Five Hours In, Mass Effect: Andromeda Is Overwhelming

I'm about five hours into Mass Effect: Andromeda, and so far, it seems like Bioware has created a behemoth of a sci-fi action RPG.

Our review will drop later in the month, but for now, here's 20 minutes of the very first mission. Note that the footage has been lightly edited to get rid of stuff like "the two minutes where I didn't know where to go".

Some quickfire thoughts, in bullet-point form:

  • As many of you know, the story involves a journey into the Andromeda Galaxy, where humanity must find a new home. The task of finding habitable planets falls on you, the "Pathfinder". Wouldn't you know it, once you actually arrive at Andromeda, the "golden planets" you scouted ahead of time aren't what you expect them to be. Actually, little of the colonisation scheme goes according to plan, with some ships getting lost, some people stuck in cryo, others staging a rebellion, and in general, supplies are dwindling fast. The tension is immediate: You're in a completely new territory of space and nobody can help you. Everything is going to shit. Can you untangle the mess?
  • Character creation seems like an improvement — I made someone who appeared human on the first go around, without feeling too much regret once I saw them in action.
  • The new dialogue system is MUCH better. Now there are a many different types of responses, none of which are the obvious right/wrong/paragon/renegade choices. I've found myself picking liberally, depending on what felt right.
  • The voice acting feels more natural now, because you're not a gruff Specter.
  • Combat is more intense and kinetic, largely because of the added mobility. I can run, I can dash, I can get in the enemy's face. On normal, the game seems harder, too — I've died in the tutorial mission / first real mission, which I've never experienced in a Mass Effect game before.
  • I love that I can mix and match abilities, regarding of what specialisation I pick.
  • Then again, the number of SYSTEMS and CHOICES are kinda overwhelming, and Andromeda throws you right into the thick of it. Where older games felt as if Bioware were making a compromise between an RPG and an action game, it feels like they have gone full throttle in both directions this time around. Combat is thrilling, but you're also going to spend a lot of time managing resources and equipping different things.
  • I was surprised to find that the tutorial mission had several optional side-quests I could pursue, and that the map was so big, I had multiple path options too. In the mission you can watch above, there's an obvious critical path, but you can also stop and investigate more of the planet, if you'd like. So many choices! The game feels more on the scale of Dragon Age: Inquisition, though I haven't seen any filler yet.
  • Gun customisation is back, and you can add all sorts of modifications and tweaks. I accidentally gave my pistol a big scope, which made using it unwieldy.
  • There are so many small environmental details that pop out even in the middle of combat, whether it's floating debris, or cool little lights lining the fancy new technology you encounter. Andromeda is a looker, and Bioware uses that power to great effect — planets look alien.
  • There's a whole lotta scanning in this game. You're going to scan everything from containers to corpses, Batman-style.
  • I haven't gotten to know all of the characters very well, but what I've seen thus far has me intrigued. The female Turian I've met seemed more kickarse than Garrus (!). I've met a racist Salarian. I've met a very... forward Asari. I've met a lot of people who are just trying to get by under trying circumstances. Nobody is boring. Even the most annoying characters have a reason as to why they're being so dickish.
  • This game has some of the fanciest haircuts I've ever seen. 

We'll have more on Mass Effect: Andromeda in the coming weeks.


Comments

    As long as it's proper content and not just fluff, that sounds fine to me.

    All of these dot points are moot for me though, I only care about one thing: does it still have the classic star map music?

      The better question is can you still scan Uranus?

        No, that's in a different galaxy.

        Also it was probing it, not scanning.

        I'm sorry, troutmonkey, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all. It's now called Urectum.

      I think I saw mentioned in another article that the star map music is different (and not as good), but I may be misremembering.

    Please tell me the UI is better that DA:I? That was one of those rare times in which a terrible UI ruined what should have been a huge and interesting game. Loved every moment of it until every moment I had to go into the menus and they completely zapped my loved. (already seen the loot window in a window, why does a loot window have to take up much of the screen). Its been the only time I have quit a game due to a bad UI.

    You say there is a lot of scanning. Is it more like Witcher 3, a toggle. Or the constantly having to click like in DA:I?

    Last edited 15/03/17 9:36 am

      from the preview videos

      a) the loot UI is full screen (kind of like ME1)

      b) the scanning is a click to activate, I don't know if it's timed or it's a toggle (I think it's the first). I can comment again once EA access opens up if you want, although it might take a day for me to even download the game. to me it looks less annoying then the DA:I version since DA:I is more like a sonar system, it highlights the object ?but?only for a few seconds? (it's been a while since I played DA:I)

      I have DAI: Loot PTSD. That was the worst inventory management system I've seen in a AAA game in years, and likewise - that UI/system abducted my enthusiasm for the game, dragged it into an alley and shot it in the mouth. Everyone who tested that fucking abomination of a system must've assumed it was placeholder until the week before release and it was too late to fix. It must've been built by the lead designer's kid on 'bring your kid to work day', and no-one had the heart to tell them it gave testers cancer. That UI was that year's reason that we couldn't be elevated into Galactic Society, proof that we weren't ready as a species (and now that there's a President Trump, we never will be).

        exactly, the more I played the more it felt like a placeholder UI. Both in practicality and artistic design (especially compared with the nice one from the first game). it made even less sense given it was from Bioware, legends in the RPG market. If anyone should know how cluttered and important loot is too a 150 odd hour game, it would have been them.

        to say nothing of whoever thought presenting so much lore in CAPITAL WHITE LETTERS ON BLACK BACKGROUND for page after page, had obviously missed one of the first rules of the internet age: caps are both rude and really really hard to read.

    RPS reports that the first hours are dodgy. What's up with that?

    https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/03/14/mass-effect-andromeda-review-opening-hours/#more-435115

    Specifically they report the quests and side quests are nowhere near Mass Effect trilogy standard. Same with companion/NPC voice acting (but Ryder's voice acting is apparently fine). And dialogue writing/characterisation too. Apparently it's flat tropy and unispired for a Mass Effect title.

    This is at odds with what's being reported here. Don't know for sure. Best not to preorder.

    After the dust settles we'll be able to judge who is accurately and perceptively judging the opening few hours. It's interesting that they're so different.

      Or you can test out the SP yourself in EA Access and not have to wait/rely on the the opinions of others! ^_^

      Me, I must get this in my face ASAP either way; if I can live through over 100 hours of DA:I and bother to finish FFXV, this should be quite enjoyable to me regardless.

      its not at odds. Just different opinions. I read so many great things about Horizons quests and story, read some counterpoints to them in other reviews as well. I get in game and while the world and combat are stunning, anything to do with npcs and story feels awful. Both those groups of people arent wrong, just everyone has their own level of expectations and taste.

      I am not really invested in Mass Effect universe and I have to say some of the lets play I was watching on youtube I was shocked how basic and bland some of the dialogue felt for a Bioware game. One would expect the opening hours to feature the best/tighter writing in a game. So I think I might wait as well until I have time to see a wider range of my favourite youtubers react to it.

      I used to read RPS quite a bit, but I stopped because of articles like that. They seemed hypercritical of any AAA game while heaping lavish praise on ridiculous indie titles thrown together in Unity with stock assets. I take any of their reviews with a large grain of salt.

      Doesn't invalidate their opinion of the game (and you might share it!), but I've found that my tastes diverge significantly from theirs.

      I've played a couple of hours and at the moment my opinion is hovering somewhere between Patricia's and the RPS article. I'll have a proper review/coverage up next week and we'll probably get a more in depth one up from Patricia too. :)

        Ok, that seems fair.

        Just make sure your opinions match everyone else's.
        If we learn you guys have broken from the hive mind....hoo golly.

    I am intrigued... I have been intrigued with the Mass Effect series throughout but felt out of the loop when 3 came out so didnt venture in.

    Thinking about this one as i need a game like this in my life... Final Fantasy XV isnt cutting it to fill my RPG void I just havent been drawn in to keep spending the time there after 15 hours or so...

    Anyone know if this is going to be easy to jump into without the knowledge of the plot from previous titles? I mean generally if you're not in the loop you will not notice some nice easter eggs and returning characters but is it going to be tedious to try and ascertain wtf is going on with no prior knowledge?! I understand they are big games hence why i ask

      it's a fresh everything

      there's probably some reference to ingrained lore like the the Krogan Genophage but I imagine the codex (it's basically a lore encyclopedia built into the game) will cover it.

      I think you'll be fine to dive in

        Thank you! Thats awesome news because i felt like I really missed out on something when people were discussing previous titles in years gone by!

        I just hope its not a case of jumping in too late when they start to destroy the brand lmao

          I've read a few previews and it's been mixed but as I said up top replying to blakeavon I have EA access.

          I'm at work currently so I don't know if it's available yet (EA access says ME:A is avaliable from the 16th which is likely 17th for AU because dates tend to be USA specific) I don't mind answering questions later.

          I'd also recommend you get ME1 to 3 because (despite ME3 ending) is an excellent trilogy

            hmmm... I havent gone and done that knid of thing or a while and my biggest issue is going back to my ps3 to be honest with you! Last time i tried to play a PS3 game i just couldnt handle the interface, the lacking resolution as well as my shagged controllers!!!

            I also dont have the time to live through a backstory I missed. Did it years ago with Bioshock, Dead Space and Crysis as somehow i had missed the originals but I didnt have kids back then... I remember the days - get home from work, switch on and ignore the misses while she watches trash tv ahhhhh the good ole days hahaaaa

              I had the same kind of feeling about playing Witcher 3 despite only having played a dozen hours of Witcher 1 and half a dozen of Witcher 2, and not really knowing everything.

              Instead, I watched some Witcher 'movie' youtube videos (usually citing 'all cinematics' or something) to get the best idea of how things panned out in a relatively entertaining way without going through all the loot-grinding/gamification bullshit that tends to pad out game experiences.

              There are undoubtedly versions of this kind of thing for Mass Effect. I think these guys did ME1, 2, and 3... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnbDrjpEZEQ with an audience vote used to determine the (hugely varied) major in-game decisions.

              It's not quite the same as playing different ways and feeling that moment of choice and consequence, but it should definitely bring you up to speed (and get you past the frustration of piloting the Mako in 1, plus 1's garbage UI).

                Yeah I was thinking about jumping into youtube to get my fill of the lore - I probably still will even though it feels like since the protagonists have been in cryo since the first one it most likely wont matter. Still be good to get the feel of what im getting into ;)

                Cheers

      Yeah the group in this one left the milky way before the first trilogy if I remember correctly and have been in cryo since. So there will be little nods to the basic aspects of different cultures but not too much on events or characters.

      It definitely sounds like you should be fine without playing the previous trilogy (I believe the devs at some point said accessibility for a new audience was one of the reasons they jumped to a new universe), but you should give them a go if you get the chance all the same - 2 and 3 are both great games, but there's something special about the first that no other game has quite managed to replicate and it's one of my all time favourite games.

      They are big games, but, in my totally biased opinion, they are absolutely worth going back for and they absolutely deserve the praise they get. But hey, I did just come from finishing a video about how much I love that first game, so, again, take everything I say with a handful of salt.

    It's sounding pretty good, especially since I really enjoyed DA:I ,however, those facial animations...they look kind of lifeless to me.

    Combat is thrilling, but you're also going to spend a lot of time managing resources and equipping different things.
    Oh no. Ohhhhh nooooo. No no no nonononononooooOOO GOD NO more DA:I inventory nooooooo
    *curls in fetal position*
    i can't won't can't go back to that nonono you can't make me

      Do it!

    That was a solid 20 minutes of ho-hum. While it should get a pass for being the tutorial area, everything was just so Mass Effect and Bioware, and neither of those are good things anymore.

    I don't want to watch the video for the sake of spoilers, does it show off any proper exploration? That's the thing I loved most about the 1st game and if that's good all else can be forgiven (I forgave the Mako for instance).

    Specifically does how does it compare to the sort of exploration I'm talking about here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89P_zyOEr24&t=4s ?

    One thing i want clarified really is... Are same sex relationships available? and by that i do mean Male-Male.Fingers crossed they do.

    I remember they allowed Femshep last time but never worked out if Maleshep could..

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