I think it's probably fair to say that Mass Effect: Andromeda has had a shaky launch. You probably saw all of the gifs and clips doing the rounds on social media of the game's immediate problems. From awful facial animations to embarrassing voice acting, Andromeda was showing all the signs of a game that was rushed to launch, a travesty when you consider that it's reported to have been in development for five years.
The mood a week before release carried on from where Mass Effect
left off. Thousands of gamers either pointing and laughing or getting irate at the developers. Although some of the more nasty interactions will never be justified, I could relate to some of the heart breaking reactions people were having.
I'm a huge fan of the series. Mass Effect 2
sits very high up on my list of the best games of all time. The combination of space opera and third-person shooting pushed all my buttons and the stories it had to tell were the icing on the cake. When Mass Effect
works it feels important and if the rug gets pulled from under it those who are invested get angry.
Fans wanted to delve back in, even though the promise was to move away from Shepherd and his team. This time we had to travel to a different galaxy, learn to love a whole new roster of characters and build up a new hero.
It's almost an impossible task, but I kept telling myself that if it had the combat from Mass Effect 3
and a decent enough story then that would be all I need. Bioware couldn't possibly balls this up, could it?
About an hour or so in, the pointing and laughing from the Twitter eggs seemed to be justified. It was full of poorly-written lines read by characters looking like they're footballer's wives posing for selfies in some shit nightclub. Characters vanish, walk through objects and glitch out. It became clear that Andromeda
needed more time in the oven.
Everything feels unfinished. You wait a few seconds for a door to open as it loads the area behind it, the cover system during combat is flaky and can leave you totally exposed as you shout "For God's sake crouch!" at the telly. Eyes roll back into character's heads and even object interactions float in midair for multiple choices rather than entering a new menu as we're previously used to.
I can't tell you how gutting this all was. I just wanted a glimmer of that feeling that a Mass Effect
game can give you. Making you feel like a leader in the unknown. Bonding with your team, and trying to earn their respect by making important decisions that they can get behind. Exploring, conquering. But every moment wanted to remind you that there's something not right this time.
Make no mistake, Andromeda
should never have been released in this state. If not for the game's quality then for the fanbase. If you have a group of people that love a series this much, you should show them the respect of putting out a game that at the very least meets the technical standards of the previous title. Andromeda
doesn't do that. In almost every way it falls short of what Mass Effect 2
managed to achieve.
It feels like a step back and like everything that Bioware learned from the original trilogy counted for nothing and instead we were back to the first Mass Effect
, but without the story to prop it up.
Take the shooting for example. Mass Effect 3
could hold its head high in this regard. Whereas the first two games felt like RPGs with shooters tacked on, the third felt as good to play as the likes of Gears of War
the combat is floaty. You force yourself through it with little to no satisfaction after boss battles. Enemies are dumb and you'll find one tactic and stick with it.
Navigation is a pain too. The new Galaxy Map tries to impress with its fully rendered solar systems that pan and zoom from planet to planet as you go about your travels but slows everything down as it does so. Flying to a new location is overly long and that length of time drags more and more the further into the game you get.
The new conversation wheel seems better on paper, removing the binary Paragon and Renegade choices and offering more emotions to choose from. But, in practice it removes the understanding of motivation from the protagonist. Without knowing if I was a good or bad guy I had no direction and although that made for more varied conversation, it left me wondering how the hell Ryder should be treating social interactions and he wasn't really leaving his mark on the universe.