Death of the Critic

Mass Effect: Andromeda - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


Mass Effect: Andromeda
put itself in a rather unfortunate position before it was even released. It is a follow-up to one of the best franchises of the last generation that tied everything up rather neatly. Bioware has fallen out of favor in recent years, and after a series of rocky previews, Andromeda finally came out. Plagued with issues at launch, Andromeda is not a great game. It isn’t bad, but in many ways, it highlights a lot of the issues that I have with contemporary video games, while taking massive steps backwards in the franchise. It is painfully average and fails to trigger those same emotions that the earlier titles were so good at tugging on.

Instead of the amazing RPG that it once was, it has become a bog-standard science-fiction open-world RP, feeling painfully generic as you drive your unwieldy, lumbering space tank across a series of open, boring landscapes, interacting with a few groups of humanoid aliens along the way. It feels like they played a bunch of other science-fiction games, saw interesting ideas and decided to crib them as their own without any real thought behind them. Remember the sentinels from
Halo? Well, I hope you enjoyed them, because you get to fight them a lot. Fallout 4 had you setting up bases, so you should do that here too.

Your squad mates follow a set of well-worn stereotypes, with your dry humored soldier, your “lol so random” scientist, and gung-ho companion. You are supposed to like them, to want to romance them, but they made this entirely too easy this time around, as you just select the dialogue option with the big heart over it as many times as it takes to have sex with them. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum with every character that you come across (because you must flirt with everyone in the galaxy). At first, being able to see what category my responses would fall under felt interesting, but it quickly revealed too much about the system, allowing you to create a perfect character and removing all of the guesswork (read: the interesting parts) from the experience of interacting with characters.


The combat is better than it ever has been in the series, but with it comes an increased reliance on it. For once it didn’t feel bad to get into firefights, and some of the powers genuinely felt
good (charging into an enemy has been, and always will be dope as hell) but it seems most missions consist of me driving to an area, shooting some generic soldiers and collecting a reward. The multiplayer mode feels like it’s the same, but with the option of fighting waves with friends instead of alone.

Gone are the options to try to talk your way out of encounters, solving your problems with words instead of a gun. The very first time they give you the chance to do this, they teach you that it won’t work, because even if you try to approach the aliens peacefully, your crewmate shoots at them and then you are fighting them for the rest of the game. They remove the choice from you and force you to kill instead. The bad guys are evil and you are good and that is the end of the discussion.

The game is at its best when it works in the murky areas between right and wrong, and there are a few side quests that do a great job at handling this. Early in the game, one has you choosing whether to exile a suspected murder or choosing whether to build a military or a science outpost on the first planet that you land on. They had the thread here for something cool, where depending on what you built it would affect the aliens’ opinions of you, but besides a throwaway line of dialogue and a single side mission on the space station, I didn’t really see much of a difference.


I wanted what I did here to matter in some way, but I never felt like I was important. You’re far from Commander Shepard, the hero of the galaxy, instead more of a “right place, right time” kind of character. You fall into the Pathfinder role because the story says so and you have to make decisions, but it never feels earned. It makes it feel generic instead of epic and special.

I miss the old squad mates from the original, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how great they were while I was driving around my space tank (that’s totally not a MAKO), listening to terrible banter. There was some stuff to enjoy here, but it just didn’t hit me in that same ways. Instead of stepping forward with a new series, they took steps back. Why does this game need to have open worlds? Why is the UI so terrible, especially in crafting menus? Why are there so many unneeded animations? It’s a collection of confusing ideas pasted onto an OK sci-fi RPG.


Review written for the Xbox One version of the game. Your experience may vary on different platforms.

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Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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