‘Mass Effect Andromeda’ Arrives at the Perfect Time to Talk About Immigration

Samantha Loveridge

The Mass Effect Andromeda release date is just around the corner and it arrives at a time where the political landscape is making many of us question our identity and our place in the world. Whether it’s Brexit for the UK, Trump’s recent ‘travel ban’ or the European Migrant Crisis, there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to identity and belonging and the Mass Effect Andromeda story is touching on all of that.

Or at least these are issues that are going to be tackled in part within Mass Effect Andromeda. The Ryder Twins and the rest of the Andromeda Initiative travel to the Andromeda galaxy and arrive as total outsiders.

“One of the themes of this game is about humility,” explained Mass Effect Andromeda Producer, Fabrice Condominas. “You are the alien, but you’re not only the alien, you’re also not as strong as the guys that are already there. You’re weaker or at least at the same level. Everything you learn, you have lessons to take from those guys. You’re in their home.”

mass effect andromeda
The Kett are the resident species in Andromeda and the Milky Way folks are very much an unknown entity

For many gamers, being in such a position is going to be unfamiliar territory. The implications of being the outsider, intruder and alien isn’t a feeling that’s oft-explored in AAA titles.

“For us, it’s a lesson in humility. And in the context of today – and we didn’t predict it – if people can take that out of this game, that would be a huge victory for us.”

Having played the first few hours of Mass Effect Andromeda at a preview event, the feeling that you’re out of your depth in Andromeda is apparent from the opening scenes. As you’ll know from the game’s launch trailer, the Andromeda Initiative’s plan to set out the Golden Worlds as the new locations for Milky Way species goes very, very wrong.

“We didn’t really predict the release date timing because we started [making Mass Effect Andromeda] five years ago,” added Condominas. “But what I would say is that I hope that it will resonate, arriving now in a political context in the world, which is difficult.

“We have a lot of people closing their doors to refugees and maybe players will think twice when playing the game about judging people. Maybe they will think, ‘Well are we racist if we close the doors to the Arcs?’ After all, you’re the intruder.”

These Arcs are the ships carrying the various Milky Way species to Andromeda in their cryo beds, from the humans to the salarians and turians. In some ways, they are almost unintentional metaphors for countries and can be perceived as a serious commentary on the issues of today.

Mass Effect Andromeda
One small step for humanity and a conversation on immigration?

Of course, tackling major modern-day issues within a futuristic context certainly isn’t new. It’s always been science fiction’s hallmark and main appeal.

“Science fiction is never about what’s going to happen in the future, it’s about what’s happening now and you project the stories into the future, for a lot of reasons. But this is the very definition of science fiction.

“As a studio, at BioWare, we have always tried to do meaningful entertainment. Whether we succeed in that, that’s not for us to say. But we try.”

Mass Effect Andromeda launches in the US on March 21 and in Europe on March 23 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

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Samantha Loveridge
Sam is the UK Gaming Editor at Fandom. She's been addicted to games since she first got her paws on a GameBoy and hasn't looked back.
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