Right after finals, I decided I was going to dive back into the Mass Effect universe, now here I am three months later after starting the new game Mass Effect: Andromeda. I’ve played through the original trilogy many times, and I was only lurking around to learn of the new game coming out this year. All I saw were a few pictures, and that amount increased as the release date came closer.
When I first heard about Andromeda, I was a little skeptical due to it being a whole different approach. Would it be as good as the trilogy? The first thing I learned was that it would not feature Shepard and their comrades, but once I understood it was going to be in a whole different galaxy, it made sense. I’m very open-minded with the franchise; even as a now long-time fan. I think that’s because I don’t take video games seriously, if it’s interesting to me, I will play, and Mass Effect games are always those games that have so much diversity in species, lore that absorbs me, and it’s a game where my love for alien characters comes true in a way!
So, here we go, my ramble on Andromeda, keep on reading pyjaks.
It took me a while to figure out the exact time period this game takes place, but now I know it. The game starts in the year 2185 which take place between Mass Effect 2 and 3. In an organization called the Andromeda Initiative, the Citadel races: humans, asari, turians, and salarians plan to send 20,000 of their people in Ark ships to Andromeda, and we don’t arrive until 600 years later when we wake up from cryo. We become the new Pathfinder after our father Alec the current one, sacrifices himself when things go really bad on a planet that was supposed to be habitable. From there, we are tasked with locating the other Arks, and finding a suitable home in the Heleus cluster.
Enter three new alien species in this game:
- The angara: native to the Andromeda galaxy mounting a resistance against the invading hostile race which is the kett. I will always love the part when we make first contact with them on Aya. I love how free they are with their emotions, and my interest in them is what pretty much kept me playing and enjoying the game.
- A synthetic race: the Remnant who act like caretakers until you get too close and they become hostile. Their technology includes vaults on certain planets with terraforming capabilities to alter the ecosystem to make the planet habitable. Though the puzzles at their structures can be frustrating at times, it’s still a new cool feature.
- The kett: a hostile alien race that are turning the angara into their own through a process called exaltation. Their leader, the Archon is searching for something called “Meridian” revealed to be the central hub of all Remnant vaults.
Mix it all together and it’s basically: ally with the angara and stop the Archon from using Meridian for his own intentions, and there’s your new home.
If you cut out every single side-quest and variety of places to explore in this game, you’ll be left with a pretty short game! But, no matter, I still found myself engrossed in it despite it lacking our classic giant robotic squids with laser beams to fight! The combat I don’t like as much as from ME2 and 3, but driving the Nomad around planets feels nostalgic like I’m playing the first game again.
There’s so much to do in this game due to how it’s more open-world; and whenever I played, the majority of my time was spent exploring planets, activating their vaults, getting outposts, helping my squad mates with their own problems for better relationships, and just helping everyone in general who needed me. Side quests galore, that’s all.
Of course, a new galaxy means TONS of new characters.
Some of them I liked, loved, and some of
them were just okay but not as good as who served aboard the Normandy. I’ll be looking just at who’s on the Tempest otherwise this article would be too long. (speaking of which, I actually do like the design of the Tempest) There’s Liam who’s your typical laid back kind of guy. I think many people don’t like him; I don’t mind him but he’s not much. Cora is a biotic specialist who served with asari units. She’s pretty cool and if you want a very sexual encounter in this game, I heard she’s the ideal partner. We also got Drack of clan Nakmor who is a veteran; he’s no Wrex or Grunt but he still fits my definition of a badass krogan in my books. Peebee is like the younger version of Liara; enthusiastic and willing to learn more about the Remnant. If you like someone a bit more juvenile and fun, then she’s for you; however she ain’t looking for something serious yet. Vetra is like the female Garrus of this game, and I consider her a sister now. Suvi, Kallo, and Lexi are the crew and from what I’ve heard, Suvi is a popular choice if you want to play as a lesbian Sara Ryder.
Saving the best for last, Jaal is definitely my favourite character in this game. I don’t know what it was, but sometimes we have no explanation as to why we become instantly attracted to a character in a game. That was the case with Jaal, call it love at first sight; it happened with Garrus too. I met him on Aya and right away I was like “Yep, this is who I’m going to romance, and I’ll be melting over him in no time.” Some of my friends who had started the game before me had already suspected I was going to have a thing for him. So, let me just say, I absolutely love his romance. Unlike most of the options in this game, you have to work to get him to like you and the relationship begins to develop from there. I had to befriend him first and gain his trust; however when I first met him I was expecting him to not talk much, but he seemed to warm up quickly when I spoke to him building a friendship.
You have no idea how badly I wished I could hug him when he wept after watching a poor angara prisoner be brutally transformed into a kett, as part of the exaltation process and we had to kill them. But he was grateful that I saved his people despite the Moshae wanting the facility to be destroyed. I actually had to reload my game to undo the mistake I made of shooting Akksul on his loyalty mission. Luckily, I got to share a nice tender moment with Jaal after fixing that. The first kiss with him in his tiny sanctuary; I have to say it was carried out so well that I was in tears at the end of that scene, literally. Oh, and I suppose you’re expecting me to say something about the sex scene with him later in the game… so I’ll be brief, no way am I going to get too descriptive about it here! It was set by a beautiful waterfall on Aya, which seemed like the perfect place to get intimate with him. Everything about it was so perfect that I melted into a pile of goo and was fangirling for days. Love you Jaal, I’m your darling one always.
Before I move on to the notable moments in the game, I have to say that I like how there has been an increase in the diversity this game has. There’s more options for the LGBTs in terms of romance (especially with the latest patch), and we’re starting to see more female turians, krogan and salarians; as in the original trilogy we were only seeing males of those races until the third game. I do not let political correctness interfere with my tastes in the world of entertainment, but if something does match my views, then that’s a plus.
It wasn’t easy to prioritize side quests in this game, but my gut was telling me that the quests under “Allies and Relationships” should also be prioritized. I was told by many that the most important things you should do before the final mission is to find all the arks, do everyone’s loyalty mission, and get all the outposts. Those are your big ones. The down side which I think is a common criticism the game gets: is that the decisions you make are not as costly in this game. Loyalty missions will grant max level of a squad mate’s ability, but it’s not like a life or death thing to complete. Regardless, the loyalty missions were pretty good; aside from Jaal’s, I enjoyed Cora’s because you find the asari ark, and Vetra’s for just getting to explore that asteroid.
I was also surprised to see some strong women in this game, like Nakmor Morda, Moshae Sjefa, and Pathfinder Raeka. (sorry salarian lovers, I chose to save the krogan instead, please don’t hurt me!) While fighting through the kett facility, I was so afraid the Moshae was going to undergo the exaltation next, but thankfully she wasn’t. She wasn’t too happy that I chose to save her people, but quickly warmed up to her when she got me into Aya’s vault. Morda on the other hand, I almost hated her for that attitude, but when I found out Strux was worse, I changed my mind and gave her the drive core to get the outpost. It was no fun running all around Elaaden looking for it!
I’ve killed at least three Remnant architects aside from the one in the final mission. I ended up skipping the one on Voeld probably because I felt it was tricky to kill it since the vault on that planet didn’t make much of a difference in the planet’s temperature. But, at times I would go and thoroughly explore a planet after doing a priority mission and at least get the vault activated. Voeld felt like the most time-consuming. I stayed up late one night running around the planet exploring, having trouble finding some of the glyphs; one of them I even went to the surface to search for the last one when the monolith was in an ice cave, but it was actually behind one of the pillars in the cave! You get to play a little Sudoku game to activate each monolith! But, the Kadara vault was the most annoying. I was playing one night and wanted to be off by ten, and spent an extra twenty minutes searching for that last console to gain access to the vault’s main chamber! Even though activating the vaults may not fall under the priority quests making it seem like you don’t have to to it, it’s still worth investing your time in, and settling whatever conflict prevents you from establishing an outpost. (I chose science on Eos by the way)
From what I know, the Remnant, and the angara were created by a species called the Jardaan. The Jardaan have not been seen since the Scourge was unleashed in the Heleus cluster. Now, imagine a sequel to this game where we have Primus as the new leader of what’s left of the kett, and the Jardaan come back and we learn what their intentions are.
So, new galaxy, new villain: The Archon, who is supposed to be the big cheese in the kett. It seems that he’s got multiple motives. When I first started this game, I found that the kett’s main purpose was exaltation; and that was the part I never understood. What do the kett get out of turning every other species into one of them? But, it seems when we first see the Archon in Habitat 7 in the final moment, he begins to have a different desire. He mimics Alec Ryder’s access to the Remnant tech, and his change in behavior since then seems to get the other kett suspicious; most notably Primus.
The Archon has been collecting Remnant artifacts and from there we find out that he is looking for Meridian so he can control all of vaults on each planet. So, it seems like at first, he is carrying out the goal to exalt all species in the the Heleus Cluster and experimenting on those coming into Andromeda to perhaps find the best way to exalt them. That could be why he takes a blood sample from Ryder. But at the same time, he is curious about the Remnant which eventually leads him to look for Meridian so he can control the vaults. What would he get out of that? Well, I’d say control of worlds to whether other species can settle on them or not.
It’s like his obsession with Remnant drove him down a different path than what the kett were really hoping to achieve. Not all villains stay true to the motives they begin with. Sometimes they find something that is even more deadly and powerful that they can pursue. When he connects himself to the Meridian vault, you can see how far he has gone in his obsession. He uses the other Ryder twin to help him achieve his goal severing the connection between our Ryder and SAM so we can’t stop him. I’d say he’s a decent villain in my books, and now I wonder how threatening Primus will be, especially after doing the quest “Dissension in the Ranks” where we learn a little about the inner conflict within the kett empire mainly between the Archon and Primus.
So, over all, it’s another Mass Effect game in a new galaxy with new aliens. In one way, it’s nostalgic because it brings back the open world exploration and taking it further. I can’t understand the hate that this game gets. People are like “No it’s not Shepard and the Normandy crew…” or “No it’s not Wrex and clan Urdnot.” ummm no it’s a different galaxy, so yeah it’s not going to be Shepard, it’s not going to be Garrus, Wrex, Mordin Liara, the Citadel, etc. Remember, this game takes place almost simultaneously as ME2 and ME3 so it’s logical that it can’t involve Shepard and the rest of the Normandy crew! Besides, don’t you think after the Reaper invasion…. if Shepard lived to tell the tale, don’t you think s/he’s had enough fighting bad guys for a lifetime? I think so! It’s time for something new in this vast universe.
The other major part of the hate is the animation. When the game first came out, there were noticeable flaws in the facial animations, but to me that was not a major concern. I’m not one of those gamers who likes to nitpick every graphical flaw that a game has, no matter how big it is. Overtime, BioWare made patches to improve those animations. Could they have done it before release? Of course, but unfortunately EA made them rush before they could make the final tweaks. Were there other bugs I experienced? Definitely, but I’m not one to complain about them unless they have a major impact on my ability to play normally eg. game crashes every time I try to do a certain action, but other bugs like squad members jumping around, does not annoy me. Let’s face it, at the end of the day it’s just a game, nothing more.
But then again, I’m just one of those open-minded Mass Effect fans, and a lover of anything sci-fi in general who isn’t overly critical. I’m also one of those fans who won’t be pissed if there’s no single-player DLC. Why? Well, I already put like 50 – 80 hours into this game when I started it, and I wasn’t bored. You just have to learn to find the enjoyment out of exploring and doing side quests. Some of them were actually quite good. Sure yeah it looks like the game could use one, especially after what happens at the very end, but still, if it doesn’t happen, I’m not turning my back on the franchise.
Some general praise-worthy things I can give this game are the following:
- The design of space: Seriously, when you travel to different parts of the Heleus Cluster, it’s so detailed and colourful, simply beautiful. I wish that’s what space actually looked like.
- The Tempest: It ain’t no Normandy, but I like the way it’s laid out despite my first time touring the ship I couldn’t find my way around just yet.
- Exploration: the first ME game had endless planets with small areas we could openly explore, but there wasn’t much to do on them. Here in Andromeda there five planets, and an asteroid that offer complete open-world access and the areas are HUGE with many things to do. I feel like the landscapes are flat, especially Voeld and Elaaden, but there’s still enough elevation and beauty in different natural forms so exploring isn’t entirely boring. I think players who hate this game were unable learn to find the enjoyment in looking around and just enjoying the scenery as you see what there is out there instead of hopping from quest to quest (I do that too sometimes but still) and that’s sad.
So, how do I close this off? Well, I know it’s not the same as the original trilogy, I know that it seems like BioWare appears to be focused more on multiplayer on this one; however there is still a significant amount of things to do in single player that can keep you playing….. if you learn to take it easy and explore. That’s what I did with this game. I never rushed to do quest after quest, especially when I was exploring a planet for the first time. I would just go with the flow and take what came to me. That eventually led me to get to some milestones such as finding all the memory triggers learning the true purpose of the Andromeda Initiative.
In short, give this game a chance, I did despite all the mixed or negative reviews from critics and fans. My rule of thumb is with trying ANYTHING new whether it’s a video game or a lipstick, I may look at a few other opinions, but I don’t let them dictate whether I should try it or not. I keep an open mind and give it a chance and form my opinion. If I don’t like it, I leave it at that and not hate. If someone asks me why I didn’t like it I’ll explain.
For me, this game, I’m giving it a solid 3.5 stars out of 5.
Not as high as the grade I gave the other three games, but I’m being generous because I have loved sci-fi since I was a child. I’ve always fantasized about exploring what’s out there in other galaxies and Andromeda presents exactly that: it’s actually pretty awesome to be an explorer instead of a soldier. All you have to do is look past the flaws it has and realize what really matters: my love for sci-fi, wanting to explore strange new worlds in another galaxy, seeing new aliens. A sci-fi game could do poorly with fan and critic reviews or be a masterpiece and yet, I’ll find something that makes me love it because I am not just one of those open-minded people, but also well, I love sci-fi and always have.
This is from the movie night which is another thing worth your time in this game. There’s my Emily Ryder snuggling with Jaal! Andromeda may not be perfect, but it gave me Jaal and that’s perfect to me! 💗
And that concludes my ramble on Andromeda, I hope you enjoyed. (well and I hoped you enjoyed the game too if you’ve played, and if not well then I strongly advise you, don’t listen to all the haters and critics in those comments, articles, and YouTube videos who say this game is bad. Give this game a chance and don’t let anything or anyone stop you or delay you from starting, including nostalgia blindness and the lack of a DLC.)
Feel free to drop me a line what you thought about the game, and please try to be constructive if you didn’t like it. I know I couldn’t cover everything about this game, but also don’t hesitate to ask me what I think about whatever it is I missed!
Stay strong and clear.