As promised, here are some spoiler-free thoughts on Mass Effect: Andromeda. The game's been out for almost a month and I'm not finished with it yet (how's that for pacing?), and I'm really not sure how much I have left to go. Based on the level requirements to unlock certain things, I think there's still a decent amount left, but I can't say for sure. That said, I've played enough of it to spout off some of my thoughts and how they relate to storytelling.
So far, I'm really enjoying the game. Some parts of it have been frustrating, but the good stuff more than makes up for it. While I do love Dragon Age: Inquisition, as we all know (the previous BioWare game), I wouldn't say the game was without its faults. MEA has improved on the elements I took issue with, which I appreciate.
As the title of this post indicates, I'm going to talk about pacing. That was my number one qualm with DAI, in that the pacing seemed really uneven and just...off. There are certain plot points you have to hit in order to progress the main plot, and in some cases, you can choose the order in which you do them, but the sheer number of side quests (many optional, to be fair) killed the sense of urgency for me. And what really bugged me was that the main plot quests were SO GOOD. Like, I distinctly recall staying up way too late while playing one of them because I HAD to know what happened next (a mark of good storytelling). I wish there had been more of that instead of Fetch Quest #2837.
To be fair, the structure of MEA isn't too dissimilar, but something about it flows better for me. Maybe it's because all the little side quests add up to a bigger whole, or contribute more to the overall story. It's funny, in DAI, the Big Bad is established relatively early on and you know your goal is to defeat him. In MEA, I'm pretty sure, though not positive, I know who the final boss is going to be, but the overall goal is just making a safe place for your people to live. You'd think that the game with the more defined goal would be the one with better pacing, but it's not working out that way for me.
Moving on! The other issue I had with DAI is that I thought there were way too many characters, and as such, not all of them felt as developed and well-written as they could have been. (For the record, I said the same exact thing about Mass Effect 2.) MEA pared down the number of companions and as a result, I don't feel like any of them are useless or redundant. Sure, there are some I like better than others, but even my least favorite has a detailed background and has had some good moments.
I'll stop here before this gets too long. I know you're all wondering about the romances, because obviously that's the main reason people play these games ( ;) ). I've chosen who I'm going to pursue the first time around, but the romance hasn't progressed super far, so I'll get back to you on that!