The latest installment in the critically acclaimed Mass Effect series, Mass Effect: Andromeda, released this week. If you’ve looked at any gaming website in the last couple weeks, you’ve probably seen the total freakout at the early impressions of the game. Well I’m here to tell you that those criticisms are warranted, but the reaction is absolutely not.
Having played a significant amount of Mass Effect: Andromeda since last weekend, I can say without a doubt that the game has plenty of flaws. By no means is Andromeda the best game in the series and it may even be the worst of the four games (or at least tied for last with the first game). Andromeda’s animation isn’t great, it has performance issues, a lot of the characters feel like info dumps, the exploration is just ok, there’s way too many fetch quests, the story isn’t the greatest (that I’ve seen so far) and the dialogue isn’t always the best. All the criticisms you’ve heard are warranted… ish.
I’m about 30 hours into Andromeda at this point and it feels like a pretty standard Mass Effect game. I totally acknowledge its problems and I think Bioware handing this game off to the B team really stands out in spots… but it’s really not much different than anything you’ve seen in the series before. In fact, I think a lot of the criticisms people have of Andromeda were just as present in the original trilogy or are gross exaggerations.
One of the primary examples of this that I’ve seen is people saying that the characters all feel flat. Of course they do, when you’re comparing characters you’ve just met to characters you knew for three games. There’s no way you’re going to get a character on the level of Garrus, Tali or Liara out of this game; that’s just not going to happen. I don’t think there’s even a single squad member who I hate like I did Kaidan, Ashley, Jacob and James. I thought Liam was a shoe-in for that role and he’s actually turned out to be ok. I don’t know if any of these characters will be standouts by the end of the game, but they’re not the wooden duds that some people have made them out to be. What this really boils down to, in my opinion, is the level of toxicity in the Mass Effect community.
I think the single biggest problem with this series right now is the level of toxicity that spawned from the ending of Mass Effect 3. I was highly skeptical leading up to the release of Andromeda and I got nervous just like everyone else did when I saw the early reactions, but I didn’t lose my marbles. After playing it a fair bit, I actually enjoy the game despite its flaws. It’s not perfect, but it’s enjoyable to play. After the Red/Blue/Green fiasco, this community has become so vile and toxic that you’re either a complete fanboy who defends the series to the death or you’re going to sit behind your keyboard bitching about it for the rest of eternity. Go look at the Mass Effect subreddit, or Twitter, or YouTube comments or whatever; it’s a total crapstorm.
Mass Effect: Andromeda has a lot of flaws and it’s easily the worst of the big name titles that have released in the last month, which is disappointing, but it doesn’t suck either. The reaction to this game has been way overblown. Just like you can identify something’s flaws while still enjoying it, you can discuss something’s flaws without acting like a complete jackass and joining in on the hivemind. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll enjoy yourself and you’ll very quickly feel right at home in the Mass Effect universe.