After the emotional, but ultimately controversial ending of the original Mass Effect trilogy, a continuation of the franchise was always inevitable. Coming after some of the most critically acclaimed games ever made was always going to be a challenge and Mass Effect: Andromeda was predictably torn apart by a large contingent of fans upon release.
Andromeda is a good game, but it’s admittedly radically different from the original trilogy. This is almost certainly why it has been so divisive among fans. In recent years, Bioware have been exploring more open world style games in their franchises, Dragon Age: Inquisition the perfect example of this. Andromeda was not excluded from this, Mass Effect’s traditional long corridors and featureless enemy bases replaced with lush environments to explore.
Combat in Mass Effect also saw a complete overhaul in Andromeda. Although the largely cover-based tactics of the original trilogy can still be used, the big draw is the option to pick a different approach for each battle. Whether it’s hovering in mid-air to rain bullets down on enemies or ripping them apart using biotic force fields, this new flexibility means that experimentation is easier and combat is much more fun than it ever was in the original trilogy.
Another great thing about Andromeda is that it simply looks incredible. Whether you’re among the soft phosphorescent light of Havarl’s dark forests or even just travelling from planet to planet, the Andromeda galaxy is beautiful. It always seems like there is another breathtaking vista to admire.
The hallmarks of all good Bioware games are on show. Character interactions frame the story and you build your relationships throughout. Perhaps most interesting are the themes of both genetic and found family that run throughout the game. Although a feeling of found family is familiar from the original trilogy, the playable characters has a fully fleshed out biological family which is explored thoroughly. This is in stark contrast to Mass Effect’s original protagonist, Shepard only able to interact with a family member extremely fleetingly.
Many of Andromeda‘s critics focused on game’s troublesome animation bugs, but these were quickly fixed in patches. Without this as a deterrent, and as later patches widened the romance options and improved on some of the pacing issues, Mass Effect: Andromeda can now be played as it was meant to be. Some of the writing is a bit patchy and the storyline is a bit generic at times, but the magic is still there. It’s about finding characters to care about and making choices that help shape the galaxy. For me, Mass Effect was always about these ideas and Andromeda gives me all that and more.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.