Mass Effect Andromeda Is Almost Here And Players Can Try It For 10 Hours

Mass Effect Logo

Platform: PS4, Xbox 1, PC

Release Date: March 21st, 2017

In an effort to continue to grab money from gamers, Mass Effect: Andromeda is close to full retail release. In the meantime if you have the PC version pre-ordered and are subscribed to EA Access, you can play the game for 10 hours. Here are some things that we can see by playing the demo.

This is a BioWare Game So Character Customization Is a Thing

Mass Effect Characters
Image Caption: http://kotaku.com/people-are-ripping-apart-mass-effect-andromedas-animati-1793334047

Players will get to create a male or female version of their “Ryder” character. Unfortunately though, you can only choose the human race as an avatar. The same was true for the first Mass Effect games but I think players were hoping for something different. Speaking of characters, there has been some coverage about the unnatural movements and mo-cap of the human species in the game. The alien races are fine so that doesn’t surprise me. Don’t be taken back by some of the make up choices for the human women especially.

This is a Completely Different Mass Effect story

Mass Effect Crew
Image Caption: https://www.technobuffalo.com/2017/03/15/heres-mass-effect-andromeda-on-pc-vs-ps4-pro-vs-xbox-one-slim/

It should go without saying but this game is not a continuation of the previous Mass Effect trilogy. Starting with a note from Pathfinder Alec Ryder the game is ready for players to immerse themselves in it’s universe. As you progress through the story and get a feel for Ryder, you will notice that even the main character is different from Shepard. They appear more youthful, inexperienced and have more of a personality than the previous iteration. Shepard is still a great character but this one may be different.

To give a bit of back story, Ryder and the crew wake up after being asleep for centuries on the Ark Hyperion to try and find new planets to inhabit. Unfortunately when you wake up its not all sunshine and roses. Players land on a new planet with hostile everything waiting to kill you as a warm welcome.

There Are A Slew Of New Game Mechanics

Mass Effect Combat
Image Caption: https://www.origin.com/usa/en-us/store/mass-effect/mass-effect-andromeda/standard-edition

This game is still a 3rd person shooter and the controls seem to be smoother than before. There are a few notable changes to gleaned. One is that there is no longer a button mapped to put your character into cover. Ryder will hide and crouch almost automatically when you come near certain things in the environment. Players are no longer trapped into one build which promoted multiple play throughs to try different play styles in the previous games. Instead, players can customize their characters to take different skills from categories in their respective skill trees. One last thing I’ll note is the introduction of the dash mechanic which can change the tactical tide of battle. It does have a slight cool down but it can save you from life of death with the better AI of enemies.

The Online Multiplayer Is More of the Same

Mass Effect Online Play
Image Caption: https://www.masseffect.com/

There is no player versus player mode which is normal for the Mass Effect series. However, if you have played games like Rainbow 6 Siege, when you go into Multiplayer mode you can choose different archetypes for battle. Those characters can also be of a different races so that may be the players only opportunity to play something new. There are also loot boxes to buy with in game currency or money for new weapon mods and new characters. The rest is business as usual with new things to be added after the game is released.

Your Demo Progress Transfers Over and All Upcoming DLC Will be Free

Mass Effect Ark
Image Credit: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/mass-effect-andromeda-trailer-release-date-gameplay/

You read correctly. The demo will save your progress so no time is wasted thank goodness. Bio ware is also doing us a service and will not charge for DLC that most of us probably can’t afford at this point anyway. The DLC schedule hasn’t been released yet but hopefully they will support this game for the long haul.

Are You In?

We only have a week to wait until the games full release and so far the reception appears positive. Have you tried the 10 hour demo and what do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

New Mass Effect Andromeda Footage Just Isn’t Enough

During Sony’s PlayStation event earlier this week, they unveiled the new PlayStation 4 Pro to much dismay. Along with it, they showed off several games that benefit directly from the added power including Mass Effect Andromeda. The last game anyone expected to see.

While this was a nice surprise at what I can only call a disappointing event, and I understand that the gameplay is meant to demonstrate power, it still left much to be desired.

Here it is in 4K if you can handle that many pixels.

The best thing I can say about Mass Effect Andromeda is that it looks jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The atmospheric lighting and overall art direction really shine especially with the new console. However, I think that’s where I’ll stop as far as praise goes.

I am a huge Mass Effect fan but we have been teased repeatedly for several years now with absolutely nothing concrete. Many of us die-hards expected a great E3 showing but got nothing but more obnoxious fragments. While I understand that they cannot share four hours of gameplay, at this point I feel that the marketing team has actively hurt itself and the product it wants to sell.

Why do they insist on continuously teasing us? Why is it that we cannot get a proper trailer demonstrating new unique systems that the sequel can offer? If EA decided that the PS4Pro event would be the true first reveal for Andromeda, why stop just as it becomes interesting?

It looks like a shiny new toy, but that’s about it. The iffy voice acting and awkward animations aside, there was a severe lack of substance to the gameplay that really sells itself short.

Hopefully, N7 day in November will bring me back into the fray with some great gameplay, but the marketing thus far has actively made me less interested than before it was unveiled, which is such a shame.

“Cinematic Story Telling” Pros and Cons

Cinematic

Gaming has come a long way since the 1980’s, a time when every game consisted of aliens invading earth without any real rhyme or reason. Nowadays when aliens invade earth, they are not just aliens, they are trans-dimensional semi-deity machines who not only invade earth, but an entire galaxy with the aim to wipe 90% of all life to prevent a continuous cycle of self-destructive behavior. That plot is probably more engaging, and better scripted than the vast majority of theatrical releases nowadays, so gaming has evolved and partially assimilated cinema full on Borg style. This trend of cinematic experiences that we can interact with has taken the industry by storm, and we bask in its magnificence, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

Like with any good argument, there are two sides to this story. When you look at cinematic games, or even games with great stories and engaging narratives we are spoiled for choice. Games like the Mass Effect trilogy, Metal Gear Solid, Bioshock and Final Fantasy are all series that are renowned for cinematic story telling, and interesting storylines, and we are only scratching the surface. A strong plot gives you a tangible connection to the world you are temporarily inhabiting. You build, and feel the bonds to the characters you encounter, you experience the weight of your decisions, sometimes literally, and for those brief moments of gameplay you become one with the world, and you are the main character.  Developers have become so adept at creating these cinematic experiences that Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of the Patriots actually has so many cutscenes, that their combined length dwarfs that of all other conventional media. If you type in your favorite game in youtube, you can literally watch hours of cutscenes mashed together into a somewhat coherent movie.

Mass Effect 3

But this level of detail, this fascination with providing a “movie-like experience” is equally as detrimental. For every Silent Hill, you have a handful of games that flat out fail to evoke the connections they are desperately trying to construct. The Order 1886 is a prime example of cinematic gaming gone horribly, horribly wrong. It sets us up with a familiar, yet different scenario: What if characters from Arthurian legend lived for hundreds of years and fought werewolves? On the basis that that is a pretty awesome idea, you would be forgiven if you expected the game to live up to that initial intrigue. The plot is hamfistedly forced upon you, literally basking in its own magnificence. It repeatedly hints at a grander, hidden plot that you just have to find out when in reality the characters, and the story is, at best, tedious and at worst, boring. Then to top it all off you have generic sequel bait thrown in.

This would not have been so bad if the game had actually been fun to play. But, like so many others, The Order is just your run of the mill generic shooter with all the gimmicks and tricks you expect from these games. They even have instant fail state stealth sections, with a false sense of choice thrown in to fool you into thinking you decide what path you take, when ultimately there is only one that leads to victory. The fact the game is flat out boring to play emphasizes the taxing narrative and vice versa. It is blatantly obvious they wanted to design a cinematic experience then slap a minigame as filler between cutscenes, and frankly such design is backwards.

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Of course The Order is not the first game to mess up in such a spectacular way. Assassins Creed has a long history of being only slightly above average to everyone but the most die-hard of paint watchers. Whilst the plot of Assassins Creed is serviceable in some places, and does have some interesting characters, the whole concept of the animus slows down an already sluggish game. The plot literally holds back the core experience, which could have been interesting had Desmond died in a fire. This combined with repetitive game play, relatively empty open worlds and hours of padding through tedious side missions and you are left with a pretty…ish…game that never quite reaches the heights a lot of people want it too. As a final cherry on the cake however, “Cinematic” was used as an excuse to neuter the most recent addition to the series. Cutting your games frame rate to 30FPS and claiming it is more cinematic is not only ludicrously false on every conceivable level, but it also hampers the games overall performance. There are reasons that games like Super Smash Brothers run at a lightning fast locked 60FPS, and why PC gamers constantly whine about locked 30FPS: It makes a difference.

Games with little to no plots however are not exactly a bad thing. I have always stood by Mario as having one of the greatest stories of all time. Not for its hidden meanings or character development, but for its ability to tell you everything you need to know in about 10 seconds and opening the pearly white gameplay gates and actually letting you experience the game. Mario doesn’t need the same level of detail as Mass Effect, if it did, it would hinder what we are actually here for, and that is to play the game. Save the princess. Bim, bam, bosh, done. Simple, elegant and perfect. Super Meat Boy, The Legend of Zelda and many many others use this same formula. They set the scene and then get out of the way. And it works.

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And this is where we bump into that festering, bloated hunk of road kill known as Sonic. We all know Sonic has been in videogame hell for pretty much all of his 3D life, and whilst the actual concept of Sonic as a game is ludicrous in 3D and needs to be overhauled or given to Nintendo/someone who knows what we are doing, we can still link some of his failure to his story. Once upon a time, Sonic was a hedgehog who saved woodland critters from a fatguy. Typical “Mario Formula”. And like so many games before, and after it, it worked. Nowadays Sonic has an ever increasing cast of side kicks, an equally expanding list of villains, a strangely diverse set of anthropomorphic relationships, multiple time lines and of course, several world destroying Deities all waiting to be released. Heck, he somehow turned into a werehog (which makes no sense when you  consider that Were means Man…) but he also has a strange Arthurian side story…which somehow links nicely with The Order.

In the end, a strong narrative is a wonderful thing, but ultimately we are a part of a unique medium. We alone have the power to interact with what we see on our TV screens and watching a plot unfold will never be as enthralling as playing through it, and many developers understand this and create masterpieces. On the flip side buying The Order is like buying a £60 movie that you can occasionally play a dull minigame on during the ad-break. Whilst the argument is far from being simple, and there is no sure-fire rule that guides developers, it is clear to see that “Cinematic” experiences are not all they are cracked up to be.

EA shows off Bioware Properties

EA

EA kicked off it’s press conference with footage of Dragon Age: Inquisition. The sizzler reel featured some stunning vistas and a lot of pretty character models walking around, but nothing in the terms of true gameplay. They then discussed how the new entry will bring see the return of a deep party system, customizeable characters and a semi-open world. Next the team showed off some actual gameplay, which revealed that the tactical mode, in which players can freeze time and plan team movements is coming back.

Next the team revealed a new entry into the Mass Effect series as well as a brand new IP. The new Intellectual property looked to be set within a post-apocalyptic world based on one piece of conceptual work. The Mass Effect entry appears to be a less story driven experience, instead focusing on discovery and exploration. They assured that characters would still play an important role in the game. The conceptual images will soon be added to the piece so you can judge for yourself.