So here it is. After having an unforgettable trilogy (both good and bad
) of Sci-Fi-ActionRPG Bioware sets out again to deliver a new trilogy - away from the tales of the "Shepard". Early gameplay material has been leaked over the previous years. gameplay, story-wise etc. But without further shenanigans I want to jump right into my "early review" or first impressions of the Mass Effect: Andromeda demo and its possible premise.
(Regarding the MP: I only checked out the tutorial, but one thing I can say for sure that it doesn't run on the same resolution/visual quality as the single player. As a matter of fact, it looks quite blurry which gave me a headache.)
Anyhow, let's start!STORY
The game starts off with an intro explaining the events that lead to this new game.
After humanity crafted the tools for spacetravel some were out seeking glory/exploring and others were put on a mission to find a new "home". You are also on that team under the "Andromeda initiative". You and your sibling to be precise (Scott, Sara Ryder). The game starts off with you being awakened from your cryo-sleep about 700 years after leaving earth. Afterwards, the ship (called "Horizon") is being attacked by a mysterious organism/energy cloud. In a chain of events you embark on your very first mission on an Earth-like planet simply named "Habitat-7". On this planet you encounter the "new enemy" called the "Kett" for the very first time. This mission serves more of a tutorial, takes you by the hand and introduces the new gameplay mechanics. After this mandatory introduction and a couple of story-elements (that will not be spoiled any further) you are being handed your own spaceship - the "Tempest". And you are free to roam unlocked areas of the galaxy and embark on a new mission.GAMEPLAY
ME:A brings a lot of new/enhanced gameplay mechanics.
There are no longer the fixed classes like in the previous games. Instead there are skills
. You have access to all of the skills from the beginning and can mix up your skillset. That means that you actually have a more diverse and individual character than before. As I remember, there were also a couple of new skills which you will unlock after investing enough skill points in said skill tree. In the Profiles-menu you can select a class that can be leveled up aswell and also is changable during combat. Skills on the other hand are also a little more diverse. So there are lite and heavy skill attacks. For lite you tap the button, for heavy you hold it and then release it.
Attacking enemies with skills worked pretty well. However, I am not entirely sold on the gunplay part. One major factor might be that they ditched the coversystem you had in Mass Effect 2 and 3, and replaced it with a dynamic cover system. That means: If your character stands close to cover he will duck automatically and hide behind - much like the recent Tomb Raider games.
Aside that you can dash and jetpack in different different directions. It enables you to a more rapid way of combat, especially evasive maneuvers if necessary. But aside from combat these mechanics are also heavily used for roaming the map, which I personally dislike. The jumping mechanics are not refined enough and feel rough. After I landed on my first planet I had to do more platforming than I have ever done in a Mass Effect game.
Furthermore, a "scanner"-function has been added to your omnitool which is being used heavily aswell. You can compare the scanner to the "detective mode" in the Batman games or the "Eagle Eye" vision from the AC games. It is a means to gather information that is crucial for mission progress or just to scan unknown artifacts etc. to gather research points that might be used to craft/research some things on your ship, most likely - couldn't tell from the demo.
Shortly after you are also being introduced to the "Nomad". This is the new "Mako" from ME1, which was a horrendous piece of shit. In this game, they seem to have learned their lesson as it drives superb compared to the Mako. However, driving the Nomad feels unspectacular and incredibly average. It has two different modes, one for regular driving and a six-tire-mode for steep roads. Aside that it has a boost and a jump-function, I couldn't see any weapons so far.
You can use the Mako the roam your very first planet on the demo. And at this point, it must be noted that the detail on the planets is amazing compared to Mass Effect 1. However, in between there is a vast nothingness until you hit a point of interest again such as in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Remember those small hacking games from Mass Effect 1 and 2? Yeah, they brought those back which were missing in Mass Effect 3 entirely. The mining feature is also included once again and the "Nomad" has it aswell. So you can encounter "rich resource areas" while roaming a planet and deploy mobile mining beacons. Another thing I encountered was that apparently you can build outposts and call in small capsules that serve as safe zones and ammo replenishment area.VISUALS, PERFORMANCE
First of all, Mass Effect: Andromeda's visuals range between "Holy shit, I can't believe they still pull this shit in 2017" to "This is so pretty I need to take multiple screenshots".
The characters and their animations look abysmal and unimpressive overall. I have the feeling that Bioware has not made any progress in this area. I would even go as far and say that it is even worse than Mass Effect 3. There are plenty of animations from the game out there that broke pretty much the internet. Me and a friend bursted out in laughter, when a character with no facial traits had the line "my face is too tired". Because that is what you are being served in this game. You would think that motion capture is a given these days in the video game industry. Bioware shows us with their latest installment that this is not the case.
It might be excusable if these were cases with unimportant supportingcharacters, but even the female main protagonist has ... forget it. Just see for yourself:https://i.imgflip.com/1li1sj.gifhttps://thumbs.gfycat.com/UnitedLameElver-size_restrict....gifhttps://i.imgur.com/Rq9zqLP.gif
Furthermore, if you take a look at the first planet one can observe a lot of detail in the level structures compared to the open planets from Mass Effect 1. The world seems more organic and simply rich in detail. The map structure-elements seem to be heavily borrowed from DA:I inquisition though. Inbetween there are also areas of low textures and pop ups. While playing we even encountered performance issues. The game suffered relatively often from framerate drops especially while roaming the field with the Nomad. Sometimes the game would even get stuck for a couple of seconds probably due to loading segments of the map. These things need to be adressed in patches in the near future as these performance drops are simply inexcusable and should not be in the final version of a game. TEST YOUR PRODUCT BEFORE SHIPPING!
Aside that, we encountered no problems, glitches whatsoever. Thus, making the game playable.FINAL VERDICT
As it is with Sci-Fi, I am actually quite interested in the story, mainly because the demo didn't reveal much. What characters will join your team, what enemies will you encounter, will there be some overlap with events from previous games? Only time will tell.
However, I have to say I am utterly disappointed by the turn the Mass Effect franchise has taken with this latest installment. There are a lot of new changes to the gameplay mechanics which I am simply not sold on. Especially the platforming and scanning that is heavily embedded into mission designs. These elements feel out of place and extremely forced just for the sake of trying something new. In general, this demo didn't feel like a Mass Effect game at all, but rather like a Dragon Age: Inquisition with a space theme. It ain't no surprise that Bioware borrows from DA:I, but one could always draw a clear line between the two franchises which seem to become blurred with ME:A.
Aside the content that the game might convey, it is by no means up to technical standard and needs improvements via patches. The demo is simply too short and unrepresentative for a successful first impression trying to convince potential customers to get this game.
I would not recommend buying it - especially not day one. I will probably wait out this one until things have been patched out - or patched in for that matter (character customization seems quite limited).
TENDENCY: WAIT FOR A SALE