Mass Effect: Andromeda is here and it’s a game that can be a bit divisive. It certainly isn’t on the same level as previous installments, like the suburb Mass Effect 2, but it’s often a serviceable game that’s had the misfortune of launching around the same time as excellent adventures like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Persona 5, and NieR: Automata. This is a game where you need to look for the good in it. And one of the best things about it is the squadmates your Ryder will be able to interact with.
Cora and Liam are the first folks Ryder will have by his or her side in Mass Effect: Andromeda. They’re the Ashley and Kaidan of the game. Neither are particularly exciting. Not that they’re bad characters. Cora is a strong, stubborn woman with uncompromising principals. Her time spent training and working with Asari Huntresses has left her with an appreciation for that culture, though she also has a fondness for gardening and roses. Liam is a young man who was a cop and first responder, then came to Andromeda in search of adventure. He’s rather cordial and interested in bringing people together, as evidenced by his going to the trouble of getting an actual couch for the Tempest and organizing a movie night. (One where the movies don’t even have to be good, no less!) They’re decent enough folks, but not particularly exciting. Though, the people with male Ryders romancing Cora and female Ryders romancing Liam might argue otherwise.
While no one will ever replace Garrus, I can’t help feeling like Vetra is Mass Effect: Andromeda’s new Garrus. It isn’t just because she’s a Turian. It’s something about the way she interacts with Ryder and her personality. She’s this dependable person, even if she’s willing to make some questionable agreements to get the supplies people want or need. She’s a personable and knowledgeable friend to Ryder, one with more knowledge of the Nexus. She’s street smart. Also, it almost feels like her romance has the same sort of progression as Garrus’. When either Ryder romances her, it almost feels like a genuine friendship developing into something more.
Jaal is another alien that’s wonderful. Perhaps its because he’s the only new race, which means this is the first all “new” person to us. He starts out as this wary individual who’s absolutely willing to use Ryder for his means while letting the Pathfinder take advantage of the boons that come from having an Angara on the team. But gradually, he opens up. He begins making gifts for his new teammates. He even goes from being a casual acquaintance option to a friend and romance option for a female Ryder. I suppose the only thing that bothered me is that Mass Effect: Andromeda makes this big deal of saying Angara are an emotional race, but we don’t often get that from Jaal aside from occasional snippets.
And then there’s Drack. Drack is great. Drack is the team dad. He’s this tough, gruff, hilarious old man who’s probably tougher than you’ll ever hope to be. He’ll tease you like crazy, but only because he does like you. When he finds out you lost your dad, he’ll send you tons of pictures of guns (many watermarked) to try and make you feel better. He tries in the best way he knows how, which usually is the best possible way ever. Guns? Sure. Violence? Absolutely. Sarcasm? Always. For one of the scariest aliens in the universe, the interactions with him are some of the most charming and approachable.
The only alien squadmate that I felt really let me down was Peebee. Granted, this is just my opinion and others might find this energetic and mile-a-minute Asari delightful. Especially since she’s casual, ready for adventure, and eager to accept everything Andromeda has to offer. But for me, it felt like her character was trying to hard to be this kooky and manic individual who could monopolize every scene. She does have some depth to her, once you start pursuing her storyline, but I didn’t feel that same connection that I did with the rest of the cast. People of either gender who choose to romance her will really get to know her best.
There are absolutely some issues with Mass Effect: Andromeda’s general story. It certainly isn’t as compelling as previous installments and can take a while to really get going. While the main storyline might not be everything you’d expect, the relationships with the crew can be much more delightful. Getting to interact with and aid the people you’ve adventuring with is a joy. Especially when it comes to alien characters like Drack, Vetra, and Jaal. Helping them and learning who they are can make the whole intergalactic road trip feel worthwhile.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.