Understand the Mass Effect: Andromeda Storyline and Meet the Characters
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While Mass Effect: Andromeda was one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2017 2017 in Gaming: New Releases You Must Know About 2017 in Gaming: New Releases You Must Know About 2017 is going to be a big year for gaming. Here are all the game releases you need to know about! Read More , the game’s launch saw intense backlash from fans of the franchise. In the weeks following its release, the developers scrambled to patch issues and regain some faith among players.

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But it looks like BioWare chose to ditch the franchise, as it has no more single-player DLC DLC: The Story of Gaming's Three Most Expensive Letters DLC: The Story of Gaming's Three Most Expensive Letters Downloadable Content (DLC) is a core part of modern video games. But where did it come from, and how has it affected the video game industry? Let's find out. Read More or story content planned for the game.

However this doesn’t mean that Mass Effect: Andromeda isn’t worth playing at all. Now that patches have fixed some issues and the game’s price has seen a drop, is it worth the purchase?

We’re here to tell you about the game and the criticisms it has faced, but also what makes it something you might want to purchase.

Why Was the Game So Badly Received?

While the game received mixed reviews, there was significant backlash from vocal fans of the series. These gamers felt that BioWare dropped the ball on this title. After all, developers teased Mass Effect: Andromeda years prior to its release — the official announcement came at E3 2015.

With so much hype and years of anticipation, fans had high expectations. It was also heavily marketed as part of the Mass Effect brand. Since many consider it as one of the best game franchises Nerdy Nostalgia: 8 Classic Games That Need Sequels Nerdy Nostalgia: 8 Classic Games That Need Sequels It's a travesty that games which people adored to the point of addiction were abandoned after one solitary outing. It's time someone did something about this. Namely, us. Read More , hopes were high.

In the two years between announcement and release, fans were expecting a polished product of the same caliber as previous titles. But just like other game franchises with declining quality Why Call of Duty Has Run Its Course (And the Best Alternatives) Why Call of Duty Has Run Its Course (And the Best Alternatives) Call of Duty was once the premiere first-person shooter game, but it's become plagued with issues. Here's why Call of Duty isn't worth your time anymore and the better games you should play instead. Read More , this isn’t what they got.

Glitches and a Lack of Polish

While it would be unfair to call the game a glitchy mess 5 Popular Games With Weird or Broken Physics 5 Popular Games With Weird or Broken Physics Sometimes, even the best games have problems. Here are some games that don't quite obey the laws of physics. Read More , it had far more bugs than is acceptable for a AAA title. Furthermore, the game lacked the refinement of previous entries in the series. Its facial animations became a notorious source of derision for the game.

Just in the clip we captured below in our first playthrough of the game, you can see how distracting the hair and clothing movement animations were (with a phantom breeze indoors).

mass effect andromeda animation problems

Characters didn’t react appropriately to conversation options. Meanwhile, the eyes of many NPCs had the soulless and glassy quality of store mannequins. There were also multiple glitches during cutscenes: characters moving through each other, the camera angle bugging out, or even multiple character models appearing in one place. Seeing two Jaal torsos sprouting from one pair of hips was a particularly unsettling visual.

Players also criticized the game for its complex and confusing menus, repetitive side missions, underdeveloped characters and sub-par dialogue. While it’s sweet that protagonist Ryder is less confident than Commander Shepard was, some of the dialogue comes off as cringey and awkward. This is especially apparent in some romance options, where Ryder comes off as creepy at times.

Cutscenes when switching between planets in the galaxy map were also particularly annoying, adding unneeded time to playthroughs.

Soon after launch, Mass Effect: Andromeda came to represent the ever-increasing trend of big studios exploiting popular franchises Big Game Studios Are Killing the Video Game Industry Big Game Studios Are Killing the Video Game Industry The big names in gaming—like EA, Square, Valve, Blizzard, and Ubisoft—have a big problem. They've lost sight of their most important market: gamers. Read More for cash while destroying their quality.

While not all of these issues were patched out, the update to the game made it a much more polished product.

What Is Mass Effect: Andromeda About?

Unlike the previous Mass Effect games, Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place in a completely different galaxy. As part of an exploration effort, huge space vessels from major Milky Way races were sent to a galaxy with thousands of colonists in stasis.

The events of the previous games are far removed from this one. Instead, the Andromeda Initiative’s vessels began their journey between the first and second Mass Effect games. Your character wakes up after hundreds of years in stasis. This means that the choices and ending of your time in the original trilogy don’t have an effect on this game.

As the vessels travel, it becomes immediately apparent that something has gone wrong on the journey with several of these “arks” disappearing. Meanwhile, your own ark encountered problems along the way and was nearly destroyed by a cloud of dark energy when it entered the galaxy’s Helius cluster.

Your job, despite being a relatively inexperienced military recruit, is to get the colonization efforts back on track. You also need to solve the mystery of the dark energy (named The Scourge). But to do this, you will need to face off against a deadly new hostile alien race.

Characters

While you encounter fresh characters and even some new races in Andromeda, the game’s story is still centered on your character and their ship’s crew. Much like in previous games in the franchise, you can build relationships and get to know these people — and yes, initiate romances 7 Romantic Dating Sim Games for Wooing Digital Lovers 7 Romantic Dating Sim Games for Wooing Digital Lovers Looking for love in a video game? Consider us the dating experts. These awesome dating simulation games let you woo the man or woman of your dreams. Read More .

Without revealing too much, here are a few of the characters you will encounter.

The Ryder Twins

Depending on whether you select a male or female character, you play as one of the Ryder twins. The twins are the children of a veteran spacefarer who is part of the Andromeda Initiative.

Your background unfolds as you progress, but the game leaves it relatively open. Meanwhile, your personality depends on how you play the game.

ryder-mass-effect-andromeda

However, there are a few constants. For instance, your father is a gifted space veteran who developed an incredibly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) for the Andromeda Initiative. But while your twin, you, and your father all set out on the journey to a new galaxy together, the strained relationship is apparent.

There are standard appearances for these two characters, but you can choose to customize them to your taste.

Liam Kosta

Liam Kosta, a human crisis response specialist, acts as the class clown of the squad. Despite this, he is still a fighter with a tactical and strategic mind.

liam-kosta-mass-effect-andromeda

Despite his obedient soldier personality, he’s also open-minded. His interactions with squadmate Jaal onboard your ship make for some of the most entertaining scenes in the game. He and Cora are the first squadmates that the player gains.

Cora Harper

Cora Harper is a human biotic commando, but despite her origins, much of her training comes from her service alongside a specialist unit of asari fighters.

cora-mass-effect-andromeda

She’s quite a distant character if you don’t choose to romance her, but it’s interesting to see a spaceborn human who relates more to an alien race than her own. Humans saw Cora as a threat due to her biotic powers. But the asari celebrated her.

Peebee

Mass Effect series veterans will remember the original trilogy’s Liara T’soni, a reserved yet deeply caring asari that develops extreme loyalty (and love, in some cases) for the player’s character.

Peebee, while still romanceable, is a completely different type of asari. While she has the intelligence that many asari characters show, she comes with a flair for mischief and rule-breaking that makes her different from other characters in the series.

peebee-mass-effect-andromeda

Rather than being shy and timid, she is forthright and exudes confidence.

Nakmor Drack

A Mass Effect game is not complete without a hard-headed (literally and figuratively) Krogan to join the team. In Andromeda, Nakmor Drack takes up this role: a Krogan so old he remembers the first time his race encountered humans.

drack-mass-effect-andromeda

He falls into the typical stubborn, fierce archetype of Krogans. However, his relationship with his granddaughter gives players a rare insight into Krogan familial bonds.

Vetra Nyx

While Turians are well-established in Mass Effect lore, players have never had the chance to interact with many females from the race. But in the latest game, one of your squad members is just this.

vetra-mass-effect-andromeda

While Vetra has the intelligence and discipline of many Turians, she is also surprisingly shy. Like with Drack, familial bonds are important to this character, who helped raise her little sister Sid.

Jaal Ama Darav

Having two new races introduced in Mass Effect: Andromeda is great, but the added bonus that a member of one of these races becomes a squad member is spectacular.

jaal-mass-effect-andromeda

Jaal is the last member to join your squad. Despite his serious demeanor, he actually provides comic relief 10 More of the Funniest Video Games Ever Made 10 More of the Funniest Video Games Ever Made Looking to laugh when you play video games? We've rounded up ten more funny titles that will keep you chuckling throughout. There's something for every sense of humor here! Read More through some of his interactions. It is through this character that you learn the most about the franchise’s new friendly alien race.

These six characters make up your squad members, but there are a few other minor characters onboard your ship. Despite them having smaller roles, they still come with unique personalities and even possible romances.

Gameplay

Despite the new setting, new characters, and new mission; the gameplay in Mass Effect: Andromeda will be familiar to fans. But with a new game comes tweaks to the traditional format.

The choice-heavy narrative seen in the previous games doesn’t have as much of a prominent place in Andromeda. In fact, the morality system no longer exists. Rather, your dialogue options don’t impact responses of characters all that much. However, narrative still drives the game, with action-packed quests in between.

The game has several stunning and awe-inspiring new planets which act as the setting for your missions. While you could drive rovers in previous games, the exploration and diversity of the environments was never this advanced.

Along with the main storyline, there are the usual loyalty quests for your squadmates. Completionists will want to explore every nook and cranny of the game’s world.

While character movement is more advanced, combat tactics are far simpler. You have much less control over what your squadmates do. While you can send them to certain locations in a fight, you have limited control over the abilities they use.

As combat occurs in real-time, without any pausing, it’s more fast-paced than its predecessors. While this does make encounters a bit more difficult, it also adds an element of excitement.

In many ways, the mechanics and gameplay of Mass Effect: Andromeda are similar to previous titles in the Mass Effect series. But where these games truly differ is in their strength and weaknesses.

The Pros

Critics lambasted Andromeda for many of its flaws, and fans felt this disappointment deeply. But this doesn’t mean it’s a terrible game — in fact, it has many strengths.

First, while there are problems with pacing, the game’s story is actually quite compelling 3 Video Games That Will Touch You Emotionally 3 Video Games That Will Touch You Emotionally In spite of being a young medium, a game comes along every now and then with a story that truly hits you deep in your heart. Certain games actually use the interactive nature of games... Read More . It’s filled with mystery, which makes the game’s antagonists much more intimidating.

Despite the lackluster facial animations, the environments and scenery in the game are absolutely breathtaking.

mass-effect-andromeda-scenery

The ability to discover and colonize new planets also adds an element of variety that the older games didn’t quite have nailed down.

Character Interactions

One of the biggest pulls of BioWare’s games, the ability to befriend and romance characters, is still at the forefront of your interactions. The main story has many new faces, each with their own tale. Sometimes you’ll find yourself trying to deal with bureaucracy and politics. Other times you’re in a life-or-death situation while rebelling against invaders.

Certain characters in the game are a bit underdeveloped. However, this balances out with the casual interactions between characters that actually flesh out their personalities. It’s similar to the banter seen in games like Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Inquisition (our review Should You Buy Dragon Age: Inquisition? Should You Buy Dragon Age: Inquisition? Can Inquisition carve out a unique identity among all of the RPGs it strives to imitate? Read More ).

Through these conversations, you actually learn personal information about your squadmates. Your squad members will even remember these conversations and follow up the next time they’re on a mission together. For example, Jaal and Drack — two squadmates who don’t have much in common — talk about love and heartbreak on multiple occasions, finding common ground in their history of failed romances.

The post-launch patch fixed many of the glitches that degraded the game’s quality. Characters’ soulless eyes are more lifelike, while the underwhelming customization options for your character are significantly better now.

mass-effect-andromeda-character-customization
Before and After: Mass Effect: Andromeda Edition

My character received a welcome makeover thanks to the better customization and free “facial reconstruction” introduced by the patch.

The Cons

The major patch that Mass Effect: Andromeda received a month after its release was a welcome improvement. But it didn’t fix everything.

The game still has drawbacks which prevent it from achieving the same greatness of its predecessors.

A huge factor that made the trilogy a success was the player’s control over the story and their conversations. While Andromeda gives you up to four types of responses in a conversation (emotional, logical, casual, professional), these don’t have much of an impact outside of the immediate reaction. This makes it feel like the dialogue choices are really just lip-service to fans.

mass effect andromeda

It’s great to have more options to explore other areas and smaller storylines, but too many side quests in Andromeda feel like filler content. Many are essentially fetch-and-deliver quests or bounty target quests. Dragon Age: Inquisition also faced this criticism.

Facial animation and quality has improved, but lip syncing issues (while reduced) still exist. This doesn’t make the cutscenes or dialogue unbearable to watch, but don’t expect the quality you’ve seen in games like Uncharted 4 or The Last of Us 7 Games All PlayStation 4 Owners Should Buy 7 Games All PlayStation 4 Owners Should Buy Got a new PS4 for Christmas? Need some games to play on it? Here are a few games every PS4 owner should own! Read More .

When it comes to the confusing menus, crafting system, and options UI, not much has improved. The sheer volume of menus and sub-menus is overwhelming.

mass-effect-andromeda-menus

Another disappointment is the lack of meaningful interactions with characters you don’t romance. And even for some characters that you do romance, the story is painfully bland.

However, many of the weaknesses of Mass Effect: Andromeda are noticeable because it’s a Mass Effect game. Some of these weaknesses would have gone ignored in other games. For example, Horizon Zero Dawn is an amazing title with excellent reception from critics. But its story is also relatively linear, and dialogue options are more about conversational variety rather than actually changing the narrative.

But variety and player choices were defining features of the early Mass Effect games, so fans felt the lack of choice more acutely in Andromeda.

Will You Enjoy Mass Effect: Andromeda?

Andromeda is a disappointing Mass Effect game, but in isolation, it’s actually a solid RPG filled with compelling action 5 Classic RPGs With Unique Battle Systems You'll Love 5 Classic RPGs With Unique Battle Systems You'll Love Skips the usual affair and start playing these 5 RPGs with unique battle systems you'll fall in love with. Read More . Much of the backlash against the title was due to expectations set by the series as a whole.

If Mass Effect: Andromeda had not been promoted as part of the acclaimed franchise, it would have stood a chance. But rushed development and overhyping the product were utlimately its downfall.

Now that patches have fixed major issues of the game and consumers have managed their expectations, it’s easy to see that it is actually a highly enjoyable space RPG. The lower price doesn’t hurt either.

If you’re a fan of RPGs and aren’t too invested in the legacy of the Mass Effect name, you will likely enjoy this title. In fact, if you enjoyed Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect: Andromeda is a perfect addition to your gaming queue.

It won’t be winning Game of the Year awards, but Mass Effect: Andromeda is still a really entertaining and action-packed space adventure 7 Video Games Like Star Wars All Fans Will Love 7 Video Games Like Star Wars All Fans Will Love Star Wars has seen plenty of great video games. If you're a fanatic who's already played them all, these seven titles should keep you busy until the next official release! Read More for RPG fans.

All aspects considered, do you think you will you will give Mass Effect: Andromeda a try? Or have false promises and disappointment taken away any goodwill you had for the title? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: BagoGames/Flickr

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  1. Steve
    November 14, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Accurate article. The game, like the original ME had some strengths and some flaws but there is a solid platform to build on. Unfortunately we live in a world where it is more fun to pile on than to have an original thought so MEA ends up dying off by mob mentality.

    • Megan Ellis
      November 14, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      It's a pity that those who bought the game can't look forward to any single player story DLC. As far as I know, parts of the story were left unfinished.

      Like you said, they actually have a solid base to build on.

  2. Avalanche178
    November 14, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Trying out the trial of Andromeda was probably my most favorite times. Getting a taste of the game. Sure, as a Mass Effect game, it's nothing to note. As a Action RPG itself, it has probably the best combat BioWare had done. I'm definitely willing to give Andromeda a try, no matter the faults it has.

    It's gonna be a hell of a ride, but an awesome one in the end.