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.

Image result for First access mass Effect andromeda

  • 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 Ruppert557 Posts

<p>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 writer and editor to several gaming publications and is also the Co-Owner and Managing Editor for DFTG. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, as well as several Facebook communities online.</p>

13 Comments

  • Lucky Revilleza Reply

    March 18, 2017 at 9:44 PM

    A beautifully written piece. As a long-time devoted fan of both the Mass Effect series and Dragon Age series, playing the Andromeda trial has rubbed me the wrong way.

    This is not Bioware. I was not exaggerating when I said those quirky animations broke my immersion and connection with the game story. It’s simply unnerving looking at Andromeda’s characters while they’re looking back at you with their empty soulless eyes. It’s not fun and this is coming from someone who can tolerate crappy animation from Bethesda.

    Let’s be honest here. In an era where the industry is capable of unleashing a magnum opus that was The Witcher 3, do you honestly think this is an acceptable release from EA/Bioware?

    If that is so, maybe I was just been spoiled by CDPR with how they handled their game and nothing else can even come remotely close to the bar they set.

    I am a long-time fan of the franchise; but after the trial, I think I’ll give this game a hard pass. I’m done supporting mediocrity.

    Unfortunately a garbage in 4k is still garbage.

  • MizDirected Reply

    March 19, 2017 at 3:45 PM

    Love this. I am shocked and saddened that people are getting so negative early on. I am one of ME’s greatest, but usually silent fans (I speak through my millions of words of fanfiction rather than boards) and all it took for me to lose my fear for the new title was the first five minutes. I got the same chills that the original game gave me when it came out. Thanks for focusing and speaking up for the Bioware Team, and the positive millions who aren’t screaming horrible crap at the top of their lungs.

  • Wat? Reply

    March 19, 2017 at 5:04 PM

    I’m a huge Bioware fan as well and have been anticipating Andromeda with almost a zealot’s fervor. I played through the trilogy again and watched all the trailers and videos. I was appalled after the hate started to roll out online.
    I’ve read quite a few early impression articles and I can say that I feel like these people haven’t played RPGs or other Bioware games. Overwhelming minimaps? Hello Inquisition. Shoddy animation? Hello my custom Shepard’s face. Long load times? *Cough* elevators *cough*.
    To me it’s almost endearing , these quirks. For all the problems, Bioware generally pulls it all together and makes an amazing and worthwhile gaming experience. They’re a talented and passionate group of people and you can see that. The vitriol must be pretty disheartening to them, but I have a feeling there’s going to be some stories with quite a different tone when the game comes out.
    I’m looking forward to it, and it’s cool to see a measured assessment for once! Here’s to hoping it all works out!

    P.S. The stuff with the harassment of that woman who worked at Bioware is disgusting and shameful. What a bunch of idiots.

  • Anonymous Reply

    March 19, 2017 at 8:56 PM

    Can I romance a Vorcha yet? If so, pretty much anything can be forgiven. If not, this title sucks, Bioware is going downhill.

    But seriously, I was joking, but a Vorcha romance option would be amazing.

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  • Ivy Reply

    March 28, 2017 at 3:56 AM

    I play for the story, the characters I consider family, the amazing choices I can make and the characters I can become. I fell in love with origins AFTER I played dragon age inquisition, where animation has advanced so drastically the graphic styles are nothing alike. That tells you something about bioware’s quality of writing. I am the kind of person who does one “canon” play through and that’s it, I broke that rule with bioware. Not everyone will enjoy the bioware style of writing, but after struggling for so long trying to find something I enjoy again after skyrim(yes I’m still waiting for that sequel), I appreciate bioware with all my heart. I am ridiculously attached to my Shepard and my Normandy crew, something I never expected. I hope bioware will continue the mass effect series. I haven’t started andromeda yet but the scenery looks beautiful and the crew looks amazing. I don’t know what will happen with andromeda years down the line, but I know in my next play through of the original trilogy, I will stare at my screen during those awkward elevator rides and smile, because there are so many reasons why I love this franchise, and great facial animation was never apart of that list.

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