Mass Effect: Andromeda – 20 hours in

I haven’t checked the clock on my Mass Effect: Andromeda save yet but my best guess is that it has about 25 or so hours logged on it. I’d say I’ve probably actually put about 20 hours into the game (15 single player and 5 multiplayer) with the remaining five hours coming from me pausing the game and tending to my four month old daughter. So at this point I’ve got enough time in the game to give some impressions. For reference I have gotten Eos to 80% viability, Voeld is at 20% viability, I have finished the first mission on Havarl, rescued the Moshae and getting ready to head to Kadara for the first time. Spoilers below.

  • Combat is a lot of fun. I don’t switch between profiles much, but I have found one that works well for me. I load out Biotic Charge, Annihilation, and Throw. Typically I charge to get close, trigger Annihilation to prime, then Throw to detonate a Biotic explosion. Then use my assault rifle to clean up. I will probably mix in Shockwave in place of Throw as a detonator to see how that works. Overall a ton of fun, especially with Biotic
  • The game has jank. I’ve had the game freeze on me once when landing on Aya. I spoke to Jaal in the crew quarters and then we were transported back to the Tech Lab to have our conversation even though the map of the Tempest still showed Jaal in the crew quarters. I also had a scene trigger with Liam and Jaal where both were topless and there were two Jaal’s in the scene walking through each other
  • I love all the side material so far. This has been a criticism from a lot of people because much of the side material ends up being about going somewhere, scanning an object or delivering materials for limited payoff. The criticism is totally fair, as much of the side content doesn’t seem particularly deep. But it works does me and draws me in deeper to the main story arc about being pioneers in a new galaxy trying to survive. Simple tasks like scanning plants, minerals, and wildlife to gain information on them would be necessary. There’s also been a lot of quests for me that ended with simply fighting off kett at one of their outposts to make a planet safer. While simple, these work for me because part of settling unknown world’s would involve doing just this if there was a hostile race trying to break up our colonization efforts
  • I am lukewarm on the story. I’ve spent the last several hours gaining the trust of the Angara by rescuing the Moshae in order to get into their vault so that we can continue terraforming Andromeda and make it habitable. I am having a hard time feeling invested in the Angaran battle with the kett. It’s too black and white with the kett as the big bad evil and thr Angaran as the noble warriors defending their homeland. I am much more interested on what happened with the migration of the Milky Way races. 
  • Similarly I think the introduction of the Angara was poorly handled. These people were destroyed by the kett yet embrace the Milky Way races almost without second thought. I actually think the introduction to the kett was well done on Habitat 7. There was a protocol to follow for those in the Initiative but the hostile race of aliens spoke in a language we couldn’t translate and as a result our first contact turned to violence. First contact with the Angara had no tension associated with it, despite their history with the kett. The Tempest basically lands on their planet without pushback and Ryder is taken by escort to the Angaran leaders. At a minimum the Angara should have been more forceful and made this out to be an incredibly big deal. Instead it just seems very ho-hum. I actually think that the best way to introduce the Angara would have been to have Ryder and his squad come and cross them while exploring Aya and be taken prisoner, resulting in a rescue attempt by the rest of your crew, or something to that effect. Just something to build tension, conflict, or uncertainty during first contact.
  • The lack of music is taking me out of the game. This may be my biggest complaint about the game. Walking around the Nexus in silence is just soulless. The original trilogy had fantastic music that really added to the aura of each location. Listening to the music playing Aria’s club on Omega is one of those moments in the trilogy that just drew me in and made it near impossible to set the controller down. I haven’t had thst moment yet with Andromeda.
  • The dialogue system is confusing me. After talking to my crew dialogue options are grayed out and I’m not sure if and when new options come available. Are they triggered after missions or should I go back to grayed out options to get something new? That said, I really do like the new dialogue options that have moved away from Paragon and Renegade. I think integrating a morality system to the new dialogue tree would be just about perfect.
  • The crafting system is overwhelming. I don’t love it or hate it, it’s just overwhelming.
  • I really do like the crew. I just don’t feel like I know them that well yet. There is a ton of potential with this group and I want to see what unfolds.
  • All the pieces are in place for a fantastic story with regards to colonization of the new galaxy. I just can’t tell yet if the game is moving away from that aspect of the game to focus on the kett and Angara. 
  • Multiplayer is fun. But I feel like a lot of the enemies are bullet sponges. All in all I fully expect to dump a ton of time into multiplayer before all is said and done. It’s been same formula as the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer.

    All in all I am still enjoying the game alot, but it has some pretty big warts. Most of it just seems like a lack of polish and/or attention to detail in ways that help and add life to the game. Exploring planets and focusing on colonization is a ton of fun. But as I noted above I am not feeling terribly invested in the story. I checked a walkthrough on IGN to get a sense of where I was at in terms of story progression and it appeared I was approaching the halfway point with Priority Ops missions. I may have interpreted it wrong, but that surprised me. I feel like the game is just starting to get going. 

    I’ll wrap up my final thoughts once I finish the game. But right now I’d say it’s tending towards a 7.5 out of 10. A good game with some design and narrative flaws.

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