EA and BioWare’s Mass Effect is quite arguably one of the best sci-fi universes ever created. The latest game in franchise, Mass Effect Andromeda, has been five years in the making by a team of over 200 developers. Available now on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC—this game has been high up on many gamers want lists.
In Mass Effect Andromeda you’ll travel to the Andromeda galaxy, light years away from the Milky Way. You’ll play the role of a Pathfinder, part soldier, part scientist, and part guide, on your journey through an immense, explorable galaxy. To aid your exploration across the galaxy, you’ll start the game with The Tempest, a light, fast, and stealthy spaceship, along with a 6-wheeled Nomad ND1 land rover.
Developed by Canada’s very own BioWare Montreal and published by Electronic Arts, Mass Effect Andromeda has very high expectations to meet from fans of the previous trilogy.
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer: BioWare Montreal
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action role-playing, third-person shooter
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Travel far beyond the Milky Way to the uncharted Andromeda galaxy
The game’s story takes place between the events of the second and third games in the original trilogy. The four Citadel Council races and the Quarians are planning to populate new home worlds in the Andromeda Galaxy as part of a strategy called the Andromeda Initiative. Each race sends 20,000 citizens on a one-way, 600-year journey to Andromeda aboard their own transportation vessel, called an Ark, and selects a leader, known as a Pathfinder.
You play as Sara or Scott Ryder, the children of the human pioneer of the Andromeda initiative. As you reach the Nexus, you quickly discover that it is incomplete and been abandoned. You discover that all of the worlds, including Habitat 7, were not viable for living, and the Initiative had been stranded in space for fourteen months, with dangers of supply shortage and civil uprising.
As the Pathfinder, you must find a suitable world to inhabit and discover what has happened to the other Arks.
Unlike previous games in the Mass Effect series, you have complete control of assigning any skills to your character over the course of the game. For example, if you decide to only invest in biotic skills, your character will unlock the Adept profile, which results in bonuses related to that play style.
Experience points are earned by completing missions, and luckily there are no caps on the number of points in which you can earn. Furthermore, you can reassign these points to each skill, allowing you to experiment with multiple gameplay approaches without ever having to restart your game from the beginning. As with previous games, you can talk with other characters that you meet using a radial commend menu.
Each of the four responses are categorized into different categories: casual, logical, emotional, and professional. Occasionally you are prompted with an Impulse Action, such as shooting, that is momentarily selectable. Your responses shape your relationships with the other characters and can lead to friendships. In some cases, romantic relationships with these characters can develop over time.
Navigation, exploration and real-time combat
To ensure the future of humanity, you’ll need to explore the Andromeda galaxy using your ship—known as the Tempest. The planets are traversed using your six-wheeled, all-terrain vehicle called the Nomad. You’ll need to scan the planet’s terrain for resources and then deploy mining drones to collect them.
Be prepared to spend several hours scanning the many different planets, one by one. At times I found sweeping the planets of construction and research materials to be quite tedious. I felt as if I spent more time riding around the enormous desert planets in the Nomad, than I did playing as my character.
The combat in Mass Effect Andromeda takes place in real-time, and pausing the game to aim or use skills is no longer viable. With complete control of your character via an over-the-shoulder view, you can now vertically leap into the air using a jet pack. The enemy AI is quite good, and you’ll find yourself being flanked or flushed out of cover if you start camping. Different enemies have different tactics and attack styles as well, so you’ll have to adjust your tactics based on who or what you’re fighting.
The game is designed in such a way that it encourages you to keep moving during combat and also allows for both aggressive and defensive gameplay strategies.
A mixed bag of visuals
Mass Effect Andromeda is built upon EA DICE’s Frostbite 3 engine and graphically it’s a mixed bag. The views of space and the planets from orbit are simply stunning. However, the game’s character models are not as visually appealing as they could be. Characters animations are somewhat awkward, especially when running. It seems as if BioWare could have used a little more time optimizing the game’s engine. Though these issues are noticeable while playing, it won’t get in the way of your enjoyment of the game.
Music and sound design are incredible in this game, buzzing with signature Mass Effect electronica. Biotic combos rip through the air with a satisfying thunderclap, and each weapon has a unique, impactful voice.
Team-based online multiplayer fun
The game offers multiplayer battle component with a ranking system that is known as Strike Missions. These multiplayer Strike Missions are accessed from the regular game through special terminals. These are all essentially multi-wave horde mode style battles, where up to four players can participate or you can take them on by yourself.
At first, I found it extremely difficult to win the battles. The main reason being that you have a completely separate set of equipment for these missions than the regular game. You’ll need to earn and upgrade this equipment if you are going to win. You can let the game grind pass the earlier levels for you by assigning strike teams to complete missions.
However, using strike teams will add a considerable amount of extra time. It takes hours for your teams to complete a single mission. If you have friends who own the game, this is quite an enjoyable way to play the game together.
Despite its shortcomings, Mass Effect Andromeda is a satisfying and enjoyable experience. It takes a few hours to get into the game, but once you make it past the initial grind it’s smooth sailing. The galaxy I got to explore was full of life and the combat felt incredibly satisfying.
To enjoy Mass Effect Andromeda, you don’t need to have played previous games in the series. Regardless if you are a fan of the previous Mass Effect trilogy or this is your first game, BioWare’s latest Mass Effect game can be enjoyed by all—just don’t expect it to be a perfect experience.
+ A great main story
+ Huge worlds to explore
+ Fun main missions
+ Combat is fluid and engaging
– The amount of glitches and bugs is surprising
– Few new alien races
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 4/5 (80%)
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