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Mass Effect: Andromeda
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mass Effect: Andromeda is a sci-fi role-playing game with mature themes involving sex, drugs, alcohol, and profanity, as well as a good deal of bloody violence where the player's character wields a variety of guns, both traditional and fantastical. It stars a hero (or heroine, depending on the player's choice during character creation) faced with many difficult situations and decisions that rarely have black-and-white answers. The choices made by the player inform a complex, multi-linear narrative that explores a broad range of themes to do with politics and betrayal, family and friendship, and courage and responsibility.
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What's it about?
MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA takes place more than six centuries after the original trilogy and stars an entirely new cast of characters. Before the devastating events that concluded Mass Effect 3, which saw the destruction of interstellar gateways and billions of people left stranded across the galaxy, a fleet of arks carrying 100,000 colonists in stasis departed the Milky Way traveling faster than the speed of light for Andromeda, more than 2.5 million light years away. The five sentient races aboard these ships intend to settle "golden worlds" in the Heleus Cluster. But the fleet arrives scattered and discovers upon arrival that the planets they'd scouted aren't what they expected. Worse, they've fallen smack into an enormous interstellar conflict they couldn't possibly have anticipated. Players take control of Ryder, a human pathfinder tasked with finding habitable worlds and paving the way for outposts and colonies. But the travelers from the Milky Way are immigrants in a new galaxy and must earn the trust of and learn to cooperate with the locals if they want to put down roots in this mysterious part of the universe.
Is it any good?
This long-awaited follow-up to BioWare's critically acclaimed space epic meets and even exceeds some expectations but falls short on others. Mass Effect: Andromeda continues the franchise's tradition of rich, multifaceted storytelling by introducing dozens of new and complicated characters, each with colorful backgrounds, knotty motives, and personal agendas. And they're involved in authentic, relatable conflicts that range from frictional relationships with colleagues and political rivalries to splintered political beliefs and ideologies, even as they face the broader mysteries and menaces of their new galactic neighborhood. The heart of the experience is getting to know and care about these people, watching as they overcome differences with friends, foes, strangers, and even aliens to create bonds and build a better home in Andromeda.
Where the experience occasionally falters is in some of its nonnarrative elements. Exploration of Andromeda is a blast. Whether you're surveying planets amid jaw-droppingly beautiful space vistas in Ryder's state-of-the-art starship, the Tempest, or piloting the six-wheel-drive Nomad, cresting craters and glaciers on any of a handful of enormous, free-to-explore alien worlds, the sense of discovery is rarely less than enthralling. But the frequent combat that Ryder and his (or her) team is forced to engage in feels a little too forced and frequent, especially given the colonists' desire for peace and harmony. Plus, beyond some cool "biotic" abilities -- some of which feel like pilfered Force powers -- fighting isn't particularly compelling, thanks to finicky controls and simple enemy AI. Still, most people aren't playing Mass Effect for its futuristic shoot-outs. They're more interested in its expansive universe, authentic characters, relevant -- and sometimes even topical -- conflicts, and fascinating sci-fi ideas. And in these areas, Mass Effect: Andromeda rarely disappoints.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about alcohol and drugs in games. When given the option in a game such as Mass Effect: Andromeda, do you allow your character to indulge in controlled substances? Do you think games such as this encourage or serve as a warning or deterrent to the use of drugs and alcohol?
Talk about diversity in games. Mass Effect: Andromeda is set in a world where the varying cultures and people generally accept each other's differences; can you draw any parallels between this game and current events in our own world?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: March 21, 2017
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Robots, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.