Mass Effect Andromeda Is A Game To Get Lost In

Image: EA

Mass Effect Andromeda is a huge game. I've played for a little under 20 hours now, haven't progressed too far in the plot, and I feel I could easily play for another 60 hours before I had to return to the main plotline. More than that, I feel like I wouldn't mind playing for another 60 hours without progressing in the main plot. Andromeda may be a new galaxy for humanity, but its world is far from empty.

Andromeda has had a bit of a lukewarm reception to its early access trial, with impressions ranging from damning to just 'meh'. I have to say, they're not wrong — at least when it comes to the first mission.

Image: EA

The game starts really slow, as has often been a flaw in Bioware's big RPGs. The expedition onto Habitat 7 is very much a classic Mass Effect tutorial level. You take your generic human companions somewhere with plentiful, expendable enemies so you can figure out the combat controls. You probably lose a member of your highly disposable team somewhere to raise the stakes. The tutorial level on Habitat 7 feels more like Halo or Gears of War than it does Mass Effect.

Many of the other problems that have been noted by Early Access players are in fact very valid. Many transitional cutscenes feel unnecessarily long and can't be skipped — flying between planets in the galaxy map, for example, or landing on explorable planets and taking off again. They're so long and tedious that second-screening is almost essential if you want to explore the cluster. Granted, the first time you see them, they look awesome. Some of the planetscapes you zoom up on before using the scanner are straight-up gorgeous, but having to see it every time will make you want to pull your hair out.

Image: EA

These are just a couple of Andromeda's share of problems, I won't deny that. But it's not a bad game. Hell, it's not even a 'not bad' game — it's a pretty damn good one.

Again, Mass Effect Andromeda is huge — and because of this, it's not a game that can be properly experienced in 10 hours. I don't think I've even managed to experience it properly in my 20 hours of playtime, and I fully expect my own opinion to change as I delve deeper into the game. Andromeda rolls out slowly, introducing its world to you piece by piece and then setting you free to explore it.


Arriving In A New Galaxy

Mass Effect Andromeda — it's in the name. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. The very beginning of the game has your chosen Ryder waking up in the cryo bay of the Hyperion spaceship — and waking up in a galaxy hitherto untouched by humanity. It's the perfect place to start a new story — the player knows as much about the Andromeda Galaxy as the character does, which is to say, nothing. It's also the best way to completely sever any temptations to fall back on the success of the trilogy. Andromeda is very much its own game.

In many ways, Andromeda winks to its predecessor while moving on to tell its own story. The Mass Effect trilogy was all about protecting the galaxy as it was, stopping the Reapers from destroying the life as we know it in the Milky Way. Andromeda is different. There is no 'life as we know it', and while the Milky Way pilgrims must fight to survive, that's only a piece of the puzzle.

One of the biggest differences to the trilogy is Andromeda's anti-military bent. Of course there's plenty of fighting to be had, but you're often reminded that the Andromeda Initiative is a civilian initiative. While they have a militia to protect colonists from the many dangers of the new galaxy, all of the Initiative's top brass are hesitant to get involved in anything that even smells of military. "We came here to make history not repeat it," as Ryder says.

Sara Ryder's own background is in security rather than military — guarding archaeologists on Prothean digs back in the Milky Way. Where Shepard was already a decorated military hero by the start of Mass Effect, Sara (and Scott) are younger, more inexperienced, but also unshackled by military protocol.

Image: EA

Despite her inexperience, however, Ryder has a lot of responsibility thrust onto her from the outset. Unsurprisingly, nothing goes to plan in Andromeda. This is thanks to a destructive dark energy cloud called the Scourge, a force capable of destroying spaceships and making nearby planets unlivable. In fact, a collision with the Scourge was responsible for the death of most of the Andromeda Initiative's leadership — so when Ryder arrives on the Nexus, she finds a community in disarray, being led by the Initiative equivalent of middle management.

When you arrive, the Initiative is in dire need of energy, food, water and resources. But more than that, it's in need of a leader — one with the charisma and drive of deceased founder Jian Garson or your own father Alec Ryder. It needs motivation. It needs someone who can say 'everything is going to be alright' and mean it. As Ryder, this is your job now.

As Pathfinder, there are a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders. There are decisions to be made, though some of the game's most interesting choices so far aren't the huge, world-changing ones (though they do exist), but the small things. Will your Ryder be a propagandist, hiding her struggles to boost morale for all the scared colonists on the Nexus? Or does truth reign supreme in this new world? Will you build military strength to make sure your colonists are protected? Or will you build on the original Initiative vision, founding a society on scientific discovery over brute strength?

Of course, Andromeda has its 'big bad' and its enemies, the kett. They're essentially space orcs, and while they have their own mysteries to be solved throughout the game, they start out as very bland moving targets. Your main antagonist, the Archon, is similarly mysterious and slightly bland, conjuring memories of Harbinger in Collector form. The Archon's design is oddly non-threatening, which makes it harder to take him seriously as an enemy. He looks like one of those monkeys from Twilight Princess, with huge eyes that make him look sad or confused. You kind of feel sorry for him. The antagonists are there to serve as a common threat — but the process of settling the new galaxy seems like far more of a story focus than engaging the Archon does.

Awww, he wants to be people. Image: EA

A Stranger In A Strange Land

The grand theme of Andromeda interrogates humanity's place in this new galaxy — with a focus on the fact that humans are the aliens here. It's only after Eos (and beyond the scope of the Early Access trial) that we are introduced to Andromeda's native people, the angara. I feel like the game really picks up with the introduction of Helius' weird cat-squid people. They're something we've never encountered in a Mass Effect game before — an alien race who are entirely unfamiliar with humanity.

Image: EA

When the team first discover the angaran homeworld Aya, Ryder is tasked with making 'first contact' with the planet's natives. As you become the first human to enter their city, you pass through crowds of horrified whispers — "why is its head so small?" "how does it stay upright on those legs?" "don't go near it". If you try to get your scanner out to check out the city, you'll find yourself with multiple laser sights trained on you. You feel like you need to pick your words carefully. Some angarans are curious about you, others are repulsed and others still openly hostile.

Image: EA

The angaran squad member, Jaal is one of the most interesting characters to have in your roster — to the point where I soon started taking him on all missions just for his contribution to the plot. On one hand, everything about your ship, the nexus and your crew is interesting and new to him. His whole 'show me the ways of your people' schtick is very familiar in the sci-fi genre. And then suddenly that dynamic gets flipped on its head — because he's the native in a galaxy you know nothing about. At one point when Ryder goes to handshake with Jaal, for example, he almost aggressively corrects your posture to the angaran version of that gesture. You're the alien here.


Finding Home

Progressing in the story unlocks new worlds to explore, including other angaran planets — but Ryder's influence can also be seen back on Andromeda's version of the Citadel, the Nexus. Each time you blaze the trail for new outposts and colonies, the Nexus comes to life a little more. Its huge empty spaces gradually fill with colonists who've been woken from their cryosleep, each time unfolding a little more of the world of the Initiative — and offering up more side quests to be distracted by. For those who are interested in alien diversity, the Nexus also homes way more female krogans, salarians and turians than existed in the entire trilogy.

While the Nexus is the main hub for the Milky Way immigrants, it's not home — that distinction belongs to the Tempest. This ship is your base, where you go to relax and catch up with your squad. In many ways it's similar to the trilogy's Normandy, and just like the Normandy it feels like home. The moment when you finally step on board the Tempest feels like the 'true' start to the game, even though it comes a couple of hours into the game. This is where it starts to feel like a Mass Effect game.

Image: EA

Maybe this isn't as much to do with the Tempest itself as it is the characters who live on it, however. I'm just going to put this out there right now — your companions are really, really great. Andromeda really recaptures the social dynamic that was so addictive in Mass Effect 2. The characters have nuance, they have personality and quirks without being obnoxious about it. They all feel familiar, like they're people you might just know in real life.

Interestingly, Andromeda's is the smallest squad in any Mass Effect game, with only six characters on the roster — Cora Harper and Liam Kosta, humans from your original Pathfinder team, former smuggler and requisite turian badass Vetra Nyx, flighty asari tech genius Peebee, old man krogan Nakmor Drack and curious angara Jaal Ama Darav. They're also joined by the crew — salarian pilot Kallo Jath, science officer Suvi Anwar, chief engineer Gil Brodie and asari doctor Lexi T'Perro.

You also collect all your squadmates surprisingly early in the game — at least compared to Mass Effect 2 where you were still recruiting right up until the endgame. Combined with how few of them there are, this seems to have allowed Bioware to spend more time on each of them. That extra effort is definitely noticeable.


Making Friends

Image: EA

The reason that the squad works so well is less about the characters' individual traits as it is about the dynamics between them all. Each character has their own friends and rivals on board, people they like to hang out with in their time off or people they're too intimidated to talk to. The characters don't stick to their own little boltholes on the ship — more often than not they're out and about, working on projects together or just hanging around in the crew quarters for a chat. I've probably spent more time listening in on my crew's conversations with each other than I have actually talking to them. It all feels natural, like you're the cornerstone of a big, dysfunctional family.

Flirt options are plentiful with both squad and crew members, as well as side characters that you encounter out and about. While I've been indulging quite liberally in flirting, I still seem to be in the beginning phases of most of the romances I've pursued, so I can't really say too much about that system. Ryder is sometimes suave and sometimes horribly awkward, but to me that's all a part of the charm.

Image: EA

If you do want to keep track of potential romances or your relationships with your squad, the game now tracks Ryder's personality, plot decisions and relationships in a codex. This is essentially the replacement for your paragon/renegade slider, though it couldn't be any more different. Instead, the profile tracks Ryder's character traits such as her sense of humor, professionalism or impulsiveness — all based on your actions. It also keeps track of whether you're on friendly terms with your companions, reminds you of the secrets they've confided in you and even notes whether you're flirty with each other or not. Reading these little profiles feels like the same kind of guilty pleasure as googling yourself.

While a lot of people will mourn the loss of the binary paragon/renegade system and the identities that came with them, I'm really enjoying the way the new system works. It feels more natural — there's no pressure to choose a renegade option just for the sake of maxing out your stats, but you can still character build quite effectively through dialogue options and interrupts. Even though the emotional/logical/casual/professional choices aren't very specific when it comes to tone, your lines generally come out as you might expect them.


Andromeda's Botox

Unfortunately, not all characters are created equal. Some of the characters can be a little lacking where others are particularly compelling. Cora, for example, seems quite inconsistent. I'd put a lot of it down to the fact that you can't quite tell if she's angry at you for taking the Pathfinder title or not — and I'd put that down to the fact that Cora is one of the characters whose facial animations just aren't up to par.

Image: EA

Yes, I am going to mention the facial animations. Yes, some of them are exactly as heinous as you've heard. The problem mainly affects just a handful of characters — most notably Cora and Director Addison, from memory. It seems like default female Ryder also looks goofy in a lot of scenes — but my own custom Ryder doesn't have those problems.

It's the human faces that tend to be the worst offenders, with some seemingly stuck with frozen eyebrows and expressionless eyes. The animation isn't nearly as noticeable with the alien characters, thankfully. Overall, as many have said, it contributes to a dead-eyed expression in some characters that can be offputting, but it's not nearly enough to make a big impact on the game.

Thankfully the voice acting picks up the slack, creating strong, expressive characters even where the animation is lackluster. This is led by Ryder herself, voiced by Fryda Wolff. She's young, often excited or irreverent, with the occasional drip of stone-cold sarcasm. Her lines range from anger to snark to suave little pickup lines (or super awkward ones), making Ryder a really fun character play. It takes skill to pull off some of the more goofy lines that, to me, are just one of those little things that comes with the Mass Effect package. The rest of the voice acting is generally up to par with Wolff's performance, though some of the side characters are pretty poorly voiced, and sometimes it's a little too easy to pick up the same voices being reused for different characters.


Fighting For Andromeda

I've found combat really fun so far, as well as being surprisingly challenging. While it's easy to make fun of Mass Effect for being the only game with two difficulty levels below 'normal', normal is actually surprisingly hard.

The ability to jump really adds a new dimension to the game, especially when paired with the forwards boost. You can hover momentarily by pressing the aim button, allowing Ryder to temporarily snipe from in the air. It's a very satisfying move when you pull it off properly. Though I initially had reservations about the cover system I've really come to like it since. During one battle I was having trouble with destructible cover, so I ended up driving the Nomad onto the battlefield and using it for cover.

The other new feature, profiles (such as Vanguard, Infiltrator and all those familiar classes) works really well. You can switch up your profile on the fly, changing from Adept to Infiltrator in the middle of battle as you need it. It's cool to be able to experiment with different play styles and change it up as you go, where in the trilogy I got locked into three full games of Vanguard. Granted Vanguard is still the most fun to play, but you can't biotic charge through the whole game.

You fight a mix of aliens, humans, robots and assorted wildlife. Each type requires a bit of a change in approach, and experimenting to see what works best with each has been one of my favourite parts of combat. I've been through one big 'boss' battle, which go down fairly similarly to those in the trilogy. You'll also have to face 'survive until extraction' battles, which pit you up against enemies you can't possibly hope to beat yet.

The multiplayer is pretty well integrated into the game without being compulsory. The system is kind of like Assassin's Creed Brotherhood: you're given a list of open missions which you can send 'strike teams' on for various bonuses. Successful missions also level up your team. Select marked missions can be played in multiplayer instead of sending an NPC team — but for those of you like me who generally can't be arsed going online, you can send regular teams on these to get similar perks. The missions seem to rotate — some of them expire after a set amount of time and some are constant.


Bigger Is Not Always Better

On the downside, the UI is not great. It's overly complicated and hard to navigate, and some of the menus — especially the research ones — are just too big. There are too many options to the point where you can either spend hours delving into the system, or just give up and pick options at random. Comparing weapons is weirdly obtuse — instead of comparing a pistol with a pistol or an assault rifle with an assault rifle, you just compare with the weapons you have equipped. Between looting, shopping and crafting the whole system is so complicated that I've never even changed weapons yet. Some people will love having this much detail, of course, but I'm not one of them.

Scanning was an ability I was quite keen to see in Mass Effect — probably because I'm a rabid Metroid Prime fan — but it hasn't been implemented as well as it could have been. To begin with, Andromeda disables your ability to scan for the entire first mission, which is the point where you'd think it should be encouraging you to get into that habit. To have the game bring up 'no data' on scans for the first hour or so leaves the player wondering what the point is, aside from a couple of 'go here, scan this' missions.

Image: EA

Mass Effect Andromeda hasn't been without its fair share of glitches, either, from character models spontaneously disappearing to NPCs randomly teleporting across the room. Oddly enough I've mostly noticed this happening with angarans. Odd things sometimes happen with the dialogue as well — the subtitles for ambient dialogue often intrude on the subtitles of a conversation you're in the middle of having. At other times, the subtitles come up way before the dialogue actually gets said, resulting in occasional awkward pauses while the sound catches up.

The most distracting of the many little quirks in Andromeda comes from its confusing timeline. During the beginning section of the game, things often happen out of order. You'll hear dialogue talking about a character that hasn't been met yet, or characters will call things by names we haven't learned yet, or you'll unlock codexes about the angara before you even know they exist.

In other places, the timeline doesn't quite make sense. For example when you first go to Aya, you're the first human many of the angara have seen. Everyone is amazed, horrified, shocked, curious. When you fly to another angara settlement on a different planet just minutes later, the inhabitants are generally nonchalant, uncaring that you are the first human they've ever met. Go back to Aya an hour or two later and suddenly everyone will be reminiscing about that time ages ago when they thought you were so new and scary. Time runs as it needs to for the plot, but as a player it really doesn't flow.


Exploring A New Galaxy

Now back to the good — one of the things that Andromeda really gets right is the planet exploration.

The Nomad (or Mako) facilitates exploration so perfectly you almost forget that it was ever absent. It just feels right. The handling of the Nomad is greatly improved from when it was the Mako, thankfully, and it's pretty fun to zoom around both icy plains and rolling sand dunes.

Image: EA

Just like in Mass Effect 1, resources are collected from the surface of planets you explore, though this time it's done differently. You don't have to get out of the Nomad to collect minerals now — instead, you send out mining probes from the safety of your vehicle. It feels like the perfect mix of Mass Effect 1's resource exploration and the later games' probe-based mining.

I still have a few issues with the Nomad, however. I'm not quite sure how to repair it, which means I've spent a lot of time driving around in a vehicle that's only a few shots away from exploding (and very much on fire). While you can get an extraction from the Tempest at any point in the Nomad, this unfortunately requires you to watch the entire 'leaving the planet' cutscene again immediately.

I'm a good driver I swear. Image: EA

So far, the side quests found on these worlds are not terrible. While not as good as Horizon Zero Dawn's incredibly strong side quests, they've generally been a step above Inquisition's fetch quests or, god forbid, shards. The addition of scanning adds an extra element that sometimes feels like lazy game design and sometimes feels like an interesting way to solve a puzzle. Many of the quests require you to investigate with this scanner, and sometimes you just stumble on mysteries of your own. The subsection of side quests labelled 'tasks' are the most inane of all, and generally not worth pursuing unless you're in the area.

While the first couple of planets you're dropped on are unfortunately some of the most uninspiring, each of them have beautiful little details that reward you for exploring. In the frozen mountains of Voeld, for example, ancient, bioluminescent whale-like creatures swim in lakes beneath the ice. As a huge lore nerd, I could get lost in these curious crevices of the world — and their accompanying codexes — for days.

Image: EA

Mass Effect Andromeda ultimately trades polish for ambition. It's a big game crammed with data, lore and conversation that invites exploration, even though many of the features could do with some fine-tuning (or an overhaul). At its core, it gets that Mass Effect feeling right — weaving a compelling storyline around humanity's place in the universe, then giving you the perfect ship full of misfits to take you through it.



Comments

    Hmm, I went from being iffy on this to rather interested.

    Mass Effect to me cannot be played without a keyboard and mouse, how does it control with that set-up, and how does it feel with the controllers?

      I've been playing on PC, and the answer: pretty well. I think it might actually be a fraction better, at least because you can fling the scanner around faster.

      Some of the default button binds feel a bit weird, and if you've just come off Horizon the UI is going to shit you off a bit. It looks good and the transitions are nice, but it's too slow for a game that has a lot of information stored in menus separate to the action. One of my biggest bugbears with the game, actually.

        Arguably that's no different to the other games in the series. Horizon is a different game all round tbh. You're in space, things should move slowly, since you're moving around a galaxy. Conceptually there is a lot more going on there than the world built in Horizon.

        @leigh I dont know how much you played of the other 3 games, but 2 and 3 controls felt like they ported them from the console rather than the other way round. I imagine it's going to be the same here.

          It feels more PC friendly than the earlier versions. Just less... Janky I guess, with a mouse.

          Last edited 21/03/17 8:45 am

      I've always played Mass Effect on the PC, and I'm not keen on the PS4 controls. There aren't quite enough buttons for everything that needs to be done, so you end up with really awkward controls, like pressing the touchpad in the middle of combat to access the weapon wheel.

        Thanks to H-Wiz and company.

        PC it is.

    Sounds interesting, but reads like a different game to be honest. I was expecting things like great writing, side quests and voice acting. I'm glad it's not terrible though. They really went cheap on the voice cast on this one.

    The whole civilian expedition thing didn't go well for SG Atlantis. I preferred the more militaristic nature of the first one.

    Animations and polish were never BioWare's strong suit, but it can certainly be worse as we can all see.

      haha SG Atlantis came straight to my mind aswell, although i differ because loved Atlantis as much as SG1

        Atlantis was great. Universe was ace though, so bummed it got canned.

        I recently marathoned through both series, Atlantis was great when I ran out of SG1. I saw a big drop in quality and casting as well as writing. To each their own I guess.

    great read and I can basically agree with everything. the game is (potentially) great but it's not without flaws (animations, UI issue) and questionable design choices (no squad member loadout, not quick save / load)

    oh and you can repair the nomad at the forward stations that drops down from the sky (they also act as fast travel points). Teleport to one will give you a fresh nomad

    Watched a stream of the ending and a lot of the game today and fucking lol

    I expected this game to have a woeful UI, I had hoped they would have learned from how bad the DA:I one was. But I never expected Bioware to screw up storytelling as much as they have. The once great company has finally stumbled and screwed up the very thing that made them great. Its really sad to see ones heroes fall.

      Yeah. They've been on a downward spiral for a while. Dragonage: Origins is their last solid title.

      I played about an hr of DA:I and just thought "who has the time for this???"

      I loved ME 1 & 2. 3 had some good moments too but I think I'm going to skip this one unless I see it for a low, low price.

      Games are just too massive nowadays and it's not worth my time if it's a 'good' game. It needs to be amazing. Like ME 1 & 2. I still listen to their soundtracks constantly. OMG that feeling in ME2 when you're ready for the final mission. So great!

    What I'm picking up from these reviews is it's a solid start to a new series but has some flaws. Sadly an average of 7.3 means its "horrible and absolutely trash" because a .7 is huge difference. Oh well, I'll pick it up Thursday and enjoy the hell out of it. I just hope it sells well.

      I've seen a few reviews that cites PC technical issues like low frame rates and NPC popping in and out

      some things just never change with BW lol

        i7-4770K w/GTX 1070 and some ordinary DDR4 RAM and a Windows install that badly needs to be formatted: held over 60fps at 1080p on automatic preset (Ultra). Craps the bed if there is a second fullscreen video, but provided that's avoided the game hasn't crashed or suffered any horrible memory leaks to date.

        NPCs popping in hasn't really happened for me either. 378.78 drivers.

          oh thanks for the driver reminder!

          haven't done an update since Feb haha

            Andromeda's game-ready drivers just dropped this morning too. Get them: they enable Ansel in-game.

    Metacritic has it sitting at 75/100 at the moment. That's kinda what I was expecting so I'm still excited for it. Had a blast with the Origin Access trial so I'm still picking it up day one.

    Here's hoping I can make a decent female Ryder. Struggled on the trial haha.

    I got lost in the UI more often than on Planets.

    You can't biotic charge thru the whole game?

    CHALLANGE ACCEPTED

    one of the things that Andromeda really gets right is the planet exploration. This was all I was really worried about, and hearing about the whale like creatures under the ice kind of seals the deal for me - this is the kind of thing I've been missing since the first ME and I can forgive almost everything else as I did with the first game.

    Also this was a really good read, thanks.

    So what are the feelings with the voice actors? FemShep was the easy choice in the last games, any preferences this time?

      I've only finished the tutorial for Scott so overall I'll still lean towards the female Ryder

      I've played Sara for about 15hrs now, not the same level as Hale imo but some of dialogue is very cliched and cringe worthy (imo) so I'm not sure how much the VA gets to shine

      The VA for Scott Ryder is so much better than male shep (Mark Meer), if we're doing a (semi) direct comparison to ME1 (Mark got better in ME2 / ME3).

      When and if I ever get to some epic moment I'll probably have a better judgement (think speech for suicide mission or speech before the last fight in ME3)

      I'm really liking Sara's voice. A little bit similar to FemShep but without sounding like they were trying to copy her exactly. I haven't played Scott though, so I can't really compare.

        Cool, I'm leaning towards Sara now I think. Looking forward to picking this up on Thursday, haven't been this excited for a game since No Mans Sky...

      I've got mixed feelings. Sara sounds fucking young (I'm talking teenager, here), and often a little lost, inexperienced, immature... but dialogue choices can let you make her sound a little more mature. Scott... sounds a fair bit older, but also sounds like he's going for a Nolan North kind of sassy, way too often, even without choosing the silly responses, which just... grates on me.

      I think I'll be choosing Space-Waif over Nathan Drake's Kid Brother, but I'm probably going to base my decision on researching romance options. ;)

    how do the facial expressions (the dodgy ones) compare to the other ME games? on par with say 1 and 2, or worse, or better? because i love the first three games, and it never bothered me, i tend to not be a graphics whore. i generally just allow myself to get caught up in the story and the action and the to-do lists.

      I'll lean to be worse then 1 but only for a few NPCs and (after 15hrs) of game play, entirely human based

      This is mostly because it's not just their facial expression that you look at during some encounters with them, it's their movement (or lack thereof) as well. heck some NPCs looks so stiff that I'm almost ready to believe BW there's some sort of rigging bug

      I personally don't think it's a massive deal breaker but your mileage will vary. without spoiling anything here, if you want just go watch a let's play for the part where you establish EoS settlement / outpost

        thanks for the response!

      I've only played an hour, they're a bit janky but most people will be able to ignore them without getting too upset.

      They're about the same as the last game as far as I remember (noting rose coloured glasses and all that). I do think the characters look a bit shiney and plastic though. A lot of Frostbite games have that though.

      Most of it is pretty par for the Bioware course, but I do think there mayyy be a bit of a bug with some of the overtly terrible animation. Last night for example I encountered a cutscene where one of the characters was literally frozen in place aside from his mouth and eyes. Then when I started a regular dialogue with him a minute later it was totally fine.

      When they do get it right it can actually be quite nice, though.

      There are "Thunderbirds" moments where the face stays still and just the mouth moves mannequin style but as the article says its only noticeable on 2 characters Cora and Addison.

      cool, thanks everyone!! ill have to wait for this to become much cheaper and hopefully by then they'll have some bug fixes out too.

    Are you forced to use EA's bullshots? With the screenshotting abilities available it would be much more interesting, and honest, to see pics that you've collected in your time with the game.

      These are my screenshots actually, all taken on PS4 aside from a few from Alex's PC copy.

        Oh ok, thanks, when it says "Image:EA" below the picture it looks like it was supplied by them. Good to know these are yours, cheers!

    I've been watching a few playthroughs - bits and pieces, disjointed to avoid spoilers by way of not having any context - and I am pretty pumped for this. It looks fantastic. The UI is disappointingly balls and many of the animations are jarringly inappropriate, but I believe that's been well-established by now. Exploration and conflict is kind and I am up for it.

    As an incredibly irreverent egalitarian though, one thing that's pissing me off A LOT in every clip I've watched is just how quick everyone is to drop to their knees and beg to suck your dick because you're a 'Pathfinder'. A seemingly inherited title, rather than merit-based, with no real justification to back up why the protagonist is the fucking Chosen One of Myth and Legend. Access to a complex AI is DNA-keyed, and they made sure they brought along two backups for the sake of redundancy? It's just... maddeningly nonsensical.

    Advance teams of colonists set up in an area, and when you go down to look at the ruins, your character remarks, "They had to know this wasn't sustainable..." A teammate replies matter-of-factly, "Why would they? They didn't have a Pathfinder." By which she means a fucking young-adult-just-graduated-from-teenage with no life experience and no special training that any of the previous colonists couldn't have found in a motherfucking VI-assisted encyclopedia.

    What the fuck, writers? Every time this breathlessly reverential 'pathfinder' ass-tonguing comes up, I can't help but grimace at how everyone's sense of dignity seems to have dribbled out of their ears in Ryder's presence.

    I'm really hoping we see a lot more realistic and grounded treatment from NPCs and companions grumbling about the fact that their vaunted Pathfinder is an inexperienced army brat whose Dad passed down the mantle - by which they mean keys to the AI - rather than someone who actually KNOWS what they're doing and has life experience and emotional maturity to make high-social-impact community-altering decisions.

    As it is, I see precious little to differentiate the treatment of Ryder the Pathfinder from bloody medieval royalty. (Other than this, the game seems amazing.)

      I appreciate and I'm inspired by your positivity and general enthusiasm to give Andromeda a shot. I really need it because I am not seeing much of the beautiful, thrilling, rich and compelling spark that has lit the other games in the series (yes, even ME3).....

      Every Mass Effect has been a 'day one' purchase for me. I have eagerly waited with my fist full of dollars ready to throw at the salesperson. Not this time....that makes me a bit sad to be honest.

      I will certainly give it a play through. But when? Who knows! And with that fact I am left with a bad taste in my mouth about a game series I have always been so passionate about.

        I'm a bit sad too but it's definitely not the first time I've seen EA run a good thing down.

        I guess if you're not keen, maybe do as I did and watch some playthroughs?

        I seriously want to play this game today. I have some complaints, absolutely, but wishing something you like could be better is hardly a reflection on how much you like it.

        One of the things I think that 'feels' very Mass Effecty is how you pretty much just slip straight back into that universe without going through quite the same introduction of species and lore, etc. The richness of the theme comes through when you find yourself thinking, "Oh wow, an actual AI?" and you know how taboo that is, or you chuckle and think, "Oh, that guy's such a Krogan/Salarian/Turian/etc." It's very comfortable with itself and its Milky Way lore, and what we're seeing now is exploration of what else is out there.

          Yes, I have already taken the time to watch a few initial playthroughs (specifically the starting areas) and review videos . They haven't exactly won me over. They probably won't and the hard fact is I will need to jump in and give it a go myself.

          You make a good point about slipping straight back into that universe sans the lore etc which is a good thing being a seasoned player of the game. My familiarity with the various races and the way the game 'plays' should in theory be just like putting on a pair of comfortable old moccasins....

          I think they got the "payoff" wrong in this game. Loot and combat mechanics were never the payoff fans expected from a Mass Effect game. It was the story moments and an ever increasing sense of mystery. There are and always will be better games for combat and loot.

          The lore, from what I've seen is derivative of Milky Way, with only 2 new alien species introduced. The characters are clearly as one reviewer put it "The kids borrowed dad's car and went on a dangerous field trip".

          It's like trying to make a Metal Gear game better by replacing cut-scenes with real time dialogue or game-play. You'd just ruin the payoff.

          BioWare's writing just went from something to behold into something you have to put up with in order to accumulate better loot.

        the game becomes more open after Eos, which is a shame because you could be 10 hours deep and still not 100% that planet

        it's not rare for RPG to have dull moments but I think ME:A has a longer "opening" then most... for all intents and purposes, Eos is basically the second part of the tutorial

          I think it's like the advice everyone was giving about Dragon Age: Inquisition: If you're starting to find the game boring, get the hell out of the Hinterlands instead of trying to 100% the zone before moving on to others.

            Good example. The irony for me is that I actually enjoyed dicking around in the Hinterlands!

            ha yes this so much

            although it's mildly amusing that that ME:A team kept saying they learnt from DA:I

              Thankfully the big issues that ruined Inquisition for me aren't in Andromeda as far as I've seen (main character lacking a personality, flat companions, no sense of threat in the main plot)

              If only they just stole the Inquisition character creator.

                well they did pluck the big bad from a DLC for DA:I...

                I honestly can't remember much about the CC in DA:I except maybe having like a million sliders which ME:A seems to be lacking

      Oh yeah there's plenty of people who have a problem with Ryder being the pathfinder, though it does seem to skew more to the 'let me worship you' side. There is some balance, thankfully, as well as people who just want to use you for your influence, or aliens who want you all to GTFO their galaxy.

        Oh, well thank cripes for that. A little self-awareness in writing goes a really long way.

          I wrote about this but I ended up deleting a bit because it was just way too long, but the game has a lot of great little moments of self awareness. Like, no sooner will you notice something that doesn't quite add up in the world than someone will bring it up, or you'll get a dialogue option to ask about it. It even pokes fun at the fact that Liam is a former rookie cop frustrated by protocol (hmm, sounds familiar)

      lol, that's been one of things I've been wary of ever since they announced the whole "Pathfinder" thing. Seems like the writers wanted to do the whole Warden/Hawke/Inquisitor thing they had going in Dragon Age, which in my opinion doesn't really work in ME. We're talking about a one way expedition to another galaxy by species who have been space faring for over a millennia before humanity and they wouldn't know the basics of colonisation? Yeah.... lol

      One of the worst things any writer can do is to ignore your universe's pre-established lore for the sake of grandiose and set pieces. Shepard worked well because he/she was believable (apart from the whole being rezzed thing but that's a post for another day). Ryder doesn't sound as if they're going to be anywhere near as believable and fun.

    I want. Now.

    Seems a little like the original reception to Alpha Protocol - broken and unpolished as fuck, but strangely entertaining.

    I'm onboard :)

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