Mass Effect: Andromeda came in hot and landed in a cloud of disappointment… or some would have you believe. Others shout from the hilltops that it’s a failure, as bad as a Mass Effect could possibly be, that it’s the Arkham Origins of the Mass Effect universe. We’ve come to a place where the power of expectation and Twitter group think leads us to believe that a 76 on Metacritic is a failure. It’s not, and Andromeda is not nearly as bad as social media would have you believe. So join me on a Twitter break and let’s look at how things really are.
Andromeda is, by and large, not the game players expected it to be. It’s fair to say that in some ways it is a disappointment. It’s not the same type of game that either Mass Effect 2 or 3 aspired to be, it’s significantly larger and more aspirational. Along with that, it’s also less polished and includes some odd gameplay decisions probably brought on from the new team making it. And it must be said that I agree that the characters and story aren’t quite the same caliber as Mass Effect 2 or 3. They’re not bad, but Liam is no Garrus.
Then again, the last two Mass Effect games were critically acclaimed, even if the ending soured the experience for some fans. Metacritic pins the PC versions of each at 94 and 89 respectively and higher if you include console versions. But let’s be real about Mass Effect 3, is they had stuck the landing in its final minutes, that score would be even higher. The journey through those games is one we all love, which is exactly why people were so excited for Andromeda in the first place.
What we have here is not Mass Effect 2 or 3. In fact, it’s closer to Mass Effect 1 with what it’s trying to be. If you keep your ear to the ground, you’ll find a lot of Mass Effect 1 fans really enjoy Andromeda. It’s fans of the latter two who find less to love. (I’m in the group who never finished ME1 but liked it nonetheless). Even casting that to the side, Andromeda is built by a new team, taking us to a new place, with the monumental task of following up one of the most beloved trilogies ever to be created in video games. I don’t envy them and I don’t excuse them for where Andromeda falls short, because no matter how you cut it, it’s clear there’s been some fundamental mismatch between what Andromeda is and what many players hoped it would be.
With all of that out of the way, the amount of dogpiling and negativity has gotten a detached from reality. If the game didn’t have “Mass Effect” stamped on the cover, people would have been a lot more willing to accept its foibles. But it did and we didn’t, and players expected Andromeda to exceed everything that came before. In some places, it even falls short. But does that make the game bad? Not worth playing? I don’t think so, and I believe it’s a stretch to claim otherwise. At what point is it acceptable to follow greatness with something that’s just “good” and not have it be the worst thing ever? I have news for you, it’s that attitude that kills the things you claim to love. If those same standards were applied to television, no show would make it past its second season. No movie would ever become a franchise. We can be critical, but there’s some room between 0 and 10 to offer thoughtful critique.
Amongst it all, there are players out there who may never give Andromeda a try because they’ve been given told it’s terrible when it’s not. My best friend came to me, a fan of the previous games, and said this, “I hear they really messed that game up. Why would they wreck it like that?” He’s not an average gamer who heard this from other average gamers who assuredly heard it through the grapevine of social media. It’s the echo chamber where everything is horrible or the best thing ever with no room in between.
And it all probably started with those facial animations. Every major gaming outlet ran a story about how horrible they were and got in on the (clicks) joke. They’re stiff, and you know what, that’s Bioware’s problem. It’s a valid criticism that I also wonder about. But that’s essentially where the volume got cut. Sure, there were stories about the good parts of the game, but they never got the traction of the harsh criticisms and knowing laughs at the game’s flaws. Is it any wonder that the voices talking about what they’re actually enjoying are drowning by comparison.
Here’s what those people aren’t telling you: eventually, you just get used to it. You get pulled into what’s going on and the uncanny valley you first fell into suddenly means a whole lot less. It’s not the game-breaker some claim it to be unless you’re literally ignoring the dialogue to focus on their facial ticks.
The other group tearing down the game are the usual crew who view any inclusion of homosexual relationships as agenda pushing. The outrage bleed is real.
Allow me to make one final point that I think is the most important. If you have played the game for yourself and aren’t don’t like it, speak out! I like Mass Effect, but I’m not a fanboy out to quell dissenting opinions. But when you’re on social media, or in a comments section somewhere, keep in mind that the cool thing to do right now is hate on Mass Effect: Andromeda. There’s truth in the criticisms, but listen more to people who have played it through instead of the bandwagon hoppers. You’ll get a better picture.
There’s big news out of Funcom this week as they announced that their MMORPG The Secret World would be launching a new, reimagined “shared world RPG” version of the game titled Secret World Legends. This will be a separate product from The Secret World and be free to play with an optional in-game store. We had the chance to interview the game’s director, Roman Amiel, to discuss what’s in store. The studio’s approach to the reimagining means putting the game’s action RPG elements ahead of the multiplayer, making the storylines and settings more accessible to players than ever before. Progression and combat are also being reworked to bring them in line with other action RPGs. Read the full scoop in our interview.
The review embargo has lifted for Persona 5 and early reports are incredibly good. As of this writing, 40 critical reviews put the game at an impressive 94 metascore, earning it the coveted “universal acclaim” distinction. I’ll be covering the game here in the coming weeks as well as writing a review for our sister site, GameSpace.
Destiny 2 has been officially revealed! The big news is, as we suspected, that the game will release on PC alongside its console counterparts. The trailer, viewable in our original news story, takes a more lighthearted tone than was featured in the first game and puts the spotlight on characters instead of gameplay. Stay tuned for more info over the coming weeks and a gameplay reveal on May 18th.
Until next week!