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Mass Effect Andromeda: initial thoughts
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alias_sqbr
It's currently possible to play ten hours of Mass Effect Andromeda if you sign up for EA's streaming service Origin Access. This costs about $7, and you get 10% off the $80+ game, so, definitely worth doing if you are pondering buying it!

I have played 6 and a bit hours, which was enough to get to a large area that will probably take more than 3 hours to finish satisfyingly, so I'm stopping for now. It's been fun! I'll try to avoid any major spoilers in my thoughts below but minor ones will come up.

I posted about the character creator on tumblr along with photos of my pretty pretty female Ryder, Blue. If you choose the default name "Sarah" characters use it in dialogue, but I wanted something more androgynous. Overall I liked the character creator a lot.

The first mission is a bit generic, some nice visuals and effectively tense and dramatic but not very interesting. But then things calmed down a little and I got to wander around talking to people and get some sciencey side quests and I was happier.

I played on narrative mode and it is RIDICULOUSLY easy. Once I have less time pressure I am switching to casual. Combat is much like other Mass Effect games thus far, levelling up and skill choices work differently but I haven't had used them enough to say how I feel about them yet. You have little jets in your armour which let you jump satisfyingly, but I am confused about "jump" vs...whatever the control button does (climb?).

You have to press and hold the E button to interact with things. You automatically reload and regain health by walking up to the health/ammo boxes scattered around the place. Took me an embarrassingly long chunk of my 10 hour trial to figure those out.

The plot hasn't really gotten started yet but the setting feels very much like like the other Mass Effect games, with somewhat different but roughly equivalent places and political factions etc. I am enjoying it so far but we'll have to see if it feels too derivative after a while.

I like that my character is a little nerdy, female Ryder's backstory involves researching Prothean ruins. (Male Ryder's is as a body guard) You're not military like Shepard, this is an exploration mission. Of course it's a first person shooter game so there's more shooting than sciencing in practice, but I like that I get to be all YAY KNOWLEDGE every now and then. She's also way more out of her depth than Shepard, which I am enjoying, but I hope her eventual success doesn't feel too unearned (it doesn't like it's going for a Dragon Age 2 ending lol)

As I expected, so far the game uncritically wallows in the sort of American/Western myths about explorers and colonists typical of this kind of space opera, complete with violently unfriendly locals. It's been explicitly stated that the aim is to find uninhabited worlds and become friends with any existing civilisations, but we'll see what happens in practice. I know there's at least one not-always-evil local civilisation, but I haven't met them yet, nor have we met the unfriendly aliens on their home turf or found out why they keep shooting at us.

On the plus side the humans are pretty ethnically diverse, though I don't remember meeting anyone who seemed to be indigenous, which is relevant for a Canadian game set on the New Frontier.

There's a lot of cool female characters, both major and minor, including a female krogan who is not defined by her femaleness. I love her but she seems unlikely to be romanceable ;_;

As always everyone is the same two shapes, with women's big boobs in tight clothing, but there hasn't been any LOOK AT HOW SEXY THIS LADY'S BOOBS ARE moments yet which is nice.

People have complained about the quality of animations etc and I agree it's weirdly inconsistent, from "wow that looks pretty and realistic" to Mass Effect 1-ish janky fakeness, but it's not bothering me too much. It does feel like they're doing worse than Inquisition which is odd.

I am finding the more fluid dialogue options good so far, have followed my gut and ended up picking the touchy feely options a lot, with a dash of proffessionalism...eg basically a Paragon haha. Flirting is pretty well marked. There isn't always a wide range of options for any given choice (there's six possible types but only two to four tend to show up at any given time), but that's always an issue with these games, and thus far I haven't felt too much "NONE OF THESE ARE RIGHT" frustration.

A useful hint Cam had to tell me: the first time you get on your ship the game will heavily push you to go the bridge and travel to a planet you have business on. Go the bridge, open up the space travel controls and then exit out of them. Now you can wander the ship and talk to everyone! INCLUDING FLIRTING :D So here's everyone in your initial crew!


Cam flirted with all the female characters with a male Ryder. I am going to bug him to flirt with all the guys next chance he gets, for science :)

***SPOILERS FOR INITIAL CREW**

Suvi the scientist: Liked it, and turned down male Ryder :D
Liam the male human second: liked it!
Cora the female human second: Politely told me she is straight
Gil the engineer: He annoyed me so I didn't try, but the option was there. Symmetry and past games suggest he may be gay.
Doctor Lexi: Politely told me she doesn't date patients, told male Ryder the same thing.
Vektra the sexy lady Turian: flirted back with both Ryders :D :D
Kallo the salarian pilot: no flirt option for either gender.
SAM the AI: no flirt option for either gender.

Further thoughts on the crew:

Right now only Liam and Cora are squadmates but Vektra was one too in trailers.

Liam's the first person you really get to know and he was a bit too SHOOT FIRST QUESTIONS LATER for me, though otherwise is pretty likeable. He felt like a cross between Garrus and Jacob, so we'll see if fandom loves him or finds him boring (he's a cute black dude rather than a dinosaur alien which will lose him points :/)

Cora is like a cross between Cassandra and Miranda: no nonsense second in command.
She thus is of course straight, which I am sure will break many hearts, though while I like her and think she's pretty don't find her very attractive for some reason.

I haven't seen enough of Suvi to form a strong impression but she reminded me of Traynor and slightly awkward queer science ladies are my jam, so. The cute scottish accent almost makes up for the appallingly rendered hair.

Gil may grow on me but rubbed me the wrong way so far.

Lexi is great. She asked me for alien corpses to dissect then told me to eat my vegetables :D

I adore Vektra, she's endearingly morally grey, I see smooches in Blue's future unless she gets distracted by someone else.

Kallo isn't very exciting so far but I like him.

SAM isn't very exciting so far but is an AI and so I love him and am REALLY INTO him presumably being a big part of Ryder's arc.

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