Mass Effect is Boldly Going in a Direction I Find Exciting

From Space Jesus to strange new worlds, Mass Effect Andromeda looks encouraging.

We're at E3 this week, covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

It was about six years ago that Jeremy referred to Mass Effect as BioWare's Star Trek, and I objected that it was a lot more like Babylon 5 (with a smidge of Star Wars).

Putting aside the fact that I'm a pedantic nerd, Mass Effect just never struck me as being all that Trek-like. Sure, you could explore strange new worlds, but the overall arc was more akin to Babylon 5 in the way that it featured the return of supremely powerful ancient enemies. It was first and foremost an action romp; and while it wasn't dumb by any stretch of the imagination, it just didn't feel much like Star Trek.

Andromeda, though... now that's interesting. In the trailer shown at today's EA Play event, we saw a new character venturing across alien landscapes, capping off with a woman waking from a sleeper pod and breathing, "We made it."

Made it where, you ask? Out there.

In shifting the franchise's focus to exploration, Andromeda appears to be a far cry from Mass Effect 3, which was all about being big damn heroes and saving the galaxy. And if that's the case, then I will feel more justified and describing it as BioWare's Star Trek. After all, when Star Trek was at its best, it wasn't about gunning down aliens or saving the galaxy - it was about exploring the human condition and traveling to the furthest reaches of the galaxy.

Regardless of what it turns out to be, Andromeda's shift will be a much-needed refresh for the series. Mass Effect 3 gets a lot of criticism for its ending, but I was more disappointed by its shift from thoughtful sci-fi RPG to bombastic shooter. It felt stale by the end; and after the thrill of Mass Effect 2, it was a painful letdown.

Andromeda will hopefully set things right by offering something more in line with the spirit of the first game, which was more of a traditional BioWare RPG. That's not to say that I want more janky and unsatisfying gunplay or a return to the rather awful Mako. I didn't even like its planet exploration mechanic that much, which involved crawling across often barren planets. But the original game had a lot of good ideas as well as a very particular feel to it, and that's something I'd like Andromeda to capture in a way that's more satisfying and polished than before.

If the trailer is any indication, then Andromeda is on the right track, and I'm more than ready to return to BioWare's fascinating universe. And maybe Jeremy and I can finally agree on its source of inspiration.

We're at E3 this week, covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

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