Originally Posted by Plum
Essentially, Andromeda's basic elevator pitch is "you are head of a group colonizing a far-flung galaxy." That sounds amazing and practically writes itself. Internal politics, mutinies, harsh alien environments, natives you need to negotiate with and understand or kill and conquer. Instead, the game decides to focus on the most generic "chosen one must fight big bad" storyline out there and, as I've explained in other threads, doesn't even accomplish it all that well. Playing through the opening I got no sense of things being alien, or new, I was fighting a race of identical-looking dudes with an evil leader, I was still fighting the Reapers/Geth/Cerberus. Then when I got back to the not-Citadel I just became Shepherd: Slightly Awkward Edition, a guy/girl who has to defeat a faceless alien threat in order to save everyone, I wanted to be Picard: Slightly Awkward Edition instead. The game even sets up a potential power struggle in Cora yet brushes it aside almost immediately.
Actually I don't think that elevator pitch writes itself. It's not an inherently bad place to start but on its own it's pretty neutral. All the amazing
stuff you mentioned could easily be done without leaving the galaxy. As you point out, the game never earns the fact that it is taking place in another galaxy. From the motivations to go there to what it's like when you're there, it never makes for a compelling story. It's like at every turn when the designers had a choice, they went with the most boring option.
One thing I want to know is why go to Andromeda in the first place. Surely not all the star systems in the Milky Way have been explored. I might be wrong on this, but haven't only the planets near the Mass Effect relay network been explored? Doesn't that leave most of the galaxy a mystery? Why is exploring an unexplored planet in another galaxy more desirable than exploring an unexplored planet in our own galaxy? To launch such an expedition, something really unusual and important must have been detected on long range scans. Saying what that was and why it was important enough to launch such an expedition would be a movie elevator pitch that would get me to watch.
Before the reapers
Before the Citadel
Humanity discovered the first mass relay orbiting Pluto
For 3.47 minutes before power was connected during startup sequence
The impossible happened
A gate formed
Through it fell a dead half crystallized man
On his body was a map of a star cluster in the Andromeda galaxy
His name was Alec Ryder