Way back on November 16, 2007 I remember firing up my XBox360 and placing Mass Effect into the disc tray for the first time. Not really knowing much about it I created my custom Shepard backstory and set off on a 70 hour space adventure that drew me in and kept me hooked until its final installment almost five years later in 2012. Mass Effect quickly became my favorite video game series – dethroning the Metal Gear Solid series as my all time best – with it’s vast alien races, history and all around great story. I’ll never forget some of the best and most terrifying moments in 3 when you travel to an Asari Ardat Yakshi monastery to prevent the reapers from indoctrinating the already secluded yet most dangerous beings in the galaxy. The bone chilling screech and then finally seeing the what the reapers have done to the Asari is still nightmare fuel to this day, not to mention the extremely fucked up outcome of that mission. Mass Effect 3’s ending is still pretty controversial with a lot of fans but was a great game that ended the long, dark, sad and violent story of Commander Shepard, but ultimately leaving the future of franchise up in the air.
Fast forward to June of 2015: all had been quiet from Bioware and while rumors were made, no one expected the Mass Effect franchise to return, especially after less than a year since the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition. During E3 when Mass Effect: Andromeda was announced with a teaser of a new galaxy set 600 years after Mass Effect 3’s ending, I instantly felt reminiscent and couldn’t wait explore new worlds and alien races. Once the game finally released on March 26, 2017, after an almost year delay, it was met with harsh criticism over various bugs that caused some of the most hysterical animation glitches to down right enraging bugs that would wipe save data ultimately leading to poor sales and the inevitable cancellation of the game’s planned DLC putting the series on ice.
Here we are today, almost one year after its release and having just completed my second play through for the Platinum Trophy on PS4, I’m writing this now to tell you that Andromeda is worth your time. While in my personal opinion it is the weakest one in the franchise it’s by far not broken mess it once was on release. With its fun combat, interesting plot and solid charters it’s something, especially with a price of $19.99, that should be in every fan of the series library.
In a brief synopsis: Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place 600 years after the events of Mass Effect 3. The Andromeda Initiative was created during the timeline of the original Mass Effect trilogy to explore the stars far beyond the the ones of the Milky Way galaxy to settle new worlds and escape the impending doom of the Reaper invasion. Alec Ryder, a distinguished systems alliance member who created an advanced unshackled AI (SAM) was completely disgraced by the human alliance for fears that his newly created AI would cause another incident like ongoing Geth revolt created by the Quarians. Alec was recruited as a pathfinder to help guide other pathfinders and settlers on their journey of discovery upon arriving in the Andromeda system. You play as either Scott or Sara Ryder. After waking up from over 600 years of cryo slumber you find out that everything is not what it was said to be. Planets deemed Golden Worlds ripe with resources for settlement are dangerous and uninhabitable, the system has a mysterious and deadly energy cloud known as the scourge that destroys planets and ships alike, a new race of aliens (Kett) that is extremely hostile and shoots on sight, and arks filled with 20,000 plus settlers of each major Milky Way race have gone missing all while the hub station of the Initiative is in shambles after Kett attacks and settler revolts. So essentially shit is fucked and it’s up to you to figure out what the hell is going on while managing new world outposts and hostile settler tensions.
**MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD**
When i began my second playthrough, I had zero intentions of doing side quests or loyalty missions knowing I didn’t want to get to involved in the story being the Andromeda DLC was canceled, leaving the story incomplete. After the essential tutorial that is the first hour I was given my ship (The Tempest) and made my way to the games first explorable planet EOS. I established my first outpost and still found myself talking to the settlers doing various jobs for them and listening to their tales of why they decided join the Initiative to leave their old life behind and the hardships they have faced upon arrival from the Kett to the harsh environments of what was thought to be a “Golden World” for settlement. Before I knew it I was another 60 hours in driving around in the Nomad on what was supposed to be the Turrian Golden Word H-047c (coolest location in the game) looking for the leader of a group of exiles trying to mine the destroyed planet’s soil for helium-3 yields to build a bomb to destroy the Nexus all while keeping an eye out for the missing Turian ark. I was once again fully engrossed talking, shooting, fucking my way around the new galaxy completing loyalty quests (except or Liam’s…fuck that guy) right up until the final scene in the game, fully enjoying every moment of it and wanting more.
Now, i totally understand some of the flak this game received for its bugs and some of its weaker writing but for it to be shelved for something that could be adjusted (AND WAS) with a patch is complete bullshit. 2017 was the year for everyone to hate on everything it seems and video games were high up on the internet’s “Fuck You” list. Being this game is published by EA, it’s already losing some points and we know how they love to fuck over developers with shit time constraints and their wonderful idea to outsource important animation projects to cheap companies. And that’s where the problem lies here: people’s hate for EA makes them blind to the damage they cause to the developers. Sure EA is a corporate monster who has single handedly ruined game franchises over the years, but this was not the case for Mass Effect (aside from the animation outsource).
In the end, Bioware took a hit and was forced to halt and scrap any more work on the title because EA deemed it a failure putting the series on hold. This truly troubles me because the last title EA made this same decision with was another of my favorite series, Dead Space. Similar circumstances apply with time constraints and outsourcing but another overall solid franchise was put on ice after Dead Space 3 was deemed a “Failure” and claimed they will revisit it in the future.
Not sure if any of you are up to date on this but EA closed down Visceral Studios in late 2017 all but damning the return of Dead Space unless they give it to a competent in house developer or sell the IP and both are about as likely as seeing Santa buttfuck a unicorn in your living room on Christmas morning. That said, Bioware has plenty of other IPs to fall back on so it’s in no danger of closing but the same can’t be said for it’s Mass Effect franchise.
So what i’m trying to say here is that if you haven’t played Mass Effect: Andromeda I feel it’s a great pick up for its price. It’s a shame we’ll never see what happens to missing arks or see how the choices you made in settlements play out (maybe the sequel?) but it’s a solid game that can easily suck you in for dozens upon dozens of hours that still retains the charm from the original trilogy and stands on its own as a brand new experience to first time visitor.
After writing this I think I’m gonna dust off the PS3 and go back and relive the dark adventures of Commander Shepard, Space Slut. Yes, I made him bang everything that had a hole and wasn’t nailed down.