Community Review: Mass Effect Andromeda

Image: Kotaku

The world of Andromeda can be a weird place sometimes.

The best explanation I've seen of Andromeda is that it's very much like the original Mass Effect, in that you have to dig through the odd bit of jank to get to the gold. Another line that I remember about the original that rings true for Andromeda: the game is in dire need of an editor.

After going through the rigmarole of moving house this weekend, I fired Andromeda back up for a little tour of the galaxy. It's been a rollercoaster for me: the performance (on PC) has been good, some of the missions have been fun, and I'm enjoying the combat throughout.

But it also feels like an awful amount of busy work. The "tasks" tab in your journal is basically a list of World of Warcraft style fetch quests that feels almost insulting. It's 2017. Aren't we past that kind of brazen, monotonous grind? And the delay from planet to planet is killing me. It's almost like Bioware really wanted to give a cinematic, epic feel to everything you do - forgetting you'll be repeating the same basic actions hundreds of times within a single session. It's infuriating.

The facial animations I'm a little more forgiving on. There's a multitude of reasons why facial animations and movements might be off, things that could have been out of the hands of the developers. The Frostbite engine can do some great things, but it's never been asked to focus on faces quite so much before - and I imagine as a result of Andromeda its animation tools will get a serious upgrade.

I've got a long way to go through Andromeda, and I'm enjoying myself. But I'm also finding bits and pieces that genuinely don't need to be there: quests that run on for far too long, vaults that seem like busy work by the time you're done with them, needless fetch quests, bits and pieces that seem almost disrespectful of the player's time. Again, still having fun - but it's harder work than I expected.

How are you finding Mass Effect: Andromeda?


    Loving it personally. Is it a little janky? Sure. But it is still a damn good game. Wife is having a blast as well and its her first Mass Effect game.

    The game is not perfect, but it is what it promised to be - a tale about discovering a whole new universe. There have been several moments so far that have left me impressed - especially some of the flora and fauna of these new planets. A little bit frustrating that we're discovering a whole new universe only to find that all intelligent life forms look the same as in our universe (i.e. head on shoulders, torso, arms, legs). I thought it was a lost opportunity - in a new universe, who's to say that our evolutionary results would be the same in another universe. Overall, enjoying it so far, but only about 10 hours in.

    Well I'm loving it. I've seen minor bugs (X1) but nothing game breaking or completely outrageous like YouTube was trying to tell me. There is that one particular npc that looks awful but the rest are ok.
    What I'm really enjoying is the exploration and the setting up of colonies rather than just defending from an invasion.

    Last edited 27/03/17 11:30 am

    I asked some questions of this game in Hayley's Andromeda article last week, and I don't feel like this game is as bad as the negative hype has made it out to be; I've thoroughly enjoyed it so far and I'm happy I bought it. I really love the story so far (I've only just got up to probably Chapter 2/3?).

    It's fun. The action is great. The storyline is fairly engaging. Feels like the best of the various Mass Effect games rolled into one in a new universe. I like it. The facial animations aren't totally game breaking unless you deliberately take a screenshot, and it's on par with the previous ME games.

    But it has a few issues. The UI is absolutely awful, even playing with a controller it feels like a mess. It's ME1 level bad with all of the annoying inventory juggling. The constant barrage of fetch quests and "Go here, scan this, come back!" quests get annoying and there's no compelling reason to do most of them. And the star map is a pain in the arse - the first time you see that sweeping transition from planet to planet, it looks awesome - but then it becomes an unskippable annoyance.

      (Playing on PS4) I'm also noticing some weird glitches on quest icons not disappearing, my active quest constantly being overwritten by another quest and party members shooting in the opposite direction (mainly just Jaal but on multiple occasions).
      The audio will also cut out sometimes or just stay on one note, had a ship landing sound play for a few minutes while my controller flipped out rumbling. It also freezes briefly on Eos whenever I enter an area.
      I'm enjoying it though and nothing is game breaking, just slightly annoying or funny.

    Mass Effect Andromeda is one of those games where it’s easy to pick out its faults (Animations, some questionable writing, some side questions) and run with it. It’s clear that this is a game where outside influences can shape how you’ll enjoy the game. Whether it’s watching the cringy Youtube videos picking out the above faults. What they don’t show you though is that those faults represent maybe a minute in total of your experience in Andromeda.

    For me, the issues that cropped up where outweighed by the good experiences I was having. This game is more along the lines of a sequel to Mass Effect 1 than it is to the entire previous Trilogy that came before it. It follows in the footsteps of player discovery, learning what this new galaxy has to show you and where that journey will take you. Gone is the player urgency of the last 2 Mass Effect games where it was a race against destruction. Now, it feels like taking your time, completing side quests actually matters to the overall plot. You’re always helping someone and it feels like your actions actually matter this time around as you see the world change and people react.

    The highlights for me have been setting foot on a new world, opening up the map and just seeing how big it is. The first planet especially was unlike anything we’ve seen in Mass Effect before because it actually looked alien. Yet once you get set free on the second planet, and complete the main plot thread (this is unfortunately where the 10 hour trial ends), the game opens up and sets you loose and this is where Mass Effect Andromeda really shines.

    There are just so many people to talk to and learn all kinds of things from, there are secrets to uncover and just a general sense of finding out things. Combat is brilliant and fast, playing on Hardcore for my first run; I feel like a vulnerable explorer tackling enemies as opposed to a super solider that Shepard was.

    Ryder is a great main character, different enough from Shepard and to me, stands out from his/her show as their own person. The new dialogue system is great and allows you some good flexibility in how you respond in conversations, allow you to make Ryder really your own.

    Overall, I’m only roughly 35% into the game but according to Origin I’ve already racked up 40 hours of play time. I’m enjoying every minute of my time in Andromeda and can’t wait to get back into it each night after work. To me, this is a brilliant spin off from the main trilogy.

    Pretty much in agreement.

    The galaxy map is annoying. It feels like the spaceship morphs into a camera on a stick.

    Some of the writing is a little silly. In one situation the leader of a xenophobic faction goes from cursing you for killing all his men to giving his support at the drop of a hat. On the whole the writing is better than that though.

    The multiplayer is pretty fun. But I got bad lag and disconnects until I didn't. And why do you have to boot me to the main menu when I quit you, multiplayer? I was standing in the ship! Send me back there.

    On the whole I'm enjoying myself, though. The world is pretty, the action is fun, and the dialogue is mostly enjoyable.

    I am thoroughly enjoying it. I haven't read one review, or any other in depth article about the game, as such I don't have any preconceived notions about the game. The facial animations are a bit off putting, but eh, they do not define the game. I am really loving the multiplayer too, but I have been having CTD's way more often than I would like, it also always happens during the last couple of waves. I have lost a lot of progression due to this... so that has marred the experience somewhat. It will no doubt be fixed sooner or later.
    Overall I would give it a solid 7.5/10

    Playing it on PC and having a great time with it. Currently around 22 hours in. Can't deny there are issues, but they're pretty easy to look past in my opinion. I seriously don't get the hate for this game. The average critics score is 76 on Metacritic and I think that's pretty accurate. It's fun, and I'll no doubt play it multiple times, but it's not super memorable.

    Oh, and at the risk of getting downvoted to hell, it's way more enjoyable than BotW.

    Andromeda is the first game in some time that has kept me awake gaming. Chasing one more mission. Running around in the nomad. Talking to every damned person with dialogue options.

    And it's good! Solid stuff. Captivating, even. That sense of mystery from ME1 has returned, only this time it isn't a series of gated corridors, but a free roaming sandbox.

    Basically, the exact same changes Bioware made to Dragon Age Inquisition are in evidence, but far less monotonous and confusing... though, admittedly, I love this IP.

    10 hours in, 8/10. May go up as the story expands and my settlements grow :)

    Meh, just meh.

    It doesn't feel like an adventure (me1) and it lacks any sort of urgency (me2). The human characters are boring and I feel like my observation in another thread about characters largely lacking heart is true. There are so far very few standouts in terms of character interaction, with the exceptions of some conversations between between Vittra and Drak.

    I haven't found a track in game yet that has sucked me in. It all feels pretty generic.

    The augments aim to make the game more interesting, but I feel like being able to easily research them makes combat cheap (heat seeking Falcon with plasma grenades anyone).

    It largely feels like there were too many hands in this pot, trying to pull it in different directions, but instead just manage to make the game feel paper thin. The game can't manage to hide its faults weaknesses behind its strength.

    Would give it 3/5 Nic Cages and one pointlessly slow menu (galaxy map).

    I'm loving it. The story, the characters, and the gameplay all feel very ME.

    I occasionally struggle with the devolution of facial graphics, both on my Ryder (who, despite my best efforts, looks like she has some British bulldog in her ancestry) and the NPCs. It's difficult to understand, especially since the rest of the graphics are so good.

    My biggest beef with the game was that my pre-order from EB was not physical media, but digital download codes. Had I pre-ordered online I'd have already pre-loaded all that crap, and been ready to go on launch day, but instead I had 43Gb to download. Choice words were had.

    I played pretty much the entire weekend, and what I now feel is that this is such a Mass Effect game that I don't even care about the handful of bits of writing that make me barf, animations that make me look away and just listen to the voice-acting, and the fact Bioware seems to have borrowed Bethesda's character-designers, such that not one single character in the entire game is even moderately attractive.

    It's so good, you guys. SO GOOD. It's that momentum that it builds, always pushing a little further forward, escalating, pushing some more, escalating some more, and revealing tidbits of lore at every turn til you're suddenly deep, deep, deeeeep underwater with no idea how you're still breathing.

      I somehow seem to get facial expressions that always remind me of a cheap CGI animated kids program.... I can't make a decent looking Ryder. But game is fine.

      Love this description. It's the first single player game in ages where I'm annoyed because I'm at work and not at home experiencing it. So good.

      Spot on! It's rough as guts, at times... but it's Mass Effect! All shiny, and new :)

      Agree 100%. I'm finding it difficult to put the controller down, even with all it's faults.

      In fact, why am I here? Back to it!

    Unsurprisingly ME: A uses a lot of the story and world development tricks they used when making Dragon Age: Inquisition. The problem is that game was so long that they got noticeable by the end of that game and I’m expecting them to be getting really old by the end of ME:A.

    That said, it’s still pretty good game. Nobody has asked me to collect any shards yet either.

    Its enjoyable enough, but I keep breaking the game.

    Invisible enemies on Eos when I assault the Kett base.

    A broken ass Remnant Architect that couldn't figure out its next battle sequence for a good 5 minutes before I could put its out of its misery.

    Pivotal things not being scripted properly - I finished the Architect and Kett base before my crew informed me of the dropped radiation levels and that I should visit (and no one on Eos giving a toss that I just destroyed two existential threats to it). Or after rescuing the Mushae, I returned to the Nexus before visiting the vault, and no one gave two fucks that I established successful first contact.

    Lastly, surely Bioware could have thought up more than 4 different animals to place on each planet.

    Last edited 27/03/17 1:27 pm

      Gotta say, I agree with things not being scripted properly. I rescued some guys before being asked to, got the whole "thank you, we trust you now" speech when I spoke to the quest-giver for the first time, then had to speak to her again so she could actually give me the quest before it would complete in my journal.

      Had a couple of experiences like that.

    This is the first single player game in years that has sucked me in to the point where I have trouble stopping. The problem with open world games is, because they require so much time investment to complete, they need to engage with their story/characters, the gameplay (aka combat/questing/missions), and/or the world itself (setting/exploration). From my point of view, a game needs to be good at 2 of these to be worth putting the time into.

    Mass Effect Andromeda, in my opinion, does all 3 well enough to keep me hooked (I've punched out 25 hours already, playing every day since release). I've managed to get pretty invested in the story and the characters are engaging, especially on the Tempest. The Combat is super fun, and can be challenging at times. It falls into the trap of having a few too many fetch quests, but pretty much every open world game does this, and MEA has enough interesting missions to make it seem relatively varied.

    The thing that stands out though is the galaxy itself and the planets you can explore. This game is huge, and each planet looks unique and beautiful. I find myself just standing there looking at the scenery for periods of time. Also, there is plenty to do and plenty of people to talk to on each world. Also, the Tempest is a fantastic looking ship and some of the views outside the window are incredible.

    Overall I've not had a problem with the UI. There are some annoying things about it, but they are managable. Some controls are awkward. I also found myself having to go into the keybind settings to check occasionally. Also, the animation issues are basically non-existent. It only really affects the human characters. All the Aliens are superbly animated. I also wish I could skip some of the takeoff/landing sequences which you see a fair bit.

    All in all, what I like about this game, it gives me that sense of wonder. You're a starship captain through Ryder, and you're exploring other worlds. They've captured this sense perfectly, and I'm more than happy to dive into this sensation whenever I can. This is why I'm enjoying it so much, and why the faults dont really matter to me. If you loved the previous games or like space games in general, definitely try this one out.

    Really enjoying single player and I quite like the new crew. Major gripes are the fact that it crashes quite a lot for me (PS4) and the music isn't up to scratch when compared to the original trilogy.

    Multiplayer has been a blast so far (when I'm in a match with minimal lag). It still needs some updates to change the balance of the combat but I can see it being just as enjoyable as ME3's in the future.

    Overall, I think the reviews/metacritic rating are fair given the technical issues on launch. I'm loving my time with it so far but it's in dire need of some patches to fix things.

    Last edited 27/03/17 1:46 pm

    Really enjoying it.

    Played ME1/2/3 when they came out, with repeat playthroughs on all of them except ME3 (the ending annoyed me too much to go through it again, but I did recently start another trilogy playthrough, so we'll see).

    Basically it's all the best bits of each of those previous games (along with some of the not so good bits) all packaged into a new game.

    I am absolutely loving the "exploration" aspect, I've already found heaps of things that many of my friends playing it have missed while exploring, and I'm far behind them in terms of "story progress", but at the same time having a much easier time of things so far (due to being better equipped and character progressed due to extra XP and resources).

    I love driving the Nomad around (but honestly, I didn't hate driving the Mako around.. I hated that the places you got to drive it were all like Alps-styled mountain ranges with Mount Everests everywhere!)

    Combat is a lot of fun, once you lose the ME1/2/3 style instinct to take cover and stay there - still need to take cover, but now you need to be aware of your surroundings and move around more, because the AI will flank you etc.

    Yes, some of the animation is terrible - completely wooden faces that stare off in the wrong direction with Thunderbird style lip-sync.. but other animations are great, with lots of appropriate/expected expression etc.

    All in all, I think much of the "pre release hate" is just "bandwagoning" mostly.

    Been spending a great deal of time with it over the past few days.
    Let's get the obvious "Animations are shit and the UI is garbage and the star map sucks" arguments out of the way first.
    I'll concede that there are some minor grievances about lip syncing but consider that this is, at its core, still a tool-set built RPG playing at being a shooter, like all ME games have been, like the vast majority of Bioware games have been. At it's core it is still a dungeons and dragons game. They are still using the same tools to create quests and set up triggers and effectively map the world. When you use a melee attack you can almost see the frontal cone template for your attack etc. To think they would suddenly have incredible facial animations was a bit of a stretch. That said, as others have said, the worst offenders are few and far between and only become apparent if you are watching youtube supercuts of bad facial animations.

    The UI...
    It lacks consistency. Some menus behave one way while a different menu will that does similar things will behave in an entirely unique way. Oversights like selling all of a quantity of things and having the default as 0 of the item rather than one (or straight up being able to select 0 at all). Journal, Codex and Inventory new item alerts that don't go away even when you are certain you have checked for everything are like a niggling little dag end after a rough time on the toilet. Quests that don't update their completion status properly, armour fusion mods that don't have their own menu option other than "all items" when at a shop. These are things that really needed a second pass on the QA side of things.

    The star map. Meh, yes it would be nice to skip them but it's not "that" bad, if the game had a camera mode and you could stop mid flight to take some desktop wallpaper pics it would be great.

    Alright, that's out of the way.

    I am loving the game. It has a solid balance of downtime to exploring and shooting, there are plenty of options if you ever feel yourself getting burned out on one particular aspect of the game. It looks very pretty and, most of the time it runs very smoothly, the offenders of Aya and that forest joint I just finished but can't remember the name of are the only time I have noticed the frame rate plummet.
    The routine of exploring a new planet, making it fit for habitation then settling there is surprisingly well realised. There is an interesting cast of characters both side and main that are fairly well crafted, you may not like them all but some you aren't meant to like.

    I do have an issue with the actual combat but it is much the same issue I have always had with ME combat. I feel that if it had destiny's visceral shooter engine with the worlds and stories that are told in Andromeda itself, it could be so much more.

    It takes a while to get there but it eventually starts feeling like a Mass Effect game. You spend a good few hours just getting through the introductory quest chain. it's fun but it is clear that it exists to show you how to play the game.

    If you enjoyed the previous ME games, if you enjoy Bioware games then you should play this.

    Loving it. Best game I have played in a long time. Best space game I have ever played, period.

    Great work Bioware.

    after spending 73hours completing my first play thorugh, I can comfortably say that ME:A is a decent if what somewhat unpolished addition to the ME series.

    Combat, Exploration and Squadmates

    The UI, no squadmate customization, crafting, planetary travel and scanning,

    Story, it starts slow but it actually picks up. the Ryder family sidequest is intriguing

    Animation, seriously overblown imo, there are a few offenders especially that one NPC you have to deal with fairly often otherwise it's not as bad as people say it is

    Quests, there's not that many fetch quests but the ones that does exist does a fairly good job of annoying you (fly to one system and scan, fly to next system and scan repeat two more times before getting to a mission) there's also a lot of "additional tasks" that aren't tracked. if you're OCD about completing everything in game you'll hate it

    Sudoku puzzles, 4x4 are ok, 5x5 are a nightmare. If you hate puzzles in general at least the internet has you covered now.

    First of all, I would like to say how great it is to have game demos back!

    I came to Andromeda with a lot of scepticism. Reading reviews and articles, while waiting for origin to download the 42% of the game needed to play the demo, was a mistake.
    It seemed like everyone only had bad things to say. Some articles clearly highlighted problems and downplayed positives.

    Playing the demo was a great experience for me. Even though there was several tropes typical to Bioware in the starting tutorial areas, I was grabbed by the story and the ability to explore.
    After 3 hours playing the demo, I turned it off, then went looking for the best digital download price I could find. My life from then until now consists of sleep, work and Andromeda. Good thing I can play Andromeda while eating.

    The characters are a huge part of what makes a bioware game, and I'm enjoying getting to know them all: Comments during missions, chats between missions, and Jaal falling asleep while I drive around in the Nomad. "Such a smooth ride".

    Exploration on each of the planets is great fun when you get the hang of it. The Nomad took me a little while to figure out, so did the levels of radiation/cold/?
    Ryder died a few times.
    I miss having anything resembling a weapon on my vehicle though. Even ramming enemies damages you.

    Combat took me ages to get a handle on. I initially decided I didn't like the combat at all, guns especially. That lead me to focus on using only abilities. Ryder shifted to a biotic and the whole thing opened up.
    Abilities are key here. It doesn't matter which tree you choose; biotic, tech, combat or a hybrid. Although I thinks it works best to limit yourself to one specialty initially. Focus on abilities that offer combos.

    The problem with the UI is that there is no consistency. For example, the 'e' button is used to select some items, so is the space bar, but never at the same time. 'e' is also used to flip between pages in menus, such as crafting or APEX Missions. I can't tell you how frustrating it was when the item I was selecting flipped away to another page.

    The cutscenes when exploring in the tempest haven't bothered me so much, probably because I explore all solar systems in a binge as soon as they unlock. They're pretty, but seen one, seen them all.
    I do something while each plays out; pet cat, get a drink, go to toilet, text, get punished by cat for petting tummy.

    I had a few graphical issues on PC, but only after I got the Tempest. The cutscene arriving at, and moving around when I landed on Eos, was a stuttery nightmare. This went away completely when I updated my drivers. Now its ultra settings all round. I still get the odd not-highest res face occasionally though.

    Sometimes when I talk to NPC's, and the camera swings in to show the conversation, the viewing angle cuts off the NPC I'm talking to, so I'm left with Ryder's shoulder and whatever is in the background. Can still hear voice and talk, but it's like the npc has wandered off. Same thing happened when interacting with the information wall outside Addison's office.

    A few times I've been stuck without the load prompt appearing after I've died. In fact, the combat continues on without me. Had to ctrl-alt-del to close game and restart. Only experienced this when I was insta-killed by a huge monster that ate me. While waiting for shuttle rescuing the Moshea, if anyone was interested.

    i was so hyped for this but then zelda became so all consuming and fantastic that when mediocre reviews came through it turned me right off.
    i am hoping that in a month or 2 (or a year) when i inevitably pick it up it will have improved kind of like how it took me over a year to start witcher 3 and now it is one of my all time favorites.

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