There’s something comforting about knowing who the villains are. About knowing that there’s no room for a grey area when it comes to morals when you’re facing the equivalent of a galactic extinction event that is closing in on you and various other species. Throughout the original Mass Effect trilogy, it was the danger of the Reaper armada that had players scrambling to delay the unstoppable in an attempt to not die die die. A war that united every sentient race in a battle where the stakes couldn’t be higher.
And in Mass Effect: Andromeda, the threat may be real but the danger itself doesn’t entirely verge towards having an entire universe depend on your bullets for salvation as the threat level gets vertical on your ass. “So we want to have high stakes, and there are high stakes in the sense that if you don’t succeed in your role, that’s it for humanity, and potentially every other species that came from the Milky Way in Andromeda,” creative director Mac Walters explained to OXM via GamesRadar.
But we also don’t have to go right to raising the stakes to – you know, two hours in “hey, you’ve got this best friend and this best friend, which one do you want to die and which one do you want to survive?
We don’t have to go that high, because the overall stakes are a little bit lighter in the sense that we want people to feel like they have the opportunity to explore, we want them to feel like, you know what, there’s this whole planet that’s got its whole separate story which feels tied to the critical path, but it’s not crucial to my success in the critical path necessarily. I want to be able to enjoy it, I just want to go off and do that, and not feel like I’m turning my back on people or humanity or anything like that.
The thing is, is that the Reapers were very much a foe that couldn’t be reasoned with. An enemy that existed only to annihilate, but the Kett of Mass Effect: Andromeda are a different kind of antagonist, who definitely are of two minds of the Milky Way presence in their galactic cluster. “Clearly there’s some bad apples here, and you have to deal with them, but what does that mean for the rest of Andromeda? What does it mean for the other Kett?” Walters said of the “nuanced” Kett.
And we even have a whole separate storyline, we have these things called ‘b-stories’, because they actually traverse multiple planets and follow you throughout the course of the game, wherever you go. And one of them is devoted entirely to the main antagonist in the game, and some of the conflicts he’s even been having with his own people.
And that’s interesting, because it’s not like our global population happens to paint an entire culture with negative stereotypes whenever terrible atrocities are committed, right? I mean, that never ever happens in the real world. Ever. Sarcasm aside, it’s interesting to see antagonists fleshed out properly. Now let’s see that idea play out in the larger scheme of things when Mass Effect: Andromeda launches next month.