Mass Effect: Andromeda; I Actually Love It!

I’m a huge Mass Effect fan. I’m one of those late comers that fell in love with ME3 first, but went and got the first two in order to get a good storyline in the last installment.

When it ended, I wasn’t one of those that signed petitions over the ending. I was confused as hell, but I kept doing play throughs until the Citidel DLC and extended cut were finally released….and made me bawl my eyes out.

I was so upset to see the journey of my Shepard come to an end, became so attached to the characters that I still tear up today when I play it over again. So when Bioware announced they were working on another installment, I was ecstatic.

Mass Effect became my favorite series in gaming; so much so, that I felt that Bioware needed to take the leap that Ubisoft had done with another favorite series of mine, Assassin’s Creed, and make an epic movie. I was one of those weird nerds that loved reading fanfiction about others with their own Shepards; continuing their stories or even filling in holes on their own. 

So yes, I was ecstatic at the announcement of a new installment. 

I waited patiently for four years to see that reveal trailer; then squealed with glee when their cinematic trailer came and they introduced us to the Ryder twins. 

Perhaps it’s my love of the unknown; whether or not humanity could truly colonize another system? Or my curiosity of what could possibly be out there in our seemingly infinite universe. Mass Effect: Andromeda, was going to be that source that could allow me to continue dreaming of humanity moving forward.

There has been some theoretical debates of whether or not humanity could ever successfully colonize other goldie lock zone planets; what it would take to survive the solar radiation, the length of the trip itself, how to keep the artificial gravity going during the trip, and so on. It was something that I have hopes that humanity could one day achieve.

ME: Andromeda took it to the next level; by taking the theoretical possibilities and moving the galaxy to the neighbor we have, Andromeda. Bioware introduced us to a new set of pals and foes. They introduced us to the Ryders; twins that had been thrown into chaos in the struggle to try and find humanity a new home. 

I tried out the free ten hours that Bioware and EA granted those who were members of the EA Access app; and spent the entire time trying to get to know the newest installment. 

The beginning started out rather slow; but, I seem to always look at the bright side of things, and have the patience for a company trying out new game engines. I understood the hard work that the entire Mass Effect team at Bioware had placed into this; coming up with an entirely new species of alien, making beautiful sceneries, and a whole new cluster within the massive Andromeda galaxy to play with. 

Sure, at first, pre patch wise, the facial expressions were really jarring. The dialog could be somewhat blah, and it seemed a tad difficult to get attached to an entirely new cast of characters in a series that had already gripped my heart with the previous trilogy. 

But then, I remembered something: the first Mass Effect game had broken boundaries in the gaming industry; and Andromeda was doing the same. An entirely new engine for the team at Bioware, using 4K graphics, and like the first Mass Effect, open world maps to explore. 

After my journey to help humanize EDI, and allow her and the Geth to make peace with organic life forms, it was difficult for me to think anything positive of SAM, the newest AI to be introduced. But, after completing quests with him and my Sara Ryder, to include unlocking his memory triggers, it gave me hope that the team would continue to evolve him in the series. Like Captain Hayjer had said in the game: Once the SAM was recognized, it was comforting to work with a “partner” while conducting missions. Here’s to hoping, for SAM. 

When I play a game, story is the most important aspect to me. I could give two shits less of how much loot I can get my hands on, or how big of an explosion my guns will cause. I want story. I want to be able to feel as though I am watching a new saga of movies; or beginning on a new saga of books. To feel the characters, the urgency of the protagonist’s missions, the affects the journey has on the cast of characters and how they interact with each other.

So, the dialog could sure use some work, and chit chatting with other characters could really use some more emotion. I won’t lie; the graphics and artwork that the team at Bioware had put into this game is amazing. And like the very first Mass Effect, they’re not only introducing us to the newest saga, but they’re introducing us and themselves to a new way of creating a game. 

I know that so many fans that waited were bummed at the small amount of dialog put into the game; and the mediocre animations when it came to shooting the breeze. It was almost like playing the decade old first installment again; but, I am a patient person. I remind myself the challenges and the new environments that the developers had placed themselves in. It’s a difficult industry; and I can only hope for improvements to come along in the form of patches, DLCs, or sequels.

After playing through the story, I realized I didn’t want it to end. I thought of the quirks that each character had, regardless of how small the conversations seemed to be. How my character had dealt with each situation with coming into a brand new galaxy. I remembered my fascination with whether or not our own species could actually achieve this one day. 

So, I started another play through. 

And I’m still going.

I truly love the fact that you are not stuck with one specific class of abilities; that SAM gives you “profiles”, to be able to adapt to the new environments and enemies. Perhaps choosing an engineer profile to deal with Remnant, or the newest Explorer profile to deal with a mixture of organics and bots. The choice to adapt made perfect sense in this installment; and hopefully, Bioware keeps it going from this moment forward.

I will admit; I was disappointed in the customization. In Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition, you were able to customize your character down to the earlobes. And in Andromeda, you’re stuck with 9 presets that you can’t really customize outside of hairstyles and coloring. 

I get that the presets determine what your father, Alec Ryder, will look like, in order to make the cinematics more realistic for the gamer. However, at least let the gamer customize the protagonist a little more, and perhaps, when we choose a different, and possibly more lookalike twin for our protag, maybe customize which father preset you can have, as well? Just a suggestion. Personalization is something that I think a lot of Mass Effect fans hold dear.

I won’t go into too much detail on the cast, because I feel that everyone has their own seperate impression of each one. Just that Peebee was rather refreshing as an Asari; complete contrast to what we’re used to with Liara and Samara. Liam seemed to be somewhat of a comic relief for me; his loyalty mission had me in stitches, and remains one of my favorite missions to play through. Sure, there was a Star Wars Easter Egg in his mission, but it also reminded me of the comical way one would handle a mission that would suddenly turn into something they would have to improvise in order to complete. Having each other’s backs, while trying to look at the bright side of things. Packed with an enemy that has “little dick” syndrome. It was refreshing.

The newest species, the Angara, intrigued me. I fell in love with Jaal, you’re newest crew member; I wished that Evfra had more screen time, and was completely under played. I admired the Moshae, and wondered whether or not my Sara would ever be able to develop a good bond with her. After the lack of emotions from their own father, I could imagine how Sara or Scott would adjust to the openness of the Angara; their honesty and emotions. I couldn’t tell you enough how conflicted I felt every time I heard a xenophobic Roekaar scream, “Someone, help me!”, after shooting them. I could understand the fear and resentment that the Roekaar Angara group had when it came to “aliens”, after their experience with the Archon and his Kett assholes. It hurt; I wanted to scream at them that we could please handle this peacefully, and beg them to ally against the Kett instead of fighting each other.

Yes, I absolutely love the Angara; although, it was a bit eye rolling to see that they had the exact same legs as every other alien. Perhaps Bioware could have possibly just given them regular legs for us? Ah, well. 

The Archon and the Kett are your newest foes. They end up being the ones standing between you and a new home–and whether or not the cluster could be saved. You escaped the Reaper threat, just to come to another galaxy and face a similar threat; one that takes species to steal their genes for reproduction. It reminded me so much of the harvesting of the reapers. The Archon becomes obsessed with you. And becomes an awesome antagonist to the series. The truth behind the Kett leaves it up to you, as to whether or not you could feel conflicted on eliminating them. There is just so much potential in that particular story. It’s amazing. The Bioware team never fails when it comes to creating that antagonist you just want to rip apart, but then a dramatic twist comes, leaving you conflicted as to whether or not that would be the smartest decision.

The story itself leaves so many openings, and makes me incredibly excited and anxious to see what the team at Bioware will give us next. There are other Milky Way species that we’re familiar with, that still have to make it to Andromeda; there is still the fate of the Primus and the Kett—and whether or not they will continue their threat to the cluster. I wonder what will happen between the Angara and the revelation of their creation…as well as their relations with their newest neighbors. Will they continue to unite against a common enemy? Or will they begin fighting over precious resources they now have to share with each other? Will our Pathfinders be able to explore another cluster within the massive Andromeda galaxy? 

Now, all we have to do, is wait.

And I’ll just continue my newest play through, loving the story and characters, as well as the possibilities of whatever newest plot Bioware throws at us next.

I can only advise to have patience with this newest installment. The story, the characters, the environment…the game engine…it’s all new to us, and to the team at Bioware. 

My point? 

The five year wait was worth it. And I can’t wait for more!


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