Let me start with an apology about how long it’s taken for the second half of this review. As it is sometimes want to do, Life got in the way a bit. So, without further ado, back to the Heleus Cluster. In my previous review, I covered basics, such as graphics, character design and your core group of companions. So, as I near the end of the game, lille of those previous review points have changed. I will admit some of the companions have grown on me, to some extent, especially Vetra Nyx and Drack. To be honest, I found more myself more interested in the brief character introductions to other races’ Pathfinders than my crew.
Just to make sure that I’m clear, I don’t think they’re bad, just not great. In previous Mass Effect installments, it was the companions that looped me into the character. The storyline was gripping, sure, but like any good Sci Fi story, the greater “save the universe” plot is the core motivation for the character, but it’s his companions that help the audience fall in love with the character. Would Mass Effect 2 have been as good without Garrus or Tali? How many of you were initially disappointed that you didn’t see Kenneth Donnelly and Gabriella Daniels in Engineering after the start of Mass Effect 3, or how pleased you were when you were able to get them released and back on the crew of the Normandy?
I’m torn on my opinion of the game play/combat in Andromeda. There really isn’t one specific thing that I can say was superior or inferior to previous incarnations of the game. It just feels different that previous entries. Fighting with the guns doesn’t feel quite as smooth as Mass Effect 2 and 3, but all in all, combat felt pretty intense and generally satisfying. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said about the weapon load out. As I mentioned in my previous articles, I found a set of weapons that suited my combat style or were the most effective and I simply never deviated from them.
Just a quick aside here. EA, can we please make the M-8 Avenger a decent assault rifle for the game? It’s the most iconic and one of the most visually interesting weapons in the game. You know it too, as it’s been one of the more often used rifles in your marketing. It would behoove you to make the weapon even somewhat useful in the game?
As for storyline, I’ve basically completed the game, at this point, and I will admit that it’s impressive the number of quests they’ve crammed into this game. However, there are a LARGE number of side quests that are the “scan bodies,” “find data pads,” “Find data nodes” that have no specific tracking. What I mean is there are no minimap icons, or map locations to work from. Even those as generic as somewhere in this area. So, I found myself actively ignoring those quests. As I didn’t want to bother searching every little nook and cranny for a tiny datapad that didn’t feel connected to the central storyline in any case. Unfortunately, those colonists corpses will just have to remain missing, lost in the sands of Eos.
Also, on the subject of quests. Order becomes a bit of a question here. Like Dragon Age Inquisition, the number of quests in a specific area can be a bit daunting. However, that really isn’t an issue. More quests mean more game, and that can be a good thing. What began to bother me was the sense that I had to complete them before moving onto the main storyline for fear that if I completed too much, the side quests would either become unavailable, or irrelevant. There were a few times that I was in the mood to move along in the storyline, but felt trapped by remaining side quests that I had to wade through so that I could move on. Did I mention the bodies?
As for planet and system design, the starscapes are absolutely gorgeous. The systems just grab your attention and keep it. However, was I the only one that was wondering why every other planet had rings? Was it the result of The Scourge, or just a case of the designers and developers deciding that ringed planets looked cooler? The Tempest looks amazing, both inside and out. Although after reading the Expanse novels and watching the series, the amount of “loose scenery” such as boxes laying around, tools left out, etc. make my inner geek twitch. But all in all, the Tempest easily picks up where the Normany left off and was excellently designed and used as the plots chariot.
All in all, the game definitely has it’s flaws. However it has some elements that I’ve come to really enjoy. While the companions are a bit weak, the primary storyline I found quite engaging. I still find myself wanting to know what’s next. Both in the last moments of the game, and the inevitable sequel. I have no doubt that I will be excited for the sequel. If the developers and writers can fix where they went off track in this addition to the Mass Effect universes (see what I did there), they’ll have another series under their belt to be proud of, and another game that I’ll find myself returning back to with all the warm fuzzies. Above all else, it’s the Companions; Make them feel like they’re growing into a family and boost the interactions, and the rest of these issues could easily be ignored.