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Mass Effect: Andromeda (PC) artwork

Mass Effect: Andromeda (PC) review


"It's more Mass Effect. Not mindblowing or gamechanging, but if you're a fan of the series... You're home."


It occurred to me while thinking/drafting/writing some of this out that I have a lot of complaints mixed in with everything I say here so let me be clear: I like the game. I’m a fan of the series as a whole and my experience with the trilogy may paint over this review with the brush of bias. This game can be boiled down to “just more Mass Effect” and for a certain amount of fans, that’s all we need.

I have some fairly strong feelings about how the internet has treated ME:A under a sort of double standard. An Elder Scrolls game gets released with a hundred bugs and graphical hiccups, nobody cares and just makes memes out of it. ME:A comes out and everyone loses their minds about how a triple A studio should have been “more prepared” and they had “five whole years”. Alongside various other logical leaps. Also memes.

Bioware is already taking steps to mitigate the wonky animations and frankly, that's enough for me. I'll be happy to see the patch later on. Yes, you could argue that it should have been done already but shit happens and making games is probably really difficult. I'm not really going to be part of the consumer dictation on what they do or don't do because I'm not in the industry, don't understand how it works and neither do most of us.

Moving on.

We’ll start with the story. The game begins six hundred years after the events of Mass Effect 3. We play as one of the Ryder siblings, put under cryosleep for those last centuries as a variety of “Arks” were prepared for the Reaper invasion and were sent off into Oblivion for the longevity of various species. The “Initiative” was never mentioned in the trilogy despite its rather insane implications but the Asari Councillor did have a sort of throwaway line in ME3 that could have alluded to this.

Not all is golden, however. Right after you wake up you run into something called the Scourge, a silly name for some space magic that destroys some systems and puts your not-used sibling into a coma. (Yep, they’re still in the game. Clever!) After some literal firefighting you meet up with the Nexus, which is effectively the Citadel from the previous trilogy, except mostly under construction. You get sent to Eos in hopes to create a proper colony, but in order to do that you have to discover the secret to some “remnant” technology that is present across the universe as some sort of terraforming project.



This begins to tie into one of my main complaints of the game as a whole; The writing here is some of the weakest in the series. Once again, our entire existence relies on technology we know nothing about and are constantly fighting what is essentially the maintenance workers of the whole thing. They’re basically the stand-in for the Prothean race (At least the third game went and gave us one to talk to). Just another mystery to solve, and I don’t like it. Too many questions; What if one of these “Vaults” breaks down? Why are they even called “vaults?” They don’t store anything. They’re basically maintenance facilities. Find another word.

That’s only the surface. Everything is named the way a ten year old would name their action figures. All the remnant robots are called something to the effect of what they do; “Observers” are oculus-type things with eye beams. “Creepers” are spider-like robots that swarm but don’t do a lot to you. “Nullifiers” have shields. And so on. It doesn’t end there. After you clear Eos of its radiation and return to it a few missions later, it unlocks some new areas and as you’re driving through some of these new areas, someone pipes up on the radio to justify their dumb names. I forgot the exact name of it but driving through one area was basically called “Allshope” or something with the radio saying “The mayor named it this because you gave us such hope!” Some shit like that.



However most of my ire is towards the vault thing. It’s Knights of the Old republic all over again, these vaults being the new Star Forge. Remember that? If you do, then you basically have a hold on how the whole game’s story is structured.

Still, I’m here for the flavor and ME:A has plenty of it. The combat, as you may have heard in other reviews, is good. Not mindblowing (Nothing in ME:A is) but solid enough to be interesting. I mainly only played infiltrator in previous games and I really do miss the Slow-Mo I had to help me line up proper headshots but it’s mitigated with an admittedly more interesting RPG system that’s reminiscent of Mass Effect 1, at least in the sense of scale.

You see: You have access to everything. Everything. You don’t just choose a class in the beginning of the game and stuck with that forever. Nay nay, Instead you opt into “profiles” that give you class-related buffs that are different across the board. You can swap between them as you feel encounters merit, but I have not explored this mechanic yet. As of writing I am level 32 - Of the 135 level cap. It’ll be something I’ll explore more in the NG+ but for now, I’m pleased with my tech abilities. While the trilogy struggled to find a balance between pure action and RPG elements, I think this is a cool style. The only hindrance I can think of is replayability - There’s almost no need to reroll a separate save file unless you just want to experience the early game with an entire different kit. I may do this with a biotic at some point, myself.



On a lore standpoint, this is due to an AI being implanted into you (Not as sexy as it sounds) and being able to “override” motor functions, etc. Hey, this is SciFi.

On a similar vein, loot and crafting is derivative of Dragon Age: Inquisition, which brings its own set of irritations. Frankly, I don’t quite enjoy wasting too much time trying to scour every corner for every scrap of loot. Typically there’s a ton of mods, salvage, weapons, and armor that I will never use. Most players find a set of armor that caters to their playstyle and stick with it (It’s hard to ignore things like shield bonuses and weapon damage). The game doesn’t care, as it throws yet another shotgun at me, I just end up selling it. The only loot that excites me comes in the form of minerals which act as crafting supplies. They’re harder to get than usual and the early-game was a huge pain in the ass as I was forced to use the same equipment for the first 10-15 hours of the game. Early Game Hell is in full effect here folks and I don’t blame some people for finding it a tad boring. Indeed, this is Inquisition in space. Keep that in mind.

Before I get down to a real hate-on let me cover a few things I like:

I like most of the squadmates. Liam and Cora are a bit bland for my tastes but that’s generally been the case with all ME games two starter squadmates.
I like how the squadmates actually move around on the ship. Good touch.
I like the crafting, even though the early game is a pain in the ass.
I like the environments. By extension, I like some of the cities. Kadara Port looks awesome.
I like the vaults themselves, even if I find them weak on a story standpoint.
The moral choices are back and they’re pretty intense. I hope to see the ramifications and I predict another playthrough to ‘correct’ some of them.

Go ahead and assume that stuff I don’t mention is probably at least “adequate”. Let’s get to the real hate.

SAM. SAM is that AI I mentioned earlier that I wish would, for the love of all that is good, would shut the f[insert overlong explicit gag here] up about the survivability. See, when you’re off on your adventures, the environments will usually constantly wear down your life support because, as explained before, the terraforming devices have gone under disuse, or were otherwise turned off. A fine mechanic that makes sense and doesn’t bother me too much except for certain areas, like enemy strongholds, that have pockets of “adequate” breathability and support. So imagine my frustration when I’m fighting enemies, running and ducking for cover which takes me in and out of these compounds... Yes, SAM pipes up every single time it happens. He’ll even interrupt and override squad banter just to tell me that the area is ten less degrees than ideal. Fuck off, SAM.

It doesn’t end with that. When you’re in the NOMAD, a slightly more passable version of the Mako from previous games, you have the chance to probe certain areas for minerals and resources. Usually when you’re in an applicable area, the interface will start a subtle blinking animation to let you know.



For some players, they’ll stop because crafting. Some just want to go complete the next quest and come back to these areas later; They don’t go anywhere to my knowledge.

Of course, SAM cannot WAIT to tell me about it the nanosecond I drive into range of one of these areas. I’ve never played a Zelda game but I think I can sympathize, now more than ever.

There are also some performance issues that put a stop to my being able to record the game for my Youtube channel. Every so often the game effectively becomes a fast slideshow, jagged nonsense that renders the game unplayable. It typically happens when landing to a new planet and exiting my ship but that is not the sole time it happens. It will also happen when I drive next to an enemy camp, lead the Nomad, and it begins again. Every time it happens I’m stuck in an unplayable state for a solid 30 seconds or more while I try to aim my slideshow behind cover so I can not die while the game remembers how to game. I’ve tweaked settings as much as I could and I’ve yet to go all the way to “low” on everything but I shouldn’t have to. My system is not toaster-oven status for another few years.

There’s also some glitches that almost break the game, though I suspect they’d be remedied by reloading an earlier save. Every now and then you’ll have an objective akin to “Clear all enemies”. One time I ran around for five minutes trying to figure out what to do next, only to find out that one enemy was left, inside a wall.



I got lucky, they managed to clip through the wall and I was able to shoot their arm to death. That doesn’t happen every time, the above screenshot was in a generic respawning enemy camp that I couldn’t clear because that idiot was stuck in a rock. Clearing camps usually nets around 250 exp, and I don’t remember if I got it or not.

To Bioware’s credit they’ve already outlined a roadmap to patching a lot of the problems people are facing with this game. I understand if some buyers will wait for a sale, some will wait a few months down the line while some of the major sweeping patches finally hit. For example, they’ve done a week one patch of adding some eye shaders that helped a lot with the uncanny valley issues everyone was having. I also made it to the same spot that one gif where Ryder steals the gun out of someone’s hand with an awkward expression; That did not happen in my game. So they’ve already done some hotfixing, and kudos to them for working on that.

Whether or not I recommend this game comes in two parts. If you’re like me and you’ve been a fan of the franchise from the start, in all of its ups and downs then you’ll feel at home here. It’s more Mass Effect and after five years, I’m content with that.

If you expect ‘more’ from developers, the best tech possible for the year, then some of the technical issues may hamper your enjoyment.

Either way if you’ve played the trilogy and enjoyed it, then it’s very likely you should play this game to see the universe continue. That’s what I’m here for.

4/5

Zydrate's avatar
Featured community review by Zydrate (April 09, 2017)

Zydrate is most active on Steam and Tumblr.

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If you enjoyed this Mass Effect: Andromeda review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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Nightfire posted April 09, 2017:

As a person who does understand how computers and game design work, I will argue that there is quite a bit of a difference between an open-world Bethesda game and a Mass Effect game. I will also argue that it is completely fair to rip on EA/Bioware's plethora of bugs while merely laughing fondly at Bethesda.

Here's why.

Bethesda's games, as aforementioned, are truly "open-world". They are vastly complex and have tens of thousands of moving parts, most of which can interact with one another, and not all of these can be reliably tested. They are full of variables that can potentially have impacts on just about anything else in the game world, thus it is natural and expected for those games to be full of jank, bugs and unexpected hilarity. Bethesda, unfortunately, cannot address this easily. If they were to properly playtest their games to iron all of these problems out, it could take years upon years, and they still might not be able to catch all of them.

The Mass Effect games, by comparison, are not so open-world. Their structures are pretty linear all things considered, aside from a few story branches and choosing which planets you want to travel to at any given time. The conversations are scripted, containing canned text and animations and do not have errant variables interacting with them from the open world. A wandering monster isn't going to interfere with a conversation you're having with someone onboard your ship, for example. It's just not that kind of game. You also can't kill and maim your own followers just for the hell of it to see what happens. Most of the variables in Mass Effect games are tightly controlled and there's a lot less of them.

Thus, the bugs and jank in Mass Effect: Andromeda can be laid entirely at the feet of BioWare, though I suspect that EA has a lot to do with it. EA is notorious for releasing games before they're ready, for the sake of pleasing their shareholders. Notable examples include: Black & White, Star Wars: Battlefront, The Sims series, the Battlefield series, and countless others.

It's good that they're releasing patches, though. I really want to check this game out at some point when it's a bit more serviceable. I hope it shapes up to be somewhat polished in the near future, because right now it's simply not a finished product.
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Zydrate posted April 09, 2017:

"...right now it's simply not a finished product."

I can concur with that statement but it's still fun and that's what I'm here for.
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Nightfire posted April 09, 2017:

It does look fun. Especially the combat, which I really disliked in the first game (and was one reason why I never played any of the others). It actually looks quite polished and the powers look neat. I will pick it up at some point. Who knows, maybe I'll write my own review later on, too...
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jerec posted April 10, 2017:

I've decided to put ME:A on hold for now. I had a mission on Eos glitch - a story mission. I'll download gigabytes of patches for a while, but in the meantime I'll play Persona 5, a game that let me play it with no updates so far, and a game that is remarkably polished for this day and age.

Then back to Zelda. Then Mass Effect.

I loved Fallout: New Vegas, but I know the first month or two on that game was troubled. I can do the same for this game. I don't like the way these "release first, patch later" launches are going, but it seems to be the way it is now.
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Zydrate posted April 10, 2017:

I'm having some major performance issues. I tapped into it on the review but just made a blog post about it. It's very irritating.

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