10 Things I Loved About Mass Effect:Andromeda
Warning: Spoilers! And I wrote this on the spur, so there might be grammatical errors.
1. I enjoyed the story. Yeah, people will say it recycles from the trilogy, but come on, people. Why are you surprised? Bioware recycles their plotlines all the time. It’s pretty much the same in all of their games. A protagonist gains special abilities and leads a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits team to defeat a big threat. And I’m not bothered by that. Sometimes familiarity in your franchise is good, just as long as you do new things to the formula, and I think they do.
What interested me the most was the theme of starting over. A lot of people in the Andromeda Initiative were former criminals or outcasts. The reason they joined was to start a new life, and it’s explored in the main questlines, the loyalty quests, and numerous side quests. I was worried about the game talking about colonization since humans are looking for a new home, but I was pleasantly surprised that the game made it clear that Andromeda is the angara’s home first, and humans and other Milky Way species will have to work with them. Thank god! No Mightey Whitey trope this time!
2. Ryder as the player character. I honestly never thought I would love Ryder as much as I did when I played the game. Sure, no one will ever replace Commander Shepard, but Ryder isn’t meant to replace the Commander, rather show a different perspective in a new story. Commander Shepard is the hero we want to be while Ryder is more of a relatable character. Ryder has to learn through the entire game how to be a leader while going through the obstacles of their inexperience and youth so people will take them seriously. And it was compelling, uplifting, and at times amusing to see them become a hero in their own right and step out of their father’s shadow.
Also Sara and Scott felt like their own person. In the original trilogy, the player character is pretty much the same no matter what gender. But sometimes the dialogue can be different depending on if you play a male Ryder or a female Ryder. That’s because they are two different people who have had their own experiences and personalities. That really adds to the replay value!
3. Female aliens everywhere! One of my major issues with the original trilogy was the lack of female Turians, krogans, and salarians. Sure we had asari an all-female race, and female quarians, but it felt weird that we met so many aliens with very few ladies. Not only do we get a female Turian squadmate, we also get plenty of lady alien NPCs gathered everywhere for random quests. We also have Kesh who works at the Nexus. And we get to see female salarians! And they kind of look the same as male salarians except with different voices. Thank god! It would’ve been horrifying to see salarians with boobs. Uh! And I’m pretty sure there were just as many female angara NPCs as there were males.
4. The romances. Especially the queer ones. One of the things I love about Bioware games are the romance paths. Bonus points if there is a queer option. And as of patch 1.08, this game has the most number of queer romances in any Bioware game. I think my two favorite romance paths are with Sara and Vetra and Jaal and Scott. While representation for the LGBT community is improving in media, there’s no denying we still have a long way to go. And after again the crap year 2016 where we had a huge number of queer women characters die in tv shows, it was so wonderful to have a healthy and happy relationship between two women when I first played the game. And even if it wasn’t added until the patch, the romance between Jaal and Scott is absolutely sweet since we see two men show a lot of love and affection for each other which is rare to see in media.
5. The Tempest Family. I adore every single character on the Tempest, and they really did feel like a family once you played further into the game. I am a sucker for found families, and to see these people who are trying to find a home ending up finding a home with each other just gives me so many feels!
Since there’s not really a huge crew in the ship like in the original trilogy when Shepard had an army of humans. In Andromeda, we have six squad mates, four additional crew members, and Ryder. And I think it made the family more intimate. It’s like our own little family lives on the Tempest.
Also I liked how there were more quests spread out throughout the game with the squad which I think was lacking in Inquisition. Plus. Movie Night is the best scene ever!
6. In my opinion, the side quests were fun. I think this was one thing they improved from Inquisition. Inquisition side quests just felt like a bunch of fetch quests that got kind of boring pretty quick, and didn’t really add to the overall story. Some highlights from Andromeda were: Kadara, the angara reincarnation questline, the Turian jailed for murder, the anti-AI group, meeting Zaeed’s son, and those kids sending out a distress signal for a new light for their weed plant. HAHA!
They were compelling in their own right and included cut scenes instead of the Inquisitor going to some location like in Skyrim to do a thing come back to the quest giver saying, “I did the thing.” “Ok, good.”
7. Unlike in Inquisition, there’s actual payoff for some of the quests you do. I don’t mean to be mean to Inquisition, I still love the game, but remember when we were promised that you had to build your forces up in order to defend against the main threat. Yeah, you built forces to get influence points to gain perks, and that’s it.
In Andromeda, while, yes. It’s not the same level as Mass Effect 2. When you actually complete quests and help out leaders, you can get different results during the final battle. Like, there’s a chance Captain Dunn may not survive.
Also, when you get 100% viability on all the planets, you get a special surprise on Habitat 7- being told that it will one day be habitable because of our efforts. Sure it was a side quest, but it just felt so rewarding!
8. The climax was actually fulfilling and exciting. Again, something else Inquisition was lacking in. Seriously, when I first played Andromeda, I legit gasped when the archon was taking control of SAM node. The villain was actually living up to his threatening nature!
Just when we think we got everything under control, and are about to find Meridian, the Archon fucks shit up, and our sibling has to step up to save the day. Then we have to gather people we helped out and prepare for a final battle, and Ryder can finally prove themselves as a true Pathfinder and kick the Archon’s ass once and for all. People are saying the ending was as disappointing as ME3’s? Pfft…What are you even talking about?
9. The angara. Bioware never fails to make me love an entire fictional species. Yeah, it feels a bit off that they pretty much have the same faces and the same 3 voice actors, but I really do love their culture. And I appreciate that they were clearly coded as POC while Andromeda didn’t go through with the whole Mighty Whitey Trope. The game wants you to respect their culture and to respect their home.
I love the angaran people are open about their feelings, I love how their religion believes in reincarnation, I love how we see angaran scientists, soldiers, merchants, mercenaries, and civilians. Also Aya and Hivraal are absolutely gorgeous!
And when Jaal finds out his people were created by the Kett, I was worried it was going to go the Dalish elves route, but Jaal points out that it doesn’t change anything about the angara. They are still their own people. And that was such an uplifting message.
10. The overall light-hearted tone. I wrote a small post that got a good number of notes. (Probably the biggest number I’ve ever gotten), so to quote: “There was always this sense of hope and optimism about finding a new home. ‘Yeah, things may have gone totally wrong, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make them better’ was the overall message I got.
And really, with so many bad things happening in the world right now and too much of our entertainment supposedly being our escapism being dark for the sake of dark, this was something I think a lot of us needed.”
Mass Effect 3 had its light-hearted moments, and I love it, but man, that game was emotional draining.
It’s a bit discouraging to love something so much and get recommended videos on youtube pointing out the same flaws of that certain game, and why they thought it was a huge disappointment. Do I agree with some of their criticisms? Sure. Does the history behind the production explain the flaws? Oh absolutely.
But people seem to forget that the original Mass Effect trilogy wasn’t without its flaws. I mean, sure everyone can agree on the Mass Effect 3 ending, but I could make a list of all the issues I have with the other Bioware games including Dragon Age: Inquisition (which despite winning Game of the Year, kind of suffers the same problems Andromeda had).
So yeah, after the crap year of 2016, I was so excited to get a newly-released game that made me happy. And still makes me happy, and makes me in the mood to play another Ryder.