Previously on Andromeda Diaries: We’ve turned things around on planet Eos. Though our initial Initiative plans were based on exploration and colonization, the Pathfinder responds to the kett threat by making her first outpost a military one. With some level of stability established, and the increased viability of Eos, the colonists’ spirits are rising, but we’re not out of the water yet.
Companions didn’t want to talk much earlier, but now every room Ryder walks into on the Nexus involves a cutscene. Cora expresses her bitterness about losing out on the opportunity to become the Pathfinder, something she has trained for since being kicked out of the asari huntress group she thought she’d bonded with. Rejection sucks, but Ryder is able to acknowledge and respect Cora’s justified feelings, and Cora indicates that she really holds no resentment against Ryder and will work with her willingly to continue Alec’s work. Vetra has acquired a couch for Liam, and Liam has acquired beer, so he and Ryder share a moment, catching up on his history and reasons for heading into the unknown as a former security personnel with few ties to bind him to the Milky Way. As required, I take the flirt options offered (except with Cora, because I am not interested in her, and I know that she is a heterosexual option only).
Peebee, who has taken up space in an escape pod, is not particularly forthcoming and makes it clear that she could be going at any time. I don’t have an interest in Peebee romantically, but my itchy flirt finger takes the option anyway. But the interaction is strange. Not only does her flirt option pretty much read FLIRT OPTION, Ryder’s statement implies that Peebee has been aggressively flirting all this time and that Ryder wants it to continue, to which Peebee readily agrees. Only, Peebee hasn’t been flirting at all. So far, she mainly skirts around personal conversations and asks Ryder to pick up more remtech for her. This isn’t the first of Andromeda’s awkward dialogue inconsistencies, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Conversation with Drack is fun, and I particularly love learning about his relationship with his granddaughter, Kesh, as the rearing of offspring by males isn’t typical of krogans. I later overhear Drack and Vetra talking about Kesh and Vetra’s sister Sid. They are both so loving and protective over them. Oh my heart! On a more sour note, Drack has some concerning information about Colonial Administrator Addison’s assistant, Spender. Drack is certain that Spender has been up to shady dealings with Nexus exiles and outlaws and that he was part of the uprising that got so many people, including all the krogans, kicked off the station. He asks Ryder to follow up on it. Security footage and other conversations reveal that Spender definitely isn’t a nice, honest person, but confronting him gets Ryder nowhere. Addison is even less helpful, arguing that she doesn’t have any other executive assistant options so unless Ryder is going to offer more than circumstantial evidence of what appears to be anti-alien sentiments, Ryder needs to step off. This mission goes on hold until I move further into the game.
The vault on Eos revealed locations of other vaults across the galaxy so Ryder plots a course for the one that stands out as an anomaly. Merrily on our way, we bump right into the Archon and his posse in the middle of the Scourge. The translators are now working and the Archon informs us that he is here to make us great. Where have I heard that before? No, not Trump. Pretty sure Sovereign and Harbinger had similar thoughts in the earlier games.
With some fancy flying, Kallo pilots the ship to the safety of a planet called Aya. This all seems to go very quickly plotwise, and I worry that the Archon is going to follow, but I guess not.
On Aya, we are greeted by a new race of aliens who introduce themselves as the angara. They are not unfamiliar with the new species on board as they have met the outlaws and exiles, but Ryder must prove that she and the Initiative members are different from those hoodlums, and especially from the kett. Escorted by armed guards, and Jaal, whom I know to be a future (kissable) companion, Ryder is warned not to talk to anyone or touch anything as she is taken to see Evfra, the angara’s military leader. I resisted the temptation to explore or even to go talk to all the people whispering about this new human.
Evfra gets straight to the point. He wants to know why the Initiative is here and questions the military outpost that was set up on Eos. Ryder makes up for her lack of diplomacy with honesty, informing Evfra that she has to protect her people against the threat of the kett. This is a threat the angara understand. The kett, we later learn, arrived eighty years prior, after the angara had already been displaced by the Scourge. The kett seemed nice back then, but next thing you know, murder, kidnapping, mayhem. Evfra doesn’t trust Ryder, but the enemy of my enemy… He sends her, under Jaal’s watch, to help angara on Voeld and Havarl in order to prove her worth and her intent.
The crew are a little uneasy with the new allies, but what choice do we have? Liam makes a special request that requires me to approve some research and development. This leads me down to his hang out in the cargo bay where Ryder walks in on a shirtless Liam. Hell-ooooo. But wait! There’s more! A few moments later, Jaal walks in, also bare, and the two proceed to fire questions at each other as they poke at each other’s armour and weapons. Obviously, I take all of the group flirt dialogue options, though I’m disappointed that there is no option for Ryder to join in on what turns out to be a pretty smart diplomatic cultural exchange. Liam explains that Jaal was totally cool with his request to literally strip down and learn the hard truths about each other’s cultures that don’t come out in official meetings. What offends you? What part of your armour is of cultural significance versus pure practicality? I doubt any of this was in the Initiative’s First Contact Protocol, but that one-page document could use some updating anyway.
My friend chose Havarl first and, as we are in constant discussion regarding our playthroughs and their differences, I chose Voeld in order to compare. Voeld is an ice world. It’s very, very cold. I know this, because SAM repeatedly informs me of the temperature changes. Thanks SAM. Jaal asks how my people will settle on this world if we are so averse to the cold. I tell him we can handle it, then quietly scan all the fancy angaran heaters they’ve got around the place so we can build our own. I check in at the Resistance base where no one wants to talk to me, understandably, so I make myself busy by reading encrypted files, opening containers and taking all their stuff, and scanning all of the new technology. I have no idea why they wouldn’t trust me.
There are two major tasks on this planet. One is dealing with the kett base that has been built into a mountain and rescuing the angara that have been taken to a shielded facility. The second is activating the vault in order to fix the weather so that maybe SAM will stop talking about it incessantly. There are numerous other tasks along the way, one of which involves tracking down a strange signal that is interfering with angaran communications. This turns out to be a meteorite that passed through the Scourge and is doing strange things to the wildlife. Things did not go so well with this mission. I opt to keep this meteorite for study. I’m sure it will be safe.
Speaking of wildlife, I would like to think that not shooting the local fauna would be a good Pathfinder-type thing to do, but my companions disagree. Every time I try to simply scan the creatures, my partners run on in and slaughter them. Oh well, I need the crafting material. Still, I fail to understand why the creatures I encounter are all angry. Where are the innocent fluffy cuddly bunnies for me to slaughter instead?
Speaking of my partners, I’m now running with Jaal and Peebee. Hilarity ensues once again as they insult Ryder’s driving in the NOMAD. But soon enough, the two of them start discussing each other’s scents and thighs and–GET A ROOM! I haven’t even had a chance to flirt with them–hell, Jaal has barely even been on the ship for an hour, but they seem about ready to trade genetic material. I can’t help but question the dialogue progression here. Add to that an email earlier from Gil, the ship’s engineer, telling me all about Jaal before I’d ever actually met Jaal. There seem to be a few checks and balances out of place in the writing and plotting.
The Voeld map is littered with things to do and kett camps keep popping up everywhere. In terms of the First Contact Protocol I am trying really hard to uphold personally, I see that the game has no such qualms. SAM keeps dropping forward bases on the angara’s planet to make my travel easier, and at one point, I find a location that SAM thinks would be great for a new outpost. Shouldn’t we check in with the angara first? No? Okay then. Though at this point I am fairly certain that the Initiative’s motivations were not as glorious as the propaganda wants you to believe.
I finally decide to stop letting the side tasks and mining points distract me and turn my attention to unlocking the monoliths in order to access the vault. I mentally prepare myself for the frantic mystery of the previous vault mission, but this one turns out to be very anticlimactic. Upon completion, SAM reports that the temperature is increasing. But it’s still damn cold. SAM still reminds me of this. Incessantly.
I now have Voeld at over 40% viability, so I am clear to build that outpost on the angara planet that I haven’t bothered to ask them about. You’d think the game should stop me from doing this until the kett threat is reduced and the angara are rescued, but apparently not. Addison commends Penta on the second outpost accomplishment, though she has no interest in coming down on the planet to do so. Too cold. I can’t blame her. I chat with some of the people on the magically appeared and fully operational outpost and learn that their main job is ice running. They collect water and distribute it to the Nexus, Eos, and to the angaran Resistance fighters. The scientist in charge has a quest for me. Several of her scientists have not returned. Kindly check it out. Ryder obliges and the path leads to a giant remnant creature called an Architect. This is a boss battle that requires precise timing to avoid the creature’s attacks while simultaneously attacking its legs and head and running in and out of safe temperature zones so that SAM can tell me about the weather at the most inappropriate times. My first try goes pretty well until I get cocky and mistime a blast. Upon defeat, Ryder interacts with the creature’s systems and it floats out to space, inactive.
I also visit a cave that the kett have been trying to dig into. This AI is dangerous though. It lies to protect itself, and threatens and kills the angaran we rescued from the kett. Self-preservation is all well and good, but this AI clearly can’t be trusted. I can either shut it down, or keep it. I decide to keep it, as it is a major part of angaran history that the angarans don’t seem to know much about. The next choice is to give in to its demands to stay with SAM, whom it has taken a shine to, or to hand it to the angara. I choose the latter. The angara promptly hook it up to their system, but report that it refuses to talk to them. Is that you, Sharon Apple?
I guess I should go take care of the angara’s kett problem now. Heading to the far east, my team manages to clear out the kett base powering the giant shield. With the shield deactivated, I continue on to my main mission, which is to save the angara’s revered Moshae from her prison. Jaal insists on accompanying me, but by now, I’ve switched out Peebee for Vetra who is a wonderful tank in battle and hopefully won’t be seduced by Jaal’s open and friendly nature in the back of my vehicle. We are joined by Resistance members who play the role of distraction during the mission. Exploration of the facility gives me more fodder for my growing suspicion: have the kett been genetically altering aliens to turn them into kett? How…original…but not really. It’s not even an original concept within the Mass Effect series, what with the protheans and the reapers doing something similar to other races for the past three games. Why have I traveled 600 years away from the previous story to get the same story?
Sure enough, when we reach the inner sanctum, we see angara seemingly willingly going into stasis pods, and further still, we find a kett leader called the Cardinal and she is performing “exaltation” on an angara. The process converts the angara into one of the kett “Chosen.” We’ve been fighting angara all along! *gasp*
This is a lot for Jaal to handle and, as with an earlier decision regarding the fate of the Yevera, creatures revered by the angara that are being hunted by outlaws that Ryder must deal with, Ryder must make monumental decisions about Jaal’s people for him. Shepard could handle this. Ryder? Well, she tells Jaal to focus, but he takes that to mean that she’s only here to help the Moshae because the Moshae can help Ryder with the vault on Aya. There’s no opportunity to confirm or deny whether or not Ryder plans to help the other captured angara. Ryder just focuses on the Moshae and moves on. Vetra finds the Moshae, who has been rushed to the head of the line to be taken to the Archon.
A battle ensues. Ryder defeats the Cardinal and the Moshae, against Jaal’s wishes, wants to destroy the facility so that no other angara will be subjected to this. It means sacrificing the angara who remain captive. To be clear, The Moshae is, like Evfra, a leader to the angara. You’d think a decision like this would fall to such a person and maybe, if my Ryder disagrees, she could try to stop the Moshae and reason with her. But nope! What do you think we should do, Ryder? Please go ahead and decide the fate of our people whom you’ve only just met!
Ryder sides with Jaal and the Cardinal releases the prisoners in exchange for keeping the holy temple standing. The Cardinal is grateful and believes that Ryder now sees that the kett have brought a gift to the — Ryder shoots her. I suppose she could have left her alive instead of taking the kill prompt, but screw that! Ryder did very clearly state that she was going to “fuck your shit up,” a dialogue choice I was quite pleased with.
Kett reinforcements are on the way, so it’s time to get out. The Moshae is willing to sacrifice herself to save the others, forming a protective field and leading us towards the platform, but damn if I’m going to come all this way to rescue her only to have her go down in a blaze of glory. The attack from the kett is nuts and it seems very much like none of us are going to make it out, but thankfully, the rescue shuttle arrives just in time.
Back on board, the Moshae and Jaal thank Ryder for doing what the Resistance has tried and failed to do for months. I do my rounds on the Tempest, talking to the crew. Everyone is pretty shaken up, Jaal most of all. There is only so much Ryder can say to ease his pain, though it should be noted that Jaal seems to have already developed a hearty crush on Ryder thanks to those pesky narrative progressions that jump well ahead of the main plotline. Liam, who has developed a fondness for Jaal too, is busy doing reactive shirtless push ups in his room. Ryder helps him process, but this time, I don’t take the offered flirt option because he’s clearly not in an appropriate mindset. My friend reports back that she may have accidentally one-night standed Liam by taking that option, so I’m glad that I showed some decorum for once by ignoring it.
Soon, I am pulled into a strangely out of place argument between engineer Gil and Kallo, the ship’s pilot. The two have been arguing incessantly over their differing views on the Tempest’s care and maintenance. Gil feels that the ship requires upgrades to adjust to the new and unexpected situations they have and will encounter, but Kallo clings to the memory of and honouring the work of its designers and builders. In an earlier quest, I discovered that one of the engineers, after breaking her back during a construction accident, had her assistive device melded into the ship’s walls, though she could not go on this journey herself. I agree with Gil that the he must be allowed to make changes necessary for survival, but he is rude and dismissive of Kallo’s concerns. But of course, I am forced to decide the “right” answer.
I have no idea how much this decision will weigh on the story over all — but I suspect that answer is “not much.” In Mass Effect 2, settling disagreement between companions over fundamental issues had significant consequences. I think long and hard about this and finally side with Gil. Unsurprisingly, Gil’s response is petty and lacks any kind of empathy and Kallo is heart broken. Worse, Ryder doesn’t even have any opportunity to at least tell Gil to be more respectful to those who put in the blood, sweat, and tears to bring this ship to life. No, instead, Ryder just shoos away the other crew members who have gathered to watch like this is a school playground. Who the hell wrote this shitty interlude? I have not regretted any of my decisions thus far, but this one I do, especially after my friend tells me that, though she also agreed with Gil, she sided with Kallo. But even then, it’s Kallo who offers an empathetic response and offers to work with Gil, while Ryder offers nothing.
Returning the Moshae to Aya earns me several Brownie points from her people. The Moshae trusts Ryder implicitly, but there is still an understandable lack of trust from many. There is also curiousity. Ryder does her best to explore and learn what she can and flirt with the governor since the opportunity is there to do so. I’m pretty sure this was in chapter one of the Initiative’s First Contact Protocol Handbook. Several messages for the newcomers are available to Ryder for review and sharing with the Nexus. I have the opportunity to edit them, but Ryder prefers the harsh truth and allows the negative and suspicious messages to be passed along with the welcoming ones. Later, Director Tann thanks Ryder and says that it is good to have both views. He’d have been concerned if there wasn’t any negativity.
Meeting up with the Moshae, Ryder is taken to Aya’s vault. There are no issues with this planet, so the terraforming vault is obviously working. But Ryder’s ability to interface with it provides new information on the network of vaults across the galaxy. The Archon has spoken of a particular vault on Meridian and, Ryder and the Moshae determine that this is where they need to go next.
But first, Havarl. I have been warned of man eating flora and fauna after visiting the angaran scientists who direct me to a remnant monolith from which their colleagues have not returned. I find them frozen in a stasis field and quickly free them. They have no idea what happened and there is little explanation of what is happening with the planet. One of the usual three monoliths is missing, and the atmosphere is mutating the wild life. There’s not much to be done with only two monoliths available, but one of the recently freed scientists suggests contacting the elders who believe in the reincarnation of angaran souls. They live at the top of a remnant structure that requires lots of jumping around to get to, but thankfully, when I do, SAM plops a forward station down in the middle of their sanctuary. I’m sure they don’t mind.
They don’t think much of the Pathfinder, but do offer information on an angara who could possess the soul of an ancient an angaran explorer. The problem is that Taavos is a member of the Roekar rebel group who have been busy shooting at Ryder. The second problem is that I have to retrieve an artifact to trigger Taavos’ reincarnated memories. The latter proves to be a challenge only in that the remnant I need to fight are tougher and more varied, but thanks to my multiplayer experience, I know how to deal with them. MP is not a great place to hang out if you don’t like spoilers. An earlier Apex mission brief about a krogan mutation confirmed my suspicion about the Archon’s genetic tinkering before I had made it to the Voeld exaltation facility.
After retrieving what turns out to be an ancient gauntlet similar to the omni tool we use, I fight through the Roekar camp to thrust it upon Taavos. The memories come back almost immediately and he leads us to the location of the missing monolith. Activating it gives me access to the vault, so I leave him behind to contemplate his shared soul while Ryder saves the planet.
With the vault active once again, I am pleased to find that the Initiative doesn’t drop another outpost on Havarl, but instead sends in scientists to work with the angaran scientists for an epic science team up. Who doesn’t love science?!