Mass Effect: Andromeda
New world, new problem
Five years ago, BioWare concluded the saga of Commander Shepard with Mass ect . Despite writing themselves into a corner with the much-aligned RGB endings, the team believes that there are still many stories left to tell in the Mass ect universe, which is why Mass ect Andromeda is all about new beginnings. The game begins in 2185 where volunteers and the best and brightest from each of the Council species embark on a one-way, 600-odd-year journey across dark space in search of habitable planets to call home in a whole new gala y.
In leaving behind the Milky Way (along with its imminent Reapers invasion), Andromeda begins with much of the trilogy’s baggage shed. As one half of the Ryder twins, the protagonist of your choosing wakes up from cryo sleep and thrusts into the role of human Path nder – a position held by their father, Alec Ryder – after things took an unfortunate turn in their reconnaissance of abitat 7, which is one of seven ‘Golden Worlds’ in the eleus cluster that were chosen for their lifesustaining potential.
As Path nder, Ryder is tasked to look into potential new homes for the inhabitants aboard the Ne us space station; investigate the whereabouts of the Asari, Turian and Salarian Arks; make sense of the mysterious structures and artifacts left by the ancient Remnant; and resolve the con ict between the Kett and the Angara.
The shift to EA’s own Frostbite engine allows for highly-detailed and larger, sprawling environments with a mi of hazardous climate, hostile creatures, and side e cursions to round up the main missions. aving learned their lessons from Dragon Age n isition, collectible resources are less of a chore, while additional tasks and assignments (read: side quests) are a little more varied in Andromeda. The Omni-tool, for e ample, doubles as a scanning device to aid in the Path nder’s detective work and orawildlife research. Scanning items of Milky Way, eleus, or Remnant origin will
also earn you research points to unlock blueprints for equipment crafting and Nomad upgrades.
With that said, BioWare saw t to revisit certain elements from past installments. Getting around a planet’s surface by foot is not always a wise option, which is why the si -wheeled, all-terrain Nomad ND1 is your best bet to mining valuable minerals as you blast your way from point A to point B. Driving controls are much improved over the Mako. The Tempest, on the other hand, is Andromeda’s answer to the Normandy. The small, stealthy scout ship is your key to e ploring the systems in the eleus cluster. There’s still a bit of planet and asteroid scanning involved. Meanwhile, the interiors are a joy to navigate, as loading screens between oors are no longer needed.
Let’s get together now
BioWare’s tried-and-true ‘Chosen One’ trope is employed once again, but the writing team has made concerted e orts to give side characters some semblance of clashing personality outside of pandering to Ryder’s every whim. With the Paragon/ Renegade morality system out of the picture, conversation options in Andromeda revolve around four possible responses: Emotional, Logical, Casual, and Professional. And love it or hate it, interrupt prompts return to highlight conte tual moments in certain cutscenes. Also making a welcomed return are loyalty missions, which are essentially personal errands given by Ryder’s squadmates that serve to build trust and add to the narrative. They o er a nice diversion from the more drawn-out Priority Ops missions. In Andromeda, it’s now possible to initiate romance with more than one character, but some will end up as casual ings while others may turn out to be long-term relationships.
The voice acting is standard fare, but the overall writing can be a little uneven at times. That inconsistency e tends to the facial animations, which looked canned and amateurish ne t to
The Witcher Wild nt and the recentlyreleased ori on ero Dawn The occasional janky animations are to be e pected (as e perienced in past BioWare titles), but the dead eyes and visual glitches during dramatic cutscenes and gamplay de nitely took us out of the moment. Like Inquisition, the character creator is fairly limited in options, o ering minor tweaks to nine face presets for male and female Ryder, along with a selection of scars, tattoos, and space-chic makeup.
Mobility in movement
Combat fares better, as it’s been reworked in a number of ways. Getting into cover no longer requires a button press, while ammo and health can be replenished by walking past the relevant crates. The addition of jetpacks not only heightens Ryder’s jumping and quick-dodge ability during platforming sequences, but also adds a tactical advantage when caught in a cross re. Active skills, however, are limited to three when switching gear loadout.
Instead of locking the Path nder to one speci c class, Ryder can freely switch between seven pro les once enough points were distributed among combat, biotics, and tech skills. It’s a shame that Andromeda took away the option to equip your teammates, save for their skill points. BioWare also removed the ability to control your squad’s powers, though the AI teammates do handle themselves well – most of the time. That leaves Ryder to order the squad to hold position and regroup when needed.
Barring its technical issues, Mass ect Andromeda is a thematicallystrong, action-driven RPG that improves on n isition’s formula, but falters somewhat in the writing department.
CONCLUSION There’s just enough ‘new’ to make Andromeda less of a retread and more of a bumpy rst ight.
These are the six squadmates you’ll be recruiting in Andromeda.
The Angara is one of two new alien races to be introduced in Andromeda.