Shepard Died for This??? A Eulogy for Mass Effect: Andromeda
Look, probably no one on this site is a bigger Mass Effect apologist than I. I have always defended the narrative choices that defined the hubbub around Mass Effect 3 as mostly integral to the experience, which is why I hope you’ll take my word for it when I say that Mass Effect: Andromeda is a game you should not spend your money on.
Much has been said regarding the development hell Andromeda went through; Kotaku’s Jason Schreier wrote an article incorporating interviews from sources within the process. The picture they paint is clearly visible in the finished product: a game that does not know who or what it is, whose sole tie to the franchise is its title and some haphazard in-game references.
Andromeda disappoints precisely because it does a couple of things well enough to give you a taste of what could have been. The combat and movement mechanics are the best in the series, the Mako clone surprisingly handles well, and… actually, that’s it. Even the graphics upgrade touted by Bioware falls short in the face of the game’s pervasive optimization issues. You’d note that none of these things are what would come to mind offhand when you think Mass Effect. In the process of being updated for 2017, Bioware lost the franchise’s soul.
Literally none of the characters in this game are compelling. The protagonist need not even be compared to Shepard to feel inferior, as they have all the personality of a tour guide VI. None of the choices you make in the game feel weighty and meaningful enough to impact an entire galaxy, which would have been fine had the game not sledgehammered you in the face with your status as a galactic messiah. Your companions, with one or two exceptions, talk and sound like a bunch of immature schoolyard stereotypes and not at all like the intrepid trail blazers their billing suggested. The codex entries lack for detail and aren’t voiced over (okay, okay, that last one’s a nitpick). The most important part of any Bioware game, and they mail it in harder than Conrad Verner tries to be Shepard.
I mentioned the lack of meaningful choice in this game. There are perhaps less than ten variables that would affect how your endgame goes, and even there the difference they make is minor. You as a character seem less like a powerful individual whose actions help shape the course of history, and more like a tag-along towed around by events and circumstance beyond your understanding, if not exactly your control. There is a school of thought that suggests that this is forgivable in the first entry in a series, and there would be merit to that argument. Yet Andromeda never quite gives you the feeling that Mass Effect did; if the latter is a theme park roller-coaster, the former is the trunk of a kidnap-for-ransom van.
It has only been a couple of weeks since Bioware announced that the 1.10 update for the game will be its last, and that the game is no longer going to receive any single player DLC. This announcement serves as a death knell to a game, and likely a series, that should have received a Renegade interrupt before it was ever born.
Don’t buy this game. Not if you’re new to the franchise, and especially not if you aren’t.