I’ve been thinking about Mass Effect Andromeda a lot as a long time fan of BioWare and I wanted to know if anyone else had tried to get at some of the reasons why it was so disappointing? Aside from all of the main reasons people seem to have for disliking Andromeda there’s one possible factor that occurred to me that I haven’t seen anyone mention and it’s a matter of history.
If you look at the first Mass Effect game what it wonderfully manages to accomplish is the way they drop you in the deep end of that universe, submerging you entirely in it’s deliciously complex world. Immediately you hear exotic terms like citadel, spectre, and you new alien species talking about things you don’t understand. Mass Effect is not a world empty but a world full of life, you spend that whole first game finding out about a myriad of new species and discovering the various intricacies of thousands of years of political and social history that have culminated in the world as it exists at the time of the game.
Andromeda had none of this, one of the main themes of Andromeda was the notion of casting off past lives, past allegiances, and past grudges. While this could have made for an interesting premise it also means that this new world you find yourself in lacks that history. This is, I think, one of the main problems with the game. The political machinations of four bureaucrats as they try to settle new worlds is frankly underwhelming after dealing with the hostile yet exciting political climate of the Citadel. Not to mention the numerous criminal factions and corporations that help fill out the universe. There are some past prejudices that rear their head, mostly in regard to the Krogans, and while they add some flavour they lack any real impact.
Even the one new Species you meet, the Angara, have a frankly one note history of mistrust and war that you can learn about in three sentences. They have some interesting anthropological facts worth finding out but there just isn’t the same sense intrigue. Theirs is a culture and civilization united by a common foe, while this is admirable it doesn’t have much in the way of fictionalization. There is a single group of anti-alien extremists but everyone else has the same culture and goals making the state of conflict in Andromeda a very black and white war.
I just wish that maybe this game had been set 100 years after they arrived in Andromeda? If they gave time for factions to form, alliances to rise and fall, for new civilisations to be born, then we could have had some of that intrigue. Maybe the Resistance could have been more than just the Angara? If several disparate species with different philosophies, priorities, and prejudices were forced to work together against a common foe there would tension to everything the resistance does and a rich history there to explore and unpack. I know the reason that wasn’t the case, it can only be budget, I just can’t help but wonder.
Did anyone else think this at all or am I going a little stir crazy trying to figure out what went wrong?