The more I think about it, the more I think the main thing that ‘went wrong’ with Andromeda is that it plays everything so safe. I still like the game, but that is the one overarching issue that stopped me from enjoying it as much as I wanted to.
This is a new galaxy; they could have done anything, but it all feels so utterly familiar.
The story starts at the wrong point in the time line
The biggest mistake they made, story wise, was making us come into the galaxy at the point that we did. I will never for the life of me understand why they took a game that was going to be about exploration and how ‘we’re the aliens now’ and not let us be the first humans to arrive in Andromeda.
Just start the game at that point. Before the uprising, before the
outposts, before the Nexus is half-built. Have us truly be the first humans the Angara meet. Have us struggle to understand each other, and slowly win
their trust, only to lose it when the Uprising happens and they see a darker side to humans.
How devastating would it be to have worked to gain their trust, gain Jaal’s trust, and then see it all get swept away by events out of our control?
This way we also get more chances to bond to Alec, as he’ll be around for longer
than 2 minutes. Think about establishing those first outposts on Eos with Alec, only to see them fail disastrously with us, the pathfinder team, carrying that guilt with them.
This also means we’ll see the Nexus fail, see Garson murdered (not entirely clear on the timeline for that tbh). And eventually we will have to see characters
we know turn against us during the Uprising itself!
And if they have to get rid of the dad, he could die during the Uprising (adding a personal touch to having to deal with the Exiles), or hell, maybe he joins them.
As it is now, it just feels like we missed a large part of interesting narrative in Andromeda. We’re made pathfinder in 2 seconds and succeed from the word go. There are obstacles to getting the outposts up and running, but no real struggle. Another consequence of setting the story 18 months (I think it’s 18) from when the first people arrived is that it robs us of being the first.
(I’m also not entirely clear on why the Nexus had to be there first, because it can’t function without Outposts, they need a pathfinder to find outposts, but the arc’s had the pathfinders and they were meant to arrive later on? Also, no one on the Hyperion says they arrived too late, but on the Nexus they say they thought everyone was dead, which seems to indicate they were waiting for longer than they thought they had to? I might be missing something here.)
Planets are not inviting to explore
As it stands, it just adds more familiarity into a game that already suffers from taking too few risks.
Everything from the planets to the wild life to who we encounter feels so safe. Storybeats are repeated from the original trilogy, enemies as well. On four of the planets we already see a lot of milky way equipment/ milky way species. And even Kandara Port (though I like the design), which was built by the Angara feels like it wouldn’t be out of place in me2.
All the planets are a bit of a let down when it comes to how not-alien they feel, excepting Havarl and arguably habitat 7, they don’t feel that alien. And the frustrating thing is, this isn’t filmed on location, they’re not constrained by planet Earth; they could have gone all out.
Besides not feeling alien the planets also feel so… dead. I know there is a bit of an in game reason for this, but 1. they created the reason 2. I don’t think that’s the reason.
Every planet gets one or two pieces of plant life, looking only slightly alien from what we see on earth. The rest is desert, snow desert, almost barren ground. Throw in a lot of rocks. And 4 different animals, all just reskins of that same set from other planets. (Even those acidic lakes are things we can find right here.) And why do we still not have a weather or day/ night cycle? It’s one
thing if you just work with smaller hubs, but bragging about your huge
maps and then have them be utterly static seems a bit weird.
We also only get one alien city. One, and it’s tiny. At least it feels more like a city than Val Royeaux, but not by much. I do like Aya’s design though. We do see some smaller camps? settlements? of the Angara, but if they were such a presence in the cluster until 80 years back when the Kett arrived, where are the ruins to their civilization? The abandoned cities of the Angara?
The Jardaan certainly piqued my interest, but what do we really see of
them? The vaults, that one giant starship, not-Meridian, and Meridian itself, which is one of the few places that was inviting to explore so of course we couldn’t. Did they just not leave any other marks on the planets except those things and the ‘points of interest’ (that are not interesting)?
All we really have to interrupt these huge boring maps, clearly designed to only rush through with your Nomad, is some random fights (the same two variations I think) and ‘points of interest’, except there’s never anything of interest except some remnant to kill and a container? After a while I just gave up checking them out tbh, so please point out any great ones you found.
There are of course a lot of sidequests thrown in, some of them I found pretty fun and a huge improvement on da:i, but they don’t invite you to explore. The planet itself isn’t worth exploring so when doing a sidequest you just rush to the point you have to get. In other games, games that do this concept well, you set your quest and then while going there get distracted by things you find out in the world. Here that happened maybe a few times, and usually it was because I came across a point for another quest and someone hailed me. It was never because I saw something that piqued my interest and I went over there and it had something fun to do.
A lack of new species, and disappointing returning aliens
They never showed a lot of the milky way species and the ones we did see lacked diversity. The just picked one head morph - or two in the case of Turians where the females have different facial structure - and slapped on some paint. I expect more not less from a newer game. The Asari were the most jarring - to the point I avoided Kerri because she has Lexi’s face and it’s just ridiculous. But the Salarians have just as little diversity. Google salarians in mass effect and you’ll see they did so much more with them in the original trilogy. And I have to say, there were too many Turians with white faces, a few of them important characters as well, I still mix up Kandros and Avitus.
And what do we get in exchange for all the species we don’t see return and the diversity that’s gone? One new species. One. I love the Angara, but I can’t help but be disappointed that we travel
to a new galaxy only to discover one new race. Unless we count throw
the collectors .2 the Kett. But really, they only brought back 4 of the original trilogy’s races and still didn’t have enough resources to add some diversity to Andromeda? Really? We just get the Angara…
I would just have scrapped the giant maps, and gone for smaller but denser packed ones, like Havarl and Habitat 7. Add much more plant life and animal life and real diversity in those two, to all the planets. And make them more alien.
Have no more than one desert planet, I vote Elaaden as it was the best desert, and stick more sunken ruins in it that have actual things to discover about the Jardaan. And make that the only planet so huge that you absolutely have to use the Nomad.
Make Kadara much smaller, with much more lakes so it looks more like a deadly lake planet.
If we have to have a snow planet, make it more original than a white reskin of a desert planet. Maybe we have to drive in giant ice caves, maybe we don’t even get to walk on the surface, maybe the Angara have buried themselves underground in ruins of a old Jardaan city.
And this is just sticking to the planets in game, but they should just have scrapped all of them except Havarl and gone much more alien than they have.