Video Games

Sorry Mass Effect, but it’s not me, it’s you

Two nights ago I decided to play some Andromeda multiplayer. I hadn’t played in well over a week and was looking forward to shooting some aliens. The first game I joined ended with lost connection to Mass Effect server. No big deal, let’s have another go. The second game went fine for a bit, but ultimately I wound up staring at the blue screen of death. FFS. I reload the game, go back into multiplayer and try again. I was able to finish a game and extract, huzzah! But the sound cut out during Wave 4, leaving me with not but 60hz hum to listen to. It obviously wasn’t meant to be.

Last night I decided to try again. I found a lobby no problem and the host set it to a bronze strike team mission, cool. First couple waves went fine, then we had a host migration. It was all good though. We restarted the wave with 4 players and a new host. Before the wave ended, I was once again basking in the blue glow of an error screen.

You know what? If you want me to play your game, get your shit together. And if you ever want me to buy another BioWare title, you best get your shit together in a hurry.

Out came Mass Effect: Andromeda, in went Horizon Zero Dawn.

Video Games

[ME:A MP] Equipment PSA

I noticed a tooltip last night that said equipment never comes from card packs; it can only be purchased from the item store. So bust out your smartphone and make sure you’re launching strike team missions from the APEX app to earn extra mission funds while away from the game.

Video Games

Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer progress report 1


Time Played: 12h 19m
Apex Rating: 1,636
Apex Rank: 4,379
Challenge Rating: 720


Characters: 17/27

Weapons: 9/47

Mods: 7/20

Equipment: 0/6

Nameplates: 4/39

  • Apex Rating – Bronze
  • Kett Mastery – Bronze
  • Outlaw Mastery – Bronze
  • Remnant Mastery – Bronze

Max Characters

Human Female Engineer Lvl 20, Rank 7

Max Weapons

M-8 Avenger X
Charger X
M-23 Katana X

Miscellaneous Observations

  • The number of skill points you get to spend is a function of both level and rank, which I find annoying. Rather than playing whichever unlocked character you want, you’re best off playing whichever one RNG has blessed the most.
  • It looks like characters and mods now max out at rank 10, as opposed to 5. That, along with the fact that characters level up individually, makes Andromeda way more grindy than ME3, which is saying something. After almost 700 hours, I still didn’t have everything maxed out in that game.
  • Connections are generally terrible.
  • If you Pull an enemy, but don’t have Throw, you can still kind of throw them by hitting the melee button.
  • A Cobra RPG won’t kill a shielded Anointed Ascendant.
  • Combos seem a lot weaker than in ME3.
  • Even though Overload is listed as a detonator power, I’m pretty sure it will briefly prime a target for Tech Combos. Need to verify.
  • Despite all of the negatives, it’s still pretty fun.
Video Games

Mass Effect: Andromeda day 3

I played several more hours of multiplayer last night and things were a bit better. I got a good group of randoms and we rolled for seven or eight matches, full extractions most of the time. I played all Human Engineer and got up to level 14. My M8 Avenger is up rank 9, so it’s shooting something at least slightly stronger than airsoft pellets. Between my level and gun, it finally feels like I’m able to do a little work, and it’s a good feeling.

My experience with the Human Engineer has been pretty positive so far. They’re a very solid all-around character, able to deal with both shields and armor as well as prime and detonate their own cryo combos. I’m assuming that combos work similar to how they did in ME3, where the damage is proportional to the ranks of the two powers used. Given that, my priority has been getting Overload and Cryo Beam to rank 6, which they are now at.

Ah, the sweet sound of exploding ice cubes…

Video Games

Mass Effect: Andromeda first impressions

This is taken from a conversation I had with a friend. I didn’t write it as a post, but it sums things up fairly well.

I really haven’t been reading any reviews. I know there’s a lot of chatter about the animations, and yeah, the lip sync is off, but so what? It’s not a huge deal to me. I was surprised though at just how shitty the close-up facial graphics are. The console and frostbite should be capable of better. Again, not a huge deal for me. I only played a short amount of the story and it was…okay. We’ll see where they take it. I like Scott, and his voice actor is fine, if a bit generic sounding. The writing so far has been pretty cheesy (in a bad way). I have a feeling that the writing and story will mostly suck, but hopefully the exploration is fun.

I played several games of multiplayer and it was good, but a bit disappointing. It’s hard for me to be objective because I’m comparing it to ME3 as it existed after five DLC releases. It generally played fine. Load times are much improved from ME3. Partying up unfortunately is just as wonky. One friend experienced a hard freeze and another got kicked from a game. Personally, I didn’t have any issues.

With low level characters and gear, Bronze is fucking tough—surprisingly so. I didn’t particularly like the maps, but I might just need to learn them. I really like that each power is on its own timer. The thing I found most disappointing was the sameyness and lack of creativity among the enemy factions. They are not even remotely as compelling as Reapers/Collectors/Geth/Cerberus. We shall see. Nothing I encountered last night suggests I won’t put many more hours into multiplayer, but I certainly wasn’t blown away with awesome.

Video Games

Mass Effect Multiplayer Character Build Shorthand

Back when I was hammering Mass effect 3 multiplayer, I came up with a shorthand for noting character builds. From what I’ve seen of Andromeda, it looks like I’ll be able to keep using the same nomenclature. It worked really well for me, so thought I’d share.

Note that this is just for skill point distribution—weapons, consumables, equipment, etc.—are not part of the equation. Each character has five skills, each of which can have up to six ranks. So I simply use a number to represent how many ranks they have in a skill, and I list the numbers left to right corresponding to top to bottom on the in-game power list.

So if I have 6 ranks in my first power, 3 in my second, 6, 6, and finally 5 ranks in my fifth power, I would write out 6 3 6 6 5. Obvious, I know. The trick is that if a power has four or more ranks, you must also describe whether those ranks were spent on the top row of the tree, or the bottom. This I do with a letter.

Any time that all selections are across the top row, I call it A. If all selections are across the bottom row, I call it B. Pretty straightforward, right? Now, if there is a combination of top and bottom row selections, I use a letter that is visually reminiscent of the pattern. I try to show that with the black line in the images below. Hopefully the correlation between letter and pattern is fairly obvious. Tilt your head 90° to the right if you can’t see it (except for V and N).

All 4 and 5 rank patterns can be described multiple ways. For example, if you have five ranks in a skill and select the top row for both rank 4 and 5, you could describe it as 5A or 5F. In these cases, use whichever description has highest priority: A/B are the highest, followed by L/J/F/T, and V/N are the lowest. It sounds way more complicated than it actually is.









If you’ve made it this far down, I commend you! Perhaps you’re wondering, “but why?” Well let me show you. The image below is one sheet of paper on which I neatly recorded my favorite build for each and every character in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. All lovingly crafted through trial and error. That sheet of paper lived by my side, and maybe one day, you’ll have one just like it by yours.


Video Games

My problem with Mass Effect 3’s ending

What is Mass Effect all about? Yeah, killing the Reapers, saving the galaxy, blah, blah, blah. That’s the plot. What are the overarching themes of Mass Effect? What concepts drive the narrative? There are a bunch: racism, artificial intelligence, genetic modification, and so on. But there is one, that to me anyway, stands above all others. For me, Mass Effect is a tale about the power of teamwork. It is about accepting each other’s differences and embracing the unique talents that each individual brings to the table. It’s about believing in each other and the cause and persevering in the face of overwhelming odds. It is about Shepard’s ability to bring out the best in people and to bring them together, to accomplish what no single person ever could. There are two trophies in Mass Effect 2 that summarize it perfectly: “Against All Odds” and “No One Left Behind”.

Which brings us to my problem with the ending of the series. It all comes down to: we can’t do it through teamwork, we can’t do it at all, we need the Prothean’s tech and a star child to do it for us. Shepard makes the final choice, but it doesn’t have to be him. It could have been anyone or no one. All that matters is that in the end, teamwork, loyalty, and friendship aren’t enough to get it done. And that my friends, flies in the face of everything the Mass Effect series is about right up until that final moment.