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Lessons to learn from Mass Effect: Andromeda quest design

As I promissed, here is a post about the quest design (or lack of it) in Mass Effect: Andromeda, translated from my other blog.

I have been playing ME: Andromeda for about 20 days now. It is a long game, and mostly a boring one, I have to say. Each location has a dozen of small secondary quests that forces the player to move from one point of the map to the other. Other span through several locations, those are the worse because we have to move through all the galaxy. Nothing new so far, it is a known trick to inflate the playing time.

The big problem with ME: Andromeda is that almost all those tasks  are variation of the same. For example, the monoliths quest: in every planet you must activate 3 monoliths, and the visit the chamber. After doing that in two planets, you start to hate the monoliths, the chambers and the stupid task of jump from one place to another to find a console to open a door in the other corner of a hughe scene. This is unavoidable, as it is part of the main quest.

The optional quests are basically variations of the same idea: go to X places (never less than 3) and find X objects. Their narrative weight in the plot is nul, which is not bad, cause after all, they are just secondary missions, but they are a good method to fall asleep. Maybe they are optional, but we all know that no RPG fan would leave more than 10% of the side quests incomplete. Besides, they are supposed to provide progression, what would we do in an RPG without secondary quests?

The original trilogy was much more polished in this aspect. The side quests were trivial, yet they generated some interest.  They were not boring. The narrative in Mass Effect 1/2/3 was light years ahead of ME: Andromeda's, I guess we all know that.

In the end, this is a good leasson for RPG writers: avoid that most your main quest be repeating the same task 3-4 times. It is annoying and the gamers are not stupid (well, maybe some are, but even those will notice). Second: do not inflate your side quests with variations of the same task. Honestly, I expected much more from Bioware.

In the next post, I will be talking about dialogs.

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