Why I like Mass Effect Andromeda

William Channell tells us why he likes Mass Effect: Andromeda despite the blatant issues surrounding the game

By and large, I like television more than film. Movies paint in broad strokes what can be analyzed further in a TV show. TV isn’t always better, but it can be a bit more flexible in how it handles a story.

The more I play Mass Effect: Andromeda, the more I think it was made for folks who like TV. Its story of a relatively small group of settlers venturing toward a new galaxy is a far cry from the first three games in the series. And even though it doesn’t always make good on its promises, I like it a lot.

The original Mass Effect trilogy never grabbed me the way it did for a lot of people. I liked the second game enough to finish it out, but barely made a dent in the first or third. It was one of the earliest cases I can remember of playing a series, recognizing its extremely high quality, and acknowledging that it wasn’t for me.

This probably sounds odd, but it was too grand for me. The reapers, who served the role of ‘main bad guys’ in those games, were an insane concept. They were too abstract for me to take seriously. When the entire population of the galaxy is at stake, you may as well tell me, ‘If you don’t win, then infinity people will die.’

This is why the films I find engaging are few and far between. A two-hour movie often has no choice but to deal with large, easy to digest themes and concepts. Andromeda feels more like a television show in scope. Each mission feels a bit more self-contained, playing out like an episode of television. The overall plotline is less grand, but more specific.

The original trilogy’s character-driven stories are still there, but feel less out of place to me. They don’t need to compete with a galaxy-spanning fight against evil. Whilst stories based on frontiers have always been grand in their own way, that grandiosity is typically a vessel for smaller, more personal stories of perseverance. That’s what Andromeda does well.

Think of it almost like a sci-fi Oregon Trail, only instead of dysentery, you have to deal with a saboteur messing with a colony ship’s electrical system. It’s these little diversions that help the player form a picture of the situation the game is putting them in.

I understand the (completely justifiable) problems people have with Andromeda. The dialogue is often cumbersome, the pacing sometimes feels stop and go and those animations can look animatronic. The game does struggle to make those small, incidental stories interesting in the way the original trilogy did.

However, I appreciate what the game is trying to do. It’s interested in the plight of a small group. A lot of people felt burned by the original trilogy’s ending, and while the move to Andromeda may have been a response to that, it let Bioware take the first steps toward telling a more personal story. That alone was enough to keep me invested.

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