Bioware finally takes the blanket of secrecy fully off Mass Effect Andromeda this week. It’s impossible to overstate how popular the Mass Effect franchise is. I have friends with weapons from the game tattooed on their forearm (Hello Stein.) Members of my family have insisted on sending me home from a party early so that I could play the first three games in the series. Yes, I’m that guy amongst a sea of gaming fans who has managed to skip every game in the series until now. Don’t look at me that way. I didn’t have an Xbox 360 when the first Mass Effect arrived. By the time the last one was available I was living on my own. Rent payments and Ramen came first.
I bring all of this up because the reviews of Mass Effect Andromeda have been making the rounds. The r/MassEffect Community has a terrific round up of them for those that are interested. Some are calling the game decent enough. Others are savaging it. I didn’t get a review copy of the game. I did decide to review EA Access a few weeks ago, meaning I’ve had roughly 7 hours to play Mass Effect Andromeda.
I don’t think that the game – mechanics, anyway – are nearly as bad as the worst reviews I’m seeing. That being said, there’s certainly some places where polish was needed.
That Typical Bioware Story
The heart of the Mass Effect universe is its story. People take it seriously, as the kerfuffle around Mass Effect 3 kicked up. Without getting too detailed, the 7 hours of the story I’ve experienced thus far is what you’d expect out of Bioware or any video game developer. A seemingly ordinary person is thrust into the spotlight and has to take charge and do what must be done. Stop me if this sounds familiar.
Some say that this setup is too easy. They say that after the trilogy and Dragon Age Inquisition, Bioware should have known to mix things up. I don’t disagree. However, I would argue that those are the basic building blocks of any popular story this side of the King James Bible. Because I haven’t finished it and these other people have, I must defer to their criticisms for now. Maybe the story is crap. I’m as far into it as the EA Access trial will allow and I’m not disappointed.
The Cover System
Mass Effect Andromeda’s auto-cover system is what I think people are going to like the least. Theoretically, it’s easy. You get close enough to an object with your gun out and now you can hide behind it for combat purposes.
I don’t like this system at all. I’m used to being able to manually cover behind objects thanks to The Division. My understanding is that the older games required users to think about what objects they could use for cover. The problem with this new system is that I find myself having to get closer to an object before auto cover will work. This is fine if I’m prepping for a firefight. If I’m in the middle of a battle, it’s disorienting.
Auto-Cover wasn’t the greatest idea ever.
Textures and environments in this game look spectacular. Those shots people have taken at the animation since the EA Access trial started aren’t entirely wrong, though. Mouth movements in the game do look a little rough. It’s not nearly as natural and smooth as it should be for a game coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The Nomad animations feel sudden.
Again, these are my more rudimentary thoughts on the game thus far. This piece isn’t a review. A fact underscored by its absence from the reviews database and lack of a review score.
I’ll have my own Mass Effect Andromeda review available sometime next week, which is far after this debate will have been decided, but soon enough for you to still pull the trigger before the next major game release from your other favorite developers.