Mass Effect Andromeda Review

Mass Effect Andromeda feels like an expansion more than a proper follow up to Mass Effect 3. The equivalent of Dragon Age Awakening. It adds new ideas, but doesn't manage to push the envelope forward enough to stand on it's own. You have a new lead (Ryder), a new ship (The Tempest), and a new galaxy to explore, but everything feels like a lesser imitation of the originals. 

You can't be a Picard, but you also aren't quite a Kirk either despite the ability to try and screw anything with legs. In the end Ryder comes off as completely unsure of them self and far less mature than someone in their position would need to be. Their decisions are rash, their dialog is weak, and their logic is often flawed. My Ryder ended up feeling bipolar. Always bouncing between starkly different emotions no matter how I tired to steer her. While the responses you can give are marked with a general response type, there isn't any real feeling that your character will communicate what you want them to. By the end of the game Ryder has more confidence, but taking the agency to decide their personality in full seems to defeat the purpose of letting me make those choices in the first place. 

The general flow of quests is talk to quest giver, fly to new planet, shoot aliens, fly back. Space travel has an animation for just about everything. The first time travel to a new word you can really drink in the view during the 7 seconds it takes to reach a new planet, but after the 10th time you really feel this grind on the pacing of the game. It takes about 82 seconds to leave a planet, travel to a new system, and land on a new planet. That is almost a minute and a half that you have to sit through every time a quest sends you to a planet for 5 minutes and tells you to report back. Multiply this out across the 40+ hours it takes to play through the game thoroughly, and you have hours wasted on idle animations. I can only guess that they are hiding load times behind these animations, but not allowing the player to skip these is a major failing.

Beyond writing and pacing issues, Andromeda is plagued with a myriad of technical problems. Most are pretty negligible. Things like texture pop in, the weird animations, characters teleporting in above the ground. If those were the only issues, I would be willing to forgive it, but when you add these to the actually intrusive glitches you'll doubtlessly encounter during your playthrough, it becomes a frustrating reminder of how disappointing this whole thing is. I had more enemies than I care to remember lock into a T-pose, some while floating in the air like the world's worst Chris Angel illusion. Additionally, I had several instances in which the scanner decided to stop responding. I had one major quest line stop tracking rendering it unfinishable.  The game just lacks any semblance of polish.

I don't want to leave the impression that there aren't any positive traits to the game. The alien races, both old and new, and the views on most planets are pretty great. The mobility in combat is fun and the ability to switch your class on the fly is a definite improvement over the old system of picking and the beginning and being locked in. They even manage to have a few intersting plot lines. However, none of this can Save Mass Effect Andromeda from a fate of mediocrity. Bad presentation decisions, busywork quests, and technical issues bring down what could have been a solid follow up to one of the better game series in recent memory. 

According to the in game counter, it took me 45 hours and 40 minutes to do 84% of the content in the game. The crew of the Tempest managed to grow on me during that time. The game was clearly rushed to market, but it is unclear if extra time would have fixed most of the problems the game suffers from. I can't recommend Andromeda fully, but if you want one last romp with the Mass Effect universe, here it is.