Mass Effect: Andromeda travels 2.5 million light years to separate itself from the spacefaring RPG series’ original trilogy, which came to a contentious conclusion back in 2012.
Humanity has upped sticks and hauled its collective arse out of the Milky Way galaxy in search of some new planets to call home. You play as either Scott or Sara Ryder on a mission to find and colonise these new worlds, meeting (and having lots of hot, wet virtual sex with) various aliens along the way. It’s a smart narrative sidestep that allows developer BioWare to create an entirely new story in the Mass Effect universe, without needing to deal with the hundreds of decisions you made throughout the first three games.
You’re not alone in your intergalactic search for Earth 2.0. Along with humanity, other familiar alien races from the franchise have carpooled with you to the Andromeda galaxy.
Like previous games, Mass Effect: Andromeda is mostly about conversation, diplomacy and dialogue. You’ll engage in discussions (and rutting) with your crew of six, as well as a bunch of supporting cast members who’ll dole out quests and tasks for you to complete across the game’s handful of alien planets.
Some of these are intriguing adventures across the Heleus Cluster – the local area in which you’ll spend the entire game – while others stumble into boring fetch quest structures.
The meat of these missions involve settling various disputes between the fractious alien races, who view you as both an abitrator and a peacekeeper. In your role as Space Kofi Annan, the decisions you make, the deals your broker and the outcomes you bring about have a real impact on the galaxy and the course of the story.
The combat has seen improvement in the five year gap since Mass Effect 3. Movement is pacey and frenetic, and the game’s cover system is more fluid and intuitive thanks to a contextual system that senses when you’re near cover, removing the need for cumbersome button presses.
There’s no longer a class system either, opening things up to a more freeform kind of character customisation that feels more modern and less prescriptive.
Given the long wait for the return of the series, Andromeda isn’t the hard-hitting space epic most had anticapted, weighed down by a lack of invention and imagination. But it remains a richly entertaining and faithfully filthy cosmo-romp.