Mass Effect Andromeda is one of those games that gets a lot of unnecessary backlash since its release. First, it was because of graphical bugs that did not affect the game’s ability to run, but were just minor things that players were nitpicky over.
Then it was also due to it not being a sequel to the franchise’s previous installment and general nostalgia blindness of it being a different approach to story and gameplay than its predecessors.
Finally, it was also Bioware’s decision to not release a DLC for the game as that had been a tradition in Mass Effect for years. The hate grew to a point where it became bandwagon and if you belonged to the cult of players with an open mind who found a way to enjoy the game, despite its flaws and differences, you would face exclusion and bullying, should you make your opinion known. Been there done that.
I haven’t picked up Andromeda since 2017 and now, I’m playing through it again and in this article I’m going to talk about the things I like about the game, starting with:
1. Space Design
Let’s begin with basics. I just love the way space looks in this game. Every star system is unique in its own way with the colours, the scourge, maybe a black hole in the background.
It’s so beautiful and gives a variety of different star systems that I would go to every system, even if there wasn’t a quest there, just to see it all. You might notice as you play that you sometimes have to sit through cutscenes of travelling from one system to another. Playing this game requires patience since things are not as fast-paced like in the trilogy, as a result, you’ll learn to enjoy the scenery.
2. The Tempest
She’s no Normandy and a lot of people argue that she looks too similar on the outside. But I digress, the Tempest is a lot more sleek looking and is designed for the purpose of discovery. Her layout is quite nice as she doesn’t have as many levels and doesn’t require as large of a crew to keep her running like the Normandy does.
Best part about the Tempest is that since she has engines designed for interstellar travel (from one system to another), she doesn’t need a mass relay for that jump into hyperspace to get from the Nexus to Havarl. There are no mass relays in Andromeda anyway! Since this game begins 600 years after the original trilogy, by then perhaps every type of starship was given advanced engines or what they call a hyper-drive so interstellar travel is much easier. I feel like she’s not as complex as the Normandy. The only real thing you need to figure out is just how to use the different terminals.
The first Mass Effect game did offer at least one planet per star system to explore, but the areas were small and there wasn’t much to do on each of them. Most of them just contained two places to salvage and one point of interest that led to a quest. Any sort of facility had the exact same design inside so at times it did get boring.
The second and third game were far more linear and the only planets you could land on were ones associated with quests acquired. (though I did like in the second game you had to search for them yourself instead of being assigned them in email)
But in Andromeda, we have six large open worlds we can explore where there is lots to do. You can explore them in your Nomad (with an exception of Havarl) and discover fast travel points, mine for resources, and pick up plenty of side quests. You can also increase their viability by activating the vaults and establishing outposts. This open-world approach offers a more relaxing experience. There’s no pressure to complete vital quests that ensure survival of squad mates if that’s what you’re used to. In a way, exploring can be fun and sometimes I just want to look around and discover my surroundings.
4. Weapon and Armor Customization
In the original trilogy you could easily get your hands on weapons and armor from merchants or salvage on missions. By the third game I liked how weapon upgrades were easy to do and you could change different parts of your armor and add mods to your weapons. Now in Andromeda, it gets even more custom where you can craft from scratch by first using research for crafting blueprints and then craft from there.
This may seem overwhelming to gamers who are not used to open-world RPG so that’s why you have the choice to either craft with your resources, or spend your credits on something pre-built. I liked being able to craft my own stuff because it felt personal and authentic to me. (You could say that’s also why I wanted to pick and choose my computer’s parts and have it built from there rather than just buying a pre-built one) But it gives you choice so whatever you decide to do is up to you.
Andromeda did well on this. Though the romance scenes are not as iconic as the ones in the original trilogy, they are more vivid and intimate.
There’s more sex scenes, like we finally got sex with an alien species other than the asari, which is Jaal the angara. There are also options for casual flings as well and those who are not part of your crew. (am I the only one here who doesn’t find Reyes attractive? Maybe I just don’t get what people see in him.)
The only downside is we still don’t get turian sex if you pursue Vetra but since Jaal’s romance was sweet enough to turn me into pudding, I’m going to forgive the devs.
There’s also more options for LGBTQ+ gamers instead of just the odd crew member who falls under that and if you choose to go for Peebee or Cora, you get something pretty hot and intimate.
6. Being an explorer
Who doesn’t want to see new worlds? This is like Star Trek: To seek out new life and new civilizations. In the original trilogy it was military-focused where you are part of the Alliance: the universal human military and then you become a Spectre.
In Andromeda, the Initiative is an organization based on discovery and I like that new approach. Back then, I was only interested in sci-fi that had action in it. But overtime, Andromeda began to grow on me. I realized that there is more to it than just military. Colonizing worlds, finding resources, all those things are important too.
As Pathfinder you’re in charge of how the Initiative approaches finding a new home, and I like that.
7. Realistic environments
When you set foot on one of the habitable planets, you’ll notice that there are things in the atmosphere that make it unable to support life: too hot/cold, radiation, or toxic waters. You have to activate the Remnant vault which terraforms the planet making the environment better for life.
But of course, you have to explore around to find the vault and its monoliths. So that means enduring the harsh environment in the process. You always have to keep an eye on your life support, especially when you step out of the Nomad.
I found that once I activated the vault on Voeld, the temperature rose, but the cold hazard still existed, so sometimes in combat, I had to run over to heaters to keep warm. Now that may seem like a chore, and the first game had some of this, and the second game we had Haestrom, but Andromeda emphasizes the importance of being aware of the environment you’re in and that every planet is different.
8. Enhanced diversity
Don’t get me wrong, diversity has always been present in the Mass Effect universe. We have a whole set of alien races along with humans who live in harmony together on different worlds. There’s stations like the Citadel and Nexus which act as the central hub for these races to unite and there’s certain planets that have been colonized by certain races, but that doesn’t mean that other races are not welcome.
There has been an improvement in this game, we are seeing more female turians, salarians, and krogan which did not appear first until the third game in the original trilogy. Looking back, it made me think that turians for example, were a masculine race like the asari are feminine. I was wrong. I’m glad that has changed. We’ve got our first female clan leader in the krogan: Nakmor Morda. Sure, she’s not the nicest leader around but at least she lets you make your outpost if you choose to aide her!
When I first played this game, I wasn’t warming up to the combat just yet, but once I began playing again, I realized I was starting to like the new approach. There are some things that still remain such as commanding your squadmates, but there’s some new things such as the use of the jump jets. We can use these for quick evasion (they also help a lot in general exploration) and there is no limit on what profile you can choose. You can switch any time and upgrade all three types of combat: soldier, biotic, or tech, whatever you like.
10. The Nomad
This also feels like a flashback from the very first game where we once again get a vehicle we can use to explore open worlds. In the first game we had the Mako which had basic controls and a gun in case we ran into some geth. The Nomad’s controls may seem a lot more complex but once you master them, I find it’s easier to drive than the Mako. You can also upgrade it with shielding and other features that make it more durable when you use it to explore. It’s not built for combat yeah, but with the right upgrades, it can develop some resistance.
11. Decision Approach
Throughout the original trilogy, we had to make difficult choices that could result in someone getting killed or costing potential alliances. It works different in Andromeda and the primitives that trash the game I’d say fail to realize how it works in this game.
As Pathfinder, we are in charge of so many responsibilities, from choosing what an outpost will specialize in, to who gets out of cryo next. Like right after the first outpost on Eos is made, we get a quest where a group of protesters are demanding their families come out of stasis.
I found that depending on which outpost you choose determines who is at the protest. (i.e. science outpost) Then there is the matter of Elaaden where you can only make an outpost if Morda gets the drive core so there is clearly impact on the choices you make. But, they are more diplomatic in nature. Not everyone can see that.
12. The Angara
Last but not least, my all-time favourite thing about Andromeda is that it introduced me to the alien race: the angara.
The angara live on Harvarl and Aya; two beautiful planets (the parts not reduced to a wasteland that is) and I find their culture intriguing. I’ve never seen a species so free with their emotions before. There’s so much more I want to learn about them!
I hope that if we ever get a sequel, we will learn more about the Jardaan and their creation of such a race like the angara and how their war with the kett begun. We’ve only grasped the basics so far. I’ve heard some people say they don’t like them because of the way they look and lack of their lore in the game. The solution, use your imagination or prioritize reading about their lore on the wikis and your codex like I did. If you spent some more time reading instead of hating, you might find you actually like them.
And those are the 12 things that I think make Andromeda a good game in its own way.
It doesn’t top the original trilogy obviously, but it has so many good things to me that outweigh its flaws that many players fail to see because of nitpicky approach and impatience for things to go at a pace same as the trilogy.
That’s why I’ve chosen to enjoy it instead of letting some facial flaws that don’t affect the games ability to run, prevent me from playing.
Andromeda is a game that you can enjoy, with patience and an open mind. Also, please feel free to check out Mass Effect Andromeda – New Galaxy New Worlds my original review of the game.