Mass Effect: Andromeda Review in Progress

Mass Effect: Andromeda Review in Progress
 
 

Mass Effect: Andromeda is a massive game, and we received our code a little later then we would have liked. After pouring in multiple hours, here are some of our thoughts on BioWare’s latest space opera RPG.

These observations won’t necessarily reflect what our final impressions will be. Moreover, it would be unfair on the years of effort the developer poured into the game to rush out our opinion. For our full thoughts and score, keep your eyes on NZGamer.com.

Encounters in Mass Effect: Andromeda are based heavily around verticality, with players having the ability to jump-jet and dash around the environment. Battles have a very different flow compared to previous entries in the series, and require you to be very mobile so as to avoid being flanked. This provides a nice level of chaos, and requires you to be comfortable with the skills at your disposal.

Setting up tactical kills with your squad is difficult though, with no granularity present in their control. You can tell them to attack foes or guard areas, but setting up a combo relies on you noticing that one of your squad-mates triggered a certain ability. Given the game’s omni-directional approach to encounter design, it can be hard to pin-point where your teammates are mid fire-fight too, exacerbating the issue. On normal difficulty, combat hasn’t necessitated that level of micro-managing, but it is missed.

In Andromeda you aren’t locked down to a single class. From the get-go, you can pour skill points into combat, tech, or biotic trees. Weapon types aren’t gated either, meaning you can mix-and-match to your heart’s content. Your power set early on is a little underwhelming, but as you expand and build towards your playstyle, encounters become flashier displays of explosions and lasers.

Outside of that is an overarching metagame, reflecting the footing you’re trying to gain in the new frontier. Andromeda Viability Points (or AVP) are earned for completing missions, and making worlds habitable. Cashing these in provide rewards that routinely roll in, like packages of crafting material or credits. At no point did these ever feel essential to my progression, but checking for them added a nice routine every time I returned to my ship.

One of the main ways of gaining AVP is to establish outposts on planets. This is accomplished by visiting monoliths – ancient alien ruins, which act as waypoints for environmental control systems. Activating these is one of the weaker elements of the game’s core loop, having you complete lame Sudoku puzzles. They’re not difficult, just boring – contributing absolutely nothing to your travels.

The environmental control systems that these monoliths unlock effectively act as dungeons, each with their own flavour – be it platforming, simple puzzles, or combat. Completing these alter the planet’s weather, making them fit for colonisation. Seeing the planet you’ve been rolling around on for hours change in such a sweeping way is a reward in itself, but it also makes you feel like you’ve made a tangible difference.

On a technical level, the PC version of Andromeda is sharp. The different planets you’ll visit each present a beautiful landscape – some teeming with strange plant life, and others with howling squalls across frozen planes. BioWare Montreal have created organic and constructed environments that feel suitably alien, giving the franchise an air of mystery it hasn’t had since its first instalment.

Unfortunately, that level of quality doesn’t extend to everything. Mass Effect: Andromeda is a buggy game. Characters in cut-scenes get locked into animations, or lean on invisible objects. Occasionally they’ll be talking about heady philosophical issues while being embedded in a nearby wall. One particularly strange bug multiplied the crew members on my ship when I talked to them. While having two identical Dracks fussing around a kitchen is hilarious in its absurdity, it does dampen the more serious tone that the game often aims for.

Facial animations are another concern. While every alien you encounter looks totally fine, the occasional human interaction has you staring at a wide-eyed monster. This is strange, as occasionally these characters will snap into more casual looking postures, having their eye-lids lower and stance relax. It’s easy to wave away these types of bugs in something as goofy as Fallout, but in Mass Effect – when social interaction is a cornerstone of your franchise – it’s a real problem.

Continuing a much beloved franchise in a meaningful way – while also innovating upon it – must be an incredibly intimidating proposition. It’s unclear if Mass Effect: Andromeda has felt the strains of that expectation, or if the bugs and issues present are merely the growing pains of new studio BioWare Montreal. The core foundation – the combat, progression, and exploration – is sturdy. But it’s clear that Mass Effect: Andromeda needed more time for polish.


These thoughts aren’t necessarily our final impressions of Mass Effect: Andromeda. We’ll be posting our full review and score when we’ve completed the game.

Keith received a digital copy of the game from EA for review.




 

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Comments Comments (28)

 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Monday 20 Mar 2017 8:04 PM
4
I wonder how much rushing is going on to get a day one patch that fixed the animation bugs. So many prior have complained about it, they must be freaking out.
 
 
 
Posted by Bunnny
On Monday 20 Mar 2017 9:01 PM
2
20 March 2017, 08:04 PM Reply to Ryzlin
I wonder how much rushing is going on to get a day one patch that fixed the animation bugs. So many prior have complained about it, they must be freaking out.
Pretty sure I heard day one patch won't include animation fixes
 
 
 
Posted by ptys
On Monday 20 Mar 2017 9:11 PM
3
Nice opening comment, the amount of hate on other sites is nauseating. Its a shame there are bugs but I'm 3hours in myself and pretty impressed! You gotta create your own Shepard, fundamental to the games enjoyment IMO.
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Monday 20 Mar 2017 9:43 PM
2
20 March 2017, 08:04 PM Reply to Ryzlin
I wonder how much rushing is going on to get a day one patch that fixed the animation bugs. So many prior have complained about it, they must be freaking out.
I think Day 1 patch was released with the Early Access. What ya see is what ya get.
Hopefully it gets polished over the coming weeks/months. If so Ill grab it then.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Monday 20 Mar 2017 10:22 PM
-
20 March 2017, 08:04 PM Reply to Ryzlin
I wonder how much rushing is going on to get a day one patch that fixed the animation bugs. So many prior have complained about it, they must be freaking out.
I doubt they will fix it, to much work without any benefit, few people would not buy a game based on bad animations.
 
 
 
Posted by Rapidity
On Monday 20 Mar 2017 10:40 PM
3
What's the writing and side-quests like? From what I've read elewhere the writing isn't great and in places it's even pretty bad and the sidequests are repetitive and little more than busywork?
 
 
 
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Monday 20 Mar 2017 11:21 PM
2
Just watched 3 video reviews. Sounds like somethings are better (worlds, combat) , and others are poorly done (writing, animations) with a number of bugs thrown in for good measure. Watching the gamespot review it sounded like a 7 or 7.5 but was shocked when they gave it a 6.
It just looks and sounds like it needed more time to polish.
I hope they put some effort in and patch it up a bit.
 
 
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 6:50 AM
2
Seen a few other reviews, IGN 7.7, Gamespot 6, seem to be all mixed so far. Rock Paper Shotgun review absolutely slams it tho, worth a read if for nothing but a good laugh.
 
 
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 6:52 AM
2
20 March 2017, 09:01 PM Reply to Bunnny
Pretty sure I heard day one patch won't include animation fixes
Correct. Game director said on Twitter when asked that the day one patch was already in place on the early access version, so obviously that done nothing for animations.
 
 
 
Posted by ptys
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 7:35 AM
3
21 March 2017, 06:50 AM Reply to Nick2016NZ
Seen a few other reviews, IGN 7.7, Gamespot 6, seem to be all mixed so far. Rock Paper Shotgun review absolutely slams it tho, worth a read if for nothing but a good laugh.
Gamespot a 6 seems pretty harsh considering something like Gravity Rush 2 is a 9 to them? I'm six hours in on PC, if must really take a downturn from here to drop that low in quality.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 10:04 AM
2
20 March 2017, 11:21 PM Reply to SpawnSeekSlay
Just watched 3 video reviews. Sounds like somethings are better (worlds, combat) , and others are poorly done (writing, animations) with a number of bugs thrown in for good measure. Watching the gamespot review it sounded like a 7 or 7.5 but was shocked when they gave it a 6.
It just looks and sounds like it needed more time to polish.
I hope they put some effort in and patch it up a bit.
That's a shame to hear. Bioware normally does a decent job with their writing. Not gonna stop me from getting it day one though, but writing is one of the biggest things I look for in a game.
 
 
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 10:09 AM
3
21 March 2017, 10:04 AM Reply to Ryzlin
That's a shame to hear. Bioware normally does a decent job with their writing. Not gonna stop me from getting it day one though, but writing is one of the biggest things I look for in a game.
From what I understand, this isn't the Bioware it used to be anymore, apparently almost none of the original team that made their best games work for them now. Kind of like an Infinity Ward situation if you will.
 
 
 
Posted by Rapidity
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 10:19 AM
4
21 March 2017, 10:09 AM Reply to Nick2016NZ
From what I understand, this isn't the Bioware it used to be anymore, apparently almost none of the original team that made their best games work for them now. Kind of like an Infinity Ward situation if you will.
The Bioware we all know and love is Bioware Edmonton. ME: Andromeda was made by Bioware: Montreal and up until now, as far as I'm aware, have never released a full game and have only worked on DLC's previously.
 
 
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 11:51 AM
3
21 March 2017, 10:19 AM Reply to Rapidity
The Bioware we all know and love is Bioware Edmonton. ME: Andromeda was made by Bioware: Montreal and up until now, as far as I'm aware, have never released a full game and have only worked on DLC's previously.
Ah, gotcha. So this is not the same studio that worked on the other Mass Effect games then? Wonder why they would let the "B team" handle such a massive title instead.
 
 
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 12:27 PM
3
21 March 2017, 10:19 AM Reply to Rapidity
The Bioware we all know and love is Bioware Edmonton. ME: Andromeda was made by Bioware: Montreal and up until now, as far as I'm aware, have never released a full game and have only worked on DLC's previously.
Just looked them up, Andromeda was actually made by 3 different studios, Bioware Edmonton being one of them, Montreal and Austin being the other 2.
 
 
 
Posted by Rapidity
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 12:59 PM
3
21 March 2017, 12:27 PM Reply to Nick2016NZ
Just looked them up, Andromeda was actually made by 3 different studios, Bioware Edmonton being one of them, Montreal and Austin being the other 2.
Okay, that's interesting although I'd still be surprised if Edmonton had very much to do with it as they are working on a new IP. Which is why I believe EA were happy to let the "B Team" work on it. They knew it would sell well regardless so they would rather the "A team" focus on creating a new IP.

This is all just speculation though.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 1:33 PM
2
21 March 2017, 10:09 AM Reply to Nick2016NZ
From what I understand, this isn't the Bioware it used to be anymore, apparently almost none of the original team that made their best games work for them now. Kind of like an Infinity Ward situation if you will.
It has been five years sine me3, I'm not surprised that people have moved around. Lord knows my partner doesn't write for bioware anymore, though that was circa 2004. It's also probably wrapped up in EA too. EA hires writers and lens then or to bioware. At least they used to.
 
 
 
Posted by Paorio
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 1:46 PM
2
preloading right now, wonder how much playtime ill actually manage to get with all these damn assignments
 
 
 
Posted by Paorio
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 1:48 PM
3
21 March 2017, 01:33 PM Reply to Ryzlin
It has been five years sine me3, I'm not surprised that people have moved around. Lord knows my partner doesn't write for bioware anymore, though that was circa 2004. It's also probably wrapped up in EA too. EA hires writers and lens then or to bioware. At least they used to.
Whoa what? What did your partner work on with bioware? That's awesome!
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 2:47 PM
2
20 March 2017, 10:40 PM Reply to Rapidity
What's the writing and side-quests like? From what I've read elewhere the writing isn't great and in places it's even pretty bad and the sidequests are repetitive and little more than busywork?
The romance writing is the cringy-est writing i've ever seen and the "my face is tired" meme is great.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 2:49 PM
-
21 March 2017, 07:35 AM Reply to ptys
Gamespot a 6 seems pretty harsh considering something like Gravity Rush 2 is a 9 to them? I'm six hours in on PC, if must really take a downturn from here to drop that low in quality.
I don't trust gamestop as a reviewer at all, or review scores in general for that matter, i read the words and ask myself if i think i will enjoy it, haven't been screwed by this method so far.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 5:02 PM
2
21 March 2017, 01:48 PM Reply to Paorio
Whoa what? What did your partner work on with bioware? That's awesome!
Yeah, she worked for them through EA. She was one of the writers for Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic 2 and a bunch of other games that she can't talk about. Then she moved into marketing at EA once she moved to the states, but that was more recently than the writing for Bioware.
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 7:25 PM
2
21 March 2017, 05:02 PM Reply to Ryzlin
Yeah, she worked for them through EA. She was one of the writers for Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic 2 and a bunch of other games that she can't talk about. Then she moved into marketing at EA once she moved to the states, but that was more recently than the writing for Bioware.
I thought Obsidian did KOTOR2? Still a shame they never actually got to finish that game befor releasing it....
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 7:51 PM
1
21 March 2017, 05:02 PM Reply to Ryzlin
Yeah, she worked for them through EA. She was one of the writers for Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic 2 and a bunch of other games that she can't talk about. Then she moved into marketing at EA once she moved to the states, but that was more recently than the writing for Bioware.
I wish I was half as cool as your partner sounds.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 8:46 PM
2
21 March 2017, 07:25 PM Reply to AdamC
I thought Obsidian did KOTOR2? Still a shame they never actually got to finish that game befor releasing it....
It that case it was the first game. :p I'm not actually a big star wars fan, much to her delight. Apparently the game really put her off star wars.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 8:47 PM
2
21 March 2017, 07:51 PM Reply to drunk_monk
I wish I was half as cool as your partner sounds.
Mate, you're not the only one. She has lived a wild life.
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 10:14 PM
2
21 March 2017, 08:46 PM Reply to Ryzlin
It that case it was the first game. :p I'm not actually a big star wars fan, much to her delight. Apparently the game really put her off star wars.
Ahh I was getting confused because ya said Knights of the old republic which was the Amazing series done 3-4 years before EA got involved with Bioware. Im now assuming you mean "The Old Republic" The online one. I forget that exists. Ive never played it but I heard mixed things about it. I dont have a PC that could handle it or I would have tried it out.
Its a shame that it put it off starwars. It would be an Interesting tale to hear.
Im also surprised that she cant talk about what she wrote on, as I thought writers usually get credited... Not that I ever read the credits lol.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Tuesday 21 Mar 2017 11:11 PM
2
21 March 2017, 10:14 PM Reply to AdamC
Ahh I was getting confused because ya said Knights of the old republic which was the Amazing series done 3-4 years before EA got involved with Bioware. Im now assuming you mean "The Old Republic" The online one. I forget that exists. Ive never played it but I heard mixed things about it. I dont have a PC that could handle it or I would have tried it out.
Its a shame that it put it off starwars. It would be an Interesting tale to hear.
Im also surprised that she cant talk about what she wrote on, as I thought writers usually get credited... Not that I ever read the credits lol.
I know it's not the online one. Let me double check this ..... Definitely the first game. She had a conversation about it with Courtenay Taylor who voiced one of the characters. Apprently when the voice actors read their scripts they have a little annotation saying who wrote what. It's not KOTOR she can't talk about, but the games that never saw the light of day, or the ones that haven't been announced yet.