I’m going to start this little op-ed by saying I like Mass Effect: Andromeda so far. I’m about 2-3 hours in, and while the argument I pose here is probably salacious to some, I’m writing this because I feel like it’s going to be informative for your purchasing decision. In short? Mass Effect Andromeda is basically Dragon Age Inquisition in space.
Mass Effect Andromeda is basically Dragon Age Inquisition
Depending on whether you’re a fan of Inquisition or a bigger fan of Mass Effect, I either just made your day or ruined your year. Some Mass Effect fans will come away from Andromeda with a bad taste in their mouth – especially if they didn’t particularly enjoy the “MMO-as-single-player” design of the last Dragon Age. I cannot yet say whether they’re all the same, but the worlds you’ll traverse in Andromeda will be large, filled with little things to do, and yes the side quests will be very MMO-like in presentation.
Check out our first hour of gameplay too, while you’re here.
But that’s not the only thing about MEA that feels like BioWare just changed settings between games. Even sooner than in Dragon Age, you become the Chosen One or the Pathfinder who is tasked with finding a new world to settle. There are the bad Kett race that want to kill you, a bad boss guy you meet in the prologue – these aren’t earth shattering conformities, either. Indeed, they’re hallmarks of an epic RPG tale. But it would take someone completely unfamiliar with Inquistion to not notice narrative similarities. I’m sure there will be plenty of those folks, but most players of Mass Effect: Andromeda will have at least a cursory knowledge of the kind of game Dragon Age: Inquisition is.
Collect it all…
Then there’s the loot and equipment, something that seems completely unnecessary in Mass Effect. You can craft downright anything in MEA, but not only does doing so require a truck load of materials, but there seems little reason to do so. As in Dragon Age, you’ll likely come across plenty of replacements as you play – to the point where investing in crafting just seems like an unnecessary distraction.
The maps of planets will be familiar to Inquisition players too – Forward Stations are camps. Remnant monoliths are rifts. Your Nomad vehicle is the same as your horse. Your ability to scan with G is just like “scanning” for lootables in Inquisition. And I could go on. Again, it’s not that these comparisons are bad, but as our own Suzie Ford told me while playing: “It just doesn’t quite feel like Mass Effect.” Coming from one of the series’ biggest fans, that’s probably a more worrying thought than anything.
In my own view, I remember Mass Effect 1 most fondly of the original trilogy. I didn’t even finish 2 or 3. The original I burned through in the most intriguing 25 hours I ever spent on my Xbox 360. It was faulty, but it felt like a grand space exploration RPG. To me, Andromeda evokes a lot of that, while trying to capitalize on what BioWare sees as successful design decisions from Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Is it that a good thing or a bad thing?
I mean, you even have Andromeda Viability Points (AVP) that you accrue as you progress the worlds to gauge how close to being able to colonize you are. This is definitely reminiscent of the measure of your power in Inquisition as you progress. It may evolve into something more as the game goes deeper, but it’s clear that the space station you start on is supposed to be akin to the Skyhold.
Whether you come away ultimately impressed or let down is something you’ll have to answer for yourself. But at least now, a week from launch, you have some insight into how the tale of the Pathfinder plays out. But just know, Mass Effect Andromeda is basically Dragon Age Inquisition… for better or worse.