So it’s been a few days since the release of Mass Effect Andromeda, and I absolutely have to talk about it. Mass Effect Andromeda is a huge game that is packed full of great experiences any BioWare fan will love greatly. But I just wanted to take the chance to highlight some of the things I love about the game as well as some of the things I think need some work. Warning: I’m talking about characters, romances and gameplay. Read with caution!
The story seems to be the exact opposite of the original Mass Effect Trilogy’s. Instead of dealing with alien invaders, you are the new alien in a strange galaxy with some races that are friendly and some races that are not so friendly. While the player felt like they had power as Shepard, a Council Spectre and N7 operative, you feel kind of powerless as Ryder. They’ve been tasked with something they weren’t prepared for, and you’re just as nervous as they are going into things.
But it’s really your crew that makes it easy to endure. The group you assemble is eager to help, excited for new adventures and are all incredibly intelligent. And BioWare always outshines many other RPGs in regards to creating well-rounded and diverse characters. Each has a quirk that makes them unique. Most are fun and humorous. My favorites: the angaran Jaal, a new race to Mass Effect, who loves his people and wears his heart on his sleeve. And Vetra, a crafty female turian who has a soft spot for your plight.
And while they were mum on the romance element, it seems most of the people aboard the Tempest are pursuable. It seems the only non-romanceable Tempest members are Lexi, Kallo and Drack. Though my squad is full, I’m still inching through the game, so I’ve yet to discover what other great characters are waiting for me (hopefully ones I can date).
And, as a staple for BioWare, there is amazing racial and LGBT representation. I’ve run across several homosexual and non-straight characters as well as a DMAB trans woman and another moment with echoes of gender fluidity. I cannot stress enough how important these moments are for minority gamers.
You like Dragon Age: Inquisition? Andromeda’s not much different. The areas (or “planets” here) are open and vast. You could spend a long time just exploring and fighting enemies. I feel like the scale has been pulled back a bit, but I don’t mind that. Sometimes I felt Inquisition was a big game just for the sake of being large, and that can seem like useless padding. They’ve cut back on random quests like discovering points and such. They’re still in the game, just not as frequent. The animations are similar both in and out of combat, though the camera is a bit more even than Dragon Age: Inquisition’s, and there’s no tactical mode.
Your squad is much more useful than before. You can do awesome team attacks to help take out baddies faster. And the wide array of powers available to Ryder is great. I was kind of upset that they had replaced the class system, but you can go through the whole game with just leveling biotics (which is what I’m doing) and you’ll do fine. It’s not like Skyrim. It’s just giving the player more control over what they can have. Plus, the profiles help keep you to a class if you really want the benefits from them.
The customization is also very fun. You can make your armor color whatever you want, the character builder is just as detailed (though I’m still sad that the hair options still leave much to be desired) and you can mod pretty much any piece of equipment. I do feel like I’ve got a lot of control over personal aesthetics. I love that.
Combat triggering is a bit annoying; I could have someone shooting at me, but my gun doesn’t automatically pop out so I can start shooting. I have to do that, which can get frustrating when I’m being swarmed by enemies.
On console, it can be difficult to remember what button you need to press to get what you need, as every button is important for something. Because of that, it’ll take you a moment to remember which button is your scanner, which are your powers and what the difference is between sprinting and jet dashing.
While I see why they brought a vehicle back, (and in the end, I’m glad that they did) the handling on it is still very difficult. It’s big and clunky, so you must take extra care not to drive it off a cliff. Admittedly, it is fun to drive off a cliff sometimes.
Many complained about the animation quality and weird faces, and I can see why they might be concerned. However, the animation problems some have experienced, I have not seen on PS4. I will say that the lip synch needs a bit of work, and there are occasional graphical glitches. But, frankly, the same errors were seen in DA:I. So if DA:I’s glitches didn’t bother you, you won’t be phased by Andromeda’s. It’s still worth noting the imperfections however.
The only other critique I have would be that angaran females seem to look more human than angaran males. They have full lips, curvy hips and other cisgendered human female features. And that can be frustrating; not only does it make no sense, but it’s blatant pandering to cisgendered heterosexual male fanservice. You get the idea here.
At the end of the day, I think Mass Effect Andromeda has been a wonderful experience for me so far. I’m excited to keep adventuring in the game. Ideally, I’ll write a more detailed review of it once I complete the story and the galaxy map. Stay strong and clear!