( This Impressions is from the first 5 hours of the game.)
Mass Effect: Andromeda is a game that I’m not sure how to feel about, I don’t know how you will feel about it once you play it.
Mass Effect has had a passionate following since it’s inception in 2007, from the characters, the lore, the world, and the story. It’s Star Wars but in videogame format, change has been constant in the series since the first game: The original was an RPG, the sequel was an Action RPG game, and the third was a blend of those two. Andromeda has shifted more then the original saga which concluded five years ago.
That change hasn’t been smooth, to be honest. Andromeda has a problem and it has a big problem, these problems can be seen on the surface but also can be seen very deep within the weeds. These problems gets in the way of doing things within the game, but also Andromeda does alot of things well and it succeeds.
The original saga told the story of Commander Shepard and his or her’s crew’s attempt to save the Milky Way from the Reapers. They averted a crisis that happens every 50,000 years. The “Official” ending of the Mass Effect saga is not known, Andromeda sidesteps that by taking place sometime in the end of ME1 and the beginning of ME2 where the Andromeda Initiative sends out a handful of humans on ARK’s and their destination is the Andromeda Galaxy, their mission is to find a home for the human race. The Ryder’s and their group is awakened to a different reality, and it’s up to you to find a home for those that still sleep. Andromeda takes place 600 years after ME2, so the events of the Trilogy have ended but our main characters don’t know that Commander Shepard saved the Earth from the Reaper Threat.
It’s a concept that is interesting, but I feel like it’s been tailored to fit a sci-fi game because it doesn’t feel alien or mysterious to me, the opening hours fall short instead of telling you what has happened, what ‘s going on, there’s alot of time spent building relationships with other characters and there’s not enough time to establish a presence and understand, which is a shame because the original games spent alot of time building up the premise so you could understand the story and backstory of what’s going on. The result is “gut-punching.” and “heavy” moments but they turn out to be weak.
The weakest parts of Mass Effect are also shown here. Andromeda is littered with legacy issues that plagued the original games: The inventory system is still a disaster and this isn’t helped by the UI along with some confusing design choices. You can’t change your loadout unless if you’re at a loadout station, or changing your weapons unless you’re at the same station. It’s confusing and makes no sense as well as changing your powers unless you’re at a menu.
This all sucks, it’s cumbersome and very slow. The planet scanning returns here and I must say, that in Mass Effect 2, it was better implemented and had a reason to be there but here, it makes no sense. Moving to one system to another is also a chore, you have to set through a minute of animations hopping from one planet to another: Yes, it looks pretty but I don’t care, just get to the planet and set me down on said planet. Going from one place to another is cumbersome and needless.
Mechanically speaking, Mass Effect: Andromeda is fantastic. The combat is fluid and feels very good but it has been simplified and this is the issue I have with games like Fallout 4 where the systems was overtly simplified and easy to use as oppose to what came before. Mass Effect: Andromeda is similar to Mass Effect 3, it’s a mix of RPG and exploratory elements. The companion characters have their own abilities and unlike, the trilogy, you can’t have much say in what they do in combat which is weird for a squad-based mechanic. You can decide on what they level up and what powers they use, but you can’t command them in combat.
This is a bit of a letdown, as combining their abilities has been a trademark of the trilogy. Andromeda moves this to your player character, the class system has been broken down and instead of selecting what you want to play as, you can play as three classes and select powers from each class and play with them.
The rub is that you can make your player character the way you want to. My fate and my character felt a little more less determined then Shepard was and by the fifth hour, I felt I was a force of nature to be reckoned with.
So far, Mass Effect: Andromeda is a decent game but I’m not sure how to feel about it just yet, I’m just warming up and doing side quests. After a number of issues and complaints, it might seem odd to be hopeful for what lays ahead in the game for me but we’ll see if the game gets any better as I make progress.
Stay tuned for my review.