Following the beloved original trilogy, Mass Effect: Andromeda had huge shoes to fill. The series had amassed a dedicated fanbase over the course of its run, from the first Mass Effect game in 2007 to 2012’s Mass Effect 3. Even the controversy over Mass Effect 3‘s ending couldn’t keep people from getting excited when a new Mass Effect title was announced. The concept of sending players to the Andromeda Galaxy was ambitious, but provided a clean slate for the narrative to separate itself from Commander Shepard’s legacy. Unfortunately, the game has since become widely regarded as the worst Mass Effect game in the franchise.
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Five years after the tumultuous conclusion of Mass Effect 3, players were finally getting a chance to step back into BioWare’s extensive science fiction universe. This time the protagonist was Pathfinder Ryder, one of the most important figures in the Andromeda Initiative, which planned to colonize the Milky Way’s closest neighboring galaxy. Awakening from stasis in the Heleus Cluster, Ryder set about their task to discover new, habitable worlds, only to find this section of space plagued with many dangerous circumstances.
For many die-hard Mass Effect fans, Andromeda is a bit of a mixed bag. While there are many common complaints about the game, it is also recognized as the most modern in the series. The gameplay is smooth, and combat is satisfying, especially since it did away with the Mass Effect trilogy’s classes in exchange for a quick-swap profiles system.
Mass Effect: Andromeda’s Most Common Criticisms
While the aforementioned gameplay changes, combined with an attempt to make the Mass Effect series more open world, made Andromeda the largest ME game in terms of mechanics, the game’s background in the Andromeda Galaxy was seriously limited. While the original Mass Effect drops players into a galactic civilization filled with dozens of alien species and thousands of years of history, Mass Effect: Andromeda masked its shortcomings on lore by having the Heleus Cluster enveloped in a cataclysmic event. Many were hoping that Andromeda would hold another, similarly complex interstellar culture. Instead, what players found was a lot of ruins, only two new alien species, and a lot of side content rehashing issues that were prevalent in the Milky Way.
This is reportedly a symptom of Andromeda having a limited budget, which is in direct conflict to the game’s attempt at increasing the scope of the gameplay. This is also felt in Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s attempt to create multiple open worlds to explore. For the most part, the original Mass Effect trilogy has tightly designed levels and abandoned open exploration after the first game. Andromeda brought back vehicle gameplay (which was itself much better than driving Mass Effect 1‘s Mako), but the explorable areas were mostly empty.
These large areas, combined with an overused scanning mechanic tied to Andromeda‘s AI assistant, made a lot of the side content feel like a checklist. Rather than navigating the complexities of an established galactic civilization, the player was driving around inhospitable worlds fighting the same monsters repeatedly. There are many facets of Andromeda that are promising, but the future Mass Effect sequel seems to be abandoning the Andromeda Initiative entirely. Maybe one day Mass Effect: Andromeda will get a proper follow-up where the game’s pitfalls will be rectified.
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