“Mass Effect: Andromeda” Is A Decent Game With Good Hot Nerds For Banging

Previously on Mass Effect: Dr. Chakwas saved the world by taking immaculate care of Commander Shepard and her crew of misfits while they fought robots and outlaws and something called Collectors for what I can only assume were very good reasons. Nobody died, if you ask me, and everything was happy and great. We banged a lot of aliens, but we were always true in our hearts to Dr. Chakwas. All of us except Jenna, who criminally underrated Dr. Chakwas’ contribution to the fight by not wanting to bang her enough.

Six hundred years later, we are back in the Mass Effect universe, but in a whole new galaxy, with a whole new sexy doctor we are not allowed to bang, and this time it’s even more hurtful because she’s voiced by Natalie Dormer. Mass Effect: Andromeda is a tough game to write about because it’s nearly impossible to judge it on its own merits. The original Mass Effect games, particularly the second one, are some of the best games ever made. I came into it with an open mind and a lot of positive thinking, and I came out thinking it’s a Pretty Good Game that I wanted really badly to be great.

There is a plot. It’s kind of bad. Basically a whole mess of humans and aliens, calling themselves The Initiative, decided to colonize a new galaxy for no reason at all, and then wound up in the middle of a civil war between the natives. And there are angry robots again. Also, the ecosystems are failing on every planet and the only way to stop that from happening is to do actual sudoku puzzles. I’m not gonna lie. I had a really hard time caring about any of it. The Initiative seems like a giant corporate cult and I can’t imagine this many people willingly signing up for a 600-year space journey just for fun. And I like the “good” aliens and I’m happy to help them out, but, like, we shouldn’t even be there. And they should be able to figure out sudoku on their own if they’ve managed to master space flight.

This is only funny because the alien had an Australian accent.

We take the role of Ryder, who is a far cry from Commander Shepard. She’s young and untried, great at sudoku but bad at flirting. She’s awkward and not entirely ready for command. She never quite carries that mantle of authority we got used to with Shepard, but when she earns the respect of her crew it feels genuine and nice. I like her. She’s a good hot nerd.

We all chose the same haircut i bet, huh?

And I love the characters. Almost all of them. Everybody except Liam, who I almost liked occasionally but then he would always annoy me again. Drack is a sweet (for a Krogan) grandpa. Peebee is an annoying genius and we banged in zero gravity. Cora is too earnest and it makes me uncomfortable but she means well and she likes gardening. Jaal is loveable even for a boy and I saw his butt and his bony alien boobs. Suvi is human and I think navigates the ship? She has a good accent, but the lighting on the bridge is weird so I don’t really feel like I know what she looks like. She licks rocks as a hobby.

And Vetra is a Turian smuggler with a heart of gold and we’re in love I guess though to be honest our romance was kind of abrupt so I’m not sure how I feel about our future? And in our “I love you” scene Ryder didn’t have any facial animations so she seemed kind of afraid of the commitment and/or banging a 7-foot tall alien. I do like Vetra the best for sure, but I wish she had a little more content, and I don’t even mean the fact that there’s no sex scene in her romance arc even though obviously I am disappointed that I didn’t get to see her spiky bird bod. It just felt like there were fewer scenes with her in general. I might go back and romance Peebee just to see what I missed, which hopefully was blue tits.

Beak flavored kisses.

While the characters are definitely this game’s strong point, they did fail for players who want to play as gay men. The only options for dude-on-dude romance are two human guys who look like they were built in the Mass Effect 3 character creator. Make Jaal bisexual is all I’m saying. Everybody should be able to bang an alien if they’ve traveled six hundred years for the privilege.

Boys can’t bang these boys. What is even the point of technology?

I was really rooting for these guys even if I didn’t especially care about their mission. And the actual mission parts of the game were pretty fun. When you have a clear objective and the combat reverts to classic Mass Effect corridor style fighting instead of the open world of the rest of the game, it feels more like itself. But there is a lot of open world. And a lot of it is toxic/irradiated/cold etc. until you do enough sudoku to clean up the environment, so it’s not even really explore-able. There’s not really much to find out there anyway, except for the single most enjoyable fight in the game against a giant flying robot squid. (It took me 12 minutes to kill, which I know because I recorded it and have watched it back a couple times because it was exhilarating.)

But with a few notable robot squid exceptions, the combat just isn’t much fun. Again, Andromeda is suffering by comparison because I just played Horizon Zero Dawn which had the most engaging combat I’ve played in years. And I’ve also been playing a lot of The Division which has no plot to speak of but absolutely perfect shoot-and-cover gunplay. Guns throughout most of Andromeda feel so underpowered that it’s hardly worth using them. (Things improved when I got a Naladen sniper rifle that explodes everything in two hits. Get one of those as soon as possible.) The real damage, and the fun, comes from chaining combos of your special powers. But even this is less viable than it should be, because you can no longer command your squadmates to use their powers, so you’re left to combo off yourself like some kind of nerd who didn’t complete a romance arc.

It’s very easy to get bogged down in fetch quests and lose the thread of the plot. Every planet plays a lot like the Hinterlands in Dragon Age: Inquisition, but even bigger and emptier. The urge to 100% everything is hard to ignore, but you should really ignore it. My advice for getting the most enjoyable experience would be to do the bare minimum on each major planet to get it settled, and pursue plot missions and companion quests whenever they are available. Do side quests only when they’re convenient or seem fun. Otherwise you might find yourself having played for eight straight hours without actually accomplishing anything for the third day in a row and it might make you bitter when really there is nobody to blame but yourself. And the game. You can blame the game a little. There are just too many quests, man.

See, it sounds like I hated it, but I did not hate it! I’m just aggressively in the mood to have liked it more than I did.

Space hamster. 5 Stars Excellent Game.

There are a lot of threads left to tell more stories, and there will definitely be added DLC because this is Bioware and there’s always DLC. The game needs more plot to fill up the massive world they built, so hopefully they’ll add more story-based content and not another giant map to drive around in. I’m really bad at driving. I somehow managed to flip the Nomad, which is supposed to be unflippable. (Actually one of the most affecting voice-acting moments in the game was Peebee wailing “No, no!” when I accidentally drove us all into an abyss. I felt really bad about it.) So, less driving. Fewer maps, even. If they blow up a few planets I wouldn’t be mad at them. Just give me a mission at a place, where I do not have to fly to another place and another place. And give me cut-scenes where I can fall further in love with everybody but especially Vetra. Let me bang Dr. Lexi T’Perro and also Dr. Chakwas even though she is a galaxy away. Just put some more Mass Effect in this Mass Effect and I think we’ll all be okay.

Sarah lives in the Boston area and plays a lot of video games. Her interests are cats, bragging, and foods that can be eaten lying down. She has too many sneakers and not enough pants.

sarah has written 30 articles for us.

36 Comments

  1. An atypical confluence of events conspired so that I did not play any of the 3 Mass Effect games (even though I actually own 1 & 2). Several of my siblings have, however, so when I saw that my youngest brother was playing it and asked him how it was, and his text response–necessarily more terse than your article–seems to have followed your review to a T:

    “It’s pretty good; probably not as good as ME3. It’s very similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition. But in space!”

    Ha! I also give him points for his excellent use of punctuation in a text message. I had to reach out to him after my mom called him a traitor (to me) for playing any post-ME3 MEs, since she’s still so distraught and annoyed at the original end of ME3. She’s working that grudge, but seemed somewhat mollified when I said that this one took place 600 years in the future.

    I’m sure you wanted to know all about my internal video game family drama. ;)

  2. Yayayay it’s always wonderful to discovery another member of the Karen Chakwas fan club. I haven’t finished the game yet, but I my heart is torn between Suvi and Vetra. I hope that whomever I choose to more permanently make space loving with will let me keep zero Ging with Peebee tho :)

  3. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy Andromeda (still not sure) so I replayed the first 3 games instead. Went through all the feelings all over again, read a lot of fanfiction… one thing lead to another and now I’m waiting for an Asari prosthetic headpiece to come in the mail.

  4. Great review! I’m having fun with Mass Effect:Andromeda, personally, though the cut-scene conversation animation is really, really odd at times.

    Hey, isn’t it dangerous for a Turian and a human to kiss each other? I remember that one from the Garrus romance in Mass Effect 2 and Mordin’s advice about that, ha ha.

    I played an indie RPG where the main character was an alchemist, and the way she “did alchemy” was by solving Sudoko puzzles. Sudoku’s very versatile!

  5. Here be feelings-also some spoilers but not many…no more than the article I feel but I felt it best to warn. Ahem-

    Yes so many side quests and I’m like “I must do all of these so as to effectively gain everything I can in order to complete the main quest with the best possible outcome as I have in previous ME games”. Now I’m thinking that I should maybe just sack them and go main quest on the first go around…maybe forever.
    Having fun with FPS gameplay some tough encounters for where I am right now which is challenging and occasionally has me just running the hell away. Accidentally stumbling into areas which feel like gating encounters seems to be a regular occurrence. Anyone else?
    Right now, I have no feelings about romancing anyone… sad face. Vetra is the most likely candidate because of something I spotted which made me laugh and I was like, ah I like you. The fact that Cora basically says she “made arrangements” wink wink -whilst with the asari and then she’s unromanceable by female Ryder is an odd one, she has an ALH damnit (why can’t Ryder have that haircut?!?)-also agreed re No Dormer voice romance, they dangled the dream and snatched it away right there. As lovely as Suvi is she sounds too much like my ex. So…Nope.
    BUT the whole thing is visually engaging from an environment perspective. The landscapes, and assests within them-Stunning. Standing ovation for the environment team. Sometimes I just enjoy flying about scanning looking at space…but then I always did.

    Also in the topless man interactive cut scene you show above I had a Major glitch which I recorded on the xbone because damn it was bad… Multiple torsos all over the place. Like weird AF. I’ve had a few glitches which make the shifting scale of the London phone boxes in ME3 pale into insignificance. I totally accept glitches as a part of gaming (they’re almost all I record) it’s not a complaint, just a woah that fucked the cut scene in a freaky way I wasn’t expecting.
    Also my nomad driving… lord…it’s worse than ME.

  6. My Ryder flirted with Suvi and how terrible she was at it and her exit (“TIME TO PATHFIND… serious business… saving everyone…” were HILARIOUS. Never before have I played a character with as little game as me!

  7. I have a very important question about this game: can you flush the toilet on the ship?

    I’m very happy to see there’s still a space hamster!

    I really, really want to play this at some point, but I’m probably just going to wait.

    Also, thank you so much for writing game reviews that I understand and aren’t full of negativity just to be negative.

  8. I didn’t like this game and the fact that I didn’t enjoy it broke my heart. I didn’t like the plot, I didn’t really sympathize with any of the characters that much, the dialogue was… not good, it felt like the build-up to romance that there was before wasn’t here. It’s like the writers knew what people enjoyed about the ME games and decided to throw it all there for you to get right away and didn’t care about the reward aspects (or the plot). Sorry about being really negative :( I intend to play it again after all DLC have been released, and I truly hope there is a second game and it is mind-blowingly wonderful and ends up turning Andromeda into the game you have to power through to get to the super special great game. Or, who knows, maybe they’ll release the Citadel DLC equivalent for Andromeda and all will be well.

  9. I’ve being avoiding reading any news/reviews on the game because how everyone seems to be underwhelmed by it, but I always make an exception for your writing :)

    I was hoping that they would give some sort of explanation for why they were exploring except just “adventure”, but doesn’t seem like they are planning on doing it that based on what you wrote, and that’s kinda sad. I always have high expectations of Bioware, and this feels like a DA:Inquisition (in space) clone + colonization.

    I was really excited about the game after a couple of hours of just being around cool looking aliens, but as the game goes on, and the colonization narrative seems to be getting worst, I’m having a hard time getting through while enjoying it. I’m planning on taking a time out to deal with my feelings so that I can go back and at least enjoy all the cute aliens… Until then, I’m glad this piece exists, cause I needed to know I could only do the main stuff.

    • For what it’s worth, there is actually information on why the Initiative was set up, beyond adventure. It kind of the obvious one if you’re at all familiar with the original Mass Effect trilogy, rhyming with peepers.

  10. I totally get that DA Inquisition in space feel too. The war table aspects and the crafting feel pulled directly from one to the other. I just wish they’d pulled the companion conversations too. Why can’t they banter in lifts like they used to? Or plot hilarious combat moves involving bull horns and a catapult. I miss Vivienne’s snark.

  11. I’ve played about 23 hours and I’m still stuck on Voeld. I like the landscape they designed, but just like you I think you can easily get lost in all these side quests.
    And I don’t feel the pull towards my character. I started over and played the prolog three times and I’m still not happy with my Ryder. I miss the wittiness. But the squad is nice and I hope it gets more interesting with the crew missions. Fingers crossed!

  12. I checked the achievements and thankfully there was not one for completing every single side quest in the known Heleus cluster, after that I promptly dropped every side quest that wasn’t necessary to settling a planet. Improves enjoyment by quite a bit, now I just drive around aimlessly depleting planets of their resources like a true colonist while listening to Drack and Peebee have the weirdest most entertaining conversations that remind me of the good ol’ ME1 days.

    I haven’t reached the end yet but from a few comments I’ve read it seems like they leave a lot of questions unanswered and are paving the way for perhaps ME:A2 or DLC. I hope they try playtesting their game on a difficulty higher than bronze so 85% of the guns that are really cool but ultimately useless because really cool and also useful.

    As a sidenote, you can in fact make it across that gap that makes Peebee wail at your poor choice in gravity defiance.

  13. I’m actually watching a playthrough at the moment, due to the fact that my graphic card is so freaking old that it can’t even handle this game at its lowest. Every 5 minutes this dude stumbles onto a new sidequest, which is one of the things I didn’t like about dragon age inquisition, because a lot of them were in the “catch 5 butterflies” category.
    The game still looks like a lot of fun, though, and I’m always in for banging blue aliens, so maybe in the future, when I have a console that can handle it.

  14. I’m really enjoying it despite its flaws, but the thing that annoys me is the new aliens themselves. We travel to a whole new Galaxy and the aliens we meet aren’t that alien at all. I can’t be the only one who thinks the kett look like the protheans?

    • I sort of thought that was the point at first, like there was going to be some big linking reveal…but nothing so far. I mean I’m maybe confusing my lore but didn’t the reapers take prothean form and do a similar biological harvesting of lieforms…it all seemed too close to be coincidental to me, I’m kind of hoping for a pay off but also not expecting one… eh.

      • The reapers fought a long war with the protheans and eventually overwhelmed them. In the process the reapers indoctrinated many protheans, as they did later on with the races of the original trilogy. The reason for the reapers to do that were to form an army of expendable soldiers to fight for them and their only goal was to destroy the non-primitive species of each cycle to overcome the “chaos”.
        The kett on the other hand, from what was shown in Andromeda, treat exaltation as a religious process and treat those to be exalted as the chosen ones, lucky to become kett themselves, and a part of their higher.
        That said, they could have been a bit more creative and out of the box when coming up with the new baddies to fight.

  15. So in addition to the issue with lack of options for gay men, it’s been confirmed that the only exclusively f/f romance option in the game was not written as a lesbian but was meant to be yet another (sixth) possible conquest for straight male Ryder.
    She’s been locked for women-only short before release.

    • News from the M/M front, from the little brother about the lack of interaction:
      “Dude, serious disappointment on that front. Little to no character development, particularly with the M/M romances. I was like, who the eff wrote this? Contrived. Eye roll inducing. Very sad. Neither of them are even on your squad. Sighhhhhhhhhhhhh”

  16. Great review! I was also thrilled by the return of the space hamster!

    I just finished the final mission on Friday (took me 59 hours), and I was so much more entertained than I thought I was going to be based on the early reviews. Although I do think the first 12 or 15 hours were the weakest bits, so I’m not looking forward to replaying it the way I usually do with bioware games. Still fun though, and I’ll probably just explore the different choices using a mid-point save instead of starting over.

    On the romances, I’m probably a weird one in this, but I loved Keri’s (the asari reporter on the Nexus). She might not have nearly as much content as everyone else, but the way her conversations evolved throughout the game and then the dialogue when she and Ryder go on their date were my absolute favorites. It’s too bad she has the default face that all the non-PeeBee asari have though.

  17. I finally played enough ME:A to read this fully. Some notes:

    1) Listen, I maintain Dr. Chakwas is an attractive older woman AND 10/10 would get hammered with her at any moment, BUT I feel a little weird about banging her. She’s like my space mom.

    2) I get really into the Sudoku parts, is that just me?

    3) I’m trying to get with Peebee (and also kind of Keri – the documentary maker – because apparently I have a type), will report back re: blue boobs. Not being able to romance Lexi is pretty unforgivable. I still miss Liara, though :(

  18. Your article helped me a lot not wanting to play it and considering to write an essay to Bioware, making them consider to return to their old times with Mass Effect 1-3 and KotOR.

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