As a huge fan of the Mass Effect trilogy I was really looking forward to playing the newest installment in the franchise, Mass Effect: Andromeda. This title follows the protagonist, the Pathfinder—one of two Ryder siblings, depending on the gender you choose—on their search for habitable planets in a galaxy far, far away from the Milky Way. Ryder is one of many humans cryogenically frozen on the ark Hyperion, which left the Milky Way during the events of the original trilogy, along with arks for the asari, turians, salarians, and krogan.
After a more than 600-year journey, the Hyperion arrives in the Andromeda Galaxy to find that it is not what the Andromeda Initiative said it would be. Planets that were thought to be habitable based on long-range scans from the Milky Way are no longer viable. Between the harsh physical environments and first contact with a hostile alien race called the Kett, it becomes clear to Ryder and the rest of the Milky Way expats that settling Andromeda is not going to be easy. On their quest to make some of the Andromeda Galaxy planets viable, Ryder & Co. travel around in their ship, the Tempest, and cruise planets in the Nomad (which is insufferable until you have the opportunity upgrade it).
I was disappointed to find that the first several hours of gameplay were pretty tedious but after you grind for a while and the story starts to unfold, the game does get better. Unlike the original trilogy, in ME:A your character can use skills from all three classes—combat, biotics, and tech—which makes combat much more varied and interesting. Ryder also has some pretty sweet jump jets.
There are some interesting NPCs, especially Jaal—a member of a race called the angara who play a large role in the events of ME:A. As usual, your Pathfinder has the ability to romance some of the NPCs (and there are some pretty racy sex scenes once you seal the deal). The main storyline isn’t that long but there are plenty of side quests to keep you busy, including loyalty missions for your NPCs that unlock high-level powers. Scanning, mining, and crafting are an annoying but necessary evil that gets you the best armor and weapons (plus a decent amount of XP).
On the whole, I was disappointed by Andromeda, but there are aspects of the game that make it worth playing if you’re a Mass Effect fan. There are moments scattered throughout the game that make the whole thing worth the time you’ll put into it (about 50-60 hours if you’re an obsessive side quest person like me). Unlike the previous games, I can’t say that I would play this one again, but I’m glad I got through it—if only for the Tempest crew’s movie night.