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Mass Effect Andromeda - What it means to be a Pathfinder

Mass Effect Andromeda pathfinder.jpg

At The Game Awards 2016, Bioware released a new 4K gameplay video for Mass Effect: Andromeda. It showcases combat, different environments, some of your squad mates, the main protagonist and lots more. I've also recently completed the second training mission in the Andromeda Initiative, and the new information from that ties in nicely with the gameplay video to give us some understanding of what it will mean to be a Pathfinder in Andromeda.

Below is a summary of what we know so far about being a Pathfinder, as well as how some of the things in Andromeda come together to form one overarching story. Looking at the information currently at our disposal, I find the Pathfinder to possible be a very uncomfortable fit - and I'll explain why later in the article. Yes, I know that much of what I say is based on conclusions and we'll not know for certain until we've played the game - but it does paint a very interesting picture.

Mass Effect Andromeda: The Pathfinder

  • The Ark Hyperion: Your temporary home while you and other Pathfinders look for a permanent settlement.
  • Pathfinders have to secure all possible new habitats.
  • Engineers, scientists and thousands of others live aboard the Arks while Pathfinders search Andromeda for a new home.
  • While still aboard the Hyperion you can use the Cultural Centre to brush up on Mass Effect races and history.
  • The Command Center: Your Pathfinder HQ where you share information with other Pathfinders.
  • Science Lab: Where Pathfinders submit discoveries to scientist to unlock the secrets of the Andromeda galaxy.
  • The Nexus: Houses Pathfinder leadership like superintendent Kesk.
  • The Nexus and Arks serve as new trade and command centres from which Pathfinders are commissioned.
  • Pathfinders are explorers, soldiers and guides.
  • Your primary mission: Find a new home for humanity.
  • The Tempest: You leave the Hyperion, and the Tempest becomes your temporary command centre. Use it to navigate between Andromeda's star systems.
  • Forward Stations: Pathfinders can request these from HQ to change weapons and squads, or to use fast travel
  • Avina: An Asari hologram that answers questions and stores information about current events. Find it at terminals throughout the Nexus and use it when you need information about the planet's inhabitants, when you need advice, or when you need an update about current affairs.
  • Every world you explore has its story, unique environment, alien races and challenges.
  • The whole of Andromeda suffer from resource scarcity - use this to your advantage between warring factions.
  • You will have to decide who you'll want to have as allies or enemies.
  • Some planets are massive and extremely hazardous, so traveling across it requires the six-wheel drive Nomad
  • Pathfinders can use scanning and analysis tools to help them during missions. These tools are invaluable aids as they can interpret everything you discover.
  • You'll also have access to futuristic weapons, gear and powers that will help you as you clash with alien and human inhabitants.
  • Pathfinders are also negotiators and diplomats as you're at the forefront of the mission to find a new home for humanity.
  • Because of the versatility required of Pathfinders they can reassign their unique skill points as each mission requires.
  • Pathfinder can learn any of the skills available (biotic, tech or combat) and change it as the discovery demands.
  • Pathfinders decide which crew members they want to form a deeper bond with.
  • Squad mates revealed in the video: Vetra (female Turion) and Drack (male Krogan).

Mass Effect Andromeda.jpg

I am having a bit of a struggle accepting the role I'll play in Andromeda. Your sole purpose boils down to one thing - getting rid of the current inhabitants of a planet so that your race can occupy it. I've played all the previous Mass Effect games (each several times), and I've always appreciated and respected the different alien races. In Andromeda, we seem like the aggressor, and it's an uncomfortable fit.

We know the main "enemy" in Andromeda is supposed to be the Kett - but how are they the enemy when we're the one's coming to claim a new home. Unless, of course, there will be the option to co-exist, or if we can settle on an uninhabited planet. From the Andromeda Initiative training missions and the videos I get the sense that we are the aggressors, but having said that, perhaps Andromeda is filled with the scum of the galaxy, and it's a case of survival of the fittest.

It would mean a significant change for the series as we've cultivated a love for the alien species we've encountered across the first three games. Andromeda also features the first open-world game in the series, which means players can choose to sow destruction if they so wish upon all the planets in this new galaxy. It really is a very different game than its predecessors.

To land in a galaxy where everything is hostile strikes me as against "the spirit" of Mass Effect. Think back a moment to some of your most memorable moments in the previous games. I have many fond memories - like the conversations with Eve (Urdnot Bakara) regarding the deaths of the Krogan babies, or when Mordin sacrificed himself to try to rectify the genophage. Remember the Rachni queen mission? When you had to decide between their extinction and the consequences of allowing her to live.

Traditionally, Mass Effect games have a lot of emotional ties to the species we meet. Their back stories draw the player in, and you invest in their existence. Changing this fundamental value in the game could be a good or a bad thing. Good, as we're exploring something completely foreign, and the discovery of that promises a grand adventure. The changes are not just skin-deep, but a thread throughout Andromeda. It's exciting and strengthens the feeling that we're embarking on an entirely separate adventure.

It can be a bad thing because it doesn't resonate with the Mass Effect we know. With the world we hold inside, the memories we cherish. That being said, in Andromeda, we're not defending our species against an invader - we are fighting for its survival - something we've not had to face before in Mass Effect universe. The new gameplay trailer ends so fittingly with the challenge of: "How far will you go to fight for a new home." 

This brings me to the heart of the question - what does it mean to be a Pathfinder? The exciting thing is that it could mean different things for different people. I hope it can mean that I find non-violent solutions, that I can find a new home for my people while remaining respectful of neighboring alien races. I hope I don't have sacrifice my humanity to gain a home for humanity.

What do you expect from Mass Effect: Andromeda?

 

 

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"The changes are not just skin-deep, but a thread throughout Andromeda"

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