No one wanted a bad Mass Effect game, but the universe had other plans.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is here, and BioWare’s five-years-later return to the gleaming sci-fi RPG series is… a little disappointing. I sure didn’t like it.
Let me set the stage: Mass Effect is BioWare’s homegrown take on Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and other “space opera” stories. Andromeda takes the series to a new galaxy — literally — picking up 600 years and millions of light-years away.
The major alien races of the Milky Way sent an exploration force off to colonize a new galaxy, and you — as the “Pathfinder” — are the vanguard. If you’re familiar with other BioWare RPGs, Mass Effect is very similar, it just has more laser guns.
The consensus is in and, unfortunately, it’s not a happy situation: Andromeda is a dud. You don’t have to take my word for it. Read on for a sense of how the latest Mass Effect is faring in other corners of the games-loving internet.
The Verge (Andrew Webster)
Andromeda is a massive game with so much to do, remarkably little of which is fun. It’s often a bland and tedious game to play, mercifully punctuated by endearing narrative moments. Your enjoyment will depend on how much you like chatting with blue aliens.
Digital Trends (Phil Hornshaw)
Almost immediately, Andromeda starts bombarding players with worn space opera clichés. A massive space anomaly crushes your shuttle as you head to explore the planet, which you quickly discover to be full of hostile green aliens, floating rocks, ancient alien monoliths. It looks like Halo. Or James Cameron’s movie, Avatar. Or any of a dozen or so TV, film, and game properties — including Mass Effect. Within a few steps, the range of endless possibilities fans hoped for narrows down to the sci-fi equivalent of business as usual.
Eurogamer (Edwin Evans-Thirlwell)
You’re left with a zesty but unsurprising third-person shooter, struggling through a soup of mundane chores – a game of mesmerising, gargantuan landscapes sabotaged by uneven writing and (at the time of review) an astonishing quantity of bugs. Perhaps above all, there’s a shortage of drama or real consequence to Andromeda, apparently brought on by the shift to an open world template, that is sadly new to Mass Effect – a series celebrated not merely for its freedom of choice, but for making those choices matter.
Destructoid (Brett Makedonski)
Gone is the classic Paragon and Renegade dialogue options to firmly establish your character as a good guy or bad guy. Replacing it is a more nuanced system of answering either logically, emotionally, casually, or professionally. Rarely does it feel as if it’ll make a difference. Often, all the answers seem functionally the same. It’s so hard (maybe impossible) to make Ryder into an asshole. It’s more about how sappy or dopey you want them to be.
GameSpot (Scott Butterworth)
The vast majority of Andromeda’s characters are just dull, and conversations rarely delve deeper than arduous “get to know you” small talk. No one yells or cries or expresses any measurable emotion at any point, even when they explicitly talk about their feelings, and there’s no Tyrion Lannister or Francis Underwood to keep things interesting. There was plenty of room for Game of Thrones-style power struggles on the Nexus, yet all political disagreements are merely mentioned without being explored.
GamesBeat (Jeff Grubb)
When you start a conversation, the camera will zoom in, but who the hell knows if it’ll end up properly framing the people who are speaking. Too frequently, you see just half a face or to struggle to get the camera to even look vaguely in the direction of the primary actors. Even at its best, the camera still makes me uncomfortable. The action is too weighted to the left side of the frame, and this leaves me fidgeting with the right stick attempting to get a better angle, something that never works.
IGN (Dan Stapleton)
When you do land on a planet, the major worlds you can explore are almost all huge and visually distinct from each other. There’s your standard Tatooine-style desert and your Hoth-style frozen wasteland, but also a low-gravity world and a jungle that’s too dense to use your vehicle. Most have some kind of quirk to make them at least slightly mechanically different from each other, not counting the life support-draining factors like extreme cold or heat or radiation that all function in the exact same way by effectively putting a time limit on how long you can explore without returning to a safe area. Of course, given that these are sparsely inhabited worlds, the majority of each planetary map is empty space, and the most frequent things you’ll encounter there are repetitive enemy camps.
GamesRadar+ (Andy Hartup)
The tedious mission design really doesn’t help matters. Most quests here follow the same pattern: speak to person, go where person tells you to go, shoot some aliens, scan some objects, return to person. Frustratingly, many early missions just send you from point A to B to C to D and so on without asking you to do anything more than show up and interact with an object. There’s so much busywork here, padding out an already substantial world into something that feels hugely bloated
Polygon (Arthur Gies)
Andromeda has also added the ability to jump and boost in any direction, which lends a sense of momentum and versatility to the game’s combat. This mostly compensates for the “auto-cover” system, which, ostensibly, makes your Ryder take cover behind any object that should provide it when their weapon is drawn. In practice, this … mostly works, though I had the most problems when I could least afford them, and I desperately missed the ability to select discrete safe points to hide behind.
Rock Paper Shotgun (John Walker)
Headshots, ducking in and out of cover, sitting back and letting rival enemy groups beat each other up for a bit… You know the score, and it’s all delivered well enough. It’s nothing exciting, but it entertains in the same way Far Cry does. Clear out a camp, run in and scoop up the loot, and most likely find a new collectible that’ll build into yet another side quest.
Mashable (Adam Rosenberg)
What a great shame. We’re not even three months into 2017, and we’ve already seen multiple Game of the Year contenders. Mass Effect seemed like the safest bet of them all, but Andromeda is nothing more than a milquetoast effort that — whether this is true or not — feels inescapably boxed in by its own troubled past.