Been absent a bit to work on the next novel (hit the 50k mark) and, among other things, play Mass Effect Andromeda. Here are my thoughts because I might as well post it here. It’s my blog after all.
Finished up Andromeda with 83% completion. Final thoughts? I liked it. It ended up being a lot of fun. During my play through I got to experience the game both unpatched and patched, and while I had rolled lucky on the compatibility dice before, it infuriates me that the game could have easily been better received with just a week or two of updates and some actual play testing. It’s a fucking shame that the game had to suffer from it.
On the game play side of things, the game eventually became a Mass Effect game, meaning the gun play got boring while the biotics/whatever someone else might choose who isn’t ready to be a cool space wizard got really awesome. The upgrade system they implemented though, meant that I didn’t get tired of gun play until hour 40 or so, much later than any previous ME game.
From a writing/character perspective, the game was what I would consider a return to something more normal, but even this story had to eventually resort to “save the galaxy”, which was a bit too obvious and really unnecessary considering the setup that was created. It goes to show that we can’t just have a fool around digital dungeon master game when so much money is at stake for being cinematic. Once again the interesting missions were relegated to the Strike Team mini game. At least this time Bioware were smart enough to create a companion app, I suppose, but I would have preferred to play them myself, especially since they created some of them for multiplayer already. On a happier note, fetch quests have been toned down, and the ones that are there are really enhanced by you being the sole line of defense, you actually have to do the bitch work, because no one else will. I would have preferred this to go a more Star Trek Online direction though, meaning you would eventually stop scanning plants and do some more important missions. I realize though that this is mostly only warranted by the new post-win status quo, but they could have implemented something other than “just go back to bitch work” that I got at the end.
The characters ended up being good, better than most one-game Bioware characters of recent memory. Even the standout characters of the trilogy only got better with time. Overall the dislike people seem to have for this cast of characters may be their Whedon-esque Buffy talk, but I actually found it refreshing that they weren’t all broody and serious all the time, allowing for more variety.
All in all, I was happy with the game and the direction it was going. I cannot help but feel thought that I would have loved this even more as an Infinity engine revival game ala Pillars of Eternity. The setting is much better for a digital dungeon master with a couple of expansions than the cinematic feel of the trilogy. A lot of the disconnect I have seen and partially experienced myself seems to stem from Bioware trying to crowbar an open world game in the game play and main story restraints of the original ME trilogy. This is an instant though where I hope they will make a sequel that builds on this, rather than discarding all plans because of the hate.
I would say it is most definitely worth experiencing at some point, but the potential they wasted by choosing the presentation they went with, this flawed way to do exploration rather than going all in on a “Star Trek Simulator” really bugs me. The focus on action and gun play is one thing, but we could do some more diplomatic missions and science, because the stuff we got in that direction was a a solid foundation.