One of the main franchises synonymous with the previous generation of consoles would undeniably be Mass Effect. Bioware spoke to a generation that embraced this western take on the roleplaying genre, and set the industry on fire with games that would soon go on to copy their formula time and time again. The original trilogy featuring Commander Shepard and his crew is still one of the better trilogies out there in the industry, so it was only natural that the hype for Mass Effect: Andromeda would be through the roof. After suffering a few delays, it finally released to a mixed reaction two months ago. Now that the dust has somewhat settled and a handful of patches have been applied to the game, we wanted to finally visit this next installment in the series and see if the updates have improved the base game. Read on for our full Mass Effect: Andromeda review.
Title: Mass Effect: Andromeda
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Game Purchased for the sake of this review
This review is going to be a little bit different than what we normally do here at SuperGen. There’s hundreds of reviews floating around for this game that have been out since before it even launched. We don’t want to just repeat what others have been saying for months. Instead, we want to take a look at what went wrong with Mass Effect: Andromeda, and more importantly, what can be done in the future for Bioware to not repeat these same mistakes.
You know what’s funny? The story found within Andromeda is actually really, really good. I was attached to the narrative and wanted to keep progressing forward to see what was going to happen to Ryder and his crew on board the Tempest in the same way that I was with Commander Shepard. I didn’t think Ryder was a bad protagonist by any means. Sure, there were times when he was rather bland or felt awkward, but in an open world game, that’s going to be par for the course at times.
The crew also resonated with me more than the one from the previous three games. I loved Peebee’s character (she was my romance of choice) and Jaal. Liam and Drack were also really well done. Vetra and Cora were near the bottom of my rankings for crew members, but I didn’t dislike either one of them. And then we have the non-squadmates. Kallo and Suvi were perfect for being in control of the Tempest.. and in fact, if Suvi would have been interested in male Ryder, then I would have sealed the deal with her instead. Lexi was a hit-or-miss character that often times felt brilliant, and other times felt like a swing-and-a-miss. And SAM, Ryder’s Artificial Intelligence, was a perfect companion to the player throughout the entire fifty hour campaign that I invested in. Those fifty hours also got me to 93% game completion, so I’m not complaining.
But here lies the problem. The Kett were awful villains for this game. They didn’t have the same “oomph” that the Reapers had in the original trilogy. They felt boring and non-threatening, even with their malicious intent, which I won’t spoil for those who haven’t played far enough into the game to encounter. They also felt like a pushover, as Ryder never really struggles with them (even at the end of the game), even though the developers sure wanted to make it seem like he did.
There were a lot of inconsistencies with the enemies. The Remnant would have made much better overall villains, but even then, they would have needed a lot more work before being as threatening as the Reapers were. Though I will say, the Remnant Vaults were some of the best parts of the campaign, and it’s a damn shame we didn’t get to see more of that stuff on all of the different planets.
Then we have the Scourge. This weird cloud-like substance that is throwing the entire Heleus Cluster out of whack, destroying civilizations and entire worlds, and is one of the first things you see when you start up the game. So naturally, you’re thinking this is going to play a major role in Andromeda and be something you’re dealing with throughout the entire game, right? Nope. It’s there, always in the background, and always mentioned by secondary characters in passing. But you don’t ever really do anything with it. Sure, you drop some probes in it at one point in the game in order to reveal a hidden location, but that’s basically it until the very final moments of the game. And even then, the pay-off with the Scourge just felt very sour. Perhaps there are bigger plans for it in follow-up games, I don’t know. But as it stands right now, it wasn’t exciting.
All that being said, the absolute biggest offender in Mass Effect: Andromeda is the performance of the game itself, and all of the technical problems that continue to plague it to this very day. Let’s be honest. This is still an unfinished game. Bioware continuously is releasing updates and patches to fix core mechanics that should have been working from day one, and have even more updates planned to add things that should also have been there when the game was released. I’m an understanding person, and I get deadlines. I work with them myself on a daily basis. But this game needed more time, guys.
For example, I was attempting to do a side mission on Kadara before one of the major patches was released. Every time I would drive the Nomad into this certain area of the map, the game would freeze. Literally every single time. No lie, throughout the course of doing other quests and main story stuff on the planet, I tried this side mission 27 times, and every single time, the game would crash back to the PlayStation 4 dashboard. It wasn’t something I was doing wrong, either. Because guess what? A major patch released the following week, I went and tried the quest, and it worked just fine. And that isn’t the only time something like this happened to me. There were bugged side missions and main story missions all over the place. It felt like the launch of a World of Warcraft expansion, but worse!
The Nomad would randomly appear in vaults when I would accidentally fall off a ledge or die in battle. Speaking of the Nomad, it also would move around by itself, on perfectly flat land. Standing next to it, you could slowly watch it move forward without the wheels spinning. Textures and entire landscapes would sometimes fail to load. And let’s not even dive into the issue everyone talked about for weeks… the faces in the game. While they have gotten better over the last two months, these still are not natural faces.
It sounds like I absolutely hated Mass Effect: Andromeda, right? I didn’t! I hate certain aspects of the game, and I’m irritated the game was released in the state that it was and continues to be in, but the story (like I said earlier) is very good, and that is an important aspect to me when playing a game. I also really enjoyed the characters and the different settings and planets you are able to travel to and explore. Let me say this. I’m a huge fan of Bioware, and I have loved almost everything they have developed. Baldur’s Gate? Awesome. Neverwinter Nights? Loved it. KOTOR I and II? Fantastic games. Jade Empire? Good game. Mass Effect original trilogy? Huge fan, and I consider 2 the best of the original three. The Dragon Age series? Perhaps my favorite games that this studio produces.
So I’m not being hard on Bioware because I dislike them and their games. I love them, and I want to see them succeed. But Mass Effect: Andromeda severely disappointed me with the way the game performed even down to basic things, and I have to reflect that in my final score. I have high hopes for the next installment in the Dragon Age franchise, and I honestly hope this game does not spell the end for Mass Effect. There’s clearly another trilogy worth of content here. Please do not abandon ship.