After an Easter break Tony has caught up to Luke in progress but our 2 casters just can’t seem to stay away from the mechanics. There’s some talk of story and some input from listeners to the show this episode so tune in, enjoy the ride and find out what is this hourglass effect?!?

*note: Tony gets fired up in this episode so there is a mild language warning

Luke getting stuck bug



Quest markers don’t show up properly


Incoming message from Pete at Prodromos
1. There *is* a way to change the camera – just click the right thumb stick! Clearly, though, someone dropped the ball by not having your character automatically swing to face the nearest corner when they go into cover (particularly since, 99% of the time that will be the orientation you want).

2. The kett mini-gunners (aka the Anointed) are toast for me, thanks to the Backlash power: I have levelled it up so that, once activated, it protects me from all incoming damage AND returns that damage to sender with 250% interest so that Anointed opening up on me with their Soned assault rifles literally kill themselves shooting at me!

3. For shield reduction, Luke really should have looked into Energy Drain, which takes down enemy shields AND recharges your own shields at the same time (if there’s one thing a Vanguard in the thick of it can never have too much of, it’s shields)

4. I took the same approach you did with my initial build: pick three (biotic) powers that I figured would be most useful to me (which, starting as a Vanguard – sorry, Scrapper! – type, were Charge, Nova, and Backlash) and concentrate on these, to the exclusion of any other active abilities. I did, however, also spend skill points on some passive skills as well but, even then, the game encourages you to specialise (passive skills provide more benefit the more points you have invested in the area (combat, biotics or tech) they belong to) rather than diversify across all three areas. However, since – unlike you – I like to use guns, I also picked up some combat passives – starting with weapon skills – and therefore discovered:

(a) Combat Fitness is useful for *everyone* (since it boosts health) and also has a nice payoff for biotics (as it increases carrying capacity, which helps with power recharge times). At higher levels, too, the weapon skills all have options to cut the weight of the weapon they relate to by 25%, which has (ultimately) got me to the point where I am carrying a shotgun, an assault rifle, and a sniper rifle… with 100% recharge times!

(b) investing in combat and biotics skills boosted the level of my Vanguard profile, which has some great scaling bonuses (including a boost to biotic recharge times, specifically)
However, I rarely, if ever, bother switching profiles: my preferred (Vanguard) profile has sufficed to get me through every combat encounter so far, with the same three active powers. There is actually a quick way to switch profiles in combat – when you call up the consumables menu, you can hit the X button to switch to a list of your four ‘favourite’ profiles and activate one of them from there – but the automatic power cooldown that follows means it can’t be used straight away, which is not exactly what you need in the middle of a fight. A better system (which I’m not the first to have thought of) would be to have all powers available after switching profiles, but put a cooldown on switching profiles again instead.

Even that, though, wouldn’t as good, useful or as cool as the different profiles seem to be when you see Alec Ryder using them on Habitat 7.

Final thought: profiles seem, inherently, to be something only useful in the late game, when you have amassed enough skills to have a wide range of high-level abilities to cycle between.

5. The Piranha shotgun is my go-to shotgun. Other shotguns may be able to do more damage per shot, but I can usually land three shots with the Piranha in the time it would take them to fire once, giving the Piranha a much higher DPS. In addition, with skills and weapon mods, my (now handcrafted) Pirahna is up to a clip size of 12 (!) which allows me to unleash a staggering amount of whoop-ass before having to reload. Even better: in spite of the flavour text that insists the Piranha is only useful in close, I have been able to still hit and kill targets at middle distances (i.e. your normal assault rifle territory).

6. In video games, at least, I often find myself happiest sitting behind the sights of a sniper rifle and picking off enemies from very far away. Playing a Vanguard in previous MASS EFFECTS has meant cultivating a more ‘up close and personal’ approach to combat, but ANDROMEDA has allowed me to have my cake and eat it, too: which is to say, be a Vanguard who sometimes acts a lot like an Infiltrator.

Biotics are all very well, but with a good sniper rifle, you can smoke a biotic before they can get close enough to lay a power on you.

The tricky part here, however, was laying hands on a good sniper rifle to begin with.
I couldn’t buy one and – although I could research a promising design or two – I didn’t have the materials required to *make* one, either. I had to wait for a sniper rifle to drop from a defeated enemy, which is how I wound up rocking a kett Lanat sniper rifle for quite a few levels. It had a very frustrating two-shot clip, but – on the plus side – it hit for a truckload of damage, so proved quite effective. Eventually, however, I moved on to a different kett sniper rifle, the Naladen, which had a bigger clip and while each shot did less damage than the Lanat, those rounds – quite literally – exploded on impact, showering splash damage around the immediate vicinity which was, needless to say, very satisfying.

Ultimately, however, my sniper rifle of choice is the Milky Way weapon I wanted to build from the start, the Valiant, which does comparable (if less explosive) damage to the Naladen, but with a bigger clip, and faster firing rate.

7. Augmentations are not your problem, when it comes to inventory – they do not count towards the inventory limit. What *does* count is somewhat unclear (since the game doesn’t tell you, and it’s hard to work out) but weapons, weapon mods, armour, and fusion mods (that get listed under armour) definitely do (which I know, because my inventory count goes down when I sell, deconstruct or destroy these) and it looks like *some* of the Special Items (that you can’t sell or destroy) may count, too. I say this because my count of weapons, weapons mods, armour and fusion mods comes to within 5-6 of the item count I have, but I have something like 20+ augmentations on hand on top of that, so it’s not them making up what’s left.

8. Don’t be afraid to use augmentations on low-level weapons! Whenever you deconstruct a weapon, you get *some* of the materials used in its construction back but ALL of the augmentations. So, if you use your cool augmentation to make a level 3 Hurricane, when you are ready to upgrade to a level 4 Hurricane (or a different gun altogether) you can just deconstruct your level 3 Hurricane, get your cool augmentation back, then use it to craft your new weapon. Perfect recycling, every time! Not exactly realistic, but it means you don’t have to be stockpile augmentations until you get to the end of the research tree, which encourages experimentation and is, therefore, a good thing. (So: Luke was right.)

Also, a tip for young players: when you hit the button to deconstruct a item, the game tells you exactly what you will recover – number and type of minerals, as well as any augmentations – and asks for confirmation to proceed. So, you can check what breaking down your gear or weapons will do for you before actually having to do it, which can be very handy (particularly if you forget which augmentations you used to make which weapons, for example).

9. I have actually used the jetpack to score a couple of “hover kills” during combat, but it’s usually quicker, easier and safer to stay on the ground. It’s probably a tactic best used to dispose of the last, lone enemy hiding behind cover rather than something to try when there are still a bunch of bad guys shooting at you from all directions.

For me, though, the biggest disincentive against using the jetpack in combat is that hovering cuts out after an arbitrary (and brief) period of time rather than when you choose to descend. So, if you don’t hit (and eliminate) your target within the time limit, you drop out of the sky like a flat-footed idiot rather than the intergalactic hero (and showboater) that you are trying to be. Sure, it’s a chance to develop a certain kind of (limited application) skill but, seriously, how is it that you have a jetpack with *unlimited* fuel that you can only use in short bursts? This bugs me, no end.

10. So it’s not just me, finding that the backup life support consumable doesn’t work (or, at least, not in the obvious way that it should)? For mine, what this consumable *should* do is restore – say 25% – of your life support bar, the way that the shield capacitor consumable works on shields. It clearly does not do this. What I think it *may* do (but have yet to verify) is reduce the rate at which your life support bar drains away. If so, that’s kind of useful, but not nearly as useful (or palpable) as having an impact on the life support bar (aka the one life support metric you can actually *see*).

This is a terrible screw-up, either way. If this consumable did impact your life support bar, it would be *invaluable* in the many, many situations where you are stuck fighting in hazardous conditions. As it stands, the only use I have for this consumable is to sell it at the first opportunity I get – it’s just useless.

11. Liam’s armour quest has got to be the most bizarre and pointless quest ever. Liam asks you to craft some special armour so that… he and Jaal can swap clothes (but they never do – they just get undressed in preparation to do this) as part of an attempt to build cultural bridges by… learning to insult each other…? Seriously, what were the developers smoking when they scripted this? Without the influence of psychotropic drugs, it’s hard to make any sense out of this conceptual car-wreck. Worse, the damn quest item does not disappear from the Special Items section of your inventory (you know, the stuff you can’t sell or destroy) after the quest completes, so I am stuck with this shit (that I should have given to Liam) forever!

12. Interestingly, I had the glitch where one of my companions died in combat, but would not revive after the shooting stopped BUT my save game was not irreversibly corrupted. I went back to the Tempest, saved the game again, and quit to the main menu, quit the game, rebooted, reloaded, and (possibly after swapping squads first) I managed to bring Vetra back to life.

13. Completely agree with you and Luke about the patent ridiculousness of having to go back to the Tempest to manage APEX missions, AVP, and email. If we have the technology in present day to remotely access applications from mobile devices, there is NO WAY that this should not also be possible in a far future society that has FTL travel (and communications), sentient AIs and omni-tools. Logically, you should be able to access this stuff anywhere in Andromeda. At the very least, the otherwise-useless terminal panel on every forward station should allow you to do it (would also be handy for every forward station to have an R&D interface and a buy/sell interface as well, but that’s another story).

The having to trek back to base to OK completed missions and collect rewards, however, is another hang-over from DRAGON AGE: INQUISITION, that was a nuisance there, too.

AVP rewards particularly irk me. It’s great to unlock researchers to periodically give me 100 Milky Way research points, without having to find new pieces of Milky Way tech to scan, but if you don’t check back in at the AVP console on the Tempest *every 45 minutes!* you are missing out on RPs. This is a dumb gameplay design choice that makes absolutely zero in-game sense; does my team of researchers just stop working unless they get a “thanks for the research points!” email from me every 45 minutes?

A far, far better mechanic would be for research points, minerals, consumables, and credits from AVP reward sources to accumulate every 45 minutes (or whatever) but you only get the benefit of them when you stop to collect them. So, say I go out adventuring for six hours, that would be eight 45 minutes blocks of time. When I get back to the Tempest, there should be 800 research points waiting for me to collect, which would – I argue – be a fair reward for me (a) spending a precious Cryo Point to unlock the researchers, and (b) playing the game for six hours. (The one thing ANDROMEDA improves on DA: I is calculating elapsed time based on play time rather than real time – or console clock time, at any rate, but I digress).

14. I also TOTALLY agree with you about the utter stupidity of not being able to enter the Tempest without taking off into space, every damn time. The two reasons this is done don’t really stack up. You could cover the loading time with a different cut scene (like Ryder and his squad walking onto the Tempest, and shucking their armour and weapons, before dispersing through the ship and going their separate ways, possibly with some random squad banter playing over the scene to liven things up). As for what to show outside the windows of the ship, haven’t they already rendered everything you can see planetside, to a higher level of detail than the stuff you see in space, anyway? If you can show the landing areas in full screen, 360 degree views during missions, how hard would it be to show a small slice of that, in a fixed angle, out the windows of the Tempest while rendering the interior of the ship at the same time? Come on, people!

15. Terminals that are flagged as having a side quest to offer on the map, but which display ‘No messages’ when you actually walk up and interact with them? There is one of these on the middle of the Prodromos outpost on Eos that annoys me every time I see it there, mocking me.

16. The journal filing system is atrocious for completed quests (since they are all lumped together, in no coherent order) but it’s pretty bad for new quests, too – will your new quest be filed under ‘Priority Ops’? ‘Allies and Companions’? The planet you picked it up on? Or maybe under ‘Tasks’ (which needs some additional filters almost as badly as the completed quests do).

17. The journal not updating with quest outcomes is bad. This is worse: when I picked up the mission on Aya to find a missing supplier on Voeld, I went to Voeld and toggled tracking on this quest to bring up the navpoint to his last known location. When I pulled up the map to see where to go, the highlighted navpoint had a note on it saying: “When you reached the navpoint, you found the supplier dead, and were ambushed by kett.” *before* I had even gone there! So, it was somewhat anticlimactic that when I reached the navpoint, I found the supplier dead and was ambushed by kett. *facepalm*

18. OK. *deep breath* For future reference, the name of your krogan companion is DRACK (not ‘Drax’). Your turian companion’s name is VETRA.

19. I was not a fan of Cora at the start. That scripted conversation during the prologue mission on Habitat 7, where she reluctantly and defensively admits that she is biotic, as is she is some kind of space leper annoyed me in two ways: (1) never, in the history of the MASS EFFECT series has there ever been any stigma attached to being biotic, and (2) my character is a biotic as well! I really wanted there to be a “Join the club” response, but – not for the last time – the dialogue wheel failed me.

After that, I didn’t find the conversations you have with her to be that interesting, and – since she is a Vanguard, like my character – in combat we would often wind up competing to throw down a Charge on the same target, so she slipped off my squad rotation.

Until I unlocked Shield Boost for her.

That has got to be, hands down, the most useful squadmate ability among the entire crew! It’s even better now that I have levelled it to restore health as well as shields. And, as an additional bonus, I also levelled her to fire Cryo Ammo *all the time* from her shotgun which is great for both crowd control, and setting up Cryo Combos for me to detonate with a well-timed Charge.
What really made me warm to her, though, was her loyalty mission which is both an awesome gameplay experience, and also brings out some terrific character moments for her and your relationship with her.

Team Cora, all the way now! :o)

20. Like you, I scan my way through every planet and anomaly as soon as I arrive in a new system. Also, like you, the unskippable space travel animations are starting to grate on me, at times.

Per the recent announcement from BioWare, it looks like an option to skip these sequences will be patched in at some point. What I would prefer, though, is if things work a little differently when you travel between systems.

I am actually OK with having to sit through the space travel sequences when I am choosing to investigate stuff in-system. Hey, I’m the Pathfinder, I should probably be on the bridge, looking out, when we are discovering planets and derelict spaceships, and so on.

I can also handle having to watch all the pretty animations when I travel to a system for the first time – again, discovery time, all Pathfinders on deck.

However, when we are backtracking to somewhere we’ve already been, it would be great to be able to just tell Kallo: “Set course for the Nexus.” then walk off the bridge and leave him to it. I’d love to be able to spend the travel time checking my email, doing some R&D, reading Codex entries, talking to my shipmates, or whatever, instead of counting stars. Give me a five minute counter (or whatever) and have Kallo comm me when we’re about to arrive; then give me an option to run the landing cutscene (“Bring us in, Kallo.”) or wait until I go up to the bridge and trigger it manually (“I’ll be there in a minute.”). Would that be so hard?

Love your work, and looking forward to the next episode!