Mass Effect: Andromeda Turned Me Into An Angry Steam Reviewer

Mass Effect: Andromeda Turned Me Into An Angry Steam Reviewer
Original Image: Berduu

There’s a great image from last year, when the internet was flipping out over No Man’s Sky.

It was seven simple words: “I do not know what I want.”

It wasn’t an actual review, but a Chrome extension parodying the people who spend tens, even hundreds of hours playing a game only to bitch about it afterwards.

I’ve often wondered: how do you play a game for so long without enjoying it? Wouldn’t you just quit?

It wasn’t until I came close to the end of Mass Effect: Andromeda, that I realised I was exactly one of these people. According to the game, I’ve completed 70% of the content, made every planet I could 100% viable, reached level 43, and spent 45 hours being the galaxy’s errand girl.

And I had complaints for almost 45 hours straight. The opening level, as Patricia noted in her review, was far too convoluted for its own good. And it also served as an opportunity to lay all of Andromeda‘s RPG systems on you at once, which immediately highlighted one of the game’s major flaws.

Mass Effect: Andromeda's Menus Are A Mess

Divisive as it might be, Mass Effect. Andromeda has a lot to like. Its menus, however, are not one of those things.

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For a game that comes after The Witcher 3, previous Mass Effect games, and countless other major RPGs that have taken different approaches to inventory and quest management, Andromeda seems to have learned nothing.

You can’t sort items. Game options, graphics and video settings are on a separate page to the main menus. Opening chests and containers brings the game to a halt. Some doors take around three or more seconds to open. Why? Are the doors on Kadara Port harder to hack, or made of weaker materials than those on the Nexus or Aya?

One of the biggest gripes: a single button press gets me into my journal or menu, but it can take several button presses to get back into the action. Two buttons back, that’s acceptable. But if you’re going into your journal, and you’re tracking a quest that happens to be a task instead of a priority mission, you’ll have to hit back multiple times.

And don’t get me started on those bloody planet transitions.

Enjoy the view, because you’ll get a lot more of it than you’d like

Most of these gripes come up pretty quickly. But as I was hopping from one planet to another to mop up a side quest or two, I realised it wasn’t stopping me from completing the majority of Andromeda‘s content.

And it’s not because Andromeda is clever about collating a bunch of quests on the same moon. The next step for a quest often doesn’t trigger until you finish another mission or leave another planet. Or – and this is the worst – answer your email.

Why can’t your omni-tool handle email? It’s somehow capable of hacking into Remnant technology, but SAM can’t rig a plug-in for Outlook or Gmail? How the hell does that make sense? Is forcing the player through multiple unskippable cutscenes and loading screens really a better player experience when you could just have an extra tab in the in-game menu for the player to read a few lines of text?

If you’re starting an Andromeda playthrough now, you won’t have to deal with some of that. The latest patch at least lets you skip autopilot sequences in the galaxy map – but not when landing or leaving a planet – and the human characters have gotten new shaders for their eyes, making them a little less mannequin-like.

I fortunately didn’t have to deal with most of the jankier animations, although there was one fun moment in the prologue where Ryder got stuck going down a set of stairs and began sinking slowly into the earth. And there was another fun bug where I went to mine some minerals in the Nomad, only for the Nomad to immediately disappear.

You don’t have to look hard to find things to complain about.

Image: Kotaku

But still, I mainlined my way through the majority of the game. Moving house helped: when you don’t have internet, your options are a lot more limited than you think, especially with some singleplayer games that crack the shits when they can’t authenticate online. But even still, I think I would have grumbled my way through Andromeda nonetheless.

The whole experience reminded me of Pokemon GO. When that launched, you would never for a second stop and tell someone that it was a “good” game, at least by any traditional metric. People had to buy multiple battery packs just to get through a single day’s play. The game was frequently buggy. Gyms barely worked, if at all.

But being broken doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. And I’ve kept asking myself that question with Andromeda: am I actually having fun? If I finish the majority of the game’s content, surely I’m having a good time?

Or am I really just punishing myself, and just enjoying the feeling of being angry?

Maybe it’s partially because all that time is spent searching. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending 45 hours looking for something in Andromeda that will match up to what I loved from the Mass Effect series is. Maybe Kadara Port will live up to the kind of environments I remember exploring from Mass Effect 2. Maybe the ending will make up for all of the time I’ve spent backtracking, cleaning up loyalty quests, watching unskippable transitions.

Maybe this is what it’s like to spend hundreds, even thousands, of hours on a game that you don’t like.

I still wouldn’t recommend Andromeda to anyone else. But maybe, just maybe, I had fun. If not with the game itself, then certainly the journey. It wasn’t the journey I signed up for, but then you never really know what you’ll find in space.


  • It sounds like you suffered the death of a thousand paper cuts, a culmination of a whole lot of little things turning you off the game rather than any particular notable sin. That’s understandable, although most the little things in this game don’t bother me enough to matter.

    For me the only real gripes are the email thing you mentioned and the inability to switch gear anywhere but at a loadout station. The takeoff/landing sequences haven’t bothered me so far, but I tend to stick around and do everything I possibly can at a location before moving to the next so maybe I just ran into fewer of them.

    • I’ve never played mobile games in the middle of playing a AAA game quite so much as Andromeda, that’s for sure.

      • I can’t understand why that shit is even in the game.

        Don’t make the mistake of accidentally saying you want to do one in multiplayer either, it’ll drop you all the way out of the game and you’ll have to re-load your last autosave. :\

  • Hold ‘Y’ to open the door.
    Hold ‘Y’ to open the command console.
    Hold ‘Y’ to exit the command console.
    Hold ‘Y’ to enter the enter the vehicle.
    Hold ‘Y’ to exit the vehi……. OH F*CK I LEFT THE F*CKING PLANET AND WAS SENT BACK TO SPACE AGAIN. Another 3 transitional cutscenes, a walk and a drive with be required to get back where I was!


    • I really don’t get why we have to HOLD DOWN the interact button to do friggin everything. Was it like that in the original Mass Effect games? I can’t remember… No Man’s Sky was the first time this “feature” really became apparent to me and (for me at least) it went down about as smoothly as a glass full of razorblades.

      Have I been living under a rock and this is suddenly the new standard?

      • I think it first cropped up in Halo when entering vehicles required holding the button cause it was the same as either reload or swap weapon, I can’t remember. Some actions are definitely good to have as hold down buttons, but Mass Effect makes bizarre choices about which ones they should be.

        • That’s fair enough when you have a lot of actions and only limited keys to bind them to. Hell, even when they port those games to PC and leave the bindings unchanged you can look at it and go “yeah ok”, but in this case the only reason for it seems to be “just because”…

          There’s only one action bound to that key on PC and yet we have to hold the button in anyway for no apparent reason. At the same time they’ve gone and split the “jump” and “vault” actions into separate keys, which also makes no sense. Fortunately I can just jetpack over obstacles because trying to hit that vault key in the middle of a shitstorm is awkward as hell.

          • Ah yeah I don’t play on PC so i’m strictly talking from a console perspective. You’re right, it does make zero sense with a keyboard set up.

          • when it happens on a keyboard its clear sign that the controls were made with controller in mind due to the limited amount inputs on a Xbox/PS controller. the biggest offender was in New Vegas with the change ammo type being hard coded to the 2 key on the keyboard which on a controller was one of the d-pad buttons, so you could put or item in every single key from 1 through to 8 except 2 and it could not be changed at all

      • A lot of it comes down to the limited control schemes possible on a controller. Rather than having some god-awful multi-button combo to do things, they distinguish between a single short press and an extended press for certain interactions. Sadly it was more trouble than it was worth for them to allow you to just make it a different control for the PC and do away with the “hold e to open” bs…

      • Yep. I just turned if off the second time it happened, haven’t done it since but I’m sure I will.

        Also has anyone else had tons on trouble saving the game at times?
        Last night I booted the game to find I was about 30minutes of tedious fighting behind where I was. Then I remembered that I’d done a long session where the game wouldn’t let me manually save and clearly wasn’t a fan of autosaving either. When I’d shut my machine off at the end I’d lost all my progress.

        So I decided to go do something else, and within the first 5 minutes I got into a fight that apparently didn’t end and I couldn’t save at all for the next 30 minutes or so even when I’d cleared several waves of enemies. I was sure I was going to get killed and then throw my controller through a window.

        • I ran into a problem at one point during one of the last Kett missions on Voeld. After 30-40 minutes of exploring and fighting Kett I decided to save my game and take a break. It LOOKED like it saved the game but of course I didn’t go back and look at my save list to confirm it was there. When I jumped back in later I found there was no save I had to redo the entire area from the last autosave. I wasn’t particularly impressed.

        • I never missed quicksaving so much as I did in Andromeda… Another feature dropped for ease of console-PC porting…

  • If I finish the majority of the game’s content, surely I’m having a good time? Or am I really just punishing myself, and just enjoying the feeling of being angry?
    Maybe it’s partially because all that time is spent searching. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending 45 hours looking for something in Andromeda that will match up to what I loved from the Mass Effect series is. Maybe Kadara Port will live up to the kind of environments I remember exploring from Mass Effect 2. Maybe the ending will make up for all of the time I’ve spent backtracking, cleaning up loyalty quests, watching unskippable transitions. Maybe this is what it’s like to spend hundreds, even thousands, of hours on a game that you don’t like.

    Welcome to my loathing of Destiny. When I finally realized that what I was looking/hoping for wasn’t there.

    • The problem with ME:A that I didn’t have with Destiny is that there was no attachment to it beyond my own (mild) enthusiasm for the game Destiny was promised to be. Once it was shit, I just stopped playing.

      ME: A is the newest in a LONG line of games that have been some of my all-time favourites going all the way back to the Baldur’s Gate series.

      Being the first in a new trilogy, I (like a lot of people I assume) feel compelled to get through it in because Bioware have built enough good will that I don’t expect them to sh*t up the next one.
      In that way it sucks, because while clearly passable, the game is riddled with terrible, terrible design choices that leave it underwhelming in almost every aspect.

      If it was a stand-alone title I doubt that I would even get through it. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, just that I’d be likely to find something better to play over the course of 50-odd gaming hours.

      • I was a massive fan, huge disappointment for me as well. Even played the first bit, but nah, I kept getting more and more disappointed. It’s as if the new team had no clue as to what made the prequels great.

        But it’s still the only game of it’s kind and a continuation of the narrative universe, which is why people keep playing it despite it’s flaws. It does make a good parody of the real game though.

    • I have the issue with Skyrim and Fallout 4 @transientmind and @alexwalker, and i have a a shit load of hours both them (almost 2k on skyrim alone)

  • Holy moley, Alex.

    That was hard to read, but well done.

    I took your positive and effusive comments and responses to readers in the other Andromeda articles (including my own) with a grain of salt but still thought I should get on to the game at some stage.

    I feel for you more than anything, but dang, them’s the breaks.

    Mass Effect as a singular game and as a franchise means something very important to a lot of people, in different ways. I’m still looking at it with trepidation, but reckon I still might go in for it at some stage.

  • I frequently finish games I don’t enjoy after spending tens of hours on them. Mostly it’s because:
    a) I just want to see the end and be done with it.
    b) There are enough high moments to distract me from the fact that it’s a bad game.
    c) It’s a game I really want to find the joy in.
    d) I just want to know what people are talking about.

    • You’re only missing ‘e) I wanted to unlock the achievement/ trophy’ and you’ve got a full list of bad reasons to finish a game!

      Seriously though, IF I do finish ME: A, it’ll only be because I want background for the (hopefully much better) sequel.

  • ME:A got my Kotaku comments moderated because it’s a shitty game and detractors are not tolerated by the mass down voting public.

    • You got downvoted because you were acting like a tool and insulting the developers, Kotaku writers and people who like the game all at once. There are better ways to share your opinion on the game than the absolute statements you’ve been making.

      • How does calling out a repeat offender publisher in EA and a rapidly backsliding developer on over promising and under delivering on a game insult you lmao

  • As I pointed out in the last article that griped about it, you can exit all opened menus immediately by hitting TAB.

    Not obvious, I only noticed by accident, but was the most annoying of the GUI flow niggles I experienced and was happy to have solved it.

    • Reminds me of one of the legacy missions where you’re on a moon and can’t leave the Nomad, but the game never tells you at any point you can immediately recall to the Tempest by hitting T.

      Characters will tell you within two seconds what you need to do to solve a puzzle, but you don’t get a reminder for the button prompt you need to hit so you can leave the moon and continue on with the game. Maddening.

      • I ran into the same problem (and in the same place). My Nomad was sitting in front of the Tempest and I had no obvious way to get off the planet, since I couldn’t exit the vehicle.

        I don’t recall hovering ever being explained either, even though it’s pushed pretty hard as a feature. Maybe I blinked and missed the tutorial.

        (On the PC, hold down the RMB, the same “key” used for zooming.)

        • I’m pretty sure it was in the tutorial (i’m not smart enough to work it out myself!) – but mustn’t have been clear, which is not a surprise.

      • Yeah. You have to go there twice.

        Being that it was several hours between visits I forgot that that was the only place you hit the damn “t” button to get on the tempest instead of “e” for everything else.

        Requiring an alt tab to do a quick Google search. I mean everything else has a “cloud of answering” around it that tells you which button you push to interact, why can’t this one stinking function?

    • TAB to quit menus? It sounds like people in the Andromeda team need to retake “UI Design 101”. In no universe is that a reasonable choice.

  • I hate-played SO MANY games to completion when I was younger, simply because I had nothing else.

    The Adams Family on SNES. Final Fantasy 8, multiple times. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. Destiny.

    Andromeda is not one of them. It’s a delightful mess 🙂

      • Not my style of JRPG. Disliked 13 and 15, also, but I completed 8 many times for some reason. Great moments, here and there, and certainly original… just bland compared to VII.

  • I’m loving Andromeda, and not having had a repeat of the pre-patch Direct X crashes is great. I wish they’d strike ‘Diversity’ from their dictionary tho, because the one sequence where you get to experience the Initiative in all its hilarious lying-through-their-teeth propaganda glory had the word pretty much every other sentence.

    Its definitely the worthy successor to Mass Effect 1 that I’d been waiting for, and worlds ahead of the “ooh, look at me, I’m so edgy, every second word is a four letter F word (mainly through the inclusion of Jack)” of Mass Effect 2.

  • The long door opens are mini loading screens to give time for loading or swapping textures and geometry from disk to GPU. If you didn’t have them there would be stuttering in a lot of areas. The number of long doors on kadara specifically does seem excessive.

    Also if you focus on viability via “allies and relationships” you won’t be hopping as much as if you wait to the end to do them separately.

    The multiple ESC sucks but the story of the game.. is very good imo.

    • I’ve got the game on a SSD and every door opens in a second or less regardless of where it is, *except* on Kadara. I suspect they had hard-coded opening time at some point and removed it from everywhere except there.

  • I like the story of the game. Its the only thing that keeps me playing.

    That is if you go through every mission on every planet and get the chunk of rock at 100% and destroy the worms on every planet.

    You start to not have to transition as much. All though there are times where you feel like a space bus driver. It’s not as often.

    There is also new bugs that the game has with the patch. Like when you alt tab in full screen mode it windows the game instead of minimizing, like it used to and all games do. And I awkwardly look off into the distance when chatting with people lying down.

    I was laughing during a conversation that was serious because my eyes and focus was on an alien butt instead of the person I was talking to.

  • THIS 100% this. I slogged my way through the broken systems and tedium hoping for resolutions to my big choices and character progression. It is not worth the time or effort.

  • Why is nobody talking about the strength of this game? Combat is quite good if you crank up the difficulty. The rest is just filler to level up and get you to the next encounter. Gripes about complicated UI, quest management, triggering this and that? Gamers have become soft. Beat ME Andromeda on Insanity difficulty and then tell me you were unsatisfied. Of course it will suck if you play it as a casual. A side note is that the game is a good lesbian love simulator if played properly. But nobody seems to want to touch that either.

  • “One of the biggest gripes: a single button press gets me into my journal or menu, but it can take several button presses to get back into the action.”

    To get back to the game from the menu you just press the menu/start again, pressing back several times is choosing to do it the hard way.

    “if you’re going into your journal, and you’re tracking a quest that happens to be a task instead of a priority mission, you’ll have to hit back multiple times.”

    That’s wrong, priority missions & tasks are on the same 1st page in Journal both require the same single back button press to get out of (why you lie?). Heleus folder has sub folders for individual planets/places that require 2 back presses to get out of and barely the definition of “multiple”. Also the shoulder buttons scroll thru the sub menus so you don’t have to go back to main menu page.

    “And don’t get me started on those bloody planet transitions.”

    You mean in a game that’s about traveling thru space & exploring the little few second clips of traveling thru space is a bane to you. I wonder if the cooking bits in Zelda where for a few seconds food tosses in a pan is equally a chore for you.

    “Why can’t your omni-tool handle email?”

    Hypocrite much. You earlier whinged about the menu having too much in it (ow my thumb hurts from pressing the back button). To now suggest they add an email sub menu ugh.

    You’re at 70% lvl 43 after 45hrs. I’m at 40% lvl 43 after 80hrs. One of us is impatient & frustrated and it’s not me.

  • Here’s something that really chapped my ass in Andromeda…

    I didn’t mind the solar system travel, in fact I quite enjoyed it and wanted to use the opportunity to take a lot of cool screenshots… but that wasn’t to be. Know why? People complained about the sequences and wanted an option to skip it. That’s okay, options are good, I don’t mind people wanting to skip them… but what does Bioware do? They slap a giant fucking “PRESS TAB TO SKIP” button on the screen during every single one of those transitions. How spiteful is that? It’s almost like someone in the studio thought, “these ungrateful little shits don’t like our travel sequences? well fine! we’ll take it out on the people who do like it and put a giant immersion breaking button on the screen… THAT’LL LEARN EM! THAT’LL LEARN EM ALL!”

    What a bunch of dicks.

    Other than that, yeah the article sums everything up nicely… what a meandering chore this game was to complete. I got to the point where I still had a couple dozen additional tasks, and some helius missions, and I just said “fuck all of you, I will no longer be your fetch bitch… fuck your movie night, Liam, fuck your little robot, PurpleShrek, fuck your tired face, Addison, fuck your baby, Gil, fuck every last one of you angora sweaters… go get yourselves exalted. We ARE NOT stopping by , I don’t give a shit what the Kett might have found at , I’m not getting involved in a fight at … screw you guys, I’m going home.”

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