Mass Effect: Andromeda is not affected by the ending of Mass Effect 3 by taking its characters and sending them 600 years away into another galaxy. The original trilogy is fondly remembered by many gamers, despite its divisive and disappointing ending. This puts a lot of pressure on the creative team of Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Mass Effect: Andromeda follows the Initiative. A group of aliens that have decided to leave their lives in the Milky Way galaxy behind and start again. But as the human ship arrives they quickly learn that everything is not okay. The other alien ships haven’t arrived and no one knows where they are or what happened to them. The planets that were meant to be habitable are anything but. To top it off, there seems to be a hostile alien race that attacks anyone without hesitation.
You play as Scott or Sarah Ryder, who because of certain events, has to become the Pathfinder. The Pathfinders job is to make sure that all the different aliens get settled in. Ryder is joined by a group of different aliens. These include; a Turian, a Salarian, a Krogan, couple of humans, and two Asaris. Unfortunately, most of the characters here are not that interesting on their own and none of them stand out as anything special. But it is fun to mix and match different characters in your party to hear some of the banter between them, that’s when they shine, when they’re together.
Exploration is the name of the game. Since this is a brand new galaxy it’s up to you to fix everyone’s problems and make sure they all have a place to live and a job to do. There are five planets for you to explore and they are pretty big in size, but not all that creative. There’s the desert planet, ice planet, and forest planet. There are two others but they can also be considered “desert” planets. Each planet has a “vault” that you have to go and active in order for the planet to become habitable for the people from the Milky Way. There are also lots of side quests that entice you to explore the planet more. Unfortunately, most of the side quests feel similar to each other. You have to go somewhere, kill some creatures, and then talk to someone. There is very little variety here.
The combat in Andromeda is very similar to the other games in the series, with a few changes. The biggest change is that Ryder is more versatile than Shephard. He has a jet pack which allows him to jump to different locations, giving players different choices on where to go during combat. The newest addition to the gameplay is that the player can change their class at any point. This gives people different opportunities to experience all the powers that the game offers without having to stick with one through the whole game. There is also a vehicle, the Nomad that you use to explore the planets, similar to the Mako from the original Mass Effect. But the Nomad is far superior to the Mako in the way it controls and drives.
The game has a “lots of stuff not a lot of polish” presentation. Some of the areas you explore look great, with details showing of the different hazards of each world. The planets you explore also change over time as you clear them out and complete different missions and side quests. It feels like the things you do actually have an impact on the world. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives in presentation. There are issues everywhere with pop ins, framerate drops, the game freezing, sound cutting out, and the very awkward facial animations of each character. The game has a lot things to showoff but unfortunately it struggles every time it tries to. While these might not seem like the biggest problems, but when the game can take up to 40 or more hours to complete these issues start to become more and more noticeable.
Mass Effect Andromeda is a disappointing game. It wouldn’t be fair to compare the game to the original trilogy but when those games set such a high bar and are loved by so many people, it’s inevitable to happen. Andromeda’s biggest set backs are not the presentation or graphical issues. It’s that there are not many, if any, characters to connect to. I found myself not caring about anybody on my ship or about the new different aliens I encountered. I hope that Bioware listens to all the criticisms that this game has received and fixes them in the future games, whenever that will be. This is not a bad game, just a disappointing one, and it wouldn’t hurt to wait for more patches to be released to fix the technical issues and for the price to go down.