Mass Effect: Andromeda has been receiving so much flack since its release. People are complaining about not-so-great facial animations, a lack of interesting characters, the story just isn’t as good, and the fact that Ryder just isn’t Shepard. While, I definitely am not going to call this the best Mass Effect game in the entire world (Mass Effect 2 is still my life), I don’t think it deserves as much as hate as it’s getting. Is it a perfect game? Hell no! But that doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable game. In fact, it’s super freaking fun.
Here are a just a few reasons why you should be playing Mass Effect: Andromeda and why it is shamelessly entertaining, especially if you’re a long-time fan of the franchise.
1) Character Customization
Character customization has always been one of the best things about any Bioware game and throughout the years, it’s only become more and more elaborate. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, you have color wheels, sliders, scars, tattoos, make-up, about three good hairstyles, etc. While Andromeda’s is not as extensive as Inquisition’s, it’s still much better and more in depth than the original trilogy (also, the hair textures are ten times better). The one thing that I didn’t love was that your skin tone is based entirely upon which preset you choose, which is a minor complaint since my Ryder twins still look fierce as hell.
2) The Worlds
One of the reasons to play the original trilogy is that they have such beautiful landscapes and worlds to explore. Andromeda is that times 1000. Every world is unique with different terrains, climates, plant life, animals, buildings, and more. There’s the Nexus, which is the new Citadel. Then there’s Voeld, the ice planet, Havarl, which is a rainforest, or Eos, the desert, and many more that I have yet to see. While some of the animals are similar on each of the planets, they are still so unique in how you explore them and how you survive that it makes them incredibly interesting. Each one has different ores to mine, different edible plants to send to the Nexus, and much much more. The exploration of the planets is part of what makes Andromeda so interesting. It’s basically, the non-branded Star Trek game. It’s awesome.
3) The Space Exploration.
The space exploration is excellent and more streamlined than the previous games. Yes, the planet scanning is back but it’s more in the same vein as Mass Effect 3, where you just scan for an anomaly not for endless minerals. You mine for minerals while you’re on the planet surface instead and really, this matters more for your research and weapon/armor crafting than it does the actual game, itself. What I love, personally, is that it feels a lot less linear and I want to explore the worlds for new things. There were planets that you could visit in the previous games and you could explore them but there wasn’t a whole lot of necessity to it. In Andromeda, you are trying to figure out how to build a home for humans, Asari, Turians, Krogans, Salarians, and the Quarians, Hanar, and Drell when they arrive (they were delayed due to environmental requirements for their ark). While there is a main story to follow, you don’t have to feel as confined to it as you do in the original trilogy.
4) The Combat
The first Mass Effect has some downright awful combat but a fantastic story; however, as is Mass Effect tradition, the combat has become increasingly smoother; I’m finding the combat in Andromeda satisfying. I play an Infiltrator and having the tactical cloak, Invasion, and a few other tech abilities has made it super easy to kill the new baddies, the Kett. I can easily maneuver the battlefield while still being able to see my opponents as clearly as possible. I also love that you are not relegated to one class type and that every Ryder has access to any combat, tech, or biotic skills that they please. It makes the character and class customizations all the more personalized and fun.
5) The Characters
Finally, the most important reason to play any Bioware game ever: the characters. There are complaints that the characters aren’t as compelling but I would beg to differ. I find myself talking to my crew as much as I did in the old games and falling in love with them all the same. Each character has a unique personality, fantastic voice actor perfectly suited to the role, and different backstory. I find myself endeared to them as I would be with any crew from any other Bioware game. I, honestly, still don’t even know who I’m going to romance because I genuinely see the good in all of them (that and there are so many options). Peebee is adorable, lovable, and probably what Sera in Dragon Age was supposed to be. Cora has your back, is by the book, and headstrong. You have your British cohort, Liam who will always try to make sure that you and the crew aren’t losing all their sense of adventure and joy. Drack is the Krogan who is getting too old for this shit but is a big softie for his family and friends. Vetra is the roguish, sexy Turian who can get you any equipment you could ask for in the galaxy. There are complaints about this game that I do agree with but the characters not being interesting is far from one of them. They are all so wonderful.
Are you playing Andromeda right now? Do you like it or are you feeling like it’s missing something? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credits: Bioware/EA/Blythe Wiedemann (screenshots, overlay)