Mass Effect: Andromeda is the long-awaited addition to the Mass Effect series. It was released this first quarter, along with several other highly anticipated games. The lead up to the (full) release of this game has been met with much trepidation. From complaints about facial animations to awkward dialogue, there’s a lot about this game that fans have been understandably wary of.
I will admit straight up that I am not a long-time fan of this franchise. The first time I played this series was roughly this time last year. Like many others, I too fell in love with Shepard and his band of friends. And after a month of gunning through all three games it was hard to say goodbye. Now, in a completely new galaxy, 600 years after Shepard’s story in the Milky Way, it’s time to see what Andromeda brings to the franchise.
I’m still in the early parts of the game, but I wanted to write this out while initial impressions are still fresh in my mind. After the time I’ve spent in this game so far, here are my main takes.
Note: I’ve tried to keep this article spoiler free, but it’s possible that one or two things might have slipped my notice.
Andromeda harkens back greatly to the original Mass Effect
By ‘original’, I mean the very first Mass Effect game. Yes, the one with the Mako and the memorable elevator music.
Andromeda takes a lot of the concepts that the first game had and then left behind when they went forward with 2 and 3. This makes perfect sense, since in Andromeda you have to explore and travel across this completely new galaxy. Personally, I think the problem with what Bioware had with the first Mass Effect game, was establishing all the initial lore, while at the same time putting in ‘new’ lore for you to discover as Commander Shepard. Though understandable, it had the side effect of everything ending up incredibly meshed together—you were learning these new ‘old’ things while discovering these new new things at the same time, which could get messy.
In Andromeda though, things are different. Bioware had the span of three games to fully establish the Milky Way and its aliens. Now, most of those species have been transported over to a galaxy that is as new to them as it is to us. They discover, as we do too. This heavily eliminates the whole problem of ‘so as you know’ that the first Mass Effect game had to do often, in order to tell the players about the lore.
There’s a lot about Andromeda that reminds me of the first game. The most obvious thing would be the Nomad. There’s also the smaller things: how your Ryder inherits the title of Pathfinder (read: Eden Prime), the fact that you have a lift inside the Tempest; or the fact that you have to deal with environmental hazards. Andromeda sets out to capture the tone and feeling of exploration and discovery that Mass Effect 1 tried to offer, and they do it just as well, if not better.
Incredibly vast worlds and places to discover
While nowhere as big as what Final Fantasy XV has to offer, what Andromeda offers is still pretty impressive. I’ve only played up to Eos, but I’m already impressed with the scale of the world they’ve given. It’s definitely a huge step up from the first Mass Effect. It’s also incredibly easy to lose yourself even if you have a map. While I personally don’t mind it so much myself, I can see how that can get frustrating for others.
Personally, it’s hard to be angry when I can look at the environments and appreciate how good they just look on screen.
Not only are these places big, there are also many things to discover—from mining spots to secrets to hidden side quests. Let’s not forget the shiny new ability to scan just about absolutely everything with your handy dandy trusty new scanner either. You can bet that I’ve spent every moment that I can scanning everything that I come across!
There appear to be a variety of side quests to do, at least in terms of narrative. There’s one where you have to try and clear a guy of murder charge by finding the body. There’s another where you have to battle against the Kett. Undeniably, a good amount of said side quests do involve searching to some degree. It wouldn’t be a game about exploration if the location was simply given to you though.
Andromeda really does its best to sell the whole concept of you, as the player, going out and exploring this unknown frontier. In the Tempest, you have a front row seat to seeing your ship literally moving from point A to point B. When you get out of your navigation map, the windows outside actually reflect the area of space you are in. Case in point:
And honestly? That’s just really, really cool.
The other interesting thing I’ve noticed is that the game takes careful note of what you do in story-based missions. I discovered this for myself when I was viewing the summary of the prologue mission. It recalled some extra stuff I did during that mission which I did not expect to happen. Now I look forward to see if that plays out in any way in the future.