EA Access gave the opportunity to take a head start on Mass Effect: Andromeda. The highly anticipated new entry on the series, and the first Mass Effect game on new consoles. The game leaves the Shepard trilogy behind and focuses on a new hero – it’s time to meet Ryder.
Players take a role on one of the Ryder twins, male or female. This is a clever way to let players choose the gender of the main character with also having the decision to influence the story. The default versions don’t look half bad, but it’s fun to tweak them up a bit. There are several preset faces to choose from. The customization doesn’t live up to the likes of Fallout 4 or Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, but it gives enough tools to work with. After browsing through all the hair styles, tattoos, make-up options, and then molding Ryder’s cheekbones, it is time to start the adventure.
The journey to a new galaxy is a taunting task, the expedition is faced with spaceship-wrecking electric storm right from the get go. After battling the threat, Ryder’s father faces his fate. Ryder inherits his title as the Pathfinder, the man in charge of exploring the unknown. The starting point of an epic space opera is interesting, to say the least. Ryder is not a decorated soldier like Shepard was in earlier games. He is just a rookie following his father’s footsteps. Hard choices await, and at least the buildup works. I was feeling the pressure of my decisions right from the beginning. This is one of the most essential parts of a Mass Effect game. There is politics to be involved, race disputes to resolve and crew’s loyalty to be served. Feeling like we never left the Citadel. That said, there are problems that hinder the experience.
It’s not an easy tasks to develop a game as massive as Mass Effect. The last entry on the series dates back five years. The original trilogy used Epic Games’s Unreal Engine, but Bioware opted to use EA DICE’s Frostbite 3 engine for the new game instead. That meant that the developers needed to built most of it from the scratch. Unfortunately that shows. The animations can be little sketchy and faces of characters dull. Lifelessly mimicking some sort of emotions, most of the characters models look like they were fetched up from an early alpha stage of the game. They shouldn’t look like that in a game were there is constant interaction between the characters, lots of talking and cutscenes.
On the other hand, the action part of the game works well, much better than in previous Mass Effect games. Shooting is more tactical than ever thanks to more active enemy AI. Also removing the class restrains, there are more talents to choose from. Ryder can be developed countless ways. It’s also fun to explore the planets with the new six-wheeldrive spacebuggy. The environments look stunning.
When looking the track record of Bioware, you can all but wonder, what went wrong? The certain “Mass Effectness” is there, but the game feels little off. It doesn’t live up to the hype. The unpolished feeling is hard to shake off, even for a true fan of the series like myself. Still, I will buy the game solely for it being the next Mass Effect. Maybe I’m falling right to the marketing machine’s trap, but I like to believe that developers did their best. The shooting part is fun and one can only hope that Mass Effect: Andromeda can deliver a story that takes me on even slightly similar emotional rollercoaster than the previous games. Then I’ll be happy.