As a late-to-the-party Mass Effect fan, I thankfully didn’t have too long of a wait between defeating the Reapers as Commander Shepard and beginning my new adventure in the Andromeda Galaxy as Gabby Ryder. With all of the iffy feedback the game has received since its release, I wanted to document my time as a Pathfinder instead of adding to the sea of reviews, as a journey is often more than the sum of its parts. Because I want to experience Mass Effect: Andromeda as Ryder would be experiencing the new galaxy, I’m going to be playing through the game blind without the aid of my guidebook or online walkthroughs, even if it means some missteps, failed romances or accidentally sacrificed squad mates. It should go without saying but be warned – spoilers ahead.
I began my journey, of course, at the character customization screen where I probably spent too much time trying to make my character look like a normal human being. Why so much make up, Bioware? I wasn’t blown away by the character customization and my Ryder has more of an “eh, good enough” look than “what a badass.” You can customize your twin as well if you’d like, but to be honest, I just didn’t care enough to make Scott look any different.
Things went south for me almost immediately after I woke up from my cryogenic stasis – my brother’s stasis pod got busted, I crash landed on an inhospitable planet, watched a crew member get murdered in cold blood by an alien species and ultimately watched my father sacrifice himself to save me – but thankfully not before I got some coffee.
There were a few noteworthy introductions in this first mission – Dr. Lexi T’Perro, SAM (aka New EDI), Cora Harper and Liam Kosta – but I didn’t learn anything about them right off the bat, or at least anything of substance. I took a little bit of time between my almost-fatal arrival on Habitat 7 and my emergency evacuation to do a little bit of exploration. The jump jets in my suit made getting around much more fun and dynamic and while it seems like it may become tedious in time, I think the scanner is a neat feature that adds depth to the worlds Bioware created. Habitat 7 itself was beautiful and reminded me a bit of driving through the Western US. While I don’t want to be too hasty, this might be where I make my home in Andromeda once this whole Pathfinder business is all said and done.
Another new discovery were the new dialogue options. I knew that Bioware was doing away with the Paragon/Renegade dichotomy but what they replaced it with – Emotional/Logical and Casual/Professional – seems less… consequential. Knowing Mass Effect, though, being casual will probably end up getting someone killed, so I decided to stick with professionalism for the time being.
My choice for professionalism was reaffirmed after I rose from the dead to find out that my father died (permanently) and, in the spirit of good old fashioned nepotism, made me the Hyperion’s new Pathfinder despite having Cora as his definitely competent second-in-command. Awkward. I arrived on the Nexus (aka New Citadel) to find what should be the bustling hub of the Andromeda Initiative in disarray. Despite being the only Pathfinder to arrive so far, no one seemed particularly pleased to see me. Equally as awkward.
For the first time, though, I felt like I was truly playing a Mass Effect game. I made my rounds through the Nexus trying to convince the political leaders to like me, used the dialogue wheel to get a ton of backstory on what happened in the 14 months since they station woke up and ran around completing side quests like finding out who was sabotaging the electrical panels and getting involved in a murder case that was so not my business. There was, of course, a turian head of security, but there were also some unexpected characters like engineer Nakmor Kesh, a female krogan, and Kallo Jath, my salarian pilot. I’m glad to see that Bioware didn’t try to repackage its best characters and, say, add another salarian scientist – someone else might have gotten it wrong.
I don’t know much about the Tempest crew yet, but my first impression was that they’re a solid group, if a little bland – certainly not the band of misfits I assembled for my Suicide mission. I bonded immediately with the adorably Scottish Dr. Suvi Anwar over our interest in scientific research (I apparently worked with Prothean researchers back in the Milky Way). Mercifully, Bioware put in a “heart” dialogue option so you know when you’re trying to romance someone. If only they could bring that to real life.
Cora, now my second-in-command, was still a bit salty about not becoming the Pathfinder, but resigned put it aside for the good of the mission. I came to find out that behind her neat professionalism she’s a bonafide badass, serving with an asari commando unit as a human biotic. Dr. T’Perro, our asari doctor, was also strictly professional, at least for the time being, and both rejected my romantic advances.
I met the Tempest’s chief engineer, Gil Brodie, who seems like a chill guy, if a bit immature, and reunited with Liam who is basically Gil, but straight. I don’t know what it is with Bioware and their basic human dudes, but I’m having flashbacks to Jacob Taylor from Mass Effect 2 with a little bit of college frat bro mixed in. I mean, the first thing Liam did was in move in a busted old couch – come on.
Just when I thought my squad would be missing its token charming turian, I learned that Vetra Nyx would be joining the Tempest full time. I don’t know much about her yet other than she has an energetic little sister named Sid on the Nexus and that she’s good at getting what she needs, but it didn’t stop me from selecting that romance option. I’m honestly loving the subtle but well-rounded girl power on this ship.
Our first mission as the Tempest crew is to investigate Eos, designated Habitat 1. It was supposed to be a relatively easy settlement, but with kett resistance and high levels of radiation, the Nexus couldn’t manage to create a stable outpost. After “acquiring” a Nomad, I set off into the desert to investigate.
I’ll spare you the walkthrough of the entire mission, as it was a pretty long one, but it’s worth noting that I gained two more allies – Peebee, an energetic rogue asari investigating the Remnant, and Nakmor Drack, an old krogran veteran and Nakmor Kesh’s grandfather – as well as figured out how to begin terraforming the other planets to make them the golden worlds they were supposed to be. I was given the choice as Pathfinder to set up our new outpost as a research facility or a military base, and after some thought I chose science. My goal is peaceful coexistence and with at least one native sentient species, I don’t want to come off as militaristic or imperialistic.
Even with a mysterious and architecturally fascinating Remnant vault to explore, it wasn’t the most thrilling start to an intergalactic adventure. That being said, it’s difficult coming off the high of completing Mass Effect 3 (regardless of your feelings on the ending, you can’t tell me that final battle wasn’t epic as hell) and jumping into a brand new narrative. As much as I keep referencing the original trilogy, I don’t think it’s fair to draw direct comparisons to Andromeda because they’re fundamentally separate and different despite existing in the same universe. It’s like constantly comparing your new boyfriend to that ex you can’t quite get over. Give the new guy a chance to shine.
Last modified: March 30, 2017