Friday, April 28, 2017

Mass Effect Andromeda - Not what you might expect

I'm playing Mass Effect Andromeda right now and while there are some similarities with previous ME games, Bioware have continued their trend toward partitioned open-world games which began with Dragon Age Inquisition (still my favourite game to date). The game is much less-linear than ME 1-3, offering literally hundreds of side and optional quests, giving the player more control over the order and manner in which events pan out.

I'm not gonna lie. It took me a while to get into this game. After the first few hours I didn't really think I was going to enjoy this entry and nearly tossed it in. I'm glad to report I've moved on to happier parts of the game and now am enjoying it much more. I didn't want to write anything about my experience until I'd taken down one of the game's primary bosses (an architect) because I felt it was a little hard to comment until that point.

Not my character but close enough - female with red hair.
When I first came upon an architect on the planet Eos, it was a real WTF moment. This megalithic robotic beast springing out of the ground at the conclusion of a relatively minor side-quest was a surprise to say the least. And while I was standing there, like a dumbass, with my jaw dropped to my toes, it basically wasted me with one lash of its orange-ish electro-whatever attack.

I'll preface what comes next by saying I optimised my character as a biotic, sparing little time for such cumbersome trifles as SMGs, handguns and the like. But after getting similarly wasted several more times I looked online for some advice on how I might at least put up a bit of a fight against the bloody thing. There's a lot of gumph on various sites about biotics being no good against an architect and having to craft some kind of ball-busting sniper rifle (I hate sniper rifles) to even make a dent.

I didn't want to do any of it, so I simply went off and crafted myself a nifty Sidewinder pistol with a couple of mods and went back with a "no retreat, no surrender" attitude. Rather than being intimidated, this time I set about with a plan. You'll find all kinds of advice online about having to find cover, make the most powerful gun you can, use cloak whenever possible. Don't let the architect spawn its little minions etc...

Here's what I found. Use whatever guns you like (I used a pretty basic hand pistol), take whoever you like in your team, let the thing spawn if you can't stop it, don't take cover. Most of the architect's attacks go straight through cover. I spent 99% of the battle out in the open. The most important thing by far is to simply use evade constantly and continuously until you get the opportunity to take your shot, then take as many shots as you can.

That's it. There's something to the idea that biotics aren't that useful, but it's no biggie, so long as you settle in for a long fight and evade in a systematic way (in a circle around the architect). It was actually pretty fun in the end.

I hope the game continues in the same vein, and steps it up as we go along. For now I'll say I'm liking it - despite the crafting system being a little rudimentary. Probably a better game so far than ME3. Not as good as ME2, but that would be asking a lot. The open-world nature of the game means the narrative isn't nearly as strong as previous entries, but it's all give and take right? Will update as I go.

Update: I finished this game and ended up bloody loving it. ME Andromeda takes a while to warm up, and the level progression isn't particularly well thought out (I ended up with way more skill points than I knew what to do with) but the story is rewarding and the gameplay (once you get used to it) is pretty fun.

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