Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Wrong player character

Every time I turn around in Mass Effect Andromeda I am opening up new side quests. Not quite to an Elder Scrolls level, but damn, let me catch up. For the past two night I have been intent on cleaning up the list and each trip to a planet just opens up something. Sometimes they are bullshit fetch quests that send you to a section of the galaxy that you have already visited to scan something that you have already scanned. Other times, usually the loyalty quests, they are the best the game has had to offer.

My favorite character, so far, is Jaal, the Angaran at first assigned to Ryder as a guide who later choose to stay on the Tempest. Angarans as a species do not hide their emotions at all. Tragedies are tragedies and moments of triumph are celebrated in ways that humans find almost embarrassing. He is earnest in a way that no other character's can match and his loyalty quest reflects that.

Mass Effect Andromeda spoilers!

The immigrants from the Milky Way were preceded by the Kett who are basically the Borg but with slightly better fashion designers. They hunted and killed planets worth of Angarans who developed a healthy fear of other species. Humans walk up and try to be cool and while their are accepted by the powers that be, namely the powers that want to defeat the Kett, there is an underground group that sabotages every attempt at diplomacy and cooperation.

They of course have a charismatic leader who swells his ranks by recruiting young, idealist Angarans to his cause. Jaal receives a message that two of his brother and one of his sisters (they have really big families) have run off to join the guerillas and it is his job to bring them back. Jaal brings Ryder along because they are buddies now and he wants to show the guerillas that all aliens are not bad.

There are battles, Jaal's sister shoots one of his brothers for talking too much, all leading to a confrontation with the leader. Jaal explicitly tells Ryder to stand down, to not fire his weapon no matter what happens. Then Jaal has a gun shoved in his face...

Mass Effect Andromeda uses quick time events quite sparingly. To be precise, I had seen one before this. They are not used to gloss over action sequences that the engine does not support but to force the player to make a snap decision. As Jaal stares down the barrel of a gun I was given the option to fire. No words beyond 'kill him' and a musical queue.

I didn't do it even though I really wanted to. The leader fires and in slow motion I watch the bolt of energy approach Jaal.

Oh shit.

Jaal leans an inch to one side and it grazes his cheek. He is cemented as the best character in the game and I wish I was playing him instead of Charlie 'Ryder' Brown.

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