Andromeda Part 9: The Squad

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 11, 2018

Filed under: Mass Effect 77 comments

One of the goals BioWare had for Andromeda was to make a game about being an explorer. That’s what the whole “Pathfinder” thing is about. Strange new worlds, new life, new civilizations, boldly go, etc etc. It’s a great thematic fit for a sci-fi series like this.

But then apparently someone else on the team decided that the Pathfinder should be fourteen months late to the party. The Nexus exiled a bunch of people and now they’re scattered all over the cluster. In the course of the game, you will never be the first person to set foot on a world. For the major worlds, you’re not even the first person from the Milky Way. You’re not even the first human. Everywhere you go you’re bumping into existing human communities and structures.

You’re not the Pathfinder, you’re a tourist.


Before we take off in our shiny new spaceship, let’s look at our starting squad members. Like Mass Effect 1, you begin with a couple of humans and then add aliens to the crew as the story goes on.

As before, your crew members have special “loyalty missions”, which are quests dedicated to their character. In Mass Effect 2, you had to do someone’s loyalty mission to enable them to survive taking part in the suicide mission. It felt a little arbitrary. How does settling Garrus’ grudge enable him to survive a rocket to the face?

Here in Andromeda, you can’t unlock the top-tier abilities for a character until you make them loyal. I like this better. It makes a little more sense and it makes them more generally useful. If I make Garrus loyal in Mass Effect 2, that’s only useful in specific circumstances during the final mission. If I make Cora loyal here in Andromeda, she’s more useful every time we’re in combat together.

Cora Harper

Sorry for being rude earlier. As an EX-Navy SEAL I should be in total control of my emotions at all times.
Sorry for being rude earlier. As an EX-Navy SEAL I should be in total control of my emotions at all times.

Cora has this odd tic where she’s constantly mentioning that she used to be an Asari CommandoThe Asari are the biotic badasses of the galaxy, so it’s a big deal if a human is good enough to join their elite ranks. It’s like a human being good enough to join a crack unit of elite Elvish Bowmen.. It comes up in conversation with her on a regular basis. After the first couple of times, it starts to feel like she’s an insecure braggart. It’s like a guy that’s constantly telling everyone how he used to be a Navy SEAL. The first time might impress you, but by the third or fourth time you might start to feel like he’s sort of sad and desperate for attention.

The thing is, I think this is completely unintentional. I have this suspicion that different people wrote her various scenes. Each of them read her character description, saw she used to be an Asari Commando, and thought, “Oh, that’s interesting. I should make sure to work that in.”

Strangely, her loyalty mission is kind of part of the main questActually, there are kind of two “main quests” in this game. I’ll cover that later., so I’ll cover her mission when we reach that point in the game.

This is the first Mass Effect game where a human is my favorite squaddie. Although maybe that’s less about how good Cora is and more about how lackluster your alien buddies are. Ignoring her odd habit of bringing up her commando position all the time, I kinda like her generally upbeat attitude. Her side-plot about growing Milky Way plants here in Andromeda forms a sort of thematic connection with the premise of the game. It’s not much, but it’s a nice sentiment.

More importantly, one of her combat abilities is a shield boost that extends to the player character. I favor a very mobile, high-risk style of play, and her shield boost reduces the time I have to spend cowering behind cover.

Liam Kosta

I appreciate the more natural movement and more ambitious cinematography in this scene. It's not just shot / reverse-shot.
I appreciate the more natural movement and more ambitious cinematography in this scene. It's not just shot / reverse-shot.

Liam is unremarkable as a squaddie. He’s a nice guy. Ex-cop. His backstory pretty much writes itself. No surprises. But the thing that makes him unique is his loyalty mission, which is actually pretty divisive. Some players found it annoying or frustrating. The mission doesn’t become available until much later in the story, but let’s talk about it now.

Liam decides, all by himself, that he wants to build bridges with the local aliens. Without permission, he shares the location of the Nexus with one of the alien leaders we meet in Andromeda. She is then captured by enemy forces. The concern is that they might extract the location of the Nexus from her. The Nexus has no weaponry, so secrecy is the only thing keeping it from being boarded and plundered.

This places the entire Initiative at risk. A reasonable person might conclude that this screwup is just too big to tolerate. Like having Ashley kill Wrex, this isn’t the kind of thing the player is likely to forgive. Even after you do the mission and fix thingsBy killing all the pirates., you might wish you could dump Liam back on the Nexus so someone else can babysit him. There are several other people from the Pathfinder team inexplicably cooling their heels back at the Nexus, why can’t I dump the dangerously incompetent Liam and take one of those other guys?

In fact, the two-option dialog wheel won’t let you do anything about his failures. You can barely even chastise him.

There's a fun gag where the game plays booming villain music whenever the antagonist appears on-screen, but then cuts out again when you hang up on him. Made me laugh.
There's a fun gag where the game plays booming villain music whenever the antagonist appears on-screen, but then cuts out again when you hang up on him. Made me laugh.

The thing is, this side-mission is actually a major tonal shift from the rest of the game. In terms of tone, I’d say it’s closer to the Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC: A comedy adventure where the stakes are supposedly high but you never get the sense that the bad guys have much of a chance. It’s a rollercoaster of jokes and banter.

The problem is that the rest of this game takes itself so deadly seriously that this tonal shift might feel kind of confusing. It’s like cutting from the dour mood of Thor: The Dark World to the wacky hijinks of the Thor: Ragnarok. Making things worse is that when Liam reveals his mistake, you haven’t yet begun the mission and therefore you’re still in the poe-faced tone of the main story. You’re therefore likely to take this threat very seriously – much more seriously than the characters take it. It’s not until you begin the mission that you realize you’re up against a joke of a villain and everything is going to be just fine.

I’m a bit torn here. In isolation, I really love this mission. It’s one of the exceptionally rare parts of the game where the jokes land. It’s also successful in a way that the main story isn’t. The main story tries to be serious and epic and comes off as lame and overblown. Liam’s mission tries to be a disposable adventure comedy romp and succeeds.

On the other hand, the tonal shift is messy and it doesn’t fit with the rest of the game. I think this tone would have been a far better direction for the entire project. If we compare the Citadel DLC to the rest of Mass Effect 3, we see that BioWare’s style (or perhaps their writing team) is much better suited to this lighthearted adventure than to the grim bombast they’ve been doing.

It's a fun gimmick to have the player navigate the ship while the artificial gravity points sideways.
It's a fun gimmick to have the player navigate the ship while the artificial gravity points sideways.

Even in terms of gameplay, the mission itself is so much more engaging than the rest of the game. You attack this immense Kett warship. You’re expecting to face some bellowing Kett menace, but then you discover this ship is actually an obsolete junker. The Kett abandoned it, and the wreck was found by a small-time space pirate. He’s been trying (unsuccessfully) to refurbish it, and you get the sense it doesn’t actually work very well. Being the captain of a huge warship has given this guy delusions of grandeur, but he’s not very bright and not at all imposing.

During the mission the artificial gravity gets screwed up and you have to navigate through the level by walking on the walls. Then it shifts again and you’re on the ceiling. You end up returning to a previous room only to discover you have to navigate the familiar space with a totally different orientation. The player has likely seen a ton of Kett bases at this point, but the shifting gravity makes it feel fresh and interesting.

This action adventure doesn't really fit with the rest of the game, but it works really well in isolation.
This action adventure doesn't really fit with the rest of the game, but it works really well in isolation.

The mission also gives some of the supporting characters something to do. Some of the colonists show up in a ship of their own and participate in the battle. The rest of the story makes it seem like Ryder is the only person in the galaxy that DOES anything, so this moment where the colonists are able to help themselves is a breath of fresh air.

Do we praise this mission for nailing its tone, or do we criticize it because it fails to integrate with the rest of the story? Do we praise it because the banter and jokes work, or criticize it for the restrictive two-option dialog wheel that obliges the player character to treat the situation as a minor screwup and not a dire threat as the rest of the story suggests it should be? Do we praise it for the interesting gameplay and for giving minor characters something to do, or do we criticize it for the fact that a lot of the action beats are undercut by the janky animation?

I don’t know. I liked it a lot in isolation, but you can’t play it in isolation. The fact remains that this mission doesn’t fit with the rest of the story.

Vetra Nyx

So Vetra, what does that eye thing DO, anyway?
So Vetra, what does that eye thing DO, anyway?

Vetra joins your party just as you leave the Nexus. She’s got this thing where she’s supposedly the person you talk to when you need something on the down-low. If someone says they “know a guy” that can hook you up with something, Verta is the sort of person they’re usually talking about.

She’s fine. She’s not a classic BioWare buddy like Garrus, Mordin, Wrex, or Legion, but she’s a fine companion and has a few interesting stories to tell.

The thing that bugs me is her loyalty mission. It requires you to go to a base somewhere remote to confront some jerk for reasons that aren’t worth getting into. The problem is that as you enter the building, you hit a tripwire (in a cutscene, of course) and a trap door opens under your feet. Everyone falls in.

In this game everyone on your team has JUMP JETS. Like, rocket boots. The game firmly establishes that you can boost yourself up and even do a little climbing. The cutscene shows you grabbing onto the edge, but then your character forgets she can do pull-up and that she’s wearing rocket boots.

Use your jump jets, dumbass.
Use your jump jets, dumbass.

SAM is normally able to determine the operation and purpose of alien technology on the other side of ten feet of solid rock, but here he can’t detect a trap door built by humans using modular human building materials.

(And of course, there’s the question of why the bad guy is capturing you alive rather than killing you, but who cares?)

How I’d have done it:

Don’t make the player character blunder over a trapdoor in a cutscene. Do it in gameplay. Have the player walk up to the door while characters chatNot a dialog wheel. Just spontaneous chat. about how they expect the Bad Guy to be on the other side. Then the player pushes the button to open the door, in gameplay. The button opens up the trap door under them instead of the door in front of them. You could even have Sara asking SAM about what they’ll find on the other side of the door, to explain why he didn’t notice the trapdoor.

I’m not saying this is totally airtight, but this saves us from the visually absurd scene of Sara clawing at the metal floor instead of effortlessly rocket-boosting free.

Barring that, don’t have Ryder grab the ledge. Just have them fall all the way. Being caught off-guard in a cutscene is annoying, but it’s not as bad as being caught off-guard AND being unable to lift herself AND forgetting her rocket boots.

We’ll pick up three more squad members as the game goes on. We’ll talk about those folks when they show up.



[1] The Asari are the biotic badasses of the galaxy, so it’s a big deal if a human is good enough to join their elite ranks. It’s like a human being good enough to join a crack unit of elite Elvish Bowmen.

[2] Actually, there are kind of two “main quests” in this game. I’ll cover that later.

[3] By killing all the pirates.

[4] Not a dialog wheel. Just spontaneous chat.

From The Archives:

77 thoughts on “Andromeda Part 9: The Squad

  1. Eigil says:

    Whole article on the front page, boss.

  2. Dreadjaws says:

    Liam is unremarkable as a squaddie.

    This is a severe understatement. Liam is so painfully uninteresting the only times I remembered his existence was when his name came up while choosing squadmates for a mission. Save for one or two occasions he doesn’t even request to talk to you as the other squaddies or even some of the crew do all the time. And even when walking around the ship you barely notice him because, unlike the other squadmates, he doesn’t even get the benefit of an exclusive face model.

    This is what I found the most puzzling. Several times through the game I thought he was just following me around everywhere I went until I realized I was looking at NPCs that just happened to have his exact same head model. I actually went and took screenshots to make sure I wasn’t getting confused. I don’t understand why did they do this. It’s not like he’s a salarian, for which you can get away with using the same models by changing some color schemes or such. Maybe it’s not intentional and just one of the game’s numerous bugs that happens to slap his head on NPCs, but why only him and no other characters?

    Anyway, for this reason I just started tuning out his face when I was walking around the ship, so he basically became part of the scenery. I didn’t even get to do his loyalty mission, I finished the game without the opportunity ever coming up (which, again, I find puzzling. Every other character asked me to meet them about it, no matter how little I used them).

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      Liam was such a weird character to me. Often times, I’d initiate a conversation with him and it seemed like he’d be referencing conversations that I don’t remember us having. It made me wonder if some dialogue scenes had gotten cut for some reason. But I mostly think that he’s just a terribly written character. Or at the very least, the dialogues we have with him are poorly written. Because the conclusion that I came to was that what I thought I had Ryder saying with the dialogue wheel wasn’t what Ryder was actually saying to him. Like Sara could say, “Yeah – it’s tough for people out here,” and what Liam would hear is “You should give away sensitive Nexus data to people who probably shouldn’t have it.” Which would be fine if it seemed like part of his character’s story was that he and Ryder kept talking past each other, but as far as I can tell, it’s nothing that thematic. It’s just the dialogue wheel being tricky.

      Even though he’s my least favorite character, I actually liked his loyalty mission overall. I definitely enjoyed it from the technical aspect and having the gravity switch around. It was unique and interesting. I liked that it involved actually getting help from some settlers. Even some of the comedy landed right. I liked everything about the scene when we’re talking to the bad guy over the communicator, right down to the cheeky Star Wars nod. But this mission also included what I consider to be the game’s most egregious example of trying too hard to be funny in a situation where it shouldn’t apply. It annoys me to no end that there’s a scene where they’re moments away from being sucked into the vacuum of space without helmets and no reason whatsoever to expect to be saved – and Liam wants to joke with Ryder. It’s almost like they’ve read the script and they know that they’re not in any actual danger. I wonder how much that mission – and my opinion of the character in general – would’ve improved to me if that one scene wasn’t there.

      1. Liessa says:

        I’m sure the gravity-shifting stuff is fun when actually playing, but having only seen it through LP videos, I found this hands-down the worst sequence in the game. The entire mission portrays Liam as criminally stupid, incompetent, immature and lacking in common sense (and Ryder isn’t much better in terms of how she handles him). If this were some kind of Red Dwarf-style comedy, where the whole point is that everyone is stupid and incompetent, I guess it might have worked – though the vacuum-of-space scene goes well beyond the ‘sitcom’ level of humour and right into ‘kids’ cartoon’. Even Red Dwarf managed to create actual tension in situations where the characters were genuinely in fear for their lives.

        1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

          That’s the thing with Liam’s character: He always seems to be criminally stupid, incompetent, immature and lacking in common sense. His loyalty mission is basically a case study about it. And he learns nothing from it, grows in no discernible way, and you can’t really take him to task for it in a genuine fashion. Not only does he behave this way, but Ryder is forced to tolerate it if not downright celebrate it. Liam is just not a good character.

          But I did find it fun to work my way through a ship with various gravity shifts along the way.

          That “sucked into space” scene is awful, but it somehow seems like the awfulness gets compounded by Ryder being pushed to get in on the “joke” of being moments away from dying a horrible death.

      2. Trevor says:

        Liam makes an interesting counterpoint to Addison. Both are not particularly good at their job and have a bunch of failures on their resumé, but Liam keeps trying to improve things (ineptly, but he does try) whereas Addison is rude and mean to you and does basically nothing. I want to give points to Liam for being one of the few people in the game who seem earnestly interested in colonizing the cluster, making Heleus into a home, and forging relationships with the aliens we meet.

        But he just sucks so bad. At everything. He likes to use his omni-blades in combat, but he doesn’t do a ton of damage and he’s not particularly tanky, which is not what you want in a melee character. To have him suck in combat reinforces all the other crappy parts of his character. I think most people were like Shamus about Cora – yeah, her Asari fetish is a little off-putting, but she is competent, her shield boost is the best squad member ability in the game, she hits like a truck in combat and eventually she gets full time cryo ammo, so she sets up combo detonations for you – so all in all she’s alright.

        Similarly, Mordin is arguably a comic character – he sings Gilbert & Sullivan! he gives interspecies sex advice! – but he’s also a brilliant scientist and we’re not just told this but we’re shown it too, when his inventions solve some plot dilemmas for us. If he were just jokey jokes he wouldn’t be as great of a character. Liam isn’t allowed to be good at anything, so he’s just the goofball that seems out of step with the tone of the game (save for his loyalty mission). If he were good at anything, we could forgive his tendency to charge into things without thinking about them. They’re a tradeoff for him being so great at whatever. But they didn’t. The could have committed to the “heart in the right place, but in over his head” character they have set up for it, but the game doesn’t and that arguably best describes Sara’s character anyway.


    To be honest Vetra is my favourite squadmate. I liked the way Bioware were obviously trying to make her character different from Garrus and the other turians we’d seen in the original trilogy and I feel they succeeded with her. Her father took her and her younger sister out of turian society before they finished boot camp so he could go do petty criminal stuff. When he later disappeared without a trace, Vetra was forced to follow in his footsteps to provide for herself and her sister.

    As a result, the Nyx’s found themselves locked into careers of petty crime in the Milky Way, lacking the educational qualifications and legal status to go straight. As her sister becomes a young adult, Vetra fears she won’t be able to protect the girl from being forced into the same life of crime and as such sees the Initiative as a dream opportunity. As part of the initial group procuring supplies for the Initiative, Vetra could buy herself and her sister seats on the expedition- and ensure they’d have legitimate positions in any newly built society.

    Given that things promptly went to shit when the Nexus arrived and things didn’t improve in the past year, when Ryder arrives she shoehorns herself in to the Pathfinder team in the hopes of finally being able fix things and ensure that she doesn’t have to deal with dragging her sister to another galaxy only to die horribly in a failed colonisation attempt.

    I liked that, her motives for coming to Andromeda make sense to me and she’s obviously not trying to be Garrus 2.0. Cora on the other hand I found a bit too embarrassing, her constant references to Asari Huntress stuff made me wish I could hand her a bucket of blue paint and come back to me once she’d gotten it all out of her system. Liam was… Eh, I felt he would have worked better if the game had given him an official position on the Pathfinder team as “First Contact Specialist” or something so his constant bridge-building with the angara could be something that benefits the Initiative rather than a hobby of his that peaks at a five-a-side football match.

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      I liked Vetra insofar as she never really did anything to actively annoy me. But she didn’t do anything to actively interest me either. I think her character would’ve greatly benefitted from having moments in the game where her smuggling directly influenced the story. Instead, it’s this background thing that she has going on that gets mentioned from time to time, but it never seems legitimately useful in any given moment. And you don’t ever see her actually doing it. I appreciate the story that they were trying to tell between her and her sister, but it never felt to me like it really went anywhere. It was just some stuff that happened.

      What would’ve been great would be if there had been at least one story-based mission where her smuggling came in handy to Ryder and the gang. Or a squadmate quest from her where she asks us to use the Tempest to move some illicit goods from Point A to Point B. It seems like there’s plenty of character and story fodder that could come from that.

      In general, this is something that all of the squadmates lacked – a reason to be in this game. They brought in these backstories and they had personalities (with varying degrees of quality), but I often found myself wondering why these characters were here. I can connect a lot better with a character who actually contributes to the story. I liked Drack too, but what did he really add? The only use he seemed to have is to remind us how cool the Krogan are, and to fill the Wrex-shaped hole in my heart. At the very least, it would’ve been nice if he were putting forth an argument why the Initiative thought it was a good idea to bring some Krogan along.

      One could argue that the characters from the original trilogy didn’t always meet this standard, but at least I had the sense that this was the sort of standard that Bioware was shooting for. The characters didn’t feel bolted on strictly for the sake of offering squad power variety, or to create more romance options. I look at a character like Vetra or Drack and I think, “That’s a fine character who could’ve been great.”


        I’ll agree there, as much as I liked her, even Vetra was ultimately “best of the Tempest crew” (imo) rather than some all-time favourite ME character.

        What’s weird is that Andromeda does have optional events on planets where you can meet squad mates and talk to them off the ship in special one-off cutscenes. Those could have easily been used to give squad mates more of a role than they actually had in the plot (such as having Vetra actually smuggle something like you said), but the events never really tried to be more than a short vignette with no real importance. So you’d have things like Liam arranging an angara-Inititiative football match or Drack inviting you to play a krogan boardgame but these encounters would never really go anywhere other than to establish that Ryder and INSERT_SQUADMATE_HERE were the best of friends (and/or lovers). The only non-loyalty mission encounter of this sort that I remember being notable was Peebee had one where viewing it would unlock a new ability for Ryder ( it was about Peebee reverse engineering Remnant technology).

        I think the saddest thing with the squadmates in Andromeda is that they and the short vignettes Bioware was experimenting with in Andromeda (I never played Dragon Age: Inquisition so I don’t know if similar scenes were in that), could have provided an interesting base to build up out of. It always felt to me that giving each specific crewmember of the Tempest their own specific role (and vignettes specifically relating to it) could really have helped sell them as people with their own things to offer the team.

        1. Trevor says:

          As much as Cora is obsessed with the Asari, Vetra is double that about her sister Syd. She cannot shut up about her. In every conversations you have with her, she brings up Syd. You crest a ridge in the Nomad and look over a beautiful vista, Vetra pipes up: “I can’t wait to show Syd this.” Every thing that happens to Vetra has to have some mention of Syd in it. WE GET IT. But the room of writers, as with Cora’s Asari fetish, felt the need to include some mention every time you talk to her.

          Vetra being the surrogate mom for her sister is a great concept, it fits really well with the themes of family the game is going for, and her backstory is fairly compellingly written. But it’s glaringly apparent as soon as you hear about Syd for the first time how that arc is going to play out, and it’s in the most cliché way possible. The overprotective parent needs to learn that their child/child surrogate is all grown up and an adult now and to let go and let her make her own decisions. And… yup. That’s exactly what happens.

          Also there’s no edge to Vetra’s character. I never bought that she was a smuggler or had ever broken any laws. There’s nothing shady or underhanded about her at all. She seems squeaky clean. You don’t ever really think that Han Solo is going to turn out to be evil, but he does shoot Greedo first (he does) and he needs to be enticed by the promise of a reward to rescue Leia. Vetra doesn’t even have that much scoundrel-ness to her. So they really should have had a mission where that comes up, because I honestly can’t see Vetra having to lie or cheat her way around a problem. I’d have problems believing she is the sort of person who would resort to violence, but the gameplay establishes that she’s a badass with an assault rifle.

  4. Mattias42 says:

    It seems sci-fi in general has a really big problem with actually letting all that amazing tech be… well, amazing.

    Like jump-boots that won’t work when clinging to a gap is more ‘dramatic’ is just one example. Or the disease that’s a big whooping deal this week, when cloning an entire heart (for a main character, of course) last week was no big deal. Or the shields that could go ‘skinny-dip’ in the sun that one time now has some serious trouble with lasers…

    I could go on, but it’s a big reason I barely read or watch sci-fi anymore. Sure, there’s the exceptions like Star Gate where the writers actually bring back old solutions and tech when you least expect it, or Red Dwarf where the crew are genuine idiots doing their best…

    Bit less forgivable in my opinion with stuff like Andromeda or Star Trek where we’re told again and again these are the ‘best & brightest,’ you know?

    Sure, I do get from a writing point that it’s for the sake of drama all that stuff gets ignored, but it’s such a lazy way to go about it, and I’ve seen it done again & again since the freakin’ 90’s by now.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      I don’t find it particularly hard to convince myself that a virus is more difficult to deal with than a heart transplant (as is often the case in real life) or that there are alien disruptor weapons that are more dangerous than the energy of a star…

      1. Mattias42 says:

        Eh, fair enough, those examples were pretty off the top of my head.

        Still, my main point stands: I’m very tired of sci-fi stories where the amazing tech is side-stepped for these stupid bits of small-minded drama.

        Like… at least go all in on the idea of the character being screwed, or don’t bother. Have the jet-boots outright blow up and make the situation worse by crippling you for a mission, a quick hack from the enemies, or something. Don’t just have the character conveniently forget they own a pair of, well, jet-boots.

        1. kincajou says:

          Don’t write sci-fi off because of some more “drama first” writing. Imo there is plenty of worthwhile books (probably other media too, but i’m an avid book reader) that keep things very sensible and succeed in making science and drama coalesce…
          My recommendations (yeah i know you didn’t request anything but hey, if i can share some stuff i love…):
          – Roadside picnic (the atmosphere is great and really works well with the science, the characters behave sensibly for how they’re built)
          – Solaris (just because it’s awesome)
          – The player of games (Iain m banks put a lot of thought into his culture novels and in building the universe they inhabit… the atmosphere and scientific projections are really fun)

          1. Mattias42 says:

            Oh, I’m still a big sucker for sci-fi, don’t get me wrong. I devoured The Martian in both book & film form just a few months ago, and I’ve been replaying Subnautica with a big, goofy grin on my face lately, just for some examples.

            I’m just really, really tired of the whole idea of ‘drama first’ style writing, and how it seems to be a genera wide rallying-cry for defending lazy story-telling.

            1. kincajou says:

              Oh yeah, i get you on that. Thankfully there’s plenty of sci-fi media around for all tastes (though not enough “hard sci-fi” to fill my cravings…). I’d recommend avoiding the “dark forest” trilogy by liu cinxin, the author tends to have their drama setpieces and just take the story to them irrespective of common sense.

              On the other hand in my most recent sci-fi readings in the anglosaxon sphere, 2312 was interesting from a scientific perspective (though the main character was one of the most irritating i’ve encountered in a long time, still really dislike them and their “arc”… but the story is cool). “Spin” is also good and one of the few sci-fi books that delves into bioengineering and terraforming, the premise is really something and the intrigue does carry you happily through the book.

              I just remembered about “the expanse” if you haven’t seen it, it’s a good tv show tha might scratch your itch regarding the applications of science and their relationship to drama.

          2. Lino says:

            I’m usually more of a fantasy guy, but I recently started getting more interested in sci-fi, especially details-first (since I’ve read and watched very little details-first sci-fi). I recently read a spin-off book of the Lost Fleet series, by John Hemry (technically, it’s “military sci-fi”, and I’d classify it as very details-first). The spinoff in question was The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight, and I thought it was quite good, and even though it resolved most of the issues, I didn’t like that it ended on a cliffhanger.
            So I was wondering, have you read this series (or heard of it), and is it any good?

            1. kincajou says:

              Honestly i’ve never heard of it, i’ll have to look into it, from a cursory look at the wiki page it might be quite the thing.

              In the more “military” sde of things, i must recommend “the forever war”, it’s undoubtedly a sci-fi classic which plays well with its premise and remains grounded in the “science” part of the fiction.

              For someone coming from fantasy i’d be amiss if i didn’t nudge you towards Ursula le Guin’s sci-fi stuff. It’s not always “hard” sci-fi but it is always interesting and worthwhile. Le Guin brings the inteligence, creativity and originality she displayed in the earthsea books (favourites of mine in the fantasy genre, her take on fantasy and magic is something truly unique) to the world of sci-fi… and it really doesn’t disappoint.

              Of the other books i recommended, for someone coming from fantasy, you’ll probably find yourself most confortable with the player of games (and the culture series in general, though start with the player of games…some of the others aren’t as good gateway books) whilst roadside picnic and Solaris go into the more philosophical concepts which are often unexplored by anglosaxon sci-fi. (Solaris hinges on the idea that alien lifeforms exist, humanity just cannot communicate with them in any meaningful way… and this isn’t a spoiler, just the basic premise)

              1. Lino says:

                The Forever War certainly sounds interesting, but I think I’ll try Solaris first. I maybe should have stipulated that I’m more into the “thinky” sort of fantasy – e.g. two of my favourite authors are Terry Pratchett and Neil Gayman, and of the sci-fi I’ve read, my favourite so far is Douglas Adams (although I’d classify him more as an author of philosophy and esoteric stuff – I was amazed just how much Zen (one of my other passions) there was in his Hitchhiker books).
                Of course, I also like less pretentious stuff as well (right now, I’m in the mood for something lighter)! One of the neat things about the Lost Fleet was the approach to space combat, which is something I haven’t seen in any other sci-fi. E.g., the actual “combat” takes place within seconds (since the ships move so fast, they come into range of each other only for a couple of seconds – even less than that), so it’s got a very tactical aspect to it. Another cool thing was the fact that the speed light travels plays a huge role: if you want to attack a planet, and you’re 6 light years away from it, you’ve got the element of surprise, because they haven’t seen you yet (since the light hasn’t traveled back yet).
                Another sci-fi series I’ve been meaning to read is the Chung Kuo: a future of Earth that’s dominated by China. As far as I’ve heard, it basically asks: “What would happen if the Western World was modeled using Eastern values?”.

              2. Cubic says:

                Read Heinlein’s Starship Troopers first. The Forever War is kind of a reply to that.

              3. Boobah says:

                For me, Haldeman’s The Forever War came across as a bait-and-switch. And to a degree that was intentional and the point. It just didn’t seem to me that Haldeman earned it; it feels far more like a deus ex machina.

                And part of that is because it’s not military sci-fi; it’s science-fiction that happens to use a war and soldiers for the setting.

    2. Kathryn says:

      I know what you mean. Next Generation found ways to ***REVERSE AGING*** three or four times, and none of them ever show up again. Seriously???

      (don’t get me wrong, I love Star Trek…but come on)

      1. Joshua says:

        Bit of a tangent, but Next Generation had one of the worst concepts for a show that wanted to be based around drama, which was Deanna Troi. You’ve probably read about how many horror and comedy writers had to struggle with the invention of the cell phone, and having a character who’s got the ability to determine if something’s emotionally askew puts a damper on most of those stories that writers like to tell. Hence, so many times where the character loses her abilities, fails to detect issues that should be obvious to her*, or simply tells the Captain what’s already obvious (“that guy is hiding something!”).

        *I don’t recall any episodes where one of the crew is dealing with some internal dilemma being approached by her and asked if they would like her help dealing with something that’s bothering them, or anything like that. Or at least, occurring as much as it should. Maybe there’s professional ethics involved, but I don’t recall it being mentioned.

        1. Mattias42 says:

          Troi was a really big wasted opportunity, yeah. Telepathy and empathy on even smallish space-scale should have been a big, big deal, and it almost never was. Not even when the coms are down and a nearly untraceable source of communication would have been REALLY darn useful, or hunting cloaked ships, or whatever.

          Then again, Star Trek is really bad at that sort of thing as Kathryn mentioned above. The franchise just loves to have this great big, world shaking thing introduced in one episode… and if you’re lucky, it will be explored in a novelization or two while the rest of the setting pretends it never happened.

          1. Joshua says:

            In general, I think the problems with what all of us mentioned was a rather old-school mentality to the writing staff, where they wanted to be able to tell whatever story came to mind without dealing with pesky restraints like continuity. Maybe if the show had started 10 years later or so, when those things became more heavily valued, we would have gotten a different show.

            1. Kathryn says:

              Some people argue TNG actually started that trend for continuity, with the seasons-long storyline about the Klingon Empire…

              The fact that Troi’s empathic powers have a range of many kilometers – she can sense people on other ships – really should have been explored more.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        This is a major problem in superhero stuff. People made fun of Super Friends because the stories depended on the main characters to just forget their superpowers, but it’s actually a major problem that’s been spread throughout the entire existence of superhero fiction: comics, animation, videogames, movies, etc.

        One of the most glaring examples is Spider-Man and his spider sense. The moment they gave the guy the ability to sense danger they must have thought it was pretty cool, but it soon became apparent they had written themselves into a corner. How can the hero be surprised by an attack if he can sense it coming before it happens? As a result, writers either have to find a way to disable it or to make the threat large enough that it’s useless. Which means it’s basically a moot power. Like putting “Social media user” in your resume, it’s a way to artificially bloat it without actually bringing anything useful to the table.

        Nowadays the spider sense is so pointless it might as well be written out. Half the time it doesn’t work, and the other half Spider-Man just ignores it.

        1. Lino says:

          Now that you mention it… Yeah, why DID they decide to give Spidey that power? I don’t know why, but it’s never actually bothered me – I guess I hadn’t noticed it before, since I’ve always been enthralled by the good story (or I’ve just hated the story so much that I hadn’t had time to notice). Bear in mind, my main exposure to Spider-Man has been the 90’s cartoon, some of the games and the movies.

          1. Mattias42 says:

            I think that particular power is mostly an excuse why a loner hero that wore spandex for most of his career wasn’t shot by the first mugger he tried taking down. So versus that type of threat level (and avoiding boring mundanity ensuing), the spider-sense is a very effective power.

            You’re both absolutely right it gets swept under the rug as soon as it’s inconvenient for the writer, though.

            Think my own worst example would be the character Cypher from X-Men, though. The dude that can instinctively talk and understand EVERY language, including stuff like body-languages and binary.

            In real life? That would be a freakin’ crazy strong power letting you amass influence across the globe easy—and that’s NOT counting stuff like magic being a genuine force in the Marvel universe. In the comics? I guess ‘somebody’ gets to read warning text on the MacGuffin after the death demon is already loosed on Manhattan.

            Granted, I won’t pretend I have read each and every story he’s appeared in, but as far as most writers seemed to care Cypher existed to angst about how ‘useless’ his power was, and the odd joke about finally thinking he’ll be useful only for the aliens/demons/lizard-people to speak perfect English anyway.

            1. Lino says:

              I think the problem you describe with Cypher (although I haven’t read any comics with him) stems from the fact that most writers aren’t very technically-minded, so it probably isn’t very natural for them to apply the kind of lateral thinking needed to see why powers like Cypher’s would be useful…

              1. Mattias42 says:

                Not only that, but I think in Cypher’s case it doesn’t help that Marvel is an American company, and America has a very odd view of even bilingualism being a bit odd and strange. While the norm is just knowing your native tongue.

                I hope that’s not a controversial statement, but it’s something I’ve noticed a few times as an outsider. The chief example I can recall being that White Wolf actually had to print official errata that, yes, you could in fact take the Language merit multiple times for multiple different… well, languages without being some sort of supernaturally powered creature of the night.

        2. Boobah says:

          Nowadays the spider sense is so pointless it might as well be written out. Half the time it doesn’t work, and the other half Spider-Man just ignores it.

          The writers are also known to use it to drag Spidey to the plot.

  5. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Liam’s loyalty mission was the first time I remembered what Bioware was actually good at : fun scripted somewhat linear sequences. Not Ubisoft open world. It also made the return to the pseudo MMO fetch quest fest all the more painful…

  6. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    I’ve come to dislike the term “loyalty mission.” That’s technically what these missions were in ME2, but I’d argue that, more importantly, these are (or should be) “character arc missions.” I’m granting that Bioware was still trying to make a narrative-driven, character-focused story when they were making Mass Effect: Andromeda. Maybe this is where I’m going wrong?

    These missions served a bigger purpose in the original trilogy. At least from ME2 forward: They were a real missed opportunity in ME1. These missions were tied into the character’s bigger narrative. These missions affected how the characters moved forward. And you could nudge characters in certain directions in concert with these missions. They behaved differently depending on what choices you made with them. The character missions were about growing the characters, and they could affect the narrative in big ways. Is Tail an exile, or is she in good standing with her fleet? Can Jack rely on you, or rely on continuing being a murderous biotic? Maybe a lot of this character development is illusory, but it was effective. It could even determine if the character survived the story.

    These missions do virtually nothing to the characters in Mass Effect: Andromeda. The characters don’t grow, and they certainly don’t branch. By definition, they can’t because of the open world: It affords us the opportunity to do these missions at any time (including after completing the main quest), but means that the characters have to stay static because the game doesn’t know when we’ll tackle these missions. They aren’t reflected in the narrative in any way. To me, if you’re making a narrative-driven, character-focused story, then this is a failure of epic proportions. These missions don’t affect the characters and they don’t affect the story. I guess Cora’s mission is a little different in that sense? There might be a cutscene where the character says some version of “Wow – this really affected me,” but that’s pretty much the end of it. It just unlocks a freaking power. What are we doing here?

    This seems very endemic of what I perceive to be Mass Effect: Andromeda’s failing – or at least one of its failings. Concepts like “theme” and “tone” go right out the window and are replaced by a very robotic, utilitarian mindset. When we’re handed control of Shepard in Mass Effect 1, the first thing we can do is talk to the people between the pilot’s chair and the comm room. We can ask them questions (or not) and we can get some sort of feel of the world we’re in. We can engage in some world building and character development before even meeting Captain Anderson and Nihilus. When we’re handed control of our character in Mass Effect: Andromeda, we’re pushed into an omin-tool scanner tutorial. It’s certainly useful, but it’s very much “This is a video game that we’re trying to make,” when it should be “This is a story that we’re trying to tell.”

    Don’t get me wrong: It’s nice to unlock a useful power. But if my options were “create character arcs that actually affect the characters and the narrative they’re supposedly driving” or “create a hurdle for unlocking their best power,” that’s not even a choice for me. Give me the meaty story. What good is a useful power when it’s being used by a character who I completely don’t care about? Maybe I’d be singing a different tune if I favored a Vanguard playstyle…

    1. Matt Downie says:

      I dislike the term “loyalty mission” because it implies a formulaic approach to everything, rather than following whatever stories seem to naturally occur with the characters. A bit like having “the paragon option” and “the renegade option” in conversation instead of giving you whatever options make sense.

      1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

        I’m right there with you. When it was announced that Mass Effect: Andromeda would be doing away with the Paragon/Renegade system, I found myself embroiled in some pretty spirited debates in the Mass Effect fandom. To some people, that system was just as much “Mass Effect” as Shepard or the Normandy. But I just saw it as a convenient “light side/dark side” carryover mechanic from Knights of The Old Republic. Why continue being saddled with that borrowed legacy? All it seemed to do in the original trilogy was force us to meta-game and lock into a specific set of choices so that we could get the better options down the road.

        I’m still in favor of giving our character a wide variety of choices in how to speak and how to act and what actions they go about taking. And I’m totally okay with there being “evil,” morally gray options that could technically map as “renegade.” But why constrain that with this extra mechanic? I say let our characters make their choices and live with the consequences without tying it to some dark/light ledger that pushes us toward going hard in one direction or the other.

        Of course, Mass Effect: Andromeda decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater by tossing out “choice” right along with “Paragon/Renegade” and we get left with a toothless system where in the best of circumstances, we get to decide which of the four ways we’re going to say the exact same thing in any given conversation. What’s worse is that people might feel that something is missing from Mass Effect: Andromeda and assume that it’s the “Paragon/Renegade” system when it’s the fact that the game just doesn’t really let us make choices that stick.

        1. Joe Informatico says:

          I think people latch on to the Paragade system as a fun meme–which admittedly it is, especially when interrupts are involved–or they’re in love with the idea of deciding whether to act like Captain Jean-Luc Picard or Captain Mal Reynolds in any given situation. Which would be fine, if the system hadn’t been so screwed up mechanically in the ways you mention.

          (I also wonder how many Mass Effect players are mostly shooter/action gamers with not a lot of experience with Western RPGs, and think having two diametrically opposed options in every conversation instead of just watching their character in passive cutscenes is some kind of mind-blowing innovation?)

        2. shoeboxjeddy says:

          People were worried that jettisoning the Paragon/Renegade system was a further slide towards ME3’s lack of dialogue options. And they were right to be worried because that is exactly what happened. It would indeed be nice if Bioware removed that system because they intended to allow for a number of grey morality variant actions, but actually they just wanted to head towards completely linear narratives without all that bothersome alternative choices to deal with (culminating in Anthem which appears to just be a co-op shooter and not really an RPG at all).

      2. Asdasd says:

        The first time I noticed this in a Bioware game was in Neverwinter Nights, and I disliked it immensely. Every single NPC you could have in your party (of two, gods help us) had an incrementally meted-out back-story that culminated in a loyalty mission of sorts. In truth it was more like a loyalty errand: the game wanted me to believe that everyone I encountered who happened to be willing to join me on me quest, had also happened to lose precisely one valuable item, the significance of which they would be willing to reveal to me, in passing, after a certain amount of time spent together, and each item then miraculously happened to be discarded somewhere on the itinerary of my quest.

        That’s quite an array of coincidences! It really made the game feel arbitrary and .. how to put this.. modular. Where Baldur’s Gate had some rather elaborately scripted (and famously breakable/missable) party-member quests and quest chains, here and in subsequent games the approach felt more like items on a to-do list (often in the case of later Bioware games, a literal to-do list).

        Now, NWN can be forgiven for some extent because its lackluster campaign was first and foremost a demonstration of what could be made in the editor. But that feeling of modular..ness? Modularity? persisted in subsequent games in a way that it hadn’t in the infinity engine. I could never tell whether it was just my familiarity with the Bioware way breeding a gradual contempt and listlessness over the years, or whether BG2 and Arcanum had genuinely fostered more organic-feeling development when it came to party members, but it was the beginning of a steady falling out of love with a studio I had once felt could surely never do wrong.

        1. Asdasd says:

          *Actually, I meant to say Baldurs Gate 2 in that second paragraph. Baldurs Gate had a few as well but not to the same extent.

        2. Trevor says:

          Also, all of the modularity is tied to the same game cue. After you rescue the Moshae on Voeld and return to the Tempest EVERYONE in your crew has emailed you saying that your relationship has taken the next step and they’re ready to dispense the next nugget of their backstory. I get that they want to parcel out the stuff so you can’t rush to the end of the romance subplot and quit, but it was just really heavy handed the way you’d get no emails or new content from your crew and then suddenly your inbox would be full.

    2. Henson says:

      I disliked the term ‘loyalty mission’ from ME2 because it suggests that our squadmates aren’t loyal beforehand. But their loyalty to either you or to the mission is never tested, only their competence and/or concentration.

      I often imagine how it would have been received if, had you not done Garrus’s loyalty mission, he took off in a shuttle right before the suicide mission to go chase after Sidonis on his own.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        I know. Considering all the time you spend with your squadmates, getting to know each other, helping them through fights and overall showing you care for them, the fact that their loyalty to you depends on one particular personal mission is silly, speciallyin ME2’s case, when it involves characters you knew from the previous game.

        I mean, what reason does Garrus have not to be loyal? Or Tali? Even taking into account the whole “working for Cerberus” crap?

        And don’t even get me started on Kashley.

    3. Karma The Alligator says:

      You had some of them in ME1, though. For Tali, it was getting the Geth data to help her pilgrimage, for Wrex it was getting his old armour back (which helped in pacifying him later) , and for Garrus it was chasing and dealing with that mad Salarian doctor, while pushing him towards a more good cop bad cop style.

      I mean, sure, apart from Wrex, they didn’t change anything, but they were still there.

  7. Jabberwok says:

    I thought I remembered this being a thing in ME 2, but I had to look it up:

    “Mass Effect 2 features a Loyalty system, whereby completing a unique mission of personal importance for each squad member unlocks the character’s fourth special ability as well as their alternate outfit.”

    So there were already new abilities unlocked by those missions back then, and it even allowed Shepard to use them himself.
    I do agree that the suicide mission logic didn’t make much sense, though.

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      Ha! This is a fair point in its own right. Maybe it just stood out to Shamus more in this instance because one of the powers was a power that unlocked for his favorite squadmate in the game and it was a power that best complimented his playstyle. Because maybe it was just the way that I played the original trilogy, but I don’t remember any of the unlocked loyalty powers being particularly useful in any given moment.

      But now I suddenly feel short-changed that we didn’t get any alternative outfits for our squadmates.

      1. Jabberwok says:

        It’s hard to remember, but I’m guessing I gave Shepard Tali’s energy drain power, so I’d have something that would take down shields without needing a character with overload in my party.

      2. Karma The Alligator says:

        I loved using Tali’s Energy Drain, or Samara’s Reave, since they both basically healed you.

    2. Tremor3258 says:

      I remember abusing warp ammo pretty heavily from Jack as an engineer. Basically let you combo with any squad setup

  8. Modran says:

    Gods above and below, the main character’s “Everything-is-fine” face in that screenshot when they’re about to be sucker in the vacuum of space is very unsettling…

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I think it’s a thing of horrific, marvelous beauty.
      It would probably really piss me off if I’d played the game, though.

      And it makes up for the lack of the usual ‘EVERYTHING IS FINE’ derp-faced Ryder image that Shamus usually ends on.

    2. Joshua says:

      I’ve seen all of these references, but is that an in-joke among those who played the game or something? Is she constantly having an inappropriate bland expression in the game to inspire a running meme on this site?

      1. Joshua says:

        Nevermind, it looks like it was discussed a few posts ago complaining about the facial expressions.

  9. Jabrwock says:

    Barring that, don’t have Ryder grab the ledge. Just have them fall all the way.

    You could still have the rocket boots, just have them engage too late. Like they only fall part-ways down, but the trapdoor slams back shut, so they don’t get hurt from the fall, but weren’t quick enough on the ball to escape being captured.

    1. I don’t think this is the issue. I’m guessing this is just bad game direction. Stuff was delegated, maybe people in the dev team changed.

      After all, the animator that did the Cora love scene was brought in really late and worked on that animation and a few others. Which is why that one (with animated kissing lips) looks so good compared to the stilty almost placeholder procedural generated facial animations elsewhere.

      Those responsible for doing “the falling scene” was probably not that much aware of the character or abilities. They where just handed a script and told to do what we saw. Maybe somebody did point out the plot hole but schedules did not permit them redoing it. Though as you say a quick mis-firing (moon dust?) of the rockets could have fixed that but that might have needed a dialog line at some point.

      Although the animator could just have Ryder after the fall sitting someplace (with dialog going like normally) and cleaning the thrusters with no need to remark on that.

      Then again, it wasn’t thew scene scripts so it wasn’t done. I blame the game director/management for the issues with Andromeda.

  10. Paul Spooner says:

    That trap door sounds like the perfect excuse for the whole team to activate their rocket boots and tread air for a moment while an urgent xylophone plays over the PA system.

  11. BlueHorus says:

    The Nexus exiled a bunch of people and now they’re scattered all over the cluster. In the course of the game, you will never be the first person to set foot on a world. For the major worlds, you’re not even the first person from the Milky Way. You’re not even the first human. Everywhere you go you’re bumping into existing human communities and structures.

    You’re not the Pathfinder, you’re a tourist.

    So in short, you’re saying that Ryder never pathfound anything during the game? ;P

    Liam sounds like the kind of character who would really bug me. Incompetent is one thing. Flippant is another. But both together? Hells no.
    It’s a bit like Isabella in DA2 – I genuinely wanted to kill that character, and most of the problem was the way she laughed off the consequences of her actions. But if course I couldn’t, because plot armor…

    1. Viktor says:

      You have options to punish Isabela, though. First off, you can skip her recruitment completely*, but you can also hand her over to the Arishok at the end of Act Two.

      *Though TBH she’s one of the most effective party members in the game, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Thing is, she escapes from the Arishok almost immediately if you do – with the book she initlally stole! Which was somewhat unsatisfying. And not recruiting her is hardly a punishment (though it did change my response to the situation in Act 2 in an interesting way).

        Most of it was the way the game hamstrung your responses. If you hand her over to the Arishok, Isabela has the gall to look at you like you’ve betrayed her – and most of the responses to her are on the lines of ‘Sorry, but…’
        …which was a far cry from the backhand to the face and ‘I’d kill you myself if the Arishok didn’t want to do it’ response I felt.

        1. shoeboxjeddy says:

          She’s someone you fought with for years by that point in the game and she helped you make your place in the city when things were their most desperate. Versus… an extreme and impatient murderous religious zealot. Gee, I wonder why she’d be shocked you went with him instead of her…

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Oh, she can think and act the way she likes. Her response is entirely in character. (And this is something DA2 did well, making you feel like a bystander while other people made their own decisions).

            I just wanted the chance to say what *I* felt at the situation and I couldn’t.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              Still don’t know why you’d side with the Arishok in any decision. Just because someone stole his sacred book does not mean that every civilian in arm’s reach is responsible for that problem. His war on the city means he had to die, punishment that Isabel earned is a separate issue.

  12. Nick Powell says:

    I loved the game but every discussion about it just makes me sad about the much better game we never got.

    Hopefully someone else takes up the mantle of filling in the obvious gap in the market for a fun spaceship RPG (Outer Worlds looks promising).

    Anyway, yeah. I’m one of the people who thought Liam’s mission was great. I wasn’t particularly invested in the rest of the plot so when it came up it was just a really nice, fun surprise. And it’s one of very few scenes in games to actually make me laugh out loud. For some reason games generally don’t seem to do humour very well, but that part managed it (although it was a cutscene so maybe it doesn’t count).

    1. PPX14 says:

      The humour in games thing is interesting isn’t it, I’ve seen it mentioned in several places as a peculiar deficiency. Anachronox said on the box that it was laugh-out-loud funny and I was surprised to find that it actually was, every time I see anything about humour in games I think of it – the example where it worked.

      1. PPX14 says:

        Though to be fair, The Phantom Menace game is pretty damn funny.

  13. Sage Genesis says:

    One thing annoyed me about Vetra the moment she joined the party, and I was a little surprised the previous part glossed over it:

    As you try to fly off for the first time in your ship, this port worker bureaucrat shows up with red tape. Something about an inspection of your gear and cargo before you can be cleared for take-off. But Vetra shows up, tells him what’s what, and you can go along. And then you have two dialogue options: blue approval and red approval.

    Only problem is, I don’t approve. At all. I’m about to set off to save the entire initiative and these people have obviously been running a clownshoe operation until I got along, so I actually VERY MUCH want to know whether or not I have the proper equipment on board my ship before I fly away.

    Yes, it takes time. Yes, Addison might be playing petty office politics. But really, this stuff couldn’t take more than an hour or two, it’s not like settling a new colony will hinge on that kind of a delay. If things escalate beyond that, I can always bluster my way through later. But Vetra won’t even allow them the most cursory of inspections and it makes her look absurdly irresponsible.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Compare and contrast the equivalent scene in ME1 – A stuffy Alliance officer demands to inspect the Normandy at one point. Your options are:

      Paragon: Say yes, then be diplomatic and try to explain/reason with the officer when they come up with a series of nitpicks and complaints.
      Renegade: Say no. You end up having to be quite rude to the officer to get them to give up.

      Ultimately it makes no difference to the story which you do – it’s just a roleplay thing. Which…ME Andromeda doesn’t seem interested in.

  14. Mersadeon says:

    I actually really chuckled at that idea – to have the door control just activate a trap door. I think I’ll use that in my Star Wars Edge of the Empire campaign. Comedy gold.

    1. Decius says:

      Have a really easily noticed and bypassed laser tripwire that opens the door.

  15. Decius says:

    Would Liam’s loyalty mission seem a lot less bad if he had official permission to compromise the entire Andromeda mission, so that you didn’t feel like court-martialing him so much? Still his fault, perhaps even more so (instead of just giving the location that should be so opsec he doesn’t even know it, he misleads the person in charge of opsec into thinking that his contact is more secure or higher value, because he likes the alien candy and wants them to trade it to the canteen?)

  16. Michael Beemer says:

    Liam’s mission was fun. HE enraged me. He set me up for failure with the Angara by asking me to conduct scans he’d already been caught trying and knew they would not be welcome – and gave me no warning this might have consequences for our relations with the Angara. He then gives out classified information on a whim and doesn’t tell me until he has no other option. He doesn’t show any sign of learning from from these mistakes, AND I never have the option of disciplining him.

    I’d have dismissed him from the team if I had had the option.

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      Why does he sound like a child who got caught lying or stealing instead of a trained professional?

  17. This may sound unusual, but I hated Vetra… because literally everything about Sid was better. Her little sister is so much cooler, and so much more filled with personality, and drive… It would have been better if their positions were reversed in some way.

    If Vetra was out wandering the Heleus cluster as a smuggler, and Sid was trying to help her, and thats how you ended up in that mission… something like that.

    Vetra feels like a bland cookie cutter rogue… Sid could have made a good rogue with a more distinct personality as far as rogues go.

    I love Sid, sid is great.

  18. Madoradus says:

    I’m sure someone else has noticed this, but loyalty missions also unlocked better combat abilities in Mass Effect 2. This isn’t anything new Andromeda is doing.

    It also allowed you to put a shirt on Jack, which is the most cathartic experience in all of ME2.

  19. Benjamin Hilton says:

    Don’t you mean it’s like the tonal shift from the one scene of Thor Ragnarok to the next scene of Thor Ragnarok?

  20. Dren says:

    God oh god how I hated Liam. He disobeys orders constantly, making him a liability for the entire project. Not just that, he’s amazingly incompetent in everything he does. When describing him to friends I’ve often said that his background and job title indicate that he’s a crisis response specialist. But his actual specialty seems to be creating crises. Unnecessary crises! We’re getting along very well with the native species, and yet dipshit jeopardizes it constantly over nothing! New tech? They’re already sharing. And we with them! All he does is antagonize for no real reason.

    And he’s so fucking smug about it. Every time he needs Ryder to solve his messes, and then he promises not to do it again. And then he does it again! One of the only things I loved about Inquisition is that you could just tell certain party members to fuck off, to leave. Why wasn’t that an option here? Why is an incompetent arrogant asshole part of the elite Pathfinder team to begin with, and why can’t I fire him after his many, many fuck-ups?

    And for god’s sake Liam, stop taking off your shirt constantly, you gross man. The lack of professionalism…

    Having said allllll of this, Liam’s loyalty mission might well be my favourite mission in the entire game. It’s funny, it works, it has interesting gameplay stuff, a neat villain… everything works. If the entire game had been like that, I’d have loved it to bits.

    I don’t necessarily mind Liam being a fuck-up really. I mean I got the job through sheer nepotism, Cora isn’t exactly a stable person, Peebee is nuts, etc etc. But the way it’s handled makes me unable to stand him. If he was just an idiot, it’d be fine. But he’s such an asshole about it. Easily my least favourite squad member in Andromeda.

  21. Matt says:

    “Here in Andromeda, you can’t unlock the top-tier abilities for a character until you make them loyal. I like this better. It makes a little more sense and it makes them more generally useful. If I make Garrus loyal in Mass Effect 2, that’s only useful in specific circumstances during the final mission. If I make Cora loyal here in Andromeda, she’s more useful every time we’re in combat together.”

    The same mechanism exists in ME2. Each squadmate has a “loyalty power”. Garrus, for example, gets armor-piercing ammo after you complete the Sidonis mission. And because you can directly use squadmates’ powers in ME2, they are actually useful in combat. Shepard can also adopt any unlocked loyalty power for himself/herself as a bonus power.

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