I was looking forward to Mass Effect Andromeda for years. Not exaggeration. The game came out. The game is beautiful. And that’s about it.
Instead of a grand adventure in the galaxy far, far away, we’ve got a ship filled with lackluster characters, a meandering rehash of a plot with nothing except a new hairdo to distinguish it from the original trilogy, and lackluster combat. They managed to make a Turian boring. I’m not kidding.
The plot lacks the driving momentum. There is very little immediacy to it. The missions are not really compelling. I landed on a jungle planet and I couldn’t wait to get off, because the adventure consisted of running around, tagging random pieces of garbage, and shooting what seemed like the same group of enemies over and over. Having been on five different planets, I can now see that this will be repeated ad naseum. There are basic principles that create a fast-moving, gripping narrative, which were completely ignored in this case.
For example, the mothership is running out of resources, a theme that’s not really explored except that several characters tell you that they are running out of resources. So you ramp up the pressure. You tell the player that unless player finds water, a bunch of beings are going to die. Their water converters are failing, whatever. You show the player some kids from aquatic races in acute distress due to lack of water. The player starts running around scanning planets for suitable water or water converters. The player is given a choice: he can either negotiate for the water with grumpy mysterious natives or she can go after a group of violent alien pirates and take their space converters. As the player progresses through either mission, upon hitting certain milestones, they get alerts about how people on the mothership are really really dying now and would he/she please hurry up. The player perhaps can get a new crew member by tangling with either faction. Something besides just “go to planet, scan alien monoliths, run through Tron-like dungeon, whee, establish outpost.”
This all would be tolerable if the crew was vibrant and fun. It is not. The dialogue is terrible. During one of the conversations, a crew member says something like, “I’m just going through life with no real purpose or direction.” The characters are flat and Ryder flirts with them with subtlety of a bulldozer that borders on sexual harassment.
What you have is a mediocre space shooter attached to a lackluster RPG. If you were hoping for the adventure of Mass Effect 2, you might be like me, bitterly disappointed.
I gave it 25 hours, and for the past week I had no desire to play it. I’ve been playing Stardew Valley instead, which tells you something. I’m firing up Dragon Age: Inquisition this morning. I put 300 hours into it, but I don’t care. Even with its single-MMO aspects, it is still a much better game.
Jackie H says
Have you checked out Horizon Zero Dawn yet? This might be much more to your taste. Post -apocalyptic world with an outcast heroine who must fight robots creatures.
That will be the next thing I play.
Jackie H says
There is also new Destiny 2 to look forward too http://www.usgamer.net/articles/20-04-2017-destiny-2-everything-we-know-release-date-collectors-beta The trailer with Nathan Fillion’s character is a real hoot 🙂
Just watched. Hehehe.
I can’t remember what TV show I was watching, but the “rally the troops” trailer came on. I recognized Fillion’s voice immediately, and that speech made me think of his character on Firefly. Same type of motivational speech. I think I’m going to have to check out that game.
I am playing Hollow knight right now. It’s a lot similar to salt and sanctuary, which in turn is kind of a 2d adaptation of Dark souls. It’s very good and a lot easier than Salt and sanctuary or Dark souls. You seem to be more into RPGs but this is a really fun mix of RPG, action game and platformer and it’s only 16$ on steam.
Most of my Twitter feed is raving over ME:A, so this is a surprise! Maybe I’ll hold off awhile before trying it out. I can’t currently, I had to do a partial rebuild on my desktop last year when my graphics card failed. That lead to needing a new motherboard (old one was too old for newer cards), which lead to new RAM and by then my budget was pretty thin, so I had to settle for an I-3 processor. Hopefully, I’ll be able to upgrade that in another couple of months. If I buy a game, I want a computer that can run it well, after all!
What’s your favorite game?
I’m more of a JRPG girl. Just finished FFXV yesterday and I LOVED it. But I’m a huge FF fan in general
Charity Vandehey says
Yeah. MEA was disappointing in so many ways. Ryder is nor Shepard, and the squadmates are so “meh” I don’t think I’m romancing anyone in my playthrough. I’m thinking of picking up a PS4 just because there are a couple of awesome looking RPGs for that system that are exclusive, and until CD Projekt Red releases Cyberpunk 2020, not much looks to be coming to Xbox anytime soon.
Whoa, thanks for that. CD Projekt Reds games are worth waiting for. Nice trailer.
Other Barbara says
On topic and off topic.
On topic-loved rag games, but slowly arthritis and nerve damage made it tough to play anything, even iPad games. Any systems, controllers less hand tiring? Plus, new Zelda game calling me.
Just began getting newsletters regularly. Read a snip so upsetting l logged off and now cannot find it.
Out of context comment..I read an update, on writing? seemed to be saying that third book of Hidden Legacy will not have a “hard HEA” but just an open, maybe type ending due to publishers vision.
Took me a few days to accept my fantasy ending does not match the publishers or IMHO, most readers.
Or did I Misread??
Did zi misunderstand?
Ellen A says
I think a lot of us like the hard HEA, but I can understand the desire to be able to potentially add more to the series. Just… No cliffhanger endings. Blegh.
Zelda is awesome! We were playing Zero Dawn, and it was really good too, but I think Zelda is more addictive. Despite the cheesy, sappy dialogue. Zero Dawn has much better plot, but Zelda has almost endless puzzles.
I wear gloves on my hands for RSI issues when using devices and for a few hours after. They help, though they are marketed for arthritis. Also, the Nintendo switch has a few options for controllers, one may be better for you. We bought the large one for comfort purposes.
Other Barbara says
Thanks! I assume those stretchy fingertip-less gloves? I used them for a while. I think I will return to them. I so loved rpg games.
An open ended ending sort of romantic ending is fine If there are further stories. I love Kate Daniels for the tales, world building more than the romance, and even Sean and Dina are secondary to the magic of the stories. But ROGAN? I so want them bonded, not Rogan left still broken inside, arrogant and alone.
I just hope if final tale is open ended romance it is followed by a short story. Swine and Roses two, Rogan Grovels.
My kid 1 is currently obsessed with Warframe on PS4. He normally bounces between mutilple games on any given day…he has not played any other game for a month. O_O
I am a Bioware Fangirl since Baldur’s Gate. I liked Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age Inquisition and Mass Effect 3 even when everybody screamed how awful these games were.
I think the problem is that their games are always compared to the previous titles (like Dragon Age 2 to Dragon Age Origin). So it is hard to meet all the expectations from the fans. There were a lot of harsh previews for MEA, some of them I could understand, but the good things are often overlooked, like for example the really good voice acting.
I like Mass Effect Andromeda, but I also think that they wasted a lot of potential.
Later in the game you meet some interessting people and the story has some potential for really interesting DLCs (if they do it right)
So this is me swooping in to defend Bioware 😉
There was just so much in Andromeda that should have been good or interesting. Things that were teased, but never developed. Although half the technical flaws that so many complain about are regular features in most Bethesda Hiking Simulators, so that does kind of amuse me.
It does have a bit of an awkward pacing. The first 10-15 hours of it is pretty much that big opening sprawl of introduction and showing off gaming mechanics and initial lore and setting out the situation. It’s that “First planet – prologue: Becoming the special one”, then “This is your Hub” followed by “This is your ship and companions” then the “This is the 2nd planet and you’ll find out what it means to be a pathfinder ; plus story stuff” kind of run.
Then it proceeds to introduce you to the native intelligent species and you start to get a few choices of where you go in the cluster over the next 5 or so hours. You get the final companion as part of that process. I think the game stats have that at about the 25-30% mark done? For all they’ve gone on about the exploration side and flying around the galaxy, there aren’t really that many options once you get past the flying back and forth between 3 planets and the hub for that first quarter of the game.
The one thing that annoys my minor OCD is the amount of “Task: XXX” missions that get tagged into your journal. They aren’t important per se, and about half of them are the “Collect X variety of thing or such” without any map points to aim for. And a few variants that require you to find and scan 3 or 5 of the same items across multiple enemy camps to be able to decipher/triangulate or such…. the problem being none of those camps are marked in the wilderness and it seems that its a random chance that the item you need to scan will appear in any camps you do find. So lots of just driving around the wilderness hoping to find the damn unmarked camps. However, supposedly, doing some of those Tasks will result in reduced difficulty for certain specific missions that you have to do as part of the main plot.
I think the thing that gets me is that ME:Andromeda is full of interesting concepts and “could have worked” elements that for some reason are just… mishandled or not developed out, or generally executed in a way that doesn’t quite work. I can understand how resources need to be managed during game development, but they laid the groundwork and ideas and then did nothing (or didn’t do it that great).
The idea that as you increase viability throughout the Cluster and find resources that the Nexus will grow and change. You get to choose which Cryo-Pods are woken up in order and depending on which you get mechanical boosts via Military/Science/Commerce but no actual fluff, its purely a mechanical number resource rather than having an in-game/universe effect. Although you had the trailer hype about the Nexus growing and constructing, that turns out to purely have been the in-universe Andromeda Initiative stuff and not actual game elements. There are basically two Nexus you have : The dark version when Hyperion arrives that’s half shut down, then the “turned on” version after you put that first Outpost on Eos. I mean sure, as you locate other Arks and encounter the Angara you get a few more people and races wandering around and several overheard conversations change or such, but that’s it. The maps and look stays the same. There’s no change to the visuals of it.
Outposts – On the one hand, that very first outpost has a few interesting aspects in the sense that you start it up and it’s in one condition, you get a few quests related to troubles they’re having or ways you can help out. Then after travelling around the cluster you return and get a nice bit about how the colony has developed while you’ve been away (both the outpost and the planet itself). But then that never happens with any of the other outposts you set up. So it turns what could have been an interesting way to connect you in to the outposts into a one-off storytelling exercise rather than involving game-element.
Also for a niggling thing, while your map will show the location of major quest locations (or where you can pick them up) and some of the side quests, and quite often shows where members of your crew are lurking if they’re on the map…. you have to hunt down the locations of important outpost people, which means you can potentially miss out on background conversations and some of the minor side-quests because you didn’t realise that in the middle of those three non-speaking npc’s standing in a crowd was a 4th who happens to be the outposts chief science officer who actually has conversation options.
I like the idea that Research is split from Development. The science of discovering things doesn’t always mean you have the resources to produce things. The scanning stuff added to the feel of being a Pathfinder and not just some military commando-type.
However, it kind of falls apart due to a slightly awkward UI, and that the only thing you can R&D is guns, armour, and mods to either. Seriously, once you pick one gun type to use, it’s not like you actually need to research the 20 other varieties of Assault Rifle “just in case”. It’s not like you can change your companions equipment, as it’s only Ryder who uses them. If the research and development actually had some useful effect beyond that it would have been nice. Or even if you could Research other things that could provide help to Outposts, colonists, and Nexus itself. I ended the game with a huge amount of Research points I never spent because there was never any point to using them. You pretty much choose a gun, a suit of amour, and keep researching their improvements as you gain access to them when you level up. Beyond that, eh.
Exploring systems and planet scanning. Okay, it’s gorgeous imagery for travelling around the cluster and within the systems. However, after the 10th, or 20th planet, it hits a “Okay, it’s pretty, but this is getting tiring/annoying” because you manoeuver through a slightly clunky interface each time, then hit scan, then find out if there happens to be any anomalies (all of which provide almost no benefits), then click a button to zoom out, then another button to zoom out, then select another planet, get another gorgeous “zooming through space as the solar system you’re in rotates and moves, before closing in on the location you picked” visual before doing it all again.
The anomalies you find can be of fluffy background interest, but half the time are simple “bacteria under the ice” “unusually large mineral formation” etc, and it’s kind of eyerolling silly that an unusally large mineral formation you detect from orbit happens to be +43 Iron. When you can find more when mining with the Nomad. Also, you never get those one off missions or on-foot explorations during those wanderings. You really could have done with some of those like they did in the original trilogy. As it is, you only get to land on the specific story planets.
Which also leads me to some of the quest structure and UI elements… Travelling to other planets and quests that have you move back and forth. Understandable, and makes sense in a lot of cases. But it can be as annoying as all get out (especially anything that takes you to Kadara port).
Because you have to go through the: travel to the Tempest – sweet visual of ship leaving planet as loading screen – use navigation console, zoom in on system you want, travel there, select planet, travel there, click land – sweet visual of ship landing as loading screen – find out if what you want is on Kadara port itself, find out its not, so you have to select the elevator to take you down – loading screen as you go to slums – run 30 meters to get outside of that map – then you can select the world map to fast travel – do the quest thing, find you now have to go back to the original planet and quest giver (or yet another planet as a continuation of the quest) – get in the Nomad and use the “T” option to have the Tempest pick you up directly – sweet visual of leaving the planet as loading screen…. I’m sure you get the point. I really wish they gave you options of landing on Kadara at the outpost when/if you develop one there and not leave you stuck having to go through all of that every time you want to go there.
While in a gamer and mechanical sense I get the whole “Just because I have a quest that’s about speed and vital to save someones life, I can spend an hour trolling around here and making sure I’ve picked up alllll the quests before I leave” can be a thing, it annoys the roleplayer in me to have a vital quest that talks about speed..and not rushing off to handle it before coming back. And , frankly in the later half of the game you get a whole load of quests that have you bouncing back and forth across the planets. While that’s fairly easy to implement on a fantasy world and a world map… When you have to go through about 6 or so screens and a multitude of mouse clicks just to travel from one location to another to fetch something…and then return, it really starts to suck enjoyment out.
And yes, they’ve obviously planned Andromeda to be the first of it’s own series or to use future dlc to flesh out / finish storylines. There are several quests which while they can be resolved in a certain sense, are pretty much just there to open up aspects of the universe but not answer the questions. Purely hooks to hang things from in the near future (and to have choices made that transfer across to later games).
Alex R. says
Holy wordsmith, batman!
Matt Warriner says
Yeah Andromeda was a real let down.
I think there was a way to make the main plot (which I won’t spoil just in case anyone still wants to give this game a go) much more interesting by making the villians rather than moustache twirling stereotypes have them really think they are doing the right thing. Have them offer food and help to the stranded hungry desperate people get them to do the thing (I forget what the game called it exaltation?) voluntarily. Make them more sympathetic have them treat the other races more as lost hurt children in need of their help and where they rebel treat them as misguided unable to see what’s good for them. Have some of the exiles and aliens actively working with them turned to their side by offers of tech or food or whatever.
It was like the whole game a massive missed opportunity to take that idea and do something great and interesting instead we get meh. It makes my face tired ?
Wow I read books watchTV and movies. This is another world. Yikes
I’m kind of with you there. I feel like EA pressures Bioware to hurry hurry hurry until we end up with this garbage. Stupid money-grubbing garbage corporation. Imma go back and hang out with my bro Garrus again after this. Maybe wear through a few dozen tissue boxes over Mordin. Somethin.
Not going to lie though, it was worth it for some of the glitches. Especially the movie night couch glitch. ESPECIALLY especially with Jaal. Go Google that, seriously. It makes me laugh so hard every time… so derpy… X’D
So….I’m guessing you didn’t like it!
I’m not a gamer myself, I just buy them for my plethora of grandsons ???
I played MEA 70 hours. My feelings for the game are not as negative as yours – for example, I thought the combat system was quite fun, even if the enemies were a bit monotonous – but on one thing I agree with you: Dragon Age Inquisition is so much better, even if it was not a perfect game.
I could discuss about what was good and bad in both games for an hour, but in the end, what was the deal-breaker for me were the characters.
I fell in love with the cast of Inquisition since Varric’s badass entrance at the very beginning of the game, with the hilarious conversation about Bianca the crossbow; and I spent something like 400 hours playing it just to unlock the different romances, explore the different consequences of the companion’s missions, and listen to their hilarious banter while I hiked through Thedas.
The Hinterlands might have been never-ending, the side quests and the area I explored seemed not to be related at all with the main story, and Corypheus was an anti-climatic villain, I did not care, because of the characters.
MEA? There is no character that grabbed my imagination. From Bioware, that is a huge disappointment.
Susan Belvin says
Have you tried KOTOR (Knights of the old republic) it’s a great Star Wars RPG. Lots of action and decent story line.
yeah! best game ever. 😉
I think the vast majority of the original team for ME and DA have left Bioware and unfortunately the people who’ve stepped into those roles seem to not know what made the previous games great. DA:I was still fun, but seeing where MEA has gone I’m a bit worried about future Bioware releases.
Have you played the new Zelda? It’s really fun to play. The world is beautiful and there is so much to explore while you’re working your way through the main quest.
Larry Hoffman says
I’m starting to think I’m too old. I rage quit the latest Tomb Raider because there are just only so many way you can die doing the same series of moves over & over & over… Still playing Skyrim though I’ve moved up to the PS4 special edition version. The only reason for buying the PS4 though was so that I could play Final Fantasy XII again when it hits in July. If they come out with another version of Outpost II, I’m doomed.
I haven’t tried Dragon Age, the graphics look pretty tempting. I just went through Skyrim and Splinter Cell: Blacklist again. So I am ready to try something new.
BTW, have you seen Lindsey Stirling’s Dragon Age video? It is pretty cool IMO.
Oops, just click replay on the link. I enjoyed watching it again before I did the copy/paste on the link. 🙂
Or you can let it go to the next video on the list, her flash mob preformance of Master of Tides, it is fun as well.
My husband and I are HUGE Dragon Age Fans. I love them all. But I think they are getting better as they develop.
Rhyn Gabriel says
Um – maybe the designers are just missing a REALLY REALLY GREAT OUTSTANDING AUTHOR TEAM WHO KNOW HOW TO WRITE A STORY? They’ve obviously got people who can write code and create beautiful graphics… 🙂
How similar are the forms? That’s not the part of game development I have much exposure to* but my game weenie friends are pretty interested in the ways in which designing a game is not like writing a story, and therefore it’s a new and emerging art form. (I find the ideas interesting, but so far haven’t gotten sucked in.)
* And I’m mostly a paper gamer, though I’ve gotten involved in bits and pieces of relevant code? But mostly for other purposes.
My first foray into big RPGs was Dragon Age: Inquisition. I loved it so much I had to get a PS3 to play the predecessors and then I discovered the Mass Effect trilogy. I called my sister in tears, demanding to know how a singing alien could produce such feelings.
I haven’t had a chance to play MEA but had to recommend The Witcher 3 if you’re looking for some outstanding writing.
Btw, you guys are amazing!!!
Perhaps you were expecting too much, I enjoyed the game on the whole. Although no-one could replace Garrus. Well maybe Kandros for Sara and Avi for Scott but you couldn’t romance them. However a lot of it was in my head, I panicked about getting resources and which missions or tasks needed to be done first. So much so that it was a relief to find out it didn’t matter.
At least do Drack’s loyalty mission and flirt with him afterwards, he is totally adorable (makes you wish you could have been a female krogan). Night on the town with Reyes is good too, even if according to one of my friends she had to imagine that entire romance. Liam looks like a kid to me, so I chose Jaal for something extra to do, although I’d have been happy for him to choose Peebee instead. I was rewarded to a cut scene of Ryder’s breasts, just what all the female players want? No we don’t, well except for those who fancy Peebee, Vetra, Suvi or Keri.
So yes, it could have been way better with a storyteller but sadly you two are busy enough = (
And with a lot less planet scanning. But one plus it’s game play after you finish the story is better than inquisition. They don’t start dismantling your ship and all your crew stay, if that’s a bonus.
Just finished year 2 on Stardew Valley and got engaged to Elliott, he brings a small library with him and is an author. Really enjoying second playthrough.
ME:A is what you get when you turn over an established IP to a tertiary team. The group that made the game was basically the “here we don’t have time for this you do it” group before Andromeda. As far as I’m aware the biggest thing they were in charge of before ME:A was ME3’s multiplayer.
I didn’t hate it quite as much as you, and found at least a couple of the side characters interesting (Mostly Drack, old man Krogan is amazing), but I see so much potential squandered. It felt like a 60 hour prequel with some shining moments of brilliance.
Other Barbara says
I guess I am old in life and gaming. . I played Zelda, sukodan, dragon warrior, most of the early final fantasy on up to early pre mmp world of Warcraft, only iPad try has been Oceanhorn (it’s no Zelda, got bored) playing boom beach in a bored but better than nothing, love to build things. .
So are any of the newer games not online multi players and similar to earlier games? Any not requiring lots of eye hand dexterity? Even back then my son had to beat each major boss, but he has been off in the real world almost 20 years..
The best news is husband put a bit of retirement IRA funds into Activison a few years ago. Woo hoo. We may one day live in old folks home thanks to gaming. Or at least afford tuna.
I’m playing Fallout 4. Late to the party but liking the game. Although I’m lvl 40 and haven’t finished part 1. Picking up every piece of junk in the wasteland takes time.
This brought tears of joy to my eyes. My favorite author plays my favorite game franchise, AND she completely agrees that the newest installment’s writing was sh*t.
Recently gave nier automata a shot. My husband LOVES it and is playing through to get all of the main endings. It has a very interesting story line, good animation and characters. I just cant get over the game play when it changes view. May give it another try eventually because the story is so good.
I am so sorry about MEA was a disappointment. This may be why my Kid 2 hasn’t talked about it much. Darn.
Know it’s already been said, but to add my two cents, Horizon Zero Dawn is the way to go. Phenomenal story, music, and voice acting. Game of the year by far. The combat can get pretty epic too. Already jonesin for a sequel and am sad cause it’s probably 3-4 years away.
Oh no! This is really disappointing. Being a hardcore fan of the ME trilogy, I’ve been waiting for this game since the first teaser. I withheld buying the game after reading the bad reviews, but after yours I feel like it’s time to just move on to another game. There’s just too many bad reviews. Just recently, I read an article about how Bioware had struggled with the last few games (Dragon Age Inquisition and ME Andromeda), in their attempt to attract a wider audience. Well, if that’s true, it backfired on them. My daughter is into the DE Inquisition so I have no opinion on that one.
Another reader commented trying the Horizon Zero Dawn. I’ve seen some of its gameplay and its very likely the one I try next. Another game I’m considering is Detroit: Becoming Human. Going through the comments, I see a few I may add to my list.
By the way, it’s awesome to find others among the Ilona Andrew’s readers who’s into gaming. That’s my therapy after a long day at work, reading and gaming. =)
Have a great week.
Linda Makarova says
I’ve recently finished ME:A (80 hours or so). And all of the way through it I kept rushing the dialogues (because they were boring), hoping to get to some good storyline. But I kept telling myself that on the 2nd playthrough (and I was SO SURE there will be a 2nd playthrough cuz I played 2, 3 or 4 times each of the previous ME games) I will get immersed in the story, dialogue, characters, atmosphere and really pay attention. So, I get to the end and have NO DESIRE to replay. Ouch. Don’t tell anyone, but on occasion I got so bored playing ME:A, that I switched to Stellaris for awhile! 🙂
But… I do have this nifty new Alienware computer (which I bought in expectation of ME:A) and I can now finally play Witcher 2 and 3 – which I was never able to enjoy cuz gameplay sucked on my old laptop! 🙂
Apologies, off topic. Just had to say, rereading Magic Binds. You guys are so talented. Don’t ever doubt yourselves, and please, just keep writing. Don’t care what genre, will read whatever you write. Never forget, your hard work is so very much appreciated! No wonder we’re called The Book Devouring Horde. You made us that way, just can’t get enough!
Give it another shot! I was kind of eh about it too but the game definitely grew on me. I had chosen a romance (which I forced myself to stick with) that felt lame but suddenly in the last 5 hours of the game I had several sweet moments that really made me grin. The main story came together too, it was fun – but I do agree at DA:I is far superior. I give credit to the writers for that, they are more invested in their product, and the main writers are better (there were some crossover character writers but I’m pretty sure they are limited in the main story development).
My favorite aspects withME:A are actually gameplay – fighting is super fun, as is the jump pack, pulling myself onto cliffs (I sorely miss this in DA:I), and the Nomad, plus the neat planet exploration and the differences between planets (though some repeat animals made me scratch my head).
A rather old and very underated but really good rpg was Vampire: The masquerade. Bloodlines was the latest but I really enjoyed the older one with the really bad graphics. Shame about the glitches at the end. Haven’t really enjoyed any other game quite like it even Tomb Raider that I used to love.. star wars the old republic was good but repetitive once the main storyline is over.
While I don’t love MEA as much as the original series there is so much vitriol on forums verging from outrage that Ryder can be female to the fact you can have a same sex romance that I would rather keep playing and support Bioware than not.