Mass Effect Andromeda has been all over the news these past few weeks and most of the coverage has not been very flattering. To say the least. Critics have certainly not been kind to Bioware’s latest effort, and with good reason in many ways. But while some of the writing and animations are definitely not what we expected from the veteran RPG developer, the overall game isn’t all that bad. In fact, today we’re going to talk about a few reasons why you should look past the internet hate bandwagon and give Mass Effect Andromeda a chance. While it doesn’t quite hold a candle to the revered original trilogy, the game is, in fact, definitely worth looking into, especially if you’re already a fan of the series.
True to their word, the folks over at Bioware went back to the ME1 style of exploration with Mass Effect Andromeda and greatly improved upon the original system. This time around the planets are no longer barren wastelands but rather intricate open worlds filled to the brim with interesting alien wildlife, natural formations, and side activities. Exploration is for the most part very rewarding in Mass Effect Andromeda and the re-introduction of an all-terrain vehicle makes it that much more interesting.
Unlike the Mako, the new Nomad vehicle is way more responsive and easier to control. In addition, the Nomad can also be improved with a variety of upgrades in order to turn it into the ultimate exploration vehicle. Speaking of exploration, the new scanning mechanic is a great world building tool that can be used to uncover many hidden secrets scattered all across the game. While the Nexus and even the Tempest can feel boring a lot of the time, Mass Effect Andromeda more than makes up for it once you land on a planet and start exploring.
Animations aside, Mass Effect Andromeda is one of the best looking games around right now. While some of the character models could definitely do with some improvements, the environments are for the most part absolutely stunning. From deserts to lush jungles and everything in between, the planets of Mass Effect Andromeda look beautiful and feel suitably alien most of the time. This is thanks in no small part to the incredible draw distances enabled by the Frostbite engine.
We’ve already seen what EA’s engine can do with games like Battlefield 1, Star Wars Battlefront, and even Dragon Age: Inquisition to some extent. All those games have been criticized to various degrees for having certain problems but I think we can all agree that the visuals were not among them. Needless to say, the same is true for Mass Effect Andromeda as well, which takes it one step further by offering a lot of variety when it comes to its environments. Couple this with the fact that almost every planet is basically an open world and you’ll find yourself spending countless hours just looking around and admiring how good everything looks. Just don’t look too closely at people because that’s when things tend to go south a bit.
By Mass Effect 2 it had become clear that this series was slowly but surely moving away from the RPG genre and becoming more of an action game. This trend continued with Mass Effect 3 and now Mass Effect Andromeda, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how much you like action games. The good news, though, is that the combat system has been vastly improved since the original trilogy and the gunplay feels extremely fluid and fast-paced. Without any exaggeration, Andromeda offers the best combat system out of any Mass Effect game to date thanks in no small part to the reworked cover system. The developers did away completely with the annoying sticky cover from previous games and replaced it with a much more natural and responsive system.
The addition of jetpacks also goes a long way towards making the combat more dynamic as you hover and zip across the battlefield. This is a pretty big departure from previous Mass Effect games, which felt more tactical, but also very restrictive at times in terms of movement. Well, not anymore. Mobility is the name of the game in Mass Effect Andromeda and as a result, the combat feels very satisfying. Not only that but there’s also a lot more weapon variety this time around, as well as a number of new powers to play around with. Unfortunately, your companions can’t be issued too many commands anymore so there’s that, but it hardly matters once your character becomes a total badass.
This will probably be a bit controversial for some people because the truth is that the crafting system has a number of problems. However, it’s also highly complex and even enjoyable once you learn how to make good use of it. The main problem actually comes from the poorly designed menus that make the whole system more time-consuming than it should be. When it comes to the sheer amount of things you can craft and customize, though, Mass Effect Andromeda is much more generous than its predecessors. In addition to many of the items we know and love from previous games, Mass Effect Andromeda also allows players to craft and play around with a lot of new weapons and armor based on alien technology.
Not only can you craft a large variety of weapons, armor and other useful items, but you can also upgrade many of them in order to gain powerful bonuses. This is especially true for weapons, which can be modded, augmented, and upgraded multiple times. In many cases, you can take advantage of the crafting system to do crazy things like transform your shotgun into a rocket launcher or add devastating elemental effects to your melee weapon. You will need a bit of patience because the items usually require a good amount of research points and a variety of materials before you can even research the blueprints, let alone develop them. Once you get the hang of it, though, the in-depth system does feel very rewarding, especially since you can customize and name most of the items you craft.
Mass Effect Andromeda introduced a number of changes to the core formula of the series, some of which were received better than others. The progression system is arguably one of the best changes because it gives players a great degree of flexibility. First off, say goodbye to the old rigid class system and say hello to a new system that allows you to mix and match any of the available abilities in order to create what is essentially a custom class. While players still have to pick one of the traditional classes at the very beginning of the game, the system quickly opens up afterward and allows you to experiment with various active and passive powers. Want to focus on biotics but also be protected by tech armor? No problem. Interested more in combat powers but also want to throw a Singularity every now and then? Go for it. This new flexible progression system is then complemented by Profiles, which can save different power configurations and allow you to switch between them on the fly.
Powers aside, progression in Mass Effect Andromeda’s other areas is also fairly flexible, with planets acting like open worlds that you can tackle at your own pace. Each planet features a large number of side quests and other interesting activities so chances are that you won’t get bored anytime soon. Most of these activities also tie into the story by increasing planetary viability and helping you level up the Nexus. In turn, this means that new areas will gradually become accessible and more colonists will start waking up from cryo sleep, thus progressing the storyline. The progression system is overall quite different than in the previous games but it’s certainly very interesting.
So there you have it. Contrary to what some critics would have you believe, Mass Effect Andromeda is actually a pretty decent addition to the series. Sure, it has its flaws and it takes longer than previous titles until things get interesting, but it’s still a game that’s worth looking into if you’re a fan of sci-fi RPG/action games. At the end of the day, Bioware did say that Andromeda will be a completely different experience and they sure weren’t kidding. If there are other aspects of Mass Effect Andromeda that you enjoyed make sure to tell us all about them in the comments section down below.
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