Mass Effect: Andromeda
Mass Effect: Andromeda is a 2017 action role-playing game that is the latest game in the Mass Effect series. It was developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts.
- The story is broken at a fundamental level in that it does not fit into the timeline of Mass Effect. The game's setup is supposed to take place between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, during which time, apparently, a vast initiative was constructed in total secrecy to build a ship only slightly smaller than the Citadel and a series of massive colony ships each capable of carrying 20,000 people in cryo-stasis and working perfectly for 600 years. Nobody ever mentioned this in ME3, and all of this was apparently done because some ludicrously rich secret group chose to believe the Reapers were real and a horribly strung-out colony on a planet that might not even be there when the fleet arrives would be a good idea.
- And if we do assume that the Initiative somehow knew about the Reapers (which would require knowing the Citadel was part of their plans but not bothering to tell anyone this), would they really be in such a hurry to start messing around with a piece of mysterious ancient alien technology on the first planet they came to?
- Moreover, the game completely drops the ball on its actual premise of first contact with an alien species: the good aliens, the Angara, already speak English when they are first encountered, and already know almost everything about the cultures of races from the Milky Way. There is literally no point in this game being set in Andromeda.
- One particular dialog option is very telling in this regard: when the Angara teammate, Jaal, is worrying about fitting in with a crew of aliens from another galaxy, one of the options is to reprimand him for being a bigot. It seems the writers genuinely thought any form of friction between groups of aliens could only be the result of one group being "bigots," and since only bad people are bigots, there could be no friction among the good guys. It cannot be emphasised enough how childish this worldview is.
- Only two new alien races are encountered (really only one), and they are underwhelming: one is a race of of fairly generic nice aliens called the Angara, and the other is a race of bad aliens called the Kett who turn out to be made from the Angara. This comes across as more than a little disappointing given the wide variety of memorable alien races encountered in previous Mass Effect games.
- The game never makes it clear what exactly a Pathfinder does or why one is needed to perform fairly simple tasks that other characters should be capable of. The storyline endlessly praises the player character, Ryder, for being the Pathfinder, even the only thing special about them is they have access to a piece of technology, and never do anything that someone else couldn't do. Often, the player encounters groups simply sitting around waiting for the Pathfinder to show up.
- The result feels very similar to the issues Dragon Age: Inquisition had, where the player character basically just had a magic thing but otherwise sat around while everyone else made the plot happen, all the while constantly telling him he was important in some really vague way.
- On the topic of the Pathfinder, the game wastes the opportunity of letting players choose an alien race to play as, since it is mentioned that each race has their own Pathfinder.
- The sequence of events that form the plot make very little sense and often have characters at odds with their stated goals for no reason other than because the next event in the plot needs to happen. For example, the human colony ship is heavily damaged on arrival, but rather than stopping to, you know, fix it, they decide to send a ship down to a planet they can't scan. Oh, maybe to scan it, right? No, they just, um, kind of want people to go down there and hope that solves their problem somehow.
- The death of Ryder's father is comically contrived: we're apparently supposed to believe these characters can pull omni-blades out of literally nowhere but somehow can't fix the faceplate of a helmet enough for it to hold for a few minutes.
- This is also another case of a game where your boring nobody of a character has a Very Important Dad who everyone talks about instead of you.
- Most choices in the game are largely meaningless due to the elimination of the Paragon/Renegade system: all of them amount to "I'll do it, but not necessarily right now" and have very little effect on Ryder's behavior. The game also doesn't tell the player what effects the choices will have: at one point they are asked if they want to place a "military outpost" or a "science outpost," for example, but are not told what difference this choice is actually going to make (or why they are only allowed to place one outpost on an entire planet).
- Of the "big" choices that are supposed to matter (but don't), most are utterly contrived scenarios: for example, at one point the player is given the option to either blow up a Kett facility turning captive Angara into more Kett and kill everyone inside, or not blow it up and rescue the currently trapped Angara. The problem is that even the Angara teammate Jaal points out they could just come back later and blow up the facility, so there is no need for this choice to even exist.
- The big bad guy, the Archon, has a tendency to talk like a much stupider version of Sovereign and looks like a Prothean meth addict.
- There is only one ending in the game, and the ending does not change in response to your previous actions.
- The line-to-line writing is also bad: Director Addison's dialog is just confusing, like she's reading her lines with a concussion, and there are a series of awful and completely out of place attempts at humor, like the horrifyingly awkward scene of female Ryder attempting to flirt with Suvi, the reference to Krogans "Kroganing," or when the Pathfinder asks an alien race if they need to take their shoes off when greeted by security after landing their ship, because a 21st century airport security joke isn't in any way out of place in a Mass Effect game.
- Awful animations, ranging from jarring, to creepy, to cringeworthy or unintentionally funny, to downright immersion breaking, and they ruin any impact that the developers were trying to impose. Some of these animations were later improved in updates to the game.
- An infamous example is when Addison said "Sorry, my face is tired from dealing with... everything" as if this somehow excused her looking like a diseased waxwork statue. This quickly became a meme.
- Female Ryder had a habit of grinning like an idiot throughout the game.
- Additionally, some of the lip-synching cutscenes were never synced by hand.
- In early footage, Peebee was shown firing a pistol despite holding it backwards.
- The "fight" between the Krogans Jorgal Strux and Nakmor Morda looks even more like two fat men fighting over a cheeseburger than the infamous Master Chief vs Locke fight from Halo 5. The scene is only sabotaged further by Morda's voice, which seems to have been achieved by the voice director saying "no, I want you to sound more stereotypically gay" at least five times.
- Humorously enough, the best animated scene in the game by far is the main romance scene between Cora and male Ryder.
- Very poor facial features, which they're can be comparable with Ride To Hell: Retribution. The faces of women are very deformed which make them appear as fake or creepy. Not only that but the graphics on everybody's faces, look more like plastic dolls than actual organic beings due to low resolution textures and bad lighting.
- Voice acting is too varied in quality, with a lot of it being below average. On top of that, SAM or one of your squad mates can suddenly start talking over important story exposition, causing players to miss key info from being unable to hear it due to the bad sound editing.
- Loads of bugs and glitches, such as people suddenly spawning near you, doors closing with people still in the doorway, animations failing to load properly, getting stuck in an infinite loop of dying, and your vehicle spontaneously exploding.
- Horrendous character creation where you can only choose one of nine ugly faces for your character and only slightly modify the face by changing his or her hair, make up, and the skin tone slightly. You can't change the shape of the head.
- The missions are repetitive and boring, with lots of fetch quests and chores.
- Combat quickly gets repetitive due to the limited enemy variety and lack of squad options.
- Making the above point even worse, neither the Mako knock-off or the Normandy knock-off have weapons, so every single combat challenge in the game can only be done with on-foot combat.
- All tactical shooting elements are removed: the player is basically only able to point companion characters at targets, and cannot tell them what equipment to use or when to use their special attacks. This does not combine well with the "priming" elemental attack mechanics (hitting an enemy with one elemental weapon will leave them weak to a follow-up attack with another) since the player cannot tell them to set up an attack, or get them to hold off on triggering a primed enemy.
- The only real type of puzzle in the game is being forced to play alien Sudoku.
- While the jump jets provide a momentary distraction, they are used to create alien jumping puzzles and are otherwise fairly poorly implemented into the game world.
- The multiple loadout function is neat on paper, but is implemented in an atrocious way: all of the abilities reset their cooldowns as if they'd just been used when a new "combat profile" is selected. This attempt at balancing having twelve skills available at once means it often takes so long for the power the player wants to use to be available that they have already long been able to kill whatever they wanted to use it on with conventional gunfire.
- Interestingly, when Ryder's dad is showing off the combat profile mechanic in the first mission, he can use powers immediately on switching.
- In addition, this solves a problem that the developers themselves created, specifically decreasing the number of skill slots down to just three and increasing ability cooldown times. This plus the automatic cooldown on selection means the player often has prolonged periods where they have nothing to do but wait for their skills to be ready again.
- Clichéd, shallow teammate characters that can be unlikable and hard to get invested into, or just less interesting copies of previous companions.
- Unnecessary crafting system shoehorned into the game to make it longer.
- Badly designed menu system: it is very hard to find anything since it is all buried in nested sub-menus. At launch the system was clearly rushed (among other things having the option for subtitles in two different places) and glitchy, frequently failing to acknowledge actions like changing weapons.
- The planets that can actually be visited are barren and unimaginative, being generic single-biome worlds (the ice planet, the desert planet, the jungle planet, etc). In general if you find an interesting world while scanning planets, you can guarantee you won't be allowed to land there.
- There are unnecessary ship take off and landing cutscenes that you cannot skip. Even worse, the galaxy map has these too, with changing systems getting an animation and even selecting a planet requiring a dramatic camera sweep. This is made even worse because there is no guarantee there will be anything on a given planet, meaning the player will have to watch two transitional animations for no reward at all.
- Multiplayer is little more than a generic horde mode.
- All of these features above really show how the game was released in such a heavily rushed and unpolished state: despite a five-year development cycle, it was three years before a solid story was written and the game itself was more or less entirely made in the last 18 months of the project. The game suffered from a lack of any clear idea or goal, an understaffed and inexperienced dev team, and the decision to use Frostbite (although since the ME: A team had a large part of the Dragon Age: Inquisition team assigned to it before they had actually done any engine work, this was not the huge problem some claim).
- The bad animations and acting can be unintentionally funny.
- Despite the sometimes ugly characters, many locations look beautiful. Havarl is a standout.
- While repetitive, combat can still be very fun and is one of the game's highlights.
- Some of the voice acting is well done.
- The soundtrack is alright.
- There's somewhat more variety in the mission design than in Mass Effect 3, which picked up some criticism for having all but one of its missions in the base game focused entirely around combat.
- The human same-sex option for a female Ryder, Suvi, is handled a lot better than her counterpart in Mass Effect 3, Samantha Traynor, who would just not shut up about being a lesbian. By contrast, Suvi only vaguely implies her sexual preferences in her normal dialogue.
- Bioware eventually patched many of the game's issues, meaning it's at least more playable than it was at launch, and most of the stupider-looking animations have been replaced or at least improved.
Despite positive reviews from game journalists (much like ME3's ending, and again a reminder of why most can non longer be trusted), users have given the game very low scores with many easily considering it to be the worst game in the franchise. It also sold around 2 million copies which, while still successful, makes it the worst selling game in the series. The racist tweets from Manveer Heir caused several gamers to cancel their pre-orders of the game (The poor animation and facial features probably helped as well).
Due to a huge amount of negative reception and lackluster sales, EA announced the franchise has been put on hold for the foreseeable future, and also announced there would be no DLC for the game. BioWare Montreal was also shut down and merged into Motive Studios following the game's failure.
- There was some fairly heroic post-launch effort to fix the game, and while the result still cannot in any way be called good, the efforts went so far as creating entirely new character models that no longer look like animated corpses (for example, a March 2018 patch replaced "My face is tired" Addison with a character who looks like an actual woman). This is a double-edged sword, however, as the result is a really boring badly-written game, as opposed to a really boring but unintentionally hilarious badly-written game.
- Despite having such a woke staff, they managed to mess up a transsexual character's dialog to the point they had to change it and issue an apology, and totally forgot to have a gay romance option with an actual squadmate for male Ryder (an option to romance Jaal was eventually added).