Mass Effect: Andromeda Review

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Now I know I said I was gonna finish up Nier this week. But the shit storm around Mass Effect: Andromeda was too much to ignore. So Nier is gonna have to be a bit late. You guys don't mind right? I didn't think so.

Here we go.

Mass Effect: Andromeda (ME:A) has some mighty big shoes to fill. Regardless of how you felt about the ending to the original triology (it was shit), Mass Effect has a legacy of great characters that we've all grown attached too. At least if you have played the ME games before, if not, then I doubt this review even concerns you. So a new ME game set in a new universe with a whole new cast of characters all trying to be just as good as the originals is just about impossible, especially when you consider the way the story turned out for the original characters.

But on paper ME:A sounds like a great idea to continue the franchise without having to work out all the fine details. Which is an interesting statement when you consider just how many fine details were "overlooked" in ME:A. The premise is, the major races (not the minor ones because fuck them the reapers can have those worthless shits) created migration ships called arks and sent them off with a decent starting population to a new galaxy. The races figured that the fight with the reapers was gonna go belly up, so this served as a nice back-up plan to keep the plague of their existence going. And all told, it's a really good concept. It gives us a plausible reason to not only have a new galaxy to explore, but also make yet another game with all the same lovable races that we've grown to love in the first games.

The problem is...it's only a good idea on paper, because in practice the writing throughout ME:A is dogshit. The characters are fairly shallow, with highlights here and there, the tone of each character varies on a whim or plot convenience, it's like a bunch of 13-year-old school boys all got together to write a massive Mass Effect Fan Fiction, but forgot to talk to each other to make sure their stories inconnected in a natural fashion. So you end up with a clunky story with a lot of random atmosphere to it. You team members will ask a question about what happened to a ruined outpost, then immediately answer their own question as if they suddenly got struck with a lightning bolt of clairvoyance.

Not that it really took me out of the game however. You see, even though it is sloppy, I found myself enjoying the story because the premise still remains very good throughout. It's like watching a really bad movie, still fun and enjoyable even if you spend most of your time laughing at it. When you consider that the gameplay hasn't really changed much from ME-3's enjoyable combat, you have enough of a fun experience to keep you going despite some cringy writing here and there.

Let's talk for a second about the black cloud that has hung over the game since previews started popping up online. The animations are shit. However when you are playing the game, you are paying more attention to the story and deciding your dialog options than REALLY focusing on the jank. Facial expressions have never been Bioware's strong suit, and it is hard to real expect them to suddenly be CD-Project Red. What you do notice is the sheer amount of bugs through the game. Whether you character's walking animation breaks after landing on a rock that makes him/her look like their doing the studder step, to gameplay mechanics breaking. I had an issue with the climbing mechanic just randomly stop working completely for no reason, forcing me to shut the game down and reboot it to get Ryder to sudden remember that you can grab onto ledges. Enemy AI breaks to the point where they'll get knocked down and just lay there while you murder them, or get stuck in walls which always yields that fun gameplay element where they can shoot you but you can't shoot them.

As I played the more I felt like I was playing a Bethesda game. Mass Effect by way of the kings of weird open-world RPG's. Say what you want about Bioware's animations, I never personally saw any bugs in the original trilogy when it was made by people who actually gave a shit.

Never-the-less there is something I quite enjoyed about ME:A and I find it really hard to shut the game down completely.

Objectively, the writing is hit or very very very very miss. The side missions are mundane, the "tasks" or "Side side misssions" are incredible trash, the scanning mechanic is annoying for how important it is, the crafting system is cluttered and unfriendly to use to the point where I only ever used it to craft upgrades to my weapon of choice the Assault Rifle.

However, the worlds are beautiful and watching a world transform into a livable planet as you complete objectives on it is really satifying. The Nexus growing as you increase it's capability to support more and more people feels good as well even if it isn't as cool as the Citadel. The Mako doesn't handle great, but it is way better than it was in the first game.

ME:A does everything the original trilogy did to try and get you attached to it. Character relationships, Mako driving, planet scanning, if you did it in a previous game, you are going to do it here. Sadly the writing is the most important thing in an RPG like this, and the writing is so up and down in it's quality that the game loses a lot of its potential. You don't end up caring about your companions as much, because they aren't written as well as old favorites. Not that they aren't unlikable, they just aren't good enough to strike those same chords.

In the end though the concept was enough to get me through ME:A. Like watching a fun but terrible movie, there is fun and enjoyment to be had here. All credit to them, there is actually a ton of content here as well, but most of it may not be interesting enough to compel you to do it all.

ME:A is a solid 5/10 for me. It's a good time, if you don't take it so seriously and you don't try to milk everything out of it. I'd easily say it's worth playing if you can get it cheap, if for nothing more than to get through the main story.

I also found the exploration of new areas to be almost identical as Dragon Age: Inquisition. The way you unlock new areas, places to find, and items to collect is almost same as DA:I. Now, I actually like DA:I and this method of exploration, but still thought there could've been an improvement. ME:A does not do this.

Multiplayer is kinda dogshit as well. Once again, like DA:I it tries to tie in the multiplayer to the main game, which rarely works IMO. Why they decided to abandon previous multiplayer design and aim for a much smaller 4-player co-op is beyond me. EA has also once again forced the microtransaction, just like DA:I.

This is literally DA:I except in space, with aliens instead of fantasy races and biotics instead of magics.

sgy0003:
I also found the exploration of new areas to be almost identical as Dragon Age: Inquisition. The way you unlock new areas, places to find, and items to collect is almost same as DA:I. Now, I actually like DA:I and this method of exploration, but still thought there could've been an improvement. ME:A does not do this.

Multiplayer is kinda dogshit as well. Once again, like DA:I it tries to tie in the multiplayer to the main game, which rarely works IMO. Why they decided to abandon previous multiplayer design and aim for a much smaller 4-player co-op is beyond me. EA has also once again forced the microtransaction, just like DA:I.

This is literally DA:I except in space, with aliens instead of fantasy races and biotics instead of magics.

Bugger. I hated DA:I with a passion. Absolute mind-numbing MMO style fetch quest gumph.

I hate this new direction that "RPGs" are taking. All they've become are Shoot-em-ups or Beat-em-ups padded out with utter gumph & dull questing.

Dragons Dogma was another great example. Fun experience, but not enough depth or RPG/Story elements to be classed as a true RPG, and too expansive, long winded & full of filler to be classed as a tight beat-em-up experience.

Wish that games would revert to their more traditional forms. Either far tighter beat-em-up/shoot-em-up experiences, or genuine RPGs with a fleshed out story that carries weight and is drenched in emotion.

Fuck ME:A, fuck EA, fuck Bioware, fuck everyone trying to turn RPGs into copy-paste, tick box, MMO type games right in the ass.

I went and picked it up. And it's not as much a trainwreck as I initially feared, BUT it's still a rather tepid experience.

I will say this, the pacing is certainly a lot better than that of DA:Inquisition. Which is a good thing, because I must've restarted this game at least four times due to the horrible character editor. I was finally able to craft a decent looking Ryder, but I still gasp in horror on occasion when a particular kind of lighting hits her face.

And this feels like the biggest problem with the game's visuals; The lighting makes every human face look like a combination of clay and paper mache.

The characters are pretty limp as of yet, with Drack taking the cake. God he's the lamest krogan I think I've ever seen. It's like he switched personalities with that of a 14-year old girl that thinks she's tough.

The writing can also be quite ghastly at times.

I'm sort of enjoying the space adventure for what it is, but just the fact that I had to discribe it like that ('for what it is') probably says enough.

sgy0003:

Multiplayer is kinda dogshit as well. Once again, like DA:I it tries to tie in the multiplayer to the main game, which rarely works IMO. Why they decided to abandon previous multiplayer design and aim for a much smaller 4-player co-op is beyond me. EA has also once again forced the microtransaction, just like DA:I.

I don't really have anything to add regarding Andromeda's similarities to Inquisition, but I feel obligated to point out that they didn't abandon previous multiplayer design so much as reintroduce ME3's with Andromeda's mechanics. It was always four-player co-op.

CritialGaming:
The problem is...it's only a good idea on paper, because in practice the writing throughout ME:A is dogshit...

As I played the more I felt like I was playing a Bethesda game. Mass Effect by way of the kings of weird open-world RPG's.

ME:A is a definite no-play for me then. What I loved about Mass Effect was its focus, all the missions/quests were usually solid and impactful. I don't care about fluff especially in my RPGs when they already have too much fluff 99% of the time. When probably half of Mass Effect is dialogue/character/story and the writing is shit, that means about half the game is bad basically. I like Mass Effect combat well enough but it's not the core reason I play the game.

I hope you don't mind me asking but how do you reach your point system when awarding the review?

What does 5 out of 10 mean for you? Usually 5/10 I would read as, the mechanics and game functions as it's meant to but overall the game's just average.

GZGoten:
I hope you don't mind me asking but how do you reach your point system when awarding the review?

What does 5 out of 10 mean for you? Usually 5/10 I would read as, the mechanics and game functions as it's meant to but overall the game's just average.

1 - fuck this shit (Digital Homicide games)
2 - terrible (Ride to hell retribution)
3 - bad or waste of money (1-2-switch)
4 - mediocre but fun when drunk (Shadow Warrior 2)
5 - Solid but heavily flawed (ME:A)
6 - Good but requires taste to enjoy (Zelda Breath of the Wild)
7 - Very good, a fun experience all around but nothing stand out (Rise of the Tomb Raider)
8 - Great, umm...great? (Horizon Zero Dawn)
9 - Awesome (Nioh)
10 - Amazeballs! No game is perfect, but 10/10's give me orgasms when I play them (The Witcher 3)

hope this helps.

Casual Shinji:
I went and picked it up. And it's not as much a trainwreck as I initially feared, BUT it's still a rather tepid experience.

I will say this, the pacing is certainly a lot better than that of DA:Inquisition. Which is a good thing, because I must've restarted this game at least four times due to the horrible character editor. I was finally able to craft a decent looking Ryder, but I still gasp in horror on occasion when a particular kind of lighting hits her face.

And this feels like the biggest problem with the game's visuals; The lighting makes every human face look like a combination of clay and paper mache.

Lighting just gets worse the further you go into it honestly. Been having drinking nights with my flatmates playing it and some of the planets were not tested with the game settings. One moment you can barely see a damn thing because it's Twilight Jungle planet, the next you're on a desert world where you have about a dozen reflections bouncing off your damn armor and lens flares no matter where you look. You shouldn't be forced to go into your settings because the devs couldn't be bothered to refine some basic things.

Like DAIs open world? I'm so fucking out. I don't have time or patience for that kind of garbage a second time.

CritialGaming:

The characters are fairly shallow, with highlights here and there, the tone of each character varies on a whim or plot convenience, it's like a bunch of 13-year-old school boys all got together to write a massive Mass Effect Fan Fiction, but forgot to talk to each other to make sure their stories inconnected in a natural fashion.

Yup, whenever I see some gameplay footage the dialogue reminds me of this:

As for the inevitable Dragon Age: Inqusition in Space, they straight up told us DA:I will be BioWare's reference for future games. Atleast from what I hear they won't DLC the ending cliffhanger this time.

Welcome to the complete edition bargain bin category BioWare.

Imre Csete:

Yup, whenever I see some gameplay footage the dialoge reminds me of this:

As for the inevitable Dragon Age: Inqusition in Space, they straight up told us DA:I will be BioWare's reference for future games. Atleast from what I hear they won't DLC the ending cliffhanger this time.

Welcome to the complete edition bargain bin category BioWare.

You hit the nail on the head to the scariest degree.

The characters have skipped the nuances of building actual relationships with the already dull Ryder in favor of just skipping to the buddy-buddy parts that Citadel gave us. Thing is the characters had to earn that peace of mind in the other games, not just have it handed to them after hours upon hours of fluff (And even that was arguable).

And seriously? Where'd they say they were gonna use Inquisition as the base? Because if so then I'm officially done with BioWare, they had my respect for all the good memories with KoToR, Jade Empire, Dragon Age: Origins and the original Mass Effect Trilogy but they're quickly replacing that with absolute contempt for what they are now.

The Raw Shark:

And seriously? Where'd they say they were gonna use Inquisition as the base? Because if so then I'm officially done with BioWare, they had my respect for all the good memories with KoToR, Jade Empire, Dragon Age: Origins and the original Mass Effect Trilogy but they're quickly replacing that with absolute contempt for what they are now.

Well not base, but behind the corporate talk they said there will be similarities because of the shared Frostbyte engine.

Quite old

Not that quite old

"We've been enjoying building larger areas that you can explore with less friction, so that'll be there as well" - so the new IP will be this kind of sandboxish stuff aswell. And with EA wanting online component in every of its games, MP is a safe bet. Although we can still hope for a well integrated multiplayer campaign instead of separate MP component.

Maybe it's just doomsaying on my part, but so far they given us nothing to be hopeful about.

P.s.: Thanks for the proper embed trick.

Imre Csete:

Well not base, but behind the corporate talk they said there will be similarities because of the shared Frostbyte engine.

Quite old

Not that quite old

"We've been enjoying building larger areas that you can explore with less friction, so that'll be there as well" - so the new IP will be this kind of sandboxish stuff aswell. And with EA wanting online component in every of its games, MP is a safe bet. Although we can still hope for a well integrated multiplayer campaign instead of separate MP component.

Maybe it's just doomsaying on my part, but so far they given us nothing to be hopeful about.

P.s.: Thanks for the proper embed trick.

Thanks for the links, and no problem for the embedding, I got confused at first as well.

But yeah the future looks pretty bleak as far as the games are concerned.

The Raw Shark:

Thanks for the links, and no problem for the embedding, I got confused at first as well.

But yeah the future looks pretty bleak as far as the games are concerned.

To be fair, the gameplay is sorta a more action-y ME3, so it's not great, but it's fun enough. If only their writers gave half as much of a damn as the Frostbyte coders I'd honestly say this is half decent.

sgy0003:
I also found the exploration of new areas to be almost identical as Dragon Age: Inquisition. The way you unlock new areas, places to find, and items to collect is almost same as DA:I. Now, I actually like DA:I and this method of exploration, but still thought there could've been an improvement. ME:A does not do this.

Multiplayer is kinda dogshit as well. Once again, like DA:I it tries to tie in the multiplayer to the main game, which rarely works IMO. Why they decided to abandon previous multiplayer design and aim for a much smaller 4-player co-op is beyond me. EA has also once again forced the microtransaction, just like DA:I.

This is literally DA:I except in space, with aliens instead of fantasy races and biotics instead of magics.

What? Its literally the exact format used in ME3MP. Its amazing how many of these 'forced microtransactions' games so many of us seem to play without ever using a microtransaction though!.

I mean the MP is dogshit. But its because of terrible P2P network, awful login server stability and hard crashes. If those issues get resolved the MP is fun, just like it was last time.

Elijin:
What? Its literally the exact format used in ME3MP. Its amazing how many of these 'forced microtransactions' games so many of us seem to play without ever using a microtransaction though!.

For every one person like you who doesn't drop money on the microtransactions there are two or more that do, if people didn't buy them then they wouldn't be in the game.

That's the problem with optional DLC, it's never intended to be optional. The publisher wants you to buy it, drops rates are put on just the wrong side fair in order to make people think "oh I've got a few dollars left on my Microsoft account, may as well use them."

Every generation gets their KOTOR II and Neverwinter Nights 2. Only this time we can't point fingers at Obsidian.

In general, there's just a complete lack of polish. I don't hate it, but it made me go back to Horizon Zero Dawn so I can platinum it first before I spend more time on Andromeda.

In shops I get single items of salvage that say they're rare and items that say they're uncommon or common and they all sell for the same amount. Sprinting on Nexus means you keep running 2 seconds after you stop pressing forwards. Matchmaking sucks in multiplayer and you can't reconnect automatically.

This game is like that movie Passengers. They're on a voyage to a new deep space colony and the game woke up too early. Both the movie Passengers and Andromeda could have been so much better. I don't hate either one, but I would never recommend them to someone else.

votemarvel:

Elijin:
What? Its literally the exact format used in ME3MP. Its amazing how many of these 'forced microtransactions' games so many of us seem to play without ever using a microtransaction though!.

For every one person like you who doesn't drop money on the microtransactions there are two or more that do, if people didn't buy them then they wouldn't be in the game.

That's the problem with optional DLC, it's never intended to be optional. The publisher wants you to buy it, drops rates are put on just the wrong side fair in order to make people think "oh I've got a few dollars left on my Microsoft account, may as well use them."

I mean, that's wrong. Microtransaction systems are built to catch whales. Its more like, for every 100 people like me who don't spend a cent, there's one guy who spends 1000 dollars, or 100 dollars a week or something silly.

They aren't just designed to attract the whales. The publishers spend money to come up with ways to get people to drop money on microtransactions.

Pretty good review! Thank you so much for posting it. It's sad to see that the side missions aren't like The Witcher 3's which I think an rpg should inspire from(And Bioware mentioned they took cues from it to). It appears they didn't learn from their mistakes with Inquisition much, it looks like the only redeemable thing is the combat.

Imre Csete:

CritialGaming:

The characters are fairly shallow, with highlights here and there, the tone of each character varies on a whim or plot convenience, it's like a bunch of 13-year-old school boys all got together to write a massive Mass Effect Fan Fiction, but forgot to talk to each other to make sure their stories inconnected in a natural fashion.

Yup, whenever I see some gameplay footage the dialogue reminds me of this:

As for the inevitable Dragon Age: Inqusition in Space, they straight up told us DA:I will be BioWare's reference for future games. Atleast from what I hear they won't DLC the ending cliffhanger this time.

Welcome to the complete edition bargain bin category BioWare.

Did they now? If Inquisition is their point of reference for future games in terms of game play, I will just write these guys off my list of ever buying games from them again. Inquisition was a complete bore to me with it's tedious quests, boring open world locations, and stiff combat.

Oddly enough, what really ticks me off about the game is that you have to hold E now to do stuff. It always felt kinda fluid to me to just press spacebar at everything.

Jim Sterling posted his official review; 5 out of 10: Mediocre.

Guess I will be passing on the ME:A series. I can't even bring myself to say that this game had promise, it didn't.

UPDATE!

With the 1.05 patch of Mass Effect: Andromedia, many many animation issues I had or saw in the game during my review have been fixed. The faces and dialog scenes specifically look 100% better, even if they are still typical Bioware stiff. So those of you coming to the game late should have a much better experience than us early adopters because of that.

Whether you are still not going to support or play the game is up to you, but at least Bioware is trying to address and fix issues that should never have seen the public eye. Take it for what it's worth I suppose. But I wanted to point it out here that, yes, the patch has fixed a lot of the ugly in the game.

Being able to skip the planetary travel animations is an absolute godsend.

Jumped into multiplayer for the first time and at wave five it crashed to the desktop. I think I will just stick to using the app on my phone to complete the Apex missions.

I can't see myself playing this game to completion though. I started a new run in the first Mass Effect and I'm already more excited to see the worlds and events than I am for something completely new in Andromeda.

Mass Effect: Andromeda isn't a bad game by any stretch but there is something missing and to me that is it simply doesn't feel special.

CritialGaming:
UPDATE!

With the 1.05 patch of Mass Effect: Andromedia, many many animation issues I had or saw in the game during my review have been fixed. The faces and dialog scenes specifically look 100% better, even if they are still typical Bioware stiff. So those of you coming to the game late should have a much better experience than us early adopters because of that.

Whether you are still not going to support or play the game is up to you, but at least Bioware is trying to address and fix issues that should never have seen the public eye. Take it for what it's worth I suppose. But I wanted to point it out here that, yes, the patch has fixed a lot of the ugly in the game.

the new patch snuck in an unannounced update to denuvo which means no fixed eyes for you filthy pirate types :D

CritialGaming:
UPDATE!

With the 1.05 patch of Mass Effect: Andromedia, many many animation issues I had or saw in the game during my review have been fixed. The faces and dialog scenes specifically look 100% better, even if they are still typical Bioware stiff. So those of you coming to the game late should have a much better experience than us early adopters because of that.

Whether you are still not going to support or play the game is up to you, but at least Bioware is trying to address and fix issues that should never have seen the public eye. Take it for what it's worth I suppose. But I wanted to point it out here that, yes, the patch has fixed a lot of the ugly in the game.

Just more evidence that the game was rushed out the door because of EA.

I only recently finished the original Mass Effect trilogy. As a result of my coming to the series so late I avoided the now inevitable "Bug Season" that comes with just released BioWare games. I love the trilogy. I knew about the hate and the drama about ME3's ending but with the Extended Cut I was content.

Heck, I never, ever buy a new BioWare game straight away: Instead I've tended to wait upward of a full year or so as to ensure that I won't have to worry about bugs and patches and such.

As for the comparison to DA I: I friggin love the idea! I've put more hours in DA I replays than I'm willing to admit to anyone because I've always been the kind of BioWare RPG fan who milks its games for all that they're worth. Neverwinter Nights, KOTOR, Dragon Age, now Mass Effect.

The primary reason for my not buying ME A now isn't "Bug Season" but the fact that my old laptop isn't up to playing it: I guess I'll have to start manually upgrading it. Oh. Well.

I've never gotten into the BioWare hate that became so vicious that BioWare decided to close it's Forums. Haters gonna hate, sure. But BioWare's critics hate very, very loudly.

Which doesn't stop BioWare's games from selling millions. Inquisition won Game of the Year despite the haters.

Apparently millions of other folks love their games, too. o_O

Individual preferences. *shrugs*

As someone whom stuck it out in the Bioware forum until the very end, there was very little 'hate' against the company there. The vast majority of people who had complaints put them across in a polite manner. The rest just wanted to talk about and discuss the games.

The great problem was the lack of moderation that let the troublemakers run rampant. The moderation was handled by a company known as The ModSquad and they did almost nothing on there, only kicking into action in the last couple of weeks (to prove to future clients they were doing something I suppose.)

I've seen Bioware go from a company that was loved without question to one that is mercilessly ridiculed. That they thought that they could solve that by shutting a single forum was somewhat naive on their part.

As to Game of the Year Awards, there are so many out there that I have no doubt a game about me wiping my bum could win GOTY somewhere.

votemarvel:
As someone whom stuck it out in the Bioware forum until the very end, there was very little 'hate' against the company there. The vast majority of people who had complaints put them across in a polite manner. The rest just wanted to talk about and discuss the games.

The great problem was the lack of moderation that let the troublemakers run rampant. The moderation was handled by a company known as The ModSquad and they did almost nothing on there, only kicking into action in the last couple of weeks (to prove to future clients they were doing something I suppose.)

I've seen Bioware go from a company that was loved without question to one that is mercilessly ridiculed. That they thought that they could solve that by shutting a single forum was somewhat naive on their part.

As to Game of the Year Awards, there are so many out there that I have no doubt a game about me wiping my bum could win GOTY somewhere.

My only familiarity with the BioWare forums stems from having Googled questions about BioWare games I was playing. I really miss having access to the wealth of knowledge available in those forums. Wisdom lost to us all--Forever! :(

votemarvel:
Mass Effect: Andromeda isn't a bad game by any stretch but there is something missing and to me that is it simply doesn't feel special.

I think that "something" is a soul.

There's two different types of games. One type is a game that its developers made because they wanted to make something fun to play. The Witcher 3 falls squarely into this category; it has that soul, that je ne sais quoi that lets you know that they truly wanted to deliver the best possible experience to their customers, without being too concerned that it's a commercial success. For these games, they think that if they deliver a good enough product, commercial success will follow.

The other type is a game made to make money, and Mass Effect: Andromeda falls into this category. It feels unfinished despite being in development for years, and it plays like a checklist. Open areas? Check. Sidequests? Check. Sex? Double check! It just doesn't have that soul that many similar games have, it just has a corporate-mandated checklist in order to move as many copies as possible before people discover that it's not quite as good as previous entries.

SlumlordThanatos:

I think that "something" is a soul.

There's two different types of games. One type is a game that its developers made because they wanted to make something fun to play. The Witcher 3 falls squarely into this category; it has that soul, that je ne sais quoi that lets you know that they truly wanted to deliver the best possible experience to their customers, without being too concerned that it's a commercial success. For these games, they think that if they deliver a good enough product, commercial success will follow.

The other type is a game made to make money, and Mass Effect: Andromeda falls into this category. It feels unfinished despite being in development for years, and it plays like a checklist. Open areas? Check. Sidequests? Check. Sex? Double check! It just doesn't have that soul that many similar games have, it just has a corporate-mandated checklist in order to move as many copies as possible before people discover that it's not quite as good as previous entries.

I think this comparison is actually selling CDProjektRed short. The Witcher 3 is obviously meant to be a commercial success, this is most notable in how it streamlines a load of features from the first two games and makes sure to properly re-introduce characters from the books and games so that newcomers gets a chance to understand what's going on. It has all the trademarks of open world checklist design (filler areas? Check. Markers you visit to get more map markers? Check. Filler side quests? Double-oh Check.), yet most players are completely unaware of it or turn a blind eye to it. What it comes down to is that CPR is showcasing a masterclass in Game Design in the Witcher 3.

The open world in W3 is essentially barren, interspersed only with mobs and random loot in any place that is not directly tied to a quest, yet most of us get the feeling that it is a dynamic, living open world. That's because CPR uses tricks like giving NPCs daily routines, dropping occasional lore items for the player to find and ties the design of the open world strongly into the overarching plot. We see burned villages and battlefields full of corpses in Valen and we know it is because of the war, even if those places only have two lootable objects and a mob of ghouls.
The side quests are mostly empty filler, one quest is seriously all of of "go into barn and kill ghouls", but because each side quest has a voiced questgiver that provides background on the quest, we instantly feel as if the quest is more significant then taking ten steps and killing five ghouls before being given some silver. Even the utterly pointless Horse Races and Fistfights have their own storylines and escalating rewards, to make people play them. That the occasional sidequest also has a complication or twist (go into warehouse to kill ghoul, find out one owner tried to kill the other with it, tell guards or take bribe) means that we remember those sidequests fondly for engaging us more then we initially expected.

The Witcher 3 is not better then ME:A or DA:I because it is somehow more of a love project. It is better because CPR are much, much better developers in all aspects of game development. ME:A and DA:I stumbles on basic writing, fails to make their open worlds feel living (and instead feel like old school MMOs) and has troves of unengaging sidequests that have no backstory and no tangible or emotional reward. The Witcher 3 uses its' much smaller budget to obfuscate the open worlds lack of interaction, to frame its side quests and limits the number of talking roles to provide more quality voice work for each actual talking role. The Witcher 3 was a supremely well-managed project by all accounts and I think CPR deserves credit for that.

SlumlordThanatos:

votemarvel:
Mass Effect: Andromeda isn't a bad game by any stretch but there is something missing and to me that is it simply doesn't feel special.

I think that "something" is a soul.

There's two different types of games. One type is a game that its developers made because they wanted to make something fun to play. The Witcher 3 falls squarely into this category; it has that soul, that je ne sais quoi that lets you know that they truly wanted to deliver the best possible experience to their customers, without being too concerned that it's a commercial success. For these games, they think that if they deliver a good enough product, commercial success will follow.

The other type is a game made to make money, and Mass Effect: Andromeda falls into this category. It feels unfinished despite being in development for years, and it plays like a checklist. Open areas? Check. Sidequests? Check. Sex? Double check! It just doesn't have that soul that many similar games have, it just has a corporate-mandated checklist in order to move as many copies as possible before people discover that it's not quite as good as previous entries.

Well that's sorta because of the difference in the market the two studios faced more than anything. CDPR literally gave their press reveal for Witcher1 in a hotel room they carted people off to and it became one of the more beloved cult hits in game history to the point that they were able to make Witcher2, which gave the studio complete mainstream success and then Witcher3 that has become a gold standard for so many gaming genres and design. They started at very nearly the bottom and are now very much one of the most beloved companies in the world for both quality and consumer advocacy.

On the other side, Bioware largely got carried by alot of Black Isle early in their careers, but still managed to make good games when Black Isle crumbled, but before they became Obsidian, and then they fell apart themselves and Andromeda is just trying to find what made ME1 special to people without the new studio of fanboys not knowing what the fuck they're doing. Like, I started seeing so many "This character/thing/mcguffin is <ME1 Equivalent>, BUT BETTER"(No, seriously, go look at your highlights of ME1 and you'll find the Andromeda equivalent) that I couldn't see it for anything but what it is. A cashgrab, which I wouldn't really mind so much if it had more redeeming qualities than the combat being decent and the environments looking nice when you can make out what things are. They never really faced all that much hardship until relatively recently in regards to critics, capital, and audience.

So much of Andromeda can be chalked up to it just being so fucking out of touch with what made the original games good. It's not making your characters into walking memes or smugly spouting one-liners(I'm fucking looking at you Liam and Peebee, christ I despise that character), it's about making them have more depth than "I was bored/looking for meaning in the stars" and "I'm afwaid of the dawk" level trauma and actually having opinions that might be controversial in one way or another.(Something I will never not applaud Ash, Garrus, Mordin, and Jacob for having). It's just so filled with vanilla-ness that I couldn't really find a reason to care about what was happening.

Like, I know it's treaded ground already, but seriously, compare Lambert's quest in Witcher3 or even the one where the Cat Witcher massacred a village. There was depth and reasons for their actions that weren't completely black and white. And they were like fifteen minutes total together. Then you compare it to something that was actually more important with the Krogan clan power struggle. There was a clear "good guy" and "bad guy" that was pointed out from the start and there was no real attempt to paint either as stained or redeemable throughout the whole bit. No circumstances that challenged the "good" side really, and no real attempt to give the "bad" side much beyond a soapbox labelled "EVIL".

Quite a nice review, this. It more or less confirms my suspicions that this game would be playable but mediocre.

CritialGaming:
But on paper ME:A sounds like a great idea to continue the franchise without having to work out all the fine details. Which is an interesting statement when you consider just how many fine details were "overlooked" in ME:A. The premise is, the major races (not the minor ones because fuck them the reapers can have those worthless shits) created migration ships called arks and sent them off with a decent starting population to a new galaxy. The races figured that the fight with the reapers was gonna go belly up, so this served as a nice back-up plan to keep the plague of their existence going. And all told, it's a really good concept. It gives us a plausible reason to not only have a new galaxy to explore, but also make yet another game with all the same lovable races that we've grown to love in the first games.

Question about this. How fast can the races suddenly travel? Because I remember them having to use the reapers' mass relays to get anywhere. They could travel with some speed between a couple of stars but traveling across the galaxy by yourself apparently cost prohibitively much time. How do you travel around in ME:A?

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