Mass Effect Andromeda Diaries #2: Better Beginnings

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Previously on the Andromeda Diaries: The brochures for the Andromeda Initiative were very enticing, but the reality? Not so much. SPOILERS BEYOND!Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

After exploring every accessible corner of the Nexus, Penta reports back to Director Tann and is granted a ship, the Tempest. The Tempest is a good looking vessel, except for those handle bars, but try as BioWare might with its cutscenes, the Tempest just can’t take Commander Shepard’s Normandy’s place in my heart. I still get chills every single time I see the Normandy appear on screen, and a model of the ship sits by my computer at the office.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

Vetra can get things.

Getting ready to board my ship, I am introduced to Vetra Nyx who immediately endears herself to me by sweet talking us out of some red tape to ensure there are no further delays in the mission. Vetra indicates that she’s the kind of person who can get things and get things done. She takes Penta on a tour of the ship, identifying the important areas. Liam, Dr. T’Perro, and Cora are all there, but none of them have much to say to me right now.

The Tempest is piloted by Kallo, a salarian who doesn’t have much to say about himself, but who, I later learn, is apparently the town gossip. Beside him is Suvi Anwar. Suvi is a scientist who is firmly grounded in her belief in God and appreciates that Ryder understands that these two things are not actually a contradiction. She is an explorer at heart, but does not have the training for the adventure itself. She’s also written a 60-page manifesto about soil samples that she promises to email to me. I am smitten.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

I <3 Suvi.

Oh, I still intend to take every flirt option presented, but my heart belongs to Suvi, and I am already imagining that Penta explores every corner of the worlds she visits so that Suvi can live vicariously through her visor images. She collects soil samples in cute little boxes and she and Suvi hang out in the Pathfinder’s quarters in their undies, chatting about God and science and exploration. Penta looks forward to one day taking Suvi down to the planet of her choice, once the threats are cleared away, and exploring it with her.

I stop by the research station where Liam explains that I can research and craft new armor and weapons using blueprints and materials that I find. There are a lot of items here. It’s overwhelming, so I decide to leave it alone for now.

I can also use the terminal in this area to manage strike team missions, which I’d learned about earlier on the Nexus. The strike teams are coordinated by Kandros back on the Nexus, but he’s given Penta Ryder permission to deploy them as well. Lots of people assume Penta is a responsible adult, just because she’s the Pathfinder. This is flawed thinking, but it’s all we’ve got, so let’s roll with it. I soon learn from a friend that I can also control my strike teams through the ApexHQ app, available for Android and Apple. I start off with a team called India and quickly recruit a new team called Hotel that I rename my Krogan Babies who are just amazing. They started off with the trait “Fearless” and have been just pounding through their missions as only krogan can, earning more awesome traits and in-game rewards for me. I am so proud of them that I bought them a new car and shiny new shields. Unfortunately, India eventually started picking up bad habits and I had to retire them. They have since been replaced by Juliet who is faring much better.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

I didn’t say I was good at MP.

Using the ApexHQ app has done a strange thing to me. It has made me excited for multiplayer. I spent a couple of hours in ME3 MP and moved on with my life, even though the game put a lot of weight on MP contributions to the single player campaign. Dragon Age Inquisition’s MP lightened up on those requirements and incorporated it better into the story, but after ten minutes of lag, I just couldn’t be bothered. But here? The rewards are more (virtually) tangible and the interface and connection between the MP missions and the single player campaign are more organic. As such, I gathered my squad together, and we tried it out. I initially played a human infiltrator, before switching to an asari sentinel. Despite caring little for MP before, now I’m enjoying it and have incorporated one or two missions into my gaming schedule whenever I sit down to play. So far, I haven’t had to deal with any annoying strangers (another reason why I avoid online gaming without the company of my trusted squad). In fact, I have all the praise for that one player that pretty much soloed a wave for our team so that we could rally and earn me my very first win.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)Finally, before heading out, I make sure Penta looks great. I’ve changed her casual attire to a stylish leather jacket and scarf, and altered her armor colors to a nice shade of violet. Now I’m ready to take on the galaxy.

Planetside

Cora, Liam, and Penta snoop around looking for signs of life, but the outpost called Promise appears to be abandoned, until we stumble upon someone locked away in one of the buildings. We need access to information and need to turn on the generators, but this guy doesn’t really care that Penta is the Pathfinder. He’s not opening the door until we clear out the kett on the perimeter. Once this is handled, the man lets us into the building, and we’re able to power up resources. He warns that there are bad things going on in the badlands and that we’ll need a vehicle to take care of it to avoid radiation poisoning.

Queue the grandiose entrance of the NOMAD. Much like its predecessor, the MAKO, the NOMAD is a mess to drive. The only difference this time around is that it seems to have been designed with stabilizers to ensure that no matter how hard I try to flip it upside down, it always manages to right itself. Not that I’m trying to flip it. I’m just a notoriously bad game driver. Combine these lack of skills with a six-wheel all terrain vehicle and, well, things don’t go so well, and my teammates are quick to complain about it incessantly. “Don’t make me turn this thing around!”

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

The burning is a special feature.

First stop is one of the strange alien buildings, which is similar to the ones we found on Habitat 7. We are met with resistance from alien robots that we quickly defeat, only to be accosted shortly after by a streak of blue and purple. This is Peebee. She’s a rogue academic scavenger who has so much interest in what she calls remnants and remnant technology that she’s acquired a shuttle and left the Nexus on her own to study these structures. But she’s no Pathfinder, and she doesn’t have the special snowflake abilities that allow Ryder and SAM to interact with the alien architecture. Here is where I discover a love of space Sudoku. Normally, math and cryptic puzzles are not my thing, and I will quickly hunt down a guide to cheat my way through, but I decided to try this out and voila! Success!

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

Space Sudoku

With this spot now active, the kett that were apparently waiting just around the corner attack. After finishing them off, Peebee triangulates the locations of two other remnant monoliths and sends Ryder on her way. After rolling around in the NOMAD, navigating just as well as I drive, I manage to find the glyphs necessary to activate the two other monoliths, which in turn, spawn more patiently waiting kett. During the process, I meet up with Nakmor Drack, who is busy clearing out kett on his own at one of their facilities. I find the body of a human, as well as a note from the kett indicating that the human was not genetically worthy for whatever horrible experimentation the kett were up to. Drack has no faith in the Initiative after the uprising that got the krogans kicked off the Nexus, but later, when Ryder helps him fight off a kett attack, he decides she’s worth his time after all.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

Making friends with Drack.

Activating the monoliths pinpoints a location in the center of the map, where a new structure has emerged. The path into this monolith leads down. Mustering up their courage, Ryder, Liam, Peebee, and Cora leap into the gravity well and darkness below.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

Get the dooooor!

Following the devices and conduits, they discover a massive underground structure filled with remtech, remnant enemies, deadly water (that I shouldn’t have accidentally, repeatedly, fallen into), and unusual flora. The end of the rainbow leads us to a conduit much like the one Alec Ryder accessed in the first mission. That didn’t go so well, so I’m prepared for the worst, which comes in the form of a black cloud of doom. Racing ahead of death, the team makes it to the door just in time, but of course, it’s locked. Ryder takes a chance and accesses the remnant terminal by the door and succeeds in stopping the black cloud and opening the door.

Outside, SAM lets them know that Eos’ radiation issues are already dissipating, increasing the planet’s viability, and it is now possible to call down an outpost, something only a Pathfinder has the ability and authority to do. In my earlier exploration (read: I got lost), I found the perfect site for an outpost, and now I am given the choice of what kind of outpost it should be. Liam recommends a scientific base, but based on the constant kett presence and the state of the two other outposts I found earlier, I’m leaning towards a military presence. The game warns that this will set the tone for the Initiative’s purpose here in their new galaxy, so I think long and hard before deciding that protecting my people is top priority.

A New Home: Take Two

The new outpost, Prodromos, is set up quickly and Addison introduces me to Mayor Bradley. He’s a man who does not mince words and is clearly focused on efficiency with little to no room for bullshit. He’s not without a sense of humour and compassion, and I am confident Prodromos is in good hands.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

Mayor Bradley, yes. Director Addison. NO.

I have less pleasant things to say about Addison who seems to want to be Ryder’s BFF now. True to her word, Addison is now calling Ryder “Pathfinder.” She does question the choice of a military outpost, but accepts Ryder’s argument quickly enough. She recommends that Ryder check-in with her assistant, Brecka, on the Nexus, who explains the cryo-sleep process and how Ryder now has the authority to choose groups to thaw. With a military presence firmly established on Eos, I figure science and research is the way to go.

Murder Most Foul

There are a few more people to chat with in Prodromos and a few new quests pop up. Following up on the murder case in hopes of exonerating the turian, Nilken, I head out into the desert, unwisely leaving the NOMAD behind in order to track the scattered pieces of armour that serve as clues. They lead to a nest of the creatures that presumably fed on the corpse, as well as the victim’s omni tool, which has recorded his last moments. Turns out that no, Nilken didn’t kill him, but he meant to.

Back on the Nexus, I confront Nilken with this information. He’s pretty cocky about it, because I went to prove whether or not he committed murder and the evidence found says that he is indeed innocent of that. I take the “I’m telling” option and head to Director Tann, who promptly throws the decision of Nilken’s fate back into my lap. As if Ryder is the most responsible adult around here. I did say I wanted to play Ryder as a straight-laced kind of gal, but, though I have options in my dialogue choices, the base personality for Ryder seems to be that of a skilled, but dorky young woman who can do the leader thing, but maybe would have preferred if Dad and Garson hadn’t gone and died and left her with all this responsibility.

After much inner turmoil, I decide to keep the truth under wraps for the sake of morale and release Nilken since he is innocent of the murder, rather than exile him in hopes that he will do better. Unfortunately, later discussions with him reveal that everyone finds out about his intended crime anyway, his wife leaves him, and he winds up going back into cryo-sleep hoping that things will be better when he wakes up. Had I exiled him, he would have been grateful for the tough justice and moved on with his life.

Our Nexus, Our Lives

Nilken isn’t the first decision to bite me in the ass. Protesters on the Nexus are displeased with my choice to thaw military folks for the Eos outpost before science people who have been waiting in status on the Nexus this whole time. Once again, the decision of what to do with these protesters falls on the Pathfinder’s shoulders, though for the most part, Tann, Kesh, and Kandros all agree that the protesters need to be dealt with swiftly. I have the option to agree with the protesters, though there is no option to point out that I have already checked in with Brecka and thawed a whole bunch of scientists, so this protest is moot! But I still have to make a decision, so I go with guilt tripping the protesters and kicking them out non-violently. The krogan protesters grudgingly leaves, stating, “Wait till our family hear about this,” to which I was sadly not given the option to reply “LOL I ain’t ever thawing out your family now, jerk.” This is why you need a Shepard for these decisions, kids.

More areas of the Nexus have opened up, and I find important places like the science lab. I follow up with the Nexus scientists I dealt with earlier, one of whom asks me to have SAM decode some equations for her. This turns out to be a bad idea (sometimes you just can’t trust math!). SAM starts glitching and is only just able to instruct Ryder on how to help it. I return to the scientist who swears she is not the culprit. Investigations lead Ryder to the Nexus’ virtual intelligence information hub, Avina, which has been taken over by an anti-AI group that wanted to free Ryder from her bondage. Ryder plays along in hopes of meeting “Knight,” the group’s leader. She is told to wait for an email with further instructions.

Speaking of emails, Ryder received one earlier from a reporter looking to do an interview series. Ryder meets up with Keri T’Vessa, flirts awkwardly, and then agrees to give her what she’s looking for: the truth. Director Tann would prefer that the news fall in favor of a well-ordered dictatorship, but Ryder isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, while still offering hope to the people.

Also speaking of emails, Ryder’s companions shouldn’t be allowed on the internet.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

Stay off Tumblr, Drack.

Oh! Good thing someone reminded me about Scott Ryder, who is still in a coma after all this time. Obviously, that twin bond thing is strong with Penta. After taking care of all the other business, Ryder bothers to go and check in on her brother. SAM has interfaced with him such that he can converse with his sister. Ryder feels that he should know the truth about what is going on and tells him about their dead father and the messed up galaxy. Apparently, this is a lot to process, and Scott, traumatized, shuts himself off from the connection. Oops.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware | Electronic Arts | 2017)

Doin’ okay, bro? Good. I’m off to forget about you for another few hours.

On the Nexus, Ryder finds the bar called Vortex and gets a free drink or two after finding some supplies for the bartender/chemist. And she visits the Cultural Exchange and my friend and I share a long, hearty laugh at the Initiative propaganda on display. The Exchange is intended to introduce our new alien friends to us, with VIs of each species describing their history and characteristics. Apparently, humans get along with everyone and don’t fight with each other at all! Everyone is so nice and we came to your galaxy to spread our niceness!

Maybe when we do meet new aliens, we’ll make sure this incongruous room is off limits during the tour.

Series Navigation<< Mass Effect Andromeda Diaries #1: Boldly GoingMass Effect Andromeda Diaries #3: Second First Contact >>
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WWAC Assistant Editor and Left Hand. Also, mother, geek, gamer, writer, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.

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