So, there have been a lot of jokes about
the latest Mass Effect game, and I thought it would be a good idea to write down my opinion in an... extensive dissertation
Read, I starting writing a "review", and got carried away.
The Mass Effect series is one of my favorite series I ever played. There are other games I sunk countless of hours in, but Mass Effect is the only one that actually kept me from sleeping. Understandably, I was way beyond excited when I found out they were going to make a new one.
I knew the new game would have zero to do with the original games, but I love the universe the originals built, and some of the mechanics the game had.
Watching trailers and teasers left and right, I saw some of my favorite things returning, and by the time it dropped, I was extremely hyped (which is never a good thing, I know).
I've been playing for the last 2 weeks, and so far I'm fucking loving it
Sure, there were some issues I had, and yes, one of those things was the animations in cutscenes, but in general I am happy playing it. The world it builds, despite being in a completely different galaxy, is still as entrancing as in the original games.
Yesterday patch 1.05 dropped, which fixed some of the things I mostly disliked (mostly about the UI), and it made some of the more egregious animations a lot better.First off, let's start with what I didn't like. THE UI
Okay, so first things first. The UI
is crap. Not the design and looks (in fact it terms of styling it looks great), but navigating it feels like trying to fumble your way through a cupboard with a blindfold on.
For example, it has a handy feature which displays an exclamation mark next to the Journal or Codex tab when you have quests or codex entries that are updated, or next to the Skills tab when you have earned skill points, or basically any page that has new information. Sounds great, right?
Except it works based on rules that make no fucking sense. It shows the little "!
" as long as you don't read the updated entry in the Journal or Codex.
But, it doesn't show you which
entry is updated.
Which forces you to go through every folder and subfolder
to find the one entry that updated.
Which is infuriatingly annoying
There is a "Mark all as viewed" button, but it's only active if there are NEW
entries. Which doesn't happen as often as an entry updating.
As for the Skills tab, it shows you when you have skill points left to spend, but it doesn't take into account that you don't have ENOUGH skillpoints to buy an upgrade, or the fact that in some cases, you might be saving those points for a more expensive upgrade.
In it's defence, I have no complaints about the map.
Also, a side note, part of the game is selecting which planet to go to. However, flying from one planet to another played a unskippable mini cutscene. Understandably, this got incredible annoying after 30 planets. Patch 1.05 has made these cutscenes skippable, though.
The tutorials the game throws at you are laughable. It's a tiny orange box with some text in it, that you see exactly once, and after that, you're on your own. I still haven't figured out how the fuck the crafting system works. Which leads me to...THE CRAFTING SYSTEM
This one is a mixed bag though. On one hand I like the crafting principle; you can make guns that behave the way you
like them to behave, and you can make some truly impressive things.
However, the way it's implemented is just confusing. First you have to find research points
, by scanning certain objects in the game, but they're divided into three separate categories. So, scanning something related to the Kett (I'll come back to what that means) doesn't give you the points you need for upgrading your Remnant sniper rifle.
And even if you do manage to get enough points together (which according to some redditor's math is not always possible, the available points only allow for a part of all the upgrades), you then have to find materials. Those materials, however, can be really fucking annoying to find. For a Level 4 set of N7 gear, for example, you need around 1000 Copper. But finding Copper is really fucking hard.
So you have to grind, or go from store to store, which is just plainly annoying.
Also, I'm still trying to figure out what the rules are about which weapons you can craft. Some guns you need a blueprint for (research), others you need to own the previous version, but then there are other guns that you simply cannot craft. This is extremely confusing, if only because I now have a kickass gun, but I don't know what I need to do to get the next version of it.
So, great idea, crappy execution. Or, at least crappy explanation.THE INVENTORY
Again, a bit of a mixed bag. The inventory limit, I had no problems with. Patch 1.05 increased the limit to (in my case) 150, which is more than I ever needed.
The biggest problem I had, however, was that there is no option to hot switch your weapons. You can equip guns at certain points in the game, but between those points, you're SOL. This is annoying when going through a lengthy story mission, and an enemy drops an awesome gun you want to try out. But, you can't equip it until you finish the mission. And if you equip a new weapon because it looks alright, and then find out it's actually kind of shit, you have to wait to switch it back out.
Besides that, the inventory screen serves absolutely no fucking purpose. I understand that the game is about exploring, and discovering stuff, and it's neat to see that I can find 30 items that are absolutely pointless, except to generate revenue when I instantly sell them, but I have not yet found a decent purpose for the inventory menu.
So, I kinda get why it is there (you're an explorer, and you have to explore shit, and your inventory shows you what you explored), but at the same time I don't get why it's there. It serves no reasonable purpose, besides being a window into "see how much shit you have". It's less of a management screen, and more of checklist.THE ANIMATIONS
Yes, it's the big one. The most ridiculed and criticised point of the game. Not without reason, mind you. Some of the animations were atrocious, but Patch 1.05 fixed some of them. However, I do have to say, it's not all bad. The humanoid face animations are weird. Lips move awkwardly, eyes barely move,... The aliens', however are great. The mouths move when they need to, eyes look around, and overall I enjoy watching at them. Especially the Krogan and the newly found race, the Angaras
, look amazing.
I did notice something that's off though. In the original trilogy, there was a certain animation, "resentful walk away
", that happened all the time. Once you noticed it, you couldn't unsee it. And now, there is a similar situation. Whenever you talk to someone who has to their back turned to you, they pivot in the exact same way.So, now those things are out of the way, let's get on with why I fucking love this gameTHE ANIMATIONS
Bet you didn't expect this, huh?
Yes, while the facial animations are wonkey, the combat animations are fucking amazing. The way Ryder moves during attacks
, the way he shifts from running to walking and to a full stop are incredible. On top of that, they don't feel restricted. Everything is fluid, it flows into each other. The only objection I have are ladders. The animation takes a while, and completely ruins the pace. But so far, I only found them in the ship, as other ledges are just easily scalable with the jumpjet. And that leads me to...THE COMBAT AND MOVEMENT
So, combat in this game is fucking amazing. You get a bunch of choices on how you want to take out an enemy. You can charge in, guns blazing, or you can take your rifle and slowly take the enemy down from a distance, or you can use your powers and squadmates to take down groups of enemies without firing a single shot. However, before Patch 1.05, there was a balance issue where going with BIotics and just using Charge + shotgun all the time is plain overpowered. For those unaware, landing a Charge hit fully restores your shields, and takes down half of an enemy's health. The other half is easily remedied with a quick shotgun blast. The reload time is laughable, so it becomes a game of Charge, fire, wait 3 seconds, Charge, fire, wait 3 seconds,... Patch 1.05 should include fixes for this, but I haven't been able to really test that out yet (more on that later).
On top of that they gave you a "jump jet". It's exactly what it sounds like, a jetpack-like device that boosts you when jumping. Holding the ADS button in midair greatly slows your descent, allowing you to fire comfortably in mid air. It allows you incredible freedom when exploring the levels, and give you more options during a fight. My preferred tactic is to jump up, snipe a couple of enemies, Charge in, and then jump jet back out before they surround me.
The guns feel pretty great too. Some of the sniper rifles really pack a punch, and it's satisfying to see an enemy drop after a well placed headshot. Assault Rifles badly need a patch. They are currently useless, as at a distance, a sniper rifle is more effective, and at short range, shotguns are king. I tried playing with a semi-automatic Assault Rifle for a few levels, but it felt weak.
Remember how I mentioned crafting your own weapons? Well, you can also install certain mods on weapons. Mostly it's 2, but if crafted with the right stuff, you can add way more. Mods give bonuses ranging from extra headshot damage to more melee damage, and you can find your own "golden loadout" which is the most comfortable. It would be nice to have some way to test these mods out besides actually finding enemies, though. I have read that crafting a sniper rifle with a certain mod (Bio Converter, which transforms health into bullets) in combination with a health regen mod, creates an incredible OP weapon which just kills without impunity. I haven't tried it myself, but it sounds like an incredibly boring way to beat the game.
can go suck all the dicks in the world though.THE VISUALS
Mass Effect Andromeda is made with EA's Frostbite 3 engine, and it looks absolutely, totally, utterly magnificent.
I cannot stress how beautiful this game is. The environments look lifelike, the enemies look vicious, and conversations, particularly with your alien squadmates, look real. The textures are stupefyingly realistic.
I don't know how the fuck they managed it, but it runs without a hitch. I get a smooth framerate, which is at a solid 50FPS, @1080p, on High quality. This is on a 970GTX, with a i5 6600K, and 16GB RAM. I've noticed before with NFS2015 and Star Wars Battlefront that Bioware and other EA developers can do some incredible stuff with that Frostbite 3 engine, and ME:A is no different.THE CHARACTERS
One of the things that i absolutely loved about the original Mass Effect games were the character you meet. Shepard's growth as a character is partly because of your own choices, but it were the other characters who drew me in.
I was hoping for at least some similar situations in ME:A. I'm glad to say that Bioware did not disappoint. I like the squadmates. I love going round the ship after every mission to just talk with them, as the dialogue is fantastic. On top of that, the voice acting is plainly amazing. Especially Vetra and Drack are great to listen to. I'm not going to go into more details than that, because of spoilers, but let's just say that the crew feels alive. The banter you hear on missions, between missions, while exploring is fantastic. I had a hilarious encounter with Jaal falling asleep in the Nomad, only for PeeBee to wake him up. Two missions later I'm mitigating a massive fight between Liam and Vetra, because he disagrees with her sister.
Cora annoys me. I don't know why. My brother adores her though. He doesn't know why either.THE STORY
Another main point many reviews pointed out was that the story felt wrong.
I have no idea what the fuck they were talking about. Yet.
I am halfway through the game (according to my brother, who already finished it, anyway), and so far I have to report only 1 disappointing mission.
One of the first missions you have to complete is the Vault on Eos. I fucking loved that mission.
It had the right amount of guidance (there's only one path to follow), but still allowed you to look around and go "how the fuck did this come to be?" There is a perfect amount of mystery surrounding the Remnant.
Okay, quick TL;DR: you travel to the Andromeda galaxy to colonize it, fully aware you'll probably find intelligent life there. Upon meeting the first alien (although you
really are the alien) life form there, called the Kett, they shoot your shuttle down, and kill some of your crew. Later on, you find some building who were left behind by the Remnant, who are nowhere to be found, but their technology is millenniums ahead of yours. These buildings are also the focus of the Kett, however, which of course causes you to shoot most of them.
The Kett have some mystery surrounding them as well, and the one disappointing mission I talked about was disappointing because they revealed a big part of the mystery quite unceremoniously (and other than that, the mission just felt rushed).
The sidequests are also very variant. Some are just basic "go forth and fetch" missions, but other have you chasing leads and take you to some interesting stories. Small spoiler warning: One of the first sidequests you find is about "The first murderer". Basically, a guy is in prison because he shot his commander, but he claims to be innocent. After some digging and running around talking to people, you piece together that he didn't kill the victim, but only because he missed the fatal shot. Looking back it's nothing more than a "go there and scan that" mission, but I liked how they worked the story about this guy who tried to shoot his commander into it.THE MULTIPLAYER
Multiplayer in ME:A is a lot like mulitplayer in ME3. You, along with 3 other people, have to survive several waves of enemies, while doing several tasks, such as holding certain areas, or just surviving the onslaught of enemies. Higher level enemies, drop higher level loot, of course. Now, I liked this approach to multiplayer. It means that you don't get completely railed by some dickhead who plays it 24/7 the second you want to try some multiplayer. Powers are distributed among several "classes", which you can unlock by RNG using rewards you get from playing online missions. Some of the started characters are perfectly fine to play with for a while though.
So far I had no latency or connection issues. The only problems I had were some douchenozzles who think that everyone speaks their language. Yelling at your team in French or German doesn't make us understand it better.
One of the most annoying things about ME3 was that in order to get the "best" ending, you had to regularly play the multiplayer, or hack some parts of the game. They scrapped that in ME:A. There are still some impacts on the single player campaign, but they are purely bonuses. COmpleting a mission gives you 2 boxes, one with a random amount of credits to be used in game, and one with a random selection of materials you can use for crafting.
What also helps is the new Strike Team mechanic. What it means is, that instead of playing online yourself, you can send a "strike team" in single player to complete it. The chance of success they have is calculated based on several stats that grow as that team grows, and the difficulty of the mission. You still get the rewards, but don't have to play the Multiplayer to get them. Just send a team, and wait for a couple of hours.FINAL WORDS
So, it has its issues. It's not the golden child, final word in games, second coming of the messiah some had hoped it to be (myself partly included). But it's not the second coming of Hitler either.
Some of the issues are rather glaring, such as facial animations, and the UI which feels as if it wasn't properly tested. The crafting system feels unneeded. It's a nice idea to add it, and they obviously looked at Dragon Age: Inquisition and thought "well, if it works for DA:I..." It feels like an obnoxious spoiler on a ricer car though. It's there, but you don't really know why, and it feels like it was bolted on as an afterthought.
HOWEVER. Every day I come home from work, and I can't fucking wait to start playing again. Every day I want to jump in and listen to the conversations, and go explore a desert world, or a jungle world, or a Tundra world. The combat is superb, if a bit unbalanced. Playing as a biotic and just rampaging through hordes of Kett with a Charge + anything combo feels ridiculously overpowered, but it's fun to do. The absolute freedom you have in how you dispatch your enemies is great, and causes some fun situations.
In the end, I love playing this game. It's not the best game ever. I'm fully aware of that. Some people have issues with it. That's okay too. The game DOES have issues.
But I love it. That's all that I need to know.