Play Later. Talk Much Later.



No playin’, no spoilin’


Haven’t said this in a while, but I got nothing. Kids were riled, I was tired, knew I didn’t have it. Havarl can wait.

Junior’s doing an overnight at Nana’s tonight, and the others go to bed at six, so Havarl ahoy.

Another plus of the kids being home all the damn time is no time to go to the store, so can be all “Well, tuna melts tonight” and I can play instead of making dinner.

Havarl ahoy!


Havarl is waiting! Good plan. Tuna melts are a perfectly cromulent meal. We used to eat them regularly back when I ate tuna. You got your protein, some fiber, it’s tasty and filling: all part of this complete dinner.


And Mrs. McP loves them. Done.


I’m glad we had this little chat.

Go to Havarl, we’ll talk later.


Choices, Precious Choices


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Spoilers for ‘protester’ story on the Nexus in Mass Effect: Andromeda


Got a little in. Talked to PB and saw her….thing…and met her nemesis. The big thing was those protesters. Interesting bit, that. I do like that this game paints all this as a bit of a mess. I decided to talk them down. Didn’t thaw anyone, but no one got shot. Yet.

So I am at a crossroads. I could a) follow the main story and go to Aya and be awkward with Liam, b) Go back to Voeld and do this allies quest I just got and do monoliths and outposts and such, c) Go back to Eos for our vacation which won’t be and help Cora of d) finally go to Hvarl and do that shit.

I dunno, pick for me.

But something gives me pause: Before Voeld, the main quest said “Go to Voeld or Hvarl.” I went to Voeld. Now, the ONLY thing on my main quest is “Take the Moshae to Aya.” Nothing about Hvarl at all. Is this a “Do one or the other” deals, or is it a “We’re just telling you do finish this main branch before you do the other ones?”

So what to do?


Yeah, those protesters were interesting. I also talked them down (of course). I mean, they have a legitimate gripe, not being able to see their family members. On the other hand, the scientists make a good point that if the systems are overloaded trying to support too many people, everyone could die. So.

Hopefully these outposts I’m setting up will relieve some population pressure.

I kind of like Peebee’s remnant…I hope it does something interesting at some point. I’ve yet to follow up on that. I reached the final planet last night, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the endgame after all–there are just another 500 quests, monoliths to unlock, etc. So the endgame must be wherever the Archon is, which I haven’t found yet but is not a planet. Which actually makes more sense given that the kett aren’t native to this system, so why would they have settled one planet more than any other? He’s probably based on a space station or something.

Anyway. I finished Liam’s personal quest, so now he’s loyal, but I still have all these other people to help out, plus the 500 random quests of this new planet, so I’ll be busy for a while.


Aw, I thought you’d go all bleeding heart and thaw dudes. One does what one must.

DAMN this game is long.

Her thing does something. When I got it, a tutorial popped up, and I accidentally hit X before I read it. So it does something. I’ll check the tutorials. I think you can make it fight for you.

So what should I do next? I WANT HELP!


Well…they’re all good choices. But don’t go back to Aya yet, you might as well check some other stuff off before following the main quest.

It just said “Voeld or Havarl” back then because you could go either of those places and do helpful things until the angara trusted you enough to ask you to help rescue the Moshae, basically. So you can absolutely still go to Havarl and do the 500 random quests that will pop up there, but it’s no longer relevant to the main quest because you already got the Moshae.

In fact, go to Havarl, that’s my advice. It’s fairly small, as planets go, and as a bonus for you, has no driving. But lots and lots of shooting! Go take care of some things there and you can feel productive and filled with renewed enthusiasm to go to the next place where you might have to drive. Like Voeld, or Eos.


Ok. I was gonna do Voeld anyway. I like allies.

So it’s not one of those “Ok, thanks for getting her, now go do another whole quest line to get the OTHER important person” deals.

But wait, so DON’T do the Voeld guy? The dude who emailed? I could go either way.

As I side note, I like that email survived. That and suduko.


Email and sudoku are the Milky Way’s contribution to culture in the universe. We should feel very proud.

Enh, Voeld or Havarl, they’re both good. But as I said, Havarl’s active region is contained in quite a small area, compared to other planets, so I kind of liked being able to check some stuff off without having to drive all over. Plus…there’s a very tempting booze component…you know you can’t resist booze components!



Havarl it is.


Havarl ho!

Oh, guess what O’Jr. is obsessed with at the moment? Minecraft. Yup. Your favorite. Mr. O’ introduced him to games, and now every minute is “can I play Minecraft?” or “Minecraft is so cool!”

He can play using his regular daily screen time, and ever since he started, he hasn’t watched a single video (whither, Voltron? so lightly cast aside!).

This is pretty much what happened to my TV watching once I started playing video games, too, so I can’t really argue with his priorities. I mean, I wouldn’t spend all my TV time on Minecraft, specifically, but the general idea is sound.

And Minecraft is at least fairly nonviolent (you can barely count bashing block skeletons as combat), and has surprisingly soothing music that doesn’t make me want to punch things. You know, any harder than usual.


NICE! One of us! But now you have another entity to share the console.


The exciting thing about our kid’s Minecraft usage is that Mr. O’ set it up for him on the computer. So he doesn’t even know it comes on the console yet! No competition! Life is sweet.


Oh win!

But you should still upgrade your set up to a Pro.

And worry Blasto won’t get used to a controller.

And WILL get used to my ex.


No fear, it’s a Mac. Someday he’ll have to come back to the console and controller to play…you know, big games. Until then, we’ll let him amuse himself with blocks.


Phew. That was close.

Awkward Relationship 4Eva


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Some spoilers for Liam relationship in Mass Effect: Andromeda


Well, I knew Mrs. McP was coming home early Friday, so I tried to get some in with Junior watching. I did the last “Get the Moshae the hell out” fight, which SUCKED. Died many times, and had to start all over. I got within 12 seconds of finishing once.

But win I did, which took you back to the Tempest. Talked to the Moshae, etc. Then Liam comes over the comm and is all “Uh…can we talk?” in that way that bioware characters have that makes you think “perhaps this is a scene one should play alone.”

So I stopped. Well, after checking my quarters and not seeing the workout outfit.

I’ll try to play some while kids are out so we have good romance stuff.


I died several times in that fight too. Those giant things that come charging in and start chasing you around are no good.

I have bad news: according to a story I finally looked at, the workout gear came with a patch, and a lot of people found that they had to start a whole new game to get it.

I don’t quite understand this, because Mr. O’ had it and he played before I did and certainly did not start a whole new game, and I swear I didn’t have it at the beginning of my game and then it just randomly showed up, but…there’s something weird about the workout gear, and it’s possible it may never appear for you.

I am sorry to be the bearer of this news. You may have to settle for long or short sleeves forever.


WHAT? Without suggestively showing my bra, how on earth am I gonna get any?

Better go ask Liam. Be right back.

But yeah, it got to the point where I just focused on the big things. If I got near a kett, I just whacked it, and ran again. That whole “disappear when you hit circle” thing I got rocking cuz I’m an infiltrator was SO key.

Seriously, that profile should just be “Coward,” but I guess that isn’t badass.


Ha! I would be seriously tempted by the honesty of a profile called Coward. Or, if they wanted to be a little more classy about it, Poltroon.

Yup. I would sign up for character class Poltroon every time. It has such a nice ring to it! And so honest about the fact that I really just want to hide behind others and avoid getting hit.

Tell me what Liam says. He might like the casual look.


Turns out it doesn’t matter a whit how you’re dressed as long as you pull R2! That one you missed? Yeah…..

Man, for the leader of all Milky Way races, I sure am a slut.

Let’s see….

Flirted with Vetra, went and talked to Liam who was, again shirtless. We talked about his car, got the prompt and WHOA what a prompt.

Well, one of those hug, kiss, fade bioware moments. But still.

And now he wants to go out. Does he want to go out with you? On Aya? I’m so gonna break his heart.

Cuz then I flirted with PB (I have quite the imagination, says she) and Suvi, who’s still the one. Flings abound, but Suvi is Suvi.

There’s themes, too, but fuck it, it’s Friday.

I also got the scene where they were all “Eos is doing so well! Let’s go back! It’ll be like a vacation!”


So now I’m at a crossroads. The main story (and Liam) want me on Aya, Cora and our “vacation” say Eos, there’s still some stuff on Voeld, a whole mess of stuff on the nexus, and I still haven’t been to Hvarl.


I guess Nexus. There’s much to do there. And I can’t plow through the main story THAT quickly, can I?

Plus I gotta get all my flings in before really going after Suvi.


Man…why did I miss the prompt! I just sat there with my head on his shoulder until the fade to black. So we could just be friends, for all we know. He did ask me to meet him on Aya, though, so yeah, it wasn’t a complete “nope.”

Sigh. I need to step up my game or I’m never going to get any love.

I flirted like mad with this one guy I met on this one planet last night, but I don’t know if that’s going anywhere or not.


Probably for the best. Cuz now this whole “Saving life in two galaxies” thing is getting all awkward. I mean, here I am. I’ve just rescued a vital person in the cause to save my, and several other, species. I really, really should get her back to her people who have been fighting the threat for generations.

But NOOOOO I had to go and bang Liam.

Now it’s “Yeah…I WOULD save the galaxy…but I bet Liam will be there (he will, the journal says so), and I’ll have to have this TALK about me and liking girls and, really, who needs that? So, uh….you guys have this Kett thing, right? We’re good? Cool.”

I didn’t even have the guts to say “It was a one time thing” (which was a choice).

Always knew the galaxy would be doomed cuz of awkwardness about sex.



That’s a good one, all right!

It is awkward. But dude, it’s a new galaxy. Strike a blow for honesty in relationships!

“Sorry, man, I like you but it’s not going to work out. You’re not Suvi.”


The t shirts just happen. I don’t plan them. They have to just spring from nowhere. Better that way.

Maybe if I bang PB first. Then he’ll know I’m just that kind of pathfinder. He’ll expect less.

What? Suvi’s still cool. She said she’d be there for me.

Maybe I’m lucky about the outfit. Maybe the reason you’re getting nowhere is your outfit.


I can’t argue with your logic. Plus, then he and Peebee can commiserate over how they both tried, but neither one could hold you, or whatever.


Maybe they’ll hook up. They’d be good together. And Jaal and Vetra would work. And Drack would work with Cora!

Or Gil. I don’t judge.


Mass Effect: Matchmaker.

I would actually play that.


If Dorian can end up with the Iron Bull (and he did), anything’s possible.

Poor Kallo. The cheese stands alone.

But since we should probably talk about SOMETHING to do with games….

Once again, I play a bioware game and say “And this is M because……” Ok, I got a “sex” scene. I saw more skin talking to Sun King Avad while wearing the fire armor in Horizon than I saw in the “sex” scene. TW3 it was not.

These games aren’t bloody (the “remains” aren’t even there!), they aren’t chock full of nudity (save Liam’s chest and PB’s midriff), they swear, maybe, twice…

Is it cuz girls can kiss girls? What?

The box says “Strong Sexual Content” and “nudity.” If that’s how the ratings people do strong sexual content and nudity when they go out on dates, they are sad, sad people. This was NOT strong sexual content or nudity.


I must say, I’m deeply disappointed to hear this.

Maybe there are stronger, nuder sex scenes later? Like, if your relationship develops you get a better scene?

That would actually be kind of interesting, because most of the time in games romance is a pretty goal-oriented thing where you get to the sex cutscene and then you’re done (I mean, you can end up with a person, but most of the development of the relationship after the sex scene tends to be shallow at best), so it would be interesting to have a relationship where you could casually hook up and then maybe continue to work on it, get to know each other better, keep flirting (because usually once you’ve gotten to sex, that’s all done), or else just walk away.

We can hope?


Well, I think it’s pretty clear that Ryder and Liam went there….just…after a fade out. Though maybe not. Who knows? Maybe they’re just super awkward about smooching. It HAS been 614 years or so.

It certainly was not an M scene.

Hell, we don’t even have the go go dancers from…what was that bar on Omega? Purgatory! They had dancers! the Vortex only has open mic night.



It’s up to YOU to decide what happened after that fadeout! The game won’t make that call for you. Ha.

Don’t give up, though, there are some dancers later on some other planet. You’ll get there.


Yeah, I’m getting the sense this game is long. Sure, that 80% viability on Eos is good, but I’m still at 40% Voeld, and I have THREE planets I haven’t been to, and, therefore, two I HAVEN’T HEARD OF.

Viability, I think, is like % completed, right?

Poor Chloe. I hope she waits for me.


Just remember, one of them has dancers. And I still haven’t heard of one of them myself.

Viability is I think the percent completion of certain missions (like the monoliths/vaults, stuff to do with settlements), but it doesn’t refer to everything there is to do on a planet. I have three planets at 100% viability, but I still have stuff to do there that isn’t related to setting up an outpost.

Hahahaha, silly you thinking a number would measure something that gave you an idea of how much stuff there was left to do!

Wait for us, Chloe! We’re coming, but it’s a long way back from Andromeda.


YOU haven’t heard of one? Holy shit, Femmy, you’re 15 levels ahead of me! What in the actual fuck…..

Well, at least we won’t have to worry about having nothing to play.


I feel like the one remaining planet might contain the endgame, but that could be wishful thinking. Even if it does, I’m nowhere close to it at the moment.

We’ve got plenty to play for a while, that’s for sure.



Every so often I get to thinking “I’m close to the end of my AAA game! And there’s only expansions to stuff and I’ll be out of things to play by December!”

And then I come to my senses.

It’s more like “When Cyberpunk comes out in 2022 I’ll still be playing the games I currently plan to play.”

“And the games I got for free on PS+ will likely remain untouched.”

I thought I left the concept of “Huge backlog I will never touch” behind when I stopped using my Steam account. Guess not.


No, you did not. These are the problems that will ever haunt people living in a world with many games when they have things to do besides play games, regardless of platform.

Fear not! Despair some.

Depending on how you choose to look at the question.


Is this a new thing, consolewise? Did you have this with the PS3? Cuz lordy knows I had it with the ex.

I blame myself.


That’s a good question…we never really had it until we got PS+, which is when all the free stuff we never have time to play became a thing. So that did happen a bit with the PS3 (as you recall, I played the first Tomb Raider for free on PS3, missing out on the full glory of the hair).

It would probably not be such a big deal if we were still on PS3 because there might not be as much free stuff (or maybe there is and I just don’t look for it anymore!), but I think it’s more about the network than the equipment.


I look for it for you! Nothing good this month. And you have grabbed some stuff off of it.

If they ever start putting AAA games we want to play on it, we’re doomed.

But we’re pretty good at moving through AAA games without help.

By which I mean, they only take us eight months each.


That’s true, you do look for me. I think I looked on my own maybe once. About two years ago.

Do you look for PS3 stuff, though? (Not that you should! Because I don’t have time to play it anyway.)

And then you STILL make me buy non-free stuff I never finish, like The Witness.

Where Did We Put Those Themes?


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Sick child (he is fine) prevented us from talking about anything interesting yesterday, but we return with vigor and a moderately significant main-plot spoiler for Mass Effect: Andromeda


I made progress! BOY did I!

So I fought through all that and killed the Cardinal.

Gotta admit, didn’t see that twist coming. That was a good twist. And it has me REALLY pondering themes.

What’s SO great is that they weren’t catching dudes and throwing them into a pit while they were screaming (or impaling them or something like they did to make husks). They were teaching them, and convincing them that this was good. The Cardinal LIKED being Kett. That’s amazing. Much to ponder.

And probably the best line, themewise, I’ve seen in games in a while is when Jaal saves “Save the Angara!” who has just been Ketted, and Ryder says “He’s the one shooting at us!” Not, “He’s gone!” or “He’s a monster now!” or even “He isn’t Angara anymore!” Just “He’s shooting at us!” And Jaal saying “They…are us…how many have I killed? I didn’t know. I didn’t think it could be.”

Given the rapidly deteriorating world, so much of our discourse is tainted because when one side says “Maybe we should stop shooting, they are like us, you know,” the response is “But THEY’RE the ones doing the shooting! We HAVE to shoot back!”

Much to ponder and unpack. Might take a couple days.

But choices: Told Jaal we were gonna focus on the Moshae, he didn’t like it. Decided to free the Angara and not destroy the base, he did like that. Drack didn’t (but holy SHIT is Drack great in combat). Took me forever to figure out the orb was the thing to shoot on the Cardinal (actually, Junior noticed that). Took the QTE and shot the Cardinal anyway, even after he freed the Angara. Fuck that guy.

(I’m gonna say it again: I do not get the hate on this game. This is a good video game. It really is. Perfect? No. But last night was a very, very good playing session. Good fights, good writing, good stuff. Indeed….gonna go there….I’m not sure I remember a playing session this good in DAI, and I liked DAI. Lay off Bioware, internet.)


Nice work! Yeah, that was some tense fighting. I figured out I had to hit the orb fairly quickly, but failed to consistently hit it (damn thing was all small and moving) for a long, drawn-out struggle.

Exaltation is indeed a thing. Like…damn. How many of them have we killed, indeed? And yet, they’re all out there indisputably trying to kill us, so did we really have a choice?

Interesting that you say “teaching them and convincing them that this is good.” I read it more like “forcibly brainwashing them and convincing them that this is good”…you seem to see more volition remaining to the angara than I do? I kind of saw it as basically zombification: yes, these are people, even people we once knew, but they’re also not–the people we knew are not actually there anymore.

But it’s true that Jaal definitely perceives the situation as “the people we knew are still there somewhere,” and maybe it’s true that they did actually make a free choice to become kett. Maybe they believe there’s a good reason to be kett and act as the kett do. In which case, maybe they’re right! We don’t know anything about life in this galaxy, who are we to say?

I did not kill the cardinal…I figured, I gave my word and if my word’s not worth anything, how are the suspicious angara supposed to trust me either? Also, I forgot how to do the QTE again. Kidding! Probably.

But it’s definitely interesting to meet a kett we can talk to, and to learn something about what they’re doing. There promises to be a bit more to them than faceless waves of dudes we shoot at.


Yeah, that ORB man. If I didn’t have the power where I could just steal health, I’d still be there.

Damn, indeed. And “Did we really have a choice,” well, no, as it is a video game, but it does make you wonder about the choices Ryder has made in general. All of a sudden, this DOES start feeling like “Mass Effect: Imperialism.” When the Kett were from a different galaxy, and we were from a different galaxy, that’s one thing, but this, now we’re killing the natives.

And Jaal thought we had a choice. He told us not to shoot.

Unaware he is in a video game.

As for the interpretation… Hmm. Well….they aren’t zombies in the sense of being mindless husks. They seem to have thought. The Cardinal said “I used to be like them” (assuming Angara) until I was exalted, and, paraphrasing, “It’s fucking great being Kett, and you’ll see! You’ll love it, too!” That wasn’t someone who was just chanting “Serve the archon” or running around like a husk. He seemed to still have reason and choice.

Now, the brainwashing thing….the “People we knew are not there anymore…”

Not that I want to get political…..

But if you look at, say, white supremacists, it’s easy for hippies like us to say “Those people are too far gone. They’ll never change. They have been brainwashed, and, even if they used to be nice boys who cut the grass for everyone in the neighborhood, that’s gone, and these people are forever the enemy.” But is that really true? Can the brainwashing be undone? There have been plenty of people who have been “reversed brainwashed” out of cults and whatnot. I think Jaal is of the opinion that “Ok, yeah, he’s not right in the head now, but let’s not just kill him, we can bring him back.”

What’s interesting about Ryder’s line, “He’s the one shooting at us,” is she DOESN’T disagree with Jaal in the sense that the kett can’t be helped. She doesn’t say “No, Jaal! You’re wrong! It’s too late! He’s a monster!” She basically says “Look, Jaal, whatever. Maybe he’s a monster, maybe he’s just misguided, but that doesn’t really matter when we all have guns now, does it?”

Which, given the world, is an interesting take on all of this stuff.

I did not kill the cardinal…I figured, I gave my word and if my word’s not worth anything, how are the suspicious angara supposed to trust me either? Also, I forgot how to do the QTE again. Kidding! Probably.

I killed him. Seriously. Fuck that guy. And the Angara didn’t seem to mind, so that was good.

Frankly, I thought that, if I didn’t, Jaal would, or Drack would, so I might as well look decisive.

But it’s definitely interesting to meet a kett we can talk to, and to learn something about what they’re doing. There promises to be a bit more to them than faceless waves of dudes we shoot at.

Oh yes. And it has me wondering: Who’s the archon? How’d all this start? There’s “Kett DNA,” we know from scanning, so who’s the granddaddy Kett? Is it the archon? Or is he just some other dude that has been exalted?

Don’t spoil.


Yeah, poor Jaal. Little does he know!

That’s a good point about Ryder’s response, and its relationship to the real world. Because I’m kind of with Ryder on that, you know?

Maybe they can be changed, and if so that’s great and we’ll welcome them back, but at the moment things are what they are (fortunately NOT constant gunfighting, let’s keep it that way people), and I’m not going to spend a lot of time or energy worrying about changing them. We have to fight the fight we see right now, and fretting about whether or not the people we’re opposing are REALLY bad or just CONFUSED bad is kind of a waste of time (and, in Ryder’s case, will get you immediately killed).

Stop being bad and we can be friends, otherwise I don’t need to know your deep and complex reasoning for trying to legitimize Nazis or whatever, I just need to focus on the fact that that’s what you’re doing. Maybe later when we have some breathing room we can hash that out, because hey, deep and complex reasoning makes great blog fodder, but it’s not the point right at the moment.

But definitely the whole “who are our enemies, are they ourselves, could they ever be our friends again,” is a big theme.

I mean, it was there from the beginning with the mutiny, right? The kett and exaltation are kind of a more extreme version of the same idea. Some of us, people we knew, have turned on us.

Why? How do we respond? Will they ever come back? Would we allow them to if they wanted to? Were they right to do it? Are we the bad guys?

Good stuff.


Yeah, Ryder can’t really say “Look, dude, they’re red dots on the minimap, so they’re going down. I have quests to complete!” But that’s the truth.

Amen to sticking to the point of who’s shooting at us. And maybe that IS what the game is saying. We’re used to games being happy, saying “violence is bad, sure, but it’s a means to something better, and the Kevins? Well, they’re bad. Go ahead and shoot.” Real moral ambiguity isn’t just a red choice and a blue choice. It’s sometimes having to do things that might not BE “good” because, well, the moment is what the moment is.

Very good stuff. Why the hate? Cuz bioware.

I really am looking forward to meeting the exiles. Especially now.


The exiles are definitely another interesting question.

There’s also a pressing mathematical issue involved there, because we came to this galaxy with a limited number of people and there are no more coming, so every exile we kill is potential genetic diversity lost and a notch against the long-term survival of the entire human/turian/krogan/etc. species.

Not that I personally want to have every single human’s babies, but I feel like we should be kind of a little careful about just opening fire on each other, you know? It would be pretty interesting if this somehow figured into some ultimate result, like if you make choices that involve killing fewer people your species is more likely to be around 1,000 years from now or something, but I don’t know if it will or not.

It feels at the moment a lot like the usual “oh, don’t worry, there’s endless quantities of these bad guys, we can murder Kevins all day long with no repercussions!” but within the world of the game this is very explicitly not so. I wonder if that’s going to come into play at all.

Although I suppose probably the Initiative saved samples of everyone’s DNA so they can still contribute to future populations even if they’re dead?


You played too much Horizon.

But good point about the reproductive math. Though there do seem to be racial issues. I don’t think the humans cared about pissing off the Krogan, cuz it’s not like the Krogan can breed, even with other Krogan. They’re expendable.

There’s a lot that’s coming into play. More than I thought there would be when I saw the reviews, which I will continue to take umbrage with barring some unbelievable train wreck later.

I hope, though, there doesn’t get to be too much coming into play. A game that tries 127 themes can lose all of them.


Does anybody really care about the krogan?

Though that’s a good question…did they come here hoping to propagate the species, because enough of the thoughtful, science-minded ones would be attracted to the idea (like Drack’s granddaughter what’s-her-name on the Nexus), or is this just another in the line of adventures they expect to have before they go extinct?

I mean, the genophage doesn’t completely eliminate breeding, it just makes it really, really unlikely, so if the Andromeda group was selected for krogan who could work better together than most, maybe there’s a chance they can either fix it, or simply refrain from all getting killed off until the sheer number of times it’s tried eventually produces live krogan babies? They live for thousands of years, after all, if they can avoid death in combat. Given enough time, someone’s going to beat the odds eventually.

The krogan don’t have an ‘ark,’ I don’t think, so that suggests that they aren’t anticipating this working for them (or that the Initiative’s organizers didn’t feel it was likely enough to let them try, and wouldn’t allow them an ark of their own?), but one never knows.


Well, Drack is a loving guy underneath it all. He certainly cares about his granddaughter.

They do not have an ark. Only the Asari, Salarians and Turians.

One of the things that so cool about these Krogan is the irony: they came here hoping for a better life (one would think), to get away from the genophage, or at least from the galaxy that would give it to them, but had they STAYED PUT they would have had the cure and a much better life. Their best chance was NOT to go searching out something better.

Which, again, is sorta a twist of video game stuff. Adventure always has rewards, right? Why we play!

Except if you’re Krogan.


Sucks to be krogan. But yeah, Drack is great, and has thoughts and feelings underneath the general krogan rage. He’s a good guy.


Plus he got the kill shot on the cardinal for me.

I loved the couple times we ended the fight before he finished his blood rage thing. He’s just there all “arrrrghrshraaah” long after Jaal and I have moved on. I figure he’ll catch up.


Yeah, he’ll be fine. If he runs into some random angry lizards or whatever on the way, so much the better.

It will be interesting to see if anything is different for us later on because you killed the cardinal and I didn’t.

Which, come to think of it, we should really be making a much bigger deal out of, because how often does this happen with a significant choice!?


Dunno. I can’t wait until I get a prompt with Liam. I’m so gonna do it.

Watch. You missed bangin’. Now THAT would be something, you missing that. Especially after you missed a great Suvi flirt scene.


I missed all the romance options the first time I played Dragon Age: Origins. It was freaking tragic. I ended the game friendless and alone.

Part of the reason I had to immediately play it again.


Well, you were new to it. Rookie mistake. I did the same thing in Baldur’s Gate 2, long ago (which you would have loved). But wound up with Aeire the second time, who was….the mage! Even if she wasn’t a BEBEBB. Proto BEBHBB was slightly evil….kinda like Morrigan…Hmmm….

Of course, she was a BEB(lue)HB(lue)SKINNEDBB, but hey. Whatever. Aerie was cooler.

What is it with Bioware and hot blue skinned women? What is it with ANYONE and hot blue skinned women?

Also, as so often happens, I re-read one of our brilliant posts, and I have a thought on it.

So three weeks ago or something I said “I’m also pleased I’m getting to know the characters. Another thing people forget (or not) about ME games is that the best stuff, the themey stuff, happened in the loyalty/character quests.”

And yet, today, here we are talking about all the themey stuff which is very much NOT in character quests.

It’s in…..wait for it….the MAIN QUEST LINE!

When was the last time we got tons and tons of theme in the main quest line? I mean, before Horizon?

Are writers finally realizing the main quest matters?

It’s a first for bioware, that’s for sure.


I don’t know what it is about blue. It’s…alien and cool? I guess?

And yeah, I didn’t at all understand what I was doing the first time I played. I didn’t realize you could have more than three people as your companions, because you could only have three with you at any given moment, so I TURNED AWAY LELIANA.

Then I just went from there, alienating everyone around me by not ever giving them presents or flirting with them. Zevran tried to kill me. No one would romance me. It was terrible.

Also, good point about the main quest themes. Hm. We shall make a note of this and see whether it portends a shift in focus.

I’ve barely even made any progress on the companion quests, to be honest (to busy hitting every hexagon on every planet), so I don’t know what the themes are there. We’ll have to also pay attention to that, and how they relate to the main quest themes.

You Look Like Someone Who Could Use a Quest


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Some minor spoilers for the Moshae quest in Mass Effect: Andromeda


Somehow managed to pick up a quest. A new quest. This game, man. You’re finally going towards the main thing, gonna get shit done, and you just amble by a new quest.

But you’ll be proud of me: I said “It can wait. I’ll be back,” and didn’t do it.

So, level 13 be damned, I am at the Kett facility.

Took Jaal (who has a lot to say) and Drack (on the idea that, if you want to fuck some shit up, take a Krogan).

Got in, did a fight, watched the three dudes go create a diversion and likely die, and I’m in a decontamination room which is totally not a load screen.

I think there’s gonna be some interesting shit. This archon…not what he seems, is he? That hologram saying “Welcome, you’re the chosen” and all. There’s going to be something to this baddie, isn’t there? I’m curious.


Nice work steadfastly pursuing the path to the kett facility! That’s actually not the place I was thinking of, but it has a similar “be sure not to die” combat, so your mental preparation will not go unused. Remember to be sure you’ve allocated your skill points so that you’re as effective as possible in a fight. That was the time when I suddenly realized I had 62 points to spend, and things went a little better once I’d buffed up some talents.

Are you there specifically to look for that person the angara are all excited about?


Yeah. My quest is “search for Moustafa” or whoever. I’m searching. I am.

And I’m ALL sorts of jacked. I think.

Dude, I stopped because I kept thinking “Ok, the awful fight is likely next…better wait until I’m really ready.” It’s NOT HERE?


Yeah, the Moshae that’s the one…must find Moshae!

This is also a very big bad fight! The other one is…someplace the resistance is interested in attacking. Maybe I was wrong, and you should have talked to the resistance yesterday and they would have sent you there.

Although, I mean, you have to get to both of them eventually, so there’s really no wrong order.


This WAS talking to the resistance! I talked, they were all “ready to go?” Loadout screen, boom.


Oh, huh. I wonder who sent me to the other place? The Command Center, that was. Because I definitely went there first. I think the resistance sent me…I mean, who else would have, on a planet populated entirely by angaran resistance, kett, and the occasional scientist or smuggler?

Must have been a different branch of the resistance. You’ll meet them sooner or later.



This was the “priority op!” PRIORITY! It was a PRIORITY!

Though I wasn’t really expecting to be flown somewhere. I was kinda expecting to have to assault…you know…that BIG FUCKING SHIELDED THING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MAP but no. Something else.

I’m sure that BIG FUCKING SHIELDED THING doesn’t matter at all. Another uninteresting point of interest.


Yeah, that big, shielded thing is totally without tactical value. Ignore it. Nothing combat-related will ever come of it, of that you may be sure. It’s like a big decorative bouquet in the middle of the dining room table: there purely for aesthetic reasons.

That’s how BioWare rolls.

Helpful Tips…In My Head…Forever…


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Spoilers for the ‘poachers on Voeld’ quest in Mass Effect: Andromeda


Ok, so spent yesterday mopping up things on Voeld. Found the poacher camp (Gotta admit, was a little surprised that that was a “big choice” quest. I was expecting a “kill the raiders” quest), and told them to stop doing it, and regretted my decision instantly cuz I second guess myself. Confronted the map thief, and deferred to Jaal’s judgment. Toodled around and got a couple of memory triggers. Unlocked a memory that I can go get on the Tempest at the SAM node cuz they did it that way cuz it’s convenient OH NO WAIT THEY DIDN’T I have to go all the way the fuck back to the hyperion.

So now I am at a crossroads. I can either go meet the resistance at the headquarters, which I imagine will trigger the assault on the Kett base (right?), which I assume was the fight that made you rage quit (right?), or I can go back to the Tempest and talk to PB about her shit and all that other stuff. I mean, I suppose I could go do medical caches or try to find an outpost site, but I think the real choice is assault or Tempest.

I will take suggestions.

But as for the poachers quest:

Neat twist on the Hope thing, which I really do think is the main theme. Usually, hope is about the future. We hope things will get better. Here, it’s something from the PAST that is a SYMBOL of hope. It SEEMS hopeful to say “we must preserve this as something that will inspire our people,” but is it? When NOT preserving it might have a practical result that would actually make things better? Sure, it doesn’t seem hopeful to kill things in a big underground factory, because we also associate hope with beauty and wonder. The poaching doctor WAS hoping for a better future, wasn’t she?

Good stuff.


Definitely don’t go right back to the Nexus to visit SAM Node and get your father’s unlocked memory. Wait until you have a few more to make it worth your while. I think I had three the last time I finally got around to going. Plus, eventually you’ll be going back there anyway for some other quest. No rush.

The poacher quest was an interesting twist. We didn’t expect the angara to be hunting their own sacred animals! And a very fair argument could be made that hey, they can do what they want, it’s their significant icons of the past, not mine…but, like you (of course), I told them to cut it out. For me it was more about “intelligent animals” that put me off than the “ancient sacredness.” If they’d been breaking up their own ancient sacred temples or something, they could have at it, but the bit of found text about how “this one must have been a baby, all the rest tried to defend it” or whatever just set me against the project. Because of my soft, womanly heart, obviously.

As you say, we’ll probably wind up regretting this if thousands of angara die for lack of the valuable technology those people were going to make from the dead creatures, but so be it. I’ve made my choice and it involves Saving the Whales (in essence).

But certainly the poachers were acting out of good intentions, which was unexpected.

Mild spoiler alert: if you go back to talk to Peebee about her stuff, she’s going to tell you to meet her on the Nexus. (Wait–unless you already visited her apartment on the Nexus?)

So unless you want to go back to the Nexus for this and that, I’d say stay on Voeld and talk to the resistance, although that doesn’t immediately trigger anything…basically, you just find out where to go, but you don’t actually have to assault the kett command center until you actively decide to. When you do, make sure you’re ready to not die. But anyway, I would stay on Voeld mopping stuff up before returning to the Tempest, since that will probably take you off in other directions.


Well, did you have Jaal with you on the poaching quest? Cuz he piped up, and, while not furious, he was so sad. And he told me after that I did the right thing, so I figure it’s cool. I’ve decided it makes sense to defer to Jaal on a lot of this shit, what him being Angara and all.

It was unexpected, though. I was genuinely surprised. I also thought the lead up was pretty great. You have to go through all those caves and, right before it, they messed with our gaming senses: there was an ammo crate. Of course, upon seeing that, I was all “ok, right through this door there are raiders and it’s ON man, guns ablazin’ for the smart fishy things!” But then…nope.

Very well done quest.

I have not visited Peebee. I didn’t even FIND her on the nexus, not that I remember anyway. Again, I haven’t been back to the nexus since that last time, which was mostly a “Meet the nexus! Get a whole mess of quests cuz you’re meeting the nexus!” deal.

So am I ready to not die? I’m still only level 13 or so.

And what’s with the find an outpost thing? Is that even a thing yet? Or should I do the kett base?



I did not have Jaal with me when I met the poachers, but it’s nice to know that he thought I did the right thing.

Searching for an outpost is just looking for that perfect spot to have people settle down and form a small village from which they can devise new quests for you. You’ll wander across it at some point, so I wouldn’t really search it out on purpose–it’s not as if they’ll actually set up the outpost until you’ve done all the monoliths and everything anyway.

I think I was probably level 13 or so when I did the kett command center. It’s not that it’s a particularly HARD fight (series of fights), it’s just the usual kett you always fight and there’s health everywhere, but it goes on forever with no saves, and it’s SO FRUSTRATING to get through 10 minutes of fighting and then die stupidly because you forgot to duck behind something, and have to do it all over again.

Just be cautious, that’s all. Be cool and cautious. Don’t die stupidly.


He did think it was right. He wasn’t all that enthusiastic, but he thought you did good.

Oh right, the monoliths. I forgot about those. Indeed, I got that quest rather randomly last night. I was driving around, and, all of a sudden, I get the whole “Activate the monoliths” quest, just….for some reason. I guess I got close to one? Or something? I’m not sure.

And I won’t die stupidly. I’m rocking the infiltrator profile, which lets me do this invisibility thing when I dodge. Ironically, this makes it more of an exfiltrator perk, as I don’t use this to get IN anywhere, so much as I use it to get the fuck OUT of places so I can heal. I’ll be there, between my squad mates, and then they’ll look around all “Hey, where’s Sara?” only to see her materialize 100 yards from the battlefield, running away.

“Just…looking for a path, guys! Over here!”

I am not above letting my squad do the heavy lifting.


That’s what your squad is for! I’m all about hanging back and letting them shoot people while my shields regenerate. I did get a trophy the other day for reviving some number of fallen comrades, so I don’t completely abandon them.

I think I remember the invisibility thing from some previous character. Right now I’m doing the biotics thing, and I have my three standard things that I do, and that’s it.

I know there’s this whole extra level of the game where you can switch character type mid-battle to use other powers and stuff, and I have literally never touched it.

I should. I really should. They very carefully built it into the game on purpose, and I should take advantage of it or at least check it out and see what they undoubtedly spent thousands of hours on, but I’ll be honest, it doesn’t actually appeal to me that much.

I kind of like making a character, you know? Making choices about that character, figuring out who the person is, what they do, getting to know how they fight. And there are always trade-offs, and things that you can’t do because you decided to focus on range instead of melee or whatever, but that’s part of the game.

I’ve never really felt a strong desire to play more than one character type in a single person, you know? This feels like “oh, people don’t like being limited to one type of character, let’s let them play ALL THE CHARACTERS!!!”

Which, fine. Why not. Nothing wrong with it. But it takes one element of strategy/decision right out of the game, which, again, fine, every game is different, except I kind of LIKE that element. It almost feels similar to “oh, people don’t like having to hunt for loot, let’s just give them ALL THE STUFF IN THE WORLD!!!” It’s like, you’re making this too easy, in a way. (And, in another but equally valid way, you’re making this too damn hard, because in the middle of a battle I don’t really want to be thinking about how maybe my combat character would be better at thus and such…it’s enough remembering all the powers my one character has, without also remembering all the powers I COULD have if I switched my physiology right now).

Come to think of it, it’s a BIT like in DAI, isn’t it, where you could control your companions? So when I was playing a rogue, every once in a while, yeah, I would hop over to fight as Morrigan so I could blast some spiders with a lightning storm, and that was great, but for the most part even there I played as my character because that was the character I made, and my companions could handle themselves.

Meh. I’m old and grumpy and set in my ways and in my day we played one character type and liked it, by gum.

This has gone pretty far afield from our original discussion point today.


I saw that trophy! Well done! I haven’t done that much, but that seems more because they don’t get killed very often. All the more reason to let them fight!

Why can’t they revive me? I say let the battle continue until all fall. Then no rage quitting. Ha.

And yeah, I have to try out other things. But I LIKE my powers. When I get all three off before the shooting even starts, it’s like a free kill.

Wait, you can switch mid-combat? That seems…cheap. “First this! Now..wait, I’m a SENTINEL now! Now I’m a something else!” Shit, you can’t even change weapons unless you’re at a loadout station! You can change your whole profile MID BATTLE?

I also think that your skills are who your character is. Like in D&D, you have a backstory. That backstory involved being a soldier, or spending your life studying magic, or living on the street picking up rogue skills. If you can be everything, then…well…what is that? True, in this game we don’t get much backstory other than “You’re a Ryder.” DA did better with that, with the different starts to the game depending on your class/race. But even in games where I don’t have much backstory, like this or Fallout or Skyrim or something, I like to make one in my head and try to follow it.

Any of the DAs, you could be your companions. But that’s different, in that you were THEM. Tactically, sure, it affected combat, but it wasn’t like “And now I studied magic! And now I’m a templar!” It was still Morrigan who studied magic and Alistair who was a templar, so it made sense.

Like, in DAO, I would usually control Leliana when I was walking around, especially in dungeons. I was a mage, and I figured that the party would have someone who could find traps lead, and you couldn’t do that unless you were controlling the person you wanted leading. I was ok with that, as that’s what the party would have done. But Leliana was still Leliana, and I was still me. It wasn’t like I could say “And now I’m a rogue,” which would have made no sense.

These kids today! Wanting it all!


I don’t know, maybe it’s an ability you have to specially unlock or something, because I really feel that they haven’t explained how to do it at all (which is another part of why I haven’t touched it), but yeah, Mr. O’ said that you can just change character types on the fly.

And, because he had said that, I noticed way back at the beginning when your father is still alive and you’re getting into combat, I heard him saying “SAM–Vanguard profile!” or something, and I thought “OK, so that’s him switching abilities.”

But, as I said, I have yet to receive any helpful in-game guidance on how to do it, other than the occasional load screen mention of ‘unlocking skill profiles’ or something, which I usually either don’t really notice because I’m used to ignoring load screen tips, or notice right before they disappear and don’t fully understand. You know how when you get skill points you can add ranks to skills in either the Tech, Combat or Biotic category? I’ve occasionally added some to Tech or Combat, and then gotten a message like “such-and-such profile is now unlocked,” so presumably I could turn those on if I bothered to figure out how.

We will recall how I didn’t even know that you had to use the loadout screen to switch companions, so this is probably buried in there somewhere too.

Hm: this helpful article  says “just go to the profile screen, press select/change view button, and assign it as a favorite.” So there you have it.

Supposedly you can do this because SAM has the power to instantaneously rewire your physiology or something something techmumble so that you can instantly be better at certain skills. I think this is supposed to be part of why SAM is awesome and pathfinders are super cool, but to be honest, I’m doing OK with a sort of “SAM can interface with remnant tech and I’m just an ordinary person thrust unprepared into a major role” storyline in my head. With my single-character-type biotics skills that I have successfully employed up until now.


Oh, so it’s a SAM thing. When in doubt, make it a SAM thing. Cuz SAM can do anything. Even memory stuff….never mind.

I have looked at the profiles, and actually picked skills to upgrade the infiltrator one that I use to do the opposite of infiltrating, I just figured I couldn’t do shit unless I was at the loadout screen.

And, well, as I mentioned yesterday, the ambiguity of everyone towards AI makes me not entirely trust SAM. Very few other people trust SAM. I figure, let’s let SAM do as little as possible before I forcibly rip it out of my head for reminding me about the fucking mining computer.


Hear hear!


Not that SAM objects to driving off cliffs anyway.

It’s sort of the same way they handle magic in DA, isn’t it? Powerful, weird and mysterious, can be very dangerous, and a lot of people don’t trust it. Also it can give you supernatural abilities. How do societies handle this sort of thing? Controlling, clamping down, banning, all out of quite understandable concerns for the public welfare, but sometimes in very inhumane and limiting ways. Good questions, game. Give us the questions.


Seriously, SAM. Say it once.

It makes forward stations a mixed blessing.

“Station deployed.”
“PHEW! I can save, fast travel, change my dudes, call my car…”
“Mining locations have been added to your map.”

No. Thank God SAM doesn’t object to driving off cliffs.

I do love the fact your companions mock your driving. “How can you sleep with Ryder’s driving?????”

I’d be mad if it wasn’t true.

I have a feeling this is gonna come to a head, with these AI/society questions. 


Ha! I feel the same way about the forward stations.

“Aw man, more mining locations for SAM to tell me about? Siiiiiiigh.” There’s that cryopod perk where you thaw some pod and it adds more mining locations, and I just skip on by. Nope. Those poor people are going to stay frozen forever.

Last night was the worst, because I drove by one, SAM told me about it, I stopped and got out to pick up some random surface mineral, got back in, he told me about it again, I accidentally got out when I hit circle instead of options while trying to bring up the map, got back in, he told me about it AGAIN.

SAM. Shut up. About the mining.


Did he interrupt banter? Don’t let him interrupt banter!!!!!

Speaking of which, switched out to Jaal and Cora. MORE BANTER!

Though I did very much love PB asking Jaal about perfume and lotion on his neck flaps.


I don’t recall it with banter, but he’s interrupted people talking, like when you walk into a room sometimes people will be saying something, and I click on a note or something and it reminds SAM to say “this is related to that other thing we were working on, Pathfinder,” and I think “shut up, SAM, people are talking!”

I guess they don’t want you to do anything but stand there while people are talking, but I can listen and pick up notes at the same time, damn it!

If magic was this annoying to use in DA, no wonder so many mages were possessed by demons. “Can you make this voice shut up? Then take over my body and use it to attack anyone you see, by all means! Small price to pay.”

Seriously, this is why dad picked us instead of Cora. She is way too intense. Cora would have killed herself and everyone around her a long time ago. He knew our long history of ignoring load screens would serve us well when it came to tolerating (if not enjoying) SAM’s helpful comments.


Dude, Cora would be all DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!!

And she’d go all nuts.

She has issues.



And There Was Sober and God-Fearing Gameplay


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A few minor spoilers for Mass Effect: Andromeda and the end of Mass Effect 3


MAN the late summer gets busy. Where were we?

Ah, yes. Voeld.

So, despite busy weekend (hit the beach, went outside, all the things you don’t do) got some in. Went back to Voeld, fought through randits (remdits? Cuz remnant? Maybe not), got PB her thing and was expecting story and didn’t get it cuz I have to wait to be back on the Tempest, found the second outpost there, got a bunch of quests, fought my way to find some dudes who had an old map and they turned out to be smugglers (wasn’t surprised), now I’m looking for poachers cuz I anticipate hope themes there.

Stopped when I hit a kid land mine. An email from a kid (don’t do it game) to his father (please don’t go there) who’s obviously dead (sigh) saying that he’s sorry for breaking his dad’s star map and promises to be good, will the dad come back? (Fuck you game.)

He thinks his dad abandoned him because he was bad, and he’s sorry, and wants his dad back.

Seriously, game, fuck you. Those emails are supposed to be either useless or funny.

Which brings me to today’s starting point: This game, to an even greater extent than DAI, has a dark streak. Sure, there’s flirting, and jokes, but there’s also a very distinct vein of dark. Not just random upsettingness, but darkness. “Hope is silly” is a pretty dark theme, and we see it a lot here. And we DON’T really see that in other bioware games, which, while I love them, are not exactly as thought provoking as other games we have played. They tend to be about power fantasies and hot sorceresses.

Which gets me to wondering: Are they turning dark to be more “artistic?” Are we just reading it this way because we’re getting old and cynical (and by getting I mean moreso)? Is the art form of games, in general, mirroring the world at large and the pessimism in it, as art tends to mirror the mood of the world?

It’s something, cuz it’s there.

He thinks if he says he’s sorry for breaking his dad’s thing, his dad will come back. No, he thinks his dad LEFT because he was bad…fuck you game.


Beach? Sun, sand, the music of the waves, the smell of the sea? Ew.

But I don’t know, man, I remember some pretty dark letters from DAI, at least. Something about how “we’re all so hungry but mom went to find food and as soon as she gets back everything is going to be great,” next to some tiny skeletons or the like. I feel like the occasional touch of human tragedy has showed up in previous MEs as well. They throw these notes in every now and then, like grim seasoning, just in case we thought life was all fun and loot and laser gunfights with randits.

I agree, though, they’re never fun. Why do you do this to me, game? I just wanted fun and loot! But they want to make us think a bit, how maybe it’s all fun and loot for the mighty Inquisitor/Pathfinder/General Hero, but it kind of sucks out there on the ground.


There was, if it makes you feel better, a distinct lack of rum. Up here in New England, we do have some nice beaches, but MAN we missed the memo that nice beaches really ought to have a place very close to them selling rum. Preferably in buckets.

I thought we were starting to see bioware start thinking about adding dark in DAI. DAI did have some rough stuff, but this one seems to have far more, and more front and center. It isn’t just in the emails and stuff. That’s what made me think of it today, but there’s stuff out there, themes, NPC stuff, that’s just plain unavoidable.

And, well, it WAS all fun and loot for the Inquisitor/general hero, but I’d argue it ISN’T for the Pathfinder.

Cuz this is the first bioware game where I haven’t been 111% certain that the hero won’t have, at least, the choice to fix everything. The genophage? Sure, it was bad. Genocidal, awful. And there was no doubt that Shep was going to fix it. None. There was GOING to be the picture I got at the end, of the loving, happy Krogan couple with the baby. Ditto DAI. Sure, there were little blips of dark, but you knew, KNEW, that you were going to have, at least, the choice of ending happy in Skyhold, and, indeed, the last image I had was holding hands with Sera looking at a sunset, joking around. And that ending surprised me not at all.

Here, I don’t know if it’s gonna end with a sunset and jokes and Suvi. It might. Hell, it’s likely that it will. But this is the first bioware game where I’m only 82% certain that it will, and that, in and of itself, marks a change in how Bioware is telling stories.

But dude, the double whammy of the dead dad and the GUILTY kid? The kid felt GUILTY and dad was dead? Dude. DUDE. Pull a punch, bioware, I’m just trying to flirt.


I blame our puritan history. Beaches are for harvesting the bounty of the sea in a sober and god-fearing fashion! Not for lounging and rum-drinking. Set some lobster traps or GTFO.

You’re 18% convinced there’s not going to be a happy ending? Interesting. I don’t think I have that much doubt that everything is going to work out fine just like it always does for the hero.

Maybe it’ll be a little more obviously non-great for everyone else, though…that would still be pretty interesting.


Them fuckers! Always killing whales instead of trading in rums! And…um…slaves…. Hmm.

Guilt attack.

Waaaaiiiiit….you’ve finished, haven’t you? That’s you’re trying not to spoil voice…..

YOU HAVE! I know that voice anywhere.


Um…right…slaves. About that…um…look over there! A squirrel! Highlighting the bounty of the land, which we must harvest in a sober and god-fearing fashion!

All the while murdering the current inhabitants and driving them from their homes…um…look over there! A bird! Let’s just go to space already!

Dude, no. I have not finished. I’m on a new planet collecting the usual 500 tasks and trying to make it suitable for an outpost.

While murdering the current inhabitants and driving them from their homes…damn it! Guilt follows us everywhere!


Oh, so it isn’t Voeld, Hvarl, couple of scans, end?

Of course not.

I saw level 29 on your character screen and made assumptions.

I am not level 29. I don’t think.

I really want rum. I also want to play. I tell ya, it took a while, but I do want to get back to this game when I’m not playing it. I was also pondering that, and what hate this game got, and I think I’ve come up with something that I will, someday, test.

It’s the nexus.

The nexus is a narrative albatross. I like the planet stuff. The story is good, the combat is good, the banter is good. I like the tempest stuff. It’s interesting. The characters are good.

The nexus, so far, is a drag, man. I think I find myself saying “Hey, I wish I was playing right now” because I am nowhere near the nexus.


Of course it’s not that easy!

Based on textural clues, I think there’s one more planet to visit after the one I’m on, but I could have missed something–there could be 12.


My. Long game. Though, strangely, I do feel like I’m making progress. I like the mechanic of having the quest markers on the map, even the ones you’re not doing. The ability to say “Ok…what’s close…THAT!” and then having it disappear on the map gives me a sense of getting shit done, so even when it’s long, I feel progress.

Except when I’m on the nexus.


It’s true, I do like that about the map. “What’s going on around here, oh yeah, I’ll do that!” And the way you can highlight a quest by selecting its marker, so if you do one part and then want to follow up, it will be your active quest and you don’t have to hunt through the ‘journal’ to locate it and activate it.

Ah, the Nexus. Hm. I don’t know, I don’t feel myself losing momentum all that much in the Nexus, but I haven’t really thought about it. It’s obviously meant to be the equivalent of the Citadel in previous ME games, and the Citadel was always just a place you could stop by, do some shopping (at your favorite store!), follow up on random quests, etc.

I don’t have strong feelings about the Nexus either way, I guess.


There’s Femmy’s ambiguity!

The problem with it is it isn’t just a place to drop by if you shop. There’s times you HAVE to go there, and it’s fucking BIG. The citadel was far more contained.

And the stuff you do there (so far) is just moving stuff along to move it. There’s no meat there. The only thing is they needed a place for the Initiative bosses to hang out, needed it to matter (cuz bosses), and needed it NOT to be the Tempest. But, in typical bioware fashion, that overarching quest is the lamest thing in the game.

But the click to select, that is a feature every damn game should have. Click and select. Sure, other games have it, but you just hover and get the quest name, and it’s always something like “Sausage and cheese?” and you have think “Which one was that,” and you wind up scrolling through the journal anyway. This has the name, what it was, and you can select right there! Genius!


I don’t feel any particular way about it and I feel no particular way very strongly! I’m passionate about ambiguity.

You haven’t gotten to flirt with…anyone yet on the Nexus? Or what about the crowd of people protesting the…stuff?

I agree with you in part, there is a lot of just going around doing busywork (and man, those quests where you had to take the train to one area, talk to someone, take the train to another, talk to someone, take the train back to the first area…I could have done with less of that), but I feel like there’s also a bit of actual, story-telling questing scattered in. I mean, First Murderer was partly based on the Nexus, and we got some discussion out of that.


T SHIRT!!!!!!

The ambiguity bit.

But nope. I haven’t been back to the Nexus since the marathon session of not killing dudes and acquiring tasks. The one where I started the Anti-AI guys thing. It’s been a while. I’ve been chillin’ on Voeld (HA! See what I did there?).

THERE’S FLIRTING????? That’s it. I take back everything I said.

True, First Murderer was good for discussion. But they REALLY should’ve made it one area. Or, at the very least, kept the quests in one area. That train….it haunts me. The citadel, if I remember, was one area. That would have been plenty.

And I do anticipate some bloggage when I finally get on with the AI guys.

One of these days we should yap about SAM and Ryder’s relationship with him (it?). There’s a lot of “Is AI good?” going on, and I have a feeling there’s more of a metaphorical question than just “Is AI good?” going on. I’ve been pondering some time. Still need more time, but we should get a day’s bloggin’ in on that at some point.


There’s a bit of flirting, yeah. You know you want to go back!

I feel like there were a couple of levels of Citadel, maybe an elevator…but you could be right. It’s been a while. Certainly it didn’t have the train.

I do think that maybe that first marathon session of acquiring tasks and not shooting people is the major upfront cost of the Nexus, and going back you don’t have to run around quite as much having already done a lot of the footwork, so it may not be as annoying in the future as it has been.

Give the Nexus another chance, man! Think of the flirting! And the booze they’ll be making when you find some ingredients!


No, it did not have the train. I felt that it was one you could do with stairs and little else.

Dude that quest is still locked! Or glitched! Or something!



Don’t worry, it will unlock itself once you’re somewhere you can find an ingredient. You’ll be looking at the map admiring all the hexagons, and think “hey, what’s this one…BOOZE!”


Today is the kind of day I need to find random hexagonal booze.

Acquiring Awesome Toys


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Minor spoilers about things companions do in Mass Effect: Andromeda


I did play! Some. Mostly putzed around Havarl shooting things. I went and found that Roekkar camp, killed everyone in it, then asked the dude for help. That seemed an odd way to introduce myself, but whatever. He helped me. Then helped that scientist find her data, then went with the dude to activate the third monolith, and I’m about to activate the vault which will, inevitably, make something bad happen. You know when your OWN CHARACTER says “Before it tries to kill us” that something bad will happen.

Again, here, hope seems to be the underlying theme. There was the blatant (“My data is gone, GONE I tell you!” “No! Have hope! We can find it!”) to the subtle, and the subtle was that monolith bit.

It was very interesting that the person from the past didn’t make it to the monolith. She died. She came close, but she died. What was MORE interesting was that when Ryder said “I’m sorry she didn’t succeed,” the Angara said something like “No. She succeeded. She inspired you.”


I’m just going to file this away, here. Now, you have likely finished the game, as you do, but is this a set up? A hero who doesn’t quite make it, but who inspires enough hope in others that they, and therefore she, succeeds?

It’s been a pattern in this game, after all. Ryder’s mother didn’t live to see her dream, but inspired Alec. Alec didn’t live to see his dream, but inspired Sara. Is Sara the next link in the chain? Is giving the next wave of people hope the only thing we can really do?

It would be a nice contrast to the first trilogy. We’ve already commented on the difference between the neophyte Ryder to the superhero Shepard. Could be we’re setting up a slight twist in ending. While Shep inspired others by winning (he DID stop the reapers and the Illusive man), Ryder could be set up to inspire others DESPITE LOSING.

We shall see. Or you have seen. One or the other.


I have not finished MEA. I did play, but it turns out it is a big game, so even though I accomplished things, like bringing the latest planet to 100% viability via judicious activation of monoliths and a vault, I did not get to anything like an endgame.

This being so, I have no insight into your theory about Ryder’s job in the end being more to inspire others than to be a hero herself, but I like it. It’s kind of right there in the title, when you think about it: Pathfinder. Not Leader, or Captain, or Commander, or anything in-charge-ish. Pathfinder. Finding the paths for other people to follow. Other people will go to all the places and do all the things and lead people and be big heroes: Ryder shows them the way to get there.

Which is obviously important, but definitely a different focus than we’re accustomed to.



Man, if you haven’t finished I never will.

But yeah…her dialog is different from “hero” too. Usually, in games, when you pick the “good” dialog option you get something like “Fear not! I shall recover your father’s steak knives and avenge your brother with haste!” Here, Ryder is usually more comforting and kind, more “Don’t worry. It will be ok.” Even last night, I ended that “my sister is missing” quest, and it ends not with Ryder finding the sister, but with Ryder telling the brother where the sister is, and saying “Go find her. We’re all scared sometimes. It will pass.” Now, in any other game, you’d go GET the sister, or avenge her or something. You would not say “You can do it. I believe in you” to end the quest.

It’s interesting. And I like that the game is just doing it, subtly. It’s not banging the difference over your head all the time. Nicely done.


It’s a good point about the dialogue and the types of quests. We haven’t done a lot of fetching things, have we? (Aside from booze ingredients, which will forever be a worthy exception.) We definitely do those sorts of errands, but they tend to be dropping things off in places (like the guy who wanted his medallion left next to where his brother died), rather than finding them and bringing them back.

We send back a lot of information, and I guess it could be a matter of debate whether “find out what happened to so-and-so and bring me the information” is significantly different from “find so-and-so’s lost sword and bring it back to me,” but it could, as you say, be a subtle difference in emphasis.

Hm. I’ll have to pay more attention to this and see what I think.


And we aren’t THERE when things end. We do not witness the reunion with the sister the way, say, we witnessed Olin reuniting with his family in Horizon. We MADE that happen, and we could be there, all smug, basking in the congratulations. In this quest, we told someone ELSE to make it happen, to say “YOU can do it,” and off he went, far away, presumably to find his sister. Or he died. But even THAT is different. We gave him the HOPE that he could do it, and THAT earned us the green check mark. Either way, we’re not there at the end, whatever that end is. Sending him on his hopeful way is the end for us. And that’s very odd in games.

I think the information is pretty fetch questy. Banging rocks for science, scanning plants…bleh. Not really doing that. I don’t care if it’s picking it up with triangle or scanning it. Fetch quests. Tasks, for God’s sake. Can’t even call them “quests.”


Yeah, the ‘pointing other people toward the solution to the quest instead of finding it for them’ things are more novel than the “here, I found out your rocks are rocks.”


This whole “I don’t know where you are” crap is because Mr. O won all the trophies. It’s usually how I track you. I’d KNOW if you finished.


I know, I can’t track myself by story-based trophy count either. Have I gotten most of them? Almost none of them? Am I halfway done? Who knows?! I think I’ve added about two to the total, and they were undoubtedly weirdo fringe things that he just didn’t get around to.

Like…uh…reviving companions in battle. I actually don’t know why he didn’t get that one. One would imagine it’s because he didn’t revive companions in battle, but why not? Because he just left them to lie there? Because he’s a better leader and his companions didn’t get hurt as often as mine? It’s a mystery for the ages.


I guess Mr. O kept his companions alive. Mine drop like flies. Probably cuz I keep running away.

Drack never falls, though. Good ol’ Drack.


See, I manage to get Drack knocked unconscious a fair bit of the time. He just charges right into things, and sometimes that means he takes a lot of fire that was meant for me. Bless him. I revive him as soon as I can, of course. It’s the right thing to do for a friend, and it also means he can go back to taking fire that was meant for me.


Speaking of taking fire….Oh. My. God. Peebee’s drone. I fucking LOVE Peebee’s drone. It’s badass, and it takes fire. It. Is. So. Great. You NEED this drone.


I do need Peebee’s drone! I was thinking about it just last night, while shooting some drones. “Hey, Peebee, about that thing you’re working on…how’s that coming?” I was saying.

I do need to follow up on that storyline. I’m just so busy making planets viable, you know…setting up forward stations, exploring vaults, ignoring SAM’s tips about areas which can be mined for resources.


Dude, you likely already have it. Have you been to her apartment? Had that other asari come in all bitchy? It’s early on in her story. I’ve only done that one bit and I have this amazing drone. It’s in your powers. Combat, I believe. It’s called Zap or something.


Yeah, I’ve done that, and I’ve seen the drone, but the quest line says something like “wait for Peebee to research the drone” or something. I think. I mean, I haven’t looked lately.

Or maybe I need to level up her skills or something?


Yeah, you have to pick it as a skill. It’s called “Remnant VI” (after a quick google) and you have to put skill points in it. But you have 72 unused, so you’ll be fine.

It’s the best.


OK, sweet. I should probably level up my companions occasionally. I’m sure she has at least 72 points–I’ll dump some into it next time I play!


Dude, the drone is SO great. For some reason, the snipers, be they Roekarr or Observers ALWAYS aim at it. It is SO nice. And you can turn it off and make it disappear when you’re done, so it doesn’t follow and get in the way.



Now I want to play, specifically so that I can get the drone.

I mean, I want to play anyway, but that is extra incentive.


It’s one of those things that happen in games where you think “Ok, I guess I’ll try it, why not OHMYGODILOVETHIS!”


And Peebee is thinking to herself all this time “why doesn’t she want to use my remnant drone? Does she not think it’s cool? I think it’s cool! Maybe this relationship is doomed. But she could at least give it a chance!”


If you want any chance of banging someone, make sure you use their drone.


Man, feels like Friday all right.


Oh, we already went there. It would probably have been even better with a drone, though.

Wait, that came out wrong. Or so, so right. Not sure which.


I guess we were too erudite last Friday. Gotta make up for it.

So you can have a casual fling with PB? Cool.


Well, I think you can. I haven’t romanced anyone else since, so it’s possible she’s more serious than it was presented, but it certainly seemed like a fling.


I gotta bang everyone possible before settling down! Shit, it’s been 641 years! After that amount of time, even Drack looks good!


Totally, totally with you there.

We JUST Stopped for a Rest Break!


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Minor spoilers for companion behavior in Mass Effect: Andromeda


So I toodled around the tempest. I figured, if I was there, might as well.

So I chatted up Cora and got the “Go back to Eos cuz Asaris” quest, heard Gil fighting with Kallo, talked to the hologram. It likes stern Ryder.

And then I was pissed that I got ripped off of Voeld so I went back and picked up where I left off. Took PB out with Jaal, decided to head towards her thing.

I did not get to her thing.

Why? Cuz the way I decided to take had encounters every twelve feet. And NO ONE WANTED TO KEEP DRIVING!

“Kett tech!” (I tried to drive by it) “We should check out that Kett tech.” Ok, fine. Fight fight fight. Scan, nothing. No one cares. Why did we check it out?

“That remnant tech has defenses pathfinder.” Ok, gotta be something good. Fight fight fight. Scan. Nothing.

Am I missing something here or am I just annoyed?


I find myself frequently annoyed by that, so it’s not just you. I’ve actually started managing to ignore the helpful comments about remnant tech (“we should check that out!”) because it’s never anything. It’s hard to ignore, though. Because WHAT IF THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE ABOUT SOMETHING IMPORTANT?

Maybe we’re both missing something. Peebee and SAM are both thinking “you have to SPRINT while you scan, OBVIOUSLY.”

I got the quest about the extra weight on the Tempest, found the construction suit, as you said. It was a nice little story. I told them to leave it there in the ship. Suvi specifically said the extra weight wasn’t a problem from a performance standpoint, so fine, leave it.

Speaking of things you do on the Tempest, are you doing the Strike Team missions? I do them when I’m there, because whatever, but I can’t get too into them. I need to thaw the cryopod that will get me money when they successfully completely a mission, because otherwise I just don’t really care.


That and we know ourselves well enough to know that the moment we do decide to skip one, THAT’S the one that had the cool shit. It’s how it goes.

But then, if we’re missing it, it can’t be that important.

That ‘extra weight’ was a nice quest, and themey. I reference my earlier wisdom. I thought the recording of the person that made it was really well done.

I have not been doing APEX missions. I kinda forgot to look at them. I got the sense when I encountered them for the first time that they were kinda like those weird side missions in AC4 where you’d send a ship somewhere to do something to get something you didn’t really need. I ignored those pretty quickly in AC4, and decided to do the same here.

And, you know, multiplayer isn’t gonna happen, so…..


ANYTHING WE MISS COULD BE CRITICAL!!!! It’s the eternal fear.

The strike team missions are pretty much exactly like the bits in AC4 where you send people you don’t know to do things you don’t understand in exchange for stuff you don’t care about. GET INVOLVED, damn it!

In AC Brotherhood there was at least some story involved…you’d recruit your assassins in little scenes where you rescued someone from a mob or spotted a clever lad picking pockets, or whatever, and then send them out on missions, and when they were successful they gained status and stuff. They all had names, so you could follow the progress of Sally the Stabber or whatever as she advanced in the ranks, which made it marginally interesting.

This…meh. I do it because it’s there, and I think there’s some XP involved, and if you thaw the right cryopod you can get stuff when they’re successful, but it’s not that interesting. The teams are pretty impersonal, and yeah, multi-player is never going to happen, so there’s minimal excitement.


It is the eternal fear! And, also, I feel I need to pursue the tech in order to avoid my own hypocrisy. See, Junior continues with Zelda. I’m trying to teach him little subtle things about how to read an open world game, like, “Well, if a place is killing you over and over, you probably aren’t ready to be there,” or “If you find a place with a lot of quests, you should probably do a bunch of them cuz the next place will likely have harder quests.” That sort of thing.

One enormously helpful lesson has been “Games generally don’t put things in them that don’t serve a purpose. If a game is drawing your attention to something, it wants your attention there and you should go check it out.”

I’ve told him this explicitly.

So I have to follow my own advice! Usually when an NPC is all “Check that out. No, really, check it out,” it’s the game saying it’s important! Right?


I’m a terrible parent.

Whenever something says “You can do this in multiplayer…or not,” it’s always because they WANT you to do multiplayer, but want to say with a straight face when they’re marketing the game “You don’t have to do multiplayer to get everything the game has to offer!” Which is true, I guess, but there’s no doubt that when a game says “You can do this in multiplayer….or not,” they WANT you to do it in multiplayer and the “or not” is an afterthought.

And, as we do not do multiplayer, the afterthought is given no thought.


You’re a fine parent, it’s just that this game is screwing with us. For some unknown reason, it wants us to get excited about something that is not exciting.

I think it’s another instance of your companions being trigger-happy, to be honest. If this were DAI, they’d be racing off after lizards, in full combat mode. “I WILL DEFEND YOU!!!”

Since they’re stuck in a car, they just get really excited about the possibility of combat (which, if they’re Peebee, they phrase in a more general ‘we should check out that tech’ way, but we all know it’s going to turn into combat).

To be fair to this game’s attempt to pretend that multiplayer isn’t their main focus, a lot of the missions don’t even have a multiplayer option, so the default is, arguably, sending the team instead of going yourself in multiplayer. I have to give them that.

But yeah, it’s just not going to happen with me. Look, if I wanted to hang out with other people, I’d leave the house.


I think maybe the trigger-happiness over tech was a remnant (see what I did there?) of the long and turbulent development process. This game had, like, 27 directors over time, and these things reek of a feature that mattered at some point, then was written out after too much work was done on it to remove it completely.

They probably just want out of the car. They know they’d lose all of your respect if they just said “I have to go potty” every five minutes.

As for leaving the house, dude, when I suggest you come over here, you’re stunned.

You just don’t want to share the booze.


I want to share the booze! Your booze. You have more of a budget for it, not paying for your ex and all. Ha.

That’s true, though…I bet it is just a ploy to get a bathroom break. They know in the heat of battle no one will notice if they just sneak off behind that bit of ancient masonry.

I mean, we could also imagine all their armor is stillsuits like in Dune, but that’s not as amusing.

Arrr…We Don’t Know What We’re Doing




Some spoilers for minor plot points and how to do things most people probably already knows how to do in Mass Effect: Andromeda


So I’m not on Voeld anymore. Leaving was sorta an accident.

So I did the “rescue the uncle” thing. It was a long fight, and I was acutely aware of the lack of save icons and the length of the fight. I don’t think this was the fight you mentioned, but now I’m nervous each time.

But I won, and didn’t die, and got the rebel plans from the guy (So they ripped off Rogue One AND Empire, but hey, not judging).

So as soon as I got the plans, here’s a cutscene, and Jaal strolls up all “That will impress Evfria (or whoever the hell). You should call her…but, if you prefer, you can just take it back to Buxil.” And I thought, “Well, it would be good to get in good with the boss, and it’s just a call, I’ll call.” So I picked “Call.” And Jaal’s all “Good. The shuttle will take us back to the Tempest” and I said “The what now?” and…..Tempest cutscene.

And I’m on the bridge thinking “Motherfucker you didn’t have an OMNITOOL? I can fucking blog on a phone while drinking from a bucket on a beach in 2017 and Ryder can’t make ONE DAMN CALL without leaving the planet?”

I had things I wanted to DO on that planet! PeeBee had a mission there! I could’ve flirted!

So I saved and stopped in a huff.


Yeah, I was suspicious at that point and said “nah, I’ll call Evfra later.” Took me forever to get around to it, but at least I wasn’t yanked off Voeld for a phone call I for some reason couldn’t get routed to me on-planet. (Hey, it’s, uh, challenging to beam transmissions around the curve of a planet with only a super-powered omnitool to receive…simple vocal/visual input…shut up, that’s why!)

Have you discovered how you can get pulled back to the Tempest while holding triangle while in the Nomad? It says ‘extract’ and I was like ‘what’s that?’ and semi-accidentally did that once, while driving along.

“Wait, what the–I was on my way somewhere!”

So…extract, then.

Anyhow, had to land again, fast travel back to the forward station I’d been closest to, and drive all that way again. I mean, I can see situations in which you’d want rapid retrieval by your ship, but not when you just hit triangle out of curiosity.


Dude, I used to cut you slack as you were relatively new to gaming, but now that you have achieved actual expert blogger status, you should know you NEVER just say “hey, what does this button do?” EVER.

I was yanked off Voeld.

This game does not do a good job of letting you know the outcome of your choices. Now, I’m cool with that if it’s something that your character can’t know. That’s part of storytelling. But your character WOULD know “Oh hey, he’s telling me to get back in my bigassed fucking spaceship and I kinda don’t want to do that right now.” Or “Hey, I wanted Vetra to come along here and not Cora.” That’s not a question of seeing the narrative future. You should not wind up on the bridge of your bigassed fucking spaceship and be all “I didn’t want to BE here.” Ryder would KNOW she was GOING there. Ryder would KNOW who she was taking with her when she left the Tempest. Games should clearly communicate that sort of thing.


But…I wouldn’t know how to do anything with anything if I didn’t try different buttons to see what they did! I mean, how else am I supposed to know? RTFM? As if! (I actually read the entire manual for Dragon Age: Origins, the first game I ever played. It was kind of useful, and yet after that, I pretty much never looked at one again. Because mostly the game tells you! Unless you’re not paying attention. Ahem.)

I leave it to nerds like you to read the options and tell me how to sprint.

As for the practical fact that Ryder would have known she was agreeing to go back to the Tempest at that point…yeah, true. It is a bit low to drag you off somewhere based on a decision that the character would have made with much better information than the player has.


Dude, the game tells you EVERY TIME. Do we REALLY have to know that holding triangle opens containers THIS LATE IN THE GAME? The L1 prompt to make the NOMAD badass is ALWAYS THERE, as is the way to open the mining computer. IT’S. ALWAYS. THERE.

As for my predicament–exactly! It’s the opposite, though no less valid, side of the coin from the RotTR problem. If you’re going to BE a character, you should know what the character knows. No more (RotTR) or less (MEA). Otherwise, it jars.


It doesn’t tell me how to sprint! Probably because there’s no way to do it.


As an aside on that topic, I really don’t like “hold down L3 to sprint.” My thumb gets tired, or I mean to hold it but don’t quite get it to click so I think I’m running but I’m not and something catches me and kills me. I hate that.


Oh I totally agree. That just sucks. At least it’s easier when you just mash L forward and steer with R, like I do.

One thing my ex (notice I barely mention her anymore? This is progress) did that every game should do, is that the ex ALWAYS had an option for “Always run.” You could just toggle it. Made you look a little silly when you were on the Normandy or in camp, but it was the first option I checked every time, every game.

(The camp thing wasn’t ALL that odd. Who wouldn’t run to Morrigan?)


Then I checked “hide helmet,” another option every single game needs. At least MEA did that.


It’s true! You’ve really made very good progress in moving on from that old relationship. I salute you! Although let’s give credit where it’s due: you owe this success in large part to the excellent booze you’ve been able to buy with all your extra money.

‘Always run’ is a good option, though.

But not as good as all that booze! Priorities.


I have had a bunch of excellent booze. Or more of what I was drinking before. Win either way.

If we can hide helmets on the PS4, we should always run. It really is a good, if slightly ridiculous, option.

Manual saves, too, which this game has. So it’s possible! It is!

Though no quicksaves.

Ok, change the subject before I miss my ex.