Mass Effect Andromeda PC Game Review: Page 4 of 6
Posted by Ransley Garrow on Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 8:00am
Progression boils down to discovering planets and making them habitable, this game follows the Star Wars methodology of world building, each world has one ecosystem. Planets typically have decaying ecosystems that need to be worked around, a desert planet that is too hot, an ice planets that is too cold, a bog planet with sulfuric water and forest or grassland planets with toxic atmospheres. Making planets habitable generally involves finding three monoliths, activating them to locate a Remnant vault and then activating the terraforming technology within the vault to make the planet habitable. This quickly becomes repetitive as the monolith puzzles are variations of Sudoku puzzles with alien hieroglyphs. Completing missions or making planets viable gains Andromeda Viability Points, gaining AVP allows the unlock of timed bonuses like resources from planets that have been unlocked, gaining research points or credits at regular intervals.
Remnant pyramids in the vault on Eos, the vaults contain terraforming technology.
The Mako from the first game also makes a return as a core part of exploration, though called the Nomad it’s a six-wheeled vehicle with a fast four-wheel drive mode that struggles on hills and slow six-wheel drive mode that can practically climb vertical surfaces. From the Nomad there is also access to a mining computer, while around mineral deposits specific minerals can be located and a mining probe can be launched to recover the minerals. The Nomad is vital on some of the larger planets as the environment is hazardous and traveling can be slow until the forward posts are discovered which act as fast travel points. This gives the impression that the world design was based around forcing players to use the Nomad as Eos, Voeld and Elaaden specifically cannot be explored without the Nomad until they are habitable. Forward posts also act as resupply stations filling your ammo, health, replenishing your life support systems and allowing you modify your loadout.
As you reach one hundred percent planet viability there is also boss fight against a Remnant Architect. This boss fight also again is fairly repetitive with each boss being the same, destroy the conduits on the legs, destroy the head and interface with the machinery to shut it down. This boss also has predictable patterns in regards to the phases and is a terrible bullet sponge. Once the boss has been defeated it will enter orbit around the planet it has been defeated on and can be scanned for resources.
Remnant Architect boss at the start of the encounter. It is typically seen flying between phases.
Side quests and loyalty missions boil down to fetch quests, typically going to a specific point, or planet, and scanning an area to take readings or finding an item to deliver. These missions also quickly become repetitive, loyalty missions are required if you want to unlock the final skill tier for your companions. The side quests really only need to be completed if you wish to get a planet to one hundred percent viability.
Combat received an overhaul as well with Ryder being equipped with a jetpack that allows higher jumping, hovering and dashing. While airborne Ryder can also perform a ground pound melee attack. The inclusion of the jetpack makes combat feel faster and definitely favors being aggressive and moving frequently rather than planting behind a wall and shooting. The cover mechanic has also received an overhaul from the previous trilogy, rather than sticky cover from the previous trilogy when getting close enough to a wall Ryder will automatically enter cover. The problem is this system is finicky with Ryder sometimes not entering cover or snapping out of cover at inconvenient times.
The Remnant puzzle which works like a sudoku puzzle, you cannot repeat any glyphs in rows, columns or highlighted shapes. These puzzles frequently repeat though they get more difficult as the game progresses.
The tactical pause feature has also been removed which was a combat staple from the previous trilogy. The power wheel which gave you more control over how your squad mates attacked enemies was removed and replaced with simplified key commands. By default ‘Z’ makes your left squad mate attack a target or hold a location, ‘C’ makes your right squad mate attack a target or hold a location, and ‘X’ makes both squad mates attack a target or hold a location. This feels like trimming for the sake of trimming and actually removes some of the combat depth that could have been added with the inclusion of the Primer/Detonator system. Primers typically debuff or put damage over time conditions on the target and Detonators are typically damaging attacks that do extra damage or have increased effect when used on an enemy with a Primer active on them.
Medi-gels and heat clips have been removed with generic crates replacing them. One crate has a bullet and lighting bolt symbol on it with it replenishing ammunition and tech power, the other crate has a red square and replenishes health. Each crate has limited usage, though these existing are immersion breaking. It's more the idea that the Angara, Jardaan, and Kett technologically developed along a similar enough path that they use ammunition that is compatible with Asari, Human, Krogan, Salarian and Turian technology. This also means that resources need to be properly maintained as health and ammunition can only be replenished a limited number of times while on a mission. The idea that Milky Way led expeditions were the source of these supply crates could explain some of them, but others are sealed in Remnant Vaults or structures that have no plausible explanation for their existence.
Forward post landing on the ice planet Voeld.
The largest change from the previous trilogy is the loss of the character class system. The development is more free form with Ryder being able to potentially learn every available Combat, Biotic and Tech skill that is available. However the skill trees have been pruned, for example, the First Aid skill has been removed. While profiles can be loaded which are based on the classes from the previous trilogy and they offer bonuses to a specific playstyle they can be swapped at any time as you can respec from your ship. The largest issue with this system is that unless all skills are balanced equally there will be one best way to get through the game and players will gravitate toward that. Roleplaying games are about choice and consequences, your first choice is always your character sheet and the consequences of that are the limits of how your character can accomplish tasks.
Crafting and research are also a core component of the game, as you explore the planets various items can be scanned which unlock research points for either Andromeda Initiative tech, Heleus tech or tech or Remnant tech. Milky Way Research Data is used to learn how to make Human, Asari, Krogan or Turian weapons and armor. Heleus Research Data is used to learn how to make Angaran and Kett weapons and armor. Finally, Remnant Research Data is used to learn how to make Remnant weapons and armor. Crafting advanced items will require vast quantities of materials and exploring multiple planets to get materials incoming at regular intervals. When crafting weapons you are able to add augments which will increase different abilities such as accuracy while hovering or melee damage, you can also create a custom name for each weapon. The system itself is functional and straightforward, though higher research tiers are level gated so some players may be annoyed by the implementation.
Crafting menu, new recipes are unlocked from spending research. Crafting is done via research terminals.
The conversation wheel is also a problem as the one or two words rarely reflect exactly what Ryder will say. Even if you decide you want to play a sarcastic or cynical Ryder it's much harder due to how the conversation system works. This limits your roleplaying options as you typically have no more than four ways to respond to situations, sometimes only two ways, for example only the emotional or logical choices are available. The dialogue wheel was a disappointment in the past games and it continues to disappoint here. While the removal of the Renegade or Paragon system gives the choices you make more of a ‘shades of gray’ vibe, they dialogue system itself is still a limiting factor for those looking for a top tier roleplaying experience.
As for enemies, there are the Kett which are a hostile alien species and the Remnant which are machines created by the Jardaan a long missing race. Though some Kett bosses get reused as regular enemies later in the game and some bosses are bullet sponges taking extended periods of time to defeat. This creates frustration as the checkpoint system for this game is inconsistent, there is no quick save option and manually saving is disabled while in combat or on mission maps. With the boss fights, this can sometimes mean losing twenty to thirty minutes of time upon dying.
The orange symbol on the crate represents ammo, the yellow symbol represents energy. The blue ticks represent remaining suppy in the crate.