⚡ Caution ⚡ – This post contains spoilers for the beginnings of Mass Effect Andromeda. Some people like going into games knowing as little as possible (like me) so just thought I’d give you fair warning!
Yeah. I think we’ve all seen the negative reception this game got on launch day. All the goofy facial animations were the subject of many a meme on the interwebz, that’s for sure. During my blogging and social media, um, hiatus, I was able to clear Shepard’s Mass Effect trilogy, and damn, that was one of my greatest gaming experiences ever. I think Andromeda had A LOT to live up to by carrying the Mass Effect title, thus crushing a lot of fan hearts when it didn’t have the same, uh, standard of excellence. Now despite their flaws, I love Dragon Age II and the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy – games that are perceived to be awful by the “majority” of the internet. I’ve had many people tell me to stay away from Andromeda, and some others tell me they had fun with it. I decided to ignore all the internet drama and give the game a try for myself. As my gaming track record has proven, I usually love games people hate and vice versa.
Creating Ellen Ryder
The biggest benefits of not buying a game on launch day: It only gets cheaper and should be nice and patched. After downloading a huge 3+GB patch, I was ready to roll into Andromeda. My first thought: The music on the title screen is so amazing. BioWare has also finally addressed the biggest problem I’ve had with all of their games I’ve had the pleasure of playing so far. For the first time ever, pink hair colour is an option in the character creation screen!! This is HUGE so Andromeda hit positive notes with me right at the start. After lots of tweaking, Ellen Ryder turned out pretty badass!
Some of the other options during character creation gave big clues about what was going down in the story. I guess my Ryder has a dad named Alec and a twin brother since there were options for their appearances. Also, I had to choose Commander Shepard’s history which has me very excited to see if the good Commander has some role to play!!
We’re not in the Milky Way galaxy anymore…
After I struck Ellen Ryder with a little Lightning, the journey into Andromeda began! Ryder wakes up on Ark Hyperion badly craving coffee after apparently taking a 600-year nap. She is part of a Milky Way multi-species project to colonize the Andromeda galaxy. The mission required one hundred thousand brave souls to take a one-way trip to Andromeda to scope out “Golden Worlds” and setup up bases there. As Ryder’s twin brother is about to wake up, the Ark hits some creepy looking space anomaly called the Scourge. This does a lot of damage, leaving them dead in the water. I guess this happened at the WORST possible time and now Ryder’s bro is in some sort of coma, but he should be able to recover eventually (they’re pretty sure, anyway).
Next I have to fix a bad power relay (thus preventing an explosion that would’ve killed everyone in the cryo bay), and then report to Ryder’s dad. Alec Ryder has the title of Pathfinder, meaning he’s in charge of colonizing the Golden World that Ark Hyperion has been assigned to scope out, Habitat 7. Since the Ark is caught in the weird space stuff, Alec Ryder decides to send shuttle teams to check out the planet. I’m part of the team, and soon after setting off, my shuttle is destroyed by an electrical storm on the planet, sending Ryder crashing hard toward the surface (thankfully a jump jet thing slowed her decent enough to not die). She picks herself up and teams up with Liam to figure out what’s going on.
Okay. Jumping with the jump jet is super fun! Also, dodging lightning bolts is a big part of the planet’s gameplay… sorry, this game is great!! While exploring the planet and finding other shuttle team survivors (and sadly, two not-so-lucky crew mates), I exchange gun fire when I meet the unfriendly locals called the kett. There are also ancient alien ruins with advanced technology that seem to be controlling the planet’s climate. The kett appear to be studying them for some reason.
Eventually, Cora, Liam, and Ryder meet up with Alec and assault a climate control tower being guarded by a lot of kett. Alec is a killing machine and seems to be using his computer, SAM, to switch combat profiles. We’re confused, but he says he has no time to explain. Once the kett have been crushed, Alec interacts with the alien technology and the planet’s climate calms down. Unfortunately, this also triggers an explosion that sends Ryder and her dad flying off the tower and crashing into the world below. After the impact, Ryder’s environment suit mask is smashed, and she can’t breathe in the planet’s atmosphere. Alec is nearby, pops off Ryder’s broken mask, and puts his not-broken mask on her head – killing himself, but saving his daughter.
Ryder barely survives and wakes up back on the Ark (after some intense medical procedures and being legally dead briefly, apparently). The only way to save her was to download SAM into her brain (or an implant or something) so she has a personal connection to the AI now. Cool! Ryder is appointed the new Pathfinder since her dad transferred all the things to her. She’s not pleased to have such a responsibility thrown at her, but that’s how it goes. Hyperion sets off to find the Nexus, a Citadel-like space station where all the Arks are suppose to meet up. Once we arrive, everyone is confused about why the Nexus isn’t finished yet, none of the other Arks are there, and no one is answering any communication channels. Huh.
Ryder boards the Nexus with Liam and Cora and we discover the sad state of order. All of the Golden Worlds appear to have been busts, the other Arks are missing, and there is internal strife within the Nexus leadership (the founder of the entire project was killed after they hit the Scourge, a group of krogans rebelled and have been exiled, and Director Addison is mean). Ark Hyperion’s arrival has sparked hope at the station, however. A cranky salarian named Tann is in charge, after chatting and a bit of side questing, Ryder (the only Pathfinder they have) is granted access to an advanced spaceship called the Tempest. Now I have to go solve a situation on the planet Eos (another potential Golden World).
I have to say, the first person view of the universe when you travel from planet to planet is cool, but loses its novelty quickly. Thankfully, the trip scenes are skippable. Anyway, Eos has a bit of a planetary wide radiation problem. The Nexus team that set up there was attacked by kett and chased off. Ryder’s goal is to clear out the radiation and alien technology (similar to what she discovered on Habitat 7) is the key to doing this. Once I find a badass Nomad vehicle to protect me from the radiation, I have to solve puzzles at three different towers to unlock a path into a underground alien control complex. While solving the glyph puzzles at the towers, I meet an eccentric asari researcher named Peebee at one, and a kett-bashing krogan named Drack at another.
The underground alien complex is MASSIVE and filled with angry robots called Remnants. This area really reminded me of the Cauldron areas in Horizon Zero Dawn. Anyway, while exploring the area Ryder stumbles upon some unusual plant life, gravity elevators, and aqueducts filled with a dangerous liquid I have to avoid stepping in. When we finally get to the heart of this vault place and activate the atmosphere control, a purge sequence or something is initiated. We have to run for our lives to the entrance to escape a deadly electrifying cloud of smoke.
Ryder activates another control before the deadly cloud toasts the group. Then a holographic galaxy map pops up and it is revealed there are other alien structures like this on other planets, that we should totally check out. Cora suggests that this one probably malfunctioned for some reason. Back outside, Eos is looking much better, but it will take some time for the radiation to fully clear from the atmosphere. I set up a forward base (After meh-quitting for a day because I couldn’t interact with Drack due to a glitch. Ahem.) and that’s all I’ve done so far. I see lots of side quest points on the map of Eos so I suspect the open world bloat will soon consume me.
Overall First Impressions
⚡ Very intriguing story. These people are all pioneers in a brand new galaxy and that’s so awesome. I can’t wait to see what happens to the Andromeda Initiative, uncover the secrets of that advanced alien race, and find out where the other Arks are.
⚡ Fun gameplay mechanics. I’ve haven’t played with it much yet, but the ability to switch combat profiles seems neat. Jumping with a boost jet type thing is fun and a first for Mass Effect. Driving the Nomad takes some getting use to, but definitely a blast to zoom around in.
⚡ My Ryder is lovably sarcastic and looks like Lightning Farron. Yep. The character customization options are great. I’ve been rocking all the sarcastic responses I can, and I’m loving it! I definitely feel a connection to the main character, and that makes any game much more enjoyable.
💥 Bugs are still present. I’ve come across a few annoying glitches already that prevented me from interacting with things needed to finish missions, making me reload the last autosave checkpoint. Not game breaking, but certainly annoying.
💥 Facial animations are still a little unstable. They are A LOT better than they were on launch day, but I’ve still observed a few spasms and wandering eyes. There is NO EXCUSE for any developer releasing a buggy product, but at least BioWare tried to fix things quickly. I hate to say it, but the overall quality of graphics during cutscenes seems a little cheap.
💥 I haven’t connected with the companion characters yet. So far, I’ve recruited Cora, Liam, Peebee, and Drack. I guess they didn’t leave a memorable first impression on me. I don’t hate them by any means, but they just seem a little dull (almost like they lack some spirit, you know?). I’m sure I’ll warm up to them more as the story goes on and I learn more about them! Plus I don’t think any crew will ever compare to the badass friends Commander Shepard rolled with.
My Game Goals:
I’m just going to complete the main story, and maybe do a little PlayStation trophy cleanup after the credits roll. I have no desire to go for the Platinum trophy. I’m having lots of fun playing this game, and that’s the most important thing! A great story will always keep me entertained despite any minor technical bugs a game may have. And hey, always remember: Ubisoft screwed up much worse with the Assassin’s Creed Unity facial animations (I’ll never forget the floating eyeballs *shudders*).
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡