Mass Effect Andromeda takes you on a brand-new journey into another galaxy as you explore new worlds for colonization on the Ark Hyperion, where you will encounter new races and hostile enemies as you explore to uncover the mysteries of the Andromeda galaxy. As with previous Mass effect games you took the role of a Spectre, this time around your role is a Pathfinder, where you can play as either Scott or Sara Ryder as you seek out new Golden worlds to inhabit.
Your journey doesn’t start out as planned as you encounter a dark force called the Scourge which damages your ark on route to the Nexus, a main staging point in the Andromeda galaxy. This phenomena has also decimated the Helios Cluster and rendered all the tagged Golden planet’s inhospitable, from this you must search out new planets in your new ship the Tempest as you lead a squad of trained exploders each with their own unique abilities to find locations to colonize.
As with any game like this is the story, and Mass Effect Andromeda doesn’t disappoint with its non-linear gameplay you can still follow the main story and miss out all the side quests, but it’s the choices you make that affect the outcome of the story. It is brilliant whether you choose to cover something up or exile someone it’s all up to you how the story progresses. This also applies with your fellow shipmates as you can interact with each and every one of them to gain their loyalty and trust over time, some of these relationships can be romantic but others act as side missions such as PB’s secret project. This provides an enriching story to follow and you will find it hard to just do one bit here and there as time just flies by as you go from one mission to the next.
Each planet you come across isn’t necessarily habitable but large structures called Monoliths which must be activated to open the Remnant Vaults will help you to terraform these planets and enable the player to create an outpost. These vaults can only be accessed by scanning for glyphs which are used to solve the puzzles to activate each of the 3 towers, these puzzles vary in complexity and at first do seem challenging but over time it’s becomes easier to figure them out. The planets you encounter are stunning each with their own enriching environments from the lush jungle world of Havarl to the icy landscapes of Voeld, even the Nexus is extremely detailed with plenty of areas to explore.
As before the Galaxy map on the bridge shows all the systems & worlds that are available to explore, which has been in previous Mass Effect games, the difference in Andromeda is that each time you go from planet to planet you experience the journey as you fly through nebula’s, asteroid fields and close to black holes provides something new to the Galaxy map functionality.
I can’t fault how Mass effect Andromeda looks as the in-game graphics are stunning with great lighting effects really bring some of these worlds alive, however it’s the collision detection that takes the shine off the game with people disappearing, or when you get stuck in between rocks just shows that there is a few bugs in the game that need to be ironed out.
Each planet you come across will have a viability meter in order to colonize you must be over a certain percentage before this can happen this can be done by exploring and unlocking forward stations, or carrying out side missions which are activated through the people that you encounter. Even when you reach 100 percent viability on a planet there is still so much more to explore and do as more side missions are unlocked the further you progress into the game.
As with previous Mass Effect games the game centers around crafting, scavenging and customization, and believe me Mass Effect Andromeda has a lot of customization options.
Weapons – these can be researched to gain more powerful weaponry, but each weapon you pick has slots for mods to improve weapon damage or ammo capacity to name but a few.
Armor – similar to weapons these can be researched to create better, stronger armor which will help reduce damage or have improved shield regeneration.
Augmentations – these mods can be created and developed to enhance your weapons and armor.
From the start of the game your weapons and armor will have a class 1 level but as you progress through the game more the ability to craft more powerful armor from the remains of your defeated enemies or in containers lying about the worlds you explore the classes jump exponentially on what you discover.
Throughout the game the more XP you earn through missions and exploration you will unlock skill points for your character, these can be used to unlock new abilities for Combat, Biotic or Tech support such as Throw, Omni Grenade and Concussion shot to name but a few, your character has 3 ability slots which can be customizable which is great as you can pick and choose what abilities work for you. This also leads to your profile class as you start the game with the solider profile available but as you unlock more skills you can diversify your profiles each with their own abilities.
Later in the game you will come across Strike Teams, this mode is connected to the Multiplayer aspect of Mass Effect. You can either select a predetermined squad to carry out the missions and if successful these teams will gain experience points making more difficult missions more achievable. Where the multiplayer comes into effect is you can play with a squad of friends or your fellow crew members that you team up with through the campaign.
These missions will give you a boost of XP, and the missions themselves are varied from assassinations to smuggling to outright assault does provide something to do away from the main campaign.
Soldiers – are pure combat specialists. No one is tougher or more effective at taking down enemies with gunfire. The profile optimises Ryders mind and body for his superior mastery of his armour and weapons.
Engineers – are experts in both offensive and defensive tech powers. This profile reconfigures Ryders implant to maintain constant control of a small combat drone which assists and protects him in battle.
Adept – are biotic capable of disabling and killing enemies with powerful mass effect fields. This profile re-configures Ryders biotic implant enabling him to defeat his opponents without firing a shot.
Sentinels – are unique combatants bring a mix of tech and biotic abilities to the battlefield. The profile creates a direct link between Ryders implant and his armour built in computer systems granting him additional protection via flash forged shielding.
Vanguards – have an aggressive combat style preferring to close in on enemies and deal heavy damage at short range. This profile re-configures Ryders implant and physiology in subtle ways allowing him to absorb energy from enemies on impact and shunt that energy into two forcing his shield.
Infiltrators – are tech and combat specialists who typically focus on precise hits and avoidance. This profile enhances Ryders mental and visual acuity allowing him to keep track of his enemies throughout a chaotic battle.
Explorer – is a jack of all trades with abilities ranging from combat and tech to biotics. This profile re-configures Ryders mind and body to be as versatile as possible permitting him to switch rapidly between firing weapons, deploying technology and wielding biotic powers.
Mass Effect Andromeda also provides great use of sound with dialogue for all the species you encounter, and even though some character’s sound familiar the dialogue is diverse enough throughout the game. It’s not just the dialogue within the game but other sounds that sound fantastic such as the sound the Tempest makes taking off and landing iconic.
Because there is so many different types of abilities and weapons you still get a distinct sound for assault rifles compared to sniper rifles or pistols.
I have always loved the Mass Effect games, and Mass Effect Andromeda improves on every aspect seen in the previous games. There is enough in the game to keep you going and you will always wanting to finish of the next bit after the next which just eats up time which you got to love as the game is so engaging and mesmerizing.
Players will identify straight away some elements from the previous games as well as some of the alien species, but Mass Effect Andromeda looks and sounds brilliant.
They only downside is that there are a few bugs within the game that make it rough around the edges but doesn’t spoil the core game.