Ryu’s Bites: Mass Effect Andromeda (PC)

Posted on March 25th, 2017 by Ryu Sheng |

Mass_Effect_Andromeda_cover_thumb.jpgLanguage: Audio: English, Subs: English
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Format: PC
Type: 3PS/RPG
Demo Box: PC
Synopsis: Mass Effect: Andromeda takes you to the Andromeda galaxy, far beyond the Milky Way. There, you’ll lead our fight for a new home in hostile territory – where WE are the aliens.

Play as the Pathfinder – a leader of a squad of military-trained explorers – with deep progression and customisation systems. This is the story of humanity’s next chapter, and your choices throughout the game will ultimately determine our survival in the Andromeda Galaxy.

As you unfold the mysteries of the Andromeda Galaxy and the hope for humanity lies on your shoulders – You must ask yourself… How far will you go?

Mass Effect Andromeda has been one of the most anticipated games of the year, and as such you had both the hype train; and the anti-hype train in full swing. I’m a huge fan of the series, so for me this was by far the game I was looking forward to, and frankly the game has delivered; in spades. I’ve done this as a ‘Bites’ post, because I honestly don’t feel I’ve scratched the surface yet of the game. I’ll probably do a follow up post once I’ve finished the game completely.

I’ll go through the good stuff first, because there’s a lot of good, before we go over the bad.

First lets talk music, I’ve been saying this a lot of late but god damn the music is amazing! While part of me was expecting it to be good, given Mass Effect 3, but you never know if it will carry on into the next game. Thankfully it does, and the music is amazing, so much so I know have it on my iPhone and listen to it while I’m out and about.

Sound effects, these can make or break a game like this, frankly they hit this bang on. The firing weapons is satisfying as hell, especially as you upgrade and change gun types. The sound effects are varied and have force behind them that make firing guns so damn satisfying. The other sound effects from the worlds, your ships and everything else are equally as appealing.

Dialogue is also a key part of the game, as you’d expect. However he we see some flaws, as the dialogue ranges from amazing to meh, and everything between. That said, was anyone ever expecting anything else? No Bioware game has ever had amazing dialogue. However for me, the Male Ryder’s dialogue has thus far been pretty solid. However his party members dialogue tends to leave me chuckling with some of their odd dialogues. Liam tends to make some odd comments that did leave me scratching my head a few times.

Overall though, I have to admit the dialogue is done really well.

The world, or in this case the universe! The world Bioware have created is pretty awesome. Each of the worlds you’ll visit will leave you wanting more. I’m currently sat at around the 45hour mark and I’ve only visited four out of seven of the planets. So far, each planet has had it’s own unique challenges to overcome, interesting people to encounter, lore to be learnt, and party missions to complete.

The other thing to talk about here is the side missions. Generally in games like this, partial open worlds, the side missions tend to vary from meh to trash. Here however the side missions have been amazing. Bioware looked at the individual planets and tailored the side missions to fit the planet. So gone are missions like go collect 10 bear asses, and in are side missions that directly impact the world directly. So while you can leave the planet once you’ve reached the minimum sustainability, by completing the side missions you improve the sustainability. This increase you AVP (Andromeda Viability Points), allowing you to increase whats done on the planet, and on the Nexus, your hub base.

What’s more I found these side missions fun and interesting to do, especially on the likes of Voeld, where you’re meeting other people from the Angara race. Here (and on the other worlds) completing the side missions increases what they think about you, and whether they’ll work with you. For me this was a big thing, having gotten used to generic dull fetch quests, to find thematic ones that actually fit into the story as a whole was really refreshing and exciting. I genuinely found myself wanting to complete all the missions.

The game also has a full crafting system, for weapons, armour, nomad mods and augments. So instead of finding stuff in the world (which you still do!) you can craft it. However to craft the item you first need to research it. To research it you need to to build up research points, which you get from scanning objects in the world, from strike mission boxes, or scanning planets.

Personally I hate the scanning in this game as I have in every game, but in this game it’s worse because it’s not just research you need to scan for.

To actually craft the items you need minerals, which you get through scanning. Much like in ME2 you need to find the point with the most minerals and then drop a probe. For me this part of the game became a slog fest, as it had in previous games. There’s no fun here, just boredom. This is most likely going to one of the most cheated as pets of the game.

Bioware, get the hint already, scanning is not fun, its never been fun, time for a new idea! Hell given the amount of people in cryo why aren’t there some miners who can do the mining??

Then we have the multiplayer, which for me is a bit of mixed bag. On the one hand the actual gameplay is amazing fun. Jumping around with your jetpack means you’re not stuck sitting behind cover. Instead your dashing and jumping all over the place. The jetpack gives the game a lot of verticality, meaning you can find a high point and be a sniper, jump all over the place and use the jet pack to hover and pick people off; or dash in and melee them. No matter how you want to play, the MP has a way to let you do it.

The only thing I worry about is the crate system. Character classes are unlocked and you don’t have a global level, rather each character has an individual level. This does mean there’s less incentive to try out new classes as you unlock them. Classes of course are unlocked through crates, as are weapons, mods, and consumables. Thankfully there’s not a huge push on the micro transaction side, as the packs are fairly cheap over all, and doing a single round of MP will give you enough to buy two or three crates. However to get the premium crates, you’re going to have to spend money, as the amount of in-game currency needed to buy them is insane.

That said, as someone who dropped a chunk of money on them, and got nothing but consumables, no weapons or characters, I was more than a little disappointed.

Now, lets talk about the bad, and yes there’s a lot to be addressed here. Lets start with the bad in the multiplayer. There’s two main areas of concern, balancing and connectivity. Unfortunately the game doesn’t balance parties well. This means you can have a lvl 15 in a party with lvl1’s, which leads to the higher level guys basically having to protect the lower levels. This in turn means it takes longer to achieve the objectives making rounds needlessly long. This has resulted in people kicking lower level guys, which as you can imagine has led to some animosity. This is easily resolved by setting party ranges, so as you’re always grouped with those within a few levels of yourself.

The second issue the game has is that it’s using P2P for it’s connectivity. P2P is terrible in this game. The first night I was doing MP I spent over an hour to get into a match that either didn’t DC, have major lag, or just crash; and that was the only stable game I got all night. The problem with this is consumable are per session, so if you stick on say ice ammo and exp boost before going into the match, and then the match collapses (for whatever reason), you lose those consumable along with any exp earned  in the battle prior the crash.

This is terrible, especially since you’ll have people that have spent real money on crates losing stuff they shouldn’t. But it can also lead to the MP section of the game just being unsatisfying in the end, especially if you get a run of bad connections.

Next lets talk about the story, which I personally think is interesting and drew me in. However there’s no denying that there’s some questionable lines. however is it as bad as people have made out in the anti-hype train? Honestly no, overall I’ve not noticed many lines that I would consider bad. In fact in near 45 hours I’d say there’s been maybe half a dozen lines that I’d say were odd. Given the amount of dialogue in story I’ve seen in that time, I don’t see that as being a bad ratio. Hell I’ve seen worse writing in other game, including the much lauded Witcher 3.

Your job is to help settle the Andromeda system, only things have gone up in smoke. The worlds you were going to inhabit are barren wastelands. The other Ark ships are missing, you’re father is dead and you’ve been thrust into the lead roll with no experience. Whats more you’ve got a disgruntled second in command who wants to be the leader. You’ve got politicians who are looking for someone to blame and you’re it. And then you’ve got 2 alien races, one who hates you with a vengeance and is out to kill you, and the other who hates you but is open to listen.

All the while you’re trying to make the hostile worlds habitable. As you reach milestones the worlds ‘viability’ raises and you can increase the people on the planet. Doing this increases the side missions increases the planets viability but also increases the afore mentioned AVP, which is you’re overall Andromeda Viability and covers all planets.

Essentially this is what a good chunk of the story is about, you making the various worlds habitable. On top of that you also of course have the issue of figuring out who the Kett are, what they’re after and how to stop them. And finally who the Remnant were, and how they fit into the bigger picture.

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Overall, as i’ve gone through the game, the story has grown on me. Is it as good a story as the original trilogy? Can’t judge it yet, but if you were to ask if it’s good as the original Mass Effect games story; then i’d say yeah it’s a good solid starting point.

However i do wonder if they can make the story as good as the original trilogy was, especially given the shift in focus of the story. We don’t have Shepard on a quest to save the galaxy, rather we have Ryder just looking for a home. I think it’s going to be hard for Bioware to top the previous trilogies story.

Finally lets discuss the big bad evil, the animation quality. This is pretty much the biggest derision thats been doing the rounds. Now lets be honest here, the animations at time in the game are indeed jank. However the number of these are small in the grand scheme of the game. What’s more most of them don’t get noticed, only the most jarring ones get noticed by the gamer. Everything else is only noticed by people watching the games, they aren’t in the moment, focusing on the gameplay, and as a result see the wider picture, and thus spot these jank animations.

Now thats not a defence of Bioware, thats simple fact. So what about the animations, whose to blame for them? Honestly, probably no one. This is because of an interview given recently that had this to say:

Gwen Frey: I thought it was funny that people are piling on animators for these glitches, when in reality the animators are probably blameless. On a AAA project of this scope most of the smaller cut scenes are never seen by the animators. Instead you create a system for designers to use and trust the designers to script everything properly. For instance, you will create a “mood” system so that a character can be happy, sad, or angry. Then you trust the designers to set the mood of the NPC during that scene. You give the designers a stable of placeable background NPC characters that have idles basic behavior, and you trust the designers to place those characters in logical places. As an animator you spend most of your time either on hero scenes (scenes that are entirely animated by hand) or working with animation programmers to make sure that the gameplay systems are air tight. You make sure that when a character is running up a slope they lean forward, and you work on the blending between different locomotion animations – that sort of thing. All the glitches I’ve seen online look like technical bugs and/or implementation bugs. I’m not saying the animators are blameless – everyone is responsible for making the game AAA quality and everyone is responsible for beating the drum when things are not shaping up in game. However, as a technical animator I can’t help but look at these bugs and think they look like ik problems and scripting errors.

Thankfully, if it is as Gwen has said, it should be fixable? Maybe?

Now, I do think Bioware needs to be held accountable, and I do think they need to fix things as they can. However the gaming community need to put down their pitch forks a grow the hell up. It’s not like stuff like this is new, many games release with animation issues, but when they’re released it’s kind of glossed over.

Take Bethesda for example. They release completely broken games (Skyrim, Dishonored 2), but no one cares and most seem to worship Bethesda no matter what they do. Despite their broken game and anti-consumer actions. I’m all for holding companies to task for the broken games, but the hypocrisy that runs rampant in the gaming community regarding it makes me sick.

It’s to for people to grow up and stop being whiney bitches.

Now, time for my final thoughts, is this game worth buying?

HELL YES!

Issues aside I love this game and can’t stop playing it. It’s a Mass Effect game through and through. Remember your first time playing the original Mass Effect, you had no idea what was coming or where the story was going, it was an adventure! Thats what this game is, and adventure, you’re learning things all over again and frankly its fun as hell.

I’ve not enjoyed a game this much in a long while, and Bioware will definitely be getting more of my money for this series.

Though I will say, I do feel the game was rushed to release. If they’d spent another month or two the animation issues may not have been an issue. But despite this it’s still been a satisfying experience.

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