Mass Effect: Andromeda – My First Four Hours With The Game

One of the most highly anticipated games of the year, Mass Effect: Andromeda, finally released last week and there’s already so much to say about the game. It’s a new adventure, story, and cast of characters. It may feel familiar, but there’s a lot about Andromeda that already feels different. Mostly in a good way so far.

When I received my game in the mail on release day, one of the first things I did as soon as the game installed on my Xbox One was take the time creating my own Ryder. It was a strange feeling at first to get my head around the fact that this is the first Mass Effect game without any link to Commander Shepard. I got over it quickly and dove straight into figuring out the kind of character I wanted to carry my entire experience and story that awaited in Andromeda. I already knew I wanted to play a female before the game came out, so that wasn’t a hard decision to make. As I scrolled through the many customization options for a female Ryder, I decided I wanted to play a female who was distinctly Asian. As an Asian female gamer, I have yet to see video games that features a prominent Asian female character. Luckily with a series like Mass Effect, you can tailor your experience however you want it to be. With that in mind, Vera Ryder was born.

Vera Ryder, and a character I’m very much in love with.

One of the most notable and fantastic new features about the customization in Andromeda is how the look of your character will automatically customize how your sibling Ryder and father will look like in the game. In the case of my Ryder being very much Asian in her features but with striking blue eyes, her brother Scott took on the same similar features. You’re also given the option to customize the sibling slightly if you don’t like the look of his hair or the color of his eyes the default generates from your main character customization preferences. Or you can add additional details like tattoos and scars to the sibling you won’t be playing the game as. The only one you can’t change is your dad Alec Ryder. You get to see how the father looks when you actually start playing the game itself. The first time I saw Alec Ryder, I certainly had no complaints with how the game generated the look of him. If anything, I would say he looks very much like Vera’s brother Scott. Or Scott looks like his dad. Either way, it was a cool feature BioWare came up with to ensure your player immersion isn’t broken by a weird mismatch in features across the Ryder clan, if you choose not to go with default Sara or Scott Ryder.

Alec Ryder with his daughter Vera Ryder.

Without going into any spoilers for the game, so far I’ve completed Prologue: Hyperion and its first mission called Planetside. One of the first things you’ll notice about the first few hours of the game is how beautiful the world of Andromeda looks. Just like the previous Mass Effect games, BioWare still knows how to capture that sense of wonder and beauty of space and exploring new worlds. One of the things you’ll want to do often in the game when you’re in any new area is to pull up Ryder’s ability to scan objects. Aside from gaining information about the strange tech or resources you’ll find scattered on planets, scanning earns you Research Data credits you can eventually use towards crafting equipment. I have yet to know how significant gaining these points will be, as I’m far too early in the game to do much with them at the moment, but I make sure to utilize the scan feature as much as possible.

The world of Andromeda is both strange and beautiful.

Combat in the game still feels exactly as you remember it from the previous games with some new additions, like Ryder coming equipped with a jet pack booster on her suit every time you step off the ship to explore the new territory you’re in. Jumping from one high cliff to another feels far more fluid and easier than those times I played as Shepard in the previous games. Then again, Shepard and her team didn’t come equipped with cool jet packs when they were out on missions in other planets. Leveling up characters and figuring out how to spend ability points for each character feels much trickier without a designated class or specialization in place. BioWare deciding to leave it up to the player to design their character’s and crew’s abilities without confining the players to a specific class type is something I don’t think I’m particularly fond of. Sometimes when I’m in the menu to distribute the ability points for Ryder, Liam, and Cora, I’m always worried that maybe I’m not spending the ability points in a way that will make my characters stronger rather than weaker. I much rather have structure than sort of building your own class set. It just feels much more disorganized and stressful than it should be. For me, at least. I guess time will tell if I’ll eventually warm up to this new create your own class feature of the game.

I still have a long way to go with the game, but I can say I’m liking what I’ve seen so far. Stay tuned for more impressions and progress on the game when I officially start writing up video game challenge progress reports in April. It’ll be a special edition of my usual video game challenge series for the blog until I’m able to complete the whole game to my satisfaction.

Have you started playing Mass Effect: Andromeda? What are your personal impressions so far?

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14 thoughts on “Mass Effect: Andromeda – My First Four Hours With The Game

    1. Yeah, these are the kind of games I really take my time on. I like to try and cover everything the game has to offer its players and fans. I don’t really have much time to do much of anything these days too, but for most BioWare games, I’ll make an exception. πŸ˜‰

  1. The way they adjust your family’s appearance based on your created character is really neat. I’m only just getting into the original trilogy now, but I look forward to giving this game a go some time after I finish the older games.

    1. I think that’s by far my most favorite feature of the game so far, the idea of matching the features to the character you created. Have fun with the older games! The new game has at least one Easter Egg that references the previous trilogy, which I thought was cool.

  2. I have quit playing videogames for a few years now. Mass Effect is the one game that ould make me consider picking up a gaming console again. I loved the original trilogy, it was great and as far as games go, truly the best gaming experience I have ever had. Reading through this it really does bring back some memories. Thanks for sharing this: great post 😊

  3. I’m about 12 hours into the game right now, and I agree that this new system for building your character takes a little while to get used to. However, I think it actually becomes rather nice once you do. My Ryder mostly follows the Vanguard class archetype (biotic charge into the fray), but I’ve also invested a bit into powers traditionally reserved for an Adept (singularity) and weapons meant for an Infiltrator (Sniper Rifle). It’s made for some incredibly fun combat encounters so far. I can hang back, charge right into the thick of things, or I can do both: Start with the Infiltrator profile to sneak up and pick off the strongest enemy, switch to the vanguard profile, throw a Singularity into a group of lesser enemies, biotic charge into that and then dodge behind cover to figure out the next step.

    Also, your character turned out great! Did it take a while to get them to look right? Do they look the way you want in most situations? (I ask because while I’m happy with my character, they only look good about 75% of the time)

    1. Yeah, I’m still trying to get used to the build your own class part of this game. So far, I’ve been focusing on biotics and tech for my character.

      And thank you! Yeah, it took me some time to get my character done in the way I want her to look. I think I spent about half an hour on her. Aside from the occasional weird facial animations, which BioWare hasn’t quite perfected along with naturally animated hair, I’d say I’m about 99% happy with how my character looks throughout the game. πŸ™‚

  4. Your character looks great! I’m pretty happy with my character design too, I had a little trouble getting used to the new customization options at first but overall I’m satisfied. I also love how your sibling and dad look like you. It’s fun to see pictures of other players’ Alec Ryders! I know what you mean about the leveling system, I really like it so far but that’s kind of based on me forcing myself into the Sentinel class since I know it from previous games! (Like, I’m just going with Tech and Biotics, pretty much.) Anyway, I’m excited to hear more of your thoughts as you keep playing! And who you romance!! I still don’t know yet, but I’m only about 5 hours into the game so far… hehe

    1. I agree! At least each players’ Ryders will truly be their own in a sense. I wasn’t expecting that the look of your sibling Ryder and Alec will reflect how you make your own character. It’s truly in keeping with the whole RPG experience. I can’t wait to hear about your experience with the game too! It’s still tough deciding who I want to romance. Should I stick to human or go alien this time around? So far, Liam isn’t quite doing it for me, even with his British accent. 😦

      1. Haha yeah, I like Liam a lot so far, but he feels like a buddy. I’m used to romancing aliens so that’s fine by me hehe. Anyway, curious to see who you pick and also what your character’s personality is like! I love the different tones available right now. So I just have to find the right love match for my Ryder’s personality… hehe

      2. Exactly! I’m not too far along on the game yet, but I do feel a very pal vibe with Liam. I’m not sure romancing him will feel quite right, but I guess we’ll see what happens. πŸ˜› What’s actually nice about the game is in the codex you can track how your Ryder’s personality is shaping up so far via Dr. Lexi’s reports. Mine so far has high empathy but she doesn’t take herself too seriously. I really do like the complexity of the personalities more than Paragon or Renegade. πŸ™‚

  5. Great post — Vera is lovely! Bioware did a very nice job in offering a wide range of ethnic identities this time around. and that character customization option, while more limited than in previous games, still allowed for plenty of room to personalize.

    While I really liked (and still like) the class system, I’m finding it to be a little overwhelming in practice. For now, I’m just auto-leveling up my teammates, because it’s all I can do to not be confounded by the sheer number of ability choices for Ryder. Do I fully level up single abilities first or spread the points around? I really don’t know! But I’m generally following the Infiltrator path (Combat/Tech), and it seems to be working out so far. This game is full of surprises! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Cary! πŸ˜€ The customization options did feel more limited, oddly enough, but I was able to find a face I liked and went from there. At least no crazy warped Ryders here!

      I originally played as a Vanguard in the previous trilogy, but I decided to go with a combo of Biotics/Tech to start. I guess this new classless system gives players more freedom but maybe too much? I actually like to evenly distribute everything without thinking about it. Still, there’s a lot to enjoy about this game so far. I’m doubtful this game will ever hold a candle to the original trilogy, but it’s good enough and still equally fun!

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