Here’s the screens that did not make the cut. All captured on Xbox One and all gloriously #nofilter
I must have really liked having Vetra around.
I am going to be honest. I know I don't remember the original Mass Effect trilogy with the same voracity as some others do. So forgive me if I can't give the lowdown on how different the shooting was in each game or if I cannot list what lovely RPG goodness was added following on from the first instalment. The point is, I remember the Mass Effect trilogy as a solid space opera with some firearms and biotic powers thrown in for good measure. I laughed, I cried (how predictably feminine of me) and my heart nearly gave out when I heard the bloodcurdling screech of a banshee.
By the time I was happy to wrap up Mass Effect 3, people were already in meltdown over it on the internet. Thankfully I did not see too much of this before I got to experience it myself. It was fine. I had a certain expectation that it would be near impossible to end it in a way that would fully satisfy all individual choices made in the games. However, as people discussed it more, I was left a bad taste in my mouth.
The newest game, Andromeda had no chance. The fandom were hungry and this new part of the Mass Effect universe was meant to fix the betrayal they felt they experienced at the hands of BioWare. Again, I was bombarded with review upon board upon tweet about how Andromeda was the worst thing to happen to humanity (and probably whatever is floating around up in space). Despite this, I paid €69.99 of my own money in order to check it out. I mean, how bad could it really be?
Not that bad actually.
If you don't play a BioWare RPG partly because you get to customise the appearance of your main character (in this case Ryder plus sibling) then we may not have our priorities lined up. I was very happy with how my Ryder turned out. I have to give credit to the best range of female hair options in a BioWare game to date. I did feel that I could not make the face too different from the templates given, but sliders are always awkward when you play on console.
Customisation is available for your armour also. I had Ryder running around the galaxy in millennial pink. Who needs realism when you might be kissing aliens in space? Other than changing the colour you can build your own armour based on research you acquire exploring around. It took me longer than I would like to get comfortable with this. The development screens were far too fussy. I eventually got there and managed to even craft some interesting weapons. I did like that you had the option of making armour and weapons either from the Milky Way (Ryder's home galaxy) or from new alien tech you discover.
In terms of plot, Ryder leaves the Milky Way when Commander Shepard of the original trilogy is doing his/her thing. The mission is to find planets viable for life to house the many other volunteers who left along with Ryder. However, you wake up 600 years later and there are big problems. Most of these come in the form of insectoid aliens called the Kett who are determined to make the galaxy a home for just them. In terms of design and overall motive, the Kett are not going to blow you over. They are a familiar villain. Much of the main story also has you go into vaults where you solve a few puzzles and shoot a few things in order to re-calibrate a particular planet's atmosphere. Thankfully they don't take a long time to complete. Many know how soul destroying those Dwarven ruins in Skyrim are…but maybe that was just me.
Speaking of exploring, Andromeda's open world-ness did not feel too overwhelming. When you were out in the Nomad (your car essentially), quests were marked very clearly and the map had visible pathways to and from most points of interest. Unlike BioWare's other attempt at open world, Inquisition, travelling distances felt more purposeful. Where the game let me down however was when quests were running thin. Believe me, moving from the ship, into the galaxy map, into a cluster, into a planet, then going to the planet, walking to your objective, getting a small dialogue, being told the next part of the quest is on another planet, reversing the steps and then starting them again was not fun. At the beginning this was not an issue because you would to have a few things to complete on one planet which made the journey worthwhile.
Of course the worst offence Andromeda committed was apparently having more bugs than stars in the galaxy. I did get the famed funny faces albeit quite rarely and a few smaller quests did not complete for me. The latter annoyed me the most because I made the effort and got no rewards for my time. I also experienced some crashing and enemies stuck in walls and all that fun stuff. Luckily since a fateful day when my sister spent many hours working on a house in the Sims only to have her laptop die, I have been a serial saver. Some might construe it as making a game easier but if it meant I didn't have to dive into the galaxy map again, I was going to do it.
Overall do I regret biting the bullet and spending €69.99 on Andromeda? Not at all. I put a lot of time into the game and despite a few annoyances, found myself very entertained. If you are unsure about it still, there is definitely no harm in waiting until it goes down in price. Ryder's story has benefited from the lack of Shepard level fanaticism, spoilers are few and far between.
As I played Mass Effect Andromeda on the Xbox One, all screenshots here have come from there (if you were curious).
I had stored Mass Effect away in my heart next to the hole I let the Harry Potter series also slip into. As far as I was concerned, Mass Effect ended with my Shepard along with all the hopes and dreams I had for the galaxy at large. I was happy that I didn’t have to experience any more emotional turmoil at the hands of the 70+ hour trilogy (dramatic, I know). Yet in 2015, Mass Effect Andromeda was announced to the world.
BioWare community manager Chris Priestly quickly shut down any hopes of the game continuing what the trilogy had set up after the game was announced. That should have solved my issues with wanting to put the Shepard thing to bed but I was still unenthusiastic. As a result I have avoided reading too much about Andromeda. Which is a miracle considering how the entirety of Dragon Age Inquisition crossed my path in the form of online chatter long before release.
The only information I have really acquired is the announcement that you will be accompanied by your brother or sister depending of which gender you pick to play as. Cool concept, pity BioWare love to kill your fictional siblings/parents/loved ones, not the family dog though…yet. I have met the family announcement with a heavy side-eye for a different reason however. Creative lead Mac Walters announced that you see their dad in one of the earlier trailers in an interview with PlayStation Access. Also very cool. That was the full Ryder family now revealed according to Walters. I really hope the non-existing matriarch of the family surprises us with a mention that she is having a great time somewhere across space. If she will be used as a motivational corpse for the plot I would rather they forgot about her. It is a wonder that any fictional character does anything when they do not have a dead or endangered woman in their life!
The latest game-play footage caught my attention also. After all, how could I resist that 4K magic? The game will apparently look good on everything but the player in the video advises you to “find” a 4K screen just to watch him play four minutes of the game. The game definitely looks quite different to the previous Mass Effect games. The environment seems more open, exploration being a big thing in this game. The layout reminds me of the environments of Dragon Age Inquisition somehow. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they fill the space better than Inquisition did. I do not need to spend time running through a large empty space just to find a tiny collectable rock. It is pretty and definitely has depth. I might have an issue looking at a protagonist walk like they are holding in a fart but I am sure I will get over it.
It looks like out of the three companions in the preview clip, two are human. Possibly one is Ryder’s sister. That is a bit underwhelming but I would prefer them keeping the more interesting companions quiet until closer to release. There is one alien species represented, an Asari. She looks very out of place as instead of armour she has a belly revealing kind of biker jacket and cargo pants on. She seems a bit more rough and ready than most of the Asari we are used to seeing which could make for an interesting companion.
Can we talk about this though:
Anyway I am far more intrigued by Andromeda after seeing some proper footage. I do hope they reveal more information about the game as tactfully as they have been. There is few things worse than coming into a game first time knowing too much.
Check Andromeda out in all its glory below