#Listmas2016: Three Reasons Why I’m Not Yet Sold on Mass Effect: Andromeda

By Pottero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Pottero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Last week a new gameplay trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda was released during the 2016 Game Awards, and boy oh boy, does it ever look pretty.

It’s one of those trailers that leaves me in awe of the technology of today’s games. It’s almost ridiculous how much power and beauty developers can now fit into any given game, particularly games on this scale.  Plus, it’s Mass Effect, which already has an incredibly appealing universe. Over the years, it’s given us some of the most memorable characters and sites in gaming. The trilogy of original games certainly tops my list of all-time favorites.

That said…

Having followed Andromeda’s development and now seeing this trailer, I’m really starting to feel like it’s not a game I want to play. If you’ll allow me, dear readers, a selfish callback to a post I wrote here: Thoughts on Mass Effect: Andromeda as an Open World Game. In it I questioned the then-rumor that Andromeda was, in fact, going to be open world:

Does the gaming landscape need an open world Mass Effect game? Would it be good for the series? Are we talking, like, No Man’s Sky meets Dragon Age: Inquisition or something else?

I’m hardly saying I was right, but doesn’t the voiceover in the trailer make it sound like Andromeda will be something like a cross between No Man’s Sky meets Dragon Age: Inquisition? Actually, I’ll take back the Inquisition reference, and instead say that it looks like No Man’s Sky as an arena shooter.  And that’s not better. So here are a few personal and speculative reasons why I’m not jumping on the Mass Effect: Andromeda bandwagon…yet.

1) One mission, a billion sidequests

In Andromeda, it’s said that you have a singular mission: to find a new home for humanity. Well, look, that’s one heck of a enormous mission, one that’s bound to be peppered with loads  of sidequests. And sidequests are all well and good, but when they overtake the game, it becomes too easy to lose sight of who you are, your connection to other characters, and most importantly, your single mission. I have no idea of this is truly going to be the case with Andromeda, but it honestly sounds like it might. And I would likely spend far too much time just ambling around the universe before realizing that, oh yeah, I’m actually supposed to make that exploration lead towards something.  My gaming time is limited enough, so I’d really have to question what ventures in the game would be worth pursuing. And that would probably lead to more ambling, more getting lost in the little things, and eventually, flat-out frustration.

2) Resource management

Have I ever told you how bad I am at resource management in games? I probably haven’t, because I don’t play many games where resource management is a thing that must be mastered, such as Civilization. From what it sounds like, in Andromeda, you’re going to have to find, collect, and administer any number of different resources in order to build humanity its home. If that turns out to be the case, it makes perfect sense – that’s huge part of any sort of colonization effort.  Now, while I do enjoy planning and strategizing in games, doing so on the scale of what will more than likely be required in Andromeda sounds perfectly stressful. And once again, when I’m put into an open-world situation, all my important tasks usually fly out the window as soon as I’m distracted by the next shiny thing. I can only imagine that I would find myself coming up quite short as the chief project planner for humanity.

3) Ryder vs. Shepard

Andromeda is set several hundred years after the events of Mass Effect, and in it you play as a male or female character named Ryder. While I’ve read that Ryder will be highly customizable, I have to cheap out and say that I don’t know that any one will ever replace Shepard. The one aspect that makes the character of Shepard so important is that Shepard is the player. I know it’s easy enough to complain that, because Shepard is at the crux of the original trilogy, Mass Effect just isn’t Mass Effect with him/her, but there’s more to it than seeming petulance. Seeing Andromeda now, I do wonder if player agency will be as pronounced in it. Will it allow you to feel like you’ve save the galaxy, or will it really be Ryder all dressed up in fancy skills?

As with all things gaming, these are just my present feelings. Everything could change next year. However, I can say that I generally haven’t been all that excited for Mass Effect: Andromeda, and seeing this new trailer only heightened those feelings, unfortunately. I wish no ill upon the game; in truth, I hope it’s Bioware’s greatest success to date. I’m just not yet sure if I want to be part of that success.


  1. renxkyoko says:

    I have less time to play now. I’m sure this will be the only game I can play for one year. I’ve been playing Skyrim since last year, and I’m not done yet. I ‘m dropping it. But then Skyrim is boring, so it doesn’t matter….. just like Oblivion, another open world that has a million side quests. I have dropped it too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Skyrim is a huge game. I eventually had to give up on Skyrim’s multitude of sidequests and just complete the story (which was just okay). And I feel like I missed out on so much because of it. I worry that the same could happen in Andromeda — I’ll get overwhelmed by the sidequests, drop them all, finish the game, and then never want to return to it again. But, until the game comes out, I guess it’s hard to say what’ll happen at this point.


  2. Hatm0nster says:

    I’m mostly on board for Andromeda. The only thing that concerns me is the presence of crafting. I hate it when games add in crafting as an extra feature. It always means the same thing, going around collecting resources in order to create the gear I want instead of just finding/buying the gear. Here’s hoping it’s not too prominent.

    As for your concerns about Ryder, I’m not sure they’re meant to be a replacement for Shepard. Shepard more or less wound up being a sort of “chosen one”, while Ryder is simply one of many of these people they call “Pathfinders”. I think they’re going for a smaller, more personal story in Andromeda as opposed to the grand space-opera that was the original trilogy. If that is indeed the case, I think it’ll take *Mass Effect* in a better direction. Instead of just one character’s story spanning multiple games, we can follow many characters doing different things in all the different corners of the galaxy. It would help make the *Mass Effect* world feel more real and alive.

    Your concern is still very valid of course, I’m just saying that this shift might just work out for the better.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. cary says:

    You make a good point there about Ryder. If they’re able to stitch together a series of stories into one magnificent tapestry, then I’m all for it. And I’m with you there on crafting. I like the practice in games in theory, but I’m never, ever very good at it. It’s something I’ll try once and then usually forget about.

    I guess I just thought that by now I’d really be on board with and excited for Andromeda, but it’s not feeling that way. A lot could change before it’s released, So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂


  4. simpleek says:

    I’m actually all on board for this game. As Hatmonster said, I think the aim with Andromeda is to tell more standalone, individual stories within the Mass Effect universe itself. I’ll miss Shepard for sure, but if Bioware does what it does best and that’s creating great characters and stories, then I think Andromeda and any future game they decide to make will do fine. I don’t mind if Mass Effect shifts into a more Dragon Age style of storytelling and gaming. Each game offered different stories and new concerns within the fantasy world they built and I’ve enjoyed spending time with all the characters I’ve created. In a way, I don’t think they’ll ever really top the epic Mass Effect trilogy they’ve made but I don’t think it means their new installment for the series won’t be any less amazing. Just different.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. cary says:

      And nobody likes changes…especially me! Haha.

      All joking aside, you’re right in that, with Andromeda, it does look like Bioware is attempting to take the “Mass Effect” name in a new direction, and that’s cool. Bioware is very good at what they do, and I’ve no doubt that Andromeda will contain a compelling story. I may just be worried over nothing.

      Or, rather, maybe the worry that I do harbor is purely personal. With a rash of large games inhabiting my backlog, I just don’t know that I can feasibly tackle Andromeda within a reasonable time frame to avoid spoilers and such.

      I keep referencing Dragon Age here, and I’m starting to wonder if I need to revisit that series. I have such good memories of the first game and such middling ones of the second and third games, but maybe I need to play them in a row in order to understand the possible path that Andromeda might take. i.e. Maybe I should distance myself from Mass Effect to understand better Bioware’s approach to storytelling and gameplay. (Mmm…I might have just found a new game project for next year! 😀 )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. simpleek says:

        Haha, well if my comment helped you think of a new project for to write about, I’m happy to have helped in some way! 😀 And I would totally read it because Bioware.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d argue that Andromeda is gonna be less No Man’s Sky meets DA:I and more Mass Effect 1 remastered. Bloody hell, I couldn’t count the hours I spend traversing planets in the Mako looking for a lonely pirate base for a quick fire-fight to complete some side quest for some random on the citadel while Saren patiently waited for me on Virmire. Andromeda looks like a return to the form that (as frustrating as the Mako often was) I at least fell in love with, but prettier and with a better controls.

    I mean, that still doesn’t mean it’s gonna be great, or even good, but I’m too much of a fanboy to not get hyped hoping that turns out to be the case. Also, it has jetpacks. Jetpacks make everything better.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. cary says:

      I also put in many a sleepless night in the MAKO! Planet exploration was loads of fun in ME1, and I was disappointed that it was removed from the later ME games. So I do think that having that mechanic reinstated in Andromeda will be a good thing for the game and for players. But considering that in ME1 you could only explore a set square of land on any given planet, and Andromeda makes it seem like you’ll be able to explore WHOLE planets, well…I could totally see myself spending hours just on a single planet alone! And that seems like a bad way to help humanity find a new home.

      I’m with you on the jetpacks. 🙂 *fingers crossed*


  6. While Mass Effect certainly is synonymous with Commander Shepard, BioWare has had success with stories taking place in the same universe across three games while employing different main characters (a la Dragon Age). While I think some people still wish their Grey Warden will come back in a future Dragon Age game, Dragon Age II and Inquisition both have solid stories and great characters. As long as the characters are well designed, like simpleek mentioned, it should do alright.

    I hear you when it comes to sidequests, but I sometimes get the feeling that all the Mass Effects and Dragon Ages and every RPG ever is one storyline with a million sidequests to complete in order to actually finish said storyline halfway decently. But I understand your hesitation, especially if “sidequesting” goes completely overboard, like in Skyrim where you can completely forget what you were supposed to be doing due to all the distractions.

    I also think BioWare is hesitant to make a trilogy like Mass Effect again, especially after the (somewhat overly dramatic, in my opinion) backlash after the third game, regardless of how fantastically epic the Mass Effect trilogy was/is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I see that as well. Kind of like with Rogue One being a “Star Wars story.” Andromeda does seems like it’s set up to be it’s own game that simply takes place in the Mass Effect universe. So we’ve seen Shepard’s story though, and now we’re whisked into the future to visit Ryder’s story. (If Bioware continues the trend, my only hope is that we’re offered the chance to play as other races.) It does feel like a good departure rather than simply making Mass Effect 4.

      My feelings of negativity have soften a bit over the past few days, and these comments have helped. 🙂 . Now, rather than not being sold on Andromeda, I think it’s become more of a “hope and see” game. I doubt I’ll get it on Day 1, or even Day 101, but I’m sure it’ll make it’s way into my stash, somehow. I doubt I’ll be able to skip it entirely.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m hopeful as well 🙂 One thing that I will say for No Man’s Sky is that it has players keeping their heads firmly screwed on when it comes to new (and otherwise highly-anticipated) games coming out!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Jake Stewart says:

    My assumption is that the resource gathering will be streamlined into the main experience; making it a non-cumbersome playthrough. They have emphasized story and exploration in previous games, but the grindy explorative features were optional, leaving room for the casual to enjoy the game just as much as the core audience. In any case, it won’t come close to Civilization. That series is dedicated to resource gathering and spending. Andromeda’s not.

    Good list of things to think more about pre-release, though. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      You’re welcome, and thanks! I guess there are still a lot of unknowns here, and my assumptions are really just based on chunks of news (maybe “news”) and that trailer. Honestly, it’s not much to go on, and my gut reactions are admittedly a little harsh.

      You make a good point in that the game probably won’t be a grindy, heavy experience–Bioware hardly wants to drive away all its players. If Andromeda allows for players to play in their own ways, so that folks who like resource management can do just that, and folks who like exploring can do just that, etc., then the thing will likely be an all-around hit. (Not that it won’t anyway, but still.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jake Stewart says:

        If they can make super enjoyable exploration and storyline elements, and cater to both, it would be great. I agree totally. (It’ll have good numbers just for being Mass Effect alone, too, for sure.)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    Change is tough. I like to think that I’m always down for it; even so, it can be hard to accept. Case in point — Mass Effect: Andromeda. This game will mark a very significant change for this series, one that I adore, and I’m working through coming to terms with that. I recently addressed the ambivalence I’m currently harboring toward ME: Andromeda in this Listmas post over on United We Game.


  9. Drakulus says:

    I have a deep love for open world games so I can’t wait for Andromeda. Mass Effect is my all time favorite game series followed closely by Dragon Age. I trust Bioware, but I will admit that I have some concerns about the game. I don’t like Ryder so far and the latest trailer didn’t do much to change my mind. Then again I don’t think anyone will ever take Shepard’s place in Mass Effect.

    Open World games like Skyrim, The Witcher, and Fallout are some of my favorites to play and people seem to forget that the first Mass Effect game had exploration. We could land on some planets and explore them. This time they’re just adding more life to them and probably making them bigger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      You’re right that ME1 had that element of exploration; I was disappointed that they took that out of the sequels. It’d be cool if that focus was brought back in Andromeda. I’m currently in the midst of Fallout: New Vegas, and it has certainly rekindled my love of exploration in games…though sometimes I really have to make myself stop to focus on the story!

      The thought of having whole planets to explore (which seems to be something Andromeda is hinting at) is a little intimidating. But if it’s done right, I can see it being a huge draw. Even without Shepard at the helm, I’m coming around to the game as I learn more, but I still think it’ll be a wait-and-see purchase for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Imtiaz Ahmed says:

    I’m all for the open world aspect of this game, to an extent, the original games were open world as you were able to fly around the galaxy and check several planets out. Each planet was limited but I think this barely makes the cut.

    That being said, yes I do agree, it doesn’t have to be open world to be good, I’m not sure how well it will play out considering space is the main area you are in, but it worked for other games.

    I’m all for lots of sidequests, as long as they are quality sidequests. I always refer back to the Witcher 3, it has sooo many side quests, but they are all quality side quests with unique characters, cool voice acting and just general real world problems that me as the player cares about. Knowing Biowares track record, I think we will get quality side quests in this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I’m on board with great side quests as well; and I do agree that Bioware has been really good when it comes to creating interesting and worthwhile side quests. As enjoyable as it can be to explore an open world in a game, if it’s only littered with “busy work,” then there’s not much point in exploring. I can’t imagine this being the case in Andromeda, but we’ll see.

      If the game takes a truly open world approach, well…it’ll really be up to the players to judge. I like the mission-based gameplay of the original trilogy, so I’d hate to see Andromeda be an open world game simply for the sake of being an open world game. Again, the likelihood of this seems to be pretty low, but players have been burned before (with other games). At best, I remain cautiously optimistic. 🙂


  11. parkerozgood says:

    It’s going to be tough to play through the game and not compare Ryder to Shepard the whole time or even to not compare this game to the original series. I agree, one of the best trilogies I have ever played! I am excited for the 21st and I am going to go into it with a open mind and hope they don’t let me down!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      There will never be a substitute for Commander Shepard. Not Ryder or anyone else they come up with. And that’s a good thing! I can only imagine that Bioware is quite proud that Shepard became an icon. There’d be no way for them to ever duplicate that. “Starting over” with a new main character is fine, and the comparisons will be inevitable, but Andromeda is going to be something different. I’m ready for it too!

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.