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The Witcher 3 makes Mass Effect: Andromeda look even worse

The Witcher 3 is my go-to title when it comes to comparing role-playing games (RPG) in 2017. Honestly, in my opinion, it's the best RPG that has been released for some time and still looks great today. When Mass Effect: Andromeda finally hit the Origin store, I was fairly excited to see what Bioware could do with a clean slate and the power of EA's Frostbite engine. Visually, Andromeda looks stunning, but one cannot simply overlook the sheer number of bugs, glitches and other issues that plague the game.

I've since stopped playing after around 26 hours (according to Origin) and have fired up a new game as Geralt to see how the 2015 title fares against what Bioware released in 2017. The results left me nothing other than stunned. Immediately, while both games are by no means similar, I noticed many differences that left me baffled as to how the company behind Knights of The Old Republic, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect managed to miss the ball, even with a new team.

My Gwent is tired

Andromeda

It doesn't take long to spot just how much of a divide there is between those who rave and enjoy Andromeda and those who absolutely despise it. Whatever reasons either camp may have for their opinions, I'm still on the fence. I can't quite work out whether or not I like Andromeda. It's such a strange experience and is one that makes it difficult for me to continue through the main story. I highly recommend you check out our official review, in which Senior Editor Jez Corden picked up on a few points I raise here:

To put it bluntly, Mass Effect: Andromeda seems like the victim of its own ambitions. The developer, BioWare, cited the likes of The Witcher 3 as the inspiration for its open world and quests, but it very barely reaches beyond Dragon Age Inquisition's grind-heavy, narrative-thin open world areas.The open world areas, so far, have been dotted with pointless fetch quests, copy-and-pasted formulaic missions, and color-swapped creatures. Don't even get me started on the bugs, hitching, frame-rate issues, and other engine anomalies.

Andromeda is riddled with bugs, even after 1.0.5 was released. Honestly, I couldn't go for more than 20 minutes before noticing some form of glitch. I'm not talking about minor things like texture popping or basic oddities, but actual issues that take you right out of the pathfinding experience. Enemies levitate and remain in a pose, taking damage. Others are inside terrain, firing at you from rocks and seemingly immune to return fire.

Another major issue I had was the dialog, which pulled me right out of the immersion. You've already heard, read and seen the countless "My face is tired" memes, but there are other parts of the script that make you sit back for a second and think, what? Which leads me onto some of the bizarre political pushes that are placed throughout the game. I'm usually one who prefers to separate art from the artist when it comes to politics and beliefs. The same goes for video games.

That being said, something I liked about the older Mass Effect titles was the diverse characters and how players were able to go down the path they wished. Take romance, for example, which allowed you to engage in a variety of formats. Male-to-male, male-to-female, and female-to-female. I applauded the developer for including this functionality without hampering the overall story and dialog. This isn't how I feel about Andromeda, though.

Looking at various scenes and conversations online, it almost becomes awkward, and I don't understand why the developer would make such content appear forced. Some of the dialogs are downright awful and aren't limited to just the romantic paths. Take the following scene, for example:

Not only does it not flow well, I would be slightly concerned if this particular person was heading up a team to locate suitable planets for various species to survive on.

Then there are the animations, the facial expressions, and a strange representation of a human. It's just weird. And it's mainly the humans I have an issue with, while Krogans and other species appear to be just fine. Faces don't feel like they're properly entwined with the conversation, and expressions are sometimes simply blank. Some things have been addressed in a recent patch, and I'm sure Bioware will release a few more to tackle bugs and other issues players have raised, but I don't think any number of patches will fix this game for me.

The Crones of Eos

The Witcher 3

Returning to The Witcher 3, I'm reminded of the outstanding animation and conversation systems in place. The world feels alive and invites you to explore every nook and cranny. Non-playable characters are interesting, most with some sort of backstory or even a quest line. And all this is set in a war-torn land.

You get a sense of just how dire the situation is for civilians caught up in battle, ravaged by looters and bandits, or left baffled at what to do once The Wild Hunt leaves the village in ruins. When locked into a conversation, facial expressions, the tone of voice, the writing, it all creates a gloomy atmosphere that completes the experience. It feels real. The same can't be said for Andromeda.

I enjoyed the settlement deployment, as well as the mining and exploration in the Nomad, and thought the Scourge to be an interesting anomaly to uncover in the inevitable sequel. Some of the dialogs made me chuckle and a number of guests were thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding. I also loved the crafting system (excluding the UI). There are more than enough positive points about Andromeda. At the end of the day, it is a fun game.

.@snoopdioogo @JamieMoranUK Agree. Seriously, you can't go for 15 minutes without something like this happening. It's not a bandwagon. pic.twitter.com/55gMLyj8qA— Jez 🎮🦂 (@JezCorden) 21 March 2017

I can't bring myself to hate the game, but I also can't love it. This is incredibly frustrating, and not only because I'm a Mass Effect fan, but because I was so intrigued by what could have been. Bioware had formed an entirely new galaxy, opening up the gates to endless creativity. I have hope, though. I'm certain the developer is taking in feedback about the game, and I'd wager we'll see a better second installment in the trilogy.

Further Reading

Rich Edmonds
Rich Edmonds

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

30 Comments
  • playing Mass Effect Andromeda is sad regardless what you play before
  • Astroneer?
  • Astroneer is in its Alpha phase, it's issues have to be forgiven after you purchase because the devs made that clear.
    This on the other hand is like a slap in the face at $60 with all of its day one issues.
  • Huh?
  • The staff at Bioware has changed since producing those older titles you mentioned
  • True and I believe that is what's to blame, I still like Mass Effect Andromeda regardless. I never really liked Mass Effect but 2 and 3 were better in every way and I think that same will be true for Andromeda.
  • Not only that but this ME game was made primarily in EA's Bioware Montreal branch.  The others were Bioware Edmonton.  Since EA bought the company they've been rebranding some of their various studios as "Bioware".  It was really completely different people.
  • I saw two glitches during my 85 hour playthrough. I thought it was a pretty solid new chapter in the Mass Effect universe. There are things they can improve for the sequel, but it just wasn't the train wreck everyone made it out to be.
  • No it isn't.. I don't understand where all the hate is coming from. I am enjoying it quite a bit. Haven't played as much as I have wanted to yet, but it has been fun so far.
  • I totally agree, I have had performance issues and flickering textures but those are fixable. I know some people have complained about the character textures and that the NPCs are unlovable, for lack of a better word, but the latter was an issue in the first three games as well.
  • I'm inclined to agree.  I've seen a few issues, but it's far from a disaster.  While it's certainly not as good as Witcher 3, it's definitely not a terrible game.   I think it would have been better if there were fewer, but higher quality quests. One thing mentioned in the article is simple recoloring of the same monsters.  Witcher 3 was guilty of some of that too, They reused the same NPC's over and over again, except with different voice actors.  It was weird.
  • Any single player game on the market looks pretty bad compared to Witcher 3, including Breath of the wild.
  • That's a lie. I own and love both and though Witcher 3 has great textures Breath of the Wild's entire world is animated so well it makes Witcher 3 look stiff and robotic during Real-time gameplay.
    Let's not get into the level of interactivity and sound design.
  • breath of the wild is a smaller, emptier, low res, generally mediocre game. Interactivity? Omg there's lightning!! Yay! F that. Breath of the wild was 90% nerd nostalgia. Was a mediocre game, and literally every single thing in it is crappy compared to the witcher. 
  • Don't get all the negativity. It's as if all of a sudden everyone expects all games to be equal to Witcher. Is it not obvious that Witcher is that rare gem of a game and that its going to be extremely difficult for anyone to replicate? I thought its a given. Andromeda has its flaws but I enjoyed it for what it is. Sure, I expected more from Bioware's next ME game but it's far from what all articles and all the media make it sound like it is. Is it the next Witcher? Ofc not. Is it a bad game? No. Ask yourself if you had rather not played it. Easiest way to know if a game was good or not. Been there with many games. The answer to my own question is "I'm glad I bought it on release even if it needs a few patches to be where it should be". I'll just delay my second play through of being an ass wherever possible till DLC and patches arrive instead of now. It is really not fair to be comparing games with the Witcher. Let's be honest! Is anyone even sure CDproject can make another Witcher 3. I, and everyone else, expects too much from them from now on. Sure. Doesn't mean its in the pocket. Unfortunately. Love them and their games so far. Bioware is also a victim of the expectations they brought to us. Not just the games flaws.
  • This sums it up very well.   People do this all the time.  The Witcher 3 was an anomaly not the "new standard".  If you compared every meal with the best you ever had you will be forever disappointed.
  • Thank you. It's as simple as that. Not defending Bioware as in Andromeda was the best they could do. Not by a long shot but the game isn't even by a long shot the mess and bad game everyone makes it sound like. Ofc I wouldn't mind it being another anomaly, as you put it, as a Witcher 3. But it's just almost impossible to win the lottery twice.
  • I would have to answer is it a bad game with a yes, I would rather have not played it, something of what I liked about the ME universe was missing from this game, and the near total lack of RP in Ryders responses just finished me off, I could not and did not care about him, or the project, or the crew, he was a boy scout at best, and mindless bro at worst, the companions where no better,  the rot that started with DA:I was in full affect, the charcters where dull and uninteresting, as well as lifeless, the worlds where even worse, and the villian was bland and unthreatening.  In short while not a terrible game in the fact that it worked as a piece of software, I have real difficulty giving it more than a 6/10, 
  • I had the exact same problem when I came back from breath of the wild. Andromeda just looked awful and clunky. Like a bad joke.
  • BotW even made Witcher 3 look bad, I couldn't believe how much more realistic this game with an anime inspired art style played than W3.
    Perfect example, try fighting a pack of wolves in BotW then try that same fight in W3.
    Just embarrassing.😑
  • Andromeda compared to any previous Mass Effect game makes me sad for Andromeda.
  • I really enjoyed Andromeda as well. I played for over 107 hours and had almost no issues with performance. I also found the story engaging. I was really disappointed with ME3, but found I really liked the direction the series is headed.
    The Witcher 3 is an amazing game when it comes to story telling; however I left the combat never really delivered. Comparing it to MEA seems sort of unfair considering their scope and combat style. I loved both games.
  • Very true.  Even on the hardest difficulty the combat never became more involved than fire, light attack, dodge, light attack, dodge, fire, repeat forever.  
  • Here is my take on it. The combat in W3 is only as shallow or in depth as you make it. Technically, you could go into battle with a contract monster with absolutely no preparation and still win. However, the game suggests strongly that you get ready for the fight. Many of the people who call Witcher combat shallow aren't looking at the whole picture or they are choosing to ignore it. I will now digress before I get called a "Troll". Plus, Dark Souls' combat is pretty much the same dodge and roll s**t, too. Also I found that changing the difficulty to Death March allowed for a better experience due to the fact that enemies could kill you faster, it forces you to look for alternate ways to overcome a battle by using potions and oils, and it forces you to upgrade your armor and tweak it.
  • More like: The Witcher 3 makes [insert any game name] look even worse To be fair, Witcher 3 had glitches and is much further along in patching than ME:A.  But the meat of the game, dialog, characters, questing, etc in W3 will always blow away ME:A no matter how many patches are released.  
  • As soon as I read that you were such a Fanboi of Witcher 3, I stopped taking you seriously.  Don't get me wrong, Witcher is lovely, absolutely beautiful and the dialogue is good, but it's boring and Geralt is boring, and his whores are boring and the gameplay is repetitive and boring.  I find it hard to believe you're on your 4th playthrough.  Why?  It will just end the same, Geralt will do the same things he's done before, the witches will treat him like crap and he will just fight the same monsters and kill them in the same way and he'll be riding the same damn Roach through the same damn battlefields again. I can't imagine anything more boring.
  • Sonny, you obviously don't understand the game. There are many outcomes in the game's ending. There are many outcomes in battles as in how you finish it. There are many different aspects of Geralt's personality that you can choose to display. There are many choices you can take in game-play and dialog. What witches will "treat him like crap"? I'm on my 2nd playthrough and I can tell you right now...I'm killing different monsters...differently....because I decided to focus on my signs instead of my fast attacks. IN MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA...you have to drive the same ship to the boring, lame fetchy-questy planets to do some bullsh**t for characters that no one give a d**n about. Then you gotta deal with the lame-o stories that Bioware barfed up.
  • Also, the armor customization and skill sets are terrible. Plus, shooting with the same kind of guns are boooooring. Boring. Boring. "Hey, there's a planet! Hey, Let's go kill the look-alike bad guys with my gun that looks and behaves just like my gun I had when I first started the game!!! WOWOWOWOOW! It's sooooo innovative ! Wow!"
  • Witcher 3 makes just about every other RPG I can think of look worse in comparison, story wise and depth wise. All the sidequests seemed more or less well written and not just things to check off. Combat and gameplay wise there is better but the world of the Witcher 3 is incredible. That being said, not every game can be that good. I'm just starting up Andromeda and will see if it's this trash fire everyone says it is which I doubt.
  • I'm about half way into it and I have to say that other than the sometimes crazy face animations, the game is actually pretty solid.
    And I dunno, have you played any other Mass Effect game? They're ALL glitch galore. You have characters holding cups and bottles that are a mile away from their hands, weapons suddenly showing up in cut scenes, characters popping out from seemingly nowhere, and there are so many places where you can either fall off the map or get stuck that it's a good thing there's a very smart autosave system.
    Point is, if you're going to focus on the glitches, then they ALL suck.
    Also, speaking of that, what about Dragon Age: Inquisition. It has exactly the same issues as ME:A. Literally the same. My suspicion is that this is because of Frostbite 3, an engine you'll recall was made for FPS, not RPG games.
    And yet, ME:A graphics are nothing short of stunning. I even like how you can see the water drops falling on the armour, or how characters (and the Nomad) get covered in snow, or the way sand gets into everywhere - seriously, look closely at the Ryder's clothes around the neck when you're out and about Elaaden. The graphics are so nice I sometimes do something I only do with Skyrim: take a moment to just enjoy the view.
    Oh, and driving the Nomad in ice? I may have spent way too much time doing that just for fun :)
    The story could be better, but thing is, the stories in previous Bioware games weren't really that great either. What made the games great was the team.
    And, to be fair, I think this is where ME:A kind of fails. So far the only characters I really like are Drack, and PeeBee. Oh, and Suvi. Still, it's pretty obviously just the first game in a series, so it's possible that, like previous ME games, we'll grow to like them. I mean, Garrus and Tali are awesome, but they only become awesome in ME 2 and 3.