Mass Effect Andromeda is the fourth, open-world installment in the Mass Effect franchise by BioWare, following the release of Mass Effect 3, released back in 2012. Mass Effect Andromeda’s timeline is set before the ending of Mass Effect 3 (one of the three possible endings). The characters in Mass Effect Andromeda don’t know what happened to Commander Sheppard and his crew back on earth with the Reapers.
The story is that of Scott and Sara Ryder, brother and sister, who attend the journey from earth to the Andromeda galaxy in 2185. After being put in preservation for 634 years, they arrive in the Andromeda galaxy in 2819, with a mission to find a new place to live. Planetary samples had been reviewed back on earth and had been found to be appropriate for human colonization.
The ark, which brought them there, the Hyperion, does not only contain humans but also other alien species, which were known back from the Mass Effect trilogy. These species are the krogans, the salarians, the asari and the turians. The Hyperion is only one of many arks, whose main mission is to transport humans to the Andromeda Galaxy. Other arks containing the other races settled out to the Andromeda Galaxy, too to find a new home.
Every ark has a Pathfinder, who is responsible for discovering new planets and finding the best place for this species to colonize. He is also responsible for discovering threats and eliminating them. Hyperion’s Pathfinder is Alec Ryder, the father of Scott and Sara Ryder. Upon a tragic event on the first planet, which was supposed to be the “new earth”, Alec Ryder died and, therefore one of his children takes his role as “the Pathfinder of the human race”. You can either choose to play as Scott or Sara Ryder in the beginning of the game. Whoever you choose, the other one will be “preserved” and will not wake up, until later on in the game.
Every species and person on the Ark have a form of artificial intelligence incorporated, which is called “SAM”. SAM has the ability to talk, analyze data and perform tasks, as every person on the ship has certain things to do, in order to keep the ship alive. Note that almost 80% of the people on the ark is being preserved until they can colonize a new planet.
SAM was developed by Alec Ryder, who allowed an advanced version of SAM to be embedded onto the Pathfinder. It helps him or her on the journey to discover new planets and analyze the data found on those planets.
After you choose your character, you wake up on the Hyperion, only to find out that you have been traveling for 634 years and have arrived at the Andromeda Galaxy. A crew member informs you that you have been chosen to accompany your father to explore the first planet, which is presumed to be the “new earth”.
Your two ” comrades in battle” and friends are Cora Harper and Liam Kosta, who will travel with you to Habitat 7 along with your father, the Pathfinder, only to discover that the planet is not only not perfectly viable, but also extremely hostile, with huge amounts of radiation, floating through the atmosphere and volcano eruptions occurring all over the place.
Not only that but after making a tragic landing on Habitat 7, along with Liam who landed with you, you have to find your father, in order to reunite and continue the mission. On Habitat 7, you find a new alien species, the Kett, with whom you try to negotiate with, upon your first encounter. However, after being shot at you realize that this is not an option and you fight back. After completing the mission, Alec Ryder’s loss leads to you being the new Pathfinder and having to discover all the other planets.
The planets are well-designed and structured and taking into account that Mass Effect Andromeda is an open-world game, it gives you many options as to what to do. You can play the main mission or try completing side missions. You can even go back and forth between them or just go back to the Hyperion and just talk to people there. It’s all up to you. With all the side missions, in order to complete the game, a minimum of 50 hours of gameplay is needed. When you go after the main missions only, 15 hours should be enough to finish the game. A friend of mine has 140 hours on the game and just recently completed the game at 100%.
After discovering planet after planet your mission is to make it viable and ready for colonization. As you complete missions on a particular planet, the viability percentage goes up. Your end goal is to eliminate all threats and stabilize the planet’s environment. Many planets have radiation problems and volcano eruptions, others have poisoned waters. There even is a planet, which is colonized by outlaws. There are a lot of things to do in Mass Effect Andromeda, as the game is huge with lots of things to explore.
However, the game’s biggest disadvantage was its various glitches throughout the game, which made the Mass Effect Andromeda unplayable for many gamers. Bioware, although delivering an excellent Trilogy, seems to have rushed the release of their latest title. Instead of postponing the release a few weeks or months, they decided to stick with their timeline and release the game on March 21st and come up with patches to fix issues of the game. Many players got upset by their approach, which resulted in pretty bad ratings. However, most of the issues have been resolved since path 1.05.
The graphics in Mass Effect Andromeda are amazing. BioWare made use of the FrostBite 3 engine, which made the game look stunning from textures to visual effects to environmental details. The first time you will step out on Habitat 7 and take a look around, you will be amazed at how detailed and beautiful the planet actually looks. BioWare made a nice job of going to the Frostbite engine in terms of graphics, as the game’s graphics are stunning and beautiful. I recommend checking it out for yourself.
Navigation and Exploration
You, as the Pathfinder, are exploring the Andromeda Galaxy inside your own Ark, the Tempest, by selecting nav points on the Andromeda Galaxy. At the deck of your ship, you see a big galaxy map, from where you choose where exactly you want your ship to
travel to. There are many “solar systems”, which, after being selected, grant you access to various planets under that solar system. The game’s main and side missions are scattered across this map. You can freely roam the map, go back and forth between solar systems and sub-planets. After choosing a specific planet, you get a brief overview of the planet’s temperature, age, condition, and viability. Some planets have -70 degrees Celsius, while others are extremely hot.
You can visit only 7 planets in the Andromeda Galaxy, which may seem like a small number, but is really not that small when you start visiting those planets and doing the missions there. There are a plethora of things to do on every planet and as you progress more and more side missions pop up to keep you occupied.
While being on a planet, you have to scan objects and locations with the embedded scanner provided by SAM. These objects are sent back to the research and development team on the Tempest, which let you craft new guns and items in your inventory. In order to navigate quicker Bioware has developed their Mass Effect” car” the Nomad, a six-wheel car, which allows you to explore the planet. The Nomad also helps to prevent radioactivity from decreasing your health. While in the Nomad, you can activate turbo to overcome obstacles and drive even faster and a 6-wheel mode, which lets you drive on difficult surfaces like mountains and rocks.
If you have done research on the Internet about Mass Effect Andromeda, you probably have encountered memes and reviews talking about the awful dialogues and facial expressions.
Indeed, dialogues can be pretty boring at times, with different variations and dialogue “choices” not having a real impact on the outcome of the story itself, which is a shame considering that the Mass Effect Trilogy’s dialogues had a major impact on the outcome of the game, depending on which answer you would choose.
With Mass Effect Andromeda, there are only a few moments when choice makes a great impact on the game’s outcome and storytelling.
If you are not used to extensive periods of dialogue and conversation between characters and are more into first-person shooters and action games, this can become pretty boring for you, as you really need to pay attention, because certain parts are very important to the game’s progression. Sometimes you get the feeling that some dialogues exist only for the sake of existing, with no impact on the game.
Combat is pretty good in Mass Effect Andromeda. There is a variety of weapons to choose from. There are 4 main categories of weapons :
- Assault rifles
- Sniper Rifles
You have also certain combo types to choose from :
- Fire, unleashed upon the enemy
- Cryo freezes and slows down the enemy
- Tech hits the enemy with electricity
- Biotic, causes the enemy to explode or fly while damaging him
You can use up to 3 combos and use them while in battle. You can also change these combos at any time you want by going into the menu. Each combo category has certain “moves”, which can be chosen and upgraded. The more you progress through the game, the more combos you can choose an upgrade. You can choose from all these combinations to choose your own combat style. Additionally, you can save different combo variations on the menu so you don’t need to choose your abilities every time you log into the game.
In addition to your own abilities, the game allows you to upgrade the abilities of your comrades, too, which means that your playing style is not only determined by your own combos but by the abilities and level of your teammates as well. However, you can not choose combos for them but only upgrade their existing abilities.
The combat style is real-time, which means that you can not get into the menu to change your combo while you are facing enemies. In accordance to the combos, you have certain profiles you can choose from. These are :
- Soldier (increased weapon damage, accuracy, and defense) Works best with Fire
- Engineer (boosts health tech, defense, and damage) Works best with Tech
- Adept (causes huge damage on enemies, but leaves you vulnerable) Biotics
- Sentinel (increases tech armor) perfect combination between tech and biotic
- Vanguard (increased melee attacks) Works best with fire
- Infiltrator (enhances battlefield awareness) works best with Fire and Tech
Explorer (all combos) Works best with fire, tech, and biotics
I have not mentioned the Multiplayer earlier because it is actually the combat part of the game. Your mission in multiplayer is to fight against “Waves” of Kett enemies and survive. You can use the same combos as in the Single -Player Campaign. There are 4 difficulty levels: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. As you level up each category becomes more and more easy to play.
You also have the ability to customize your character and choose between a private and a public match. In private match, you invite your friends to play with you and in public match, you join other random players who are playing at the moment. Choose your personal loadout or use the load out your single-player loadout. You can even use the single player configurations, or choose other settings for multiplayer.
Mass effect Andromeda is a great game, which has great storytelling, combat, graphics, and gameplay. If you like the idea of traveling through space and discovering new planets, this game is a must for you. The planets’ diversity, main and side missions, as well as the great exploration mechanics make this a pretty good game.
Sadly, the oftentimes boring and dragging conversations, the repetitiveness and the awful glitches, which were present at game’s launch, make Mass Effect Andromeda less appealing than it should be. The game was terribly received from well-known reviewers due to its glitches and facial expressions. However, most of them focused on the negative aspects of the game and forgot about what makes the game actually good. And there is a lot of good stuff in Mass Effect Andromeda. It could be an excellent game had Bioware worked more on glitches, facial expressions and dialogues.
I personally like this game and I will continue playing it as more and freer content is being added to it, delivering a great experience to whoever actually purchased and invested time into the game.
I hope that you liked my review. If you have any questions or disagree with my review, please leave a comment below and I will answer as quickly as possible.