Welcome to the Andromeda system! After using the Mass Effect relays of our galaxy to explore the many different solar systems and planets around us, there were those who decided that they would try to travel further than ever. In Mass Effect: Andromeda you take control of one of the Ryder siblings, members of a team that has been tasked with not only exploring these far distant worlds but also working to colonize them for future generations and the continued expansion of the human race. The Andromeda Initiative initially launches in the year 2185 CE before the events of Mass Effect 3, but due to the 600 year travel time we first meet Ryder waking up in the year 2819 CE.
Witness the birth of a true hero, Lawrence Ryder!The destination of the Andromeda Initiative is one of the many Golden Worlds that were found to have suitable living conditions for humans. Upon arriving, it seems that time has not been good to these worlds and the pathfinder (Ryder Sr.) will have to do what he can to help lead the colony to a new land that they can inhabit. During the time allowed during this preview, you have access to the first couple of main missions as well as a variety of side missions. Through these, you learn more about the main character, his or her immediate family, and the new world around them. Aside from the fact that they are a part of your team during the first couple of hours of this game you learn nothing new of them. As a BioWare title and a Mass Effect game, it is expected that these kinds of details will be fleshed out further down the line. It's impossible to know when playing this demo whether the story will get better or faster paced or whether it will remain at a slow burn throughout.
While you aren't able to get very far in the story during this preview you do get to learn a lot about the gameplay and mechanics of Andromeda. Everyone who has been paying attention to the release of this game are already well aware of the issues with animation (especially facial animations of humans), the somewhat wooden delivery of many of the games voiceovers, and the plethora of other bugs and glitches that have appeared. These kinds of issues were present throughout the entire preview, you didn't even have to be looking out for many of them as they occur right in front of your face. For many, this won't make too much of a difference, and it might even be a selling point as you attempt to find the strangest bug possible. For others, the presence of these might turn you away from this product until it has been patched. As with previous titles Andromeda also has a default enabled Film Grain setting, where it is different though is that instead of adding to the game it instead gave the game a strange blur and FOV issues. After disabling this setting there was also a slight improvement in the framerate while performing fast turns or looking out into expansive landscapes.
Just when I thought I was alone....While a lot of the bugs and glitches can be seen as things that are accidental, there are also some questionable mechanics would have to be intentionally included. One of the more obvious examples that you might come across is if directing two squad mates to a location together they both fight to be on the exact same point. The result of this is usually a character standing still while another continues their walk cycle or even has squad members sliding around when being pushed. Something like this demonstrates a real lack of polish, especially for a squad based game, and I'm surprised that these type of issues weren't caught before the game's release.
One interesting change to the combat is the addition of both the Jumpjet and the Dash, both of which can be used together to cover large distances and speed up combat encounters. You can rely less on sticking to cover with the ability to quickly close distances between you and your opponent or use it to strafe around them and surprise them from behind. Collision on irregular shapes like rocks might cause your character to shake or clip into objects, but this normally doesn't cause any large issues.
King of the Hill competitive modeThe multiplayer included in Mass Effect: Andromeda is a horde mode that you can play with up to three other players. Depending on how many enemies you defeat or objectives you complete, you will earn points. You're also able to unlock a variety of different weapon and armor upgrades as you play allowing you to customize your loadout to closer fit your own play style. During the multiplayer portion, a lot of the same issues from the single player were appearing but there was also quite a noticeable lag. This might have been due to a number of reasons such as not using all available server space during the preview time, or even due to the way that the multiplayer is set up. The experience was enjoyable, but never something that compelled me to continue playing.
From the time I spent with it, Mass Effect: Andromeda feels like an incomplete experience with voice acting recorded from early table reads and a host of graphical glitches and gameplay issues. There is a lot that could get better going forward past the ten hours worth of play time afforded in the trial. Issues with animations could become less apparent or non-existent going forward and narrative will almost certainly be added surrounding the Ryder twins as well as the other squadmates. It's just a shame that what was shown off in this preview is what is more likely to turn some players away from the title.
Mass Effect Andromeda was previewed on Xbox One via EA Access.
What did you think of the Mass Effect: Andromeda preview? Are you planning on picking the game up? Stay tuned to TechRaptor in the future to read our full review of Mass Effect: Andromeda.