Mass Effect: Andromeda’s Reception In the Modern Video Game Industry?

On March 21st, 2017 the gaming industry witnessed the launch of one the most anticipated video games – Mass Effect: Andromeda.

One month down the line, many gamers have managed to acquire the game and experienced different features of the game.

Naturally, Mass Effect: Andromeda is a clear improvement over its predecessors in two main areas: the gunplay and graphics.

After the Mass Effect trilogy was complete many gamers were left wondering about the next move for the franchise, because with such a vast and finely-honed universe there was still a lot to improve and perhaps expand on for future installments.

However, the main concern BioWare has now though is recovering from the pessimism because of the bad taste and review from some gamers’ mouths because of Mass Effect 3’s ending.

After my own experience with the game, from my colleagues, and reviews from other gamers, I’ve managed to compile the various thoughts surrounding the different experiences gamers have had with this new game.

A quick run through the games mission.

From the successful release of their original trilogy, the Mass Effect series managed to gain popularity as a fine space epic, with interactive combat that players need to go through to reach the next bit of story.

According to the developers, Mass Effect trilogy presents us to this incredible and complex Sci-Fi universe that we had never come across with a big amount depth and teachings that truly added to the sense of discovery.

“Become the galaxy’s most elite soldier and lead an all-out war to stop an ancient and ruthless enemy. With over 75 hours of content and more than 300 awards, one of gaming’s most acclaimed franchises is available for the first time in a premium foiled box set.

Heart-pounding action meets gripping interactive storytelling as you decide how your story unfolds. Assemble and lead your team aboard the most advanced ship in the galaxy, and travel to distant and unexplored star systems. Meet a cast of intriguing characters, each with their own story to tell. Wield devastating weapons and customize them with upgrades. Your actions and decisions culminate into a heroic battle against the greatest threat ever known.”

On Mass Effect: Andromeda, the developers spoke of deviating from the conclusion of Mass Effect 3 and launching the whole games to a new galaxy as a natural step forward for the series.

From the start, there’s an instant logic of danger and anonymity as the human colony ship comes upon a space anomaly that destroys the colonization plan, and a hostile alien race led by a threatening villain attacks on sight.

Therefore, players have to struggle to find a habitable and safe new home for the colonists and form a functioning independent governments along with other colonists.

According to Geforce:

“Mass Effect: Andromeda takes you to the Andromeda galaxy, far beyond the Milky Way. There, you’ll lead our fight for a new home in hostile territory – where WE are the aliens.

Play as the Pathfinder – a leader of a squad of military-trained explorers – with deep progression and customization systems. This is the story of humanity’s next chapter, and your choices throughout the game will ultimately determine our survival in the Andromeda Galaxy.

As you unfold the mysteries of the Andromeda Galaxy and the hope for humanity lies on your shoulders – You must ask yourself… How far will you go?”

What gamers appreciate about the entire gaming experience

Source: http://cdn.wccftech.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Mass-Effect-Andromeda-Gameplay-trailer.jpg

Andromeda is a huge open-world game with various organized quests that comprises of: overcoming the big bad alien overlord, making a few planets viable for habitation, finding the other species’ arks, and building relationships with your crew and other characters.

According to PCGamer:

“Andromeda resets that journey to its beginning, for better and for worse. This is a new Mass Effect with all that the name entails: a game of sci-fi combat, talking, fetch quests, tough choices, talking, exploration, relationships, and more talking.

The game’s opening establishes that something has gone badly wrong in the time that you’ve been in dark space, quickly introducing you to an incalculably vast and deadly interstellar phenomena, a race of hostile aliens called the Kett, and powerful ancient machines called Remnant.”

Speaking to most gamers, one thing they have come to appreciate is how the game doesn’t replicate a lot from the success of its predecessors, by trying to focus on both combat and exploration.

Source: http://img10.deviantart.net/1cc1/i/2013/059/8/1/the_mass_effect_trilogy_by_kmadden2004-d5wgnci.jpg

According to The Mercury News:

“Andromeda doesn’t try to replicate the success of its predecessor. Instead of focusing on a major war for survival, the campaign devotes its narrative and gameplay to exploration.

For the first time in “Mass Effect,” players can jump and dash around the environment, and scale walls or drop inside caves. They have a vehicle called the Nomad that lets them travel the large maps.”

Meanwhile, the game’s combat experience has been improved enough to offer gamers the freedom to experiment with customizations and different combinations of abilities.

For example, according The Mercury News:

Ryder has the help of an AI called SAM, which can modify his physiology and powers on the fly. If the battlefield is an open plain, they can attack with a sniper rifle and drone; if an enemy base, the Pathfinder can switch to biotic powers for close-quarters combat.”

On Ryder, the new customizable protagonist who can alternate gender,  IGN had this to say:   

“On the whole, Ryder is a likable and well-acted character who can carry the story, and the idea of having the alternate-gender version of your character play a role in the story as a twin sibling is a novel idea and used to good effect. It can also be ridiculous if you choose to use the character creator to make the twins appear as completely different races – or just freakishly deformed, tattooed, and scarred.”

With game giving players the chief role of making the planet’s surface viable for habitation, clearing enemies, activating alien technology and working with friendlier locals, the developers came up with a great multiplayer system (which I haven’t tried), something polygon  explained as a cooperative multiplayer component.

“Similarly to Mass Effect 3, Mass Effect: Andromeda features a cooperative multiplayer component that allows four players to team up in wave-based survival scenarios with a variety of objectives, using the same combat mechanics as the main game.

These are now available directly within the main campaign, via the APEX Strike terminal on the Nexus or aboard the Tempest. We haven’t had much time to spend with the multiplayer component yet, as the game is live only to EA Access players on Windows PC and Xbox One, but my early impressions suggest it could have the same legs behind it that surprised so many players with Mass Effect 3.”

With different mechanical upgrades in the game, combat is highly enjoyable too, because the developers decided on building the storyline by leaning on character relationships, to ensure there is enough time given to tutorials and storyline, according to Polygon.

Source: https://www.pcgamesn.com/sites/default/files/Mass%20Effect%20Andromeda%20combat_0.jpg

“Andromeda leans immediately on character relationships that it doesn’t spend nearly enough time establishing. The result is “heavy” moments without a lot of punch, and a lot of time spent on story and hand-holding tutorials to Mass Effect: Andromeda’s systems before you can really see much of what the game has to offer.”

Going by Gamespot’s findings and different gamers’ experiences, it would be true to say that the combat experience in Andromeda is enjoyable compared to a couple of games in its genre thanks to the improved core shooting mechanics and the progression system.

“The core shooting mechanics feel stronger here than anywhere else in the series, and the flexibility of the progression system let me cherry pick cool powers rather than locking me into a set character class. I ended up building, well…a space ninja, basically. I could use tech to cloak myself, biotics to charge enemies, a shield-buffing sword to deal damage, and the standard jumpjets to dart away again. The results were consistently frantic and fun, though there are plenty of other options as well. I enjoyed nearly everything I experimented with, even if most enemies proved to be predictable adversaries.”

And According to Stuff, the improved combat experience is also as a result of the new organic cover system and the intelligent AI system that makes the team more aggressive and useful.

“Combat is highly enjoyable, too, with an organic cover system in place, as well as an intelligent AI system that makes your squad more aggressive and therefore more useful.

A new jump mechanic throws something new into the mix, allowing you to seek out different forms of cover – which is now destructible – as well as bringing a novel dimension into levels, where advancing might mean hopping onto a ledge or boosting across a crevice.”

Generally, Mass Effect: Andromeda has been viewed as an all-inclusive action role-playing game with a a couple of great moments that bring back the high points of the landmark trilogy that came before it, and enthusiastic combat and fantastic sound effects contribute to a potent sci-fi atmosphere. 

Although there may be a lot of great experiences surrounding Andromeda, a couple of gamers have also come out strong to criticize the poorly done areas of the game.

So, why are some gamers trashing Andromeda?

Source: https://c.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Mass-Effect-Andromeda-980×420.jpg

According to many gamers and Andromeda’s reviews, its certain that this project by BioWare can be regarded as a vision half-fulfilled, given it contains content that tend to fluctuate a lot in terms of user satisfaction.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Mass Effect: Andromeda’s animations, conversations, pacing and a bit of the writing.

About the writing, BioWare has had rough time dealing with the lack of enthusiasm and low expectations that has come along with Mass Effect 3 coming out five years ago.

According to Game Skinny, the game may have lacked the enough media hype after reports had earlier emerged of top writers and developers leaving the department for different responsibilities inside and outside BioWare.

“A potential concern for fans is the loss of the original key developers and writers having all moved on to different career paths inside and outside of BioWare.”

For example, they lost their lead writer on Mass Effect: Andromeda, Chris Schlerf, who took it to twitter   to confirm his exit, but insisted that his departure had nothing to do with the quality of the production.

“To confirm what some folks asked about a few months back, I am no longer working on ME:A at BioWare Montreal.”

“Think MEA is really gonna blow people away; couldn’t be prouder to be part of it, & excited like a lil kid to play the final when it’s out.”

Although Schlerf’s last tweet was nonaligned to Andromeda’s production, most fans still believe his departure might have affected the game’s production.

And according to IGN, some fans are today looking at the production debate at a different angle given that game was produced by the new lead studio in Montreal that worked with ‘cheat sheet’ from Bioware Edmonton.

“The original Mass Effect trilogy was developed by Bioware Edmonton, the ‘lead studio’ of Bioware Corp, and was released to great fanfare, reviews and sales. However, in 2009, a sister studio was founded in Montreal to act as support during development of Mass Effect 3. And while I’m sure there was a lot of staff crossover between Edmonton and Montreal, it pays to note that Montreal was the lead studio for Mass Effect Andromeda.

Now, what this means for the actual development, I cannot say, but it almost seems like the new lead studio is working with a cheat sheet provided by big sister Edmonton.”

Away from the issues of writing and production, the pacing has been reviewed to be slow and uneven.

According to The Mercury News:

“The pacing is agonizingly slow and uneven. Players spend hours making planets hospitable by fixing the Remnants’ terraforming technology, while the plot advances at a snail’s pace.”

Although different people have had different issues with the game, one thing that every gamer has come to criticize is how the facial animations are flat out terrible.

Source: http://www.eteknix.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/masseffect.jpg

According to forbes:

“People have had their doubts about the animations since early trailers. It’s hard to say what’s going on: most of the time a character’s eyes are sort of dead, looking straight ahead and maybe wiggling a little bit from side to side. The mouths do most of the moving, giving the rest of the face a mannequin-like quality. But that’s not always the problem: sometimes characters seem to be trying really hard to make some kind of emotion, usually when they do their best to smile, or smile at weird times.” 

In protest of the poorly done animations, fans started an online harassment campaign directed at a former employee of Electronic Arts, blaming her for the poor animations in Andromeda.

BioWare reacted so fast to refute the claims that the mentioned employee ever was in a position of leadership, or that she is currently employed by the studio, as reported by Polygon.  

“Recently, a former EA employee was misidentified as a lead member of the Mass Effect: Andromeda development teams. These reports are false.

We respect the opinions of our players and community, and welcome feedback on our games. But attacking individuals, regardless of their involvement in the projects, is never acceptable.

-Aaryn Flynn, BioWare GM.”

Conclusion.

For me, Mass Effect has at times been the best thing going in video games, so to see the franchise in such a sorry state is actually a little painful. Following up on Mass Effect 3 was never going to be easy, not just because that game’s ending left so many people cold but also simply because the story had been told, the book on Commander Shepard closed.

The trilogy has always been about compelling characters and harrowing choices, so to find such weak writing here is bitterly disappointing.

All in all, the game can’t escape its shortcomings, but players should also be patient and enjoy what the game has to offer.

Bonus Video:

Mass Effect Andromeda’s game play