Mass Effect Andromeda Review: A New Frontier
The long-awaited Mass Effect Andromeda puts players in the the role of a pioneer (aka "Pathfinder") for a new galaxy in the series. The core of the game and its plot revolve around becoming explorers -- which is a bit different than the original Mass Effect trilogy.
If you have played the previous games, this is a brand new adventure with completely different characters. The tone and scope of the game is definitely different than before -- but make no mistake, this is Mass Effect through and through.
What I Loved
The main point of the game is exploring strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly -- wait...wrong franchise. Still, I couldn't help but get a Star Trek vibe from the moment I landed on Eos to try to make it viable for our colonists.
There are tons of side quests and just random stuff to find. Sometimes side quests just pop up as you traverse a planet; however, these are usually less interesting than NPC-given quests.
You aren't required to make every planet you land on viable for an outpost, or even raise the viability to 100%, but I enjoyed doing this. I actually wanted to explore each planet, and the side quests were interesting to me.
I usually don't want to just keep going after I've completed the story of a planet, but in this game I did. It is good, then, that you're allowed to explore as much as you want.
Characters and Dialogue
These two aspects of gameplay have always been a huge strength of the series, and that trend continues in Andromeda. You might hear complaints that there is weak dialogue or that it's "not as good as the trilogy". Let me tell you that this is false.
Ryder actually can be made into a more complex character with the new types of options available. It is true that there are times when you only get 2 responses, and some of the full responses are similar -- but there is still good variety.
There are some great dialogue options, particularly the Casual options, that surprised me. I actually enjoy Ryder more as a main character than Shepherd, and this is coming from someone who has played the original trilogy many times.
Your companions, both on and off the ship, are also all great. Cora can be a little stiff at times, but it is in her nature and backstory. Jaal is my favorite character in the game so far, and could easily become one of my favorites in the whole series. Peebee is interesting and I want to learn more about her, but she's fun so far. Liam feels like a good friend already and I can relate to him.
I didn't spend a lot of time with the others, but I still enjoy what I have seen thus far.
It is no secret that they made the combat much better this time. The new jumping and dodging you can do with jetpacks/biotics makes the game much more fast-paced.
Add in the option to have any combination of skills in the game, and you have variety. The effects look fantastic, and I often find myself seeking battles just to see a Cryo Explosion.
The multiplayer is a fantastic experience as well. I played a lot of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, so I was already on board, but this was definitely a step up. For a more in-depth analysis of this mode, you can check out our impressions of Andromeda's multiplayer.
What I Didn't Like
This game is nowhere near Fallout 4 or Elder Scrolls Online in terms of annoying glitches, but a few things did pop up early in the game. Sometimes something wouldn't load, or I would have to reload to a previous save to continue.
Thankfully, most of this was fixed in a patch and I haven't really encountered anything major after leaving Eos.
If you want a wide array of customization options, you will be disappointed. For the type of game Andromeda is, there was really a poor selection for creating your character.
This was not a big deal for me since I was able to get someone I was satisfied with regardless of the limited choices. And it doesn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the game.
Let me start by saying I actually enjoy the Favorites system and I'm glad it is in the game. I just wish you could do more with it. As it is now, you save up to 4 Profile loadouts, which is basically your class. This allows you to change classes and skills even in the middle of combat.
This is great, but I wish you could also save weapons and armor. I know it is not practical to change armor in the middle of combat, but at least weapons would be nice.
Some builds are better for using a sniper rifle or other heavier weapons, while others need smaller weapons to get faster ability cooldowns. It is great that I can change abilities on the fly, but I don't have the complete freedom I want if I have to use the same weapons.
The negativity around the game baffles me, because I have had an overwhelmingly positive experience with it. I guess that's why they're called opinions. If you are a fan of Mass Effect, RPGs, or open-world games, this is one to pick up.
[Note]: BioWare provided a copy of Andromeda for the purposes of this review.