Mass Effect: Andromeda first impressions of a noob

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I’ll level with you all right now, I never play single player games. I try to, but then I realize all my friends are off playing World of Warcraft, Counter-Strike, or something that oozes friendship. It’s usually at that point that I completely give up and pack it in. If I had to be honest, I’ve played about five single players games to competition, and two of them happen to be Mass Effect 1 and 2.

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As I mentioned during my livestream yesterday, the Mass Effect series came highly recommended after I fell in love with Dragon Age: Origins. It wasn’t only Dragon Age that impressed me, but BioWare as a whole. Their ability to play out a game as if it was a movie was something new to me as Dragon Age was also the first game I actually played when I got my first PC. The idea of becoming immersed in a story, where your decisions are crucial, was everything I’d ever wanted and that’s what I got with Dragon Age and both Mass Effect titles. Mass Effect 3 wasn’t high up on my list, but I was excited to give Andromeda a chance thanks to the ten hour Origin Access.

Right off the bat I was once again in awe of the brilliant cinematics offered by Mass Effect, and was reminded of why I loved the first two iterations. I was thoroughly enjoying playing out a story until people started pointing out the terrible lip syncing and subpar voice acting. That didn’t deter me, for a while, so I kept at it and then a few problems presented themselves.

Combat

Combat felt clunky, and movement felt like a task. In the heat of battle if you missed a spot, or stepped to far, getting back into cover was always a bit of an issue. I don’t doubt, given a complete play through, that I would have gotten used to the movement and mastered it, but in the early stages (where you decide if you like the game) I got rather annoyed. The early stages you exist as a gunslinger, and it’s not until later on that your abilities really kick in. This means you have to be a great shot if you wish not die every two seconds, which was a clear struggle for me. Coming from FPS titles like CS:GO I thought it would be a walk in the park, but the combat itself presented a number of challenges for me.

Carried by cut scenes

As I mentioned above, my favourite part of BioWare games, and the Mass Effect series, is that it plays out like a movie. What I personally felt, and soon realized, was that the cut scenes presented themselves as a distraction at times from the somewhat repetitive storyline. I only managed to complete one main story mission, but as soon as the second missions kicked off on Eos, it was the same. “Go to this planet, find some stuff and people…” followed by “Oh no! Alien life is here to kill you!” I don’t doubt that as the story unfolds there will be some diversity, but as I mentioned the first hour or two in a single player game is crucial to making the decision whether you’ll continue till the end.

It’s a beautiful world

What impressed me the most is just how beautiful Andromeda is. It gives justice to the “open world” idea and you’re reminded of that when traveling around the map. Like most BioWare games, the attention to detail is welcomed and you do play out in some beautiful zones. During my three hours played, I made a point to stop and look around, taking in all the landscapes and surroundings as they were just that  good. Graphically, it’s a beautiful game.

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Image courtesy of Rocket Chainsaw

Multiplayer

This is probably half the reason I was tasked with a livestream – to showcase the multiplayer. Multiplayer was added in Mass Effect 3 and it seems nothing has changed. Your co-op missions are similar to what they were back then – objective based four player maps. The big pull, of course, was that the gear you earn as rewards can be used in the single player, but is that enough to warrant a few hours spent lagging? The overall experience in multiplayer, for me, was not good. I sat there desyncing and lagging constantly because hosting was done via peer-to-peer. I can see the promise and the rewards being worth it, but for local guys wanting to jump into a quick match this is not ideal, even on a fiber connection. If you have a party of four friends who are keen to try out some multiplayer then there’s probably hours worth of fun to be had, but that’s not always possible. I sat for a good 40 minutes trying to find a stable multiplayer game which was not the experience I wanted.

Conclusion

My first impression of the game was good. It has an immersive single player coupled with beautiful scenery and the expected BioWare cutscene magic. The voice acting, dialogue and lip syncing is annoying, but once you’re out in the open world you’ll experience what Mass Effect is all about. Multiplayer sucks for South Africans, but if you find some friends you’ll be on your way to some rewarding friendship. And, if you’re wondering, I didn’t get to have sex with anyone.

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Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit's eSports guy. I talk about eSports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for Orena - but my work here is independent of that.

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