Boy am I a happy Mass Effect fan. We finally know the game is due March, 2017. A bit sooner than I expected to be honest. I was planning on Bioware releasing it in May… Maybe slipping into June. But one thing I’ve been wondering a while now is will Mass Effect Andromeda fan expectations prove too difficult for the game to really live up to?
This is an entire generation of gamers who have played the series over nearly a decade. It’s hard to believe the original launched in November, 2007 and now has a massive fan base. Bioware has huge challenge to satisfy that many people… Especially gamers!
As an ME fan with playthroughs on Xbox and PlayStation (yes; including insanity and some shiny platinum trophies). Having seen both FemShep and BroShep through to the end of their story, I know this is going to be a big few months awaiting launch.
So come with me on a journey to look at the game with hopes, expectations and particularly my concerns along the way. I invite all gamers and Mass Effect fans to drop me a Disqus or Facebook Comment to read at the end. Let’s get some conversation going (don’t try and Wrex.. Shepard me either, it went on for weeks last time!).
RPG or Shooter?
What genre does Mass Effect belong to? I’d personally say that really depends on which game you are talking about. The original was an RPG, certainly an action-rpg with decent shooting mechanics and combat, but it was very much on the RPG side of the spectrum. But if you go and play Mass Effect 3 there’s a massive change in style, and that game is a third-person shooter with RPG elements in my opinion.
Let’s go with the classic 80/20 rule. The first game would be 80 RPG, 20 Shooter where by the end of the series that’s pretty much flipped around. Mass Effect 2 is probably the most balanced out of the trilogy.
Andromeda has been described as a spiritual successor to the original game. This would suggest it’s more of an RPG, plus the emphasis on exploring is back which was a big plus to the original. But at the same time, the gameplay clearly looks all out action with really tight shooting and biotic combat.
I for one as very impressed with the gameplay clip shown. Have another watch, you know you want to..
The RPG VS Shooter Concern
So that being said I’m slightly concerned about the direction of the game. It’s seemingly an RPG but clearly needs to reach ME3 levels of combat or people will be really disappointed. The last thing we need are the sloppy (by today’s standards) and limited combat of the original.
So I’d say that Andromeda is actually trying to be “Best of Mass Effect” game.
They are likely to pick what they perceive as the best parts of each one. The first game had the exploration and deep story. The second had the element of working with your team, getting them on your side to survive a deadly mission which may well kill you all. Finally, the third game was all out action from the offset with the best combat of the series.
Using the best parts of each sounds like the logical idea, but we are gamers. Cold, hard logic is not always what we go for!
Everyone has their favourite game in the trilogy. I lean towards ME2 personally although there are many things in the original I love too. Saying that, I feel bad about Mass Effect 3. It was amazing but I do think it went too far into “cover-shooter” territory personally.
My concern here is as follows: Bioware could be making a game that tries to please all of us, which just isn’t possible. As a result of trying to do this, no one gets the game they really want and everyone is left disappointed in some way.
Update Our Codex Please Bioware!
Don’t get me wrong; Andromeda is not going to be considered bad. Scores wise it’ll review highly but big decisions, like the style of the gameplay, will make the difference between it being a great game and a great Mass Effect game.
I’m all for a return to the RPG elements of the original with some of the features of other parts of the trilogy. I just hope they have really decided on the direction of Andromeda, and not tried to pander to everyone’s wants. They can’t please us all (can they?), so I hope they haven’t tried. I hope they’re making the best game they can.
The fact that details are still thin on the ground makes this concern greater of course.
With no big event coming before the release of the game, EA and Bioware need to do a very good job explaining the game in the coming weeks. There are a lot of hints in the gameplay video, but with less than 3 months to release, now is the time for details.
When they are revealed we’ll have them on MGL by the way so make sure you keep us on your bookmarks list for Mass Effect updates.
Shepard, Reapers, Hudson & Writers Are All MIA
While the first one was a mild concern, this is the part that really has me worried for the overall quality of the game. In Andromeda we are losing a number of in game personalities that we love from the original trilogy. Plus we have lost a number of writers and key figures at Bioware around the title too.
Sticking with the game itself first, the original trilogy was about two themes: Shepard and the Reapers. Both of which are not in Mass Effect Andromeda. The lack of reapers was confirmed in this 101 questions video by Mac Walters; the games creative director.
The lack of Shepard was always likely. He is the victim of the final choice you make in Mass Effect 3. They have to sign his story off somehow and they’re currently not giving one choice in particular as the canon ending. This could change but it was always likely to be the case.
But the big loss to the fans here, in my opinion anyway, is: The Reapers.
Fans will remember the conversation moment with Sovereign as you discovered exactly what these things were, and the relationship with Shepard thanks to his contact with the beacons in the original game. These creatures were unstoppable, yet you managed to somehow stop them in the end. As villains go in a game they were excellent and are a massive loss for Andromeda.
Coming up with a new enemy as malevolent and intense is going to be incredibly hard but also key to the success of what else makes this game series so good: the story.
Development & Writing Team Departures
People move on with jobs and life it happens. But it’s always concerning when people leave something in the middle of a project. Casey Hudson was key in the original Mass Effect Trilogy and was part of the original team working on Andromeda following the release of ME3.
When he left in April 2014 that was sure to have an impact of the project and, had he not gone, we may well be playing Andromeda already. Speculation of course, but such was the impact of Hudson for Mass Effect, things must have changed as a result.
But people have left big games before. Amy Hennig left Naughty Dog and her characters behind. Then Neil Druckmann and his team arguably improved upon them in Uncharted 4. It’s not the best situation of course, but it does give other people the chance to bring their ideas to the table.
What does concern me more than his departure is the fact lead writer Chris Schlerf left to work for Bungie (great for Destiny of course). Plus developer Chris Wynn also left the project in 2015 too. You’d expect them to be so far down the line with the project at this stage to have the overall direction of the game designed and planned. But detail is so key in massive, story based games like this.
I find it hard to believe that this many changes will not affect the game in some way.
It has me worried about the story Andromeda is going to deliver. Fans like me are likely to expect something of the quality of the original series at least. With all this disruption, not to mention the lack of information, that is my biggest concern about the game.
And I don’t think this will be alleviated until the game itself goes inside my console (sorry PC gamers) and I experience it for myself.
This Is Still Bioware And Mass Effect
I did say I had concerns here. I certainly don’t want anyone reading this to think I am not hugely excited for the game. Or that I think it will be bad. This is not the case in any way. I want this to be the start of more from Mass Effect.
The universe and the history created by Bioware in the original trilogy are by far the game’s biggest strength. Different races all with their relationships to one another, their problems and their history with the human race. Everything about this universe has huge potential beyond the original trilogy. I really want to see it realised, starting with Mass Effect Andromeda.
I just don’t want this to feel like the ME version of Dragon Age 2. A title that is good enough of game, but not a good Dragon Age game by comparison to the original.
What leaves me with hope is that the majority of this team worked on Dragon Age Inquisition, which is exceptional. It also uses the same engine, Frostbite, which also means the performance is likely going to work nicely. People may be worried about lip-sync issues on the gameplay trailer, but by the end I’m certain details like that will be fixed.
Either that or LL Cool J will be very disappointed.
Time is key to a game like Mass Effect. Any developer will say they want adequate time to deliver a great game. The fact Andromeda has been in development for so long is a huge positive for it, even with the disruption to the team. When Bioware have take their time over something they have traditionally delivered quality, I hope the trend continues.
The Mass Effect Fans
We Mass Effect fans are very excited about a new game and I think all of us want this to be amazing and everything we hope. Bioware have clearly worked exceptionally hard on this game over the past 4, maybe 5 years. It’s a shame it’s seen such disruption in its development and hopefully it doesn’t impact the game in the ways mentioned.
I, like many other fans, expect a great story, one that matches the impact of the original trilogy, but that attaches us to these new characters. Plus a new villain that gives me the same urge to complete my mission as The Reapers did. Not to mention those the indoctrinated and turned against me. I’d also want a game with a clear focus on either RPG or action, one that really sets a unique tone.
Honestly, I am so excited to play Mass Effect Andromeda and see what it’s like. I have my concerns and on what we know right now, I’m not convinced it can live up to such high expectations. But I really hope in the coming weeks and at launch these are proved misplaced fears.
What do you think? What do you want from Mass Effect Andromeda and what are your concerns? Let me know in the Disqus or Facebook Comments below. Or get me on Twitter or the MGL Facebook Page to discuss this on social media. Until next time gamers, and Mass Effect fans.