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Mass Effect Andromeda Roundtable

May 22nd, 2017 by

mass Effect 001It’s that time again. It’s a big release. Lots of us have it. There is only one type of review in any galaxy big enough to handle it. Welcome to the Mass Effect Andromeda Roundtable featuring Si & Matt of the Editorial team, Toby and Ben of the writing team and from our community Bioware fangirl Elsa.

Let’s get this out of the way nice and early. The dark, howling abyss that is the internet got themselves into a right tizz about certain aspects of Andromeda’s presentation, mostly lip syncing and animation, and some fairly problematic bugs. Any thoughts, especially now that you’ve had time to play both before and after the patch?

Matt: In some parts it was a ridiculously overblown amount of faff, but other complaints were spot on. Graphically I didn’t have much of an issue. Sure, the eyes were a bit ‘off’, but that’s about the full extent of my complaints from a character modelling perspective. Similarly, animations were absolutely fine, and I didn’t see any huge issues with the lip syncing. Some of the environments are drop dead beautiful, too. Bugs though, that’s another story. I’m a bit OCD when it comes to finishing side quests, so it pained me immensely to have six that I simply can’t complete due to the quest giver becoming impossible to interact with. Strangely, this only seemed after the patch dropped, which is very disappointing.

Si: I had a couple of minor bug that impacted the way I play in a majorly way, I like the planets to be completely mopped up before proceeding too far- yes I know you have to bounce back and forward at times – and I had a doctor that wouldn’t move away from a terminal that I had to access (the patch moved the quest to a different terminal) and the track the signal on another planet is broken completely in that I can’t interact with the device making the signal. The big change after the patch I think had more to do with the eyes and surrounding areas, eyebrows now actually move and the eyes are less dead looking but if I am totally honest this isn’t why I buy Mass Effect or Bioware games in general. This is a story purchase plain and simple. If I wanted super realistic character animations I would probably actually play more than the first level of Quantum Break.

Toby: I’ll be brutally honest, I had some issues. I had a conversation with the top of a key character’s head, which was most infuriating, but kinda funny too. Outside of that I fell through scenery and even post patch, there is a mission I can’t progress with as the game freezes everytime I try to navigate there. Luckily it’s a side mission… I hope it’s a side mission…

Ben: The Mass Effect games have always been a little bit glitchy.  I used to have texture pop ups all over the place in the first two.  As for the new one,  I didn’t experience any major issues. The internet made the lip syncing issue the biggest thing since a Steps reunion spears concert.  But, if you hadn’t had told me, I wouldn’t have noticed. If I had such an issue with lip syncing it wouldn’t have taken me three years to realise that the Japanese TV series from my childhood was in fact dubbed!  Apart from the odd time when my team would disappear into the floor, I had no game-breaking issues.

Elsa: The only bugs that have bothered my were all on the final planet. Had three dialogue sequences fail to kick off which meant reloading the game. Honestly although I’ve had a few animation issues, they never bother me, the either amuse or are ignored in favour of the thing Mass Effect does well – dialogue. I was annoyed when one big cut scene failed to include my character at all as I can’t repeat it. There was just a gap and no voice where I should of been. That was frustrating.

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Ok, onwards to more important stuff. Did you enjoy the story? Did the plot grip you?

Matt: No, not really. There were a couple of high points, but the vast majority just seemed a bit…flat. There was certainly no emotional kick in the guts, like the Mordin storyline conclusion. The ending came was a welcome relief, and that’s certainly not meant as a compliment.

Si: Has the plot grip me? Not really but then maybe navpoint to the plot might make it easier to find – so far I’ve not really seen anything new and I have just finished my 6th planet. There also doesn’t feel like much weight to your decisions when you are making them even the final decision of the loyalty mission. I can’t compare if this was the case with the first entry of the original trilogy as I was late to the party and played the first and second in the months leading up to the thirds release, so I knew decisions would affect later games. I’ve not really made a decision yet where I have thought, “man I hope that doesn’t bite me on the arse”. What has got me through the game is the nods to the original trilogy alongside something that I feel a lot of reviews and commentators have missed – the humour. Ryder isn’t meant to be the “trained all her/his life for this moment” character, they were thrown into this at the last minute and she is a little goofy around the crew which leads to some interesting scenes and scenarios. The issue I do have is the amount of bloody space sudoko you have to do in this game. 600 years into the future and we still haven’t progressed from being excited about these puzzles. The remnant are clearly lifetime subscribers to bloody Take a Break.

Toby: The story is great, it was a bit of a slow burn, but where I’m at now, it’s rumbling along nicely, some tough decisions to make, some I regret already, some the game doesn’t seem to take into account what’s happened before, which is infuriating as characters would reply very differently

Ben: It is important to stress that at time of writing that I am only on the third planet.  Did it have me gripped, not really.  There’s a big ugly guy right at the start.  Hmmm, he’s bad, I think I might have to kill him later.  All his mates look like him,  I’ll kill them too.  I am not sure why wondering around planets helps me find memory triggers. I assume it’s like old people with dementia listening to old music or reruns of Dads Army to remind them of the past.  There’s also a lot of grind in the game and repetition.  Mainly defeat the Kett Base then find all the old pillars, go do a vault and then battle for 30 minutes against a big flying worm.  A very angry worm.

Elsa: I was nervous at first, but I always enjoy exploring the characters in Mass Effect, this is no different.

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Andromeda’s got a coop multiplayer mode. Have you delved into it? Did you enjoy it? If you haven’t played it yet, do you intend to?

Matt: I spent a night on there, but I can’t see my going back to it at any time soon. I’ve seen so many compliments about Andromeda’s combat, and I don’t really understand them. It feels weak and lacks impact. Any Strike Team related stuff, I did via the mobile app.

Si: I would love to get some APEX team love going on here but alas this is another bug for me. Every time I open up an APEX team terminal my game completely freezes. It has got to the point the only way I can get the automatic APEX strike teams to work to gain me loot is via the companion app. In fact no, no I would not like to do any online aspect of this game.  I’m struggling with not been able to shoot my team mates in the single player campaign if I get put in a group with 10 year olds I think I may just find myself attaching my controller to the centre of my TV.

Toby: Not yet, I keep trying to but baby / wife / work means I’ve only got time for pausable story at present… but I will play it, the chance to play as a krogan is too much not to.

Ben: I played around 20 minutes during the 10 hour trial.  Not for me.  Too old, too slow.  I have kept to the Mass Effect mobile App to send in the strike squads.  I would definitely recommend that approach as you can easily click on missions during the day to grind loot and credits,

Elsa: Nope, have the same thing with Uncharted, it’s not why I play the game.

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A big part of previous Mass Effect games has been the squad mates you take along the way, and most people seem to have favourites. Did you keep any specific members by your side for most of the game? Were there any that you could have happily knocked off?

Matt: I could have happily ejected Liam out of the Tempest within the opening 5 minutes, with his nonsensical witterings. I decided pretty early doors I had to leave him behind for the sake of my own sanity. Drack’s the best, because Krogans are undeniably the best thing in the game.

Si: Awwww jesus some of these people. Liam’s whining about everything. Waaah waaah waah I need normal, look I smuggled a car, its amazing, I’m never going to see it ever cos it’s a million years away what does it mean – it means you’re a bitchy whiny man child grow the fuck up. In fact stay here on your bloody couch never to be used in a mission ever. EVVVVVVVVVEEEEERRRR.  Drack is a legend and the chats between him and the flirty overgrown smurf are often quite funny but I wish I could take Suvi with me to talk to me all day in that amazing accent that jumps between Irish and Glaswegian.

Toby: I’ve got my key squad. My key squad through the games has always included a Krogan where possible, and a biotic. I still have them now. The rest of the crew… well… they’re an eclectic bunch

Ben: So far my feelings towards them vary from indifference to a strong dislike.  Especially Liam who is a bit too cockney for my liking.  Not even a good cockney. In 100 of years I am pretty sure that London would have been taken over by Birmingham.  Gil, who is annoying Austrialian/South African.  No Gil, I do not want to romance you, however unsubtle you may be.

We did spend three games with the other crew members of the previous trilogy.  But so far these guys are not a patch.  Even the ones I want to sleep with aren’t quite as nice as the previous choice.  However, beggars can’t be choosers and all that

Elsa: I mixed it up more this time, if only to hear the banter between the team. I found Liam a bit annoying and favoured Drack.

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With it being a new trilogy, Andromeda casts aside Commander Shepherd and starts afresh with a new lead character, Ryder. How did you find the new lead?

Matt: Considering how rough the rest of it is, this was one of the strong points. Shepherd was an incredibly dull character, and Ryder feels a bit more fun to play. My only complaint would be that occasionally the humour, which does come as a welcome relief to po-faced seriousness, feels a bit forced and out of place.

Si: I always had two Shepards, one that wanted to always do the right thing and one that was all business – the latter was always more successful in getting people out alive. It was easy to dictate that in the previous games, be nice choose blue, wanna piss someone off choose red. Ryder certainly has more shades of grey in that it is less obvious what the end result will be from your dialogue choice – unless it is the romance option or anything to do with loss so you can mention your daddy, or family so you can mention daddy or a burger, cos they sell burgers on earth and earth was where you grew up ….with daddy. 

Toby: Ryder is whatever you make him, which is quite cool. There is an ongoing pysch profile in your Journal where your ships doctor fleshes out a personality profile of you which is quite cool. Ryder’s story is very open and allows for a lot of personalisation, unfortunately the same can’t be said for the character creation

Ben: I preferred Shepard.  I like my space captains more rugged.  I have nothing against Ryder, but he does go on about his fucking Dad.  You can drop it into every conversation.  You could be talking to a crew member about something completely random, like what you are going to watch on TV, then Boom, you reply I used to watch TV with my dad.  FFS.

Elsa: Well I made her mine and so I love her. The voice acting is solid too, from industry pro Fryda Wolff.

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How does Andromeda stack up against the previous three games? If you were ranking all four, where does it come?

Matt: Well, the original Mass Effect was utter tosh and this one is marginally better, so I’m going Mass Effect 2>Mass Effect 3>Andromeda>Mass Effect 1

Si: ok time for a confession guys, I never played past the first level of Mass Effect 3. I finished up 2 about two weeks after the final one was released transferred my saves over and then took a break after playing through 1 and 2 twice straight after each other. Then there was always something else to play, then came next gen. I still have the Mass Effect 3 disc as I thought it would be come backwards compatible but I don’t currently have a Gold subscription so can’t get my transferred save from the 360 hard drive to the cloud. Is it better than 2? Not by a long shot. Is it worse than 1, I would say the same as Matt in that it’s slightly better. If the pattern remains then Andromeda 2 should be unbelievable.   Hell if they get rid of the thinly veiled fetch quests and the godamn ridiculous mission routes. Complete mission with Reyes standing right next to you, leave planet and go to the tempest to read an email from Reyes, return to the planet to speak to Reyes, wait for Reyes to call you on your communication device. Can he not just freaking call me or better still tell me what we are doing before he buggers off FROM STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO ME. That and fucking space sudoko.

 Toby: At present, having not finished Andromeda, it’s hard to say, but I guess my ranking at present would be:

  1. ME:2    2.) ME:A / ME:3    3.) Mass Effect

It’s a good game, and I am really enjoying the evolution of combat, the introduction of melee Weapons, the slightly more adult direction of the game (hello Zero G casual sex) and the new threats, in a galaxy that isn’t familiar

Ben: I am getting pretty bored of open world games.  I do not have to drive for 10 minutes to find something, or deliver something or kill something.  Andromeda has some planets that you can drive about with in your buggy.  The previous two games seem a lot focused, you land on a planet, walk two feet, find out what you need to do, do it and fuck off.  Much better.  The story of number two was superior not because of the big overarching narrative, but because of the little ones.

So far, the new one is OK.  I’m enjoying it.  I don’t like the grind, I don’t like the mining, I don’t like the big space worms for half an hour at a time.  Other than that, it’s good, but not amazing.

Si: Dude, 30 minutes at a time? You know you can upgrade your weapons and shit yeah? I normally go Energy Drain / Charge / shoot like crazy whilst evading, rinse and repeat and it’s done in about 10 minutes

Elsa: ME2, Andromeda, ME3, ME

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Finally, if you somehow asked you if they should buy it, how would you answer? Buy now, wait for a price drop, or avoid?

Matt: I’ve been wavering between ‘price drop’ and ‘avoid’, but I think I’ve got to land on the latter. The occasional jaw-dropping visuals don’t make up for tedious gameplay, a flat story, a criminal amount of busy work, and some utterly infuriating bugs.

Si: I am normally a huge Bioware fanboy and I love most of their characters and how they develop with your actions but seriously the fetch quests are annoying, the two missions that aid exploration – rock hitting and plant collecting – may or may not be bugged so may or may not appear depending on what mood the game is in at that particular time. Did I mention those goddamn space sudoko games? Is it different enough from other RPG’s, well yes if you are looking for a space RPG, if you just like RPG’s forget this and go and pick up Dragon Age with all it’s DLC for about £15 in the next PSN sale. I am currently 89 hours into this and completed 58%. The only thing keeping me going right now is knowing that if I stopped playing this for any reason I would never ever go back to it. Wait a year, wait for a sale and pick it up for £15 tops.

Toby: I’d say buy it. It’s a very good game, I’m not certain it’s a great yet, but as a lover of Mass Effect, I can honestly say, it IS a Mass Effect game, warts and all.

Ben: It’s a good game, not amazing like number two, it’s on a par with ME 3.  If you haven’t bought it by now, wait for a drop.  Don’t avoid this game, it is still different enough to almost any other RPG out there which tend to have swords and magic.  Those Geeks.

Elsa: It depends on the gamer, I am an unabashed Bioware fangirl. If you like their stuff chances are you are playing it. If not if you want a shoot game with less plot there are plenty to choose from. This game for me ticks two big boxes… Characters that develop, are multidimensional and funny as well as lots and lots of exploration.

 

 

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