After half a decade of waiting, Mass Effect fans will finally get a chance to dive back into the Mass Effect universe by exploring a galaxy that is entirely devoid of ginormous space cuttlefish, ghost kids, and extra loud trombones/tubas. In Mass Effect: Andromeda, the latest game in the famed alien dating simulator franchise, you get to play as an alien invader who must exploit the resources of every planet you come across, exterminate all local wildlife with reckless abandon, and completely desecrate any archaeological discovery you may come across so that all of your friends can reproduce like it's the end of the world and colonize the Andromeda galaxy.
The game starts off simply enough; in classic Mass Effect fashion, everything is totally fine and nothing explodes. You and your team then decide to land on a planet's surface, where everything is also totally fine and no one gets shot at by mysterious aliens, which sets in motion a series of events that leads to you having to walk up to random people and solve their problems for them. As you can see, much like all of the other Mass Effect games, Mass Effect: Andromeda may not have the most mind-blowingly complex story, opting instead to focus on individual character development.
As the game goes on, you may end up hating or loving any of the characters that you run across on your intergalactic tour bus, but (as one can expect from a BioWare game) chances are that you will probably remember at least one thing about them. From Cora Harper's ability to teleport into groups of enemies and subsequently get annihilated by them to Liam Kosta's tendency to exist, there are no shortage of lovable characters. On top of that, each and every character (including your own) in Mass Effect: Andromeda is brought to life by the best possible facial animations and hair physics; even Commander Shepard would be jealous of how perfect everyone looks and acts in Andromeda.
However, most people will probably buy Mass Effect: Andromeda for the multiplayer experience, and it would be safe to say that Andromeda features some of the best multiplayer gameplay of the year. Featuring a return of Mass Effect 3's take on Horde mode, you and your friends can team up to complete multiple objectives against increasingly tougher waves of AI, ranging from simply surviving, to hacking various terminals, to holding a certain point on the map. Fortunately for you, Andromeda has very satisfying and robust combat mechanics, seamlessly combining high mobility, powerful abilities, and an intuitive cover system into one package; it even automatically finds random teammates for you if your friends rage-quit in the middle of a match after being melted by a giant robot.
Unfortunately, almost all of Mass Effect: Andromeda's gameplay mechanics feel dated and old; although, in all fairness to EA and BioWare, there wasn't much that they could do to anticipate the success of another popular space exploration game, No Man's Sky. Everything that Andromeda does, from the voice acting to the skill trees to the crafting and inventory management system and beyond, No Man's Sky does better. And let's not even get started on how much more fun it is to explore the barren surfaces of planets in No Man's Sky; you can even say that No Man's Sky perfected the space exploration genre of games before Andromeda started development, and certainly long before it was cool and mainstream to be interested in space.
At the end of the day, though, Mass Effect: Andromeda does feel like a fresh start for the series, without changing too much from the original formula. Fans of the Shepard trilogy will probably like Andromeda, especially if you are the kind of person who insists on wandering around in open world games like Skyrim, completing a reasonably varied list of side quests like it's some kind of grocery list. If you've never played any Mass Effect game before, think of Andromeda as a lighter version of your typical open world RPG; it may not offer hundreds of hours of single player content per playthrough, but you'll certainly get your money's worth if you don't mind the occasional wonky animation or somesuch.
That being said, the Mass Effect 3 ending was literally the worst thing since unsliced bread (see also: Halo 2, BioShock Infinite, etc.). Also, Mass Effect: Andromeda has microtransactions and is an EA game, so it is naturally the worst game of all time.
Score 0.5It may not be perfect, but Mass Effect: Andromeda is certainly above average. If nothing else, it is one of the few games that, despite its faults, deserves to be remembered for combining fun combat, wondrous visuals, and a touch of silliness.
- Offers more of what made Mass Effect memorable
- Campaign can end up being a dozen hours long
- Multiplayer can be pretty fun, but it's not the main draw of the game
- Maps are large enough to be considered pseudo-open world
- Is an EA game
- Has microtransactions
- Is an EA game
- Mass Effect 3 ending still exists in memory
- Is not The Witcher 3, the pinnacle of all of humanity's greatest achievements
- Still an EA game
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