Exploring the depths of space, fighting off alien races before the brink of extinction takes its final bow, creating an alliance of super-soldiers of diverse species from across the galaxy. When Mass Effect first released there had been no game like it and it still remains comfortably prominent today. Taking advantage of the endless wonder of space while sprinkling in RPG elements and basic “cover ‘n’ shoot” gameplay, the Bioware series took off and kept dedicated fans eager to complete the Commander Shepard trilogy. Whether you’re a fan of how it all ended or one of the many who threw major upheaval during the final moments of the decisive ending, Mass Effect took players on a long, thrilling space expedition that sits radiantly amongst other popular trilogies.
In Mass Effect: Andromeda, Bioware’s next installation in the galactic adventure series, you leave the familiar faces of the Shepard crew and the Milky Way behind to embark on an excursion to Andromeda, a recently discovered galaxy 2.5 million light years away, over 600 years after the events of the original trilogy. Chasing supposedly habitable planets to create living environments for generations to come, you take control of one of the Ryder twins (male or female), awaking from a long, multi-century cryo-stasis nap. It doesn’t take long for things to heat up and the pressure to build upon landing in the Heleus cluster.
Unknown alien tech litters Habitat 7, the designated “new earth”, and patrolling foreign species known as Kett stay armed and ready for possible intruders. The gameplay is fluid, the easy navigating cover system works well and the combat feels more polished than any game in the series. Equipped to your armor is the new “jump-jet”, giving you a little more umph to your leap allowing extensive exploration through the rocky terrain. After meeting a couple of new crew members, Cora and Liam, and wiping off a few dozen Kett, events transpire leaving the plot in place, now guiding you along your mission as the Pathfinder.
Weapons you find early in the game are familiar as well as the biotic and tech powers used throughout the series. With a heap of skills to upgrade in three specific categories, combat, biotics and tech, you’re able to equip up to three powers at once. Interchanging the powers is a useful tactic, providing you a sense of profile freedom the more you progress through the game, switching between biotics expert to tech engineers to combat specialists. However you feel like playing the game is up to you at almost any moment, giving the game a fresh feeling after hours into the journey.
The armor that you equip is now broken up into four different pieces making full sets: helmet, chest, arms and legs. Pieces are dropped by enemies or bought from merchants and vendor kiosks. Mods can also be attached to your rig adding stat bonuses and weapon enhancements, giving you an edge in combat. All in all there’s plenty of customization, skills and weapons/armor to be found and equipped in the wide open galaxy of Andromeda.
A few hiccups in animation and an occasional glitch make for a harmless appearance; Andromeda looks to be up-to-par with current gen standards. While some facial expressions seem a little strange or obscure, more often they’re spot on giving off personal qualities that bring the game to life. Beautiful space settings and gorgeous planets look as brilliant as any game to date leaving much to discover with a number of different maps and locations, including the Nexus. Playing a role similar to the Citadel from the previous games (only still under construction), the Nexus is where you’ll find shops, clinics and plenty of friendlies looking for someone to send on various quests and missions throughout Andromeda.
With the sudden rise to Pathfinder status, Ryder is given the ship, Tempest, along with its own crew awaiting the arrival of their new leader. With a mission prioritized and an ambitious group of soldiers, scientists and new planets on the horizon, the journey has promising potential. Aside from minor struggling performance issues, which hopefully will receive a patch sooner than later, Mass Effect: Andromeda delivers an amicable experience filled with loads of new upgrades. Take the reins as Ryder and mold the legacy that awaits you in Andromeda.