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RTTP: Mass Effect Andromeda (Spoilers)

Ralemont

not me
Mar 26, 2014
7,293
0
530
On release, I played through Mass Effect Andromeda. I found it to have good combat, an okay story, and a terrible game structure, mostly based around the quest and world design. I suspected that if I molded Andromeda into a sort of Mass Effect 2 Lite, the game's experience would massively improve. So when I set out for my New Game + playthrough to get the Platinum, I played with this framework in mind.

This meant:

1. Avoid all task missions
2. Avoid every side quest that is obtained through a ! marker in the world. Don't get me wrong: there's some quality side quests in this category. But because there isn't really any way to tell which ones are good and which bad, I think it's safer to just ignore all of them if going for a "linear" playthrough.
3. Do the loyalty mission chains and quests involving the Turian ark. This covers all three Arks (Asari is Cora's loyalty, Salarian is main quest, Turian is its own side quest)
4. Don't do Ryder family secrets. It requires a lot of running around the zones, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid. Yes, there's lots of interesting story in this quest. But it's mostly interesting for its implications for future story developments, which we now know we won't get. Skip it.

In essence, this produced a 35 hour game (almost exactly what the previous Mass Effect games were for me) that felt like most of the meat had been preserved while cutting a lot of the fat. So with this in mind, here are my final non-story thoughts for Andromeda:

1. It's a 6/10 game when doing all the content, and 7.5 with a streamlined playthrough.
2. I experienced hardly any bugs, and the animations and character models have indeed been improved from release, to now be "acceptable."
3. Combat is mostly an improvement from the OT. The removal of squad power command sucks, but the flexibility of the skill trees, expansion of battlefields to accomodate much greater vertical and horizontal movement, and gun mod system more than make up for it.
4. Strike teams are a waste of time.
5. Scanning is a horrible mechanic and I can't wait until games cut this shit out since it massively degrades quest design (or, is implemented because the devs can't do good quest design) in almost every game that utilizes it, yes even Witcher 3.

The story deserves its own discussion because many see this to be the fatal failing of Andromeda. Many still go back and enjoy the OT to this day despite its technical quality not reflecting modern standards and despite the combat feeling a bit dated, including ME2 and especially ME1. But the story for the OT holds up. So why did Andromeda fall flat?

1. The narrative does almost nothing interesting with its ideas. Andromeda promises to be a new galaxy with all this discovery and exploration, and then the game delivers almost no discovery or exploration. Mostly, you're retreading ground that Nexus forces or Angara have already established (Why did they do this?!) or activating Remnant vaults which only feels novel the first time. The twist that Remnant technology was built for terra-forming and not as a weapon was nice and introduced a bit of nuance into the "old race technology" trope, but that only holds until the Archon decides to use said technology as a super-weapon anyway. Speaking of...

2. The kett are awful, and despite inexplicably having excellent facial animation during the final mission, the Archon aka Walmart Harbinger fails to intrigue as a villain. Before release, BioWare said that there wasn't really a main villain and that the kett were more nuanced and interesting than "evil antagonists." If that was their aim, they failed to achieve anything substantial on that front as the kett are not only boring but a retread of the Collectors and all the Archon does is twirl his imaginary mustache.

3. The angara are super boring. None of their beliefs feel fresh or fleshed-out, and their main personality hook (that they are very emotional and upfront with their feelings) falls flat thanks to poor facial animation and a general indifference to expressing this trait outside of Jaal.

4. The party members are never forced into actual crisis. Loyalty missions in ME2 served three purposes: to learn more about your party members, to test Shepard's choices and possibly lose their loyalty and/or affect the story as a result (Tali being exiled, for example), and to affect the Suicide Mission. Andromeda's loyalty missions only do the first. None of your squad can die or even leave. Contrast this with the ME trilogy or the Dragon Age series and Andromeda treats its squad remarkably safe. Admittedly, whiny fanboys crying over their blue babies after ME3 might have forced BioWare's hand to play things this safe, but I'm convinced that this lack of actual tension and conflict is why the cast doesn't feel as memorable as the OT. You don't really know who someone is until they've been truly tested. Without any stakes to your decisions, the cast is just kind of there.

5. Without replacing Paragon/Renegade with a worthwhile dialogue system, players feel little ownership over Ryder. The P/R system had massive problems and I was glad to hear they were getting rid of it, but what we now have is worse as it doesn't actually encourage role-playing. There's no difference in the story to having four flavors of the same sentence. In instances where NPCs react differently to your dialogue, they'll at most get pissy for a few lines and then continue to exposit anyway. You are, basically, on rails as Ryder.

6. The planet main quests are boring. Off the top of your head, can you even name what Kadara's main quest was about? Because the only memorable part of it, the Sloane/Charlatan conflict, doesn't even get resolved until optional side quests open after you've "finished" the planet.

But the story does get some things right. The intro and final mission are very well done, and in particular the final mission feels like a "sorry" for how half-assed ME3's Priority Earth was. The companions in general are interesting and fleshed out, and hold up as "what ME2 characters would have felt like" if, again, those ME2 characters didn't have to go through any real conflict, tension, or consequence. To say that point in another way, I don't think the actual character writing in Andromeda is bad, I just think the general companion paradigm is bad insofar as the characters aren't allowed to do interesting things. Finding and gathering the missing Arks was a good plot hook, and when all the Pathfinders group together at the end to figure shit out, you feel like the game's narrative has actually come together and has a point. It's a shame, then, that these NPCs are so minor in the overall scheme of Andromeda's narrative.

I am also perhaps harder on Andromeda than I would be if it wasn't a BioWare game. As derided as Inquisition's open zones were, I feel that - especially with Trespasser - the story and writing at least held up. Andromeda is the first time that the formulaic nature of the BW companion structure hasn't been overriden with good execution.

To summarize, Andromeda is pretty good, but didn't stick with me. It's difficult to say that as BioWare was/is my favorite developer (yes I know Montreal isn't "real" BioWare), but here we are. Let's hope that with only Anthem and DA4 on their plate, they can re-consolidate their talent and produce another truly top-tier game.
 

yunbuns

Member
Dec 29, 2015
1,266
0
0
USA.
There's a lot of interesting points here (and i agree with most of them):

1. The narrative does almost nothing interesting with its ideas. Andromeda promises to be a new galaxy with all this discovery and exploration, and then the game delivers almost no discovery or exploration. Mostly, you're retreading ground that Nexus forces or Angara have already established (Why did they do this?!) or activating Remnant vaults which only feels novel the first time. The twist that Remnant technology was built for terra-forming and not as a weapon was nice and introduced a bit of nuance into the "old race technology" trope, but that only holds until the Archon decides to use said technology as a super-weapon anyway. Speaking of...

This was one of my major problems with the story. Like the intro with Ryder falling onto habitat 7 is amazing because everything feels new and different then you go to all the other planets to find that there's ports and resistance fighters already established there. All the remnant vaults are boring so exploring them isn't fun or exciting.

4. The party members are never forced into actual crisis. Loyalty missions in ME2 served three purposes: to learn more about your party members, to test Shepard's choices and possibly lose their loyalty and/or affect the story as a result (Tali being exiled, for example), and to affect the Suicide Mission. Andromeda's loyalty missions only do the first. None of your squad can die or even leave. Contrast this with the ME trilogy or the Dragon Age series and Andromeda treats its squad remarkably safe. Admittedly, whiny fanboys crying over their blue babies after ME3 might have forced BioWare's hand to play things this safe, but I'm convinced that this lack of actual tension and conflict is why the cast doesn't feel as memorable as the OT. You don't really know who someone is until they've been truly tested. Without any stakes to your decisions, the cast is just kind of there.

When I finished the last member's loyalty mission, this was how I felt as well. I never felt like I knew the members significantly better and times where the characters ideals/morals/etc. shouldn't have been challenged they weren't. Ex. With Cora's mission, it would have been nice to see her more shaken up about what happens and threaten to leave if Ryder didn't expose the truth or something. Liam's loyalty mission about saving some random Angara so there's no real emotional weight to it compared to
saving Miranda's sister in ME2
. It was really hard to get invested in these characters as a result.
 

pmj

Member
Jan 6, 2009
1,550
1
0
Strike teams are necessary for the multiplayer. Gotta get those mission funds for the weapon mods!

Oh, and I should add that the multiplayer is the best part of the game. It's worth a go.

I did my second platinum playthrough the way you did, and skipped most side stuff, but it still really dragged. There are just so many gray corridors in this game, like they couldn't, or maybe more likely didn't have time, to think of something to show the player, or teach them, or say about anything. Just gray hallway after gray hallway full of enemies. Good combat could only partially save it on the first playthrough.
 

TC McQueen

Member
Nov 9, 2013
5,369
2
380
Honestly, I think the 3 or so years spinning their wheels on gameplay stuff that didn't pan out explains why the writing's so week. Bioware doesn't seem like the kind of company that develops the assets and levels first, then write the story to fit - they write the story first, then make the stuff to match. I don't think they actually thought out too much of the story before the 18 months of crunch, even though they had all that time. If they'd given up on some of the more pie in the sky stuff, like having so many damn planets, way earlier in production, they probably could've put together a really good story, really fleshed out the characters, and had more unique stuff. As it is, it's a solid, but not exactly super interesting story.

That said, Andromeda is a great example of why starting a franchise with an existential threat that will ruin your setting and making exploration a primary focus of a game are bad ideas. The Star Trek style exploration doesn't work unless it's an excuse to run into more interesting problems, in which case, having a more fleshed out universe is needed to give it context, and having your franchise start with "everything's going to get fucked" is bad because unless you avert the disaster permanently, it destroys the setting that the players are supposed to care about, and if you don't have a good replacement lined up, the audience won't care when you try to progress around/past the disaster.
 

Cranster

Banned
May 8, 2015
2,847
3
365
The soundtrack in Andromeda was also very forgetable. Bioware should have brought Sam Hulick back and tried to bring back Jack Wall as lead composer.
 

UberLevi

Member
Mar 11, 2013
2,134
0
0
Kentucky
I'm not spoiler tagging anything since the thread title already mentions spoilers, but I will say that my post contains heavy spoilers:

1. The narrative does almost nothing interesting with its ideas. Andromeda promises to be a new galaxy with all this discovery and exploration, and then the game delivers almost no discovery or exploration. Mostly, you're retreading ground that Nexus forces or Angara have already established (Why did they do this?!) or activating Remnant vaults which only feels novel the first time. The twist that Remnant technology was built for terra-forming and not as a weapon was nice and introduced a bit of nuance into the "old race technology" trope, but that only holds until the Archon decides to use said technology as a super-weapon anyway.

I don't entirely agree with this as it felt like a parallel to Mass Effect's background where humanity took a leap into space only to find that they weren't alone and everyone had already been in their own share of conflicts and had established territories in space. It felt very much like a play on "what if space wasn't the final frontier we hoped it would be".

2. The kett are awful, and despite inexplicably having excellent facial animation during the final mission, the Archon aka Walmart Harbinger fails to intrigue as a villain. Before release, BioWare said that there wasn't really a main villain and that the kett were more nuanced and interesting than "evil antagonists." If that was their aim, they failed to achieve anything substantial on that front as the kett are not only boring but a retread of the Collectors and all the Archon does is twirl his imaginary mustache.

The kett become a lot more interesting once you do the sidequest relating to learning more about their empire and discover that the Archon is not in-fact acting in the interest of the Kett Empire and that the Kett rule via a council of politicians with a separate agenda. It adds a level of court intrigue to the species. The Archon feels really similar to Ghaul in Destiny 2, a defector turned leader who despises humanity for their capacity to understand and interact with technology he's worked tirelessly to earn. I also liked how they operate as an inverse to the Reapers since the Reapers were never really fleshed out ideologically until the finale of Mass Effect 3. This gave them the chance to re-establish the concept with a more fleshed out narrative on the topic of assimilation.

3. The angara are super boring. None of their beliefs feel fresh or fleshed-out, and their main personality hook (that they are very emotional and upfront with their feelings) falls flat thanks to poor facial animation and a general indifference to expressing this trait outside of Jaal.

I do agree that the other Angara don't live up to Jaal's character, but they've got some interesting things going on. Especially once you've reached the point in the story where you discover that they're a manufactured, artificial species designed for some unknown purpose by some unknown entity. It paints them in an entirely new light, because it adds the implication that, since they were created, they must have some purpose for existing. This was an excellent narrative hook for the Angara to me as it created an entirely new plotline for the race going forward.

4. The party members are never forced into actual crisis. Loyalty missions in ME2 served three purposes: to learn more about your party members, to test Shepard's choices and possibly lose their loyalty and/or affect the story as a result (Tali being exiled, for example), and to affect the Suicide Mission. Andromeda's loyalty missions only do the first. None of your squad can die or even leave. Contrast this with the ME trilogy or the Dragon Age series and Andromeda treats its squad remarkably safe. Admittedly, whiny fanboys crying over their blue babies after ME3 might have forced BioWare's hand to play things this safe, but I'm convinced that this lack of actual tension and conflict is why the cast doesn't feel as memorable as the OT. You don't really know who someone is until they've been truly tested. Without any stakes to your decisions, the cast is just kind of there.

I think this is because Andromeda was intended as a start to a new, potential long-term spanning storyline. I'm not sure "Welcome to a new galaxy, meet your new cast and crew that will die if you make poor choices" would have made for much better storytelling. The Archon and the discovery that Andromeda is already a galaxy seized by war and robot caretakers already established the stakes for the crew just fine, in my opinion. Andromeda ultimately becomes a story about overcoming adversity to earn the chance they've been given. Ideally, Andromeda 2 would have turned that on it's head and given real stakes to the individuals of your party rather than the team as a whole, and forced Ryder to make harsher choices with more dire outcomes.

5. Without replacing Paragon/Renegade with a worthwhile dialogue system, players feel little ownership over Ryder. The P/R system had massive problems and I was glad to hear they were getting rid of it, but what we now have is worse as it doesn't actually encourage role-playing. There's no difference in the story to having four flavors of the same sentence. In instances where NPCs react differently to your dialogue, they'll at most get pissy for a few lines and then continue to exposit anyway. You are, basically, on rails as Ryder.

This was probably for the best, as there were several issues with the Paragon/Renegade system. I don't personally see anything wrong with regular dialogue options being 'flavors of the same sentence' while major story decisions provide a real layer of choice into the narrative. I felt really good roleplaying as a professional Ryder who could opt to be casual during conversations with my crew, rather than having to maximise my points to be prepared for a possible bail-out dialogue option. Ultimately I think we're better off having a system that allows for a more streamlined narrative to be told, with players molding their character at less of a macro level.

Finding and gathering the missing Arks was a good plot hook, and when all the Pathfinders group together at the end to figure shit out, you feel like the game's narrative has actually come together and has a point. It's a shame, then, that these NPCs are so minor in the overall scheme of Andromeda's narrative.

This is something I really agree with and wholeheartedly wish we'd gotten more of. Once all the Pathfinders gathered together, it felt like BioWare had achieved the promise we never got with the Spectres. Being part of a group of elite agents charged with the highest level of authority and responsibility over the safety of others. And it really harkened back to the climax of Mass Effect, where the council had grounded the Normandy and you had to sneak behind their backs to pull off an unsanctioned getaway with the help of Anderson.

The biggest thing I agree with most here is that you really do have to go out of your way to just 'trim the fat' on your own accord and decide for yourself which content is meaningful to your playthrough. Andromeda is full of fluff, but underneath there's a legitimate layer of well crafted foundation for the future of the franchise, and I don't think a lot of people saw that, so a foundation might be all it ever amounts to.
 

SSJLuffy

Member
Nov 14, 2011
182
0
440
What are the side quests worth doing in this game? I tried to do some of them and jeez they were boring.
 

yunbuns

Member
Dec 29, 2015
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0
USA.
What are the side quests worth doing in this game? I tried to do some of them and jeez they were boring.

Ryder's family secrets is the only one I think of that actual had any genuine surprises, however, most of the stuff it introduces doesn't get resolved and won't ever be because there won't be a sequel.
 
Dec 11, 2010
34,635
2
0
Andromeda held my attention for even less time than Inquisition did, which was already my low watermark for Bioware games. Inquisition is a higher quality production, despite me hating most aspect of it's world and quest design. Andromeda is baffling to me on several levels. I don't care about the technical side of things, I mean some of the gifs were funny but they don't ultimately matter in the grand scheme. They're barely a foot note on why Andromeda is an underwhelming experience.


1. The narrative does almost nothing interesting with its ideas. Andromeda promises to be a new galaxy with all this discovery and exploration, and then the game delivers almost no discovery or exploration.

Frankly, it's bizarre that they did the ancient precursor thing all over again.

2. The kett are awful, and despite inexplicably having excellent facial animation during the final mission, the Archon aka Walmart Harbinger fails to intrigue as a villain. Before release, BioWare said that there wasn't really a main villain and that the kett were more nuanced and interesting than "evil antagonists." If that was their aim, they failed to achieve anything substantial on that front as the kett are not only boring but a retread of the Collectors and all the Archon does is twirl his imaginary mustache.

The Kett look like rejected Collector designs, just awful.

3. The angara are super boring. None of their beliefs feel fresh or fleshed-out, and their main personality hook (that they are very emotional and upfront with their feelings) falls flat thanks to poor facial animation and a general indifference to expressing this trait outside of Jaal.

Which would be fine if they weren't the only indigenous species we meaningfully interact with. "Explore a whole new galaxy!" <- Actually just some fucking robots, mindless enemies and one species that can talk to you. For a game that is supposed to be harking back to the "discovery" of ME1 they totally missed the point. We were never trailblazing pioneers, we were just entering into a complex existing galaxy and, as players, learning all about it.

MEA was basically an opportunity to insert us into a new and interesting status quo, but they failed on every level.
 
Apr 7, 2017
404
0
230
The soundtrack in Andromeda was also very forgetable. Bioware should have brought Sam Hulick back and tried to bring back Jack Wall as lead composer.

This was my biggest disappointment. The OT had some of the best music in gaming history and Andromeda completely dropped the ball. The only piece I even kind of liked was the music during the opening sequence when you first see the Nexus and the Arks.
 

Laughing Banana

Weeping Pickle
Jul 22, 2009
20,018
3
950
36
Bandung, Indonesia
I think that the whole idea of "supposedly benevolent ancient race forced to run away from someone/something that attacked them because it hated the way they play God" as quite interesting.

It's too bad that we would not get a conclusion towards the whole Jardaan thing.
 

Arklite

Member
Nov 30, 2010
3,709
1
0
4. The party members are never forced into actual crisis. Loyalty missions in ME2 served three purposes: to learn more about your party members, to test Shepard's choices and possibly lose their loyalty and/or affect the story as a result (Tali being exiled, for example), and to affect the Suicide Mission. Andromeda's loyalty missions only do the first. None of your squad can die or even leave. Contrast this with the ME trilogy or the Dragon Age series and Andromeda treats its squad remarkably safe. Admittedly, whiny fanboys crying over their blue babies after ME3 might have forced BioWare's hand to play things this safe, but I'm convinced that this lack of actual tension and conflict is why the cast doesn't feel as memorable as the OT. You don't really know who someone is until they've been truly tested. Without any stakes to your decisions, the cast is just kind of there.

Hadn't given a ton of thought to this, but I agree. The loyalty quests, while fairly good, just lacked impact overall as their ends hardly mattered to the game.

6. The planet main quests are boring. Off the top of your head, can you even name what Kadara's main quest was about? Because the only memorable part of it, the Sloane/Charlatan conflict, doesn't even get resolved until optional side quests open after you've "finished" the planet.

And this one I always felt the same about. The individual worlds are big, empty feeling sandboxes that get less and less interesting in design. It pretty much peaks with Eos' more diverse terrain offerings and peters out from there.

But the story does get some things right. The intro and final mission are very well done, and in particular the final mission feels like a "sorry" for how half-assed ME3's Priority Earth was.

Not sure about any apologetic intentions but they definitely brought the heat with the final set of missions. Aside from loyalty efforts barely paying off, the finale is a notable step up in quality that you instantly wish the game could've carried on throughout.

Andromeda is a good game overall, but it feels largely derivative and very safe. Excuses about pulled punches and establishing roots due to being the first game in a new trilogy are weak. Mass Effect 1 went balls out with an entire galaxy full of interesting races as an new IP, while Andromeda with the ME pedigree limps in with two new races. Mass Effect 2 introduced an entire new squad with a chance to lose or fall out of favor with them, while Andromeda leads you to a happy go lucky squad regardless of anything. You can appreciate what they tried to do with the larger worlds, but time constraints absolutely killed the overall quality.
 
Sep 2, 2012
3,021
0
575
Canada
For a game that is supposed to be harking back to the "discovery" of ME1 they totally missed the point. We were never trailblazing pioneers, we were just entering into a complex existing galaxy and, as players, learning all about it.

MEA was basically an opportunity to insert us into a new and interesting status quo, but they failed on every level.
This ended up being my biggest problem with Andromeda. This was their one chance to recapture some of the feeling of discovering a new universe just like ME1, and they completely missed the landing. I've said it before, but the biggest failing with Andromeda to me is that it made me want to return to the Milky Way.
 
Mar 3, 2016
2,769
0
0
Tuscaloosa, AL
I only dicked around a little bit before Uncharted came out. The game is absolutely gorgeous (not to include faces). The environments are stunning and it's one of the best uses of Frostbite yet. Combat is also very good. The shooting is responsive and satisfying and I really enjoyed the emphasis on movement.

Too bad from the 2 or so hours I played, the voice acting was hitting pretty good highs and excruciatingly bad lows.

I'll also be RTTP at some point this year.
 

prag16

Member
Jul 12, 2012
12,037
4,162
860
I'm not spoiler tagging anything since the thread title already mentions spoilers, but I will say that my post contains heavy spoilers:

<snip>

Great post; I agree with almost everything here. I think the characters and story while not earth shattering were better than what most here say. And I think rose tinted trilogy goggles are definitely a thing in some aspects for some people.

I agree with the idea in the OP though, even if I'd go higher score-wise. I'd say 7 if you slog through all the content, and 9 on a streamlined 30-35 hour playthrough. As I've said from early on, imo they made a great (while still admittedly flawed in various areas) 30-40 hour game, but not a great 60-100 hour game.
 

JimmyRustler

Member
Jun 17, 2006
10,246
2,283
1,610
Andromeda was the biggest disappointment in years for me. I love the universe so much that I put 80 hours in it regardless but I would not rate it more than 4/10.

Story and dialog were horrible, most characters forgettable and the level design cheap overall. I think the Kotaku article about the development is point on and most of the game was created high speed in the last year or so - or at least that's really how it felt like playing it.
 

Ralemont

not me
Mar 26, 2014
7,293
0
530
I don't entirely agree with this as it felt like a parallel to Mass Effect's background where humanity took a leap into space only to find that they weren't alone and everyone had already been in their own share of conflicts and had established territories in space. It felt very much like a play on "what if space wasn't the final frontier we hoped it would be".

Yeah but that wasn't supposed to be the case with Andromeda. It was supposed to be about the frontier and exploring uncharted worlds. But every world you visit in the game's been charted, and most have already been colonized. On the other hand, Mass Effect 1 introduced you to a ton of new races, all with complex inter-species history and relations. Andromeda has the angara and kett. Now, I don't want to undersell what they did either, because the Roekarr angle was a necessary one and, through Jaal's loyalty chain, was indeed developed. But as is a theme with Andromeda, BioWare plays it safe. The only time the Roekarr become a threat is when they are poised to attack Prodromos, but this is a plan you easily foil.

Other than the Roekarr, I think the other interesting angle was the Pathfinders and their relationship to the cobbled-together leadership of the Nexus. But there's two problems there: as I mentioned, the Pathfinders don't play a large enough role considering their enormous thematic relevance, and the Nexus rebellion is largely relegated to events of a book. Why not wait until the Hyperion arrives and the player gets to the Nexus for the rebellion? Sure, that means no exiles on Kadara, but surely that's a worthy story trade-off?

The kett become a lot more interesting once you do the sidequest relating to learning more about their empire and discover that the Archon is not in-fact acting in the interest of the Kett Empire and that the Kett rule via a council of politicians with a separate agenda. It adds a level of court intrigue to the species. The Archon feels really similar to Ghaul in Destiny 2, a defector turned leader who despises humanity for their capacity to understand and interact with technology he's worked tirelessly to earn. I also liked how they operate as an inverse to the Reapers since the Reapers were never really fleshed out ideologically until the finale of Mass Effect 3. This gave them the chance to re-establish the concept with a more fleshed out narrative on the topic of assimilation.

I don't feel the Know Your Enemy quest (that deals with negotating with other kett around the Archon since he's disobeying orders) sufficiently gives them enough depth. Part of the problem is that their goals and aims are

1. a retread of the Collectors, with Exaltation. This is why the conflict between the Archon and Primus feels underwhelming, because the Kett don't have an interesting plan, either. It's Exaltation Exaltation Exaltation. Now maybe in further games we'd learn that the Kett's genetic structure protected them against the Scourge and that this is why they were Exalting everyone, to "save" them. But I can't work with hypotheticals and in MEA, Exaltation is a tired idea.

2. The Archon's reasoning for pursuing Remnant technology is never developed beyond "it's the best way to take control of this cluster" and any possible depth gained from, say, the Archon doing it this way so he doesn't have to Exalt everyone is lost when he decides to destroy all the biodomes in the cluster and essentially kill everyone at the end, which makes no sense but whatever.

I do agree that the other Angara don't live up to Jaal's character, but they've got some interesting things going on. Especially once you've reached the point in the story where you discover that they're a manufactured, artificial species designed for some unknown purpose by some unknown entity. It paints them in an entirely new light, because it adds the implication that, since they were created, they must have some purpose for existing. This was an excellent narrative hook for the Angara to me as it created an entirely new plotline for the race going forward.

Yes this was a good twist. Unfortunately as you say any payoff is relegated to sequels that now won't happen. Compare this to Mass Effect 1 which both introduces intriguing plot angles and answers them in the same game. Andromeda needed to do less posturing as a new franchise and more telling a complete story. As of now the most interesting plot threads are all left dangling: what happened to the Remnant, what's the Scourge, why were the Angara created, why Exaltation, Ryder's mother, the Benefactor, etc.

Furthermore, part of the reason I was excited about Andromeda only being in on cluster is that I believed it would allow the consequences for your actions to be expanded without compromising future games, which could then occur in other clusters. Andromeda wasn't billed as a trilogy and I was looking forward to a self-contained story where BioWare's storytelling wouldn't collapse under the weight of previous games' choices.
 

m_dorian

Member
Sep 26, 2014
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340
Athens Greece
Good gameplay but gets boring fast due to the similarity of the encounters.
Most of them do not make sense.
Kett/Roekaar: "The humans are going to this spot. Lets bombard them with the guns from our ships!"
Kett/Roekaar Leader: "Why do this if we can send a transport with a buch of troops a couple of times to gun them down?"

Story is totally unisteresting. Almost nothing of it made sense. The ancient robotic terraformers, the Andromeda Collectors, the uninspiring Angara, Meridian the senseless Dyson world, all were there and put in convenience to the nonsensical plot.

Who the hell goes to an one way trip to another galaxy without bringing along a defense force?
Well, if you go to a galaxy full of Kett have no fear, they will never use their ships to attack you.

The only thing you need to know is that you are the Ryder the SAMbearer, the near omniscient AI that can't solve a simple SUDOKU.
Also, Scan. Scan. Scan.

Vetra was ok as a companion, she showed a glimpse of personality. Drack had his moments. And that's about it for your team.

P.B. is a fun character to have on a school trip, Cora needs to go back to the Asari and stay there. Liam has to go back to the same school that P.B is, to learn what the word Crisis Specialist mean. Your Salarian pilot has the personality of the frog, Suvi has an accent, the doctor is phoning her lines during while filming her show. The Angaran character is there because a new alien has to be in your team. And you are the leader of this school trip on a critical mission to save thousants of frozen passengers.

MEA had its moments but it was a game worse than DA:I for me and Inquisition had a lot of ugly stuff too.
I am stunned EA/Bioware have learned very few from their past mistakes. Hopefully now, under new management, they fare better and continue to build that Bioware legend through further games and downloadable content.
 

obeast

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Dec 8, 2015
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Which would be fine if they weren't the only indigenous species we meaningfully interact with. "Explore a whole new galaxy!" <- Actually just some fucking robots, mindless enemies and one species that can talk to you. For a game that is supposed to be harking back to the "discovery" of ME1 they totally missed the point. We were never trailblazing pioneers, we were just entering into a complex existing galaxy and, as players, learning all about it.

MEA was basically an opportunity to insert us into a new and interesting status quo, but they failed on every level.

Yeah, I think this is a great example of development problems having a direct impact on setting and narrative. They clearly didn't have time to develop other races, or believable cities/spaceports/whatever, and as a result the Andromeda galaxy is almost entirely devoid of history, politics, and culture. You have the good aliens, with whom you speak, and the bad aliens, with whom you exchange gunfire. There is no interesting relationship between the good and bad aliens beyond their obvious dislike of each other.

Compare to ME1, which introduces the Rachni/Krogan/Salarian/Turian genophage storyline (one of the best bits of world-building I've encountered in sci-fi), the Geth and the Quarians (an above-average rendering of the classic "killer AI" idea), the Citadel and its associated mysteries, the Turian-human "war," something like an alien United Nations, the idea of humans as slightly primitive outsiders, and a bunch of other relatively well-rendered races (Asari, Elcor, Hanar, and so on). You, the player, are dropped into this futuristic galaxy, and it's just teeming with culture and history and politics, and all of that background provides meaning and context for the specific storylines you pursue in the game.

Andromeda has nothing remotely comparable. I felt that absence, directly or indirectly, in nearly every moment of the game, and the end result was an experience that just felt bland, even if you ignore the bad sidequests, MMO-ish worlds, and so on.
 

SofNasciment-

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Feb 27, 2017
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If I ever play Andromeda again, that's how I plan to do it. That is, ignoring a lot of side content.

The one thing Andromeda got right was the combat system, but the lack of enemy variety made it much less exciting than it should be.
 

Ralemont

not me
Mar 26, 2014
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If I ever play Andromeda again, that's how I plan to do it. That is, ignoring a lot of side content.

The one thing Andromeda got right was the combat system, but the lack of enemy variety made it much less exciting than it should be.

This is also something a streamlined playthrough helps with. There's plenty of enemy variety in Andromeda for a 30 hour game. 100 not so much.
 

Calvinpewpewpew

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Sep 20, 2011
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Washington, D.C.
Would love a more comprehensive list of side quests to actually play if doing a run like this. I restarted on X1 after selling my PS4, with the express intent to get through the game playing it almost as you have described, but they throw SO MANY dumb quests and tasks at you it is incredibly hard to discern what you should play and what you should skip - but the less planet hopping the better.

On release, I played through Mass Effect Andromeda. I found it to have good combat, an okay story, and a terrible game structure, mostly based around the quest and world design. I suspected that if I molded Andromeda into a sort of Mass Effect 2 Lite, the game's experience would massively improve. So when I set out for my New Game + playthrough to get the Platinum, I played with this framework in mind.

This meant:

1. Avoid all task missions
2. Avoid every side quest that is obtained through a ! marker in the world. Don't get me wrong: there's some quality side quests in this category. But because there isn't really any way to tell which ones are good and which bad, I think it's safer to just ignore all of them if going for a "linear" playthrough.
3. Do the loyalty mission chains and quests involving the Turian ark. This covers all three Arks (Asari is Cora's loyalty, Salarian is main quest, Turian is its own side quest)
4. Don't do Ryder family secrets. It requires a lot of running around the zones, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid. Yes, there's lots of interesting story in this quest. But it's mostly interesting for its implications for future story developments, which we now know we won't get. Skip it.

In essence, this produced a 35 hour game (almost exactly what the previous Mass Effect games were for me) that felt like most of the meat had been preserved while cutting a lot of the fat. So with this in mind, here are my final non-story thoughts for Andromeda:

1. It's a 6/10 game when doing all the content, and 7.5 with a streamlined playthrough.
2. I experienced hardly any bugs, and the animations and character models have indeed been improved from release, to now be "acceptable."
3. Combat is mostly an improvement from the OT. The removal of squad power command sucks, but the flexibility of the skill trees, expansion of battlefields to accomodate much greater vertical and horizontal movement, and gun mod system more than make up for it.
4. Strike teams are a waste of time.
5. Scanning is a horrible mechanic and I can't wait until games cut this shit out since it massively degrades quest design (or, is implemented because the devs can't do good quest design) in almost every game that utilizes it, yes even Witcher 3.

The story deserves its own discussion because many see this to be the fatal failing of Andromeda. Many still go back and enjoy the OT to this day despite its technical quality not reflecting modern standards and despite the combat feeling a bit dated, including ME2 and especially ME1. But the story for the OT holds up. So why did Andromeda fall flat?

1. The narrative does almost nothing interesting with its ideas. Andromeda promises to be a new galaxy with all this discovery and exploration, and then the game delivers almost no discovery or exploration. Mostly, you're retreading ground that Nexus forces or Angara have already established (Why did they do this?!) or activating Remnant vaults which only feels novel the first time. The twist that Remnant technology was built for terra-forming and not as a weapon was nice and introduced a bit of nuance into the "old race technology" trope, but that only holds until the Archon decides to use said technology as a super-weapon anyway. Speaking of...

2. The kett are awful, and despite inexplicably having excellent facial animation during the final mission, the Archon aka Walmart Harbinger fails to intrigue as a villain. Before release, BioWare said that there wasn't really a main villain and that the kett were more nuanced and interesting than "evil antagonists." If that was their aim, they failed to achieve anything substantial on that front as the kett are not only boring but a retread of the Collectors and all the Archon does is twirl his imaginary mustache.

3. The angara are super boring. None of their beliefs feel fresh or fleshed-out, and their main personality hook (that they are very emotional and upfront with their feelings) falls flat thanks to poor facial animation and a general indifference to expressing this trait outside of Jaal.

4. The party members are never forced into actual crisis. Loyalty missions in ME2 served three purposes: to learn more about your party members, to test Shepard's choices and possibly lose their loyalty and/or affect the story as a result (Tali being exiled, for example), and to affect the Suicide Mission. Andromeda's loyalty missions only do the first. None of your squad can die or even leave. Contrast this with the ME trilogy or the Dragon Age series and Andromeda treats its squad remarkably safe. Admittedly, whiny fanboys crying over their blue babies after ME3 might have forced BioWare's hand to play things this safe, but I'm convinced that this lack of actual tension and conflict is why the cast doesn't feel as memorable as the OT. You don't really know who someone is until they've been truly tested. Without any stakes to your decisions, the cast is just kind of there.

5. Without replacing Paragon/Renegade with a worthwhile dialogue system, players feel little ownership over Ryder. The P/R system had massive problems and I was glad to hear they were getting rid of it, but what we now have is worse as it doesn't actually encourage role-playing. There's no difference in the story to having four flavors of the same sentence. In instances where NPCs react differently to your dialogue, they'll at most get pissy for a few lines and then continue to exposit anyway. You are, basically, on rails as Ryder.

6. The planet main quests are boring. Off the top of your head, can you even name what Kadara's main quest was about? Because the only memorable part of it, the Sloane/Charlatan conflict, doesn't even get resolved until optional side quests open after you've "finished" the planet.

But the story does get some things right. The intro and final mission are very well done, and in particular the final mission feels like a "sorry" for how half-assed ME3's Priority Earth was. The companions in general are interesting and fleshed out, and hold up as "what ME2 characters would have felt like" if, again, those ME2 characters didn't have to go through any real conflict, tension, or consequence. To say that point in another way, I don't think the actual character writing in Andromeda is bad, I just think the general companion paradigm is bad insofar as the characters aren't allowed to do interesting things. Finding and gathering the missing Arks was a good plot hook, and when all the Pathfinders group together at the end to figure shit out, you feel like the game's narrative has actually come together and has a point. It's a shame, then, that these NPCs are so minor in the overall scheme of Andromeda's narrative.

I am also perhaps harder on Andromeda than I would be if it wasn't a BioWare game. As derided as Inquisition's open zones were, I feel that - especially with Trespasser - the story and writing at least held up. Andromeda is the first time that the formulaic nature of the BW companion structure hasn't been overriden with good execution.

To summarize, Andromeda is pretty good, but didn't stick with me. It's difficult to say that as BioWare was/is my favorite developer (yes I know Montreal isn't "real" BioWare), but here we are. Let's hope that with only Anthem and DA4 on their plate, they can re-consolidate their talent and produce another truly top-tier game.
 

Ralemont

not me
Mar 26, 2014
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Would love a more comprehensive list of side quests to actually play if doing a run like this. I restarted on X1 after selling my PS4, with the express intent to get through the game playing it almost as you have described, but they throw SO MANY dumb quests and tasks at you it is incredibly hard to discern what you should play and what you should skip - but the less planet hopping the better.

Well like I said in the OP, do all the loyalty quests. Besides those, I'd do these:

On Eos, the quest at Prodromos involving using hammers ends with an Architect fight. Attacking the big kett base is also worthwhile if you like the combat.

On Havarl, the beginning of the Turian ark side quest.

On Veold, Know Your Enemy opens after finishing the assault on the kett base which is the main questline for that planet. Finding the missing scientists after establishing the outpost leads to an Architect fight. Investigating an underground base after the main kett base is destroyed leads to an interesting quest.

On Kadara, just do the main story and, after it finishes, follow the Reyes questline to completion. There's an Architect fight here but I don't remember how it opens.

Truth and Trespass opens up through Kallo after finding the Salarian Ark in the main story.

On the asteroid zone, nothing. You could even skip the planet entirely if Vetra's loyalty mission didn't take place here.

On Elaaden, the main quest.

On the Nexus, ehhh. I can't really remember anything which isn't a good sign.

One thing to consider is that a lot of loyalty quest chains involve going to multiple planets. Try to juggle progressing through them all until it puts a Hold on your progress so that you don't have to backtrack to planets you've been to when possible.
 

AWizardDidIt

Member
Oct 12, 2014
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Andromeda is a frustrating game on many levels, enjoyable in some respects but really really disappointing in others. It's the first time I've ever been really down on a Bioware major release... I even really like Inquisition for all its fluff content I felt like the writing and characters were pretty much the best they'd ever been and if you set the difficulty high I found it was pretty fun to play so I didn't mind that it had 30 hours more content than it really needed.

Probably the biggest issue for me 6 months after is that Andromeda seeds a whole lot of story elements but only resolves the most boring of them with the Archon and central Kett invasion arc. All of the interesting things it seeds go completely unanswered and left open in the most frustrating way.

Consider that if Mass Effect had ended after the first game, the story still would have felt complete. It suggests mysteries in the lore for sequels that were intriguing but not necessary to tell a complete and satisfactory story. Andromeda on the other hand feels like something more concerned with setting up a new franchise than telling a good story. It has a few quests that has you investigating story elements that only go half completed because they were counting on sequels to fulfill those arcs. I think at the end of the day that ends up being its biggest failing for me.
 

SofNasciment-

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Feb 27, 2017
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This is also something a streamlined playthrough helps with. There's plenty of enemy variety in Andromeda for a 30 hour game. 100 not so much.

Indeed. The problem wasn't just lack of enemy variety, but how enemies were distributed throughout a playthrough. I remember fighting almost exclusively Kett for dozens of hours, with the odd revenant here and there. Also, if they bothered to add cosmetic variety to the enemies it would also have made a difference. I believe outlaws have some of it, with different colors and genders, but it's too little.
 

obeast

Member
Dec 8, 2015
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Indeed. The problem wasn't just lack of enemy variety, but how enemies were distributed throughout a playthrough. I remember fighting almost exclusively Kett for dozens of hours, with the odd revenant here and there. Also, if they bothered to add cosmetic variety to the enemies it would also have made a difference. I believe outlaws have some of it, with different colors and genders, but it's too little.

I agree, and I'd also add that about 95% of the battles lacked the narrative context necessary to engage the player. Random encounters in bland, static open worlds are not going to be that interesting, even if your combat mechanics are rock solid.

I think ME 2 is a good comparison point. ME:A's shooting is light years beyond ME 2's, but I enjoy the combat in the latter game much more, because it almost always occurs within some context supported by the narrative and its characters (e.g., defending Garrus in his recruitment mission).
 

Rodney McKay

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Jun 13, 2009
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I only dicked around a little bit before Uncharted came out. The game is absolutely gorgeous (not to include faces). The environments are stunning and it's one of the best uses of Frostbite yet. Combat is also very good. The shooting is responsive and satisfying and I really enjoyed the emphasis on movement.

Too bad from the 2 or so hours I played, the voice acting was hitting pretty good highs and excruciatingly bad lows.

I'll also be RTTP at some point this year.
Totally disagree about the graphics, and I upgraded my graphics card primarily because I was so excited for this game.

Apart from the fact that faces and sialog make up a large chunk of this game making them an unavoidable awful thing to look at constantly, the general animations were fairly bland too, and I feel like Dragon Age Inquisition did a much better job with impressive environments and lighting with the engine.

There were occasional good looking spots, but for the most part the world's were too large and empty to have much decent details. The "smaller" planets like the angaran jungle one could have looked way better, but instead of a thick dangerous jungle they just felt like regular pathways with plants placed around.

And out of the hub areas, only the rebel base felt like it had any personality. The space station was just a more mediocre Citadel that you spend way too much time on, and the Angaran hub world was barely any different.
 

emag

Member
Apr 26, 2012
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They didn't have a best friend character like Garrus for me.

Garrus wasn't a true bro until ME2. I liked him in ME1, but Wrex was the stand-out character there (especially with the genophage plotline). Vetra and Drack are less engaging, but they're still the best Andromeda has to offer (Jaal is exaltedelevated by being the window into Angaran society).

What are the side quests worth doing in this game? I tried to do some of them and jeez they were boring.

Well like I said in the OP, do all the loyalty quests.

I beat the game a few days ago (87% completion, 41 hours), and I'd disagree with this. PeeBee's loyalty quest is exceedingly tedious and offers little payoff. Drack, Vetra, and Jaal's are barely serviceable. Only Liam and Cora's are really worth it in my book (both are relatively limited in scope and focus on a shipboard combat situation). They're also perhaps the closest the game gets to ME1/ME2 mission design (along with the finale).

Honestly, the side content in the game generally isn't worthwhile from a gameplay perspective. The Architects, Arks, vaults and kett bases give a sense of completion and direction, Ryder Family Secrets offers some interesting narrative hooks, and the loyalty quests (and, to a lesser extent, Movie Night) provide some character building, but none of them pay off.

That said, I'm not sure I'd enjoy the game more if I had skipped the side quests, as even the main missions and narrative are quite poor.
 
Mar 3, 2016
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Totally disagree about the graphics, and I upgraded my graphics card primarily because I was so excited for this game.

Apart from the fact that faces and sialog make up a large chunk of this game making them an unavoidable awful thing to look at constantly, the general animations were fairly bland too, and I feel like Dragon Age Inquisition did a much better job with impressive environments and lighting with the engine.

There were occasional good looking spots, but for the most part the world's were too large and empty to have much decent details. The "smaller" planets like the angaran jungle one could have looked way better, but instead of a thick dangerous jungle they just felt like regular pathways with plants placed around.

And out of the hub areas, only the rebel base felt like it had any personality. The space station was just a more mediocre Citadel that you spend way too much time on, and the Angaran hub world was barely any different.

Well I haven't gotten passed the first junglelike area and it's pretty damn gorgeous so I can't speak for the rest of the game.
 

norm9

Member
Nov 21, 2014
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Just beat this a few minutes ago. Quick thoughts after spending 35+ hours in ME:A.

1- What the heck just happened?! I don't understand the story at all.
2- Thank goodness I stopped messing around with sidequests and just went with the main missions. I was getting bogged down and even thinking about playing the game was bogging me down.
3- The characters weren't good, but if you thought about them as tv show characters, it works a little better.
4- I spent the past hour not being able to advance the final mission because there was a minion that wasn't dead somewhere but I sure as heck didn't know it so I just kept shooting the robot monster thing. Finally gave up and reloaded a save from 30odd minutes before being to contiune the game.
5- Skipped a ton of shit. Now that the weight of this game has been lifted, I'm actually looking forward to dicking around in it's world.
6- Not worth what I paid.
7- The jankiness is part of its charm.
8- Better than Mass Effect 1.
9- Drack and Peebee combo the best.

ETA- you're totally right about skipping all but the absolutely most important missions op.
 

Won

Member
Aug 31, 2006
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Finished up the game too, trying to follow similar advice, but still ended up close to 50 hours apparently. It can be easy to get lost in all the bloat and I can't say that all of the 50 hours were well spent. (Especially thanks to corrupted saves)

Overall the experience was a bit of a rollercoaster.

- Game started out clearly struggling with its premise. New Galaxy, exploration!, but it's a shooter, so of course you get a lot of aliens to shoot right away
- After that the game starts to get really bad. So many game systems, tied together with one of the worst menues I ever used. Scanning, research, development, APEX, cryo perks.....
- Combat always felt more miss than hit early on, if only because the AI didn't really know what to do with the open world design.
- I actually started to enjoy the game after leaving Aya for the first time and just ignored basically.....well everything.
- But it still all came crashing down again after a while. Poor quest design seems to unavoidable. Still more than enough bugs that go beyond some jankiness. And none of the stories are particular interesting.
- At least the final set piece looked pretty.

In the end what makes the whole experience a bitter one is how little the game tries to explain its lore. The Remnant remain a mystery, so does the Scourge, and the purpose of the Angara, and of course so does the Benefactor. Even the Kett have probably something much more interesting going on behind the lame ass Archon.

But hey that's what sequels are for! Hahaha.....