Any Questions?

Mass Effect: Andromeda is now showing up in the Game Trials tab for EA Access. Reports I’ve seen are saying the trial lasts 10 hours, with all MP content accessible, but the single-player content is limited in some ways. It seems we can start exploring at least one planet, and the save will carry over once the game is fully released.

For me that’s a week away, so I’ll be rationing myself to about an hour a day – have to make it last 🙂 – which is only a little less than I expect to get once the game is out, as my kid is a toddler now, and I can’t play with her around.

As I mentioned when musing on the ME3 ending furor, I do have some… questions… about Andromeda. Some of them have perhaps already been answered – I’ve been selective about what ME: A news I’ve read this close to launch – while others have been prompted by the information I have seen. I wanted to get them down now so that I can come back to them when I finish, and either laugh at my fears, or admire my prescience. 

Here goes:

How does it all fit together?

My current understanding is that the Andromeda mission departs somewhere between Shepard getting spaced by the Collectors, and resurrected by Cerberus, and before anyone was taking the Reapers seriously. So events after Mass Effect shouldn’t impact Andromeda. 

However some things could carry over: the Genophage, the First Contact War, the Humans getting a seat on the Council, the existence of Cerberus. The colonists may be a galaxy and 600-hundred years from the Milky Way, but they presumably brought their baggage with them. I’ll be disappointed if the story doesn’t make good use of the existing tensions.

About the twin thing…?

My preference is for relatively undefined main/player characters, who I can co-create, rather than playing someone else’s character. There are notable exceptions (waves at Geralt), and I think that with Shepard BioWare struck a good balance. Some basic details as to their background, and the freedom to RP Shepard as much or as little as you wanted. By comparison, much as I liked Dragon Age 2, Hawke felt like a straight-jacket. There were some options to customise their backstory hidden in an early conversation with Aveline, but it was mostly laid out for you – particularly in the accompanying family, over whose fates you had little influence. 

And so we come to Andromeda, where you set out with your family, but also, where you choose whether to play as Scott or Sarah Ryder. According to The Official Xbox Magazine (March 2017) whichever one you don’t choose is still around. As someone who never chooses the default character design (even Geralt got a makeover), I’m wondering how that will work – are they employing DA2’s approach where the sibling’s design will change based on your customisation, or is this another adoption story, as in the case of my first Elissa Cousland? An aspect of the family angle that I disliked about DA2 was that it assumed relationships, making it hard to fit them to your story (for instance, Carver is predisposed to hate you), and I’m dreading this being the case again.

A revamped dialogue wheel?

It seems the blue-red division of the dialogue wheel has been left in the Milky Way, and dialogue promises to be more nuanced in Andromeda. I’m hoping they took some pointers from the Dragon Age team, as I thought the dialogue system in DA:I worked really well. Assuming that that’s the kind of system we get is giving me hope for the family relationships I mentioned above.

What did you do to my Mako?

I’m one of those rare creatures who loved ME’s Mako. I never had a problem handling it, and I loved trundling around exploring planets. It’s the thing I most missed in ME2 and ME3, and it’s return was the most exciting announcement about Andromeda. But. All the talk of it being upgradeable, customisable, and easier to handle has made me nervous. I hope it really does improve the experience; I worry that all the bells and whistles will make it undriveable.

Is jetpack combat the new future?

Since combat is the thing I least care about in Mass Effect, all the talk of jetpacks and melee weapons left me a bit cold. We still have biotics and shotguns? I’m good.

I’m torn between cautious optimism over the move to a more mobile combat experience (the fact that my canon Shep is a vanguard should tell you all you need to know about my preferred fighting style), and the feeling that they may have overcomplicated things, and I’m going to find the combat (not what I’m there for) really annoying. We shall see.

Anything positive to add?

Let’s end on a positive note: the crew. So far I like what I’ve seen (though Cora is giving me a Miranda vibe). I don’t think ME3 needed loyalty missions, but I’m glad to see them return for Andromeda. I’m also excited for the hints that there are different ways to build relationships with the crew members, assisted by the more nuanced dialogue wheel. 

No doubt…

…I’ve fallen into the trap of making assumptions based on the tidbits of information the developers are able to offer without revealing too much. It will be interesting to see how Mass Effect: Andromeda differs from my expectations. My hope is that it exceeds them.

Time to find out.