Last week, I wrapped up my journey in Mass Effect Andromeda after 69 hours of playtime, a number that really surprised me. I knew I had been playing the game for a while and of course going in I knew it was intended to be a long experience, but I didn’t expect to see a number quite that high.
While thegame certainly had some flaws here and there, I thought Mass Effect Andromeda is a wonderful addition to the franchise. I loved the change in tone, where your character is a Pathfinder and not a former spec ops solider leading a last ditch effort to save humanity. Here, your job is to essentially explore and find new worlds to colonize, rather than race the clock to stop a galaxy ending threat. The gameplay and mission structure clearly follows that theme as you explore new potential habitats and work to make them viable for colonization.
That’s not to say there isn’t a threat however, as you will be going up some truly detestable villains. Check out my previous post for more thoughts on the story and gameplay impressions.
For now, here are my final thoughts in the matter.
To start off, combat is a shining triumph and in my opinion, easily outclasses all three previous Mass Effect games. The thing that sold me on it early was the addition of the jump jet, which helped make combat feel much faster and more fluid. Using the boosts, I was able to quickly close the gap on enemies or give myself access to a quick get away when I needed it.
In addition, being able to customize my Ryder how I wanted rather than insert him into a predefined class was also a neat surprise as well. While I loved having that predefined role in past games, being able to switch between multiple sets of skills and abilities added a new dimension to the combat. Plus, some of those abilities from past games like Tech Armor returned as passive abilities tied to specific class profiles you could swap between as well.
Going in, I also believed that I’d miss the paragon/renegade system from the previous games. In the end, I didn’t. The system kinda mirrored the one used in Dragon Age: Inquisition, where players had a number of dialogue choices to pick from, from professional, to sarcastic, to empathetic and more. I enjoyed being able to further develop my character based on how he interacted with others, rather than be simply defined by what sort of good/bad choice I made.
While the game did feature a number of tough choices that actually gave me pause before selecting a decision, I felt like I didn’t actually see any of those consequences based off of my actions. I’m almost certain that we’ll be getting an Andromeda 2 at some point, so I’m expecting to start seeing things happen as a result of my previous choices. Granted, minor things did occur here and there but nothing which drastically altered the experience from what I could tell even during the exciting final mission.
I’d also like to quickly point out that the romance scenes in this game definitely took a step up from what fans were given in the past. I rolled a male Ryder for my play through so I can’t really comment on the female Ryder options. While not all of them are overly explicit, BioWare certainly doesn’t leave anything to the imagination with regards to some of the female characters (*cough*Cora and Peebee*cough*). Also, Keri T’Vessa is absolutely adorable and I hope she returns for the inevitable sequel.
In the end, Mass Effect Andromeda is a good game, though one that isn’t without its share of flaws. The meat of the game, main quests and ally/side quests, are generally quite good, though Andromeda also features a large amount of what I would call fluff content.
Ryder can come across a variety of small little things that people want him to do, generating a big list under the “Tasks & Assignments” category. Most of these include simple things like scanning ‘x’ different kinds of items, finding ‘x’ number of items, and other uneventful things people generally consider to be padding. Ultimately, these tedious tasks don’t add anything to the core experience, actually serving to bloat the game, distracting me from the stuff that I really cared about. My buddy Hatm0nster over at Virtual Bastion, did a great job highlighting this very topic, so I’ll direct you over to him for a bigger discussion. Frankly, the game would have been fine without this stuff. Less is more.
I also think the game got unfairly crapped on with the whole facial and character animations controversy that spread around the web. Yes, the game can have some odd moments such as a character AI not behaving as expected, less or overly expressive faces, and even two characters standing in the same spot making the game blend them together as one person. I found these moments to be few and far between though, much less than the internet would have you believe. I do think the game would have benefited from a bit more development time to iron out many of these minor annoyances, but overall my experience wasn’t ruined by any means.
The ending did leave things open for a sequel, so don’t be too surprised when you see it announced. I’m hoping BioWare Montreal learned a lot from this experience and is able to tighten things up for the next entry. I loved the way they closed out this game (no spoilers) and I’m hoping that we’ll be seeing some meaty story DLC sometime soon, as I’d love a reason to return to the game. As it stands right now, the long list of tasks I left isn’t appealing at all, so for now, I’m ready to take a little break from Ryder and the Tempest crew.