Series: Mass Effect
Platform: PSU, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
On the surface, Mass Effect Andromeda (MEA) seems like everything Mass Effect fans have wanted since the first trilogy - A vast galaxy to explore, large planet maps to sink, improved combat system, an epic main storyline, tons of side quests and of course, alien love making. However, what seems like a game too good to be true turns into a love-hate relationship where you are left wondering if MEA is even worth finishing, or maybe it's all in your head and this is actually a good game.
Definite improvement in MEA. It feels much more streamlined, intuitive and gives solid feedback. Firing weapons is satisfying, popping the skulls of enemies feels disgustingly blissful, and there's a tonne of weapons with meaningful impacts on gameplay. However, a few hours into combat, some glaring flaws begin to rear their heads.
Weapons and skills
While there are a plethora of guns and skills to pick from, the choices quickly become irrelevant. The game itself isn't long enough to let you research, develop and try out every single gun without replaying. On top of that, the idea of being able to switch skill sets on the fly sounds good, but seemed pointless given how much more rewarding it was to invest on only three powers early on. Towards the end, I had enough points to take other powers and max them out, but by then my gear and fighting strategy was so fine-tuned it would ruined the balance, much like adding a jet engine to a fine-tuned drifter.
At higher difficulties, the enemy AI is top-notch. The boss or tougher enemies force your focus on them while their army of minions try to get closer to you or even sneak up for a surprise attack. The only commands you can give your squad is to move to a place and hold it, follow you, or attack. Unfortunately, your squad, most of the time, flat out ignores enemies you primed or they prime enemies when your powers are on cooldown and then, just leave the enemy hanging (literally at times) and look at you expectedly like hungry puppies.
The quests are where you spiral down to existential crisis levels of depression. 90 percent of the quests are the exact same pattern - talk to someone, go somewhere, shoot some stuff, scan something, go to another place, shoot more, scan more and talk some more. The only part where the quests shine through are the occasional, genuinely hilarious additional tasks and the loyalty missions. The maps, story, pacing and choices made here are top notch, and remind you why Bioware were considered the gods of RPG and storytelling at one time.
Dialogues and Storyline
MEA tries to be more open world than the previous instalments, and fails horribly. While the maps themselves are gorgeous, they feel sort of artificial when you figure out the enemy camps patterns and marker placements. One of the key selling points of any Mass Effect game are its gripping storylines, which falls flat on its face in an open world context. One of the things I was really hoping would have improved is the dialogue and choice system, but it may be even worse now. Your crew doesn't get updated conversations often enough, and your dialogues choices are represented by "moods/tones" denoted by funny icons and a shortened few words that are rarely representative of what you might think they mean, leaving the player to reload and play the conversation over again to get the desired outcome.
The series still has potential. The setup was there, the plotlines and characters were there, everything needed to make an epic Mass Effect was there. Yet by trying to be too many things at once and failing to see through those design choices to the end (maybe more beta testing next time, EA?), Andromeda ends up being just another brick in the wall. While the future instalments definitely have the chance to salvage this mess, it doesn't look very promising right now for Mass Effect, Bioware or EA.