Is Mass Effect : Andromeda Newbie friendly? A Review to Top the Rest

Mass Effect: Andromeda is the new game set in the Mass Effect universe.  Although it is not a continuation of Shepherd’s story told through Mass Effect 1 to 3, it shares many of the same races, powers and game-play elements from the previous games.

If you have not played the previous games and wish to check them out they are available through EA origin.  I think Mass Effect 2, arguably the greatest in the trilogy is currently free via origin and I highly highly recommend it.  You can see some influence from other Bioware games like Dragon Age: Inquisition too – especially in map design and quests.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is an RPG merged with a first person shooter. You explore uncharted worlds whilst an array of hostile forces try to deter you with an unrelenting barrage of bullets.  So, there are a lot of fire fights, a lot of exploring and discovering both on planets and in space.

Due to a lot to the new locations, characters and a re-invention of the series it is friendly to newcomers to the series as well as having fan service to the veteran fans through upgraded features.

Overview

  • RPG/Shooter with lots of exploration
  • Main character with a vast array of powers and play-styles available
  • A large array of weapons that can be made from researched blue prints and be custom made through development and augmentation.
  • Great multiplayer action that enhances the main game-play
  • Fantastic graphics for both aliens and fantastic worlds
  • Great shooting action that has been improve through jump jets
  • Mysterious and interesting story-line
  • In-depth characters with great personalities
  • Lots of optional pathways to increase replay value through outpost creation/Cyro revival
  • A new ship to explore and command, The Tempest
  • A nomad land-vehicle to explore hazardous and vast landscapes

 

Story line

It feels epic, lots of sub-plots and quests going on, lots of mysterious elements that hook you and great characters to talk to and get to know.

I don’t want to give away too much for people who have not delved into the first three games, but this game takes place in a whole new galaxy.

During the events of the first game arks left the milky way and traveled through the dark space between galaxies to Andromeda to settle on what they suspected to be golden worlds.  The passengers have been in cryogenic sleep for six hundred years as they travel through the dark space.

You awake to discover that all of the arks except yours have gone missing, the worlds are anything but golden and life sustaining, and that the cluster is being controlling by a kill first and never ask questions hostile race who is suppressing the local alien life.

So, your quest is to find viable planets to colonize, find out what happened to the other arks, who this mysterious alien force is, and what they want, as well as understand the scourge and explore ancient ruins to gain technology.

Your journey as the path finder begins… or as the game puts it:

This story line is good for new fans as it does not build off the old trilogy nor require you to be familiar with it at all. 

It also negates the endings of the third in the series which alters the milky way galaxy irrevocable. There is a cultural exchange center on the main space station which acts as an encyclopedia about aliens from the milky way and the locations reference, such as the Citadel.

The main theme of the story seems to focus around AI and biological life, and how the two would co-exist, so it is a familiar theme from previous games, but it doesn’t require any previous knowledge of the first trilogy.


Character Creation

Like the previous games in the series you are limited to a human character, I was hoping that the game would open up the character selection to alien race now that Shepherd was no longer the principle character, but for story purposes the human only option works very well.  You do get the chance to play as other races in the multi-player options of the game.

Here is a brief video showcasing the characterization that is available, as well as the classes that you can play:

For those of you that are new to the series there are three main skill areas, combat, technology and biotics.  Combat skills focus on weapon skills mostly giving you greater proficiency in the fire-arms that are available, as well as effecting the kind of bullets and grenades that you have.   Technology allows you to hack enemy robots, overload machines and shields. Biotics is like a physic power that has lots of abilities like throwing enemies through the air or charging to them in an instant with a powerful melee attack.

Unlike the previous games the Pathfinder has all abilities in each option available to him regardless of the class that he chooses.  This class just levels up with investments in future.   This allows you to create unique and interesting builds to play the way you like or create the team that functions better with favorite NPC.

Here is a greater look into the ability menu for combat:

 

Game-play

There are various planets for you to land on and explore as part of the story-line.  These worlds have a variety of interesting things for you to explore, as well as certain things for you to collect or discover – like forward stations, which act a lot like the camps in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

By setting up a forward station you create a fast travel point, a point to call your Nomad (the land-vehicle), a place to change your weapons and team, a safe area for health regeneration, and also increase the viability of colonization.

You will explore lots of planets in the Nomad as there are areas where there are hazardous environments, such as below freezing environment and radiation, that you can only survive in for a limited time before it fries your environment suit.

There are numerous things for you to discover on the sprawling world maps – quests for NPC characters, lost or fallen research outposts, ancient alien monoliths of dead and forgotten species that are guarded by the mysterious machines known as remnants, ruins of the same forgotten culture, enemy strongholds and camps, mining resources, geological and biological life samples just to name a few! I sure I have forgotten some.

The jump jet system also means that almost anything in the game is scale-able – and in fact encourages you to scale gigantic monoliths by hiding treasures on top of them.

The Nomad is easy to control, can switch between two and six wheel drive to tackle steep hills with a speed reduction, has a jets that allow it to jump and a booster to help tackle to most stubborn of hills.  It doesn’t have any guns yet, I am hoping for an upgrade later on, but it does have a mining drone.

You also have a handy scanning object that you access by pressing down on the control pad.  This allows you to scan enemies, wreck and near-by objects for more information and to increase your research points to develop better technology.

You explore these worlds in the hope of finding an area that is suitable for colonization. 

Outpost wise you get to choose between a military outpost or research outpost.  Each comes with different rewards, and your choices play into an existing power struggle between the races in the system, as well the races that came from the Milky Way with you.  This power struggle in the organisation you work for is very interesting and will give you a variety of ways to play politics.

The more you colonize and increase a planet’s viability, the more people you can choose to release from cryogenic suspension. You get to decide to who to thaw out, military people for combat boons, scientists for research bonus or merchants for commercial bonuses.

The battle system revolves around first person style shooting, with abilities that you can level up as you progress and gain levels.  The combat system has improved and is a lot more enjoyable due to the new mechanics such as a jump jets, that allow you to scale buildings in a single bound of rush across the ground at high speeds towards cover or away from melee attacks.

 

You explore this new galaxy from a ship called The Tempest which acts as the main base for the crew you recruit and the best place to interact with them.  As with the previous entries most of the crew have special quests and romance options. Your NPC mission team will include an Asari, a Krogan, a Turain, two humans and an Angara – a new race you find in the Andromeda system – who are like a Cobra with legs and threatened to kill me a lot in the sweetest of ways while I was playing.

For those of you new to the universe, there is a cultural archive and a journal that will explain the races to you as you play but here is a summary anyway.

Asari are a powerful biotic race, who appear like beautiful blue females but are actually gender neutral/can identify as either.  The Krogan are a warrior race who are almost invincible killing machines, think Klingons going through puberty on really strong steroids that are armed with a shotgun and you might be close. Turians are uptight lizard things that like rules and guns.  You will also encounter Salarains who also hail from the milky way, they are like hyper-active and annoying geniuses.

You will also still be able to explore planetary systems that have hidden resources, which can be found by scanning the area and then launching probes.

One big change is to the dialogue system within the game.  Previous games had a system where you could be a paragon or renegade by pressing certain buttons or partaking in various quick actions that appeared on the screen – where you punch reporters and stuff. Now you just have choices like emotional, logical and build up your personality overtime and less directly.

There are even alien Sudoku puzzles to complete.

The only problem I have encountered so far in the game is a little slow down in loading when changing areas and the system is loading the new area.  My character does a funny little drunk dance in the door way as it loads if it takes too long – and this hasn’t been very often.

Multi-player

Fast party creations, fun and quick with a lot of interesting things to achieve and unlock.  And a lot of new characters to unlock and level and integrates with the main story well.

Multiplayer maps are featured in the game as part of Strike Missions.  This is a system that require online capabilities where you can send out members of a Squad known as APEX on various missions.  These missions are either time or multi-player based.

Here are the starting options for a multi-player game:

You join up with three other players or friends and participate in a co-operative online battle that has a series of waves, like survival, find and destroy, or rescue.  By playing in multiplayer you unlock new characters that you can play as in future games, level the member of APEX you are playing as, as well as earn resources for development in game.

This is just pure outright fire-fighting. Duck, Cover, head-shot style.

There are loads of achievements linked to the multiplayer option that gives you special rewards such as weapon mods, armor, credits for the multiplayer shop where you can buy cards packs for equipment and unlocks.   There are pages and pages of things to unlock in this area.

They are quick and fun missions, the people you are randomly partnered with are usually helpful and polite but it is a big community so you will stumble across a total jerk.

Graphics

The graphics are awesome , they are fantastic and almost made me believe that rocks can float. And I hear if you have a 4k television/monitor these are so good that it is unbelievable.

Here is a cut scene from early on in the game and a few screens of environment’s that are not only beautifully drawn but also fantastic in nature :

The areas on any particular world are vastly different too. You could go from mapping an irradiated desert to exploring a machine driven ruin that extends miles and miles beneath the ground.  Different planets will also host a huge array of different life-form, climate, and foes.

Conclusion

A fantastic story.  Great Characters.  Loads to explore and discover. A fun multiplayer that adds to the main game.  Fantastic graphics.  Awesome battles.  A title I highly recommend.

It is also extremely friendly to new players in the series – as no previous knowledge is needed.

 

A solid game that I am going off to play again as soon as my eyes stop bleeding or maybe after I finish this sentence…..

 

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