Video Game Challenge (Special Edition) Progress Report 3: Mass Effect – Andromeda

Out of all the tasks Mass Effect: Andromeda has you doing, and there’s a lot, the best part about playing this game is the loyalty missions for your crew. What I noticed about playing Andromeda this month is how a huge chunk of my gameplay time has been spent on diving deep into who my Ryder’s crew is as individuals. What their strengths and weaknesses are. What they hope and fear for themselves and for others closest to them. It’s time to conclude this month with another video game progress report.

Prior to this month, the only crew members’ loyalty I really have is Liam’s and Cora’s. Being about halfway into Andromeda and now getting pretty close to the end of the game, I thought it was time to focus on the other crew members whose loyalty I didn’t have and to finally level up the final skills in their skill tree. After all, I want my entire team to be in the best fighting condition to take on the big final boss in the game when I finally get there. At the moment, I’ve managed to gain full loyalty from Vetra and Jaal with Drack and Peebee being the only ones remaining. What I especially love about doing the loyalty missions is how you get a glimpse at their personal lives and motivations. Whether the loyalty mission is about getting family out of a jam or assisting in a rescue mission that has a bit of a personal agenda attached to it, you’ll always learn something new about Ryder’s crew and get a better understanding of who they are past their skills and expertise on the battlefield.

Vetra has a moment with her sister Sid.

For instance, Vetra may be tough and have a way with negotiating better deals that benefit either herself or Ryder’s mission, even if it means getting her hands a bit dirty, but her heart and concern will always be with her sister Sid. Her loyalty mission reveals the fine line Vetra walks between keeping her sister in the dark about what she does to keep Sid safe, while being the typical overprotective older sister and not letting Sid be more independent in deciding how her little sister lives her life. It’s a dynamic that develops Vetra as a character further.

Even after you complete your crews’ main loyalty missions, eventually you get email on the Tempest requesting you meet them somewhere in one of the settled outposts you establish for some one-on-one time. These post-loyalty missions with your crew is an extension of the deepening bonds Ryder has forged with these people. You even get something similar, albeit on a smaller scale, with Lexi, Suvi, Kallo, and Gil when you talk with them during your time on board the Tempest. What BioWare does well is creating authentic relationships that unfold naturally as you play their games. Andromeda may have some issues with bugs, but sticking around for the characters make it well worth the time you put into sticking to the game.

Another chance for Vera Ryder to bond with her crew.

Aside from focusing on loyalty missions for much of this month, I also had the chance to finish everything there is to do on Kadara Port, including establishing an outpost. However, establishing an outpost meant kind of choosing who gets to rule over it––Sloane Kelly, leader of the Outcasts or the mysterious Charlatan, leader of the Collective. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won’t reveal the identity of the Charlatan, though I can’t say I was entirely surprised when it was uncovered in the game. Choosing between letting the current leader continue their reign over Kadara Port or having someone entirely new takeover is an interesting conundrum. Sloane Kelly isn’t exactly a likable character and there’s a level of corruption going on with her in control. Then there’s the Charlatan, who may be better personality wise, but also does underhanded things to get results. I suppose Sloane Kelly and the Charlatan have plenty in common, and the choice really comes down to who is less dirtier at the end of the day. Kadara isn’t paradise, a hotbed for criminals and criminal activity, so the ones in power are going to reflect that in some way. I ultimately chose the Charlatan over Sloane Kelly and I hope I made the right one. That and I didn’t really like Sloane at all.

I’m really careful about how much I progress the main story. The main story missions really doesn’t take too long to go through, about six in total, but I don’t want to get to the end game without doing most of the sidequests at this stage in Andromeda. I did, in fact, complete another main story mission this month which is Mission 4: Hunting the Archon. As you may have guessed, Ryder and crew finally come face-to-face with the nefarious Archon and learning his sinister plans along the way. Because this is the fourth mission of the main story, you won’t be fighting the Archon just yet. That’s way too early when these kind of showdowns are really saved for the final mission. Instead, the boss fight here is battling it out against one of the ketts’ latest lab experiment creations, an unstable exalted krogan called a Behemoth.

A scene from Hunting the Archon.

I enjoyed playing through this main mission and understanding the motivations behind why the kett are exalting every species they encounter. The kett have a way of taking the best traits they like from each living being and then isolating them to create their new race of kett. It’s horrifying, creepy, and pure science fiction, as you would expect in a game like this one. You can actually think of the kett as kind of like mad scientists, the kind Ryder definitely needs to stop before they take over the galaxy.

As I mentioned before, I’m getting close to the end. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll finish the game next month. At least I don’t think it is. I still have Elaaden and its side missions associated with that planet to go through. When I do reach the end, I’m going to be curious to know what my own personal feelings will be for Andromeda. Everyone already has their own opinions about the game that I’ve either read or discussed in length with my friends. I’d like to throw in my own impressions once everything is explored and done.

Check back next month to see how far I get with Andromeda!

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2 thoughts on “Video Game Challenge (Special Edition) Progress Report 3: Mass Effect – Andromeda

  1. Nice work! I also didn’t care much for Sloane Kelly (I sided with the Charlatan as well), but I was disappointed that her story was rather threadbare. I think that if she had been made into a deeper character, I might have been more swayed to side with her. And I also really, really liked Vetra’s loyalty mission. Too heartfelt for words.

    It’s interesting that you say that you’re being careful about how to progress through the game — that’s how I felt too. Because the main story missions aren’t very long, I was worried about completing the main story too soon. (I guess that’s one way they get people to work on the side missions!) But it also wasn’t very clear if that would have made a difference anyway. Hate to keep comparing the game to the original trilogy, but the really good thing about them was that they gave you good reason to work on side missions, because they linked well to the main story. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case in Andromeda.

    1. It has been so long since finishing the entire original trilogy that I had to think back to all the sidequests I did for them and how I felt about them at the time. I think you’re right though. I mean, the trilogy had their usual fetch quests but they did tie into the main story, even if it’s on such a smaller scale. Not too important if you didn’t do them, but important enough if you wanted to enhance your story experience further. I kind of think most of the sidequests in Andromeda are lacking, except for the obvious ones like, the loyalty missions and the planet based missions. Basically, anything that wasn’t categorized as “Additional Missions,” at least added to the story. I feel like the game would have benefited from trimming down a lot of these quests and the game would still be fun to play.

      As I get closer and closer to finishing the game, I think my opinion so far is in the camp of “Andromeda is still worth playing but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original” camp. Doesn’t mean I won’t play future Mass Effect games if they still make them. It just doesn’t quite have the same “wow” factor I felt the first time I finished the first Mass Effect game. :/

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