Andromeda Part 2: The Andromeda Initiative

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 23, 2018

Filed under: Mass Effect 177 comments

I was hard on Mass Effect 3 because it was supposedly the conclusion to the story that began in Mass Effect 1. My main problem with the series was that the later team did not understand or respect the world built by the first game. This is different from (say) the jump from Alien to Aliens. Yes, the two movies were vastly different in terms of tone, style, and pacing, but they were two different movies and either one of them could stand on its own. I can accept the idea that two different authors could make very different stories in the same setting. What I couldn’t accept was that the storyteller was changing genres in the middle of a single adventure. The trilogy was all supposedly one story, and so I judged it as such.

In the case of Andromeda, I’m more inclined to allow that the new writer wants to take the series in a new direction. I miss my details-first sci-fi, but I realize it’s not fair to hold an entire franchise to the tone of the original. If the new writer wants to make a new story about lifting the space-curse on the space-forest, then fine. I don’t find the Andromeda story to be particularly interesting, but I’m willing to judge the game on the merits of what it’s trying to do and I’m not going to lambaste it for failing to live up to the idealized dream game I keep hoping for.

Before we Start…

I'll be playing as the female option (Sara Ryder) this time around. I'll also be using biotic powers because I'm incapable of doing anything else.
I'll be playing as the female option (Sara Ryder) this time around. I'll also be using biotic powers because I'm incapable of doing anything else.

From playing the game I can tell there must have been multiple writers working on Andromeda, and some of them are much, much better than others. As with the last two Mass Effect games, the worst writing is found at the core of the story and the best writing is found in the squadmate side-missions.

During this series I’ll often break from analysis to explain how I would have done things differently. You can decide for yourself if these sections are indictments, suggestions, or fan wank.

One further note is that by convention I’m going to capitalize all of the race names and affiliations. The problem here is that you’re not supposed to capitalize a species, but you are supposed to capitalize a nationality:

I’ve heard that cats enjoy tuna.

I’ve heard that Americans enjoy coffee.

But in this universe your species is also a nationality of sorts. You visit the Asari Homeworld, tour Quarian ships, and meet Turian officers. Everything is capitalized. But then here in Andromeda, kett isn’t capitalized. You find kett guns, kett warships, and kett troops. I don’t know which of these is correct and maybe we don’t have coherent rules for the cases where a species is also a political affiliation. Whatever. For consistency with the rest of this series, I’m going to continue to capitalize species names when it comes to aliens.

The Premise

I see we've taken some cues from Trek and installed a handy railing on the bridge so people can throw themselves over it when we get shot at.
I see we've taken some cues from Trek and installed a handy railing on the bridge so people can throw themselves over it when we get shot at.

Mass Effect Andromeda is a story about The Andromeda Initiative, a project to settle another galaxy. Before we start picking at the story, let’s nitpick the premise of this new game.

In 2176, a bunch of people from different races got together and decided to create a one-way expedition to the Andromeda galaxy. This was seven years before the events of Mass Effect 1 took place. This is the same year as the Skyllian Blitz, which means if you played Commander Shepard with the “War Hero” background, this was the point in history where he made a name for himself.

In 2185 (during the interval in Mass Effect 2 between the point where Shepard burned up in the atmosphere and the point where he popped out of the Cerberus Jello-mold good as new) the Andromeda ships began their voyage to settle Andromeda.

The total fleet of the Andromeda Initiative consists of:

  • The Turian Ark, a massive ship carrying 20,000 Turians.
  • A similar ark, with 20,000 Salarians.
  • Another ark with 20,000 Asari.
  • Another with 20,000 Humans.
  • The Nexus, a truly massive vessel that makes the arks look minuscule.
  • Inside of the Nexus are many smaller ships. The most important of these is the Tempest, which is a Normandy-sized vessel and will be the player’s ship once the story gets rolling.
  • There may be yet another ark coming in the future that contains some of the other races from the Mass Effect trilogy. This ship doesn’t figure into the plot, but it does get mentioned. When it comes time for a sequel, they’ll be free to introduce the fifth ark without needing to retcon anything, and it can contain as many or as few of the available races as suits the story. Spoiler: After you beat the game, you get a gabled message from the Quarian Ark, hinting that it’s still out there somewhere.

In Mass Effect, ships can’t travel around instantly unless there is a Mass Effect relay on either end of the trip. Since there aren’t any relays in the Andromeda galaxy, they have to make the journey using their FTL drive. Even travelling faster than light, it still takes 600 years to complete the voyage. During the trip, everyone on board will be in Cryostasis. So you sign up for the Andromeda Initiative, jump in your personal deep freeze coffin, and when you wake up you’ll be in a new galaxy. If you’re human, then by the time they thaw you out, every single member of your family will have been dead for centuries.

Hard to Swallow

Don't even get me started on the Nexus, a ship ten times larger than they are able to build and a hundred times larger than they need.
Don't even get me started on the Nexus, a ship ten times larger than they are able to build and a hundred times larger than they need.

While not technically impossible, the Andromeda Initiative does seem like a pretty big stretch for this setting. In just nine years they supposedly built this gargantuan vessel that’s “Almost as big as the Citadel”. Keep in mind that the Citadel itself was the largest spaceborne object ever constructed. It was created by the Reapers, and it was beyond the understanding of any of the Council races. Just one of the arms of the station was about the size of Manhattan. Imagine building five Manhattans in nine years! In space! And not just a stationary vessel, but one that can zoom through the cosmos at max warp!

And somehow NOBODY in the original Mass Effect trilogy ever talked about this spectacular feat of engineering?

Heck, who paid for this thingCerberus, it turns out. Eyeroll.? Where did the resources come from? The Council races, wary of military build-ups, have always been very picky about how many ships everyone has. How did they ever allow this?

In the space of just one year they got 80,000 people to sign up?

Having said all that…

It’s Fine

Everything is fine.
Everything is fine.

While it might be a stretch if you’re a hardcore lore-nitpicker like me, I’m actually okay with the premise. I’m willing to meet the writer halfway on stuff like this. In fact, if there’s anything wrong with the start of Andromeda, the blame should probably fall to the writer of Mass Effect 3. As I’ve said before, the ending to Mass Effect 3 blew up the entire setting. Whether you liked it or not, it made it impossible for any author to continue from that point. Shepard’s final choice completely changed life in the galaxy. The story is vague about how it all turned out and what exactly the different endings mean, and there’s no way you can stick another game in the aftermath of the Reaper invasion without nailing down some specifics. Doing that would mean making clear many things that were – for good or for ill – deliberately left vague.

Making a direct sequel to Mass Effect 3 would mean building the next game atop a vague branching ending that many hated and was riddled with confusing contradictions. That’s no way to begin a new story. What’s interesting here is that this is the opposite of what I’d expect from a company being turned into another EA sequel mill:

Mass Effect 1 left some hooks for the future writers to use for their story.

Mass Effect 2 ignored, retconned, or destroyed those features to tell a different story. Then they concluded Mass Effect 2 at a dead-end that didn’t give them anything to work with in Mass Effect 3.

Mass Effect 2: The Arrival DLC painted the writer into an even smaller corner, because the Mass Effect 3 writer couldn’t contradict those events but they also couldn’t incorporate them into the plot.

Mass Effect 3 ended in a way that walls off any possibility of a sequel in the same galaxy.

Mass Effect 1 seems to be the only game written as though someone realized they were going to need to write a sequel. Which is strange, since Mass Effect 1 is the only game written before BioWare became part of EA. The moment when endless sequels became inevitable is the same moment when they lost the ability to plan for them.

So really, I don’t think the Andromeda writer had much of a choice. They needed to escape the ending of Mass Effect 3 before they could begin a new story, and this is a pretty good way of doing that. We can take what things we like about the setting, stuff them into a spaceship, and send them to a new location where we will never interact with or be affected by the outcome of Mass Effect 3.

Left Behind

C'mon guys, come to Andromeda with me. I promise it'll be... interesting.
C'mon guys, come to Andromeda with me. I promise it'll be... interesting.

While I agree with the author that moving the story to a new galaxy was the best way of escaping the problems of the past, I’m pretty disappointed about what they chose to leave behind. One of my gripes with Mass Effect 2 and 3 was that they sidelined two of my favorite species: The Volus and the Elcor. Both races favor environments that are useless to Humans, Turians, and Asari. They’d be perfect on this sort of endeavor, because they won’t compete for space with anyone else. Additionally, the Volus are adept at trade and commerce, which is a useful thing when you’re the new species in town. Also, the Elcor are really cool. But this writer didn’t want to bring anyone who couldn’t shoot at dudes from behind cover, so they got left behind.

It’s also strange that the Quarians and the Drell got left behind. Both races are in need of a homeworld. The Quarians need a home because their pet robots went Skynet on them. The Drell homeworld died and now they’re living with their Hannar buddies, but the climate is too damp and causing health problems for them.

So the writer left behind two really interesting species. And they left behind two species that should have been the most eager to join because of their extreme need for living space. But then they decided to bring the Krogan along.

We’ll talk about what a bad idea (both in and out of universe) this is next week.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Cerberus, it turns out. Eyeroll.



From The Archives:
 

177 thoughts on “Andromeda Part 2: The Andromeda Initiative

  1. Daimbert says:

    Heck, who paid for this thing[1]?

    Is it sad that before I read the endnote, my first thought was “Probably Cerberus”?

    This is different from (say) the jump from Alien to Aliens. Yes, the two movies were vastly different in terms of tone, style, and pacing, but they were two different movies and either one of them could stand on its own. I can accept the idea that two different authors could make very different stories in the same setting.

    It also helps that the universe allows for multiple sorts of stories, including the more action-oriented one that Aliens used. It’s not the same tone as the first movie, but it fits into the universe pretty much seamlessly. Even narratively, moving from the single threat to facing hordes of them flows nicely.

    1. Fon says:

      Is it sad that before I read the endnote, my first thought was “Probably Cerberus”?

      That means you’re accustomed to their madness.

      1. ccesarano says:

        I’m not surprised, but I do certainly wonder who at Bioware is so in love with Cerberus that they failed to ditch them as soon as they could. Of all the things Shamus laments them leaving behind, Cerberus is the one thing I don’t think anyone wanted. Just trying to think of the rationale for it all is making my head hurt.

        1. Coming Second says:

          They’re like Jar Jar Binks at this point. The creator is resentful that we never loved them, so beats them over our skulls at any available opportunity out of spite.

          Surprised Kai Leng didn’t show up in Andromeda somehow tbh.

      2. tremor3258 says:

        Does the entire Nexus catch on fire? If it doesn’t, it’s subtle misdirection on who the backers are.

    2. Agammamon says:

      Yes, Cerebus – the *Human supremacists* paid for an expedition to colonize another galaxy. And then invited all the aliens along.

      That Cerebus.

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        It’s probably a runaway experiment by a rogue cell.

        1. Liessa says:

          Well, it did go horribly wrong and get hundreds if not thousands of people killed. So at least they’re maintaining their track record.

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            It also killed a lot of non-humans though, so obviously this rogue cell was just a coverup operation for an actually competent human supremacist group.

      2. The Rocketeer says:

        It’s perfect: ship all the aliens and alien-loving humans on a one-way voyage to nowhere.

        1. Ravens Cry says:

          Like the hair dressers and telephone sanitizers sent to a little planet covered in mostly water with an oddly large moon circling around a main sequence yellow dwarf?

        2. anon says:

          Exactly. Madagaskarprojekt IN SPACE.

        3. 4th Dimension says:

          I guess they just failed to include built in thresher maws to eat all the colonist. Unless the kett are another Cerberus project SOMEHOW.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            Cerberus Asshole: “But what can we feed colonists to now, TIM? Can’t we find anything in this galaxy bigger than a thresher maw?”

            TIM *looks out at stars* “In this galaxy? Maybe not…”

            1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

              Cerberus: Dare to dream big!

      3. PPX14 says:

        Well I’m sure they will need slaves, and test subjects

    3. RCN says:

      They probably built the nexus using “reaper technology”, because 1. It is literally the single solitary handwave they ever gave for the Cerberus inexplicable supremacy at everything over every other veteran spacefarer species COMBINED and 2. Because it is an abysmally, incomprehensibly bad idea, so… right up Cerberus’ alley.

      And yes, I know this breaks the cycle of events because the Nexus was built before the Reapers were introduced. But for everything else to make sense Cerberus ALREADY has to somehow have been able to travel through time to study reaper technology in the past for them to have time to do anything at all, so… is it really a plot hole when when it is already drowning in a sea of plotholes?

      1. Hellfire says:

        Probably Cerberus hid in a bunker right before the bombs fell, that’s why it had access to Reaper tech.

  2. Jabberwok says:

    My eyes spun in my head when you mentioned Cerberus funding the Nexus. Or maybe the whole expedition? 600 years after the end of civilization, in a completely different galaxy, and someone still wanted to drag those Cerberus turds along to ruin another story? I need to know why (but not enough to play the game).

    1. Matt Downie says:

      Who else would have the necessary unexplained / seemingly infinite manufacturing capacity?

      1. BlueHorus says:

        What I want to know is when the new leader of Cerberus operations, Lai Keng, turns up. Probably in the sequel…what a shame we won’t be seeing that.

    2. guy says:

      Honestly it makes a good deal of sense once you accept ME2 Cerberus as existing. It’s a backup plan if they can’t foil the Reaping (and TIM wouldn’t have been nearly as Indoctrinated at that point) and the explaination for their money is corporate backing. It would actually free up more money for everything else Cerberus does; their corporate backers can publically commit a bunch of money as a PR stunt, write it off on their taxes as a charitable donation, and launder money to Cerberus operations in the bargain. And I don’t think they put up all the money, just enough to make it a going concern and persuade other groups to chip in.

      Really it not being backed by Cerberus would effectively retcon ME2 Cerberus out of existance. So I guess it is an odd decision to keep it.

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        Dunno, how would it help their human supremacy angle to have all those other species around? I’d agree if there was only a human ark.

        1. guy says:

          Well, I’m assuming they threw in behind someone else’s plan and the other Arks were part of the deal. Presumably they’d only be funding the Human Ark, the Nexus, and the shared tech and the other species came up with the money for their own construction.

        2. Sartharina says:

          With a ‘fresh start’, Cerberus was likely confident humans would come out on top when the other aliens are stripped of their established power bases and population balance. (This sort of ties into my crackpot D&D theory that the equal-opportunity ‘Greyhawk’ gods Pelor, Erythnul, and Olidamarra are secretly all Zarus, the god of Human Supremacy.)

          After all, Humans went from “Newly-discovered nobody” to “Leading Council Race” in a ridiculously short amount of time, when the other races had thousands of years head-start on them (And even before the “Geth Flagship” attacked, everyone was saying “Yeah, these guys are going places”)

        3. Jabberwok says:

          Exactly, Cerberus is a human supremacy organization who for some reason is funding arks for alien races they see as rivals at best? And according to this timeline, it sounds like the project would have been well underway before anyone even knew the Reapers existed. That’s going to need some serious in-game explaining.

          And it doesn’t even matter, because the bigger issue is not how they explain it, it’s that the writers wanted to include Cerberus at all. Cerberus was like a second, mutant left foot growing out of Mass Effect whose only job was to come by every twenty minutes and kick the whole plot in the nuts.

          1. Metadidact says:

            In regards to the timeline: IIRC (and it’s very possible I don’t as my information is second- and third-hand from the Mass Effect novels and comics few people read), but TIM is aware of the Reapers, at some level, well before Mass Effect 1 as during the First Contact War he has a run-in with the same reaper artefact that leads Saren to Sovereign and this is what causes him to create Cerberus.

    3. ElementalAlchemist says:

      I need to know why

      Because the game was directed by Mac Walters.

    4. Ivan says:

      Wait, I thought Shamus was joking. Was it actually Cerberus, in the game??

      1. Redrock says:

        Yeah, but it’s not really explored. There’s this big mystery around how the expedition went pear-shaped and how the woman in charge was working with some shady characters but it never really gets resolved in the game. All you get is a hint that it was funded by Cerberus because of the Reaper threat. Cerberus doesn’t really play a role in the story, though.

      2. guy says:

        I don’t think it was said explicitly it was Cerberus, but there’s suspicious oddities in how it got key seed capital that looks like Cerberus.

      3. Joshua says:

        It’s not explicitly stated. When exploring what happened to the director of the Andromeda Initiative, as well as discovering your father’s memories, you learn of a “Benefactor”. They, whether an individual or a group, funded the Initiative due, in part, to the Reaper threat.

        The Initiative was funded to help preserve humanity in case anything should happen in the Milky Way.

        The Benefactor had a large amount of resources to fund a project that, in-universe, was acknowledged as being extremely costly. They were also willing to act outside the law, both in the acquisition of personnel and actions. It’s ultimately observed that the director’s death was to tie up loose ends.

        So we see a lot of similarities between the actions with regards to the Initiative and Cerberus.

        However, it is not entirely definitive and likely left vague on purpose.

        Of immediate note, the Initiative saw resources used to assist other races. This is flimsy, ultimately, as Cerberus isn’t “human-exclusive” but “human-first”. Still, it is something to consider in the least.

        In the game you come across a group of individuals with ties to Cerberus, explicitly. They were terminated from Cerberus for continuing to conduct experiments into mental control over groups despite being told to stop by Miranda, and the discovery of more effective methods. They fled to Andromeda to continue their research, claiming they left Cerberus due to disliking the resource hog that was Project Lazarus, and the individuals hired for it. Also, you can turn the project against them if you’re feeling a little nostalgic in seeing Cerberus suffer at the hands of their own experiments.

        This shows a few things:
        1. Before ME2, The Illusive Man and Cerberus were using Reaper tech to indoctrinate, and likely under the sway of it in full.
        2. They didn’t like resources and personnel being used for seemingly useless endeavors. That would likely persist with Andromeda, and be a little counter-intuitive. Focus on the Milky Way and preservation, not Andromeda and continuation.
        3. Indoctrination would have likely wanted people to remain and die with the secret of the Reapers instead of venturing off and living beyond it.

        But also… it’s Cerberus. And they do whatever works best for the writer and a plot-point of convenience. It’s likely it was intended to be Cerberus. But also left vague in case they didn’t really want to play that way. Who knows. As it stands, probably Cerberus.

        So, that’s annoying.

        1. Jabberwok says:

          This explanation helps a lot, though obviously doesn’t lessen my annoyance. It just reminds me what a bunch of plot hogs Cerberus was in the original trilogy. They felt like a writer’s runaway pet. Early warning signs that we’d eventually be subjected to the star child. This information just makes me feel more than ever that the Illusive Man was more like the protagonist of a completely different story who kept butting his way in to ruin this one.

        2. guy says:

          It seemed to me to be that thing with spinoffs and prequels where the characters don’t know something the audience has learned, so the audience is clued in on the cause of things the characters don’t know and can’t find out.

          It could theoretically not be Cerberus, but if it’s not them or the Shadow Broker then why didn’t the Benefactor’s organization join the fight against the Reapers in ME3?

  3. Matthew Collins says:

    On the point of the various species, I agree it was disappointing. The Council races would be there, of course, and I see why they took the krogan story-wise, since they’re fan-favourites and to leave both them *and* the quarians out of the new game would have provoked riots (even if it makes little sense in-universe). But there was opportunity here not only to explore the lesser-used races but to shake up the established order of the setting, by having the minor races now on equal footing with the Council races in the new galaxy — or even, given the different environmental needs of volus, hanar and elcor, on a superior footing. If Andromeda has ammonia-based, heavy gravity or aquatic worlds perhaps the “spearcarrier” races might have found themselves with viable colonies before the humanoids did? And subsequently they would wield more influence.

    (One of my general peeves with the game is that it just replicates the Milky Way in Andromeda — four Council races on the Citadel, krogan simmering off in exile in their desert waste, the Terminus Systems (in the form of exiles) opposed to the Citadel…)

    For what it’s worth, the novel tie-ins confirm that the Quarian Ark is carrying volus, hanar, drell, elcor and batarians as well, so everyone *is* coming (which I’m glad for, it’s just not the same until the family is complete), but it’s still hilarious how this reinforces the view that only the Council races matter. Presumably the other races weren’t rich enough to afford an individual ark, but telling them “oh, you can come with the quarians” must have been taken in-universe as an insult. “Oh, did the vorcha not have an ark we can use?!” Did the Council folk just say, “you know what, I dream of a new galaxy without all these annoying jellyfish and wheezing pressure puffballs and elephant things getting in the way, let’s leave them all here. Oh fine, you can come so long as you’re not as numerous and we’re still top dogs. And you need to get a lift with the suit-rats.”

    “Hsssk. Aren’t we Vol-clan Hierarchy clients? Can’t we come on the –”

    “No. Quarians or stay here.”

    “Can these ones join the respectable others on the Nexus?”

    “No. Quarians or stay here,”

    “Confused and irritated: But you let the krogan on the Nexus.”

    “I’m sorry, we’re very busy, bye.”

    And while it was sadly inevitable, it’s a bit annoying that the Initiative is human-led. The idea that humans, the newcomers who are struggling to prove themselves worthy of a place at the big league table, might be so ambitious and successful that they conceived of and went about creating something that, say, the asari never bothered with in the last three thousand years is hard to swallow (more so than the Initiative’s existence, on which I agree we can let stand as a “meet the writer half-way so they can tell their story” thing). Humans are struggling to colonise their own galaxy in this timeframe (spread too thin, vulnerable to slavers and pirates and Collectors).

    Overall,the Initiative is interesting but there was a lot of potential they missed out on by playing it safe, by making it familiar both out-of-universe and in-setting.

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      I, for one, don’t understand why the Krogans are there (story-wise, at least. I understand that they’re awesome to play with and very popular). We’re talking about Genophaged Krogans here, so unless they knew they’d be there just as meat shields with no possible way to start over, it makes no sense. Or are they OK with the concept of really starting over by adapting their lifestyles to the Genophage?

      1. guy says:

        IIRC the Andromada Initiative ones have a mitigation the STG haven’t gotten around to sabotaging yet.

        1. Karma The Alligator says:

          So they had a few Krogans that were sorta immune, and decided to send them to their potential death? Was that a way to ensure the Genophage would stay intact in Citadel space, or were the Krogans that stupid (“Nah, we don’t need those guys, take them”)? Or, third option, did they want to sabotage the Adromeda Initiative by sending a species that’ll overrun the galaxy in short order (I’m pretty sure they won’t have the resources to make a new Genphage, nor to modify the existing one)?

          1. guy says:

            The Krogan didn’t have a central government that could tell them no. Also I think it just raised live birth rates to 1 in 400 or so rather than 1 in 1000 so it’s not going to be catastrophic.

            1. Trevor says:

              As I’m sure Shamus is going to get into, the Krogan don’t have an Ark.

              So they had fewer than 20,000 Krogan going to Andromeda.

              If they had an Ark and the gender ratio was 50:50, you’d have 10,000 females. At the 1 in 400 birth rate, that’s total 25 fertile females (remember that the game is non-committal about whether it’s a sterility plague or a fetal viability plague). And the 1 in 400 rate is not something they know from the start, they hope the cryostatis genetic experimentation is going to give them a better birth rate, but they get onto the ships with the 1 in 1,000 rate. Which would be 10 fertile females. If you had an Ark full of female Krogan, which we don’t, and all the male Krogan we meet flew on the Nexus, and the best birth rate, we’d have a maximum of 50 fertile females.

              How do you create a population with those kind of numbers? Were all the Krogan in the Initiative like, “Eh, going to die somewhere, another galaxy seems as fine a place as any?” (To be fair, this is kind of Drack’s reasoning)

              1. guy says:

                Given general Krogan behavior I don’t think it’s particularly strange that some of them would volunteer for an expedition and experiment that would almost certainly end with them and their descendents dying out. I mean, why should they care what galaxy their personal descendents die out in?

              2. Sartharina says:

                Well, when each of those females can spawn hundreds or even thousands of baby krogans…

                1. That are all genetically related to each other. The viable population issue is more of having sufficient genetic diversity to let your kids and grandkids breed successfully. IIRC populations that are too closely-related generally become mutually sterile.

                  Genetic diseases are also a potential problem, but those can actually be culled out (humans do this with livestock all the time). And, presumably, technology exists to screen everyone for genetic diseases. Of course, that kind of tends to indicate that the technology should also exist to screen Krogan females for fertility, too, in which case they could have sent along a higher-than-random-levels population of fertile female Krogans. So the fertility issue wouldn’t necessarily be a problem until the NEXT generation was affected by the genophage. The Krogan would have one very-expansive generation, followed by slow growth thereafter.

                  1. Viktor says:

                    Except for the invasive species problem. A tiny population runs into genetic disease and the risk of sterility and limited options for evolution/adaptation, all this has been proven time and again, and yet, in the real world, releasing 2 pigs/rabbits/pythons/housecats into a foreign environment is a good way to end up with millions of your invasive species and a devastated ecosystem. Krogan aren’t quite as big a problem as feral hogs, but I still don’t want 20 breeding pairs anywhere near my food supply.

                    1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

                      But if the other races thought like that, why take them along at all?

                    2. Viktor says:

                      @DJL: No clue why anyone would risk spreading Krogan to a new galaxy. I’m just saying that expecting the genetic bottleneck to slow them down isn’t accurate. Especially since I don’t think there’s any data on how the genophage will affect a bottlenecked population.

                  2. Sleeping Dragon says:

                    Speaking of which let’s not forget that the QArk, which I’m going to assume is roughly similar size* to the other Arks, is divided between Quarians, Volus, Elcor, Hanar, Drell, Batarians and probably some species I don’t remember about (though I have a feeling Vorcha were not invited). Even making allowances for futuristic medicine and overlooking the dangers of colonizing entirely alien planets with very little foreknowledge and no backup AND assuming all of those species produce offspring in a way that does not cause further complications that still means very small starting populations. Then again I guess the game does frame it. far as I know, as a gambit for the desperate and the dreamers.

                    *I assume the 20k is not an arbitrary number but is rough limit of what is technically and/or financially feasible and even if Quarians are Very Good With Spaceships this Ark needs to cater to populations with radically different biology and even body chemistry, even if they are in stasis.

          2. Benjamin Hilton says:

            I imagined it was some shadowy black ops contingency to running into a hostile galaxy. Like if they showed up and everything wanted to kill them then someone high up had orders to let the Krogans off the chain. Sure it means no one learned from the past, but thats not exactly unheard of.

    2. guy says:

      I think it makes sense as a human-led project; it’s a crazy plan that as far as anyone officially knew was pointless. The Asari have the tech for it but they’re known for just sitting on tech like medi-gel so as not to disrupt a galactic order that favors them.

      Also I think each Council species contributed their own Ark and the minor races clubbed together to build a fifth with the Quarians taking the lead because they’re the long-haul spaceship people.

  4. Tizzy says:

    Cerberus probably infiltrated Bioware right after EA took over and sabotaged the stories to prevent the endless sequels. And then used the opportunity to cast themselves as this ludicrous, unbelievable antagonistic force to keep suspicion away from themselves.

    1. PPX14 says:

      That’s right, in fact I think Cerberus owns Activision through shell corporations

  5. Sarfa says:

    On the spoilered bit- how does that even work?

    From a lore point of view (not played Andromeda, but played the other Mass Effect games) it looks like this Andromeda project is a Citadel species project. That is, it’s something led by and organised by the Citadel council and thus only members states/species are involved. So how do the Quarians have an ark, what with them not being a council species and generally looked down upon by the council? IIRC they’re not even associate members with an embassy on the citadel.

    1. Matthew Collins says:

      Perhaps the novel will reveal that the volus/elcor/hanar paid the quarians — as experts in ship maintenance and secure environmental systems — to build them their joint ark, and in return some quarians got to come along and find a new homeworld?

      It is a private initiative, so not actually led or authorised by the Council.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        Which makes it even weirder nobody thought about bringing Quarians along, since spaceborne survivalism in harsh circumstances is pretty much their forte.

        1. guy says:

          I assume the in-universe reason is just that they were racist.

          1. guy says:

            Also IIRC the Quarian Ark was part of the original plan but encountered production delays. Which is unsurprising because it had many species, two of which require environment suits to interact with the others.

        2. Scimitar says:

          Spaaaace raaaaacism!

          That particular bit I’m willing to meet the writer halfway on because large bodies of people are not known for picking the optimal rational option and instead let politics and culture guide their hands.

    2. ElementalAlchemist says:

      So how do the Quarians have an ark

      EA: You will be DLC, because we demand it.

  6. PPX14 says:

    My first thought when hearing about the premise of Andromeda was: but how could they avoid the Reapers by merely going somewhere else? Don’t the Reapers reap the universe? Not just one Galaxy?

    Perhaps not, if all of the Citadel and Mass Relays and such are just within the Milky Way. And thinking about it now, what a missed opportunity for escalation of the mythos!! The Reapers were just Milky Way-specific deities… but the Universe is far greater than one Galaxy. And so are its inhabitants…

    1. PPX14 says:

      In fact, it could have been used to effectively retcon / continue the Mass Effect 3 ending.

      The Reapers and Star-child were the servants of Xthulhu, who is at war with Ythulhu and his servants the Keapers who oversee the Andromeda Galaxy.

      etc.

      Ryder you must find the One Ring and destroy it at the centre of Andromeda.

      1. I made that One Ring comment when I reviewed Mass Effect 1 way back in the day, hah!

        1. PPX14 says:

          Haha! (10y ago!)

    2. PPX14 says:

      Just as becoming a space-faring race was a big step that resulted in finding the Citadel and meeting the council races, just as then developing AI and becoming advanced enough resulted in being Reaped(TM),

      thus escaping Reaping(TM) and/or leaving the Galaxy is the next step, with consequences and such.

      A new bigger citadel, a new array of higher-level council races, at which now not just Humans (as in ME1), but MilkyWay-races, are the new arrivals, and must contend, as one, for their place.

      Okay now I’m annoyed, the writers hadn’t painted themselves into an impossible corner as such, they just needed to allow for sufficient time to have passed since the ending of ME3, picked the most normal one (or even allowed for some cosmetic differences depending on your ending choice), and said we are now arriving at Andromeda as a result of expanding beyond Milky Way, possibly as a result of it being less hospitable after the Reaper War. Blah. Mass Effect 4: Andromeda 1.

      1. Trevor says:

        I’m doing another play-through as part of this series. From my first play through I can’t remember and so far I have not found any Initiative person who cites the Reapers as their reason for leaving the Milky Way.

        Has anyone else found anyone who says something to the effect of “I saw what Sovereign did to the Citadel and knew I needed to get as far away from there as possible”?

        1. guy says:

          IIRC no but Liara is referenced as a minor backer.

          1. Trevor says:

            I remember a Liara audio log that talks about the Reapers and “If we don’t survive this…”

            An NPC might mention The Collectors, though I can’t recall who. If I’m not mistaken this would be a partial match, but also evidence that Bioware kind of chose to forget all about ME1 and that canon “officially” begins with ME2.

            1. Sartharina says:

              Ah yes, “Reapers”.

              Mass Effect 1 didn’t have any major threats that the general populace would know about. There were a few somewhat-scary Geth incursions, but that was about it, and most of them were kept well-secret, and it was never on the “I need to GTFO ASAP”-level of horror that the Collectors were. Sure, it DID result in a surprise attack on the Citadel by an incomprehensibly large and powerful Geth Flagship (Under the command of a rogue Spectre) – but that was a big one-and-done thing that was pretty much resolved. The Geth Flagship was so huge, and the attack so brazen, most people probably had a sense of “Well, there’s no way the Geth would be able to do THAT again! There’s no way anything could make more than one of those behemoths.”

              Meanwhile, the Collectors were randomly Disappearing entire colonies outside of Alliance/Citadel space, without any discernible pattern or goal, leaving a very real sense of “We could be next!”

              Nobody in the galaxy at large even knew about the Reaper threat, much less took it seriously, until Mass Effect 3 – which started long after the Arks launched.

        2. Joe Informatico says:

          For like 90% of the game you can almost pretend it’s a reimagining of the Mass Effect setting. I.e., pretend the major events of the original trilogy didn’t happen but all the lore up to that point is the same and this is just an expedition by the Council into the Andromeda Galaxy for some reason. Because every NPC you talk to says they joined the Initiative for the adventure, to advance science, boredom, because of personal issues back home, but no one says “my homeworld was devasted by giant alien robots”

          And then there are all the parts that confirm the Reapers and all the rest and you can’t pretend anymore.

    3. John Casey says:

      As far as I know, the Reapers only ever reap the Milky Way galaxy. They spend the rest of their time out in “dark space”, waiting for the alarm clock.

      But what a story that would be, if the writers put serious thought into time scales. The Reapers have a little circuit of galaxies they harvest, from the Milky Way to the Magellanic Clouds to Andromeda, and back in time to consume more fleshies. Sovereign the dreadnought is really just the tiniest of the Reaper scoutships. The Citadel backdoor is just for convenience, as planet-sized Reapers stroll into the Galactic plane.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        As far as I know, the Reapers only ever reap the Milky Way galaxy. They spend the rest of their time out in “dark space”, waiting for the alarm clock.

        Which really makes no sense. Let’s take what we learn in ME3 at face value. Star Child is effectively a program that was tasked with the “prevent organics being wiped by AI” directive and ran wild precisely because it was not given proper limitations (such as “do not wipe organic life”). It says that it arrived at a conclusion that organics creating AI and subsequently warring with it is an inevitability. You could say that it can’t reasonably expect to be able to spread across the entire universe but it’s not acting reasonably, it’s going to try to perform it assigned faction to the illogical extreme, and if Nexus and the Arks can make it to Andromeda in around 600 years than so can the Reapers, and the Reapers have apparently been around for hundreds of thousands of years. At the very least the Star Child should have arrived at a conclusion that if it’s effectively halting the technological advancement of sentient species in this galaxy at a certain level (and that level is already dangerously close to being able to fight the Reapers) than eventually something else next door is going to get ahead of the Reapers and come knocking, by Star Childs own logic most likely an AI that wiped its own organics. To be clear I haven’t played the game so maybe this is addressed in some manner, but so far the comments lead me to believe it really isn’t?

  7. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    If we remove the story we ended up with from the initial premise of Andromeda, I actually think that the premise in a vacuum is a clever way to not only continue moving forward, but to do it in a way that doesn’t create a canon ending to the trilogy.

    Honestly though, I think I would’ve been fine had they gone with a canon ending – even if it wasn’t the one I picked, though I ultimately picked all of them through various playthroughs. But I understand Bioware wanting to avoid the wrath of the players who’d say “After I went through all of that and picked one of those dumb endings, you’re going to come back and say that none of that mattered?”

    And I do consider myself firmly in the camp of being anti-prequel. A lot of people were wanting a First Contact war game, but if we set aside the fact that, by definition, player choice can’t matter in such a game unless we’re just going to throw the canon history out the window, this time in-game history isn’t really that interesting anyhow. The “war” only lasted a short time, was at only one spot, and was with only one alien race – the Turians. I consider prequels to be a bad idea for the sci/fi genre in general because of what I call the “backwards continuity coolness problem,” or the Star Trek: Enterprise problem. Any time you make a new thing, you have to make it cooler, sleeker, more modern, and more polished than the thing that preceded it. But the problem with a sci/fi prequel, that puts the creators in a position where they have to make the technology less complicated, less sleek and cool while, at the same time, since this is the next greatest thing, they also have to make the technology more complicated, sleek, and cool. Sci/fi is a forward-moving genre and I prefer when it continues moving in that direction. Plus, that lack of real narrative choice would be a real bummer.

    With all of that said, the basic Andromeda premise can dodge all of these issues and offers a bunch of fun narrative possibilities. But at some point, it was like someone said “How can we take this premise and water it down to something broad and inoffensive since we only actually have 18 months instead of 5 years to make it?” This story was all potential energy with very little kinetic energy.

    1. PPX14 says:

      But the problem with a sci/fi prequel, that puts the creators in a position where they have to make the technology less complicated, less sleek and cool while, at the same time, since this is the next greatest thing, they also have to make the technology more complicated, sleek, and cool.

      I reckon they did this in ME2. Or at least the first half of the quote haha. In such futuristic technology, we have no idea if differences are actually advancements – like the whole gun-reloading situation in ME1/2.

      1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

        Yeah – that decision always felt more corporate to me than artistic. Obviously, I can only guess, but the impression I get from that choice is that someone from on-high issued an order to make the game more like a pure shooter.

        And, as far as I can tell, it wasn’t necessarily a popular choice with the fandom, at least the bit of fandom that was a carryover from ME1. I often forget that a good chunk of the fandom initially came on board with ME2.

        1. guy says:

          It was absolutely a gameplay change the lore writers were ordered to justify. They did okay but there could be no satisfactory explaination for why it became universal in two years even in places that had been totally out of contact.

          1. Thomas says:

            All the stories suggest it wasn’t a corporate mandate though. A developer thought the gameplay was better with reloading, built a demo and convinced everyone else.

        2. Trevor says:

          Also why I immediately built the “Vintage Heat Sink” weapon modification.

          1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

            Totally. It’s too bad that to get that, you have to navigate a bulky, opaque, multi-step research and development process that was unnecessarily complicated.

            As an old school RPGer, I can appreciate a complicated process if it produces complicated results, but in Andromeda, there’s no benefit to it being a pain to build/create the mods. I’d be curious to know how many people really deep-dived into the process and really got a knack for it instead of fumbling through it half-blind like I did.

            1. Trevor says:

              “This chest armor is perfect for my build. I just need to get 20 more… Iridium? Crap, where do I find that?” – Man, good times, this crafting system.

              Although, to be fair, the Trash Loot Avalanche system of ME1 was similarly opaque for me. I know people had a great time crafting ultra long range sniper rifles that immediately overheated when you pulled the trigger but one-shot Geth walkers from the next mountain over, but that was not me. I think sometimes you grok the crafting system in a game and sometimes you don’t.

              My issue was that there were so many options but only a few of them worked depending on your build/preferred method of play. I like playing as an Engineer (read: Blasty Space Wizard) and using combo explosions. So out of all the armor options in the game, there are only two sets that really worked for me. So I learned how to build my Heleus Defender set and that was about it. Plus it was purple and cool.

    2. Karma The Alligator says:

      Plenty of series with branching endings decide to choose one as canon while the others are simply alternatives (granted, most of the ones I could list are Japanese, so maybe it wouldn’t mesh well with a Western audience) and are not worse for it.

      Also, I imagine very few people would be that indignant about “their” ending not being canon.

      1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

        I actually agree completely with this sentiment.

        But, sadly, corporations tend to make decisions based on fear, no matter how unfounded those fears may be.

      2. Bubble181 says:

        Three times at least in the Command and Conquer universe.
        The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, Morrowind, et al.
        Heroes of Might and Magic (and, I think the original Might & Magic series, too).

        Plenty of Western games with ending choices where one is canon – usually the one at the end of the “good” playthrough rather than “evil”, though there are exceptions.

        1. John says:

          Warcraft 2 is a sequel to the Orc ending of Warcraft 1. Beyond the Dark Portal, an expansion to Warcraft 2, follows from the Human ending of Warcraft 2. I’ve never played Warcraft 3 so I’m not sure what’s going in there.

          Then there’s XCOM 2, which is a sequel to, I believe, the base-invasion Game Over screen from XCOM: Enemy Within.

        2. Will says:

          Amusingly, TES is actually not an example of this; other than “the main character finished the main quest”, canon doesn’t specify an outcome (or an identity for the main character). The most extreme example is between Daggerfall and Morrowind, where the multiple mutually-exclusive endings of Daggerfall all occurred simultaneously due to what is best described as a very large amount of fantasy wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey… stuff. There’s actually an in-game account trying to make sense of it.

    3. Nessus says:

      WHAT THE HELL, ADMINS? I KEEP TRYING TO POST A COMPLETELY NORMAL COMMENT, AND KEEP GETTING DELETED AS “SPAM” FOR NO REASON.

      1. Nessus says:

        ALRIGHT FORTH GODDAMN TRY. NOT SPAM.

        “I consider prequels to be a bad idea for the sci/fi genre in general because of what I call the ‘backwards continuity coolness problem,’ or the Star Trek: Enterprise problem. Any time you make a new thing, you have to make it cooler, sleeker, more modern, and more polished than the thing that preceded it. But the problem with a sci/fi prequel, that puts the creators in a position where they have to make the technology less complicated, less sleek and cool while, at the same time, since this is the next greatest thing, they also have to make the technology more complicated, sleek, and cool. Sci/fi is a forward-moving genre and I prefer when it continues moving in that direction.”

        I don’t think this is really true. There is an enormous breadth of “cool” visual styles in sci-fi, and the emphasis of “moving forward” can easily be frames a “forward” relative to IRL rather than previous entries.

        Star Trek Enterprise, to take your example (massive nerd warning ahead), actually had a huge variety of opportunity, which it squandered largely because it didn’t want to stray from a certain formula (if charitable, because it would feel less Star Trek, if less charitable, so the writes/producers could recycle unused Next-Gen/DS9 scripts with little effort). In a real world where stuff like nu-BSG, the Alien franchise, Firefly, and MA.K exists, it’s not actually hard at all to come up with a visual style that looks both believably “primitive” compared to TOS, yet complex and cool. The setting even has (or had) an in-universe excuse for tech to be unevenly less advanced than one would expect (like touch screens apparently being invented after FTL travel), since the late 20th and early 21 century were previously established as a WWIII/post-apocalypse era for humanity that would have slowed or regressed tech development for a period.

        Which brings us to the story side: Enterprise being set in a technologically less advanced setting (relative to TOS), or a post-post apocalypse setting, doesn’t mean not-looking forward. It’s a perfect opportunity to be the optimistic counterpoint to the common narrative of “it takes hundreds/thousands of years for humanity to get it’s shit back together, and meanwhile EVERYONE’s an asshole” (already implied by “First Contact”, which shows humanity springing back from the madness implied by Q’s courtroom recreations within just a few decades).

        The history before TOS had only a few bullet points worth of fleshing out. Even the things a prequal would have to take for granted are so loose that the filed is wide open, and just because know VERY broadly how it turned out for the the Fed, doesn’t mean we know how it turned out for our characters or ship.

        “Enterprise” had the opportunity to distinguish itself both as a Star Trek series and a stand-alone show in it’s own right. It wasn’t the prequel aspect that crippled the show creatively, it was the the desire/need to make it as much of a paper-thin reskin of the previous shows as possible (something Discovery is now doubling down on).

        Here’s a thought experiment I like to use to counterpoint blanket prequel dismissal:
        Take a series that’s well regarded, say the “Alien” films as an example. Now assume you have a friend who’s seen “Aliens”, but not “Alien”. Do you recommend he/she not bother watching “Alien”? It is, from his/her perspective, functionally a prequel, regardless of what order the movies were conceived and made.

        The difference between an original/sequel and original/prequel relationship is arbitrary from an in-universe or audience perspective. If the former can still be worth watching out of order, that validates the potential of latter. The only practical difference is in whether or not the makers of a prequel allow the distinction to bias their approach.

        1. guy says:

          Prequels are written on the assumption the audience is familiar with the original, which can inform the story for better or worse.

          One common drawback is that often a central element of a work is revealed in-universe partway through and prequel writers are rarely content to leave it out and must have it be revealed to the prequel characters, yet somehow not disclosed to the population at large. For Mass Effect this would be the Reapers, though there’s plenty of margin for alien artifacts “of unknown origin”.

      2. Shamus says:

        Fun fact: There are no “admins”. It’s just me and a sketchy unreliable spam filter.

        I have no idea why your comments were flagged. You’ve left hundreds of legit comments and I have no idea why the system decided to start picking on you now.

        I see you’ve got the same comment posted in two different places and I’m not sure what to make of that. They’re both up now.

        1. Nessus says:

          If I had to guess, it might be that the filter is interpreting timeouts or longer delays between pressing the “reply” and “post” buttons as a sign of spam for some reason, and longer posts are at higher risk. Then some kind of pattern recondition feature kicks in, so once a post is flagged as spam, any post with the same or similar text gets flagged, making it difficult to try again.

          That’s just a guess though.

          The redundant post is probably an attempt that actually did go through, but for some reason the page reload after posting bumped the viewport to the wrong location, so I didn’t see my post and thought it had failed again.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            If I had to guess, it might be that the filter is interpreting timeouts or longer delays between pressing the “reply” and “post” buttons as a sign of spam for some reason, and longer posts are at higher risk.

            I’m not so sure. I never seem to have trouble with it when I spend ages stamping out some intolerable doorstopper. Even when I include a link or two, as I often do.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I’m almost 100% certain this is not the case. Nowadays I most often visit the blog on my nightshift and between doing actual work and me doing long comments or reformulating them ten times (or both) it will sometimes be hours between my pressing reply and actually posting, I don’t think it ever triggered the filter.

    4. guy says:

      The prequel game I had my heart set on was the Rachni Wars; it’s the biggest pre-Shepard event in known history, it has all the major nonhuman races, and it’s nonspecific enough to leave lots of room for player choice.

      1. PPX14 says:

        Can you imagine! Followed by a Krogan Wars sequel! So much more opportunity to learn about the general galactic lore.

  8. Hal says:

    Since there aren’t any relays in the Andromeda galaxy, they have to make the journey using their FTL drive. Even travelling faster than light, it still takes 600 years to complete the voyage.

    Hang on. I’m not going to pretend to have a good understanding of physics, especially the relativistic stuff that happens when you approach light speed.

    But.

    If it takes them 600 years (what an oddly specific number) to reach Andromeda (25.4 Million light years away) then they’re travelling roughly 42 thousand times the speed of light. I don’t care what technobabble they use to justify that.

    However, travelling that speed, it would take you about 2.5 years to travel from one end of the Milky Way to the other. I’m sure the Mass Effect relays, which offer instantaneous travel between points, were super useful. Still . . . in setting where you can travel between stars in minutes, it seems like they would be kind of redundant and not that big of a deal.

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      Yeah – I’ve seen tons of threads where people attempt to break down the math and make sense of it. I’ve never seen it settled in a satisfactory way.

      It’s not exactly 600 years, but it’s close enough that “600” makes a nice shorthand, but I still have to think that whoever was writing this had that number in mind for a reason that we never see.

      For my money, I would’ve been fine had the excuse been “We see a relay in Andromeda and we’re going to point one here at it.” Presumably, they needed to come up with a way to do it that would make it a one-way trip as to not let us come back and actually see the Milky Way post-ME3, but it would take little imagination to make that a one-way trip, and it wouldn’t create a ridiculous, unnecessary math headache in the process.

    2. guy says:

      I don’t think it was addressed but my assumption was they had some kind of experimental super-engine possibly only suitable for use in intergalactic space. A one-way relay that doesn’t require a reciever or something.

      It’s not possible to use a Mass Effect drive continuously for even a few months; the core will overcharge and electrocute the entire crew.

      1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

        The Arks have what’s called an “ODSY Drive System.” Experimental and built specifically for the intergalactic voyage, it recycles the static energy to power the ship’s systems. They also have ram scoops that can grab hydrogen as a secondary fuel source. Though that doesn’t explain why it can go way faster than anything the council races (or the Reapers!) have.

        1. guy says:

          Well, I guess if it can use the static generated from running the drive to power the drive it can basically crank up the FTL speed until the system burns out.

          Bigger problem is that I’d expect tech that lets people get around discharging and thus totally invalidate all existing strategic assumptions to encounter inexplicable breakdowns in the prototype phase until the Salarian fleet puts it into production. Maybe it just has to be so stupidly huge it can’t fit in a dreadnought?

          1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

            Right – it’s such a stupidly-useful improvement of the technology that you’d expect to see everyone scrambling to use it and not just for intergalactic travel. It could completely change how people go about space travel.

            I don’t recall reading anything about the size of the ODSY Drive, but it would make fractionally more sense lore-wise if it was so gigantic that it can only be put on city-sized ships.

            1. guy says:

              Use or eliminate; the Council has a good thing going and might not want to invalidate the existing galactic order. It’s very unlikely it’d begin as a highly publicized civilian effort.

      2. Pax says:

        There’s a Codex entry where they address it. That is one thing I appreciated about Andromeda – whenever I had a question about some lore aspect, there was usually a Codex entry to try and justify it, even if was a Star Trek level technobabble-fest where they just repeat “mass effect” and “element zero” over and over again.

        In this case, the Ark engines redirect the built up static electricity back into ship’s power, which… if it’s that simple, why isn’t everyone doing it? It just kind of feels like it violates some law of physics somewhere, but at least they tried. Maybe it’s the same tech the Reapers use to cross dark space like it ain’t no thang.

        1. guy says:

          Thermodynamics, kind of. It’s a perpetual motion machine basically. You can totally recycle energy like that, but you need to use energy in the process. So they need another power source to run it and they’re going to need to radiate waste heat eventually, but it’s a solution to building up static until it arcs into the crew.

        2. Joe Informatico says:

          The amusing disconnect of Mass Effect: the Codex entries were written by people well-versed in literary hard SF and a good grasp of physics; the cutscenes were rendered by people who really like Star Wars.

      3. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher says:

        Yeah, this is actually explained throughout the game — whether in dialogue or codex entries or something, I can’t remember. It’s still a pretty bad explanation, though, as they come up with *multiple* new innovative technologies that drastically improve on technology that the citadel races don’t even understand.

        It’s all pretty much one hue handwave to get past the massive distances it would take to get to Andromeda that wouldn’t also leave the door open for visitors from the Milky Way.

    3. silver Harloe says:

      unless a year of that is getting up to speed and a year of that is coming down from speed. so it becomes 2.5 minutes + 2 years to use it in-galaxy, but a much more reasonable 598 years + 2 years to use it between galaxies.

      1. Hal says:

        I don’t know how ships work in Mass Effect. But presumably once you’re going FTL, standard physics regarding momentum and acceleration no longer apply. (They don’t seem to in Star Trek.)

        For a sci-fi game, I don’t care what kind of technobabble gets used to justify whatever preposterous technology you want to use. I do care that it’s used and treated consistently within a setting.

        1. guy says:

          In Mass Effect I’m pretty sure it does, it just becomes exceedingly weird because the drive screws with mass and this interacts with momentum in bizarre ways.

        2. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher says:

          Mass Effect engines are…. weird. They don’t experience relativistic effects in quite the same way that you’d see as you closed in on some relatively-high percentage of c, because their engines utilize “the mass effect” to reduce a ship’s mass such that it can engage in FTL travel without its mass technically going to infinity.

    4. INH5 says:

      Your figure for the distance to Andromeda is off by an order of magnitude. So at that speed it would take 25 years to go from one end of the Milky Way to the other.

      Which, IIRC is actually a bit slower than conventional non-relay FTL had been established to be. But maybe they have to go slower for their solution to the drive discharge problem to work, I don’t know.

      1. Hal says:

        Huh, so I am. Not sure why I missed that.

        Also, if that does end up being slower than the existing FTL drive, that’s hilarious. I think a lot of sci-fi writers get in trouble by just handwaving space as “big” without caring about actual distances between stars and galaxies.

        Regardless, once you’re pushing ships at relativistic speeds in FTL travel, I feel like there needs to be some justification for going X times the speed of light, and not X+1. I mean, make your technobabble as dense and incomprehensible as you need to, but if you’re going to move the boundaries, you should probably tell us where the new boundaries are.

        1. guy says:

          Well, the conventional FTL had limited range. Operating it caused a charge to build up on the core, and it had to be discharged into a planetary magnetic field every so often or it would instead discharge into the crew. That’s why the Mass Relays were so important; they could skip over areas where there weren’t any planets with magnetic fields.

    5. Nessus says:

      GODDAMIT, THIS ISN’T SPAM. STOP FILTERING COMMENTS AS “SPAM” JUST BECAUSE OF A TIMEOUT WHILE THE PERSON IS TYPING.

      See “reply” below for actual comment (HOPEFULLY).

      1. Nessus says:

        “I consider prequels to be a bad idea for the sci/fi genre in general because of what I call the ‘backwards continuity coolness problem,’ or the Star Trek: Enterprise problem. Any time you make a new thing, you have to make it cooler, sleeker, more modern, and more polished than the thing that preceded it. But the problem with a sci/fi prequel, that puts the creators in a position where they have to make the technology less complicated, less sleek and cool while, at the same time, since this is the next greatest thing, they also have to make the technology more complicated, sleek, and cool. Sci/fi is a forward-moving genre and I prefer when it continues moving in that direction.”

        I don’t think this is really true. There is an enormous breadth of “cool” visual styles in sci-fi, and the emphasis of “moving forward” can easily be frames a “forward” relative to IRL rather than previous entries.

        Star Trek Enterprise, to take your example (massive nerd warning ahead), actually had a huge variety of opportunity, which it squandered largely because it didn’t want to stray from a certain formula (if charitable, because it would feel less Star Trek, if less charitable, so the writes/producers could recycle unused Next-Gen/DS9 scripts with little effort). In a real world where stuff like nu-BSG, the Alien franchise, Firefly, and MA.K exists, it’s not actually hard at all to come up with a visual style that looks both believably “primitive” compared to TOS, yet complex and cool. The setting even has (or had) an in-universe excuse for tech to be unevenly less advanced than one would expect (like touch screens apparently being invented after FTL travel), since the late 20th and early 21 century were previously established as a WWIII/post-apocalypse era for humanity that would have slowed or regressed tech development for a period.

        Which brings us to the story side: Enterprise being set in a technologically less advanced setting (relative to TOS), or a post-post apocalypse setting, doesn’t mean not-looking forward. It’s a perfect opportunity to be the optimistic counterpoint to the common narrative of “it takes hundreds/thousands of years for humanity to get it’s shit back together, and meanwhile EVERYONE’s an asshole” (already implied by “First Contact”, which shows humanity springing back from the madness implied by Q’s courtroom recreations within just a few decades).

        The history before TOS had only a few bullet points worth of fleshing out. Even the things a prequal would have to take for granted are so loose that the filed is wide open, and just because know VERY broadly how it turned out for the the Fed, doesn’t mean we know how it turned out for our characters or ship.

        “Enterprise” had the opportunity to distinguish itself both as a Star Trek series and a stand-alone show in it’s own right. It wasn’t the prequel aspect that crippled the show creatively, it was the the desire/need to make it as much of a paper-thin reskin of the previous shows as possible (something Discovery is now doubling down on).

        Here’s a thought experiment I like to use to counterpoint blanket prequel dismissal:
        Take a series that’s well regarded, say the “Alien” films as an example. Now assume you have a friend who’s seen “Aliens”, but not “Alien”. Do you recommend he/she not bother watching “Alien”? It is, from his/her perspective, functionally a prequel, regardless of what order the movies were conceived and made.

        The difference between an original/sequel and original/prequel relationship is arbitrary from an in-universe or audience perspective. If the former can still be worth watching out of order, that validates the potential of latter. The only practical difference is in whether or not the makers of a prequel allow the distinction to bias their approach.

  9. Karma The Alligator says:

    Wait, you’re actually serious about Cerberus funding the initiative? For real? And they still had enough left over to revive Shepard and build a new Normandy (something that they said left them nearly broke), and make armies that can compete with the whole galaxy combined when it was time for ME3? Just how in love were the writers with Cerberus?

  10. Nick Powell says:

    It’s not really relevant to this post, but this page has a few text issues on it. One of the image mouseover messages is full of HTML and the umlaut in Shrödinger (near the bottom of the page) is showing as random characters

    Anyway, I’m enjoying what little we have of this series of posts so far. I’m always happy to read more Mass Effect related stuff

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      Just finished going through the whole retrospective again, and I noticed that (the weird characters instead of the umlaut) on a few pages, especially in the comments, as well.

      1. Droid says:

        Isn’t encoding of non-standard characters the best thing ever?

        And when I say that, I obviously mean “how is this still such a problem, even when switching between two very popular and actively maintained standards?”

        1. Nick Powell says:

          They’re only non-standard in English anyway. This whole situation might have been easier if modern OSes had been originally developed in a country that used more characters than could fit into a single byte

  11. Christopher Wolf says:

    I think you can make an argument for the Krogan. The Council had used them has a WMD before and various races were going into unknown territory. Sure its a WMD that you cannot count on 100% but I am sure their ability to wage war on potential enemies was taken as a net positive.

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      I remember back in the day when this game was in development, there was a leaked survey document where they were asking for feedback and one of the questions was “Which races do you want to see?” I’ve often wondered if the results of that survey affected who we ultimately saw. Like had they decided that the council races were a shoe-in and the Krogan won the survey and they decided “Then let’s throw them in there too”? Probably not, but I can’t help but wonder.

      1. guy says:

        Also, the Volus, Elcor, and Hanar can’t really use the same animations as the Council Races, which is part of why they were sidelined to begin with and with the engine change the stuff made for the later ME3 multiplayer DLC would have to be scrapped.

        Still kinda confused they didn’t have some Quarian engineers on the Nexus, though; makes sense in-universe and Tali was really popular. You’d think they’d want to have New Tali crawling around the Tempest’s engine room, at least.

  12. Cubic says:

    Everything is fine.

    Hey guys, the SSRIs are much better in the future.

  13. Lars says:

    Leave the Quarians behind makes no sense at all. If you want to fly a ship for a few hundred years to an unknown destiny, you definitely want to keep some Quarians close by. They have a lot of experience keeping very old ships fly. And than a Krogan as Nexus head engineer. Ridiculous. And it would be very interesting to see the Quarian Pathfinder. A Quarian deeply cooperating with an AI is mostly unlikely. Some inner conflict would be unavoidable.

    Volus would be another/better explanation, of who and how the Andromeda project was funded. They don’t have the power, but they have the wealth. If they wouldn’t get promoted on the Citadel, the would build their own Citadel and send it to this new galaxy. That would also fit with the timeline.

    No Drell is not a problem for me. They were a poorly established species with only two visible specimen in the whole trilogy anyway.
    Elcor were played for jokes in ME2/3. Would be the same thing in Andromeda – and that would be a shame. Vorcha have nothing to add and nothing to gain in the Andromeda expedition. Leaving them out is logical. Hanar and cryogenic coffins. I don’t think that mix well.

    If the Quarians have their own Arc, why aren’t any Quarians on the Nexus? All the other races had personal on the Nexus (and had holographs in that meet and greet museum).

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      If they wouldn’t get promoted on the Citadel, the would build their own Citadel

      With Asari and whatever the game they had in ME1 is called!

    2. Pax says:

      There should’ve totally been Vorcha on the Nexus or on one of the Arks. No, not as crew or passengers, but as vermin that snuck on at some point during construction. A small, mobile nest of Vorcha that constantly steal supplies and chews on power cables. During the 600 year travel, they would’ve had their run of the ship(s), and would’ve passed through a hundred or more generations. Who knows what the advanced Vorcha civilization would’ve looked like on the other end of the trip!

      1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

        Heck, even a couple of Batarian mercs made the trip, though they were strictly part of the multi-player.

      2. T-rex says:

        I think they would fit in the initiative. They were going to a place that can have inhospitable worlds for some species, but not for Vorcha. Everything is good enough of Vorcha.

    3. RFS-81 says:

      And than a Krogan as Nexus head engineer. Ridiculous.

      Space racist ;)

      But seriously, what’s so bad about having a few aliens being cast against type? There’s got to be Klingon* engineers, too.

      * Not a typo, just avoiding to reveal the super secret spoiler ;)

      1. Lars says:

        There is nothing bad about it, if it fits the scale. There are Krogan scientist in Mass Effect. The Doc who created Grunt for example. In Andromeda the little fiancee of the head engineer is a very good and fitting character of Krogan science. Very important for the Krogan survival, but mobbed by the “more traditional” Krogans.

        But the Nexus is at top of Turian, Salarian, Asari and Human technologie (like the Normandy). To let a Krogan lead the maintenance is far out of scale. (She is a replacement I know. The supposed Salarian head engineer died at arrival.)

        I hid this “spoiler” because I’m pretty sure Shamus wants to talk about this nonsense. And he hinted about the good parts of Andromeda being the personal crew stories. The little fiancee is one of the best parts of Andromeda.

        1. Karma The Alligator says:

          Wait, the head of the engineers was a Salarian… the short lived species? How would it have worked? Were they going to not address any of the problems until they’d be woken up 600 years later? Or would they have kept waking them up every time? I assumed they made the Krogan the head because they live long, so they wouldn’t even need to be in cryo for the trip and could take care of the problems as they popped up (Asari would have also worked).

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            I think everyone was in cyrostasis the whole way.

            Honestly, a Quarian or something would have made the most sense, but the Salarians are arguably more quick on their feet and more adaptable to new situations because of their short lifespans. And they figured that if the expedition outlived the head engineer, they’d probably be fine.

            Also, the tech is apparently pretty new, so the older races might actually be at a disadvantage for the first years.

  14. Darren says:

    There’s kind of a trend in RPGs lately (by which I mean the last 5-10 years or so) where the main story is rather noticeably weaker than the side narratives.

    The Witcher 3, Pillars of Eternity 2, Andromeda, Skyrim, Dragon Age: Inquisition… That’s odd, right? I’m sure it’s easier for individual writers to really strut their stuff when they get to just sit down and write a companion or a side quest without having to worry overmuch about the main thrust of the story, but you’d think that project managers would try to wrangle stronger central stories for these games.

    Are there any recent RPGs where the central narrative really took center stage? I have to cast my mind back to NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer to really think of an RPG where I thought just about everything was in service to the main narrative and its themes and it clearly stood out above the side stories.

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but… what sidequest in Skyrim was better than the abysmal main story (haven’t played any of the DLC)?

      1. BlueHorus says:

        The Drinking Contest.
        (For my money)

        Bethesda’s writing style can’t be bothered with things like ‘planning out motivations’, ‘keeping characters consistent’ or ‘making sense beyond the moment’. The word is ‘Shallow’, with the capital S intentional.
        So the Drinking Contest quest fits their foibles perfectly: You get blind drunk with a Daedric Lord, and the rest of the quest is trying to fix/work out what you did last night. It doesn’t make any sense, but it doesn’t need to.
        Any questions can be answered by either ‘Drunk!’ or ‘Immortal Demon-God!’

        It’s much better than when Beth is trying to be serious.

      2. Viktor says:

        Dark Brotherhood and Companions. Neither is great, especially compared to Oblivion’s DB or Morrowind’s Fighters, but they’re both good enough.

    2. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      I would argue that it’s the result of the trend toward open worlds and the idea that the number of hours spent in a game is where the value is at instead of the quality of the hours played.

      I don’t know that the main stories are getting weaker. I think it might be more a case of the main stories getting lost in the deluge of side content that wasn’t there in years past. It’s hard to really invest in a main story when you have dozens of hours of meandering side content between acts.

      Main stories just can’t have temporal urgency anymore if the character can go off and pick flowers and make potions for 37 hours. Concepts like “pace” go right out the window. If main stories are weaker, I’d say it’s because they’ve had to unshackle all of the moments of a main story to allow for maximum meandering of the players between them. I think there’s just not as good of a sound to noise ratio in current RPGs.

    3. guy says:

      Tales Of Berseria.

      I think it’s partially that in open-world games the main story can’t be fully contained, while side stories get a whole plot section to themselves.

    4. Christopher says:

      This is definitely an open world WRPG thing, for the most part. Like if you just want a tighter RPG with a focus on making the main story the best and not much attention to the side bits? That’s all JRPGs. That’s Persona 5. But if you want the open worlds and the choices and the customizable no-face protag, you gotta loosen that focus. You can _try_ to do both. But it’s hard.

      1. guy says:

        I think it’s in a sense impossible, because the open world means you can’t control the pacing; you can’t lock away huge areas for indefinite periods.

        The smaller stories work better in part because they can lock the player in for the duration of the mission. Also in part because there’s fewer moving parts for the writer to keep track of.

        1. Trevor says:

          WoW did this pretty well (and maybe still does?). I know it’s different because it’s an MMO and there’s no overarching story, but these open world games are kind of like single player MMOs. The individual zones in WoW had their own plots and things happening within them that kept your interest while exploring each one in a way that Eos and Voeld did not for me. They felt like they were plates that I was meant to keep spinning for a greater purpose, but there ended up being no real purpose.

    5. Bloodsquirrel says:

      I think it’s a combination of two things:

      The first is that the games are being written as planned trilogies. While there are advantages to writing an epic story that spans multiple games, there are some traps and challenges as well. One is that you have to make sure that you have a strong arc for each individual game, including a satisfying climax and conclusion. I think that people underestimate how important a good ending is for a story- it’s not just the last 5% of the story, it’s where things tie together and you get payoff for all of the dramatic buildup. The first/second game of a planned trilogy can fall into the trap of having a weak ending because they can’t resolve the central conflict until the last installment. There’s also the issue of taking a story idea that may have just the right amount of substance for one game being dragged out into three. A story which is based around a single strong idea is often better off being able to introduce the idea, explore it, and wrap things up in one installment while the player is still thinking. Planescape: Torment is a good example- that story would have been nothing but weaker if it gave us two games of The Nameless One faffing around before giving us an answers in the third. Pillars 2 and Tyranny, meanwhile, are both games that lack a solid conclusion, and feel incomplete because of it.

      The second is that “player choice” now means “branching storylines”. Aside from the obvious problems with spreading out resources, they also mean watering down your story in some areas because it can’t commit to certain things. Combine this with point one and you can have two installments that try to somehow, at once, present the player with a branching storyline options while also keeping things contained enough across two games to keep the third game manageable.

      If you look at a game like KOTOR, you can see how being written as a stand-alone game that only branches at the end gave the writers the freedom to craft a solid story arc that has clear direction and delivers a strong resolution. And it does it without being all that linear -you can choose which order you want to experience a large amount of the content in, and each planet offers a lot of choices and some branching, but all in self-contained ways.

      And I think it’s telling that the choice at the end of the game feels far more substantive than, say, Tyranny’s branching paths, even though the difference between the two choices, measured in volume of unique content, is very small. It’s a very efficient design- starting with your first battle with Bastilla, the difference between the two endings involves a handful of cutscenes, a couple of conversations and options, and a different ending cinematic. But it’s a huge difference in-universe, the game is very clear on what the difference is and commits to it, takes the direction of the central arc that’s been building up all along in two completely different directions, and is very empowering to the player.

      I don’t think that open-world design is at fault- the first Baldur’s Gate had something of an open world. I think the developers just need to walk back certain assumptions about player choice and the value of writing the series as a trilogy (or worse, an endless series of games that never reaches a resolution).

  15. Thomas says:

    I’m feeling like I much prefer ME3 to Andromeda. Andromeda doesn’t get hate purely because it didn’t do enough to arouse any emotion at all.

    The Initiative should be so cool! A whole new galaxy. Frontiers. Exploration. Radically upending ME politics. New aliens.

    And yet it’s all so nothing.

  16. Rich says:

    Lambaste with an e at the end.

  17. Syal says:

    What I couldn’t accept was that the storyteller was changing genres in the middle of a single adventure.

    Complete tangent, but this is why meta-narratives suck. I can think of two fantasy games I’ve played that turn into “this fantasy world is a coping mechanism for the character’s real-life trauma”, and I can’t think of a worse thing you could do. I signed on for fantasy, I don’t give a crap about your attempt at real-life pathos.

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

      I don’t know if that’s a problem with meta-fantasy, as such, as much as it is a problem with “WHAT A TWIST!” from a writer who’s more interested in trying to surprise the reader than he is with considering whether story, once the reader is finished being surprised, is actually compelling on its own.

      The Adventures of Baron von Munchhausen is a meta-narrative, but it’s awesome, because the entire package ties together and has a thematic point to it.

      1. Syal says:

        I hesitate to call them twists, really; one establishes the meta-narrative by the end of the first dungeon, the other starts hinting at it in the title screen. But it expects you to be interested in the “real” story, which has no game mechanics, and meanwhile everything you interact with is undermined by knowing it’s some meaningless head noise.

        What separates these games from Baron Munchhausen and Big Fish is, in BM and BF whether any or all of the world is fake is an open question. One character insists it’s the truth, another insists it’s a lie, and you have to see the end to know what’s what, if you even know then.

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          > and meanwhile everything you interact with is undermined by knowing it’s some meaningless head noise.

          Well, that’s a problem with the individual story, then, not the format. A competent writer would be telling the real-world story through the fantasy story. Lost Highway is another movie that comes to mind there- most of the movie would appear to be occurring, in some sense, inside of the main character’s head, but what makes it interesting is what the fugue world tells us about what must have happened in reality. Or, for a comedic example, how the fictional show in Garth Meringue’s Dark Place is being used to tell us a story about the real Garth Meringue.

          1. guy says:

            Generally if there isn’t some basis on which to infer the “actual” events underlying the fantasy I consider the fantasy to be the story and everything else just a frame story at most.

  18. Robbert Ambrose B. Stopple says:

    Spoiler here, but was it ever actually confirmed that it was Cerberus that bankrolled the Andromeda expedition? I recall that much of the funding came from a secret benefactor, but their identity was kept hidden for the entire duration of the game, ostensibly as a blatent bait for dlc or sequel.

    Personally I have a fan theory that the benefactor was the council, as that would be the most plausable explanation for the massive scope and finances of the initative as well as a very good reason as to why the governments looked away the whole time.

    1. slipshod says:

      Yeah, I had this same question. I don’t think the benefactor was ever confirmed. Instead, a whole plotline with Jien Garson’s murder was being set up, potentially connecting whatever happened to Ryder’s dad and his pet AI project (aka SAM). Could’ve been an interesting story. The Jardaan/Meridian, too. And whether Tann is evil. Oh and whether the evil AI is good. Who made the Kett. What they want. Why the Jardaan created the Angara. And, you know, Mom.

      1. guy says:

        I stalled out a planet or so after meeting the Angara, but I was under the impression the kett made the kett; the stuff we got on the first planet where we meet them seemed to indicate they were basically big on xenogenetic augments and kept hunting down new species to salvage interesting bits of their genetic code. I assumed it’d been their idea all along.

    2. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      I’ve been thinking about this myself and I can’t think of a single instance where it’s definitively stated that the Andromeda Initiative is in any way a Cerberus operation, or even a direct result of Cerberus money. The mysterious “Benefactor” seemed to be the major source of money and I know that most people assumed that it was The Illusive Man or one of his stooges, but I don’t remember anything anywhere that confirms any of that as fact.

      But with that being said, The Andromeda Initiative immediately failed at every level upon arriving in Andromeda and nobody involved was competent or capable enough to fix anything until Ryder came rolling up. That sort of systemic failure has “Cerberus” written all over it.

    3. Shamus says:

      The secret benefactor snuck a secret agent aboard the initiative, with orders to assassinate the leader of the initiative upon arrival to Andromeda. The game never named them Cerberus, but is there ANOTHER clandestine group of idiot griefers with trillions of credits to throw around?

  19. Viktor says:

    So, let’s discuss which races should be brought along from a meta standpoint(since basically anything except excluding the Qunari could be justified in-universe). Personally, I’d avoid the Council races completely except humans*. We’ve seen them a lot already, teamed up with them repeatedly, let’s give the players something new. I agree that Volus/Hanar/Elcor were likely vetoed by the animation team, but excluding them seems weak. Maybe have the Volus be the financing behind the expedition and therefore in charge, to give us Volus in a position of power(which is new) but not needing a significant amount of combat animations etc. The others, sadly, we’ll have to ignore. Qunari are obvious, this is their specialty. Batarians would be good if we want to go with a “the races that feel excluded by the council” theme, and the uncomfortable Human/Batarian interactions would be gold. Vorcha stowaways are another interesting option, though it may be too many default-villain races from the previous universe. The Drell never got explored, are human-shaped, and Thane was a fan favorite. Definitely a reasonable pick. So, my list:

    Volus (Ark, leadership positions, no squadmates)
    Qunari (Engineers, no official ark)
    Batarians(Ark)
    Humans(Ark)
    Drell(Ark)
    Vorcha(stowaways)

    Maybe swap one of the races for a completely new race who are recently elevated**, maybe have a handful of Krogan mercs who treat this as a suicide mission, but I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff we could do with this with minimal difficulty.

    *And I wish I could avoid humans, too.
    **A new biotic-user group could be interesting, especially if they’re new to galactic society like humans.

    1. Daimbert says:

      since basically anything except excluding the Qunari could be justified in-universe

      You mean the Quarians, The Qunari are the horn-headed race from Dragon Age. To be fair, though, yeah, they REALLY couldn’t be justified in-universe [grin].

      1. PPX14 says:

        Haha thank you I was about to look up what this race was I hadn’t heard of. I did run around wearing Dragon Age “Blood Dragon” armour in ME2 come to think of it.

    2. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      If we want to meta-game this, I think it’s worth noting that race often doesn’t trump characters. For example, do I really like Turians, or do I just really like Garrus? Do I really like the Drell, or do I just really like Thane? I think that if you give me a good Asari character, I’ll think better of having the Asari there on the whole. I agree that having diversity as a general trait for your characters is just a solid bedrock idea, but when it comes time to rank the order of interest in bringing them to this new galaxy, you’ll struggle to form a majority consensus. If you make an engaging example of “X Race,” then that race will be interesting by extension.

      That being said, the one race that I was personally hoping for was a race that was completely omitted from your list: The Geth. Within the context of what you’re proposing here, they would have to be stowaways, but how fascinating would it be to get to Andromeda, find that you have Geth among you, discover what we learn about them in ME3 in that their only goal is to prosper like any other race, then learn to work with them to overcome the obstacles of a new galaxy. Sounds like fun to me.

      1. Viktor says:

        I specifically considered the Geth and rejected them because I couldn’t think of a reason anyone would want to bring them. Dammit, you’re a genius.

        And yeah, the quality of the individual squadmates is key, not just the race, but I worry about the ME writers’ ability to include members of a race we’ve seen a lot of without going either “Here’s a Turian, he’s a straight-laced soldier who struggles with orders vs morality” or “Here’s an Asari, she’s COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from every other Asari you’ve ever met”*. Breaking away from the established races and dynamics lets the writers worry less about what came before and more about what’s good for this story, while naturally establishing unexplored interactions we can have some fun with.

        *This isn’t even a comment on them TBH, writing for a non-human species in an established setting is a PAIN.

        1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

          Considering that it was the Geth who discovered the Heleus Cluster in the first place, you’d think they’d have a vested interest in being part of any expedition that goes there. They could stow away or even mount their own expedition. One could argue that they didn’t seem interested in travelling beyond the Perseus Veil, but then why would they grab a mass relay, convert it into what amounts to a real time, long distance telescope, and go pointing it at another galaxy? One could consider that they were scouting the possibility of going somewhere where they could prosper without stamping all over the toes of the other races who are their de facto enemies.

          And it’s one of the most well-worn sequel tropes of all time: We have to team up with our former enemies because we now have a mutual enemy of greater power and plans that are even more nefarious. One of the themes in ME:A is “What if the Council races were wrong about AI being evil and dangerous across the board?” The Geth are a walking, talking example of what that discussion could mean.

          If nothing else, it’s a perfect way of preserving the Geth for the people who picked the “destroy” ending in ME3.

          1. Louve says:

            The Geth didn’t discover the Heleus Cluster.

            “The geth aboard it didn’t seem interested in other galaxies; instead they appeared to be searching for something in dark space…”

            http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Kholas_Array

            The Geth weren’t using the Telescope to look at Galaxies, they were trying to find the Reapers. It was a Quarian who, somehow, used the Telescope to gather data on the Andromeda Galaxy and then provided the data to the Andromeda Initiative. (I assume the Mass Effect: Discovery comics explain how)

            1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

              Hmm… fascinating. How do these comment sections make the ME:A lore seem way more interesting than it actually is in the game?

        2. guy says:

          I think the merc companies in ME2 demonstrate that the races all have room for variation while maintaining their theme. And the actual characters on the Nexus aren’t just the stock characterization for the species.

          I think the Geth just don’t work as part of the colonization effort in any capacity, though. Their abilities and requirements are totally disjoint from the organics to the point that they don’t even really compete for attention. They simply have no need for biospheres whatsoever, and anything computerized the colonists need to build can also serve as a mobile platform, so they end up invalidating a lot of the colonization plot if they cooperate, and if they don’t they can just walk off and snag some airless ball of rock of no possible interest to anyone else.

      2. guy says:

        I think the Council Races coming along is a potentially interesting idea in itself; it shows what they’re like when they aren’t the Council Races. Though it might not work with a human protagonist; what I’d really want to see is them demonstrating why they were the original Council Races to begin with, with Asari diplomacy, Salarian espionage, and Turian military discipline securing a foothold in Andromeda.

        From that perspective, it might work better if they’d had fleets instead of the Arks, and the disaster at the edge of the galaxy would scatter and mix the fleets instead of crippling the Arks. Mixed species Arks wouldn’t quite work because of the Turian biological incompatibility; it’s sustainable on a space ship but they’d want a different biosphere on arrival.

        Also I would kinda have liked to play an alien protagonist.

    3. baud says:

      Volus had combat animation in ME3 multiplayer. They couldn’t use cover and had a bunch of specific power, with some support options. It worked, even without cover.
      Or if the animator didn’t want to do a bunch of combat animations for them, they could have kept them in a non-combat postion (even perhaps on your ship!).

  20. Agammamon says:

    As with the last two Mass Effect games, the worst writing is found at the core of the story and the best writing is found in the squadmate side-missions.

    Its a sad commentary on the place writing has in videogames in general that this is so commonplace. It seems the bigger the game, the bigger the gameworld, the less capable the developer is in making the overarching plot and dialogue interesting (or even just more than cringy) – but you’ll usually find hints as to the quality of the people on the writing team in sidequests done up by one or two of them on their own.

    Mainly I think its because the game director always considers the ‘main quest’ to be a much lower priority than any of the other hundred things that require his attention and so allows it to be butchered as necessary to fix some other problem he considers more important at the time.

  21. Joe Informatico says:

    I guess “kett” is more like a political affiliation than a nationality or species. So it would be like being e.g. a communist or a conservative in terms of outlook, but not necessarily a member of the Communist or Conservative Party. But are the kett more like a religion? You usually capitalize the name of adherents of a faith, e.g. Christian, Hindu, Buddhist. But maybe they’re not because the kett are more like an infection or affliction, aren’t they? You don’t capitalize “leper” or “cancer patient” or “plague victim”–maybe that’s what they have in mind.

  22. Ivan says:

    So, I have something of a nitpick with the premise, namely that it kinda doesn’t absolve them of (dealing with) ME3’s ending all that much. They left ‘the galaxy’ to head to another galaxy. But they left it with their FTL drives. The ME3 ending colored dome (spherical, keep this in mind) of plot converted the entire galaxy into… something. Galaxies are not spherical (this one isn’t, anyway), nor are they even uniform in their radius. There is no ‘outermost ring’ of stars that are absolutely ideally placed to be the outermost edge of our galaxy.

    So, even charitably assuming that to get to Andromeda, they left from the outermost Mass Relay of the Milky Way disc, they *still* would have been covered by the ending dome. Which we have to assume ended up as a spherical dome big enough (and then some, since whoever designed the crucible surely knew galaxies expand over time) to include even the outermost rocks that could charitably be included within the ‘galaxy’.

    ^ I may have some assumptions wrong, or some ME details for that matter, never played past the first hour or so of 2.

    1. INH5 says:

      It wasn’t one big explosion. Every mass relay had its own explosion. Presumably the area of effect would cover the disc but not extend too far “vertically.” I don’t believe Andromeda is aligned with the galactic plane, and they had a 2 year or so head start, so I don’t think it’s that implausible that they could have outrun the RGB space magic.

    2. Philadelphus says:

      Galaxies are not spherical (this one isn’t, anyway), nor are they even uniform in their radius. There is no ‘outermost ring’ of stars that are absolutely ideally placed to be the outermost edge of our galaxy.

      To be pedantic, some elliptical and plenty of dwarf galaxies are pretty spherical (such as M32, an elliptical companion galaxy to Andromeda), but you’re absolutely correct both about the Milky Way not being spherical and that galaxies don’t have hard, defined edges, just exponentially trailing off stellar densities.

  23. C__ says:

    Maybe is “lore-nitpicking”, but it is a ” lore-nitpicking” where, in subtext, EA is screaming “whatever, we really just don’t care. You guys are buying anyway because pew-pew, no?”

  24. Dragmire says:

    “Heck, who paid for this thing?”

    Probably Cerberus.

    ….

    Wait, what? That was the serious answer!?

    1. Daimbert says:

      I see I’m not the only one that had this reaction …

  25. Doc M says:

    Unless I am completely losing my mind here, the names of the alien races never were capitalized in the original Mass Effect games. It’s always been the asari, turians, quarians etc. in the subtitles and the rest of the in-game text, and when people on forums and such would capitalize those I’ve always wondered why.

    Maybe I should start another playthrough of ME1 to make sure I’m not imagining things!

  26. paercebal says:

    For me, the main premise makes no sense.

    First, Andromeda is presented as a new frontier. According to the relevant Mass Effect Wiki article (http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Codex/Citadel_and_Galactic_Government#Citadel_Space), less then 1% of the star systems in the Milky Way was explored.

    That means 99% of the galaxy remains to be explored. Why make a tremendous effort to explore a galaxy 3 millions light years away when you have the same, uncharted worlds waiting for you at home?

    Of course, the “reapers” could be a reason enough. But as this is a secret, how can you convince tens of thousands of people to lose all hope of seeing their loved ones again to explore another galaxy when this one is still unexplored?

    And who in their right mind thought sending colonists in other civilizations backyards would be well received by the locals?

    While I love the idea of exploring a new galaxy, the motivation for Mass Effect is so shaky it broke my immersion.

    I believe they should have made the Reapers an open knowledge: Every one on the Nexus would know they have escaped extinction, and hope they won’t find Reapers in Andromeda, or they won’t get followed. This would be similar to Galactica’s “Exodus” premise, but if the premise is good, why not use it?

    This exiled people would then have to choose, in the long term, whether prepare for a return to the Milky Way, to end the Reaper threat once and for all (for revenge, or out of a sense of duty to all the newly emerging species), or to just let bygones be bygones, and hope the Reapers would not expand their operation to the whole Local Group.

  27. Mr. Wolf says:

    Shamus! Speaking of Arrival, did you ever end up playing the DLCs? Because now you can buy direct from Origin with real money instead of poker chips and arcade tokens at the Bioware concession stand. Although it’s still kind of wonky since they only sell them as bundles rather than individually.

    1. Christopher Wolf says:

      Hi Mr. Wolf, Dr. Wolf here.

  28. Christopher Wolf says:

    Alternative Reason for Krogan: Arrogance on the part of the Andromeda Initiative. Sure, those Salarian’s couldn’t keep their big guns under control, but we have a mostly effective genophage clamping down on our shock troo….I mean valued Initiative members. We got this.

    Having worked with managers who think they know better…I see this as a real possibility.

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