'Mass Effect: Andromeda' Character Creator: The nonwhite models are surprisingly lifelike

Have you ever tried to make a nonwhite character in a video game? It doesn't usually go very well.

Most of the time, it's clear the character creator was designed primarily with white characters in mind, so you just end up with a character that looks like a white guy in all ways except for dark skin and an afro — which is almost invariably the only nonwhite hairstyle available in any game.

Despite its other shortcomings, the Mass Effect: Andromeda character creator absolutely nails it in this regard. Of the 18 face presets for males and females, only five or so read as white — and the remaining majority are pretty stunning.

Mass Effect: Andromeda's people of color

When you start a new game in Mass Effect: Andromeda, you can either stick with Ryder's default appearance — which, notably, is still a white dude — or you can create a custom Ryder using one of several presets as a starting point.

And when you look at each preset, it's clear that BioWare took care to design each facial model's structure to look distinguishably different from the next; these aren't simply different combinations of a limited set of noses and eyeball shapes recycled over and over.

Here are screenshots of some faces you can choose from, just to give you an idea of what we're talking about:

'Mass Effect: Andromeda' Sara Ryder head oneMic
'Mass Effect: Andromeda' Sara Ryder head sevenMic
'Mass Effect: Andromeda' Scott Ryder head nineMic
'Mass Effect: Andromeda' Sara Ryder head eightMic
'Mass Effect: Andromeda' Scott Ryder head fourMic
'Mass Effect: Andromeda' Sara Ryder head fourMic

The character creator isn't perfect — it too struggles with the limited choices of black hairstyles that pervade the gaming world at large — but it's undeniable that the presets offer a level of detail and diversity that most games don't stack up against.

More Mass Effect: Andromeda news and updates

For more on everyone's favorite space opera, check out the rest of what Mic has to offer. Here's an essay on the troubling history of colonialism in Mass Effect, a story about the horrifying harassment campaign carried out against a former BioWare employee, a look at the #MakeJaalBi fan movement and an overview of the historic lack of gay romance options in Mass Effect.