By now you’ve probably heard that, for various reasons, Mass Effect Andromeda kinda sucks. Over my past five diaries, I’ve painted some of the issues, but hey, after investing 80 or so hours, I’m gonna keep going at this point. The tedium of poor story, sidequests deserving of much side eye, and Liam and Cora pissing me off weren’t enough to deter me. So either because I’m a hopelessly obsessed BioWare masochistic fangirl or–yeah, okay, that’s exactly what I am. By now, my friend was hours ahead of me and based on her emoji-filled flail texts, in combination with my obsession, there was enough motivation for me to press on. Good thing I did, because I made it to Elaaden where the krogans turned it all around for me.
In talking to Superintendent Nakmor Kesh on the Nexus, you get a little bit of the krogan backstory, and, having read Nexus Uprising, I know a bit more. The krogan were brought here as muscle and used as attack dogs, but there’s more to this seemingly brutish race, and this particular clan joined the Andromeda Initiative to prove it. When she was denied a seat on the Initiative council, Warlord Nakmor Morda took her ball and left the Nexus, and, when you find New Tuchanka on the planet Elaaden, it’s clear that the Initiative needs the krogan far more than the krogan need the Initiative.
But before heading that way, I putter around the landing zone and learn about the water shortage on this extreme desert planet. It is a very hot planet, though SAM doesn’t remind me of the temperature quite as often as he did on Voeld. There also seems to be something very wrong with the inhabitants. Actually, nothing seems to be wrong with the inhabitants, but the game insists that their snippy attitudes when addressing me is a sign of dangerous things to come. SAM warns me to keep away, and Dr. T’Parro soon contacts me and asks me to scan some of the inhabitants to see what’s up with their pissed off personalities.
[pullquote]”Hey, I just met you, and you seem crazy, so here’s a serum to fix you, maybe.”[/pullquote]I just assumed it had something to do with traveling 600 years away from home to end up in a really shitty situation on a ridiculously hot planet, but no, Dr. T’Parro says it’s an infectious neural degenerative disease and quickly synthesizes a cure that she orders me to dose people with. “Hey, I just met you, and you seem crazy, so here’s a serum to fix you, maybe.” I decide it’s better not to force medication onto people who clearly don’t want it, but my opinion doesn’t matter because apparently, Dr. T’Parro does it anyway. Side eyeing this sidequest.
Anyway, on to New Tuchanka. This place actually looks a place where colonization has happened. The krogan have set things up real nice. They are working on their social skills, fertility, research, and really expanding their culture and embracing this new life. They are growing nice plants and gambling on animal fights. I get to participate in one of these battles when a quest tasks me with helping a pair of BFFs reconcile their non-BFF status. I am told by the shaman to go capture a beast out in the wild, which I do successfully, but can’t help but wonder at the complete lack of biodiversity going on on these planets. Why do all the animals look the same and why do they all spit acid at me? Is this caused by the remnant? Anyway, I bring back my new friend and am invited to help the unhappy pair fight the beast. Our success means they make up and I can get back to my main task of trying to sway Warlord Morda’s opinion. But she won’t bite. Moreover, her second warns Ryder that Morda is after the core of a derelict remnant ship, something that could either power New Tuchanka, or destroy the Initiative. Apparently, Morda is out for revenge so we better get to that core first.There are several tasks to deal with on the way, including clearing out some significant scavenger activity, especially since the scavengers appear to be competition for the core and other remtech. With some back and forth between Kadara and the Nexus, Ryder and Drack are also able to find evidence against Spender, whom Drack believes is responsible for Nexus-based treachery against the krogan. The evidence leads Ryder and company on Drack’s loyalty mission where we learn that the special seed pods necessary for the development of precious krogan babies have been hijacked, along with their keeper, Vorn. Vorn turns out to be more than just a friend to Drack’s granddaughter, Kesh, and though Drack isn’t happy about this news, he certainly isn’t going to face the wrath of Kesh if he lets Vorn get killed. This is The Best loyalty mission of the game. Drack is wonderful, busting through walls and promising glorious slaughter to the pirates who are threatening the future of the krogan people. Unlike other quests and missions involving the fate of an entire race, Ryder isn’t forced to make the great big decision. Or rather, she is, but it’s more organic. When faced with the choice of who or what to rescue, Ryder isn’t tasked with the final answer, but instead, she gets to encourage Drack one way or another. Of course, the decision is still Ryder’s, through the player, but this decision-making process makes much more sense.
We rescue Vorn, who turns out to be not the typical krogan; he’s not the gun toting type, but he’s loyal and brave, even taking a bullet for Drack at one point, and later taking out the bad guy with some ingenious botany powers. And where Drack is feeling like his time is long past and this world must be left to the kids, Vorn’s words bolster the thousand year old warrior, letting him know that his influence, his knowledge, and his wisdom still has a place, especially in the new future the krogan are trying to build.
Following the rescue, Ryder and Drack learn the truth about Spender’s dealings from the leader of the pirates, but Ryder refuses to let Drack kill him in cold blood. On the Nexus, Ryder does not condemn Spender to exile, instead locking him up for his crimes. Foster Addison is just going to have to get herself a new assistant. One not quite so obsessed with manipulating people in order to gain political power.
I’ve earned Drack’s loyalty at this point, but wait, there’s more! Drack invites Ryder out for drinks on Kadara where they two share a nice bonding bar brawl.Back to Elaaden, I successfully retrieve the remnant core and learn that Morda’s second has been setting her up. She deals with him with headbutts and Ryder must now decide what to do with the core. This is a no-brainer. Strengthening New Tuchanka and getting the krogan back on our side is priority one, and I don’t care what Tann has to say about it. There are a few more things to wrap up before moving on in the main storyline. One is following clues found on Elaaden that lead to the location of the missing turian ark. It is completely out of commission, but at least the remaining cryopods can be saved. Ryder is joined on this exploration by Avitus Rix, the turian pathfinder’s second. Up until now, Avitus has refused to believe that his friend and mentor Macen Barro is dead, but when they find the confirmation that Macen has passed his SAM and therefore his pathfinder status on to Avitus, he is forced to accept that his friend is dead. Ryder encourages him to take up the mantel and eventually, Avitus begins to let go of the guilt of doing so and proves himself every bit as worthy of the role as Macen believed him to be.
Peebee’s loyalty mission is on my to-do list as well. Her old “friend” has been hunting the remtech Peebee is after and eventually steals Peebee’s re-programmed VIs. The chase leads to a volcanic planet and Peebee practically gets Ryder and Drack stranded, if not almost killed, in her reckless attempt to get the final piece of her remnant puzzle before Kalinda does. Solving remnant puzzles and avoiding lava leads to a showdown and balancing act where Kalinda fails a jump and Ryder has the choice to shoot her so that Peebee can get her remtech or let Peebee save her former friend. I am well pissed off at Peebee by now, but I’m still a nice person and I don’t let Ryder kill Kalinda, who promises to be good and helps them all escape in the end. Peebee loses her toy, but learns the value of friendship and loyalty. Awww.Jaal’s loyalty mission leads to a showdown with his cousin and former friend, Akksul, the leader of the roekaar rebel force. Tracking down Akksul on Havarl leads to a showdown that Jaal asks you to trust him on. Akksul has set himself up nicely as a martyr in front of his followers, but Jaal won’t take the bait. Akksul’s temperature rises and he eventually shoots Jaal, narrowly missing, but enough to scar both Jaal’s face, and Akksul’s own reputation among his people, who are suddenly waking to the realization that fanaticism and terrorism is not helping their people in the battle against the kett. When this loyalty mission ends, Jaal thanks Ryder for trusting him and not shooting Akksul when the opportunity presented itself, and then Ryder gets to meet Jaal’s whole family, including his mom, who’s adorably happy to meet Ryder. And now, at long last, we must hunt the Archon. With some fancy gadgetry from Gil and fancy flying from Kallo, the Tempest comes upon the Archon’s ship and discovers that it’s got a friend. The missing salarian ark. Boarding the ark first, Ryder and company discover that the salarians have been more or less cooperating with the kett in their experimentation. They find and wake Zevin Raeka, the salarian pathfinder. In the pragmatic way of her race, Raeka explains that yes, the salarians did cooperate somewhat, sacrificing the few in hopes of saving the many.
With the support of Raeka and a few other salarians, Ryder and her companions board the kett ship and fight their way through to the Archon’s main chamber to find the map to Meridian, but the Archon is waiting for Ryder. He captures her and her companions in a stasis field and injects Ryder with something. This plucky human is a pain in the Archon’s ass, but the Archon is intrigued by Ryder’s particular brand of pluck. Oh those humans.The Archon leaves her to her fate, and SAM offers a creative solution to their imprisonment: he kills Ryder. SAM’s plan works, and Ryder’s heart is restarted moments later so that she can free her friends. (Later, Dr. T’Parro freaks out about this and the fact that SAM has this level of control over Ryder’s body. She gets that SAM had to do it to free Ryder, but as a doctor, Lexi is none too pleased. Still, SAM and Lexi are able to have a significant discussion about the ramifications, and SAM agrees that he won’t kill Ryder again.)
The team explores the chambers, which are filled with tanks of people floating in green fluid. Computers reveal data about each of the Milky Way species. And then we meet the Archon’s final gift: an exalted krogan. Now we know where Drack’s missing scouts are.The battle with the krogan behemoth is intense, but doable, and soon we’re proceeding on, only to be faced with a new challenge: do I save Raeka and her team, or do I save the krogan scouts? This is a tough choice. Raeka is beloved amongst her people, but am I really going to piss of Drack? Especially when that means I’d have to deal with more krogan behemoth? I am sorry, Raeka, but she and her crew go down fighting. Later, on the Nexus, the salarians are welcomed and Tann expresses his disappointment in Ryder’s choice, but Ryder is confident that Captain Hayjer has what it takes to replace Raeka as the pathfinder, even if he is still reading the pathfinder manual.
Now I have all the remaining arks accounted for, with three of them helping to power the Nexus, and the pathfinders are all backing my decisions, especially when Tann tries to get bossy.This mission is the key to opening up lots more activities, including the final pieces of Alec Ryder’s memories. Ryder learns the truth about the Andromeda Initiative and its secret benefactor who knew that something bad was coming to the Milky Way and wanted to ensure the survival of its inhabitants, even the alien ones. The unlocked recordings reveal that Alec was able to receive some final transmissions from the Milky Way, and I’m not gonna lie, I cried listening to and reliving the chaos and destruction of the reaper attacks. As far as Alec knows, the Milky Way galaxy is long dead, and the Initiative truly is their only hope for survival.
But more than this, Alec’s unlocked memories reveal that he was not content to let his wife Helen die, even if she has accepted death and was ready to go. He’d packed her up with the rest of the human’s on Ark Hyperion under a pseudonym in hopes of curing her with the new technology they found in the Heleus Cluster. Penta Ryder shares this information with her finally awake brother, Scott.And most importantly, I finally get to spend some quality time with Suvi. The romantic interaction with the character seems to be a bit of an after thought, as other characters get more elaborate romance scenes. That is to say, they get sex. They get actual sex. But I’m okay with taking it slow with Suvi, and I adore listening to her poetic descriptions of the stars and planets and nebulae.