Mass Effect Andromeda – Initial thoughts

About 10 hours in, a few planets scanned, a full team and a cool ship.  I think I have a decent idea of what’s going on in Mass Effect Andromeda.

Cutting to the chase

I’ve already gone on about the troubled release of Mass Effect Andromeda, so I don’t need to re-hash it all.

What I can say though is that this game is still a little ropey.

NPCs just popping in well after they should already be in a room or environment, odd freezing/loading issues when travelling across a planet and funny AI allies that seem to end up all over the place.

Truth is, though, that these aren’t really game-breaking or even really a problem (for the most part). It absolutely shows a lack of polish and bug-fixing, but for all of the flaws it lays out, it does a nice job of being a Mass Effect game, too.

Feels right

I don’t know how to quite describe it, other than the game looks, sounds and “feels” like a Mass Effect game.  Sure, we have the return of races such as the Asari and Krogans, giving some familiarity.  But it’s something else.  Andromeda feels like it’s a part of the Mass Effect universe on a more substantial level.

It might well be the fact that I’m running around trying appease and eventually romance my whole crew.  It might just be the omni-blade and biotic abilites, but there’s something here that makes me feel comfortable and familiar, even though a lot of it is new.

Strong changes

I really like how mobile and agile my Ryder feels.  With jet-enhanced jumps, a biotic dash and auto-cover when in combat.  There’s a really nice fluid feel to movement and combat.  It isn’t perfect.  The auto-cover is a little hit and miss, but it works for the most part.

The range of abilities and weapons/tech that I can potentially have at my disposal is awesome.  Ben Ryder will be the ultimate biotic warrior by the time I’m finished!

Graphically the worlds and environments look stunning.  As does the Andromeda galaxy when you’re moving from system to system.  There’s plenty of opportunity for screenshots, with some really lush backdrops.

Not so strong….

One thing that Mass Effect Andromeda was torn-apart for was the use of facial expressions and over-active eyeballs.

It isn’t that bad, and certainly not as bad as some of the videos I’ve seen.  However, I imagine that’s due to patches post-release and being fixed-up. 

Problem is, those facial movements don’t always relay the emotion of what’s being said.  This is fine, because we’re all used to older games doing this, right?  When it clearly tries so hard to convey emotion though, you realise it isn’t hitting the mark, and that’s when it become apparent.

Worse still, some of the voice acting is a little bit naff.  I’ve been in scenarios where people are dying or doing something quite dramatic and the vocal delivery betrays the moment as much as the facial expressions. I should note that some characters are pretty good, but the inconsistency only serves to highlight the bad against the good.

It’s a shame, because the heart and sincerity in most of the original Mass Effect trilogy was a really strong part of what kept me (and presumably most others) engaged.

Moving on

Truth is, it isn’t so bad that it’s “literally unplayable” (I hate how overused this term has become when people take issue with a game).  It’s a AAA game that seems to have the polish and finish of something with half the budget.

That isn’t stopping me enjoying it, or keeping me playing.  I’m invested now and I want to see it through.  It feels like Mass Effect, and I’ve recaptured that sense of needing to see what else this universe has to offer.

With a full squad, and some personalities to tackle the Kett with, I’m confident I’m going to have a good time seeing this through.

For now, though, it’s fun and I really wanna romance an Asari (don’t judge me!), so I’m all-in at this point.

It hasn’t given me any reason to think it isn’t worth playing through fully, and I expect I’ve seen the worst of what’s left of the rough edges.  All that does is leave me to enjoy it for what it is, and that is exactly what I expect to do.

Andromeda still carries the soul of the Mass Effect series.  It’s just in a newer, shinier body that isn’t quite as developed as it needs to be, to carry the torch for the series.

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