass Effect trilogy’s success was its character development. There’s no question that the loyalty missions played a big part in that. It’s why we cared about the likes of Jack, Jacob, and Mordin as characters rather than just as firepower in battles. BioWare seems to be taking the right angle in reintroducing these missions, and, with any luck, hopefully we care about this new cast of squadmates just as much.
Loyalty Missions Return in Mass Effect Andromeda [Game Informer]