Mass Effect: Andromeda
After years of waiting, fans of the Mass Effect universe are finally able to jump back in for a new beginning across the stars. Thanks to the Andromeda Initiative, Arks have been sent out to the Heleus Cluster within the Andromeda Galaxy. There’s a lot to take in, and the fact that you’re dropped into a new place with everything scattered about, can make the story hard to follow.
To help you out, we’re going to break down the core story of Mass Effect: Andromeda. We won’t focus on side things like loyalty quests or romances (unless they have some bearing on the main plot). Also, this breakdown will reflect our decisions and actions. For a full breakdown, we rescued all of the Arks, completed all loyalty quests (just in case), and were respectful to the Angarans. Any other choices will be mentioned in the breakdown.
Needless to say, there will be a lot of major spoilers ahead. Well, that’s an understatement since we’ll be breaking down the entire story. If you would rather experience it for yourself, this is your last chance to turn back. If you just have to know what happens, read on.
SPOILERS AHEAD! FINAL WARNING!
You will meet tons of NPCs throughout your time with Mass Effect: Andromeda, but not all are as crucial to the central plot as some others. Below, you’ll find some characters whose names will pop up quite often, including members of your crew (we’ve only included actual squadmates since they do influence the story), and other officials you’ll come across on other worlds.
Alec Ryder – Your father and the human Pathfinder.
Dr. Ellen Ryder – Your mother in Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Sara Ryder – Alec’s daughter and one of your options to play as.
Scott Ryder – Alec’s son and the other playable option.
SAM – The AI that is helping to power the Initiative and an invention of Alec Ryder’s.
Jien Garson – Founder of the Andromeda Initiative.
Tiran Kandros – Founder of the militia used for APEX Strike Missions.
Jarun Tann – Director of the Initiative.
Foster Addison – Head of colonial affairs, and the person you’ll deal with when setting up outposts and forging alliances.
Nakmor Kesh – The only Krogan that stood behind to help the Nexus and serves as a bridge between her people and those on the Nexus.
The Archon – Leader of the Kett, a mysterious yet very violent alien race.
The Primus – Second-in-command of the Kett present in the Heleus Cluster.
Moshae Sjefa – A scientist who is looked upon with reverence by the Angarans and serves as one of their trusted leaders.
Evfra – Leader of the Angran Resistance (which pretty much serves as their true government and militia).
Pelessaria “Peebee” B’Sayle – Rebel Asari scientist who studies the Remnant and joins your crew.
Vetra Nyx – Turian smuggler who joins your crew on the Nexus.
Nakmor Drack – Grandfather to Nakmor Kesh, veteran Krogan mercenary, member of your crew.
Cora Harper – Former Asari Commando (even though she’s human), strategist, member of your crew, and next in line for Pathfinder title.
Jaal Ama Darav – Angaran warrior who was a member of the resistance but joins your crew to help forge an alliance.
Liam Kosta – Human member of your team who used to serve as Crisis Control, tends to bend a lot of rules but his heart is definitely in the right place. Will follow you into death if he has to.
Commander Shepard – If you’ve been around for some time, this character needs no introduction. If you’re new, Commander Shepard was the protagonist of the original trilogy, and their discoveries helped lay the foundation of the Andromeda Initiative.
The Benefactor – A mysterious individual who we’ll get to later.
Launching the Andromeda Initiative and First Contact
Mass Effect: Andromeda opens with you on the Hyperion, a space ark full of thousands of humans as well as the equipment needed to find and locate a home for your people. The ark was launched during the original trilogy (though it was a background event that wasn’t shared), in order to give the residents of the Milky Way a chance to survive the Reaper onslaught.
It was founded by Jien Garson, an extraordinarily wealthy, and eccentric, entrepreneur who put up her riches to give everyone a fighting chance. Of course, while she was intelligent and had the funds to help get the project off of the ground, Garson needed help. She turned to many people, but the two important ones were Alec Ryder, a member of N7 doing research into a new type of artificial intelligence assistant (which becomes SAM), and a mysterious “benefactor.” With their help, along with the help of many other geniuses, the Andromeda Initiative was created and in 2185, before the third game in the series, the arks set out towards the Heleus Cluster in the Andromeda galaxy where they were set to investigate “Golden Worlds,” planets thought to be viable for habitation by individuals from the Milky Way.
Upon arrival, things aren’t exactly what everyone hoped they would be. Something called the Scourge grabbed hold of the Hyperion, and the first Pathfinder mission must start immediately. Alec Ryder sets off with his hand-selected crew, which includes the Ryder sibling, Cora Harper, and Liam Kosta, to investigate a Golden World, a planet scanned back from the Milky Way that had potential to sustain human life. Unfortunately the Scourge is doing a lot more than just holding the Hyperion back, it’s making the space around it dangerous, and things only get weirder on the planet.
While their shuttle was on approach, a bolt of lightning tore through it, tearing the ship in half. Now stranded on a planet with weird weather, and even weirder geography, but there’s a new threat there as well in the form of an alien race known as the Kett. This is first contact in Andromeda, a galaxy that was hoped to be home.
The rules of engagement are to approach peacefully, and while the Kett certainly do look intimidating, Ryder approaches cautiously only to learn that the first hostile entities are right before them. They murder a member of your crew, and spend your first touchdown on a planet.
Habitat 7, The Vault, and Weird Weather
On the first planet you visit at the opening of Mass Effect: Andromeda, something very weird becomes apparent about the Heleus Cluster. The weather is dangerously violent, and gravity doesn’t work as it normally should. Huge rock formations float above the ground, giant bolts of lightning strike constantly at the planets surface, the plants are odd, and the creatures are even weirder with the ability to become completely invisible using no technology.
At the center of this all is a tower where the storm seems to be originating from. Alec Ryder knows that in order to survive the planet, he and his team, which includes you, must get to that tower to figure out what the heck is going on. It turns out that tower is a piece of ancient technologh that houses a vault, though we use ancient a bit loosely here. It’s far more advanced than anything in the Milky Way, but it has definitely been on this planet for a very long time. It’s not clear what it’s purpose is just yet, but it is clear that it is able to control the weather on Habitat 7, which is quite useful.
The technology is alien, obviously, but somehow Alec Ryder is able to access the console within the vault. Thanks to SAM, an artificial intelligence (AI) Alec created, he’s able to interface with the tech and activate its cleaning system, beginning the process that will remove the horrible weather from the earth.
Unfortunately, a blast is somehow created, knocking everyone off of the platform.
Birth of a Pathfinder, Journey to the Nexus, and the Lost Arks
That blast that knocked everyone off of the platform of Habitat 7’s vault sent Alec and the Ryder twin you chose into a violent tumble that led to your mask being shattered. While the ancient tech is definitely beginning its cleansing process, it’s not an instant thing and you’re left suffocating thanks to the lack of breathable air. Alec, who it turns out holds many secrets, gives you his own helmet, sacrificing himself but not before passing his Pathfinder rights over to you. Those rights come with an upgrade to your own SAM implant, as well as the authority that goes along with the title. When you awaken, the Hyperion, which has managed to break free of the Scourge, has made its way to the Nexus, its time to meet the rest of the Andromeda Initiative.
When you arrive at the Nexus, the welcoming party everyone assumed would be there is nowhere to be seen. Instead the lights are off, and the area you find yourself in is completely empty. When you finally do find someone who works there, they’re in awe that a Pathfinder has made it. But since you have finally arrived, it’s time to meet the leaders.
It turns out that not only are you the first to arrive, you’re also late. Everyone has been waiting for around 14 months for somebody to come along and things got hectic. So hectic in fact that there was a mutiny and many inhabitants of the Nexus, including all of the Krogans save one, were exiled onto nearby planets, forced to figure out how to survive on their own. During the craziness, Jien Garson, founder of the Andromeda Initiative and friend of Alec Ryder’s, was murdered, and politics aboard the Nexus are shaky. On top of all of that, the other Arks are not only late, but all contact with them has been lost. Nobody has any idea what fate they met.
All the hopes and dreams of the Initiative, the mission placed before you in Mass Effect: Andromeda, it all rests on your shoulders now. With the Turian, Salarian, and Asari Arks considered to be completely lost, the survivors of the Milky Way have only you, the human Pathfinder, to lead them to a new home. Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done. There were several other worlds considered for habitation, much like Habitat 7, but these Golden Worlds all ended up being busts.
That means the journey ahead of the Pathfinder, your journey, will not be an easy one. But it’s one that must be taken.
Your Sibling, Your Early Crew. and Cora’s Dilemma
Now that you’re the Pathfinder, everything that was once your father’s is now yours, including his crew. That crew included one Cora Harper, who was technically next in line to be Pathfinder according to protocol. She took your father choosing you over her quite hard, which can be worrying. It’s not clear at first just how hard she’s taking this new development, but she seems to look at you with resentment.
Don’t worry, though; eventually you find out that she’s just hurt. Your father was a mentor to her and her presence in Mass Effect: Andromeda was a direct result of him convincing her to join the Initiative. She does respect you, though, and eventually comes to see why you were chosen and how capable you truly are.
Before leaving the Nexus, you get a message from another important member of your crew, SAM. As you know, it’s an AI that is used to help run the Andromeda Initiative, but it’s actually much more than that. Your father created it and you have the strongest version of the implant. Also, thanks to your position as Pathfinder, it can augment your abilities, giving you access to different combat Profiles that provide an edge in battle.
There’s something else hidden in SAM – memories that Alec wanted only you to see. However, he didn’t want you to see them just yet, so on top of your primary mission, you must also seek out ways to gain access to the locked memories that hide an important secret.
Also on the Nexus is a reminder that not all is well with your family. Not only did your father die, but during the opening moments when the Scourge took hold of the Hyperion, your sibling’s Cryo Pod malfunctioned. They’re now in a coma where they will be for some time, but don’t worry, as they’re healthy.
The First Outpost and the Remnant
The first planet players are able to fully explore is Eos, a planet in the Pytheas system that was originally marked as a Golden World. Unfortunately, like Habitat 7, it’s not exactly habitable. The air is full of powerful radiation which makes it impossible to live outside of special force fields, which are running out, and the resources are horribly tainted. On top of that, there is a clear presence of the Kett, the same mysterious and threatening alien race you ran into on Habitat 7.
However, there is a silver lining, although it’s a confusing one that you’ll need to work out. There are these towers that are very similar to the one Alec Ryder accessed early on in Mass Effect: Andromeda. While it’s still not clear how they work, it’s worth a shot to at least try and see if they have the same effect (minus the whole losing of someone you love very much part).
While investigating the planet and locating one of those same panels that your father found in the previous vault, you first meet Pelessaria “Peebee” B’Sayle. She’s an eccentric Asari scientist (at least it’s assumed she’s a scientist since her records were lost) who has become one of the Heleus Cluster’s premiere experts on the tech behind the panels and towers. After introducing herself to you rather excitedly (she literally tackles you, then sits on top of you while she rambles on), she explains that these were set up by the Remnant, an ancient technological race that had some interest in this poisoned planet. She’d been trying to get the panels to work for months, but since you (with the power of SAM) were able to interface with ease, she decides to join you to continue her research.
It turns out that that first panel wasn’t like the one you saw in the vault on Habitat 7, but it did seem to be part of a sequence that unlocked… something. With further exploration you find that there are two more that eventually unlock a new area, Eos’ own vault, which is a bit more challenging than the one on Habitat 7. There are security systems in place, and Remnant guards, synthetic beings that are relatively easy to destroy but pack a serious punch. Yet, at its core is that same type of panel that helped on the last, failed Golden World. Of course, that needs a security system which comes in the form of a dark cloud that sweeps through the vault killing anything within. After fleeing, and watching Peebee barely make it out alive, you learn that it’s part of a system. There are more planets with these vaults, and they all seem to lead towards some powerful center. Oddly enough, several of the locations of other vaults are other “failed” Golden Worlds, which should make things interesting.
With the vault activated, though, radiation is slowly being purged from the air, and soon this planet will be like a new, sort of different, Earth. Of course there’s more than just cleaning the air needed to make this a home. You still have that Kett influence, but through them you’ll make a new friend as well.
Nakmor Drack, a Krogan mercenary, found himself on Eos as well, taking out Kett while trying to ensure his people can survive in the Heleus Cluster (they all left the Nexus, but we’ll get to that). With him at your side, you can push back a large chunk of the Kett threat freeing up Eos to become your first colony.
Setting up the colony is a momentous occasion that helps to instill a lot of hope back on the Nexus. It’s the first time real progress has been made within the mission, but it also comes with a serious choice. Do you make your first home a center of scientific research or a military state? While the decision only leads to a small, easily resolved riot, the ramifications for the future are yet to be seen.
After setting up the colony, one thing is known, you need to explore the other vaults you saw on that map, and it’s time to see more of Andromeda.
Aya and the Angaran Resistance
While journeying to your next mission, you fall under siege by a huge Kett warship. Without any combat abilities, your ship is unable to contend, forcing you to seek refuge in the closest planet which turns out to be Aya, the home of the Angaran Resistance. The Angarans are the other prevalent race in the Heleus Cluster, and while they aren’t as hostile as the Kett, they aren’t exactly ready to welcome Ryder and the Tempest’s crew with open arms either.
When you land, you’re escorted (by armed guards) to meet Evfra, the leader of the resistance. The resistance exists because the Kett came and decimated their government and worlds under the guise of a race coming to help them. The Angarans were fooled, with many falling into slavery and many more being killed. Naturally, this doesn’t leave the Angarans as very trusting people. However, thanks to a member of the resistance named Jaal, they’re willing to give you a chance. There’s something different about you that makes you stand out in a good way next to the vicious Kett, but you still must prove yourself to the people. There are Angarans on both Voeld and Havarl that need your help. Go and do what they need and you may be able to forge an alliance. Not only that, but you’ll also gain access to the vault on Aya, which they aren’t planning on letting you near until they trust you.
Voeld is an icy planet while Havarl is tropical. Havarl, which is the home planet of the Angarans, doesn’t have a very strong Kett presence, but it does have the Roekaar, which is another resistance group that hates all aliens (yes, that includes you). There’s also a vault here that has been activated, but something is wrong. It seems as if it wasn’t fully activated, so you’ll need to find the missing link to fix the cycle. Doing so forges peace with the people on Havarl.
Voeld is very heavily influenced by the Kett. There’s a vault here as well, which is what the Kett are so interested in, but they also seem to find a special joy in kidnapping Angarans, including the Moshae a very important figure in Angaran culture who is looked upon as a spiritual leader (and happens to be a rather gifted scientist). The main way to prove yourself to these people is to save her, but that’s going to bring you face to face with the Kett and their cruel reason for being here.
In order to rescue the Moshae, you’ll need to break into a Kett base located on Voeld. It was said that Angaran slaves are being brought there to work and then be killed, but that actually isn’t true. While the Kett do use slaves – something you’ll see often as you travel through Angaran planets in Mass Effect: Andromeda – the ones brought to this base are “chosen” for something else. They are to receive the gift of Exaltation, which is just as creepy as it sounds.
The reason why the Kett are so powerful and advanced is that they actually steal genetic material from other races throughout the universe. By injecting Kett DNA into their chosen, they create new versions with new abilities. They’ll take on characteristics of the original species such as the ability to survive in certain environments and combat prowess. Yet these new beings are 100% Kett. The Angaran aren’t being killed in the traditional sense where bodies are being left to rot on the ground. Their entire identity is being stripped away from them so they can serve a new leader.
The Moshae is here as well, chosen for a special Exaltation, but that’s not all. The Archon, the leader of the Kett within the Heleus Cluster, wants information from her, and it involves the vaults and the Remnant. You’ll find out a bit more about his infatuation with the technological race soon enough though.
Rescuing the Moshae is no small task; a huge battle ensues, filled with plenty of Chosen, which you now know were once Angarans. After saving the Moshae, you have a decision to make: to destroy the base or rescue the people within. Some will definitely want you to destroy it, but they’ll come to understand and accept if you don’t. Still, you can at least kill the person running the base if you want. It’s time to return to Aya, explore its vault, and learn even more about the Remnant.
The Remnant City and Strife Among the Kett
Exploring Aya’s vault will give new information on the Remnant and their network of vaults and terminals. They’re all linked to a central control world, a machine city of sorts called Meridian. Ryder, for good reason, believes that reaching this world will help him to clean all of the planets with Remnant technology on them, making the Heleus Cluster, and eventually Andromeda, safe for his people.
The Archon also wants control of this world. At first it’s thought that he would try to splice the makeup of synthetic beings with the Kett as has been done with the Angaran and countless other races, but he wants control for complete domination. With the power of Meridian, and essentially all of the vaults, he’d be able to control every planet and take what he pleases.
However, the rest of the Kett don’t necessarily agree. You see, the Archon isn’t the actually leader of all the Kett, he’s just head honcho within the Heleus Cluster. More interesting is that not all of the Kett agree with his motivations and methods. They couldn’t care less about the Remnant, and would rather finish their work and head back home (turns out that the Kett do have a home). Most brazen is the Primus, the Archon’s second-in-command. Primus reaches out to you to strike a deal to take down the Archon (though we declined since we make no agreements with monsters such as these).
Yet regardless of what the Kett as a whole think about the Remnant world, the Andromeda Initiative needs it. Without it, all hope is lost. And, if the Kett capture it, everything already built is doomed. Before Ryder can make any moves, though, the location must be sought out. To do that, it’s time to get uncomfortably close to the Archon. Doing so sheds light on an ongoing mystery, the missing Arks.
The Salarian Pathfinder and the Other Missing Arks
In order to figure out the location of Meridian, Mass Effect: Andromeda sees Ryder journeying to the Archon’s own flagship. Upon arrival, it’s discovered that one of the missing Arks, Ark Paarchero of the Salarians, was captured by the Kett, so not all is lost (though all is in a pretty bad position). What starts as a recon mission gets a rescue objective added on top for good measure.
Boarding the Salarian Ark shows that it fared a bit better, physically at least, than the Hyperion. Upon reaching the Ark it turns out that the Salarians willingly surrendered to the Kett in order to buy time (live to fight another day sort of thing), and since then have been tethered to the Archon’s personal ship as he studies them and tries to see how Exalting them would further his species.
Freeing the Ark is no easy task, though. You’ll have to board the Archon’s ship (which was already part of the plan), but you’ll need someone to disable its weaponry so that you can escape before being destroyed. Naturally, things get dicey on the Kett ship. There’s tons of aliens and other beasts to fight, and you see that Salarians aren’t all that the Kett have captured. You face Behemoths, which are exalted Krogan – huge, armored beasts capable of taking tons of damage and dishing out even more. It’s actually pretty sad, especially if you happen to have Drack in your party as it clearly breaks his heart.
Still, you’re able to retrieve the information aboard the ship, which will help you locate Meridian but also informs you that the Archon doesn’t know how to use it just yet. However, he’ll soon learn, because your first meeting with him, in person, happens aboard this ship. He injects you with one of those same syringes you may remember from the Exaltations on Voeld. You don’t turn, but it allows him to look inside you, searching for the root of your powers and your knowledge. While it’s not instant, it will come back to haunt you later on. Afterwards, you’re able to escape but you realize they only captured the Salarians.
However, during your journey’s through other planets leading up to those points you hear whispers of sightings of the other Arks. Turns out that they met a fate more similar to yours, being caught by the Scourge and seeing serious damage to your ship. One was boarded by the Kett, though, and that was the Asari Ark. But seeing as how they tend to be better fighters than the Salarians, they took a critical blow but were able to fight off the Kett for the most part. The Turians have it rougher, with their ship being almost completely destroyed. But they too are present in the Heleus Cluster.
Seeking them out will reunite all the Pathfinders, and make the fight against the Kett a whole lot more interesting.
Like on the Hyperion, things were dicey on all of the Arks. Alec Ryder died leaving you as the human Pathfinder, and the main protagonist of Mass Effect: Androemda. But the Milky Way wasn’t strong just because of the humans, they combined the power of all the races, and doing the same in Mass Effect: Andromeda will give you a better chance at success.
The Salarian Ark is the only one you’ll find as the main part of the story, which we already dove into. The Pathfinder there is Zevin Raeka. She has a strong political sense and a focus on ecological projects which will help a lot with fixing the ecosystems of these new worlds so you all may live. A brilliant scientist and loved by all Salarians,
On the Asari side, you have Sarissa Theris, previously the original Pathfinder’s bodyguard. Turns out that she deserted her predecessor to gain information on the Kett. Finding this out leaves Cora enraged, as she once looked up to Sarissa as a mentor, and you can choose to have her replaced. However, her willingness to make amends and her vast expertise is a good reason to keep her on board.
Avitus Rix awoke on Havarl trapped in his Cryo Pod. It was ejected from the Turian Ark for unknown reasons. Turns out that after running into the Scourge, the ship was left in bad shape and people on board were dying. In order to have some hope of survival for his people, Pathfinder Macen Barro started dropping pods on planets. When you finally find the ark, it’s devoid of life. All the systems are down but there’s a SAM recording that you can restore in the Ark’s SAM Node (SAM’s central computer). Turns out that before death, Macen Barro passed Pathfinder rights over to Avitus Rix who was a close friend and possibly even closer than just that. Though reluctant at first, Avitus, a former member of Spectre, quickly starts doing what he can to help the Nexus, the Initiative, and his people.
Not all four were the original, hand-selected candidates of Alec Ryder, but they’ve all risen to the task and are helping their people along with everyone on the Nexus and their new allies (such as the Angarans) move forward against the Kett. With their knowledge and experience combined, Ryder is able to move ahead with his own plan to deal with Meridian, and hopefully save everyone.
You may notice that there are no Krogan Pathfinders and that’s because of a sad truth that involves quite a bit of prejudice. To add insult to injury, things didn’t go so well for them when they reached the Nexus either.
The Krogan Situation
The Krogans are known for being really tough, and that’s because they are. They fight better than anyone, and can take a serious amount of punishment. While they’ve been allies for some time now, there is still a lot of prejudice and hatred against the warrior race. Because of this, they weren’t even given a seat on the Andromeda Initiative council, though they were allowed to be part of the overall project.
Upon arrival at the Nexus, things weren’t going so well. The Arks weren’t arriving, supplies were running low, and those who had awoken from cryo-sleep were growing impatient. A mutiny broke out and all hell broke loose. People were killed, equipment was being stolen and destroyed, and nobody could bring it under control. The Krogans were awoken to help stop the mutiny in exchange for equal representation on the council. Finally about to receive equality, they did what they did best and squashed the mutiny, leading all of those who rose up to be exiled.
Unfortunately the deal wasn’t on the up and up. Feeling cheated and used, the Krogans decided to leave, save for Nakmor Kesh. She was needed to keep the Nexus in working order, and she stood to hopefully help her people find support from the Nexus from the inside.
When you finally show up and meet up with Drack, he starts to hear rublings about William Spender, the director of Colonial Affairs aboard the Nexus. According to sources, he set the Krogans up. It turns out that it was true. He was helping the mutineers and working to get the Krogans kicked out of the Nexus. He also continued to aid the exiles by stealing supplies for them.
With this coming to light, the Krogans develop more faith in you, and this helps to start repairing the bridge burned by the treachery.
The Remnant City, Jardaan, and the True Origins of the Angara
After discovering the fate of the various Arks and getting the information you can from the Archon’s ship. It’s time to head towards Meridian. The machine planet is being guarded by a Kett ship that is impossible to beat with the Tempest. But with the help of the Pathfinders, a plan that has to do with ghosting technology (just think really advanced stealth), you’re able to get past the Kett and land on what is believed to be Meridian.
It’s like one huge Vault, with tons of Remnant security and plenty of puzzles to be solved. In order to access the central controls, though, you’ll need to interact with two towers that hold powerful revelations within. It turns out that the Remnant aren’t just some cybernetic race. It was created by a highly intelligent alien race called the Jardaan. Even more interesting is the fact that as you move through the city, you start to realize that the Remnant language, the language of the Jardaan, looks a lot like the Angaran language.
As if finding out that the Kett were using the Angarans to create the Chosen wasn’t a hard enough blow against their people, it turns out that their entire race was created by the Jardaan. It’s not clear why they were created, that isn’t really explored in Mass Effect: Andromeda, though we expect it to be explained in later entries. What is clear is that they were being tailored to survive in harsh environments as the vaults slowly cleaned the planets up. We’re not sure if this is some really long experiment, or if perhaps the Angaran are a lot like the Jardaan and this is how they were working to survive. Either way, finding out you were created by machines, which were created by another group of aliens weighed hard on the Angaran people.
Continuing through the city shows that it is not Meridian, but Meridian was here. Meridian was the core of this machine city but was purged so that it could escape the Scourge. The Scourge is the fallout of a weapon used against the Remnant city. It creates warps in space and time, bridging points and destroying much of what it touches but it’s drawn to anything Remnant-related. It’s not stated exactly who the Jardaan were fighting, but it’s clear they were playing for keeps.
All hope is not lost, though, as there is a way to locate the true Meridian; it’s just going to require a bit of work.
Before The Trip to Meridian It’s Time to Dig Into SAM and Your Family
At this point in the story, SAM has gained access to a lot of your father’s memories, and it becomes clear that SAM isn’t just the AI built to help the Andromeda Initiative. In fact, that’s more of a secondary function. Alec Ryder was actually creating the AI to help one specific person, his wife Ellen.
She was dying of a terminal illness thanks to her work with Element Zero. Many people who studied the substance grew sick and work on a cure wasn’t making much progress. Alec figured that if he could make an AI that can tap into the body’s several systems he could halt the progress of the disease, and you know what? It worked. It was able to slow down the process of Ellen’s illness and keep her alive as he worked to save her life. Unfortunately, AI was illegal in the Milky Way thanks to the Geth who destroyed their creators once they became sentient. That fear of a creation taking over overshadowed everyone’s thoughts, and the synthetic race of the Reapers made that resolution stronger.
This caused Alec to be kicked out of the Citadel and discharged from N7, but his work found funding thanks to the Andromeda Initiative and a mysterious benefactor. This benefactor had knowledge of Commander Shepard’s actions from the previous trilogy, and was pushing for a means to save everyone. However, the benefactor refused to reveal who they were, which was a cause for concern for the Initiative but one they were willing to take a chance on. Alec accepted mainly because nobody else would work with him.
SAM was an interesting AI, and a risky one, because he was created to learn from and with Alec and adopt a human approach to things, not just logic, which is very dangerous. Alec’s version, which is the one shared between himself and his children, is stronger than the others created, and potentially the most dangerous. If it were to become completely sentient, it could wreak havoc on the Nexus, which is why he entrusts this version only to his family for now. Its ability to learn with Alec is also why it can interface with the Remnant panels, which isn’t fully explained but still interesting.
The last secret contained within concerns Ellen, who the Ryder siblings, including the one you play as, thought was dead. Alec has a memory of the last time you said goodbye to your mother, but his final memory shows SAM informing him that she’s still alive and safe in cryo sleep. She was placed onto the Hyperion under the name Elizabeth Reily (which shares her normal initials). The reason for the subterfuge with the fake name was that you couldn’t bring unhealthy people into the project. These people were needed to work and repopulate, and they didn’t want to breed disease into the new planets. When the Ryder you play as discovers this, it coincides with when your sibling finally awakens from their coma. You can share the news and look at your mom, but can’t wake her. Waking her now will kill her since there’s still no cure.
This secret is the reason Alec made you Pathfinder and not Cora, like he was supposed to. He couldn’t risk this secret getting out just yet, not before real work on developing the cure had begun, and not while he was still working on and with SAM.
Unfortunately, these secrets aren’t just yours. Remember when the Archon injected you? That gave him access to everything, even to how SAM works. While he can’t take yours, he has a plan that is going to make things very hectic.
Attack on Nexus, Race to Meridian
The Archon needs a SAM to interface with Remnant technology, so he goes to steal one just like yours, and it’s the one in your sibling. Of course, in order to get to your sibling he’s going to have to attack the Nexus and hijack the Hyperion. With the Hyperion and your sibling in his grasp, he makes his way towards Meridian.
Thanks to an idea from Suvi, you are able to find the location of the floating Jardaan city, but there’s no way you can face the Kett armada head on, not even with the help of all the Pathfinders and everyone on the Nexus. Plus, during his attack on the Nexus, the Archon decided to disable your own implant, making accessing Remnant tech difficult, but not impossible. SAM accessed the tech with you, not for you, so you have some know-how about how to do so, though it puts a serious strain on your body. Still, with the ability to use the tech, you head back to the Remnant City that turned out not to be Meridian, and awaken its fleet. With that under your control, you can face the Kett and chase down the Archon.
Meridian is an odd place. It looks like a giant, mechanical sphere on the surface, but that surface is more of a shell. Beneath that is an entirely habitable ecosystem full of an atmosphere, water, flora, technology, and more. It’s not clear if the Jardaan lived in here, or this was the example that Meridian was using to terraform the planets you found the vaults on, but it’s absolutely beautiful, and the Archon wants to destroy it all. He makes a beeline for the center controls so he can shut down the vaults and start to take over the cluster. All the while, he’s torturing your sibling to gain access to SAM.
To slow you down, hundreds of ships and Kett soldiers will try to take you down, but thankfully the other Pathfinders and a large militia are on your side. They’ll take on the Kett threat for you so you can make your way to the Archon.
Even inside the central vault that controls all of Meridian and all the other Vaults, your allies will join to help you push through so you don’t stay distracted by Remnant security or any Kett. You must get to the controls before the Archon does.
When you finally reach the center, the Archon is already there and has cracked SAM. He begins to interface with Meridian and merge with it. But all hope is not lost. Your sibling is still fighting, and since the Archon is really into himself right now and trying to do too many things, he doesn’t even realize that she’s capable of using SAM to help you. It’s time to fight.
Defeating the Archon and What Comes Next
The fight against the Archon isn’t too challenging . With the assistance from your sibling’s SAM, you’re able to reactivate yours as well. Using this, Ryder can hack Meridian in order to override the Archon. Success leads to the Archon’s death as he can’t handle the sudden, massive influx of energy. With him defeated, you can seize control of Meridian and save all the Golden Worlds.
The ending is interesting because it offers a dash of predictability with some choices to be made. After the defeat of the Archon, you can see the Primus as he takes over. No longer second-in-command, the Primus is ready to complete the true Kett mission, and his menacing stare means a storm is on the way.
Not all interesting events will come from the enemy though. During the huge battle with the Kett, the Hyperion was crash landed within Meridian, making this another colonized world. But it’s time to really start thinking about the Andromeda Initiative’s presence in the Heleus Cluster. You’ll have to choose an ambassador which is a great opportunity to look out for the Krogans. While many will disagree, it gives them a seat on the council. You can also choose to put an Angaran, which they may like. Whatever will help to form how you’re viewed in the future.