Mass Effect Andromeda
Mass Effect Andromeda takes place in the year 2819, roughly 600 years after the events of the original Mass Effect trilogy. Knowledge of the previous games is recommended, but not exactly required.
The player takes on the role of Ryder who has come to the Andromeda galaxy with their father and twin sibling under a project called the Andromeda Initiative.
The Andromeda Initiative was created to send people from the Milky Way races to the Andromeda galaxy to explore and settle. Improvements in technology allowed scientists in the Milky Way to see Andromeda in almost real-time which allowed the people in charge of the Andromeda Initiative to choose “golden planets” where their people could settle.
The Hyperion Ark was the ark that humans took to Andromeda where they slept in cryostasis pods until they arrived. Upon arrival, however, the ark ran into major interference called the Scourge. Further than that, when the ark managed to get through the interference and arrive at their “golden planet,” Habitat 7, they discovered that it wasn’t as golden as their studies had led them to believe.
Ryder joined an expedition to go down to the surface of Habitat 7 alongside their father. After crash landing on the planet, they came to the horrifying realization that the planet was not hospitable in the slightest. And more horrifying than that was the hostile alien species they came in contact with called the kett.
Though Ryder managed to survive the horrors of Habitat 7, this only served to be the beginning of what they would be facing. After an accident on Habitat 7 removes Ryder’s father from the picture, Ryder takes his place as the human race’s Pathfinder, a person who is in charge of finding habitable places to settle in Andromeda and making first contact with alien species they come across.
Ryder and their crew embark on a mission to find and help settle habitable worlds while fighting off the threat of the kett and the mysteries of the Scourge.
Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Rating: M (Blood, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Violence)
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Players: 1 (Campaign) / 4 (MultiPlayer)
Like in the original Mass Effect trilogy, you are allowed to choose Ryder’s first name. Arekuzanra played as the female Alexia Ryder while MonocleDan played as the male Tye Ryder.
You are also able to adjust Ryder’s skin tone, hair and eye color, hair style, and facial features. You can also choose what field Ryder will specialize in (though this can be changed later on with the introduction of Profiles and the skill tree).
Ryder has a twin sibling. If you play as the male Ryder, your twin sister will be Sara Ryder. If you play as the female Ryder, your twin brother will be Scott Ryder. You can also customize your twin’s appearance.
Ryder’s team is diversified with two humans (Cora Harper and Liam Kosta), a Turian (Vetra Nyx), a Krogan, an Asari, and an Angaran. Cora and Liam accompany you from the start of the game and your other party members slowly join your ranks as you progress through the story.
Each member of the party specializes in either combat, biotic, or tech skills and can be used to round out your party. For example, if you play Ryder as a biotics user, you may wish for your party to either round out with a combat user and a tech user or you may want to look at grabbing another biotic user to trigger combos. Or you can just choose your favorite characters to accompany you so you can listen to their banter as you venture across the planets in the Heleus Cluster of Andromeda.
Note: There are Youtube videos embedded in this article from MonocleDan. While they all look the same, we have marked them to start from certain points in the video that cover the area we’re talking about. More gameplay videos can be viewed through MonocleDan’s Andromeda playlist on Youtube.
While this game has a great storyline full of twists and turns and some pretty amazing gameplay, we often found ourselves having the same thoughts as Fry up above. We did run into a few bugs on occasion where the game would just freeze and the only way to get back up and running was to close the application and restart the game.
The auto-save feature has worked both for and against us when this happens. Sometimes, we would be incredibly fortunate only to be knocked back a few steps. Other times, we’d have to repeat entire segments or go through an entire area all over again.
Arekuzanra ran into a bug where she would get killed by a particular type of enemy, but Ryder wouldn’t actually die. The screen would fade to black, but the HUD would remain and you could hear everything still going on in the background with party members and enemies. The only way out of that was to restart the game.
While we both have played this game on PS4, we have also done some research and have found that the bugs do span over to the Xbox and PC as well.
The bugs do happen few and far between (unless you’re Arekuzanra and kept dying to that one stupid enemy…). However, it is something we would like to advise happens simply because it can break immersion and cause some frustration.
The dialogue in the game is presented by a dialogue wheel during a conversation. Ryder will have a few lines of default dialogue during the conversation, but there will come times where the game wants the player to influence the conversation or situation by making a generalized choice.
Ryder will be presented between 2 and 6 different conversation options depending on the situation. Above is a breakdown of what each conversation option means. Below is how the conversation actually looks when presented.
In most cases, Ryder is given the choice between an Emotional or Logical response, or between a Casual and a Professional response. On occasion, like in the image above, Ryder is presented with all four options to choose from.
The Question options come up when probing for optional information about a situation or a mission about to take place. They do not really influence the flow of the rest of the conversation and are mostly used to provide the player with some additional context or information about what they’re about to face.
The Romance/Flirt option is important for any characters you are trying to Romance in the game. More about the Romance options will be discussed in the Romance section of the review.
You will want to carefully consider your options when it comes to the options given. When it comes to the four primary options, Ryder’s response can have an impact on later conversations and later decisions that they may have to come to. While we wouldn’t recommend sitting there and deeply analyzing each option, we do recommend taking a moment to consider who you’re talking to and what conversation option would appeal better to that person.
The combat system in this game is split between what you can do with your weapons and what you can do with your combat abilities.
By default, you are given the option to choose one melee weapon and two guns. Later down the line, when you invest more points into your combat tree, you will have the ability to carry up to four guns with you at a time. Weapons can only be swapped out when disembarking Ryder’s ship, approaching a Forward Station during exploration, or beginning specific missions. You can also add mods to your guns to improve stability, accuracy, clip size, spare ammo size, and damage. While many mods add only positives, some mods give you really great stats if you sacrifice another stat in the process.
Combat abilities can be powered up by leveling up and investing skill points (more on that under the Leveling section below). You get a total of three abilities you can have “equipped” at any given time, and you can switch them out at will.
In the video below, we recommend watching from 10:50 – 11:30 to get a general idea for combat.
In Mass Effect Andromeda, the leveling system provides you skill points to invest in various skill trees. The three major skill trees are Combat, Biotics, and Tech.
Each skill tree a variety of options, as seen above, and each option has a breakdown of where you can invest points. Each slot costs a certain number of skill points 1-6. The first slot of a particular ability or skill costs one point. The second slot costs two points. The sixth slot costs six points.
Mass Effect Andromeda also introduces Profiles. When you select a particular profile, you get added perks. For example, if you choose the Soldier profile, Soldier Rank 1 gives +10% Weapon Damage, +10% Weapon Accuracy, +2 Damage Protection, +10% Weapon Clip Size, and a Marksman’s Focus (which grants an escalating damage bonus for every target killed in a short time). These perks get better as you rank up the Profile, and you rank up the Profile by adding skill points to your skill trees.
In Mass Effect Andromeda, you are able to craft weapons, armor, and augmentations using research points. You gain Milky Way, Heleus, and Remnant research points that can be used for each type of research. Once you have enough research points, you can research a particular craft, starting from its rank 1 version. Each rank requires a certain amount of research points.
Once you have researched the craft, you can switch over to the Development side and actually create the weapon, armor, or augmentation. Development requires that you have the blueprint from the Research side plus the materials to craft it. Many of the materials can be mined, found, or purchased from a vendor.
In the video below, we recommend watching from 16:25 – 19:20 to get a general idea of what the research and development stations look like and a basic idea of how they work.
There are four main methods of transportation in Mass Effect Andromeda that the player will use to explore the cluster: Foot, Fast Travel, Ship, and Nomad
On foot, you can walk, unlimited sprint, jump using a jetpack or biotic force, and dash using a jetpack or biotic force.
Fast Travel is available on most planets via Forward Stations and can be accessed via the map interface and traveled to. Most major cities or hubs that you travel to will also have smaller, internal fast travel options.
Ryder’s ship, the Tempest, allows you to travel between planets and systems in the Heleus Cluster. Prior to April 6th, there was no option to skip the animations when flying between planets and systems. As of April 6, 2017, however, you are now at least able to skip the cutscene when flying between planets.
And then there’s the Nomad. If you played the original Mass Effect, you will remember the Mako. The Nomad is very similar to the Mako. It is a vehicle to allow you faster travel across planets you visit (rather than running everywhere). The Nomad has its benefits of protecting you from harsh weather conditions and does permit for faster travel. However, the Nomad is extremely difficult to control at any speed and often runs into a lot of issues with pathing and climbing. Below is a video of MonocleDan’s first experiences with the Nomad; however, even after playing 50+ hours, Arekuzanra still has difficulties maneuvering the Nomad.
In the video below, we recommend watching from 27:55 – 30:00 to get a general idea of how aggravating the Nomad can be.
In Mass Effect Andromeda, Ryder can romance a variety of characters. Some characters are specific to either male or female Ryder, though there are many who can be romanced by both Ryders. All but one member of the party can be romanced, along with three other characters outside of the party.
When wooing a potential lover, you will be presented with a solid heart for dialogue options that will lead toward a romantic encounter.
Romance is completely optional, but adds some fun dialogue options and gives a few extra cutscenes later on in the game.
As with its predecessor, Mass Effect 3, Mass Effect Andromeda has implemented a multiplayer option. The multiplayer is played on special maps and is co-op versus AI. You can either join a quick match, set up a custom match, or you can go on a special mission called an APEX mission to earn special perks for your single player campaign.
With multiplayer, you can play as a Human, Turian, Krogan, Asari, Salarian, or Angaran. Each character levels independently with their own small set of skills, which can be leveled up using skill points. By default, only human characters are able to be played until you unlock other character types.
Weapons, characters, and consumables can be earned through special loot boxes. Loot boxes are primarily purchased using in-game credits.
The visuals and graphics of Mass Effect honestly fall all over the spectrum.
Scenery-wise, this game is beautiful. While some of the planets can feel a little bland at times when you’re staring at mountains of snow or sand for forever while driving around and completing missions, you’ll find a few hidden gems by looking up in the sky or looking down from a tall cliff.
And then you’ll run into some graphical bugs, like the screenshot below.
Prior to the April 6, 2017 patch, humans also had some issues with their eyes and facial features, and Asari also had issues with their eyes. These were, thankfully, addressed in the patch. The default female Ryder’s face also had a lot of issues until the patch released and she seems to have a more vibrant expression. Even the customized female Ryder saw some facial issues until the recently released patch. Her expression is much smoother and looks great in cutscenes.
There aren’t many notable music tracks in Mass Effect Andromeda. Most of the music heard is either on the Galaxy Map or when in combat. Combat music can come very suddenly and sometimes even when there aren’t any clear enemies nearby.
When talking to someone in front of you, shifting the camera around will change where their voice comes from, much like it would in real life. On occasion, if you get too far from a party member and your party member chimes into the conversation, you can hear them from far away speaking their lines of dialogue. Having captions helps for this.
The best part, though, is going through some planets that have hidden wildlife and hearing their sounds and screeches in the distance. Havarl and Aya are two planets that I would recommend visiting while wearing headphones. I enjoyed walking through these areas and hearing the calls of various birds.
My oh my… Where to begin…
A lot of my thoughts and feelings can be seen in the sections above. I tried to keep those sections mostly opinion-free, but there were a few times where I couldn’t help myself.
Let me start by saying I have extremely enjoyed playing Mass Effect Andromeda. Even when the game can get frustrating, I’ve never felt like playing this game was a chore. I looked forward to coming home and booting it up to play for a few hours before bed, or binge playing it on my weekends. I also didn’t even really mind all the mindless side quests (see the above graphic for an accurate depiction of me playing this game).
That said, the frustration was still there.
A lot of times, I felt like every decision I made was the wrong decision. I made this decision that pissed so-and-so off and now I feel like the world’s biggest jerk. Oh look, I made another poor decision and now I’m the world’s biggest jerk. It made me feel like I have poor decision-making skills and it became really disheartening to feel like I wasn’t playing the game right. In previous Mass Effect games, you had the Paragon vs Renegade system which made it easier to make “good or evil” decisions. In Andromeda, you just have the different types of responses and even the Emotional response can sometimes trigger the wrong outcome.
I also had a very very hard time with the Nomad. I wanted to keep my actual information portion of it professional… But in my opinion corner, I’m going to be honest and say I would have rather walked everywhere. The Nomad has a tendency to have rough handling at higher speeds and practically no handling when going up cliffs. On top of that, the Nomad has a mode where you can better climb hills and cliffs but the cliffs often are deceiving in how they’re angled and I’d get about 3/4ths of the way up a mountain before the Nomad would be “Nah bra” and just start rolling back down. I also crashed into dumb things. And running over things didn’t kill them. Weh.
It’s still a great game even with some of my pain points. It’s not nearly as gorgeous as Horizon Zero Dawn, but it still had quite a beauty of its own especially when it came to the skies and certain landscapes. Ryder’s personality quirks jived with me very well and I really enjoyed playing through.
Would I play it again? Absolutely! Already started my New Game Plus!
Oh, wow, how to approach this.
Let’s just get things straight off the bat: I wasn’t as invested in getting this game as I was the others. The first Mass Effect drew me in and I was hooked for the trilogy, but this one actually slipped from my radar until about a month before release, when I preordered it. I think that played quite a bit into my perception, along with my desire to stream the entire game, which has me taking at a slower pace against my compatriot. As of this moment, I’m working on the Angara while she has finished the game.
But here’s my take so far.
The story seems good, but I’m a bit lost. We’re attempting to colonize planets, make them habitable for the species of the Milky Way, but now we’re engaging with the Kett, potentially with the Angara on our side for it (though it seems like we may make the Angara’s home planet a Milky Way colony? Bit rude if you ask me) plus we’re chasing Remnant vaults. I may not be far enough to see what our endgame is, but I don’t have a clear view of where this is going to end.
The graphics are beautiful. The scenery is lovely, the character designs on point, everything feeling familiar from the original series yet foreign enough to reflect this new hostile land. As everyone has pointed out, there are graphical glitches, though I did get to bypass most of them due to taking male Ryder. There were some clipping, and the awkward faces, but still very good graphics. With each game I play, I’m impressed with the visuals on the PS4.
Combat… oh goodness, the combat. Such a grand improvement. The cover, the skills, the movement, such an improvement on all fronts. The allies are also very productive, helping clear out threats I don’t even know were moving in. A huge change from the original Mass Effect. Definitely something to look forward to.
The allies are once again a shining spot of the Bioware game. Romance, friendships, their own lives moving at their own pace, not tied to Ryder. The writing is spot on, and they feel like full fledged characters, ones who could easily have their own side books or even games. Definitely loving not only my allies, but the crew and even other NPCs; it’s not often that you have a growing hate for an NPC based solely on their characterization.
The skills being able to be devoted into all trees is a new style, and the profiles based off of them helps tie it back to the original trilogy. This does grant a larger freedom of movement; I’ll admit, I never touched biotics in the originals, but I’m tempted to drop a point or two to see how it is. Also, with being able to pay to redistribute them, it’s very easy to test out and change if it doesn’t hit.
I do feel like I’m not giving it its proper due, and I will work on devoting more focus to it because it will be great. An excellent choice, and definitely going to do a second playthrough.