The Witcher 3 makes Mass Effect: Andromeda look even worse
Why, after playing my fourth playthrough of The Witcher 3, does it make me feel even more bad about Mass Effect: Andromeda? I just can't understand how Bioware managed to miss the target so spectacularly.
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
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:
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
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.
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.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a 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 on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
This on the other hand is like a slap in the face at $60 with all of its day one issues.
Let's not get into the level of interactivity and sound design.
Perfect example, try fighting a pack of wolves in BotW then try that same fight in W3.
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.
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.