Mass Effect Andromeda story arc (Spoilers).
Six-Hundred years since the events of the Commander Shepard storyline, and here we are in another galaxy. Going right into the story you are Ryder, a member of a family of three (you, your father and your sister – mom’s dead, sadly) who have been selected to embark on the Andromeda initiative to colonize the Andromeda galaxy. When you awake your father is the leading human Pathfinder (each race has a Pathfinder assigned to the Arks that carry colonists) and you approach your designated habitat world – a supposed golden world.
Landing on the planet, you discover that the world is uninhabitable and thus the supposed golden world is a bust. Dad dies and leaves you in charge of the mission as the new lead Pathfinder (Sis is still frozen in cryo); from there you venture to the Nexus – the Citadel of the Andromeda galaxy (though not as well equipped as a modern city with bars, night clubs and so on). Upon arriving on the Nexus you discover that the entire mission has gone to hell and all of the other arks – Salarians, Asari, Turians and so on – have either gotten lost, or found that their designated golden world was a bust. Now given a ship akin to the Normandy (named Tempest) you venture into the stars to discover the mysteries of the Andromeda galaxy.
You encounter the dangerous aliens known as the Kett – a bunch of freaks that wish to convert everyone into their mutated species. You encounter a race called the Angara who have been fighting the Kett since they entered the galaxy and they ally with you AFTER you help their resistance rescue people just like how John Connor rescues humans from Skynet camps. You discover that the worlds in Andromeda are linked to a central network created by an ancient alien species that helps terraform planets so that they are habitable. Soon thereafter you discover the Salarian Ark held captive by the Kett, and after sneaking aboard and killing anything that looks like rocks on legs you escape and the Salarians are safe and sound. Note that you also find the Asari ark in the story; before the Salarian rescue mission you encounter the Asari Ark adrift in space and unlike the Salarians who chose to surrender to the Kett the Asari said: “hell no” and opened fire on the Kett. Long story short a famous Asari Commando is on board and ends up being the one who abandoned her Pathfinder so you notify the Asari (it’s a dialogue choice) that this happened and they choose a new Pathfinder – simple.
Soon after you head to Meridian – the supposed central network which turns out to be a giant floating city. After further discovery you find out that it is a key, and that the actual Meridian is off into the distance hidden within the Scourge – a giant dark energy mass that initially knocked your Ark off course. The Kett leader then takes your dear sister, now awake, hostage along with the Ark, and you go into Meridian to rescue everyone. Turns out Meridian is a hollow world like the world you wake up on in Halo 4, and you kill the Kett leader and the human ark is stranded on Meridian making it the new home for humanity in the Andromeda galaxy. The final cutscenes have you gather your crew to go out and explore the Andromeda galaxy, for you have finally made it to Andromeda after a 600-year sleep in cryo across dark space and with a home established it is time to explore the galaxy.
Right let us get this out of the way – no you are not Shepard’s kid or descendant as you leave Earth during the events of Mass Effect 2. When you go into Cryo and begin the journey you will have missed the Reaper War which takes place a year AFTER you have left. Bioware seemed to have wanted to skip having to deal with the Mass Effect 3 ending and so they simply have you leave before the war broke out – clever, right?
The facial animations also feel stiff at times. Sure I was initially skeptical of what Youtubers were saying, but after watching all five hours of the game movie (you can thank me later folks – up until 1am PDT to do this review for you) I can safely say that there are plenty of moments where the expressions of the characters feel stiff and emotionless. Witcher 3 managed to have emotion throughout the entire game, whereas here they only have some moments where they break a smile or have a gesture expressed on their faces – the rest of the time it’s stiff, Mr/Mrs: “I am serious like the Terminator.”
The story felt a lot like Mass Effect 1, but without a deep knowledge base to dig through about the galaxy as you are the first explorers who enter the Andromeda galaxy – the Angarans you encounter part way through the game really have little knowledge of their galaxy and so you are back to square one. Regarding aesthetics I don’t really like the space suit armor you are forced to wear throughout the game. Now the game movie has the Pathfinder wear standard default gear per se, but it just feels off; maybe it is because I am used to personalized armor with bandoliers of ammo and ornate power armor ie: Space Marines from 40k, but it just feels as though everything is all uniform and sterile – like there was no effort made to make the characters feel different.
Andromeda was an interesting story, and the new galaxy offers many opportunities for gamers to imagine what things would be like out there. Indeed the first world you encounter has floating mountains and flying creatures – something the Milky Way does not. Still, despite the mysteries of the new galaxy I cannot help but wonder why they just left everything behind to start a new life so far from Earth and the other worlds. Krogans I can understand, but Salarians, Turians and Asari were the dominant species back in the Milky Way, and at the time of the initiative setting off not even humanity had a decent spot on the council on the Citadel. Still, perhaps they desired something different, so off they went into the unknown, never to return, and never knowing how the Reaper War ended for the rest of us. The way they side-stepped the questions sort of bothers me, and again the story feels a lot like a re-hash of Mass Effect 1 – again without any history to the territory to which it takes place.
This is the point to all of it; Andromeda is a new beginning. Wherever you go, no one really has any idea what is going on, and they lack the knowledge of the worlds they inhabit to make it an easy ride per se. Andromeda ends off with a neutral ending (as I like to call it): the can have a sequel, or they can just leave it there if the game is not a hit with fans and create something else. There is room to grow, but whether that growth takes place or not is up to the developers – for now it basically sits like this: “colonists reached Andromeda: some got lost, some found their way, and soon they will have their own evolution in culture and technology separate from the Milky Way. This effectively means the colonists in Andromeda will never know what happened to the Milky Way, and we will never know if the initiative ever made it safely to Andromeda (600-year cryo-sleep to reach Andromeda means most folks will age out naturally (colonists out of cryo in Andromeda) by the time the visitors reach Andromeda – this also means a return trip is near impossible as once the Ark ship (only Arks can travel to Andromeda) reaches the galaxy it will be dismantled to provide support to the colonization efforts).”
Below is the link to the five-hour game movie, enjoy!
Mass Effect Andromeda game movie: