The fourth instalment of Bioware’s Mass Effect video game series, Mass Effect: Andromeda didn’t receive much critical praise when it was first released. The game took a very different direction from the original trilogy, in terms of gameplay and feel, but it is a great achievement in terms of VR.
Released in 2017, 5 years after the last instalment of the original Mass Effect trilogy, Mass Effect: Andromeda – though based on the original set of games – took the Mass Effect narrative in a completely different direction. Much to the chagrin of the franchise’s most die-hard fans, the fourth Mass Effect title took on a more exploration feel to the original.
How does Mass Effect: Andromeda differ from other Mass Effect games?
As the game was set in a different galaxy, it put less emphasis on combat, and more on exploration and relationship building. Leaning too heavily on the first Mass Effect game’s strengths backfired, however, and fans – who probably expected more of the intense combat offered in the follow-up Mass Effect titles – expressed their displeasure at the game’s slow pace.
Mass Effect: Andromeda – being the extended exploration of the Citadel Space Station is set in 2185, sometime between the events of Mass Effect 2 and 3. Humanity – in collaboration with other races in the Milky Way galaxy – set out on a mission to colonize the Andromeda galaxy.
The Andromeda Initiative (as the mission is called) fleet arrives in the Andromeda galaxy 637 years after departing, and things don’t go as planned. Much of the fleet’s Arks – each housing about 20,000 of the potential population – are unaccounted for, and conditions in the new world are very different from what scans originally revealed.
The story and exploration-focused nature of the game would probably be a dream for the immersive experiences offered by Virtual Reality. From the light – and quite predictable – missions, to all the conversations and discoveries that one does while playing the title.
The backlash of the new title
Although the game may have missed the mark – in the eyes of fans – in terms of being a great sci-fi shooter – its slower narrative, and emphasis on the main character’s social life may have been better carried through in a VR format. Immersive technology, like VR, may have been a better medium on which to present the gaming studio’s intention, which 4 years on, seem much clearer.
Mass Effect: Andromeda was intended to be a completely different tale from the original trilogy. As with the first game in the original set of Mass Effect titles, it looks to have been intended to lay the foundation for a much bigger story.
Bioware and Mass Effect: Andromeda
Mass Effect: Andromeda was shelved by Bioware due to all the criticism received, and lacklustre sales. However, four years on – and being less angry with the title – one can’t help but wonder how the story may have turned out, had it continued. One Also wonders what the game’s phenomenally designed environments and conversations would have been like in a VR.
The title is, in many ways, similar to the first Mass Effect game, with it’s its world design, allowing for a great deal of exploration and relationship development. As the main character, tasked to lead humanity into a brave new world, one is thrust into a similar position as the original trilogy’s Shepard character, de facto ambassador. Not just an ambassador for a single race, but the entire galaxy.
Much like the Star Trek, instead of Star Wars, Andromeda’s “weaknesses” would make it a great VR title, in the league of Lone Echo, No Man’s Sky, or Star Trek: Bridge Crew. The conversations, where what one says determines how a relationship with another life form develops is something that would have set Andromeda apart, in VR, as opposed to being its Achilles heel in PC, PlayStation, and Xbox formats.