Mass Effect: Andromeda Impressions

A galaxy full of new aliens to meet and shoot.

To say that Jennifer and I have been looking forward to Mass Effect: Andromeda would be a bit of an understatement. We both loved the original trilogy, despite the missteps that we felt they took at certain points, so having something new to play around with was a dream come true; even if it meant leaving Shepard and the Milky Way behind.

We both sat down to play through the trial of the full game on the 16th of March to get a feel for the game, and it’s safe to say that our expectations have been met so far, for better or for worse.

Bioware Made A Bioware Game

Mass Effect Andromeda Liam And Ryder.png
A new crew, in a new galaxy

Mass Effect: Andromeda has some big shoes to fill, and Bioware appears to have stepped up to the plate to deliver a game that features some of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of their games. Considering that it has been five years since the release of the last game in the franchise, we were both taken aback by how little progress has been made in the technical department.

Perhaps it will be fixed in a Day One patch (ugh), but we both noticed multiple instances of texture pop-in or textures not loading at all, characters phasing into existence before our very eyes, and framerate drops in both cutscenes and in gameplay. That isn’t to say that the game doesn’t look nice; it does in fact. However, it seems like there’s a definite lack of polish. This isn’t something that is necessarily new to Bioware’s catalog of games, but it’s frustrating to see in a major AAA game.

Bioware seems instead to have put a heavier emphasis, like usual, on the characters and storyline. I won’t venture into spoilers, but the story takes an interesting turn right off the bat; which is good because it’d be boring to have everything go according to plan. I will say that I didn’t expect things to go as badly as they did for the Andromeda Initiative though, and Bioware has set up the board for a decent struggle to get to the bottom of the issues that have come up for the explorers.

The characters themselves exhibit many of the same issues that have been in Bioware games in the past as well, with odd animations and lifeless voice acting (though there’s marked improvements). It’s still early on, but it does feel like most of the folks you talk to sound bored.

It Looks Bleak At First

Mass Effect Andromeda Golden World 7.png
So much for a “Golden World”

I know that this sounds pretty negative, but while there are some issues to wade through, Mass Effect: Andromeda is still pretty damn fun, once I finally got my connection to EA’s online service to work and I was able to play.

I’m glad that Bioware decided to keep the conversation style from Dragon Age: Inquisition, giving a tone as well as a summary of what you’ll say in the dialogue. It’s something that you can turn off as well, if you’d prefer to keep things a little more traditional. It’s a nice thing to keep from the other games, and it makes maintaining a certain tone for Ryder much simpler.

The leveling system has changed a little as well, making it possible to choose any skill from any of the three skill trees; Combat, Biotic, or Tech. It would seem a little overpowered, but the freedom is mitigated a little by the fact that you can choose to activate one of the seven “Profiles”. The profile names are borrowed from the original classes and an Explorer profile. These boost your stats in one way or another, reinforcing the abilities that each of those profiles prioritize.

Like the original Mass Effect though, things appear to get much better. The beginning segment (just like the first game) is just info dump after info dump, and shows you the cast of characters. Luckily, you don’t spend much time before you’re thrown into combat, and it’s gloriously quick. Ryder not only has the ability to use a jetpack to boost upwards, but also can use thrusters to rocket around laterally as well. It makes jumping in and out of the fray much easier, and also makes melee combat much more viable. Just think of it as making you into an even more powerful Vanguard. It’s total freedom of movement, and it rocks.

Taking The Helm Yet Again

Mass Effect Andromeda Nexus Bridge.png
Say hello to Andromeda’s Citadel

Mass Effect: Andromeda doesn’t make a great first impression, and hopefully many of the issues are fixed quickly. However, despite the negative aspects of the game, I still feel compelled to play it. There are so many things I want to see answers to, and I want to play around with the new Mako. I’m ready to see a new galaxy, meet some interesting aliens, and possible kill a few of them too.

I’ll be finishing a full review as soon as I can, since I’m waiting on a full copy to arrive sometime in the next week.

And if you have any questions that are nagging at your mind, be sure to let me know. I’d be happy to answer!

 

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10 thoughts on “Mass Effect: Andromeda Impressions

  1. There is going to be a day one patch (rolls eyes) because why should anyone ship games that are completely finished anymore? But apparently the animations are not set to be fixed, and the devs aren’t discussing what may or may not be addressed in future patches. So… weird face animations will continue, I suppose.

    As always, I’ll be playing for the story, and I played through Inquisition for the first time on the PS3, in all its shiny-skinned, glistening-haired glory, so as long as the animations aren’t game-breakingly bad, I’ll be content with interesting characters, an in-depth story, and more fun concepts to analyze (of course haha).

    It seems like this has become a hallmark of BioWare, though: they present excellent stories, but then fall a little flat with animations and other mechanic-type issues. But I’ll chime in again next Wednesday after I’ve had a chance to play the game, myself!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Spot on. Bioware has always had Bioware problems, which are almost always technical and animation issues. They haven’t been game breaking at all, but like I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere (Like on Late Night Session: https://thelatenightsession.com/2017/03/18/mass-effect-andromeda-initial-thoughts/), we’ve been spoiled a bit.

      Most of the pieces I’ve read that don’t seem like whining have sounded the same. It’s a slow start that widens out as the game progresses; just like the first Mass Effect.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Glad to hear that you like it. I’ve been a bit worried about some early impressions trashing the game, most notably Kotaku, but again much of the game hasn’t been exposed yet. All in all to me it sounds like problems from previous ME game are still apparent, yet for me those were never game breaking. As said above I play bioware games for characters and story, not so much the technical aspects. I do think ME Andromeda will have a tough time though, I’m assuming people are still bitter about ME3 endings and it may have an uphill battle to fight. I do find some of the early criticisms way too but picky at times.

    Either way I’m glad I have this pre-ordered!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nah you’re write up is tame compared to a few others I’ve read, you’ve helped me feel way less worried about this game =D which I appreciate

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I too thought it left a bad first impression, especially with the character creator, but once I made planetfall on Habitat 7 my fears were washed away. I love the sense of discovery and exploration returning to the series, which I feel has been missing in large chunks since the first game. Anyway, I’m only four hours in but I am really liking it a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My experience with Andromeda (about 65 hours of gameplay) started off pretty average. When compared to the awesome openings of Mass Effect 2, and 3 I expected this one to at least be in the ballpark of those games, but it wasn’t. I do like how this game has more in common with Mass Effect 1 than 2, and 3 did though. I love exploring, talking to my companions, and doing their loyalty missions. I’m really enjoying it, but it does feel dated at times.

    Liked by 1 person

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