It’s been two weeks since Mass Effect Andromeda has been released, and unfortunately, some of the most interesting plots don’t happen in the main story. Like every RPG, there are hundreds of side-quests, and a couple of them hide developments that deserve to play out in whatever future this series has. While initial reaction to the game has been mixed, I think that is a fine starting point for a sequel, if one is made, especially if it follows up on these aforementioned threads. I won’t really be talking about the main story much, including the plot points that everyone who beats the game should see, such as the history of the Angarans or the Archon’s desire for Remnant tech, instead focusing on the things you might’ve missed if you didn’t want to spend a lot of time looking for every possible datapad on a planet.
Oh, obviously, SPOILERS below.
The Quarian Ark
Throughout the game, Ryder can meet the Pathfinders and crews of the other three arks sent to the Andromeda galaxy, all of which faced similar problems that their human compatriots did. Once you beat the game and are celebrating in the Hyperion, now marooned on Meridian, you receive a message that a fifth ark has arrived, but is warning anyone away from it. This ark carries Quarian colonists, as well as some Hanar, Drell, Elcor, presumably some Volus and, I hope, a couple of Batarians. The Quarians were probably my favorite race in the original series because of their Cylon-esque relationship with the Geth, and the fact that Tali’s story throughout the games was, in my opinion, the most dynamic of your core squadmates, so any chance to see some more Quarians is okay by me.
More importantly, I think the Quarians would be a great way to diversify the stories that can be told in this new setting. Quarians perpetually spend their lives in environment suits, so they have a distinct advantage over the other Milky Way aliens when it comes to living on the planets messed up by the Scourge. Some aliens might resent the fact that the Quarians, who were stereotyped and persecuted previously, are more prepared to explore and live on planets than they are. The Quarians also have a rather strained relationship with AI (**cough**Geth**cough**) so I wouldn’t think their Pathfinder would be so open to letting SAM run around in their head. That would build off another side-quest where a bunch of Luddites tried to fry Ryder’s connection to SAM very easily. The Quarians also bring the possibility of someone smuggling Geth tech onto their ark, which could also explain the distress signal? While this plot thread isn’t probably enough to build another game off of, it can all but be assured that some DLC mission will explore the newest ark in the Andromeda cluster.
Primus and the Kett Dissension
The main villain of MEA is the Archon, who leads the Kett forces in the Helios Cluster for their mission of exaltation, taking the positive traits of species and incorporating them into future Kett. The Archon, however, has an obsession with an extinct(?) race, the Jardaan, who are responsible for making all those terraforming vaults with the robots in them. He believes they have some method of exaltation that’s much more effective than the Kett way, and has been trying to figure it out for nearly a century. Unfortunately, his second-in-command, Primus, believes he is getting sidetracked from their mission, and wants him to abandon his desire to access Remnant technology and capture Ryder, who can interface with it in a way he can’t.
As we learn through data messages from a few side missions, there is some form of Kett governing body (references are made to a Senate of some sort) that assigned the Kett you face to the Helios cluster. In addition to signaling a potential all-out war with the entire race in future games, you can eventually communicate with Primus, and learn what she really thinks or Archon. She actively wants the Archon gone, and is willing to betray him by deploying fewer Kett forces if Ryder wants to kill him easier. My Ryder didn’t take the deal, but it will be interesting to see how Primus deals with you after the Archon is defeated and she assumes control at the end of the game.
Mass Effect Family
As part of one of the most successful franchises in video game history, MEA couldn’t avoid making references to the original games in some way. Now, obviously, none of your squadmates nor your Shepard shows up, but its clear Bioware wanted fans to get some sort of satisfaction if they played previous games. The easiest way, it seems, was for them to put a bunch of family members of characters you met in the Andromeda galaxy. Kandros, the Turian pictured above, is in charge of the Nexus militia, and makes mention of a sister who lived on Omega. Mass Effect 3’s Omega DLC showed you that sister, Nyreen, and how she sacrificed her life for Aria T’Loak to reclaim Omega from the forces of Cerberus. Shepard fan-boy Conrad Verner also has a sister, and she shows up in the bar on the Nexus, gushing about her own celebrity. On the first planet you land on, Eos, you run into the bastard son of Zaeed Massani, who only knows him as some big deal mercenary back in the Milky Way.
The most impactful of these little references, though, is learning that Ryder’s father was in contact with Liara T’Soni before the departure to Andromeda. After assuming the role of Pathfinder, you can listen to audio logs of her in your father’s room on the Hyperion. She was contacted about her knowledge on Prothean and proper ways to excavate any potential alien sites that the Andromeda Initiative finds when the reach their new galaxy. She was even asked to join the Initiative and leave for Andromeda, but couldn’t be torn away from her work on Protheans. You can also find, unfortunately, a message sent from her while you were asleep where she explains that the Reapers have attacked the galaxy after they left, and wants to make sure they are remembered by the colonists.
Alec Ryder’s Secret
Ryder’s father, Alec, was the original Pathfinder for the human ark before he’s killed on the first planet you land on. A running side-quest throughout the game involves you unlocking his memories, possible thanks to him transferring his SAM connection onto you. You see glimpses of his past and how him creating an AI led to him being ostracized, but you also learn why: SAM’s purpose was to find a cure for his wife, your mother’s, life-threatening disease. A side-effect of Element Zero radiation poisoning, your mother’s illness broke your father and made him create SAM to find a cure for her disease. HE continued to do this until she died. Or so we think….
When you unlock all of your father’s memories, you learn something incredibly important: Your mother’s not dead! Nope, she’s just in suspended animation, like Mr. Freeze’s wife, until a cure can be found. Alec hoped the Andromeda galaxy would have aliens or resources that could cure her, so loaded her up before she could die from the disease. Both you and your sibling can learn of her survival, and while there’s isn’t a synthesized cure yet, there’s now hope that almost all of the Ryder clan can be reunited. This is a huge thing to hide in a side-mission, albeit one appropriately marked as important, and I don’t see how another game goes forward without bringing this up.
The other thing you learn from Alec Ryder’s memories is how the founder of the Initiative, Jien Garson, was running out of money for her little endeavor until a mysterious ‘benefactor’ provided enough support to finish it. She was in communication with Alec about this benefactor, and their concerns over his/her true motivations. When you learn that Garson’s death upon arriving in Andromeda was not a result of hitting the Scourge, but a murder, it’s made clear that this benefactor is involved somehow. Another memory reveals that motivation: the benefactor knew about the impeding Reaper invasion and their galaxy-wide extinction efforts, and wanted to ensure that Milky Way civilization doesn’t die out if they can’t defeat them.
Who this mysterious benefactor is will likely be explored more in future Andromeda stories, especially if it turns out that this benefactor actually made it to the Andromeda galaxy and has some secret plan for the mission. All we know, as of this point, is that the benefactor has a lot of connections and money to throw at the Initiative, believes in the Reapers at a time where basically only Shepard and his crew had seen one, isn’t above murder to achieve their goals, and isn’t concerned with the drawbacks of an artificial intelligence. The expected answer, I perceive, is that the Illusive Man is bankrolling this, especially when you consider other info like the Normandy model you find being the Cerberus version, which isn’t in Alliance service at the time of your departure, and Cora’s surname, Harper, being the same as the Illusive Man’s, pointing towards this reveal. While the Illusive Man being okay with letting every other race have an equal foothold in a new galaxy might be hard to explain away, I think that might actually be the reason, since humans in the Milky Way don’t have the hundred years of using the mass relay tech like the other council races, so starting everyone off on the same foot might fit his ideology better.
So that’s what I found, and if I missed anything, discuss in the comments below.