Mass Effect: Andromeda.
As of writing this (the 16th of June – this is going into a buffer, so you fine folks probably won’t see it for a couple of weeks), I just finished playing Mass Effect Andromeda.
A little while back, I talked about starting up a new section of the blog called Anatomy Lessons, where I would look into a few aspects of a particular piece of media and then post a blog-post-length discussion of those aspects, showing the process for how I break things down and discuss them when I’m analysing media.
That, obviously, never started up because of the problem that stymies most of my new ideas: Namely that I have more hobbies and plans than I have time to actually do them all. But I still want to try out the idea and see how it goes over.
So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a few different thoughts I’ve had about Mass Effect: Andromeda. Please feel free to let me know if you find it interesting, if you think I’m completely off-base with my conclusions, or if you’d like to add anything.
To start off, I’m going to put a few general opinions to the side:
Yes, I am a Mass Effect fan. While I’m not the sort of person who’s played them all fifteen times, knows all the Easter Eggs, and can remember all the side quests, I’ve played them all and love them all, and know a fair bit of trivia.
But at the same time, yes, Mass Effect: Andromeda made me rage for a variety of reasons. I’ll be addressing a few of them in the next few weeks. I have significant problems with the plot for various reasons – some of them on the more nerd/technical level (such as desperately wanting an explanation for why our translators are compatible with Angaran magically), and some of them are more about the plot (while the story was very enjoyable, I find it to be a very poor story about first contact. If I can make a whole post about that, I’ll be talking about that a bit more).
I feel it’s worth mentioning that one of the things I didn’t rage about was the character animations. While they were definitely not as good as I would have expected from a Bioware game, it didn’t distract me as much as it did some people. I tend to play older and indie games (mostly because I’m trying to catch up on the ‘classic’ games I didn’t play because I got into gaming later in life), so overlooking slightly stilted animation is something I do regularly. I am looking forward to when the dev team patches the game and brings the animation up to quality though (which they seem to be in the process of doing).
My favourite character was either Drack or Vetra. My least favourite character … very hard to pick because I honestly loved them all, but I think I was less invested in Cora than the rest of the main characters, and I found Peebee a bit irritating. I also wasn’t a fan of Reyes Vidal – he felt a little bit like Zevran was trying to be Dorian, for the Dragon Age fans out there.
So, I’ve got a few topics in mind that I’ll be talking about:
First, I’ll be talking about player engagement particularly in reference to the kind of endless-sidequest game that Bioware games tend towards, and in particular some boss fights.
Second, I’ll be talking about the epic RPG and problems of scope and character influence – referencing both Mass Effect: Andromeda and Dragon Age: Inquisition, because I feel like they had the same pitfalls and navigated them quite differently.
Third, I’ll be talking about one of my pet topics, alien design and the Unknowable Other in narrative – referencing the original Mass Effect trilogy as well.
And finally, I’ll talk about the different ways to approach extremely long-lived characters, referencing Asari and Krogan, and in particular Drack.
None of these will be spoiler-free so if you haven’t played the game and want to remain unspoiled, then you’re probably best off avoiding these. I’ll only be talking about the ending in probably the first two posts, but I will be talking about character arcs in all four, and revealing Drack’s entire character arc in the final post. I’ll try to flag in the post when I’m about to talk about major character or plot spoilers (anything that’s part of a plot reveal in the main plot or an ally’s sidequest, anything involving major character development, and definitely anything involving character deaths). Anything part of a minor sidequest will be spoiled with carefree abandon though, and anything that occurs in the first half-hour of main plot gameplay is fair game.
With that said, I hope you enjoy this as much as I’m about to enjoy ranting.