How Mass Effect Stole Our Hearts: Story

We’re only a couple weeks away from the release of BioWare’s latest game release: Mass Effect: Andromeda, set for release on March 21st, 2017. With the game’s imminent release, I thought it appropriate to address my thoughts on the previous Mass Effect games and some of my personal hopes regarding Andromeda’s story, characters, and gameplay.

Please note: This article will likely contain spoilers of the previous three Mass Effect games. If you intend to play those games before playing Andromeda, I would recommend walking away.

Looking Back: The Story of Mass Effect 1, 2,and 3

To start things off, let’s look at the overall story of the Mass Effect universe so far. The first three games set up and concluded a galaxy-wide conflict between the various sentient races of the galaxy and the seemingly invincible race of self-aware, living, spaceships called the Reapers. Ominous name, huh? These Reapers, created eons ago by some long-dead society, were a machine race dedicated to destroying and eliminating most, if not all, sentient life in the galaxy in an age-old cycle that repeated every 50,000 years or so. Specifically, they tended to target the most technologically advanced civilizations.

Essentially the Reapers were kind of like the galaxy’s “reset” button on sentient life and every so often they’d come in and wipe the slate clean, using the bio material from the races they collect during their “clean up” to create more Reapers along the way. In 2183, the Reapers return, and your character, Commander Shepard, is essentially tasked with finding a way to break the never-ending cycle of death and destruction, all the while dealing with the various factions of the galaxy menial and extremely idiotic concerns.

I won’t go into the entire story’s details here since it took BioWare three full-length games to tell the story, but I will just say that in the end Shepard somehow manages to bring the galaxy’s bickering alien factions together and lead the charge of the final battle against the Reapers in Mass Effect 3. Many of your decisions from each game influence how you go about dealing with the Reapers, and the ending of ME3 is pretty much the same: a decision. Like myself, I am sure many of you who have been long-time fans of the ME series have some strong opinions about BioWare’s handling of the ending of the series. Again, since this article is meant as a kind of look back at the previous games, I am not going to spend much time on that controversy. There’s plenty of info on the internet if you want to know more about it. Suffice it to say, though, we finally win and the galaxy is at peace with the Reapers, though at great costs.

While I was not terribly thrilled with the ending of Mass Effect 3, I still loved the series as a whole. I even read the accompanying books: Revelation, Ascension, Retribution, and Deception. If you are fan of the games I highly recommend reading these books as they give new and interesting perspectives about the game’s universe and certain key characters throughout; especially Revelation as it is the story of David Anderson and Saren Arterius (the main antagonist of the first game) and their history prior to the game’s start.

Overall,  the story of the games and books together is probably one of the best stories I’ve ever experienced. BioWare’s talent for bringing together compelling characters and immersive story is nothing short of amazing, and I have no doubt they’ll be bringing that talent to Andromeda.

Looking Forward: Anticipated Story for Andromeda

Not a ton is known about the story for Andromeda, but a little information has surfaced. Again, regarding spoilers, if you do not want anything potentially spoiled before jumping into Andromeda, please run for your life now.

From what has been released up until now, ME:A technically begins sometime between the events of ME2 and ME3, when the four races of the Citadel Council put together a plan to populate new worlds in the nearest neighboring galaxy–the Andromeda galaxy. Each race sends roughly 20,000 citizens on a journey to the Andromeda galaxy, that, even with the advances in technology, would take roughly 600 years to arrive. Considering Andromeda is roughly 2.5 million light years from Earth, I suppose that is a relatively short amount of time.

Upon arrival in the Andromeda galaxy and awakening from some form of cryo-sleep, it is the job of everyone in the Andromeda Initiative to explore, make contact with local civilizations, and most importantly of all… find and colonize as many new worlds as possible that can be called “home.”

Beyond that, not much is really known about the story of ME:A. While I can only guess what is going to happen, I think it is plainly obvious that we are going to meet some resistance to our sudden arrival in Andromeda. In essence, we are now the invading force in an unsuspecting galaxy, and typically that sort of thing is met with suspicion and violence. I mean, it wouldn’t be a fun game without some combat, right? We need someone to fight to make it exciting after all!

I personally have a lot of theories and guesses about what might happen plot-wise. I suspect that at some point–and I believe this has been alluded to in interviews and content releases by BioWare–your character will have to take charge of the exploration teams because the current leader, who happens to be your character’s father, is going to end up kidnapped or killed, forcing you and your sibling to step up and take command in his absence.

That said, I am mildly disappointed to hear that there will be no evidence of the Reapers in the Andromeda galaxy, according to this video/article from Game Informer. I was partially hoping that the Reapers or even their creators, the Leviathans, would have had some sort of presence in the Andromeda galaxy, but sadly that does not seem to be the case. Certainly, rehashing old plot devices can be annoying, but the Reapers were always a fascinating enemy in my mind, and I would have loved to see if they had a presence elsewhere in the universe besides just the Milky Way. I mean, the Reapers are a race of sentient, partially-organic and partially synthetic spaceships. They could easy make the journey to other galaxies, so it wouldn’t be that far of a stretch to see them go elsewhere.

Regardless, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Just like with the previous trilogy, BioWare will be releasing a set of novels that coincide with the story of the game. The first one, Nexus Uprising, comes out on March 28, 2017, with two following books coming out later in the year.

That about wraps it up for this overview of Mass Effect’s past and future. Next week I’ll be taking a look at some of the characters of the original trilogy as well as some of the characters we’ve been introduced to for Andromeda.

What are your thoughts on Mass Effect’s story? Are you looking forward to Andromeda? Let us know!

Most of the information regarding the plot, characters, and gameplay can be found on the official Mass Effect website:

We’ve Hit Critical Mass (Effect)!