The build up in the Mass Effect trilogy toward the final showdown against the Reapers in the third game was the stuff that legends are made of. There was a lot at stake and a lot of weight on the shoulders of gamers to finish the fight. Well, BioWare decided to take a step back from that with Andromeda.
Games Radar captured some key quotes from an interview that BioWare's creative director, Mac Walters, had with Games Radar's sister publication, OXM. In the interview, Walters explains that they've lowered the stakes in Mass Effect: Andromeda so it's no longer one of those things where it comes across as if the plot is making people feel as if they have to abandon all other side-quests in order to complete the main mission. Walters explains...
We don't have to go that high, because the overall stakes are a little bit lighter in the sense that we want people to feel like they have the opportunity to explore, we want them to feel like, you know what, there's this whole planet that's got its whole separate story which feels tied to the critical path, but it's not crucial to my success in the critical path necessarily. I want to be able to enjoy it, I just want to go off and do that, and not feel like I'm turning my back on people or humanity or anything like that.
It's a smart assessment from the point of view of the player.
In Mass Effect 1 the threat was a lot more subversive... it was happening under various veiled layers and didn't immediately make itself a race against time. It was different from what was introduced in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, where worlds were being destroyed and people were dying rather quickly. It really did feel as if wasting time taking on petty side-quests elsewhere in the galaxy was a legitimate waste of time.
BioWare decided to change things up with Mass Effect: Andromeda both by altering the stakes and importance of side-quests and by lessening the stakes and importance of the overall story arc at the beginning of the game. Instead of worrying and trying to spend your time racing through the story to get to the end, you're able to spend more time savoring the adventure; it's about devouring the experience and carving a path through the galaxy at your own pace.
I don't know how well this will go down with fans of Mass Effect who may have become accustomed to the more break-neck pace of the last game, but I'm sure it may appeal more to casual fans who are just getting accustomed to the series and want to take it slow.
Previously it was mentioned that side-quests in Mass Effect: Andromeda would be better intertwined with the main quests, giving players more significant things to do while traveling through the galaxy. This also ties into the fact that some side-quests will span multiple planets, sending players all over before they can complete it, and it may even tie back into the main quest line. Despite the fact that Walters claims that Mass Effect: Andromeda is lowering the stakes, it definitely sounds like they raised their ambitions for the way the questing system works in the game.