People Are Ripping Apart Mass Effect: Andromeda's Animation

At the start of the year, there was minor controversy surrounding Mass Effect: Andromeda's animations. According to fans, the Ryder, the protagonist, didn't emote enough. At the time, Bioware chalked it up to a "facial performance bug" that they would "improve", but now that a trial version of the game is widely available, folks are once again picking apart Andromeda's animation quality.

On social media, players are sharing all sorts of clips highlighting stilted or silly animations:

On neoGAF, there's already a long thread compiling many different animation GIFs that don't reflect well on the game. 

In my time playing it, I have encountered some stiff facial animations that made me pause. The humans in particular don't seem to emote enough, sometimes staring blankly, or blinking at odd intervals. But, honestly, in the hours that I've poured into the game, these details haven't ruined the experience. They will briefly take me out of the moment, sure, but a few seconds in, say, a 15 minute engrossing conversation with someone is pretty minor. I've yet to encounter any funny walking animations, personally.

Despite having lacklustre facial animations, the environmental stuff can still be killer:

The aliens, I am happy to report, are so expressive, they sometimes upstage the humans.

In context, some of the clips people are sharing aren't actually as terrible as they might appear, nor do they seem particularly worse than other recent games. I reviewed Horizon Zero Dawn last month, and I'd say that game had distractingly bad lip sync where the characters didn't make believable expressions... but most people overlooked that, because it kinda hard no bearing on the overall quality of the game. Bioware, on the other hand, has to wrestle with a giant negative stigma following the Mass Effect 3 ending, so fumbles such as these seem more like an uphill battle. Shortcomings like occasionally wonky animations feed into the ongoing narrative that Bioware doesn't give a shit about player's experience, which realistically speaking, probably isn't true.

In short: Yes, some (but not all!) of Andromeda's animations look hilarious online, and can be easily mocked, but it's not actually a major deal while you're playing it.


Comments

    The Neogaf thread is really worth checking out. There are some real hoots in there.

    Yeah it's disappointing, not a 10/10 but still looking forward to it.

    Though probably worth noting that the storytelling in the latest zelda game has not changed in years and people still gush over it.

    I'll take a decade old facial animation tech over spamming the A button to get past text boxes anyday.

      You don't have to feel that dismayed over other people's joy and support of a completely different game, do you?

      This is the uncanny valley in full flight.

        It's not uncanny valley, it's plasticine figures with flapping mouths, eyes that don't track in any reasonable fashion and hands that aren't animated. It just looks like shit, there's nothing nearly too real about it.

          The eyes especially look just as bad as they always have in the series in my opinion. Par for the course apparently.

          Even if you put everything else aside, I'll never understand how they looked at the eyes of the human characters in action at times and just went "Sure, seems fine. Ship it."

            It's a human model, animated. How is that not uncanny valley?

            Games like this and Assassin's Creed will continue to glitch out and show their 'seams' more and more, just because the horsepower improves doesn't necessarily means everybody knows how to master it.

            That's why you have games like Overwatch, Team Fortress 2, or yes even Zelda. These games use art styles that don't desire ultra-realism and they work out just fine.

              "Uncanny Valley" tends to reference human models being animated in more and more realistic ways. This is the opposite of that - this is going backwards in the other direction. These look more like puppets.

              The uncanny valley is a rapid dip on a plotted curve of human likeness vs familiarity, typically occurring where things look very real but have slight unhuman attributes and movements which creates an uneasiness; it could be wax castings of people, or Erica, that freaky japanese female robot. Whilst this plots on that same graph, its just low down on both axis. So not really entering the uncanny valley ~

              Its just a misappropriated phrase now that just became synonymous with 'badly animated'

        Not so much the joy as it is the forgiveness. As in, they will overlook flaws and give a game a perfect score because the rest makes up for it. Whereas other games will get "its a great game, but not perfect due to these issues"

        I beg to differ. I just think the talent is lacking as well. Mass Effect Voice Cast used to be something to behold in the gaming industry. Just watch the first 5mins of ME1, if you don't trust me.

        There's no one even close to what those older games had, in this one.

        The character design also leaves a lot to be desired. The previous series (character designs) were all about business and little about style.

        The characters overall seem to be younger and less established than the ones we met on ME1.

      I find the opposite. Zelda uses its style and abject "gaminess" to get around the un-realistic realism so many games fall into.

      Bethesda games in particular, completely break immersion for me with their reanimated corpses, whereas stuff like wind waker has aged fantastically, text boxes and all.

      Last edited 17/03/17 11:38 am

        I compare it, badly, to Horizon Zero Dawn. Where evern the smallest NPC characters are fully voiced and Aloy has quips and sarcasm that just can't be conveyed in text.

        ITs also nice to have a real resolution to something. After you have just done a big mission, you get a wonderful scene celebrating the fact and it gives you a minute or so to absorb it

        With zelda you still have to keep pressing A while an NPC repeats their animations over and over.

        I can't figure out why people give it such a pass, the graphics, gameplay have all come in leaps and bounds in BOTW but storytelling and plot haven't changed since....ever

          It's because Zelda isn't about the story. It's about the world and gameplay.

            Zelda isn't about the graphics either, yet you wouldn't be paying $100 for a game that still looked like it did 20 years ago.

            Gamplay IMPROVED. Graphics IMPROVED. Story SAME.

            Stop giving it a pass, if it was minecraft sure, but it isn't it has characters and plots and it presents them badly.

          I've been complaining :P BotW's writing is such a huge step backwards from Skyward Sword, it's really disappointing in comparison. And the voice acting is terrible, I really wish the whole thing was just done in the old style, with the occasional vocal sounds from characters but no voices. It really was better that way.

          But even then, it's such a great game otherwise that it doesn't really matter that much. What is there in those parts is serviceable, and generally I play games for the game part. Story doesn't matter anywhere near as much.

        The thing that bother me though, is that while Bethesda gets deserved flak for having janky animations, they at least have gotten better with each iteration. How the latest of the Mass Effect series has gone so backwards when trying to show what the 'next gen' from Bioware is meant to be is astonishing - especially in comparison to that teaser that revealed Ryder only a year ago.

      A sci-fi action adventure where you play a "chosen one" style of character on a journey to save the human race. Along the way your character falls in love, probably. You win in the end.

      The above describes every Mass Effect game, and a whole lot of other films and games. The things that differentiate them: the direction, pacing, characterisation, dialogue, framing, all of that is what makes the journey worthwhile. Applies directly to any other series, including Zelda.

    Just played through the trial and while the combat and gameplay was good the animations were definitely pretty bad not to mention a bunch of the faces looked really bad; granted there was a few which looked right but there were others which certainly weren't.

    Thank Christ for that, I'm sick of updating my graphics card because of some game-crippling Nvidia GameWork fancy 1,000,000% tessellation hair particle godrays bullshit.

      You will be pleased to hear that many players are finding that the PC port runs like shit, even on some very current rigs.

        I am definitely finding the performance... questionable.

        Not unplayable by any means, but there's not much indication as to WHY my fps will drop a little almost completely at random.

        Its like the framerate just varies of its own accord, even if you sit staring at the same scene.

      Crap facial animation has nothing to do with power, silent hill on the wii wipes the floor with this game.

      Scale is a factor, yes, but so is budget.

    Maybe the bug still exists and somehow made it into the trial?

      You should charge Bioware for that PR spin, sir.

      I was playing the trial this morning myself. Some of the animation is bad, some of it is hilarious... But the gameplay is pretty solid so I don't much care.

      Previous games definitely had moments like it that you had to overlook. Sure that might not excuse it in a newer game, but personally I wasn't expecting anything different in that regard so I'm okay with it.

    I remember the middle of last gen when the 'big' games were hyped up, but not yet released. Reviews come out, everybody goes gaga. Then a backlash sets in.

    Then a backlash to that backlash.

    This cycle goes so much faster these days.

    People need to work out what uncanny valley is. It doesn't mean 3d model that looks and animates like shit to the point that it's laughable.

    I don't meant to be an enabler but I've been playing the trial and it's really not phasing me all that much. I was disappointed when I played Inquisition but now I've just kind of accepted that Bioware don't do good animations. Same goes for Bethesda as well.

    Game's fun regardless. Can't wait until Thursday!

    So I'm confused.... When is Andromeda coming out? I've seen a tonne of gameplay vid on Twitch & the 'Tubes not to mention articles galore.

    EB says 23/3 but 21/3 in the US

      23rd for AU

      you can VPN over to the NA and I think it was like 21st 4pm or something for activation (I tried it to see if it worked since I did it for DA:I)

      The reason you're seeing so much footage of it is because EA's 'Play First' trial went live a day or so ago.

      Which lets people play the game for 10 hours, before the official release date, if they have an Origin or EA Access subscription.

    I found the mouth animation to be really odd sometimes for humans, for the aliens in game (asari, krogan and turian so far) there wasn't really any problems. Overall I don't think it detracts it from (potentially) being a great game.

    This makes me sad.

    My comment is still in moderation because I made an edit. But TL;DR:

    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep06654

    We individualize people from our own race (including sub race) better and understand subtle facial clues. Which is why we think aliens look more "realistic" and why Caucasian people for instance may think that African American characters look more real.

    Remember the gameplay preview a couple of months back? The complaints about the stupid, unrealistic facial animations and mouth movements?
    Remember people declaring "Its just a preview. Just a beta. Its not representitive of the final product!"

    When are people going to learn that when a game is beiong shown a few months from launch that it IS representitive of the final product?

      There are people desperately holding out for a "day 1 patch" (to fix the entire fucking game) but it was confirmed that patch is applied to the early unlock ROFLMAO

    What a shock, people complaining on the internet, here's an idea go and make a better game

      When people complain about issues with a car nobody says "Well I bet you couldn't make a better car".

      Most people have a limit on how much they can spend on games and if your game has a lot of problems people will look elsewhere.

      I hope you can see the irony of being so annoyed about people complaining on the internet that you went and complained on the internet about it.

      If nobody is able to criticise anyone else for doing a poor job until they are capable of doing said job themselves, then neither should anyone be able to praise the work of another til they can do such a job themselves too.

      Nah that's a bullshit line of thinking.

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