What Mass Effect: Andromeda Got Wrong

SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers for all the Mass Effect games (particularly Andromeda) follow.

For the past month or so, my free time has been dominated by Mass Effect: Andromeda. I’m a huge fan of the original trilogy, and consider them to collectively be well within my top 10 video games of all time. While the ending of Mass Effect 3 left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth (Indoctrination Theory all the way!), I was still excited to see what Andromeda had in store. My initial intention was to write a review of the game when I had beaten it, and so I started taking notes. I found it interesting that even though I was enjoying the game, nearly all of the notes I was taking were negative. I was having fun, but felt like the game could be so much better. I expected more from the talented people at Bioware, and this game felt like them resting on their laurels. The best analogy that I can think of is that playing Andromeda is like eating days old bread from the finest bakery. The bread is noticeably stale, but it’s still better than fresh bread from most other bakeries, which is a testament to the original recipe and how good it was initially. The Mass Effect formula was great, but it could use a refresher.

Now, it sounds like Bioware might be hitting pause on future Mass Effect games. If the rumors are true, then it’s incredibly sad. The Mass Effect universe is one of the most complex and interesting science fiction universes in popular culture, and thinking about never being able to revisit it is disappointing, to say the least. I hope the rumors are untrue, or at least exaggerated. Either way, I wanted to write down some of my thoughts on where I think Bioware went wrong with Andromeda, and what could be done to improve any future Mass Effect games.

I want to make things very clear from the start, though. While I will be criticizing the game from here on out, it all comes from a place of love. I very much enjoyed the game, as evidenced by the 80+ hours I put into it. That may not seem like much, but when dealing with a full time job, two young kids and a three hour commute each day, that’s approximately 120% of my free time over the past month. By the end of the game, I had completed each character’s loyalty mission and had 100% viability for all planets. While I am a bit of a completionist, even I wouldn’t do that for a game I wasn’t enjoying.

So my one sentence review? It’s a good, enjoyable game. Full stop.

Now here is what it got wrong.

The Crew

Pop quiz. Which Mass Effect game had a crew which included:

  • Two human members of the human-centric organization that the player belongs to
  • A Turian with a proclivity for bending the law
  • A gruff, deep-voiced Krogan with anger management issues
  • An attractive Asari that you could romance

If your answer is “I don’t know, but based on the leading question I assume Andromeda does,” then you’re right!

In the original game, it was fresh and new to have a crew that consisted of a motley group of aliens. It also served to help introduce the player to their respective alien cultures. Garrus taught us that Turians were highly disciplined and tended towards careers in military and law enforcement. Through Tali, we learned why Quarians wore masks, distrusted artificial intelligence and traveled in a flotilla. Wrex set the template for the war-like Krogan. And of course, Liara taught us about Asari reproduction (to varying degrees, depending on if you romanced her). In subsequent games, it made sense and was even a welcome sight for some of those characters to return. However, with Andromeda dealing with humanity’s journey to a new galaxy, I was hopeful we would see a new mix of alien crew members (really hoping for a Hanar). Instead, here is what we got:

  • Cora and Liam – In ME1, it was Ashley and Kaiden, members of the Systems Alliance. In ME2, it was Miranda and Jacob, members of Cerberus. In ME3 it was the Virmire survivor and James, again with the Systems Alliance. In Andromeda, it’s Cora and Liam, members of the Initiative. Cora in particular just seemed like Miranda with a strange haircut. Like Miranda, she is a biotic with a reputation for being uptight and no-nonsense. They are also both de facto second-in-commands who seem to always be subtly questioning your judgement.
  • Drack – Don’t get me wrong. I loved Wrex and Grunt. Great squad mates and comic relief. Neither particularly broke the Krogan stereotype mold of gruff and itching for a fight, though, and I’m not sure I could easily describe any personality differences between the two of them. Drack definitely seems to carry on that tradition. The only difference seems to be that in addition to being gruff and warlike, he’s also old.
  • Vetra – It’s unfair to call her “female Garrus”, but that’s all I could see her as for a while. It isn’t until her sister is introduced that I felt like she started to come into her own.
  • Peebee – At least Peebee breaks the Asari mold a bit. Her emotions being so close to the surface puts her in stark contrast to the quiet stoicism of Liara and Samara in previous games.
  • Jaal – Finally a new alien for a new galaxy! Unfortunately, the Angara are disappointingly one-note, with so much of their culture seemingly defined by their conflict with the Kett. Jaal’s accent and name also kept making me think of Javik, which is unfortunate, since Javik was much funnier.

The first Mass Effect game introduced us to over a dozen completely new alien races who played notable roles in the game and had complex histories with each other. The Krogan hated the Salarians for developing the genophage. The Turians distrusted the humans due to the first contact war. Everybody disliked the Quarians for unleashing the Geth. There were even non-humanoid aliens such as the jellyfish-like Hanar and four-legged Elcor. In their place in Andromeda, we get a mere two new races (three, if you want to count the Remnant) who have the simplest of histories: the mostly humanoid Kett are trying to wipe out the mostly humanoid Angara.

For a game all about boldly going where no one has gone before, there was a disappointing lack of new life and new civilizations.

Relationships

Romance and Mass Effect are inexorably linked, so it’s worth spending some time discussing how relationships work in Andromeda. My Ryder ultimately ended up romancing Cora, although it was a bit of an interesting journey. When I played the original Mass Effect, romance came out of nowhere. I had gone into the game not realizing that it was possible to romance other characters and so when Liara and Ashley confronted me on the Normandy and demanded that I choose, I was caught completely off-guard. Maybe I was overly dense, but I just thought I was being nice and a good friend when my Shepard exhausted all the dialog options and checked in with them after every mission. I think that unexpectedness made the romance feel more “real” (as real as romancing a video game character can be) and played a role into why my Shepard stayed true to Ashley through all three games (I’ll defend her against charges of being a space racist all day long). Later Mass Effect games tended to lose a little of that magic when people went into them already knowing which characters were romance-able by which genders by completing which loyalty missions. Turning romance into some equation to be solved takes a lot of enjoyment out of it. Mystery helps enhance the experience.

Andromeda pretty much kills the mystery entirely (just do a google search for “Andromeda romance guide“). On the one hand, I appreciate that the dialog wheel now warns me if one of the dialog choices results in me flirting with a character. The tone of dialog choices isn’t always clear and it can be awkward when a random companion suddenly starts coming on strong because you “flirted” with them without realizing it in an earlier conversation. On the other hand, the new mechanic takes something that should be subtle and built-up over time and instead stamps a giant heart-shaped icon all over it. Whereas before, romantic conversations seemed to flow naturally among other conversations with companions, Andromeda seems to sprinkle them into random moments that occur way too early in the game. Soon after the first mission of the game, I was having a conversation with Cora, my new second-in-command, when I was offered the option to turn on the charm. It felt wildly out of place and completely inappropriate considering (A) we had pretty much just met, (B) I was her superior in a work environment, (C) my father had just died and (D) he had bestowed the pathfinder mantle on me instead of Cora, who had been handpicked to be his backup.

I was torn. I had already identified Cora as an intriguing romance option, so I didn’t want to ruin my chances by passing on the opportunity to express interest. On the other hand, everything that I knew about normal human social interaction said that it was an inappropriate thing to do. In addition to the horrible timing, I had already picked up on Cora’s reputation as a strict, no-nonsense and by-the-book woman. The idea of throwing out a pick-up line seemed like the introduction to an HR video on sexual harassment in the workplace. Despite my misgivings, I went with the flirt option anyway and it was as awkward as I imagined hearing the words come out of Ryder’s mouth. Shockingly, though, this no-nonsense woman who had just met me flirted right back, and the romance was on. I’m not the only one who found this a bit weird.

I was surprised to find that Andromeda lets you flirt with other characters almost immediately after meeting them. This threw me off. Realistically speaking, I would never just launch into the whole “hey baby~” thing, because that would make me a creep. Worse, what if flirting too early caused some romance options to close down the line? I didn’t even know these people yet, I can’t just start flirting with them, I thought.

So, I chatted with everyone, got to know them a little. I was intrigued by Cora, my second-in-command, because she seemed like a badass. But there was some inherent iffiness to our potential relationship: she had been promised the role of Pathfinder, but it was unfairly awarded to me instead. I thought we might have to work that out and get to a good place first, where the power dynamics don’t feel off. But by putting off the flirting, I completely overthought how the mechanics in this game actually work.

I kept waiting for the “right” time, except that time never came. (Too real.) I was almost near the end of the game when I realised, wait, I’ve barely even expressed interest in this woman. By the time our final big interaction happened, it was too late. I had blown it. Our relationship had gotten a little flirty, but it could never progress anymore. Only later did I realise Andromeda requires you to flirt consistently with people if you want to make them potential lovers.

Here’s How Mass Effect: Andromeda Handles Sex And Romance by Patricia Hernandez

It’s not just the beginning of relationships, either. Throughout the game, I maintained a flirty relationship with Cora and Peebee because it’s almost impossible NOT to flirt with Peebee. At one point, Peebee suddenly asks about taking our relationship to the next level after announcing to the crew that she was sticking around. I hesitantly agree, but immediately talk to Cora afterwards to see if I just ruined my chances with her. She asks me to help her plant a garden, which I agree to. Afterwards, I can’t help but think I missed something. I reload my game and instead reverse the order, talking to Cora before Peebee. This time the garden planting with Cora takes a romantic turn (culminating in a kiss) and my discussion with Peebee turns out completely platonic.

I found this to be incredibly weird. I had nurtured relationships with two characters throughout the game to a point where either was ready and willing to commit to an exclusive relationship, and yet the person who I ultimately ended up with seemed to be determined solely by who I spoke to first, with the other character acting as if there was never any relationship to begin with. I certainly wasn’t expecting anything like a love triangle, but the lack of depth and complexity in how it was handled just emphasized that these characters don’t seem to have their own feelings and motivations and aren’t acting like real people. Instead, they just seem to be goals to be won.

One last note, but not all relationships are romantic. I was also disappointed in how my relationships with the entire crew developed. It’s hard to exactly explain what was lacking, but I do have a proposed solution: more movie nights. Bioware is at its best when characters are kicking back from saving the world to enjoy some (often alcohol enhanced) entertainment (who can forget “emergency induction port“?) and Andromeda is no exception. The brief movie night scene did more to make me feel closer to my crew than dozens of conversations on the Nomad. I would’ve loved to have had a few additional similar scenes.

There needed to be more of this.

The Graphics

I don’t really consider myself to be a snob when it comes to graphics in a game, but Andromeda’s sub-par graphics need to be addressed. Full disclosure: I played Andromeda on the Xbox One. As expected, the graphics on the console version seem to be noticeably worse than the PC version. Even still, Andromeda’s graphics can be disappointingly hit-or-miss for such a flagship game. In some areas, they hardly look improved from the original Mass Effect, which came out nearly 10 years ago. The facial animations that looked awesome in 2007 haven’t aged so well in 2017. The most problematic area that I found was the facial animations for the human characters, which is unfortunate considering how much time is spent talking to humans and how much importance is placed on creating meaningful connections with other characters in the game. The hair still has a weirdly “plastic” look and the same hair styles seem to keep popping up over and over. There is a default vacant stare which seems to be used for 90% of conversations in the game that gets disconcerting to see after a while.

The emotions that characters are able to project range from bored disinterest to mild amusement. During the entire course of a game which involved shocking betrayals, tragic deaths and against-all-odds victories, my Ryder largely acted like an emotionless Vulcan through-out. I only recall him smiling once during the culmination of his romance with Cora, and I remember it clearly because it was so incredibly out of place. There needs to be more variety in facial expressions. News of your father’s death shouldn’t provoke the same look as being told you need to visit another nav-point to complete a quest. How can we be expected to get emotionally invested in the game if our characters don’t seem to be emotionally invested in anything?

How can we be expected to get emotionally invested in the game if our characters don’t seem to be emotionally invested in anything?

It’s not just facial expressions either. The game could use better and more varied animations overall. Most people don’t stand completely still during conversations, especially passionate ones. The occasional crossing of arms is nice, but how about throwing hands up in the air or accusatory pointing or even something as subtle as an eye-roll? It doesn’t have to stop at dramatic conversations either. Even the mundane, expository conversations could be spiced up beyond what is in the game. How about Cora running her hand through her hair (assuming it’s not actually plastic) or Liam flexing his muscles (he likes to be shirtless often enough) or Drack picking something out of his teeth (can his arms even reach)? Little touches such as this could be huge in making it feel like two characters are having an actual conversation, instead of two mannequins regurgitating their life stories at each other.

One last point of comparison. Gears of War 4 came out months before Andromeda. Both are flagship games that I played on the Xbox One. I’ll readily admit that it’s very much an unfair comparison due to Gears of War having perhaps a dozen characters while Andromeda has hundreds. And it’s always dangerous when comparing what could be a pre-rendered cinematic versus real-time cut-scenes using the game engine. But it’s probably not a good sign when the game series known for its disinterest in an interesting plot and with characters that are the standard bearer for over-the-top machismo does a better job of crafting emotional scenes than the game series which should be built off creating emotional connections with characters. Just look at the comparison of faces below. They don’t even look like they’re from the same generation of console.

One suffers more from the uncanny valley than the other.

Traveling

At its most basic, the majority of time in Andromeda is spent essentially traveling from point A to point B. Whether it is in the Nomad going from navpoint to navpoint, on the Tempest going from planet to planet, or simply on foot, there’s a lot of traveling in this game. So it’s a major problem that the traveling is largely an exercise in boredom and frustration. While the addition of the jump jet was a welcome way to add some mobility (particularly vertical mobility) to the player on foot, it unfortunately seemed to embolden the designers to add jump puzzles. When I’m playing a Mass Effect game, the last thing I want to do is waste time getting frustrated by my inability to adequately land on a tiny plateau to avoid falling to my death.

Navigating on foot is much preferred to driving, though. The Mako was easily the most frustrating and annoying part of the original Mass Effect and I cannot fathom what drove Bioware to think that bringing it back and renaming it the Nomad was a good idea. To make matters worse, they doubled the complexity of driving it by adding a second driving mode. Never again do I want to have to deal with the frustration of spending way too much time trying to figure out the magical combination of mode/boost/jump/direction will get me up a slope so I can install the damned HNS signal booster. The controls are terrible, it doesn’t seem to obey any laws of physics (at least none from the Milky Way galaxy) and I swear I started developing carpal tunnel syndrome or something similar from holding down the right trigger so much when driving around.

The Tempest

The Nomad is the preferred method of transportation for the fifth circle of hell.

The galaxy map in Mass Effect has always been an awkward and unnecessary mess. Andromeda’s might be the worst yet. Below is the sequence to travel from one planet to another using Xbox One controls.

  1. Press ‘B’ to back out of the planet screen
  2. Press ‘B’ to back out of the system screen
  3. Navigate around the Heleus Cluster using the left stick
  4. Press ‘A’ to select a system
  5. Wait 25 seconds for the traveling animation to finish
  6. Navigate around the system using the left stick
  7. Press ‘A’ to select a planet
  8. Wait 20 seconds for the travelling animation to finish
  9. Press ‘A’ to select a landing zone
  10. Press ‘A’ to confirm
  11. Press ‘B’ to confirm load-out
  12. Wait one minute until the loading screen is done

For anybody counting, that’s seven button presses and roughly two minutes just to travel from one planet to the next. That may not seem too bad, but when many quests require visiting two or three different planets to complete, the excess time really starts to add up. A patch added the ability to skip the 20 second wait in step 8, but that’s hardly a silver bullet. It got to the point to where I sometimes did some internet browsing on my laptop when I knew I would be doing a lot of planet-hopping because I knew I would have so much downtime. That led to me almost missing the giant cheese wheel in space that I had found, and that would’ve been a damn shame.

The Plot and the Quests

There were two different, but related, problems that I had with the plot of Andromeda in general and the quests specifically. For the plot, despite a fairly compelling beginning, I felt like it ultimately fell a little flat. We’re introduced to the Archon and the Kett early on and they show themselves to be a formidable enemy, but then they simply disappear for a large portion of the game with no explanation at all and leave the player free to planet hop and set up settlements all across the Heleus cluster. The Archon then suffered from Bond-villain disease in a brief later encounter where he inexplicably leaves the player alone in an inescapable trap that turns out to be easy to escape from. Threatening your sibling near the end was a nice touch to amp up the intensity (and a fun way to not completely write off your twin), but overall, I didn’t find myself caring much about the antagonist of the story. The Archon was simply too absent for large chunks of the story to provide an adequate foil for our hero.

It wasn’t just the main plot that felt a little lacking in complexity and depth. Almost immediately after encountering the Nexus, the player is bombarded with political intrigue. There are effectively four leaders (coincidentally each representing a different major Milky Way alien race) vying for authority and none of them seem to care much for the other. Oh, and there was also this little attempted rebellion that was squashed, with their leader and supporters being exiled. Why did the rebellion happen? Why did Sloane switch sides? There was so much room for political intrigue and shades of grey and complex motivations and making tough decisions on who to support. Was Nexus leadership actually in the wrong and are the exiles more sympathetic than is being let on? Instead, the entire thread is basically dropped. Nothing ever comes of the awkward shared leadership structure. No further explanation of the rebellion is given. Sloane ends up being a one-note hard-ass mercenary type instead of somebody with complex motivations. It felt like a giant missed opportunity to allow the player to make decisions that made a real impact.

In Mass Effect 2, every single character’s life was on the line. In Andromeda? It’s Captain Dunn.

In fact, that seems to be a recurring theme with Andromeda. I made dozens of decisions that seemed like they could be important with virtually none of them making an appreciable difference. Choosing to save the Salarian pathfinder over the Krogan scouts netted me an uncomfortable conversation with Drack the next time I talked to him and added some extra dialog from the Salarian pathfinder later in the game, but otherwise didn’t seem to affect much. Similarly, siding with Sloane or Reyes hardly seemed like a huge change. There were no Virmire types of decisions where the player is forced to choose between losing one of two crew-members and where bad decisions could lead to the loss of another. There is no suicide mission at the end where everybody can survive or everybody can die. Instead, Captain Dunn (a fairly unimportant character) can live or die and there are some brief cameos by others (Kalinda, the Resistance, etc.) that can be easily missed at the end. So many other decisions seemed to be pointless. Save the Angaran AI? Make Podromos a military or scientific outpost? Keep Sarissa as pathfinder? Cheat at poker!?

Bioware got rid of the whole paragon/renegade morality scale with Andromeda, and I can understand why, but in the process they seemed to have lost the ability to present meaningful choices to the player that can have far-reaching consequences. Even small scale choices like what to say on the dialog wheel seem disappointing, with the words being said being slightly different, but the general tone and direction of the conversation being the same. There’s no more punching of reporters or telling off the council, just varying degrees of being flippant or serious. Even when Andromeda tries to present a serious moral dilemma, it seems to get undermined in some way. I was willing to listen to Sarissa’s defense for abandoning her pathfinder, until the condemnation from everybody else made it clear what the “right” decision was. Similarly, during a hostage situation where I had to choose between the life of one person versus the possibility of a deadly bio-weapon being developed, it could’ve been a legitimately difficult decision, except I saw no reason why I couldn’t agree to let the hostage taker go and then take him down once he released his hostage. Apparently that wasn’t an option, though, because a pathfinder can’t go back on his word, even to somebody attempting to create a deadly bio-weapon?

BioWare, you made your name on moral choices. There were some in Baldur’s Gate, not as many as Fallout and more in BG2 and Neverwinter Nights, but they really came of age in Knights of the Old Republic.

I mean, it was perfect for Star Wars: help people like a Jedi, or hurt them like a Sith! And yes, it was superficial, but it was a seemingly essential part of your brand, as both Mass Effect (Paragon and Renegade) and Dragon Age (centered on companion approval) took it in different directions.

But to be fair the moral choice thing also became a bit of a joke. “Do you save the adorable puppy and let it become Martin Luther Pup Jr., or do you drink its blood in front of a family of children who love it?” We’ve all made those jokes. And apparently you’ve heard them, BioWare, because both Inquisition and Andromeda have seriously limited the importance of moral choices as storytelling vehicles in favor of open-world navpoint travel.

 Having a moral choice attached to each quest forced you, BioWare, to make your quests interesting. With choices, you get situations like, hypothetically, an elderly landlady being threatened by thugs. Finding out why reveals how much she exploited her tenants, and ta-da, interesting moral choice! Help the violent oppressed, or the physically weak oppressor. There is no right or wrong answer, but there is a conversation with a player.

Meanwhile, well more than half the quests in Inquisition and Andromeda are like “hey, I dropped six pieces of wood scattered across the planet/region, can you go find them.” Those navpoints on the map are often just mechanical “go here, get this” because the quest writing is nothing more than that. The grandest narrative-based role-playing games in history are reduced to this?

Providing moral choices at the end of a quest doesn’t just motivate players to do the quest, it gives them reason to care about the end of a quest beyond simply removing it from their journal and getting some experience. It provides an emotional release, or catharsis, to the quest itself.

Dear BioWare: Stop making open-world games by Rowan Kaiser

The problem with the quests is much simpler. There were simply way too many that felt way too much like pure filler. There’s nothing original or exciting about crisscrossing a map searching for medical supplies and it makes zero sense that the task should fall on the Pathfinder, who should have much more important matters to attend to. I understand the occasional understated mission, and some of them are interesting and memorable in their own ways, but the vast majority are nothing more than fetch quests designed to waste time.

The structure of the quests didn’t help matters much. While I love that Andromeda always made it clear exactly where I needed to go next and that no mission appeared to be time sensitive, it did turn the quests into something a little less natural feeling. With so many quests requiring travel off planet, it wasn’t at all unusual to start a half dozen quests on one planet and finish none. That made it virtually impossible to keep track of exactly what I was doing in all of them at any given time. It’s like reading the first chapter of a book, and then putting that book down and reading the first chapter of ten more books before going back to read the second chapter. I would go on missions where I completely forgot who I was hunting down and why, which really lessens the emotional impact of taking out the bad guy.

So, BioWare, what do you think the best sections of your games are? Just from the last decade, I’ll name some of my favorites from a few games: Virmire, Haven, the Collector Base, Lair of the Shadow Broker, the Arishok, Tuchanka, Citadel and Adamant Fortress.

All of these are specific story-based slices that pull players out of the the free movement of the game universe and put them on a relatively linear path for an hour or two.

And these still exist in your open-world games! Inquisition is especially good at these: the attack of Haven, the Winter Palace and the siege of Adamant specifically.

These scenes are all slices of traditional levels that are both superb and feel totally at odds with the game’s open-world segments. They’re so out of place that acquiring healing potions, the primary recovery method in Inquisition, is fundamentally different in both: in the open world, you go backward to camps to pick up potions; in the plot sections, you push forward to pull them out of chests. Andromeda, too, uses these slices to tell its story, and they’re nearly as successful. Its Voeld rescue mission, Salarian ark and Meridian missions were certainly not the game’s problems.

There are also inherent weaknesses that every open-world game possesses. The more quests that clutter a map — navpoints, in Andromeda — the more likely a player is to view these entirely mechanically. I don’t think “I’m going in this direction because of the strong narrative pull” so much as “I’m going in this direction because it’s the nearest location that lets me clear these quests from my log.” That’s not fun, that’s the strategy we use when vacuuming our rug.

Dear BioWare: Stop making open-world games by Rowan Kaiser

I would absolutely trade 90% of the pointless fetch quests in the game for just one more Meridian or Salarian ark type of mission. There is so much more plot advancement, enjoyment and character development in just one of those missions to make up for dozens of side quests.

Game Mechanics

If there was anything in previous Mass Effect games more frustrating than driving the Mako around, it would probably be planet scanning and mining for minerals. Fortunately, the process has been streamlined a bit to take less time, although now it feels like even more of a pointless exercise. You still have to visit individual planets (see complaint about traveling via the Tempest above), but now simply pressing ‘A’ when arriving is enough to mine it. Is this a mechanic that anybody thinks is remotely a good idea? Besides, it’s not as if they got rid of the horrible planet scanning mechanic, they simply moved it to the Nomad. Because if there was ever a match made in hell, it is combining planet scanning with driving the Nomad.

Fortunately, the crafting system (the main use for minerals) seems to be completely optional. In fact, considering how difficult it is to use, I would almost recommend ignoring it completely. I only ended up crafting a few items, and it was questionable whether or not they were better than items I was finding simply by looting bodies and containers. By about halfway through the game, I actually couldn’t craft items that were stronger than what I already had, so I gave up completely. I understand the desire for people to be able to customize their weapons in an RPG, but the crafting system needs a complete overhaul to be useful.

I was also utterly confused regarding who thought it was a good idea to have the extreme cold/heat/radiation mechanic on the various planets. For starters, it adds absolutely nothing to the game-play in terms of strategy or enjoyment and instead just adds a completely unnecessary component of frustration. Seriously, how does this mechanic do anything but annoy? I had a fight against a remnant architect where every couple of minutes or so I had to spend something like 30 seconds running back to the nearest forward station to replenish my life support. Considering how long architect fights are, that was three or four round trips that ended up being wasted minutes spent doing nothing but running away from and back into a fight. It was ludicrous.

Secondly, the life-support mechanic was buggy as hell. I had a number of times where I was exploring in extreme heat/cold and my life support wasn’t being drained at all. That made it all the more frustrating when, in the middle of a fight, I suddenly realize my life support had started draining and suddenly hiding in the shadows/near a heater isn’t helping to bring it back up. Lastly, I can’t count the number of times I was listening to some great banter while driving the Nomad, only to have SAM rudely interject for the hundredth time to tell me “temperature change detected”. The random conversations that happen between crew-members are some of the best moments in the game, and to end up missing some because of an utterly mundane and repetitive status update regarding an incredibly useless game mechanic is frustrating, to say the least.

While not a game mechanic, it’s also striking how many simple bugs remain in the game even a month after release. Every time I walk through the Tempest, SAM notifies me of new email that I don’t have. SAM also apparently thought my Ryder suffered from short term memory loss, as he felt like he needed to explain that I could mine for minerals from the Nomad even though I had already done it dozens of times. And every visit to the Nexus, I overheard the exact same conversation being had between two people. These aren’t obscure problems that are hard to track down and replicate. These are issues that anybody who plays the game for any reasonable amount of time would notice.

In Conclusion (but hopefully to be continued…)

Again, I want to stress that this isn’t intended to be a hit piece. I really did enjoy the game and would purchase the sequel on day one if it were to be produced. I’m just hoping Bioware learns from some of the critical response to Andromeda to make their next game, whatever it is, the best that it can be.

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Paul Essen
Founder and Chief Discourse Officer at Rampant Discourse

Proud geek. Trekkie. Browncoat. Entil’Zha. First human spectre. Hokie. Black belt. Invests Foolishly. Loves games of all types and never has enough time to play as many as he wants. Libertarian who looks forward to the day he votes for a winning presidential candidate. Father to two beautiful daughters.


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