Lost in space: A confusing 90 minutes with Mass Effect: Andromeda

Arthur Gies

Too much galaxy and not enough time Mass Effect: Andromeda is a game featuring a complicated story of intergalactic exploration, conflict and discovery, its cast composed of dozens of characters with complicated, interwoven backstories and interactions, both between each other and with the player, who can build and develop various kinds of relationships across genders and species. Last week, I spent around 90 minutes with Mass Effect: Andromeda, and … well, honestly, I didn’t really get to see any of that. What I got instead was a taste of raw gameplay, in a way that made me uncertain of how I felt about the flavor, and desperate for the next course.

BioWare/Electronic Arts My time opened just after Mass Effect: Andromeda begins, as a mission to explore many light-years beyond known space in the Andromeda galaxy gets off to what I suppose was an inevitably bumpy start. I’ll avoid story spoilers here, but I quickly found myself on the surface of a hostile planet where BioWare introduces the new mobility options and general combat capability of your selected Ryder twin. Practically speaking, Mass Effect: Andromeda plays a fair bit differently than previous games.

In the transition from Epic’s Unreal Engine to EA stablemate DICE’s Frostbite engine, some things have been lost — for example, you don’t hit a button to slam into cover anymore. Instead, you move near a cover-appropriate surface, and you’ll automatically take cover there as you’re able. Andromeda doesn’t play like other Mass Effect games, and that was disorienting This took some getting used to.

Andromeda looks like the other Mass Effect games, and for it not to play exactly like one was disorienting. Weapons handle differently than they did before, as do powers, even though some are largely unchanged — at least initially — from previous games. The biggest changes I encountered were in basic mobility.

Ryder can jump, for example, a trick Shepard never learned, and there’s also a jump jet built into your space suit, which was actually quite a bit of fun to experiment with, if a little squirrelly. As for how this all shakes out in combat … I don’t know how to answer that…

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