Andromeda Part 10: Eos

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 18, 2018

Filed under: Mass Effect 97 comments

There are a total of five (eventually) viable planets in the game, and early on the game makes it clear that your goal is to heal them all using the alien monoliths. Each planet has some sort of environmental problem: Radiation, extreme heat, extreme cold, caustic water, and out-of-control wildlife. We’re fresh out of the introduction, and already these alien gizmos have lost all sense of mystery. We know what they do and we’re confident we can use them. They’re reduced to obvious mechanical contrivances.

Fine, we’re not doing a sci-fi mystery anymore. Instead we’re doing simple action adventure. We can argue about whether or not that’s a good idea for a Mass Effect game, but it’s not an inherently bad idea for a story. But even if we’re going to use Andromeda’s galaxy-sized canvas to tell a simple story, there’s no reason to portray it in such a boring way. Everyone just assumes that the alien monoliths can fix the planet and they assume they’ll be able to figure out how to use them. You could make this plot significantly more interesting by just having the characters show some level of apprehension or uncertainty.

Planet Eos

This place makes me wish for a nuclear winter.
This place makes me wish for a nuclear winter.

Eos is our first step on our tour of the Heleus Cluster.  It’s the first of two orange desert worlds we’ll encounter. The surface is bathed in radiation, making it uninhabitable.

The lack of narrative ambition is just staggering. Even if we’re committed to this shallow plot, this new setting should give us lots of leeway to introduce wild landscapes. Does this planet really need to look like the Mojave Desert? Can’t we get some purple sand? Strange rock spires? Creepy “breathing” flora? Luminescent jellyfish creatures floating around? Steam vents? Bones of giant creatures killed by the radiation? Some dead trees? Pools of glowing liquid? Massive crystal structures jutting out of the ground? The artists made a bunch of scenery objects for this place. They could just as easily have made assets that don’t look like pedestrian Earth scenery.

SAM scans the surface of Eos and finds another alien monolith. We land, and it turns out there’s already a colony here. Or was. It failed, and now everyone is dead or scattered.

On the surface we get the vehicle we’ll be using this time around, so I guess it’s time to talk about…

The Nomad

Don't get excited thinking you'll get to see some cool animations of getting in and out of this thing like you might see in other open-world games. As in Mass Effect 1, a single button press instantly teleports the entire team into the vehicle. Sad face.
Don't get excited thinking you'll get to see some cool animations of getting in and out of this thing like you might see in other open-world games. As in Mass Effect 1, a single button press instantly teleports the entire team into the vehicle. Sad face.

Mass Effect has always had a strange relationship with vehicles. The first one had the Mako, a bouncy tank. It served an important purpose within the world for giving things a sense of scale and distance, but a lot of people found it frustrating to drive. Also, the random planets you explored with the Mako were often ugly single-texture monstrosities with nothing along the lines of flora or fauna, which made them barren and dull. Which means that driving around them lacked a sense of wonder and discovery. This was actually a problem with the worlds and not the vehicle itself, but it made people dislike the Mako sections and so it was cut from later games.

Mass Effect 2 gave us the Hammerhead, which was completely pointless since it was only ever used on Hammerhead-specific planets. It felt like someone had grafted a terrible hovertank game onto this RPG.

Mass Effect 3 got rid of vehicle sections altogether, and turned them into cutscenes.

So now Andromeda brings us back to the original idea of using a six-wheeled vehicle to get around on a large world. And I think the series finally got it right. They left the tank turret off this time, so the Nomad doesn’t get mixed up in the combat systems of the game and the designers didn’t have to design two different classes of enemies for vehicle and on-foot combat. Instead, the Nomad is just a tool for transport and exploration. This also helps underscore that the Initiative is a civilian enterprise rather than a military one, showing that they didn’t bring a friggin’ TANK on a mission of peaceful exploration.

Exploration

Really? We're going to build our first colony at the bottom of a box canyon? I mean, I guess one spot of lifeless wasteland is as good as another, but can't we at least pick somewhere with a view?
Really? We're going to build our first colony at the bottom of a box canyon? I mean, I guess one spot of lifeless wasteland is as good as another, but can't we at least pick somewhere with a view?

Thanks to the Nomad, planets can now be largeBy videogame standards. I mean, they’re still only a few square miles. and offer lots of different areas to explore without forcing the player to trudge through miles of empty wilderness.

My complaints about the Nomad are mostly limited to the environments where you pilot it. Some of the terrain is too obviously contrived to force you to drive huge distances around a mountain. That’s good for making the world feel larger than it really is, but it gets to be tedious after a while. The maze of cliff walls can feel smothering and blocks your view of the horizon, which is a shame because being able to see to the horizon is what gives you that fantastic trailblazer vibe.

This isn’t helped by the fact that all the worlds are all single-biome locations, which causes them to get old fast. The fact that the sun is always locked in place with no day / night cycle doesn’t help either. Once you’ve driven on a planet for sixty seconds, you’ve basically seen everything that planet has to offer in terms of visuals.

Our five-year mission: To exploit strange new worlds. To wipe out new life and new civilizations. To boldly get some where no man has gotten some before!
Our five-year mission: To exploit strange new worlds. To wipe out new life and new civilizations. To boldly get some where no man has gotten some before!

Even though the maps are large, their single-biome nature makes them feel small. Sure, I understand it wouldn’t make sense to land on tundra and then drive half a kilometer to find yourself in jungle, but that’s no excuse for having the planets be so relentlessly same-y. You can change the color palette without needing to go to a new climate. You can have grass in some spots, lifeless dirt in others, and rocky wastes elsewhere.

As it stands, these planets are basically devoid of life. No forests, no migrating wildlifeAlthough all planets do draw from the same library of attack-on-sight monsters., no shifts in weather, and no change in color tone. And like I said, two of our five planets are orange deserts.

How I’d have done it:

Yes, I get that the point of the game is that these planets have been knocked off-kilter by malfunctioning alien technology and are therefore uninhabitable, but certainly there’s room for a little artistic license. The alien technology in this game is so random, unexplained, contrived, and arbitrary, that I doubt it would shatter anyone’s immersion to have a couple of grassy patches here and there. If anything, the irradiated planet ought to give you an excuse to make a place with intensely strange and interesting flora. If you’re going to abandon the pretense of hard sci-fi and have a universe that runs on space magic, then you might as well take full advantage of it and use that to create fantastical environments.

The maniac in charge of the Mass Effect 3 color filter still shows up sometimes, but his vandalism isn’t quite as bad as it was in the previous game. Having said that, we could still do with more variety. Grass here. Giant mushrooms over here. Rolling plains in one spot, spiky hills in another. How about some Fisher Towers? Some contrasting colors between dirt and rock? Even if we can’t have living trees, how about a forest of dead ones?

The planets do have a little variety. The ice planet has snowy mountains surrounding a mostly flat frozen lake. There’s a lake on the irradiated planet and fields of sinkholes on the furnace one. The designers were on the right track, but they didn’t go nearly far enough. If we gave each planet three or four regions of distinct color, topography, and soundscape, it would go a long way to making these planets feel large and interesting. We could put each monolith in its own biome, which would relieve some of the tedium of doing the same thing three times.

In this section we get into our first real gunfights of the game, so let’s talk about the…

Combat and Leveling

Does this place look 66% viable to you? It doesn't look 66% viable to me..
Does this place look 66% viable to you? It doesn't look 66% viable to me..

While the Mass Effect combat system has evolved a great deal over the years, it’s always been built on three basic pillars:

  1. Guns. I’m sure you’re familiar with this concept by now.
  2. Tech / stealth powers like turning invisible, hacking robots, destroying shields, and that sort of thing.
  3. Biotic powers that let you fling the bad guys (or even yourself) around the battlefield.

Tech powers are often associated with sniper rifles and biotic powers are often associated with melee or shotguns at point-blank range. This isn’t a rule or anything. If you like, you can carry a sniper rifle and use biotic powers, or you can use tech abilities in melee range. But there are often bonuses built into the system that assumes tech specialists are snipers and biotics are close range fighters.

For the record: I never mess with tech powers. Every time I start a new game I tell myself I’m going to do something different this time. And then I end up playing as a close-range biotic again. I’m a fan of run-and-gun style shooting, and I like games where you have a lot of combat mobility. I strongly dislike sitting behind cover and playing whack-a-mole with guys as they poke their heads up. There’s nothing wrong with that sort of game, it’s just not my thing.

Which means that I’m not an expert on the Mass Effect combat system. I’ve always ignored a third of it (tech) and tried to minimize another third (firearms) because I enjoy the mobility of biotics. But in my non-expert opinion, this is the best Mass Effect has ever played. (At least, in the moment-to-moment mook fights. The boss fights are usually a joyless slog against predictable enemies with massive HP bars.)

The rocket boots are pretty fun. They might be my favorite feature in the entire game.
The rocket boots are pretty fun. They might be my favorite feature in the entire game.

As in the earlier games, you get a handful of skill points every time you level up. You spend these to upgrade your skills. The cost of each rank increases by 1, so it costs you 1 skill point to get Charged Shot level 1 but 6 skill points to upgrade from Charged Shot 5 to Charged Shot 6. Normally this would incentivize the player to generalize. If the low-rank skills are cheap, then why not just buy the first couple of ranks in everything? The game balances this out by making the first few upgrades weak, and the final upgrades really powerful.

The other thing that encourages you to specialize is the fact that you can only equip a measly three powers at a time. I suppose this makes sense if you’re using a dual analog controller, but if you’re using a keyboard it feels very silly. This also means that once you hit level 40 or so, there’s nothing left to spend your skill points on. By 40, you’ve maxed out all three of the abilities you’ve chosen and all of the passive powers. What’s left? Invest points in some skill you can’t use because you don’t have room to equip it? I suppose you can buy additional powers and swap them around as needed, but it’s a chore to pause the game, open the skills menu, find the skill you need, and add it to your hotbar just because you met a guy with lots of armor and you didn’t have any anti-armor stuff equipped.

The selling point for me is the way your jump jets integrate with combat. They allow you to do a dash-dodge move, or you can jump straight up in the air and hover for a few seconds to deal with an enemy that’s shy about poking their head out of cover. You can also jump up over cover and then hit the melee button to do a ground slam move. It’s all pretty fun and it manages to look cool.

Drack

Thanks so much for letting me know I'm offline while I play this fundamentally single-player game. This is exactly what I need to help me maintain a sense of immersion during a dialog scene.
Thanks so much for letting me know I'm offline while I play this fundamentally single-player game. This is exactly what I need to help me maintain a sense of immersion during a dialog scene.

Just before you officially found the colony on Eos, you meet up with Drack and he joins the party. As much as I think it makes no damn sense to bring the Krogan with us, I admit he’s a pretty cool character.

There’s this odd quirk with his story though. At one point during the main story you’re assaulting a Kett location and then you hear the Drack’s scouts are being held prisoner here. In my first two playthroughs, this came out of nowhere.

What? Drack has scouts? He apparently commands a team of guys that he personally recruited and they went missing at some point?

On my third trip through the game I did see a single line of dialog that made passing reference to the scouts, but it didn’t even make it explicit that the scouts in question were a team that Drack had a personal attachment to or that they had gone missing. There are also a couple of intra-party conversations you might hear while you’re driving around, assuming they don’t get truncated / interrupted by other chatter.

Still, this is a really important plot point and it feels like his sudden attachment to these scouts comes out of nowhere. Which means it doesn’t quite have the emotional punch it ought to. I imagine this is another detail that would have been smoothed out if the game had been given more time for polish.

 

Footnotes:

[1] By videogame standards. I mean, they’re still only a few square miles.

[2] Although all planets do draw from the same library of attack-on-sight monsters.



From The Archives:
 

97 thoughts on “Andromeda Part 10: Eos

  1. houiostesmoiras says:

    a single button press instantly teleports the entire team into the vehicle. Sad face.

    I legit thought it said “sad farce” for a moment, and then I realized that’s also fine.

    two of our five planets are orange desserts.

    Butterscotch? Jello? Flan? Don’t keep us in suspense, man!

    1. Retsam says:

      Tagging onto the typo thread:

      The maze off cliff walls can feel smothering

      1. Syal says:

        “commands a team a of guys” should probably be “commands a Team A of guys”.

        1. Matt Downie says:

          Or “commands an A-Team of guys”.

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            Or “commands a team of guys”

  2. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    I’m ok with the instant teleport inside the vehicle. I don’t want to see the same several seconds long animation every single time.

    1. Lars says:

      Yes. By the design of the Nomad this animation would have taken forever. Like the animation flying from planet to planet. In Cabrio like in Final Fantasy XV the get-in-car animations work and are varied, because it is a Cabriolet. But a Cabrio in Mass Effect wouldn’t make any sense at all. (Like the Nexus, or the Kett-Design or … Now I wonder why they missed this chance of stupidity.)

      1. Retsam says:

        I went to look up the Regalia from FFXV and noticed that the world of FFXV is also called Eos. (Something I never learned, despite playing all of FFXV…)

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      Could just cut to the driving on release of the button. That way you can hold the button down and see everyone pile in, buckle their seatbelts, turn on the AC, adjust the radio, complain about the smell, and ask “are we there yet?”, or punch the button and get straight to the tire-squealing drift ATV action.

  3. Trevor says:

    It makes sense that Eos looks like boring crap. The story the game is trying to tell is that the Initiative scouted the cluster, found a bunch of worlds that were “Golden Worlds” and tabbed those for settlement. Then we got to Andromeda and it turns out those Golden Worlds were not the paradises we thought we were getting. Eos looking like a generic Earth desert reinforces the disappointment. We came out to explore strange new worlds and instead we’re trying to scratch a living out of a pile of sand with excessive solar radiation beating down on it. This justifies the pissy mood everyone in the Initiative is in, explains their failure to settle it, and sets up the need for the hail mary Remnant solution. If Eos had been cool with purple sand, and super dope to explore, you wouldn’t get that feeling of disappointment.

    That said, you get one “this planet is a sucky desert” card. There’s no excuse why Elaadan is basically the exact same planet. I give Eos a pass. My issues with the game didn’t really fester until I got to Elaadan and it became clear I wasn’t going to learn much about the Remnant or the Kett and instead was going to have to do another round of obelisk activations into another vault while dealing with disgruntled former Nexus people (like on Kadara) on a dumb desert planet (like Eos).

    1. Liessa says:

      Well yes, it makes sense from a storytelling perspective, but from a visual/gameplay perspective it’s just really dull for the player. You could make the planet look hostile and uninhabitable without making it look boring. As it is, seeing footage of the Nomad driving through these endless samey-looking landscapes was one of the things that put me off getting the game (though admittedly there were many others).

      I take issue with Shamus’ comment on the third screenshot, however: It does make sense for the settlers to build their colony in a canyon. On a desert planet like that you’re going to want as much shelter from the wind and dust as possible.

      1. Hector says:

        Not so sure about that. Canyons form.from some kind of erosion, and box canyons lieke that can be dangerous if the weather turns foul. Doesn’t happen in the game – but in theory the characters should consider it.

        That said, it would make far more sense if the Initiative planned to find resources on its various worlds, dropping farming, mining, &etc rather than jumping into “settlement” of a place just because it was there. Why does anyone even want to be there?

        1. Syal says:

          They originally built the colony on level ground, with a view. Then the wind picked up, and now the colony is at the bottom of a box canyon.

    2. Redrock says:

      It’s not so much about Eos as it is about the general lack of creativity when it comes to the environments. And the enemies and the angara, if we’re honest. As much as I like to defend Andromeda, I have to agree that all of that just screams “missed opportunity”. No purple sand, no green skies, no non-humanoid sentient races, no really weird wildlife. That’s more than a little dissapointing.

      1. Geebs says:

        True story of how the Angara were designed: one of the designers glanced down while they were in the shower and went “welp, that looks pretty alien, I guess”.

    3. Lars says:

      Red Dead Redemption was a game I didn’t like for Rockstar and other reasons. But the game did one thing really well. Designing a varied and interesting but compressed world. Farmland, desert, canyons, big cities, snowy mountains, Mexican landscape all running smoothly into each other without hard borders, which make it feel natural.

    4. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      I think that the tricky thing with Eos is that if you explicitly design it to be a boring letdown to characters who were expecting magical worlds, you need to have the characters experience these feelings and express them through words and action.

      I need the characters to transpose their disappointment with the planet onto me instead of me transposing my disappointment with the planet onto them.

      I do agree with the basic sentiment that just existing as a desert planet isn’t a sin unto itself, but the game does itself no favors with Elaadan and having it being a second desert planet, making that two out of five. Especially considering that Elaadan is right next to another moon that seems way more hospitable and less desert-y.

    5. Nick Powell says:

      Well how about they demonstrate that this is a formerly habitable world? Fill it with abandoned structures or ancient dead plants that haven’t decayed because there aren’t even any bacteria living here. Imagine walking around a dried up seabed with massive bleached and dead coral forming a kind of forest or something like that.

      1. CloverMan-88 says:

        Just like Coral Highlands from the latest Monster Hunter. Damn, this place is pretty.

      2. ClaimedInfinity says:

        Well, Kadara looks just like a dried up seabed with corals and stuff. Not so dense, but I think it’s because system issues.

  4. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    Eos is supposed to be Ryder’s first big success as a pathfinder (she has pathfound, so bite it, Addison) and I don’t know that the game makes a sufficiently big deal about it. It doesn’t feel so much like a “win” as it feels like a “hey, somebody didn’t actively fail.”

    And the resulting Eos colony isn’t even particularly interesting. I can give it a pass for looking like a slapdash modular thing that got thrown down quickly since that’s what it would’ve been, but it annoys me that it never grows or improves and that it makes zero impact that you choose to make it a science colony or a military colony. Does it even look different depending on your choice? And it gets populated by characters I think we’re supposed to care about for some reason, like the mayor whose name I can’t remember? I can’t suddenly be invested in characters just because you tell me to. That’s a bridge you have to build.

    I actually sort of like the idea of going on quests to make the various planets more habitable, but it seems like a lost opportunity just to have the big chunk of it get handled by going into the giant machine and pushing a button. Each planet could’ve been its own story with its own solutions, all of them being wildly different. And what makes the whole “viability” stat confusing is that despite these planets starting out as non-viable, many of them already have people living on them successfully despite the harsh conditions. All that really does is highlight the fact that we’re not really exploring anything new and seems to imply that the exiles are made of heartier stuff than the people on the Nexus.

    I agree that the combat is pretty fun. Some people really don’t like that you can’t actively control the squad, but I have to admit that I appreciate not having to. I mostly didn’t control them back in the original trilogy except for in a select couple of instances, so that hands-off playstyle wasn’t new to me. In games past, I lamented that we couldn’t equip and armor our squadmates as we saw fit (in 2 & 3), but I’m sort of glad that we couldn’t do much of that in Andromeda because it was tedious and cumbersome enough just to manage Ryder’s equipment. And I was okay with being held to three active powers. I’ve played all of these games with a console controller, so it’s a style I’m comfortable with. But I do wish that it wasn’t such a convoluted process of setting up and switching between “favorite” profiles.

    And speaking of profiles, I was one of those oddballs from the trilogy who played as a technician. And I did do it while wielding a sniper rifle – the M-97 Viper to be specific. So I came into this game being well experienced with the tech powers. With that being said, I did not enjoy the pure tech build in Andromeda. But I definitely enjoyed the Sentinel class with its hybrid tech/biotic skills. What’s nice about the Sentinel class in this game is that the passive for the class is a tech shield. For the runners-and-gunners, this offers more shielding and you can take a bit more gunfire when diving into the action. If you want to be a Vanguard-leaning Sentinel, just have a priming tech power like the cryo-beam or incinerate while keeping the biotic charge for the detonator power. Then you can have whatever other biotic power tickles your fancy. Now you’re a Vanguard with a tech shield. Other than the clumsy attempt at a “favorites” system, I consider this game’s combat a high point.

    1. Redrock says:

      For me actively controlling the squad always amounted to nothing more than having a backup power in a pinch. It could be cool from time to time, when you could get someone to fire a concussive shot at an approaching shotgunner, but it never felt essential.

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      I played tech/snipers in the original trilogy too, and had a rude awakening at the beginning of Andromeda when my preferred playstyle kept getting me killed in the early parts of the game. I had to adopt run-and-gun tactics on Habitat 7 and Eos. But sometime around when you first encounter the angara, I picked up a really nice sniper rifle and had levelled my skill to the point where I could go back to effective sniping. I always played Infiltrator in the original trilogy, but you’re right, the Sentinel in Andromeda is the much better build.

      1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

        I had the same wakeup call when I started with Andromeda: I thought I’d run out there with a sniper rifle and show the Kett who’s boss and they ended up showing me. But once I adapted to the run-and-gun style, I never went back to attempt sniping. Which is too bad if it turns out to be half decent.

    3. Trevor says:

      Every one on this site has their moment when the game stopped working for them. Some people checked out at seeing Sara’s facial expression (but then yet for some reason kept playing the whole game), some others (as above) made the decision not to get it after seeing screenshots of samey-looking landscapes. I stuck with it until later when it became clear the game was building towards nothing. When you’re asked if you want to make the first settlement a military or a science outpost the game makes you feel like that’s a momentous decision. That the decision is meaningless (or changes two lines of dialogue) isn’t immediately apparent and when it becomes clear they aren’t going anywhere with that, or there’s no big secret or Act 2 reveal is when I soured. I can’t hate on Eos that much because Eos largely worked for me and exploring the Vault with the rooms going off forever for the first time was really cool. I just didn’t know there were 4 more planets of the same to come.

      1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

        I’m pretty sure that my disappointment with Eos is of the backwards-looking variety. In knowing that it ultimately goes nowhere, it’s easy to look back at this planet and be like “Why bother?”

        I imagine that while in the thick of it for the first time, I was probably quite a bit more charitable toward Eos and it’s only now in hindsight that I see that it had nothing going for it. A new player seeing it for the first time might think of it as a bunch of interesting possibilities, but having seen it all the way through, I can’t go back and have the luxury of that optimism again.

      2. CloverMan-88 says:

        I checked out real early – when you first encounter Kett, Ryder makes it very clear that they should approach the new race peacefully, and do everything to resolve the conflict without resorting to violence. Then, after Kett execute some Milky Way prisoners and there is a firefight, Ryder wonders why would Kett respond so ruthlessly to non-aggressive aliens. And one of your teammates says “Why does it surprise you? We would do the same”.

        And Ryder automatically AGREES with him.

        What? Do you… what? TWO lines of dialogue ago you said (and did) exactly the opposite! You tried to negotiate even tho there were people in danger and you had an element of surprise you specifically didn’t use!

        I played for a couple more minutes after that, but I hated that moment so much I just couldn’t go on. It was simply amateurish.

        1. Sartharina says:

          I don’t think the teammate’s response was so much what We (As in the current party) would do, but what any member of the Council races might do (See – District 9). At this point, the Pathfinders are still trying to give the native species the benefit of the doubt, and aren’t quite willing to go full Hernando Cortez on the locals just because the natives went full Sentinelese on the other Initiative squad. Ironically, it kind of demonstrates the sort of nuance/subtlety toward “The natives might attack and we won’t be able to communicate with them” that the “We weren’t expecting them to just shoot at us” dialogue earlier conspicuously lacked.

  5. Redrock says:

    If I recall correctly, isn’t there a power loadout system where you can save up to 4 profiles with different sets of powers and switch on the fly? I think I only ever made two or three active profiles, but I definitely remember switching between them.

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      Yeah – you could save four power loadouts as “favorites” and switch between them. But the problem I ran into with that is that the process of setting up those favorites was a multi-step process that was unnecessarily cumbersome and that the game doesn’t go out of its way to “train” us to use them as a viable tactic. Most of the time when I was in the heat of battle, I’d just flat-out forget that changing favorites was a thing I could do.

      Realistically, if they wanted this system to work well, they would’ve made it a simple process to set up multiple favorites and the game would’ve needed to actively teach us to switch them in battle early on so that it would be a natural part of the combat right from the start. Of course the problem with that is Ryder doesn’t have enough powers at the start to be able to switch between loadouts. By the time I had invested enough points in a wide enough variety to make the favorites a viable thing, I basically forgot that they were even a thing that existed.

      Technically speaking, you could have 12 active powers across the four profile favorites if you invested enough points, but for someone like me, at a more practical level, there were only three powers in the heat of battle.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I don’t think a mandatory tutorial is a good solution. The controls should be easy to use, and easy to configure/re-bind, so that the player doesn’t need instructions force-fed to them. If you add an optional training arena/mode, the player can also brush up on their skills – something that most tutorials don’t help with.

        1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

          I agree that a non-optional tutorial is not the answer, but I know that the current setup isn’t exactly optimal either.

          Ideally, the answer would be to make the favorites easy to set up and configure and to somehow make them useful right from the beginning of the game. If it’s made to be an integral part of the combat right from the start, then people would use it just as easily (and seamlessly) as they switch weapons.

    2. Trevor says:

      This is correct. The downside being that when you switch between profiles it puts all your abilities on cooldown. You can swap in any power from the character build menu at any time and it just puts that new ability on cooldown. It’s annoying, but yeah, I had a bunch of profiles that I swapped between to deal with normal enemies versus shielded versus armored.

      Also, on my first play through I had just finished a replay of the original trilogy and HATED being restricted to three abilities. On my second play through I had just come from some walking simulator games and so didn’t feel restricted at all. It would have been nice to have a fourth ability (I almost never use melee and would have loved to use the Remnant VI in that slot instead) but if you’re not expecting it you don’t miss it that much.

    3. OldOak says:

      Yup, it took me a while to figure it out, the system is introduced by Alec on Habitat 7, they’re called “Profiles” (available only to the Pathfinder).
      You can quickly switch from tech to biotic and/or to weapon powers using F1-F4 shortcuts on PC (and wait for the new powers to charge, of course :-\ ) Quite handy after biotically ramming the pirates, and you come into a Hydra or Destroyer, or even an Architect, where biotics are not that helpful.

    4. GoStu says:

      I never used the “Profiles” at all, as I mostly played a Soldier-type with a couple tech powers and squadmates to combo with. Between assault rifle, Incinerate, and Overload I could take on more-or-less anything the game threw my way. There was no need to swap to another suite of powers. Maybe some battlefields could have been more optimized for different powersets, but the game never does this that I can recall. Wouldn’t want someone with all their points in sniping to struggle after all.

      I thought it was more a convenience thing for people who wanted to explore all the game’s styles but didn’t want to go through intros/sidequests more than once. You can be a maxed-out Infiltrator build one minute and a Vanguard the next.

  6. Lars says:

    Sniper is actually the class I played in all Mass Effect games. And in this one it’s sniper-biotic.
    I like the one hit => head explode gameplay more than running a full clips of assault rifles into one enemy. And in close combat I prefer melee, not shotguns.

  7. BlueHorus says:

    Does this planet really need to look like the Mojave Desert? Can’t we get some purple sand? Strange rock spires? Creepy “breathing” flora? Luminescent jellyfish creatures floating around? Steam vents? Bones of giant creatures killed by the radiation? Some dead trees? Pools of glowing liquid? Massive crystal structures jutting out of the ground? The artists made a bunch of scenery objects for this place. They could just as easily have made assets that don’t look like pedestrian Earth scenery.

    So I have it on good information that someone did, in fact, suggest this during development. The risk of genuine innovation on display was too much for one passing EA executive and he suffered such terrified conniptions that he had to be escorted to a quiet room and administered hookers and cocaine to calm him down.
    Naturally, the employee who suggested this was fired immediately.

    Thanks so much for letting me know I’m offline while I play this fundamentally single-player game. This is exactly what I need to help me maintain a sense of immersion during a dialog scene.

    Look at it this way. At least the game actually runs while you’re offline…
    Besides, players should be online all the time! I mean, what if XXX_HITLER_WAS_RITE_LOL_XXX has just logged in and wants to invade your game and shout racist slurs at you through a bad microphone?

    What’re we going to do, NOT bother you with this opportunity while you’re playing?

  8. MilesDryden says:

    “Really? We’re going to build our first colony at the bottom of a box canyon? I mean, I guess one spot of lifeless wasteland is as good as another, but can’t we at least pick somewhere with a view?”

    On the other hand, it’s probably safe from invaders. Because, why would anybody bother invading? Even if they succeeded, then they’d just have a base in the middle of a box canyon. Whoop-de-flippin-do.

    1. GoStu says:

      As much as I appreciate a RvB reference, the box canyon seems like a terrible defensive location from a Mass Effect perspective where everyone has a spaceship they can park overhead. They can drop in, you only have one direction to run.

      1. Hector says:

        Random thought: they could have a small variance making this more sensible later. If you pick Science, they could have some kind if force shield, while the Soldier option sees a new camo dome. Either option creates an enclosed space so its like making one big structure, while also offering protection.

      2. Mr. Wolf says:

        A box canyon is a terrible defensive location even without spaceships. You never want your attackers to have the high ground but from inside a canyon there is literally nowhere else your attackers to be.

    2. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      I guess it could be pretty useful against strong winds and sandstorms.
      All that empty space would allow for some pretty strong wind buildup, and even in calmer weather you don’t want sand to get everywhere. Having some sturdy walls around the settlement would at least help mitigate that.

      It also makes you look like fish in a barrel for any warships passing over, and i’m sure they would appreciate the gesture.

    3. modus0 says:

      It’s worse than that.

      The Kett have power facility for Eos on the plateau a few hundred yards (if that) northwest of where you establish the colony. So they could literally drop down the cliffside into the colony without any warning.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        Well, then they must obviously have some incredible stealth technology (which is never mentioned, shown or even implied of course).
        Because even the most incompetent Evil Empire wouldn’t just let a bunch of hostile strangers set up shop within literal waving distance of a major facility.

  9. Scampi says:

    Sure, I understand it wouldn’t make sense to land on tundra and then drive half a kilometer to find yourself in jungle, but that’s no excuse for having the planets be so relentlessly same-y.

    I actually think there’s a great idea hidden right there. You may not land on tundra to drive into the jungle, but to me it appears plausible to land on the steppes just to tour into a rainforest, as the early colonizers may have found useful ressources there but not deforested the area, so you have to land in one place, then get to another biome, because the biome hosting the colony doesn’t make for a very good landing area.

  10. Ander says:

    Wow, there’s a Stargate in the middle of the base.

  11. Olivier FAURE says:

    If we gave each planet three or four regions of distinct color, topography, and soundscape, it would go a long way to making these planets feel large and interesting. We could put each monolith in its own biome, which would relieve some of the tedium of doing the same thing three times.

    So how you’d have done it is to make more varied content, have less asset reuse and have a separate, yet coherent art direction for each biome?

    I… think you might not be the game designer to ever stumble upon that idea, Shamus. Actually, I’ll be bold and wager that “make more things” might have occurred to Andromeda designers too. :P

    My guess is, they just didn’t have the time and budget that ambitious scenery would have required, and thus fell back on a familiar art direction.

    1. Lino says:

      Well, then, try to limit the scope. I’d rather have 2 interesting planets than 5 bland ones.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        But “explore 2 unique planets” doesn’t sound as good in your marketing and elevator pitches.
        Even if either of those planets is more interesting than the five bland ones combined.

      2. Sartharina says:

        The planets are so terrible in ME:A for the same reason the guild quests in Skyrim are so terrible – they chased the “Procedurally-Generated Wonder-System” for too long during development, realized way too late that it would never work out (A very frustrating system, because they probably felt they were “This close, if only we could do X”, before realizing X was completely technically impossible), and had to cut it all and do their best to clean up what were pretty much placeholders in time to ship.

    2. ClaimedInfinity says:

      Exactly that.

  12. Jabberwok says:

    “Each planet has some sort of environmental problem: Radiation, extreme heat, extreme cold, caustic water, and out-of-control wildlife.”

    Sounds more like the setup for a Zelda game. Do we get a new thematic power at the end of each one?

    “Mass Effect 2 gave us the Hammerhead, which was completely pointless since it was only ever used on Hammerhead-specific planets. It felt like someone had grafted a terrible hovertank game onto this RPG.”

    I think the Hammerhead was only in DLC missions, so that’s exactly what they did. Wonder if it was mostly to make up for removing the Mako.

    “Tech powers are often associated with sniper rifles and biotic powers are often associated with melee or shotguns at point-blank range. This isn’t a rule or anything. If you like, you can carry a sniper rifle and use biotic powers, or you can use tech abilities in melee range. But there are often bonuses built into the system that assumes tech specialists are snipers and biotics are close range fighters.”

    I think the Infiltrator was the only class specifically associated with sniper rifles. At least in ME 2, I don’t think the other tech classes could use rifles at all. Just pistols and SMGs.

    1. Sven says:

      You’re right. In ME1 and ME2, only the Infiltrator can use sniper rifles by default. For Engineer and Sentinel, you can’t really use one by default. In ME1, you’d carry one, but would be useless with it (the accuracy of “untrained” weapons in ME1 was horrific). In ME2, you don’t carry weapons you can’t use (a good change, imo).

      Both games do offer a way to get access to the weapon, though. In ME1, getting the Sniper achievement (which requires killing 150 enemies with it, iirc) lets you use it as a bonus power on any class, after which they can use it same as Infiltrators. In ME2, during the Collector Ship mission, you have the opportunity to choose additional weapon training, and this affords you the ability to get access to sniper rifles. In this case, only the Mantis and Viper rifles would be available to you though, as the much more powerful Widow can only be unlocked if you’re already an Infiltrator and pick sniper rifles during that weapon training thingy.

      In ME3, of course, you can use any weapon with any class, though most sniper rifles are very heavy so impose a big cooldown penalty for primarily power-based classes.

      Not knowing much about RPGs or shooters when I first played ME1, I basically picked Engineer at random, and that’s still one of my favorite classes (in ME1, I particularly like that I can have all the skills needed to open any container or override/hack any terminal without caring about who else is in my party, and in ME2/3 I just love the incinerate/overload powers). In ME2 and 3, I tend to play Engineer as a sniper-hybrid, using the sniper specialization from the Collector Ship in ME2, and mainly going with the heavier pistols with a scope mod in ME3. Never did that in ME1 though, since you need a lot of points in the sniper skill for sniper rifles to be useful, and Engineers have more useful places to spend points.

      1. Jabberwok says:

        I definitely remember the weapon loadout limitations because it’s one of the reasons I chose to play a soldier in the second game, to get access to all of the weapon types. Engineer was pretty fun in multiplayer ME3, though. I liked seeing my drone getting all the kills while I ran around doing other stuff.

        But yeah, the point was tech power classes were not limited to sniper rifles or ‘whack-a-mole’ tactics. The engineer and adept had the same weapon options, and those are the main tech or biotic classes, respectively. The vanguard was certainly the most aggressive class, and if Shamus only played vanguard with a shotgun, I guess it would be easy to overlook that.

      2. shoeboxjeddy says:

        In ME2, Soldier Class can use any weapon they want to use. So they don’t need to spend their bonus perk on it and can use it on something better (like a defensive shield option or a health steal power).

      3. ClaimedInfinity says:

        Soldier also can use SR in ME2.

  13. GoStu says:

    The “alien vaults fixing the planets” angle infuriated me to no end. All the potential struggle and problems for characters to wrestle with are just GONE with the push of that stupid shouldn’t-really-exist button. They feel like the author just ripping out the potential of the setting and shoehorning in the story they felt like telling:

    “Screw you and your man-vs-environment struggle to survive in this hostile wilderness. I wanna tell a story about evil aliens and lost civilizations and that’s what you’re gonna get. Here come the Kett, you can fight them over the inexplicable planet-fixing machines.”

    Never mind the massive contrivance that these things represent. Are there Remnant ruins in every part of the Andromeda galaxy, or did the Initiative just so happen to (against literally astronomical odds) land in the one cluster that has the miraculous planet-fixers?

    The stupid Remnant Vaults did an immediate one-two-uppercut series of punches to my interest in completing or even continuing to play Andromeda. What they told me:

    – Don’t worry about the problems in front of you, the universe will literally bend and defy any kind of odds to present an easy button-press solution to the problems of the moment. Why improvise? There’ll be a Remnant Box with the solution you need inside it somewhere around here.

    – Your hopes to see anything you haven’t seen before should be dropped immediately. You’re not going to explore new worlds as a Pathfinder to provide for your people, you’re going to fight through Kett to get to these Forerunner-with-the-serial-number-filed-off Plot Devices and you’re going to do it constantly.

    – Forget the impression that anything you do actually changes anything. You can grind out 100% viability for these planets, but don’t expect the game to acknowledge you for it in anything but the most perfunctory sense. They’ll still look the same, still present the same environmental hazard, and nothing will change. The frozen ice world that you’re making viable to live on will still look like a barren field of ice and will still freeze you at literally the exact rate it did before.

    1. Ronixis says:

      The Initiative picked the site because their long-range FTL scans showed an unusual cluster of habitable planets. So, I’d take it as the explanation for why such a cluster was there for them to find. I think the hole is that the Initiative didn’t really think through the implications of that cluster (even if they weren’t manufactured, Andromeda species have several more centuries to more easily find and use it). But that part ties back to the general ‘naive and optimistic Initiative’ setup.

      1. GoStu says:

        I guess that detail flew past me, or maybe I didn’t consider its implications. I kind of figured that they’d just scanned some substantial number of areas looking for habitable planets, and simply chose to go to the best one they’d found. Over an entire galaxy there’d be some hotspots and some deadzones, and figured they just chose paydirt.

        That such a cluster would be artificial isn’t an angle I thought of; I just thought that on the literal galactic scale, somewhere would be unusually good. I guess one could argue that if they were trying to imply that the Heleus cluster was/is artificial, they didn’t make it clear.

      2. tremor3258 says:

        Well, Cerberus, right – why consider other people might have a strategy or opinions?

        Really nice planets are fairly rare in the Milky Way, too, I’m surprised it didn’t set off some alarm bells. (I miss ME1 world-building, man)

        I don’t have a problem with the Initiative being somewhat naive or optimistic as a group, it just feels all their backers gave a fairly big blank check to these guys.

    2. Olivier FAURE says:

      Never mind the massive contrivance that these things represent. Are there Remnant ruins in every part of the Andromeda galaxy, or did the Initiative just so happen to (against literally astronomical odds) land in the one cluster that has the miraculous planet-fixers?

      In an earlier post, people were discussing possible colonization-like scenarios where Andromeda was already inhabited when the settlers came.

      An interesting plot point would be that the galaxy was once inhabited by an ancient civilization that disappeared because of [a plague / a war / the Reaper’s cousins / they ascended to a higher plan of existence] that left terraforming technology behind on basically every planet they visited. The only livable planets in the galaxy are those that have an ancient terraformer… which means all the planets with working terraformers are already taken, and the Initiative has to settle for planets with broken terraformers; these planets are the equivalent of Star Wars’ Outer Rim, lawless regions full of conveniently evil pirates and mercenaries that can be dealt with by shooting from waist-high cover.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        Alternatively, the terraformers did their job just fine.
        It’s just that the Forerunners had a definition of “habitable planet” than the Milky Way races.

        Alternatively, they needed different types of planet for whatever reason (resource harvesting, experiments, tourism, doctrinal mandates, prank wars) and the hostility wasn’t a big deal (being super advanced aliens probably helped).

    3. ShivanHunter says:

      Not to mention that these plot devices “repair” the ecosystem to the exact point required for human habitation. I mean, yes, in a space opera setting, it’s a given that most of the species you interact with will be able to coexist in a comfortable-for-humans environment, but there’s not even one single line of dialogue handwaving this. It’s just accepted and taken for granted as a miracle cure – shut up and shoot the aliens.

  14. Thomas says:

    If we accept that all games at the moment are some kind of hybrid RPG mush, then compare Mass Effect Andromeda to Horizon Zero Dawn to get a sense of why it’s so disappointing.

    Horizon Zero Dawn has exotic beautiful landscapes, with the impressions of genuine alien (robot) ecosystems, built on a large sense of mystery and worldbuilding, with a cast of well written characters and semi-meaningful choices and tied together with a wildly fun combat system.

    Andromeda could have and should have challenged Horizon Zero Dawn on each of these areas, but it failed. HZ:D felt more alien and it’s set on earth!

    1. Syal says:

      …can’t argue with that. But I’m still going to, about the well-written characters. They’ve got some good lines, but I was over halfway through the game before I found a character I liked, and that was just because they managed to tell Aloy to shut up without being horribly racist/sexist/classist about it.

  15. Dreadjaws says:

    Although all planets do draw from the same library of attack-on-sight monsters.

    Why aren’t people more bothered by this? It drives me insane. How come all these entirely different planets all hold the same fauna, regardless of location, structure or climate? You wouldn’t expect animals to look the same in two similar habitable planets, why would be the same in completely different ones? Hell, evolved, sapient species look entirely different, why would more primitive creatures be so similar? To clarify: they’re exactly the same in every planet. Even if the climate change was an event relatively recent enough to not allow for evolution to take place, how come animals can just live the same way in boiling desert and stormy ice?

    And how did they reach those places? They clearly can’t fly through space on their own. Did someone take them from one place to another? Why? I’d understand flying cattle to other planets, but why take these aggressive monsters too? Maybe this information is hidden away in the codex, but I still find it pretty ridiculous. It was already silly enough to see tresher maws and pyjaks in several different uninhabited planets in ME1, but this takes it to the extreme.

    1. Mattias42 says:

      Thrasher Maws at least had the excuse that they’re A,) have eggs tough enough to survive space-travel, and B,) short-sighted jackasses (cough, Cerberus, cough) like to use them as biological weapons to make places too dangerous to mine, settle, or otherwise exploit.

      Although that last one always sounded pretty dumb to me. I mean, ONE Macko can take them down pretty easy in the first game and the Maws are so stupid slash constantly hungry they come running to any source of vibration.

      It’s one of those classic fiction problems that wouldn’t actually be one if the in-universe experts were actually allowed to solve it instead of The Protagonist That Does Everything, Trademark.

    2. ShivanHunter says:

      “well ackshually”, I think Mass Effect 2 carries most of the blame here – Thresher maws were everywhere of course, but it was a big part of their design (their spores could hibernate in deep space until reaching another planet). But in ME1, “space monkeys” were only on Eletania, and varren were only on Feros. ME2 was the one that scattered pyjaks and varren everywhere with the flimsiest of explanations. Pyjaks apparently like to stow away on ships, which is fine, but varren were never explained at all – obviously people breed them as attack dogs, but some varren (like the ones on Pragia) seem to be wild pests inhabiting random planets, and it’s not even clear what planet they’re really from.

      Counterpoint: the cycles could handily explain several animal species being common to multiple worlds, by the fact that they were spread around by previous civilizations. So of course, as soon as that explanation is no longer available (in Andromeda), Bioware designs a dozen species and litters them all over the cluster. You could say that the species who built the Remnant did the same thing, but Andromeda doesn’t ever seem keen on using its backstory to explain things.

      1. Matthew Collins says:

        The varren explanation is that the krogan brought them across the galaxy in the time between the rachni wars and the Rebellions, and being adaptable Tuchankan predators they were a successful invasive species (like krogan themselves). I can’t remember *where* this is established, admittedly, but that’s the explanation.

        The Andromeda situation has no excuse, though. They should have designed different animals for each planet.

  16. Dreadjaws says:

    Thanks so much for letting me know I’m offline while I play this fundamentally single-player game. This is exactly what I need to help me maintain a sense of immersion during a dialog scene.

    Is this an Origin thing? The game itself has never done this to me in the PS4.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yes, that’s Origin intruding on the game. You’ve never seen it on the PS because, presumably, the people at Sony aren’t out of their minds.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Well, they do have a “You’re offline and might be missing some online benefits” message when you insert a Blu-Ray movie, but it’s only at that moment, they never just outright interrupt actual movie playing with pop-ups. This thing Origin does is just preposterous.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          What in the actual crap is the benefit of being online while watching a movie?

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            Customized advertising! Data harvesting! Metrics!

            Benefits for the user you say? How much money can we make from that?

  17. ShivanHunter says:

    Sometimes I feel like the only person not bothered by the lifeless, mostly-monotonous planets in Mass Effect 1. For me, the vast expanses of empty landscape were what created the impression of size; the Andromeda planets were packed with little things to see and do, and it made the landing zones feel small, since everything was more or less right next to something else (Andromeda is far from the worst example of this – there’s a reason I call it the “Skyrim problem”).

    If the game gives you a landing zone, and packs it with stuff so there’s something to do no matter where you go, then the boundaries become obvious – it feels like there should be more to do if you could just get past the invisible wall. In ME1, you’ll visit a couple important spots on a given planet, maybe stopping if you see some minerals or a crashed probe to survey, but you’ll leave most of the landing zone unexplored. So you never run up against the boundaries, and you don’t feel arbitrarily confined to a small space.

    And there’s a cost tradeoff here, of course. No one wants to design part of a landscape for the express purpose of having players not visit it. ME1 only got away with this because its planets could be made in an hour or so with UE3’s landscape editor.

    Andromeda’s combat is indeed the best in the series. If it hadn’t been marred by the repetitive boss fights and the awful lack of checkpoints in the Kett bases, I’d have forgiven the game all its narrative faults purely on the strength of the gameplay.

    1. Henson says:

      ME1 also followed a fair amount of realism, given the circumstances of the Mass Effect technology. Most planets are inhospitable chunks of rock.

      Now, whether or not it’s good for your game experience is up for debate. But it definitely does contribute to atmosphere.

      1. tremor3258 says:

        My favorite is the world that looked like a gorgeous, gorgeous garden planet – but the local pollen analog made it one of the most dangerous planets in the galaxy.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      I was the kind of maniac who liked the QWOP-esque challenge of the Mako and its… interesting ideas about physics, so I appreciated the big empty planets as a kind of pacing: traversal was weird enough to not be boring, and lengthy enough to make for a nice break between talky and/or shooty bits. Mako combat was tacked-on and insubstantial, but at least its design problems led in the direction of “trivially easy” instead of “slogfest”.

  18. Gautsu says:

    Considering 3 powers have been the staple since ME 2 I am surprised at people bitching about it (although I guess you could have 4 with your squadmates’ loyalty power).

    The combat is the best it has been, moving from shitty (ME 1) to decent cover based shooter, to mobile as hell third person shooter. Besides also being able to pick and choose any abilities to stack together which has never been allowed in any ME game before, profiles actually changing how you traverse on foot (biotics vs non-biotics with the warp versus the dodge and double jump), they actually gave love to soldiers for once with the classification of combat powers and combat detonators.

    The combat combined with the unlockable kept me playing ME 3 multiplayer for 1000’s of hours (I still do). I enjoyed the combat more in Andromeda. But the artificial padding out of the multiplayer, with each weapon getting 5 variants and each weapon/mod/class going to XX, with significant power points being locked behind getting them to 20, and having to level each sex of each class separately killed the MP for me. Back to ME 3 where at least the later classes felt differentiated.

    1. Sven says:

      ME3 actually gave you (iirc) six powers for Shepard. For example, of the top of my head, Engineers had overload, incinerate, cryo blast, sabotage, combat drone, and sentry turret. ME2 also had more than three (five, I think, plus the bonus power).

      Only the ME3 multiplayer limited you to three powers per character.

      1. Gautsu says:

        God its been a while but couldn’t you only have 3 hot keyed?

        1. Sven says:

          Not on PC with mouse/keyboard. That lets you use the number keys for all your powers.

          No idea about consoles, though. It’s entirely possible they were more limited for hot keys. But for PC players, Andromeda is the first time this limitation exists.

  19. Taellosse says:

    I think my biggest complaint about the Remnant terraforming space-magic plot device is it’s the same justification Bioware used to explain why so many worlds in the Star Wars galaxy were monobiomes. In that context, it was a clever plot device (and largely a side note) to explain a strange feature of an already-familiar setting. Here, it feels like a recycled idea given too much focus.

    I’d have been much more willing to give the notion a pass if it had been used to justify something cool, rather than excuse something tiresome – if it had explained why multiple types of terrain or climate were so closely juxtaposed, for example (which from a gameplay perspective made each world more interesting to explore), I’d have been cool with it.

  20. Thanatopical says:

    I don’t think anyone else mentioned (or even noticed, perhaps) that in ME1 there is at least one of the featureless explorable planets that has some little animals on it other than Thresher Maws – they look like horses, or space horses or something. Don’t remember which planet but it’s one of the more habitable-looking ones with greenery in addition to rocky cliffs. Possibly the only one such planet that you can visit (not counting plot planets). Said space horses will even die if you shoot/run over them, though that seems to be the limit of what they can do.

    I think that’s the only one aside from Virmire with any sort of fauna, but at least we can see that someone on the dev team back then actually thought about it.

    1. Sven says:

      ME1 also had Pyjaks on some planets, most notably that one where you had to search three colonies of Pyjaks for a missing data cartridge or something.

      And, of course, there was the shifty looking cow that stole money from you. :)

      1. Thanatopical says:

        Man, I actually forgot about those space monkeys until you mentioned them. And I only remembered the – space cows, huh? – because I replayed ME1 recently. I didn’t know about the credit-stealing one though!

        Just goes to show that they were all fairly forgettable, but I guess that’s perfectly alright for a minor environmental detail.

  21. The Rocketeer says:

    Shamus,

    Today, clicking either of the RSS buttons at the top of the site in Firefox opens an Open With/Save As dialog box. Open With Firefox results in this, with the location of the file in my temp folder displayed in the address bar. I figured this is related the recent Firefox update, since it had always displayed correctly for me before, but then a quick Ctrl+F doesn’t show anyone else complaining about it on the most recent three posts, so I dunno. I have 64-bit Windows 7 and browse with Firefox 64.0 . With Chrome 71.0.3578.98 , I don’t get the dialog, but instead navigate to a web address that displays similarly as above, but in plain text without the colors or the nested collapsibles. But I don’t use Chrome for regular browsing, so it may have always been like that on mine. Incidentally, that’s the same thing I’ve always gotten when trying to use the RSS links on Chrome on my Android phone, which presently has the same version number as the desktop browser above. Which I probably should have said something about ages ago, but my face was tired.

  22. Grudgeal says:

    As much as I think it makes no damn sense to bring the Krogan with us, I admit [Drack]’s a pretty cool character.

    In what way? I haven’t played the game so that’s a little bare-bones as a descriptor.

  23. Dragmire says:

    Man, I’ll always remember the Mako fondly. Every mountain became a puzzle. The reward for doing the puzzle was a mountaintop tank snipers nest(plus, I just enjoyed the feeling I could get places I wasn’t supposed to be with that tank). Also, certain story planets had sections where you could sneak(glitch) the Mako through, allowing you to blast away those annoying jumpy guys! Great fun all around!

  24. Christopher says:

    I always liked running over dudes or shooting them with the Mako, that felt like a way to get back at them for the dodgy shooting on foot. But yeah, I sure didn’t miss the nightmare texture planets. Glad they attempted to bring back a better version. I just think they gotta revamp their whole mission structure. It seems like the exact same thing they did for Dragon Age Inquisition, you know. And it just gives you a long list of busywork rather than encourage that good exploration and adventure.

  25. Ayrshark says:

    Rant time. So this was the part where I realized the entire Initiative was completely and utterly incompetent. The Nexus is running low on resources of all kinds, including food and water (we see at least the food part upon returning to the Nexus at some point). So of course the best idea they have is to start a colony that can provide resources for the Nexus or at least reduce the consumption of the resources they have. So they colonize a desert planet. A radioactive desert planet. If you need food and water then a radioactive desert planet is by far the dumbest place to try to get that as they tend to not have a whole lot. That’s why they’re deserts. Even if you DO find a decent enough amount to support a colony and, to some extent, the Nexus (not likely), you’ll have to somehow remove the radiation from nearly all of it (at least what you plan on drinking or eating). Also, if you scan the little anti-radiation things that make a barrier around the colonies you’ll notice it says something along the lines of how they aren’t really built for dealing with the amounts of radiation that they are. I remember talking to Tann at one time about how colonizing Eos wasn’t a good idea and his response was along the lines of “Well how were we supposed to know, we didn’t have a Pathfinder!”. Hell, since Addison is the one in charge of colonial stuff that pretty much means she looked at it and thought it was fine and then Tann, being the one in charge, ALSO would have looked at it and thought it was fine! Between Liam’s stupid “shot him in the face” line back before daddy dearest dies and everything else that happens up to this point it just feels like you got sent to another galaxy with the dumbest losers in the universe.

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      Eos kind of feels like this mish-mash of all of the Initiative’s failings. And, by extension, showed how completely toothless the Kett were going to be as an enemy.

      When we first land at Site One, the only problem it seems to have is that it’s been abandoned, aside from one crazy guy who locked himself in a room. How did the Initiative lose this site? It’s all still there. As far as I can tell, nothing has been destroyed or taken. The radiation shield is still functional. Even the ATV is still in its cargo bin. The Kett kicked the Initiative out, then took nothing and didn’t even hang around? It’s the same with Site Two. The area is pristine and there are no Kett to be found until we start flipping some switches. And why did the Initiative lose to these clowns? When they showed up in force for me, I repelled them with a three-person squad. Granted, it’s a gifted squad, but the Initiative couldn’t match its effectiveness with ten soldiers? Twenty soldiers?

      There’s no reason to believe that once we pave the way for a third site to be set up that the Initiative wouldn’t lose it before we’ve shaken the sand out of our boots. And why set up a new site at all when the first two are still there untouched? Do the settlers think that those sites still have the stink of Initiative failure all over them? At the very least, it would’ve been neat to see the new settlers starting to reclaim/scavenge the perfectly fine equipment and materials from the failed sites to incorporate them into the new site.

      The whole Eos questline seems to be about how everybody is a failure except for Ryder. The Initiative fails at everything and the Kett fail at everything. It’s like a race to the bottom. At this point, we haven’t even met the Angara yet to know how big of failures they are too. If Eos wanted to stand for something, they should have aimed for something a little more engaging than “everybody’s incompetent.”

  26. James says:

    Was i the only one who didn’t enjoy the combat?
    Most reviews I’ve read have said the combat is very satisfying, and the mobility with the jump jets are a highlight.

    Only played ME2 so probably remembering that gameplay through rose colored glasses, but the combat here just felt flat to me compared to that, and especially when compared to other games.

    The guns lacked a satisfying oomfph to it. Didn’t feel like i was shooting a gun, but rather just holding a button until a bar decreases in color.

    Melee felt even worse to me. I feel like the models are missing that essential reaction/recoil frame that makes it look like I’m doing a hard hit.

    Biotics were alright to me.

    All in all, it felt like one of those games where the combat had the ingredients but it doesn’t feel good. Its why Halo and Dark souls have satisfying gameplay but the clones and knockoffs don’t.

  27. Zaxares says:

    While I do get the complaints about the vehicle sections in ME1 (at least, the ones that didn’t take place on story planets) feeling dull and monotonous, I actually kinda liked that about it. It helped sell the feeling that the vast majority of space is flat, empty and utterly boring, and it made habitable worlds much more exciting to discover.

  28. Jeff says:

    In real life, radiation also kills the organisms responsible for decay. So there should be desiccated but otherwise whole remains everywhere, which would be really cool looking if portrayed correctly.

  29. ClaimedInfinity says:

    As someone said before it’s not that you either make 5 dull planets and 5 interesting ones. It’s either you make 5 dull planets or 2 interesting ones instead. With that said many of the of the ideas mentioned in the previous posts were in the game in some way. Green skies, purple forests, strange flying creatures, strange under-ice creatures, coral trees, flying rocks, red grass, seabed terrain, giant mushrooms, fisher towers, rock spires, steam vents – IT’S ALL THERE. For some reason the designers just didn’t push it far enough like they did in Destiny 2 for example. My guess they wanted to play it safe and keep the landscapes familiar and not too heavy system-wise (no dense forests) thus minimizing any possible risk. A good part of the landscape looks boring as a result, yet the game can still offer a few great views.

  30. PPX14 says:

    You can change the color palette without needing to go to a new climate. You can have grass in some spots, lifeless dirt in others, and rocky wastes elsewhere.

    See: Shadow of The Colossus!

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