How Mass Effect has shown me I’m a real life Pathfinder

Those who know me well – or have recently caught my hypecentric tweets – know that I adore Mass Effect. Ever since first being exposed to the series 8 years ago, I fell in love with the game series and more specifically the universe and lore of it. Taking inspiration from pretty much every great science fiction, the Commander Shepard trilogy were three of the deepest, most cinematic stories I have ever witnessed that can rival that of any movie or novel series around.

After a 5 year absence from omni-tools and biotics, this beloved franchise of mine is finally back with Mass Effect: Andromeda. Marketed almost as a spin-off to the main series, this is BioWare’s most ambitious and adventurous extension to the universe yet. For those unaware with the game, you play as one of the Ryder siblings and member of the Pathfinder team, tasked with finding humanity a new planet to call home in the Andromeda galaxy; 2 billion lightyears from Earth.

Where Mass Effect 2 and 3 moved away from role playing mechanics, inventory management and exploration in favourite of fast paced action linear story branching, Andromeda has gone back to its first game roots and primary focus is exploration. Roughly 30 hours into the game so far, I would guess I’m probably halfway through the game; though I can’t get enough. Every new planet I land on is another opportunity for something I’ve never seen before. The majority of my play time has been spent ignoring my world map as I instead jump into the Nomad, hit the gas and see what I’ll stumble upon. It might be ancient ruins, it might be an alien stronghold that threatens my mission, or it might be something I haven’t even thought of before. Mass Effect: Andromeda was made for every inch of it to be explored. No matter where you go you’ll be rewarded.

Through these hours poured back into this series I love so dearly, role playing as the adventure hungry, out of his depth engineer Scott Ryder, I’ve thought of something I never really have before. My own wanderlust.

Despite lacking the boast of being well travelled, I have always been curious and longing for exploring and adventure. My YouTube history is filled with videos of mysteries and the unknown, feeding that curious side of me fascinated with the unexplained and unsolved. My adoration of all things space and science fiction has only caused me to gaze at the night sky more often than most; staring at stars with wonder what and who might be out there. Almost all of my favourite video games are either ones that reward exploration and digging deeper into the story, or are literally based around exploration. Even my love of Disney falls into this in a way as some of my favourite aspects of my biggest passion is learning behind the scenes stories and projects that never saw the light of day. The more I think about it, it’s no surprise my all time favourite movie is an Indiana Jones adventure. The ultimate adventure movie.

This curous side of me has played a massive part in my personality. I have a true love for discovering new things and finding out the secrets of something – be it real or fictional. This is even true in my writing. I tend to write pieces, both here and on NI DLP Geek, formatted around an opinion on a certain topic. It’s a niche I have found to be very enjoyable to write and for whatever reason people seem to like it. The articles I’ve had the most fun writing however have been the “history” ones as I call them – where I showcased obscure information from Disneyland Paris’ past. They may not be the most read articles I’ve ever done, and a part of me sees them as “cheaty” since I’m more reporting that analysing, but I loved every second I spent on those pieces. The research I did into finding more information on what I wanted to write about. The messages I sent to people asking if they had any stories on them. The speculation I gave on parts that had next to no explanations on. Best of all, the feeling I got when publishing them. The satisfaction that I was shining light into an area of DLP history I previously never knew about, and now sharing it with the world.

I guess all of this is partly why I want to pursue a career into journalism. I want to discover new things I never knew before, ask questions to experts and learn about the unknown, and I want to share my findings to whoever wants to listen. I have a dream, a bucket list goal so to speak, that in the future to co-write (or at least contribute to) a history book with a friend of mine on the development of Walt Disney Studios Park. We’ve only discussed the prospect of this a handful of times but the possibility of all that research, digging around for sources and discovering facts and stories I never knew about – on something I truly love – thrills me.

How I’m going to use this new sense of clarity in everyday life I don’t know, but in a way it’s weirdly comforting. This love of discovering and exploring has always been there, but before I never really gave it much thought or joined the dots; it was just a bunch of things I liked. It is quite encouraging to know though that this little passion of mine is something that goes hand in hand with my passion for writing and goals of journalism. Maybe this is the right path for me, after all.

Like deciphering a Renemant glyph, or the decoding of the Rosetta Stone, Mass Effect: Andromeda has made it all make more sense. I may not be an explorer, I may not be going off to discover planets on a different galaxy for real, or digging up tombs in search of lost relics, but in my own little way I am, and I love it.

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