I was looking forward to Mass Effect Andromeda for years. Not exaggeration. The game came out. The game is beautiful. And that’s about it.
Instead of a grand adventure in the galaxy far, far away, we’ve got a ship filled with lackluster characters, a meandering rehash of a plot with nothing except a new hairdo to distinguish it from the original trilogy, and lackluster combat. They managed to make a Turian boring. I’m not kidding.
The plot lacks the driving momentum. There is very little immediacy to it. The missions are not really compelling. I landed on a jungle planet and I couldn’t wait to get off, because the adventure consisted of running around, tagging random pieces of garbage, and shooting what seemed like the same group of enemies over and over. Having been on five different planets, I can now see that this will be repeated ad naseum. There are basic principles that create a fast-moving, gripping narrative, which were completely ignored in this case.
For example, the mothership is running out of resources, a theme that’s not really explored except that several characters tell you that they are running out of resources. So you ramp up the pressure. You tell the player that unless player finds water, a bunch of beings are going to die. Their water converters are failing, whatever. You show the player some kids from aquatic races in acute distress due to lack of water. The player starts running around scanning planets for suitable water or water converters. The player is given a choice: he can either negotiate for the water with grumpy mysterious natives or she can go after a group of violent alien pirates and take their space converters. As the player progresses through either mission, upon hitting certain milestones, they get alerts about how people on the mothership are really really dying now and would he/she please hurry up. The player perhaps can get a new crew member by tangling with either faction. Something besides just “go to planet, scan alien monoliths, run through Tron-like dungeon, whee, establish outpost.”
This all would be tolerable if the crew was vibrant and fun. It is not. The dialogue is terrible. During one of the conversations, a crew member says something like, “I’m just going through life with no real purpose or direction.” The characters are flat and Ryder flirts with them with subtlety of a bulldozer that borders on sexual harassment.
What you have is a mediocre space shooter attached to a lackluster RPG. If you were hoping for the adventure of Mass Effect 2, you might be like me, bitterly disappointed.
I gave it 25 hours, and for the past week I had no desire to play it. I’ve been playing Stardew Valley instead, which tells you something. I’m firing up Dragon Age: Inquisition this morning. I put 300 hours into it, but I don’t care. Even with its single-MMO aspects, it is still a much better game.