Above: Mass Effect: Andromeda screenshot courtesy Electronic Arts
I'm racing along in the delightfully bouncy Nomad, soaking in the sights of a new world and hunting for rocks like a gun-toting geologist, when I'm interrupted. I have to read an email. Back in primitive 2017, I'd be able to check my phone. In the future portrayed by Mass Effect: Andromeda, where I have a supercomputer on my wrist and an AI in my skull, browsing my digital correspondence necessitates a return to my ship. To the Tempest, a spaceship that I hate so very, very much.
Nothing about this cursed vessel is simple. It's the only place in the cluster where I can access my inbox, and the only place I can chat to my companions and crew. But even the easiest of tasks, like reading an email, ends up becoming a rigamarole. Presumably in an effort to remind everybody that it's a spaceship, the Tempest launches back into space the moment it's boarded. If I want to return to my quest—which, let's remember, I only put on hold to read email—I have to jump back into the galaxy map, select the world, and find a landing zone.
I don't want to get all Salarian about it, but the real issue is a lack of efficiency. The Tempest is not a particularly large ship, but it's a chore to navigate. Even doors rebel against common sense, many of them switching between automatic and manual. How do doors work in the future? I'm still not sure.
Or let's say I want to shoot the breeze with Cora, The One With The Hair. She lives in the hydroponics lab, because nobody on the Tempest actually sleeps in the crew quarters. Chances are, however, that I won't find her there. Maybe she's in the room with the vaguely futuristic consoles? Maybe she's staring vacantly at the Nomad in the garage?
Giving companions the freedom to muck about in different parts of the ship creates a paper-thin illusion of life aboard ship, but draws attention to how robotic the crew's routines are, and how very little there actually is to do aboard the Tempest.
All of this is nothing when compared to SAM. My nemesis. Not content with making sure I know what the temperature is every time I step off the ship, he likes to chime in on the Tempest, too. He's been reminding me about multiplayer strike teams for 50 hours. Maybe he'd stop if I played a game, but the moment I let an AI break my will, that's when they win.
Ultimately, the Tempest is a monument to the mundane busywork that pervades Andromeda, a game as bloated and laden with repetitive tasks as it is gargantuan. Instead of improving on the Normandy, the Tempest builds on its mistakes, repeating them when it's not adding new ones. It might be the perfect ship for Andromeda—a soulless reproduction of its predecessor that's not different enough to be memorable, nor similar enough to evoke fond nostalgia.