A Little Positivity – What We Love About Mass Effect Andromeda (Spoiler Free – OPINION)
Earlier this week, we reported (objectively) the animation issues that seem to divide the gaming community in half once the review copies and early access hit for Mass Effect Andromeda. The team over at BioWare has been getting a lot of flack saying that the animation styles were “weird” and “disappointing”, among other things. Though the specific motion sequences and facial “huh?” moments are definitely nothing new to the Mass Effect franchise (looking at you, Ashley Williams and “Creeper” Shepard), it didn’t stop both fans and the media from taking the critique to an almost volatile level.
Amidst the heat, it is easy to focus on the perceived negative and completely lose sight of the positive aspects of a new title. That’s where this piece comes in. Even though I am an avid BioWare fan (ok, so I have 28 playthroughs of the Mass Effect trilogy, and don’t even ask about Dragon Age), I have no problem stepping back objectively to give critique. But what happens when critique starts to take shape of something less constructive? Often, the community mistakes being hateful for constructive criticism. In an effort to bring back a little light for those still excited for the latest space RPG, I want to talk about some of the things I love about it. And yes, this will be spoiler free.
- The overall narrative between characters
- If you’re familiar with BioWare games, then you know that they have a talent when it comes to weaving some pretty epic storylines with characters you can’t help to care about (I miss you, Garrus). With Andromeda, that doesn’t stop. The overall dialogue options have a very natural flow to them, realistic and engaging. It’s not difficult, especially with games that have prevalent romance options, for the characters to err on the side of “oh my god, did they really just say that?” Andromeda, to me, set a very comfortable pace regarding dialect.
- Your family changes when you do
- That’s right – that custom Ryder that you are so proud of? Those changes will, even in a minor sense, affect your sibling and your father. Fantastic, given with other titles – like Dragon Age 2 – where players would attempt to make a POC Hawke with an extremely pale family. That attention to detail struck me immediately, and I really do believe I won’t be alone in appreciating that.
- The new characters
- I won’t lie – when some of them were first announced, there were a few double takes that happened – and not always in the positive sense. That being said, I was really happy to swallow my words. Liam Kosta is everything fans wanted from Jacob from Mass Effect 2/3. He has his own vibe, an amazing attitude, and makes a great romance option. And Jaal? When I saw his intro, I couldn’t help but to see a giant labia mated with a kitten (which, I guess is still related depending on how you take that). First physical impressions aside of Jaal, his intricate nature and completely honest and open personality quickly made him a staple BioWare character that I believe will become a fan favourite. The team behind BioWare developed him so incredibly well that the majority of the new crew hits the spot, much like the team on the Normandy. If you play BioWare games for their intricate stories and complex characters, you won’t be disappointed.
- New races
- It’s always exciting to see what else is out there in the galaxy and given that it was a new system entirely, it only made sense that they brought in some fresh races. Overall, it gels. The introduction of the two heavily focused new races did not feel forced at all, and as a player – made me want to know more.
- The character customization (Wait, hear me out)
- Yes, the character customization was a little bit disappointing (though much greater than that of the trilogy), especially after all of the praise and constructive feedback Dragon Age Inquisition’s received. That being said, I love that they implemented different hair styles and colour options. Unlike Shepard, the Pathfinder has a more individual approach and that individuality comes through on an aesthetic level, as well. The implementation of purple hair for FemShep in Mass Effect 3 was random and seemed extremely out of place for the overall narrative, but for Andromeda – it works. The different ethnic choices are more prevalent than the trilogy and that provides another layer of immersion for the player and Ryder to connect.
Here’s the thing – many, not all, but many of the “in your face” first impression pieces are extremely limited. Think about RPGs in general … many of them have an incredibly slow start and take time to warm up and get a feel for both the stories and the characters. That in mind, the starting area for First Access players is large yet with a lot of areas cut off due to the environment (no spoilers). Just like previous BioWare games, there are many different types of planets to explore, each with something unique to offer. You can even explore inside a volcano, if that’s not cool – I don’t know what to tell you. Not only that, but customization and aspiring plot points only occur with more play time – 10 hours, for a game of this magnitude, is not enough to get the “whole picture” – especially so with a cut scene heavy title like Andromeda.
My point is, take in what people are saying … there’s nothing wrong with looking at a new title with a critical eye. But the masses are taking Andromeda to a level that is massively over-exaggerated and it is dampening the excitement that many have sheltered since they said goodbye to Shepard years ago. Believe me, there is much to be excited about. BioWare is a team of actual people, with actual feelings, and are making games they want to be proud of. Yes, there are animation issues, no they are not nearly as deafening as many would have you believe, and yes – you should definitely find out for yourself. It is worth it, infinitely more if you are a fan of the franchise.
Please keep in mind this is simply one writer’s opinion and that I do very much understand many of the concerns brought to light. Mass Effect Andromeda drops on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC March 21st. Will you become the Pathfinder? Join in on the conversation in the comment section below. For more Mass Effect news, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for live updates 24/7 as well as our separate community specifically for BioWare on Facebook.
Liana Ruppert578 Posts
With an arguably unhealthy obsession with Mass Effect, Liana has been an avid collector of gaming and comic memorabilia for well over two decades. With a passion for writing, gaming, and comics - she is currently working as Editor-in-Chief for the revival of Prima Games, with previous managing editor experience with several gaming publications including ComicBook.com, The Hollywood Reporter, TwinGalaxies, and other outlets. She is also the Co-Owner and Managing Editor for DFTG. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, as well as several Facebook communities online.