Mass Effect: Andromeda: One Year Later
Facing harsh criticisms from fans, Mass Effect: Andromeda has been touted as a disappointment for most. While I’m a huge fan of the game series myself, I decided not to purchase the game when it was released based on the negative reviews that it almost overwhelmingly received. Last week, EA had their publisher sale and I decided to grab the game considering the deluxe edition was only $13. I already knew about the less than stellar facial animations and glitches and while those are distracting at times, I actually still have found the game to be an enjoyable experience.
Aside from driving sequences stuttering from time to time, I’ve found the gameplay to be smooth and the combat great; it’s high action and there’s so much you can do to customize your experience. That’s actually one of my highlights for Andromeda: you can adjust the combat to your playstyle by choosing the skills and profile that best suits you. In the original Mass Effect series, I went with the sentinel class (tech/biotic), but in Andromeda, I decided to go with the infiltrator profile (combat/tech). Nothing beats recharging your shield by sapping away the enemy’s and then charging in with an Asari sword to one-hit a Chosen Kett.
Visually, the atmosphere of the game is gorgeous. Traveling in space is awesome, and the planets (that I’ve seen thus far) are really well designed. There is a lot to do and see which I really enjoy. However, a lot of the tasks given can be repetitive, whether it’s collecting data or retrieving revenant cores. This may be a turn-off to some, as I agree in part with Ethan Gach from Kotaku who states in his article that:
“On route to or from these locations, the hum of the Nomad’s engine perfectly encapsulates the sense of control, freedom, and mundane purpose of, say, driving a car to the Lowes to buy hardware, picking up groceries for the coming week, or sitting in traffic during the morning commute to a boring job. In Andromeda, as in real life, there’s not much glory in any of these types of activities, but they do manage to elegantly fill the small voids left in day-to-day existence we might struggle with otherwise. Andromeda is both the feeling of being at work fantasizing about a vacation and being on a vacation wishing you had work to do, except made into a sci-fi game.”
What’s important to remember is the background and production of Andromeda. The game was built by a newly created team based in Montreal rather than BioWare’s Edmonton studio. Many members of that team left mid-project and the game underwent several changes relating to creative vision. Not only that, but the game was developed in an entirely different engine than the other games in the series, requiring BioWare to create systems, tools and assets from scratch; tools that they already had in their old graphics engines. While the game spent five years in development, it seems that the majority of the game was made in 18 months. (You can read more about the story behind Andromeda here).
Is the game glitchy at times? Yes. Does Ryder’s personality leave something to be desired? Sure. Would I have paid $60 for the game released as it was or even now? Definitely not. But, for it's faults, Andromeda can be a fun game with interesting squadmates. The fact that there will be no further updates for single-player content is honestly disappointing. I’d like to think Andromeda is a lesson learned for both the companies and the fans and though I'm not optimistic about it, I sincerely hope we get to see a game in the Mass Effect universe sometime in the future.