After playing for 64 hours, I finally beat Mass Effect: Andromeda. I wrote my first impressions in an earlier blog post pointing out the positives and negatives of the game. Now that I’m finally finished, I will note my overall opinions of Mass Effect: Andromeda.
For the first five or so hours, I did not like Mass Effect: Andromeda at all. I had no clue who I was or what I was doing. I was thrown into the action right away, but there was little explained to me along the way. This may have had to do with Bioware wanting to jump right into a new galaxy and having players experience the sheer chaos of it. I can understand that, but I would have liked a little more explaining while I was playing.
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The settling of Eos was a great highlight for me. Going around the planet in the improved Nomad was really fun. Solving the Remnant puzzles and defeating the Kett really made me feel like I was taking back a planet to colonize. I decided to settle Eos with a military outpost instead of a science outpost because I wanted to make sure that the Kett didn’t come back and destroy the new settlement (The Kett wiped out the first settlement on Eos before Ryder visits for the first time). I was interested to see if this decision would affect other parts of the game, but it did not. One of the first big decisions I made didn’t make a difference at all.
The other planets suffered from doing more of the same. Each planet needed to have their atmosphere changed through Remnant space magic, and after that happened the Nexus would send down a settlement. It was rinse and repeat for five planets.
The planets themselves were all different and had different environmental hazards which was fun to deal with because too much radiation exposure would kill you in seconds. However, with life support consumables, the environmental hazards seemed like an afterthought. At one point during the game, I had over 20 life support consumables, so it took away the environmental threats I faced. The planets also suffered from having the same Kett outposts scattered all over the place. They literally looked like they were copied and pasted from other planets. I don’t like seeing reused assets in games because it just tells me that the developer is lazy and doesn’t want to create something unique.
While traveling across the Heleus Cluster, I encountered all sorts of enemies that I had to kill. Mass Effect: Andromeda really shines with its combat. My Ryder was a hybrid of combat and tech skills. My Shepard was a biotic in all three games, so I wanted to try something new. My profile was the Engineer that had a little EMP drone that would detonate when enemies got close. This was effective for me because my Ryder was focused on long-range attacks. If an enemy got too close, they would be stunned so that I could kill them easier. I used Overload, Incinerate, Assault Turret, and the Remnant VI as my major skills. I also maxed out my Assault Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun skills. This combination was pretty effective in taking out enemies with armor and shields.
The ability to jump and horizontally evade enemies was a great addition to the game. Mass Effect 1 – 3 were grounded, so it was a breath of fresh air to be able to move around the world in a new way. The combat kept me coming back because it was so smooth and addictive. Each enemy encounter was different and required me to use different skills and weapons to take out enemies with my squad. However, enemies that appeared in the distance seemed to be moving at a frame-rate of 10 frames per second. It was really jarring to see them moving so awkwardly, and trying to shoot them at a long distance proved difficult (not using snipers).
Thoughts on the New Squad
Speaking of the squad, at first I did not like the new characters. The previous trilogy had an amazing cast, so my expectations were high with the new cast.
Cora: A very powerful asari commando who sort of worshiped the asari. At first it was a little weird because she’s a human, but as the game went on I understood her respect for the asari and their culture. I generally liked her, but it took some time. Her loyalty mission was also really great.
Liam: I didn’t like Liam at all. For a serious mission to settle in the Andromeda Galaxy, he didn’t seem to care and his humor fell flat. I never used him in combat. His loyalty mission was okay, but it basically summed up why I didn’t like his character.
Vetra: I liked Vetra and the interactions she had with her sister. It was cool to have a female turian in the squad because it was something new. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see how turian females were treated in their society, but that’s just me nitpicking.
PeeBee: At first I hated PeeBee, but I warmed up to her. I played as a female Ryder and decided to romance PeeBee, and it was a really cute relationship. PeeBee has a very distant attitude throughout the game, but when you learn more about her and develop a romantic relationship, she gets nervous and is very teenage-like when it comes to romance. I thought it was cute and I was glad I romanced her. For some reason I always romance the asari.
Drack: I loved Drack. There’s something about krogans that make them great characters. He was the funniest character in the game, and had great dialogue with other squad members. I used Drack a lot in combat because he’s a Krogan tank who packs a punch.
Jaal: Jaal is a member of the new Angaran race. Jaal was a pretty interesting character because there was so much to learn about the Angara. They are a race with a long history of fighting the Kett, which has led to infighting in their own people. Jaal wasn’t the best in combat, but I did use him the most because the Angarans had the most experience living in the Heleus Cluster. He reminded me of Javik.
The one thing that I hated about my squad was that I couldn’t customize them at all. I was able to customize almost every squad member in Dragon Age: Inquistion, so I don’t know why Bioware took that out. I couldn’t even tell my squad what powers to use in combat, which was really disappointing because it took away the RPG elements of the game. I want to be able to customize and control my squad so that we are all optimized to take on any challenge.
One issue that I had with Mass Effect: Andromeda was that there were too many useless quests to do. A lot of game developers think that more content makes the game better, but Andromeda suffers from having too much to do. For example, there are a ton of quests that are known as tasks. I did quite a bit of them because I like to be a “completionist” and learn any new information about the overall plot, but the tasks were completely useless. They were fetch quests that provided nothing of value. Scanning minerals and collecting stuff is not fun.
The only quests worth playing are the main plot, character missions, and planet specific missions. Skip the tasks completely because they are a waste of time. These tasks are essentially fetch quests, and what led me to compared Andromeda to Inquisition. Dragon Age: Inquisition suffered from having a lot of filler content, and so does Mass Effect: Andromeda. Just because there is a lot of content in the game, it doesn’t mean that it’s good content.
My Face Hurts…From the Animations
Many others have pointed this flaw out, but the animations are terrible. It’s hard to believe that a game released in 2017 looks like this. The facial animations are awful, and the lip-syncing doesn’t match what the characters are saying. For a game that relies on cut-scenes and character development, the performances are terrible. There are Xbox One launch titles that have better facial animations. The Frostbite engine is incredibly powerful, so it boggles my mind why Bioware was unable to make the characters look real.
Mass Effect: Andromeda Rating
I had a lot of high hopes for Mass Effect: Andromeda, but my expectations were not met. The animations, frame-rate drops, and general performance kept this game from being something special. I did enjoy the plot and characters once the game started moving forward. There is a good foundation to build upon, but I fear that fans will be turned off from future games because of their disappointment with Andromeda. It will be interesting to see how well the sales do because I fear the franchise might be canned if it doesn’t perform well.