Mass Effect: Andromeda, Nitpicking

I bet I spent longer on the first planet than you did.

Screenshot from the PS4 version of Mass Effect: Andromeda.

I’m about five hours into Mass Effect: Andromeda now, and the first 3 1/2  to 4 were spent on Habitat 7.  On the plus side, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the map, I think I did pretty well at finding most if not all of its secrets.  There were mysteries and ambience and captivating vistas.  By the end of it, I would have happily recommended the game to anyone, and I hadn’t even reached what are now my favorite moments.

More on that soon.  First, I have a bit of nitpicking to get out of my system.

Trouble in Paradise

Most of the reviews I’ve read praise the combat in the game; for me the combat is the weakest part.  I can never tell what’s going on, and if my character couldn’t turn invisible, walk up right next to a monster, and then shoot it, the combat would be impossible for me.  I’m sure the frenetic pace is very realistic, but in a real gunfight I would be less than no help.  I don’t need games to bring my real level of uselessness into my pretend life.  I miss being able to pause.

Screenshot from the PS4 version of Mass Effect: Andromeda

Also, while I’m at it, they mention not wasting ammunition.  You know what would have been helpful?  If they had brought the guns from Mass Effect 1, which never ran out of ammunition.  I’ve said it before (often), and I’ll likely say it again (often): ammunition (or “heat sinks,” making sure to pronounce the quotation marks with derision) has no place in a Mass Effect game.  Why would an entire galaxy of intelligent people trade weapons they can fire an unlimited amount for weapons they can fire a few times.  (At the very least the “heat sinks,” again with maximum derision, ought to cool down when you stop shooting.)

I also don’t like the number of times my sidekick tries to point out something, except without the game giving me any indication which direction my sidekick is even looking.  At one point for example, I think I was supposed to see flares.  I mostly saw rocks and lightning, since I didn’t even see my sidekick, much less whatever he saw.  Then, during one of the burlier brawls, people kept calling out things, but they might as well have been screaming incoherently.  It seems like a lot of scripted events depend upon my watching my sidekicks, and I usually have something else much more pressing to watch.

And then, finally, I don’t like the way the conversations work.  I like (at least in theory) the new system of “moods” for responses.  I don’t like the vague summaries the game gives of each potential response.  Too often I interpret a summary one way, only to find my character saying something entirely unexpected and usually regrettable.  Either the response summaries need to be better and more clearly written, or Bioware should go back to a more verbose alternative.

Surprises

Nitpicking aside, I really enjoyed by time on the Broken Lightning Disaster World.  The ending was a little weak—magical translation of language with no frame of reference, magical clearing of the sky and space, death by unexplained cloudy shove off of a cliff—but then the game surprised my twice, and reminded me again of why I was excited to play it, and why I think it’s exactly what I hoped it would be.

More on that soon.

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