Captain’s Log: We seem to have arrived in a strange and hostile new galaxy… we’re here folks, Mass Effect Andromeda is upon us this week and we have been playing to give you guys some first impressions! We here at TGS want to encourage everyone to go out and get the game, so this will be a spoiler-free, first look at our 40 hours of gameplay thus far!
As mentioned in our preview, Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place in a brand-new galaxy. After finding that the neighboring galaxy to the Milky Way, Andromeda, has potentially viable worlds to colonize, the Andromeda Initiative is formed to take would be colonists on an over 600-year sojourn into the unknown. However, upon arrival, it’s clear that six hundred years has changed things around Andromeda quite a bit, and the once “golden” worlds are no longer so shiny. Although players will find certain call backs and cameos hidden across the game, virtually no mention in conversation is given to the events from the prior Mass Effect Games (which would be 1 and 2 based on the timeline). One expected some whispers of the Reapers, Saren, or the reason behind the initiative is to flee from the aforementioned space robots; but mention of the Reapers is conspicuously absent. Either the Alliance did a brilliant job covering up the subsequent issues with them or these newcomers are completely ambivalent to what could potentially be the end for all of the races in the Milky Way (as they have no knowledge of the outcome of Mass Effect 3).
Mass Effect: Andromeda is large, fun, and a little overwhelming. The first planet, Eos, is massive and has certain gates to the exploration process. Eos, however, is just one of many worlds the Pathfinder can get down upon and explore for places to build colonies. To assist you in your explorations, the Mako-like device, the Nomad, is available to speed you along the rolling dunes or barren wastelands you encounter. The Nomad handles very much like the Mako, however there are sadly no weapons or guns to rely on and give you an edge in the event you encounter enemies.
Mass Effect also introduces a complex and semi-confusing crafting and research system to the franchise. By scanning objects in the environs you explore, you unlock research points which are then in turn spent to unlock new weapons, armor, and augmentations to build. When you develop these items for use, you consume certain elements and minerals you find and accumulate along the course of the adventure. The crafting system is daunting and as large as the environments you explore. Once you build an item, you cannot upgrade it, so be careful what you research and then how you spend the resources to improve it. The coolest part about the crafting system is the potential to augment your weapons to do pretty cool things, such as launch sticky grenades, recharge ammo in the classic mass effect style, or give your projectiles heat-seeking capabilities.
Although we have yet to tackle the multiplayer, the single player campaign does much to press the buttons and appease old fans and new-comers alike. Although so far there are a few plot holes plainly obvious to prior players of the franchise(we’ll leave these for you to discover), we hope these are resolved either through the course of the story or in DLC down the road. Mass Effect: Andromeda is a great addition to your gaming collection and we certainly know it will keep us busy in the weeks to come. If you’ve had the opportunity to “give it a go”, let us know what you think in the comments below! Happy gaming!