If you’re like me and you’ve been waiting since the announcement of Mass Effect: Andromeda to get in and play it, then you’ve probably already jumped in and tried out the first 10 hours via Origin Access. If you haven’t, why not take a read over my first impressions before you go out and buy it tomorrow?
I’m going to try my best to avoid all spoilers, so my descriptions of anything that actually happens in-game will be very vague, something to keep in mind.
Mass Effect: Andromeda starts out like pretty much every other ME game, you begin by creating your character in what seems to be a really restrictive creation screen with there really only being a handful of heads that you can lightly alter from hair to well-trimmed beards and some facial features as well. From there you’re tossed into the world of Andromeda and that’s when things get interesting.
Upon getting into the game for the first time, I was super impressed by the graphical fidelity and just how good everything looked… Until my first conversation, that is… The facial animations are often really bad and character’s lips are constantly “eating” each other, usually the bottom lip coming up over the top one and it looks hilarious. Aside from the janky facial animations (that won’t be fixed anytime soon but have been acknowledged), the graphics are great but they definitely feel a little more cartoony like Dragon Age opposed to the grit of previous ME installments.
Performance-wise, there’s nothing to be horribly worried about as long as you have a GTX 1060/RX 480 graphics card at least, anything less powerful and you might be running into some poor performance here & there on anything above mid settings. To completely max it with a consistent 60fps or better in 1080p, you will definitely need a GTX 1070.
After a typical period of lots of conversations with absolutely everyone in sight, you’re finally thrown into your first “mission” and this is when Andromeda finally begins to become a game and less of a controllable cinematic. Without giving too much away, your first mission is to go check out what’s on this planet you’ve just arrived at, but as you’d likely expect if you’ve played any ME games before, things go south and get very chaotic very quickly.
Coming from the last 3 ME games with Shepard being “chosen” by a piece of ancient alien technology, it was nice to have a bit of a change in Andromeda with the new protagonist being “chosen” by a series of more realistic and semi-believable events – I’m not saying a sci-fi game has to be realistic or believable, but it definitely helps one to connect with the characters in my opinion.
The combat (which you get into right away) feels very similar to ME:3 in the sense that it’s fast paced and not at all like the first 2 more tactical installments to the ME series. In my opinion, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and I actually liked the pace of combat. Action RPG combat is what they were going for, and I think they did a pretty good job. There have been some big changes made to how your class works, instead of being stuck with just 1 class and
There have been some big changes made to how your class works, instead of being stuck with just 1 class and single set of skills, you can level up every skill and then pick & choose which “profile” to run (eventually) to give you various useful buffs. It turns you into a bit of a super soldier when used right, but that’s kind of the point according to various bits of lore you learn in the first few hours.
One of the biggest and best additions, in my opinion, has to be the jetpack that you can use to either launch yourself in the air to find hidden locations or as an offensive/defensive technique. With Bioware going for more of a less-linear open map feeling, the jetpack is definitely essential to making that experience feel legit – without it, exploring would definitely feel very restricted.
Something I’m not too stoked on is how the ability to control your AI squad has been severely limited. You can’t give them new gear and you can’t really give them much for commands other than “go here”, “come back”, and “attack this”. Meh.
So far, I’ve enjoyed the story, the gameplay and the changes that have been made to combat. The only thing I don’t really like are the janky facial animations that really break the immersion when you’re interacting with an NPC, and how limited control over your squad is. Seriously, the facial animations in the original ME are arguably better than what we got in ME:A, and that one came out back in 2007!
All-in-all, if you’re a fan of the ME series, you’re definitely going to like Andromeda. The facial animations are ultimately a small issue within a sea of an interesting story and solid gameplay. What I’ve played so far has definitely solidified my decision to pick it up when it releases tomorrow – let’s just hope that the rest of the game is as good as the first 10 hours!
Just a side note, to play the Mass Effect: Andromeda “demo” you’re going to have to sign up for something called Origin Access for $5/mo. It’s actually a pretty sweet deal for the price because you get access to tons of games like Mass Effect 1-3, Dead Space 1-3, Dragon Age 1-3, Battlefront, Battlefield 3 & 4, Need For Speed 2015, Mirrors Edge: Catalyst, and a whole bunch of others. I’d check it out if I were you!