Game Review: Mass Effect: Andromeda (Xbox One)

“We are travelers, constantly moving forward and looking back. Alone and as one. We have no choice but to try. For our insatiable curiosity. For our fear of what should happen if we don’t. You are that explorer now. We will say goodbye, and you will look back one last time and know that wherever you go, we will be with you.”

After a controversial and widely disliked ending to the last instalment, Mass Effect 3, Bioware had a lot to prove. After a 5 year gap and with advancements in gaming technology, the pressure was definitely on. Unfortunately, it wasn’t simply the ending that got people bashing their keyboards in rage: it was everything. So, is Mass Effect: Andromeda really all that bad? Let’s find out…

Mass Effect: Andromeda is an action role-playing video game developed by BioWare Montreal and published by Electronic Arts for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. The game was released worldwide in March 2017. It is the fourth major entry in the Mass Effect series and the first since 2012’s Mass Effect 3.

The game begins within the Milky Way Galaxy during the 22nd century, where humanity is planning to populate new home worlds in the Andromeda Galaxy as part of a strategy called the Andromeda Initiative. The player assumes the role of either Scott or Sara Ryder, an inexperienced military recruit who joins the Initiative and wakes up in Andromeda following a 634-year journey. Events transpire that result in Ryder becoming humanity’s Pathfinder, tasked with finding humanity’s home world while also dealing with an antagonistic alien race called Kett.

As the player you can take control of either Ryder: Sara or Scott, customizing their names and appearances. Luckily, I discovered you can download character appearances other users have created so you don’t have to suffer deciding between the terrible preset ones.

Unlike previous instalments, you’re not stuck with the class you choose at the beginning and can freely change throughout the game. Players have free rein to assign any skills that they want to build towards a specialty over the course of the game. Plus you can experiment with different classes without having to start the game all over again.

(preset vs created)

Similar to its predecessors, the player can interact with characters in Mass Effect: Andromeda using a radial command menu where the player’s dialogue options depend on wheel direction. Around the wheel are four types of responses that shape each conversation: emotional, logical, professional, and casual. During some conversations, the player is prompted with an “Impulse Action” that offers an additional choice to what is available on the dialogue wheel.

As usual, conversing with other characters can develop friendships or if desired, romances over time. This game marks the departure of the Paragon/Renegade system, as decisions you make are simply moral and there’s no clear good/bad distinction.

In Mass Effect: Andromeda, the player explores the Andromeda galaxy by selecting destinations. You do this from the inside of a ship called Tempest. By having Ryder stand on the ship’s bridge, the player is able to overlook the stars using a galaxy map. You can then seamlessly choose a navigation point. The game features five primary planets and over a dozen hub worlds. These planets connect the player to various quests that need to be completed. All the planets have open world elements and can be traversed using the “Nomad”. The Nomad is a six-wheeled, all-terrain vehicle.

Combat is a lot more fluid and covering behind an object is automatic. Ryder has a jetpack to dash and jump out of harm’s way. It’s encouraged to be constantly on the move. Damage is dealt to enemies using gunfire, melee attacks, or specialized skills.

Characters and player decisions from the original Mass Effect trilogy are not carried over into Mass Effect: Andromeda. There is no canon ending which is referenced.

Squadmates in the game include: Cora Harper (Jules de Jongh), a biotic specialist with intensive commando training; Liam Kosta (Gary Carr), a security expert who specializes in crisis response; Pelessaria “Peebee” B’Sayle (Christine Lakin), an asari gunslinger capable of biotic destabilization; Nakmor Drack (Stanley Townsend), a veteran krogan warrior of the Nakmor clan specializing in close combat; Vetra Nyx (Danielle Rayne), a female turian mercenary who excels in shielding and protection; and Jaal Ama Darav (Nyasha Hatendi), a resistance fighter of the newly-introduced angara race.

Mass Effect: Andromeda undoubtedly has issues. Lots of issues. From technical problems such as; fucky facial animation (the eyes are dead and all over the place when you’re talking) and poor lip syncing. Also the nomad bugging out while boosting. To story driven problems; Father’s death had no emotional impact and Scott doesn’t wake up until the final third and even then he literally just sleeps. Plus there’s a very short romance with Reyes (his romance was added in with an update). And very short personal cut scenes with characters.

I also found fault with the characters. My crew felt lacking of a stand-out personality and had no edge to them. And finally the score wasn’t particularly good. It was very similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition in places and sometimes would be weirdly dramatic in places that didn’t call for it. In my Dragon Age: Inquisiton review I was able to list my favourite characters but for this game I can’t. The core of any game, for me, is characters and I found ME:A came up short.

So, you’re probably asking with a game that has so many faults. Is there anything good?! Well, of course. Visually the landscapes look stunning. It’s clear a lot of the effort went into them rather than the character models. Additionally, the combat is significantly improved and modernized.

Overall, I found Mass Effect: Andromeda enjoyable. It’s definitely fun to explore and follow the story. But, it’s simply incomplete in so many areas which is so disappointing. It’s above average because it’s a Mass Effect game and I think that could save it for a sequel. But, if it was the beginning of a new franchise I’d probably give it a lower score. I love Mass Effect so I genuinely hope they’re able to get past this.  I anticipate many changes that will fix all the issues raised about this instalment. Hopefully the story can continue so we can all get back to what we love. Kicking alien ass and romancing hot companions.

Mass Effect: Andromeda
  • The Final Score - 6/10

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