“See if I’m wrong.”
March 19, 2017 10:34 AM   Subscribe

“The first few hours of Mass Effect: Andromeda are… well they aren’t good.” [Rock, Papers, Shotgun] “The first few hours of Andromeda are a gruesome trudge through the most trite bilge of the previous three games, smeared out in a setting that’s horribly familiar, burdened with some outstandingly awful writing, buried beneath a UI that appears to have been designed to infuriate in every possible way. I had gone in assuming this would be more BioWare pleasure. So far – and let’s be clear, there’s lots of room and time for it to pick up and turn things around – the first few hours have been just awful.”

• We have mixed feelings about the first few hours of Mass Effect: Andromeda [PC Gamer]
“: Returning to the set up, because that’s all we’re allowed to talk about, it blows my mind how clumsily the story is introduced. [Spoiler warning.] In the very first scene you wake to find your sibling is stuck in cold storage, and may never wake up. But because you’ve never seen the Ryder twins interact, and so have no investment in their relationship, it’s completely inert dramatically. The same goes for the antagonists, the Kett. You understand they’re bad simply because they shoot at you on sight, but I feel no actual antipathy for them. I laughed out loud when the big bad did his “grr, I’m pissed” face after he couldn’t open a monolith. That’s it? That’s what we’re given to glean from his character notes? The colonists they’ve massacred exist only as the very occasional body the away team stumbles across, so I also don’t care about them. BioWare, so often lauded for storytelling, seems to have settled on neither showing or telling, but just assuming we’ll accept these guys as some sort of rent-a-nemesis.”
• 'Mass Effect: Andromeda' Sounds Like A Hot Mess [Forbes]
“Everyone seems to agree that many of the human models in the game don't look good, with our own Paul Tassi comparing them to "creepy" dolls. Paul is overall more impressed by the game than Walker, and both agree that the combat is a definite step in the right direction, improving on previous games in many ways. In fact, combat seems to be the one place where everyone seems to agree the game has improved from past releases. Kotaku's Patricia Hernandez calls the first five hours of the game "overwhelming" and while she is much, much more positive than Walker, it does sound like Andromeda focuses heavily on creating lots and lots of content, which isn't always the same thing as lots and lots of really good content. Paul notes that he's been playing 8-to-10 hours of the game every day and may still not hit embargo.”
• Mass Effect Andromeda: Reviewers Respond To Rock Paper Shotgun’s Preview [TheBitBag]
“Skill-Up [Reddit], who played around 20 hours of the game, also provided contrary opinions to Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s preview. Skill-Up also said it created an ‘unfair impression’ that Mass Effect Andromeda isn’t a good game. “What the RPS preview DOESN’T talk about is how good the RPG (skills systems) now are and the diversity of skill options, and how you can move between them with ease using profiles. It doesn’t praise the visuals (which are at certain times incredibly stunning). It doesn’t praise the design aesthetic of the weapons, gear, Nomad, Tempest, Nexus or vaults, which are all spectacular. And more than anything else, I think it creates an unfair impression that this just isn’t a good game…..which isn’t true. It is a good game- at times a great game- and I suspect that the broader coverage you see will likely echo my sentiment. There are many, many things you can nit-pick at if you wanted to, but if you’re up for another Mass Effect adventure then I see no reason why you wouldn’t be able to enjoy this at least a little bit, and perhaps even a lot if the game expands on what I’ve already seen, and brings out the great character and story moments we hope for.””
• Why You Shouldn't Base Your Perception Of A Game On One Article [GameRevolution]
“This morning a large number of Mass Effect: Andromeda previews hit the web. Unlike the many other previews that have been available over the course of the past year, these were based on the final version of the game that millions of consumers will be playing in a week. While most of the previews have been positive, one in particular has stood out. Rock, Paper, Shotgun's John Walker had a lot to say about his early experience with Mass Effect: Andromeda, most of which was negative in nature. Featuring a not-so-friendly title and plenty of complaints, this preview has become by far the most viewed and discussed of the bunch. With this, many gamers are perceiving Mass Effect: Andromeda as a blunder less than two weeks before its commercial debut. Negativity has invaded social media and forums in a way that is all-too-common in the gaming industry. The thing is, much of the discussion isn't considering the positive experiences that more than a dozen other critics published at the same time. Unfortunately, they've been largely disregarded.”
• Four hours with Mass Effect Andromeda [Eurogamer]
“But cars, combat, even exploration - for me, none of this matters at all if Andromeda's cast wasn't worth making the journey with. Mass Effect's heart has always been its characters. Sure, the trilogy was technically about stopping the Reapers, but the people and aliens you met over those three games were the aspect fans remembered, mourned and missed when all was said and done. Andromeda features six new squadmates and another four crew members aboard your ship, the Tempest, which is sleeker, brighter and more homely than the Normandy. Every character on board has their own personality and perspective. Exploring the ship while everyone was still settling in, I was treated to scenes where Ryder hung out with the crew, or where I stumbled upon them mid-conversation with others. In general, Andromeda's tone is a little brighter than the grim circumstances of ME3, though moments of your main mission can still carry some serious narrative weight. It's your little family of crewmates who signed up for adventure which provide light-relief. The interaction between them picks up the tone from where ME3 and its Citadel DLC left off - well-written, well-rounded and instantly likable. That's not to say they're all going to be best friends - early on, different opinions among the diverse cast were plain to see. Securing one squadmate's trust may impact another, I was told by Condominas, and some players may find themselves unable to complete every character's loyalty mission.”
• People Are Trashing Mass Effect: Andromeda's Animation [Kotaku]
“In my time playing it, I have encountered some stiff facial animations that made me pause. The humans in particular don’t seem to emote enough, sometimes staring blankly, or blinking at odd intervals. Andromeda crosses into the uncanny valley at times. But, honestly, in the hours that I’ve poured into the game, these details haven’t ruined the experience. They’ll briefly take me out of the moment, sure, but a few awkward seconds in, say, a 15 minute engrossing conversation with someone is minor. I’ve yet to encounter any funny walking animations, personally. Despite lackluster facial animations, the environmental animations/scenery can still be killer, and major cutscenes still look slick and detailed.”
• Mass Effect: Andromeda’s character animations continue to be mocked online [Polygon]
“pre-release copies are already in the hands of critics and streamers. That’s not good news for BioWare, as people are having a field day capturing moments in which the in-game animation system breaks down. The facial animations, in particular, aren’t looking great. [...] Reports are varied about how bad the issue is, and how much it affects players’ enjoyment of the game, but it does seem like the animations could have used a bit more time to be perfected.”
• BioWare Releases Official Statement on Facial Animation Blame Game [GameRant]
“The awkward facial animations of Mass Effect: Andromeda have been roundly mocked and criticized online since the start of the game’s early trial, but things took a darker turn after an individual was specifically targeted as being responsible for the facial animations. Because of the campaign, developer BioWare has released an official statement denouncing the harassment on its official Twitter account. The harassment started against Allie Rose-Marie Leost, who has worked at Electronic Arts’ motion-capture labs in Vancouver, after claims online stated that she was responsible for the facial animation issues seen with some characters in the game. Leost was then hit with huge amounts of abuse online, which prompted BioWare to quickly put up a statement to try and curb the harassment campaign.”
“Recently, a former EA employee was misidentified as a lead member of the Mass Effect: Andromeda development team. These reports are false,” read the statement from Aaryn Flynn, BioWare studio general manager. “We respect the opinions of our players and community, and welcome feedback on our games. But attacking individuals, regardless of their involvement in the project, is never acceptable.”
• MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA - First Hour of Gameplay, No Commentary [Polygon] [YouTube]
posted by Fizz (194 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are pretty games that are bad and basic looking games with incredible depth. Recurring mismatches of quality (and jarring mismatches at that) would seem to be a deathblow. Hopefully the reviews of the full game later this week reveal that the problem gets better or at least less noticeable over time.

It's still tempting though, given the co-op multiplayer aspect that they are carrying over from ME3.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:42 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Well of course the one developer who would be harassed is a woman. Her gender is a total coincidence, I'm sure, it's really about ethics in games journalism. One wonders if it will matter to the harassment campaign that she's actually not a developer. I love video games. Fuck sexist gamer culture.

(The Polygon article has more detail on the origin of the harasser, should you want to study the shit stains.)
posted by Nelson at 10:43 AM on March 19 [60 favorites]


There's something about CRPGs that just seem to create utterly insane, toxic communities. I can remember when Bioware deleted their forums and my only thought was "thank god".

Anyhow, I assume this will be the same trajectory as Dragon Age: Inquisition. Critics will largely praise it, the superfans will put together cults that bicker over just how exactly to properly condemn its true awfulness, and I will pick it up in a few months on a half-off sale and find it perfectly enjoyable.
posted by selfnoise at 10:47 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed at the degree to which my social circle had instant and defensive reactions to the Rock, Paper, Shotgun preview. It was especially odd since these same people were just defending Jim Sterling's 7/10 Breath of the Wild review, which also drew significant criticism. Polygon ran a good piece about that review, and about how there's a class of gamers out there who aren't seeking opinions as much as they are affirmation for being discerning enough to buy a universally-acclaimed game.

Then again, most of the people I know who were loudest about RPS running that article "for the clicks" mentioned that they're already playing. Since the game officially launches tomorrow, these people not only preordered, they paid to join EA Access, allowing them to play early. Having that much perceived skin in the game, and then seeing negative takes on a hotly-anticipated property, would be pretty rough.
posted by Kortney at 10:48 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


This Buyer Beware review of Mass Effect: Andromeda by Downward Thrust is balanced and provides a lot of good information for those still on the fence as to whether they just take the plunge and purchase.
posted by Fizz at 10:50 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


The embargo on reviews ends tomorrow morning, I'm interested to see what the outlook is at that time. I personally was thinking about buying this at release, but i may hold back instead.
posted by Harpocrates at 10:59 AM on March 19


i cancelled my preorder not because of any reviews (it would honestly never occur to me to read a game review when i could just ask my friends instead) but because what i've seen so far just didn't really interest me, i guess? idk i still haven't played ME 1-3 so i am probably not the target audience for this right now.

anyway overwatch
posted by poffin boffin at 11:02 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I am holding off. I went with NieR Automata and while the PC port performance has been a bit rocky, I'm still happy with my purchase. Thinking I'll wait until I see a price drop for Andromeda.
posted by Fizz at 11:02 AM on March 19


Bioware have a PR problem. The ME3 ending had a big blowback from the fans, quite a few remember and are willing to view the game in the worst possible light. To be honest, I'm more worried about the writing.

Either way, Bioware have enough credit with me that I'm keeping my pre-order, and am putting aside a few days to give the game a real chance. If it doesn't turn out great, though, I might hesitate before pre-ordering again.
posted by YAMWAK at 11:03 AM on March 19


We're another household that preordered, and also watched the first few hours of gameplay on YouTube yesterday.

My husband is still excited about it, but I'm coming at it from having finished Horizon Zero Dawn recently and nothing looks as good to me as that game. I'm genuinely weirded out by how stiff and lifeless the Mass Effect characters feel in comparison.
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:10 AM on March 19 [9 favorites]


I dropped the 5 bucks on Origin's subscription service to play the demo (because Mass Effect games are my very favorites and also I'm a complete rube, apparently.) It seems fine to me, I don't know. There was some weirdness; a hovering security guard, some highly recognizable old animations, some questionable design choices of tertiary characters, a contrived "chosen one" narrative about uniting the people against a mysterious enemy.

I think that's all pretty common for BioWare games? It's pretty much exactly what I was expecting, anyway. Maybe some of those old quirks are just starting to show their age now that it's like 10 years later and the engine and gameplay are a lot tighter.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 11:15 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Horizon Zero Dawn is an incredible work of art, but in comparison to the high bar set for acting and animation by Naughty Dog, the dialogue scenes still come off a bit repetitive and wooden.

TBH HZD's character animation quality is just this side of table stakes in a 2017 game. What I've seen in videos of ME:A has been cringingly awful - enough to keep me away from it until it's on significant discount.
posted by xthlc at 11:20 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Bioware seems to be going backwards with animation quality. Andromeda looks worse than da:inquisition and almost worse than mass effect 2...just far too stiff and the weird skin texturing or lack thereof doesn't help.

Honestly though I can't bring myself to buy a poorly animated game after the experience of playing the witcher 3, that game had so much goddamn content, and every character in the world was animated so beautifully. Going back and playing bioware games feels like going from a stack of belgian waffles to a bowl of corn flakes. They have had many years to do better, and I'm disappointed that those old problems are here to stay. Especially when they're expecting us to get invested in a games story and characters.
posted by InkDrinker at 11:21 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


I also played the 10 hour trial (but haven't preordered) and find all the rage surrounding this game...kind of baffling?

There were a few moments of animation weirdness, but I probably wouldn't have noticed if I wasn't looking for it. If you loop any awkward 3 seconds of a 50+ hour game in a GIF of course it's going to look terrible. The gameplay is great, the environments are beautiful, so far the writing is decent, and it feels like Mass Effect. And the multiplayer takes everything great from the third game and turns it up a notch. That's really all I'm looking for.
posted by sonmi at 11:24 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Seems pretty weird to me that somehow they missed how awful the scanning mini-game was.
posted by Trochanter at 11:26 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Everything pointed out in the FPP review is how I've always felt about each and every Mass Effect game.
posted by codacorolla at 11:31 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


I loved Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, there was a lot of compelling material. I still think about the the choices I made in that final mission in ME 2 (sorry, Jack, I should have known you weren't strong enough!), one of a short list of games that had that effect (along with Vampire Bloodlines, Planescape, and Witcher 3). But the earlier Mass Effect games had their issues too, which sometimes added to what made them work. Sometimes too many rough edges removed makes RPGs less interesting.

That said, I was disappointed to see the preview, as RPS (and Eurogamer and PC Gamer) have always seemed the best of the review sites. The fact that others like it more gives me some hope. I will have to commit to either ME:A or Torment, and still leaning towards the former.
posted by blahblahblah at 11:38 AM on March 19


Everything pointed out in the FPP review is how I've always felt about each and every Mass Effect game.

Kinda. I liked the combat (with reservations, but quite a bit) and I felt that all the stuff in between was a pretty bad slog.

The savior was Jennifer Hale's performance. She was great.
posted by Trochanter at 11:40 AM on March 19


Mass Effect is my girlfriend's favorite series, and she's been super pumped about the new game. I told her about this post, and now she's reading reviews of the game and laughing about how they could work just as well as reviews of every other ME game. "Occasionally clumsy dialogue and equally goofy character animations," "sometimes boring side quests," "overall good writing," "apparently it's huge and takes a long time to finish." Yeah, sounds like Mass Effect, she says.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:53 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


I mean "clumsy animation" just makes me picture Shepard walking away from a conversation. You know, like that awkward turn s/he does?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:55 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


I feel like at least some of the outrage comes from Bioware's considerable GlooberGrape hatedom. Sure enough, the guy who doxxed the animator is a big GG guy. Bioware is seen as one of the biggest and most outspoken pro-diversity/pro-representation companies, and the people who hate that kind of thing will take any opportunity to cut them down a peg (see also: Jennifer Hepler [CW: screenshots of harassment]).

Which isn't to say that Andromeda is great or doesn't have any problems. I got serious Dragon Age: Inquisition vibes that put me off pre-ordering it, despite the fact that I loved the first three Mass Effect games. An open world for the sake of saying you have an open world is usually more tedious than fun, and it detracts (IMO) from the story, which is what I play Bioware games for.

But, that said, I do see a nasty feedback loop at play here between impossible-to-please superfans and dedicated anti-diversity haters. It's all adding up to a really gross situation. I hope everybody who said we should hear out the GlooberGrapers or insisted that they had some kind of point about journalistic ethics is proud of the world they helped create.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:58 AM on March 19 [12 favorites]


felt that all the stuff in between was a pretty bad slog.

God yes. Particularly keenly felt after playing Witcher III, where the interactions are properly blended with action, the plot actually gets going at the start of the game, and the majority of conversations you have actually advance the plot in some way. I simply don't have patience to bumble around asking every fucking alien about their dispute with their masseuse or whatever it is.
posted by howfar at 11:58 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]


Am I the only one who kind of does want to hear about some alien's dispute with their masseuse?

I also kind of like scanning for resources. Sometimes you just want to experience an open world on your own terms, without being constantly driven by the main plot. I think my favorite Mass Effect DLC was the party at Shepard's apartment.

I've been playing a lot of No Man's Sky lately. I find it very relaxing.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:07 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]


Mass Effect isn't my thing - I've watched other folks play it for several hours and it didn't grab me. I can appreciate why - the characters, story arcs, relationships - they have got heavily into it, though, and the usual ludicrous over-the-top social media hate on a game not out yet is, well ludicrous.

Taken completely out of context, the tiny game clips do look distracting, and ME:A may be having the Uncanny Valley issue that many games and game franchises (and virtual worlds, especially Second Life for a long while) hit (oh also Peter Cushing's eyes in Rogue One) - but these as shown have been tiresomely and boringly out of context. It's also unfortunate timing that it's coming out at roughly the same time as the visually as-slick-as-you-can-get Horizon Zero Dawn, and anyone superficially comparing a few seconds of each may visually plump for HZD.

But, different worlds, and for about the thousandth time (probably more) there's snark-hate momentum that people are jumping onto on social media, especially Twitter. Does make you wonder that if ME:A is so bad, why are the vile brigade not spending their time playing much better games instead of exhibiting their issues on Twitter?
posted by Wordshore at 12:12 PM on March 19


Sometimes you just want to experience an open world on your own terms, without being constantly driven by the main plot.

I think, to some extent, my difficulty with most BioWare games has always been self-inflicted. To me, it doesn't feel like I'm experiencing a world on my own terms - it feels like I'm constantly about to miss something because I didn't talk to the right elf/alien in order to uncover a clue that would lead me to an interesting side-quest etc. I find it more anxiety inducing than relaxing. But that's essentially my problem - because hundreds of thousands of people absolutely do not feel that way. But it's still interesting to me that some open-world games (most notably Witcher III) manage to avoid making me feel that concern - largely, I think, by giving me so many interesting things to do (inside and outside both main plot and subplots) that I am too distracted by having fun to be constantly worried about missing out.
posted by howfar at 12:18 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


I could never really get into the Witcher games because of Geralt. There's nothing about him that appeals to me. I like that I can create my own character, and in some ways, shape my own experience with BioWare games. That being said, I would absolutely play Horizon: Zero Dawn if it were available on other platforms.

Of course, once GamerGate is against something, I pretty much know which side I'm on. Other than the shitty anti-diversity aspects of the reaction to these games, which I will not even dignify here, I think a lot of it comes from unrealistic expectations on the part of "hard core" gamers. I think many people are upset that both Mass Effect: Andromeda and No Man's Sky aren't Star Citizen. Well, guess what- Star Citizen is never going to happen.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:28 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]


/knocks back shot/

/slams drink on counter while shaking head/

Look, if Bioware hasn't fixed the awkward stock animations by now, they're never gonna. It's part of the charm
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 12:31 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]


The early reviews have made me nervous about preordering the game, but my kids are getting a copy for my birthday, so that takes care of that. What I've seen looks troubling, but as much as I love the Mass Effect story and gameplay, I don't have high expectations for the graphics of a franchise that chose to shove Miranda's ass in my face every other cutscene.
posted by bibliowench at 12:32 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


My personal impression is that ME (and other Bioware titles) are games that are often culturally coded as female, or leaning towards female players. That makes the bottom feeder nerd identity really flare up with some of these guys, who would only give passing disdain to a flop in the modern shooter, or MOBA genre.
posted by codacorolla at 12:33 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


In fairness: BioWare's big RPG games (Mass Effect & Dragon Age) ALL start out pretty lamely. ME2 probably starts out strongest 'cause your ship explodes & you die in like the first 10 minutes. But you don't play those games for the strong openers. You play them for the characters you're going to be best buddies with and the angst of deciding which one you're gonna bang (until you do another play-through).

It's not hard to imagine that yes, this game might disappoint, but it's similarly tough for me to get worked up over a not-great first few hours after I slogged through the Hinterlands in Dragon Age and still came out freakin' loving that game because of the ensemble.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:34 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Every time I see someone bitch about the animation in MEA, I'm reminded strongly of both the general reaction and my specific reaction to ME3. The general reaction to the game ending (as well as a grab bag of more minor complaints) was famously over-the-top; EA ended up getting Consumerist's "award" as the worst company in America that year and the year after--beating out Comcast and various financial companies that had, you know, done actual damage to millions of people's lives--when they didn't even place or show in any other years. Think about that utter lack of proportion in reaction. Unfortunately, I bought into it, and between it and my own dismay at what I felt was a downgrade in the graphics, particularly the faces, from ME2, I set the game aside for a few months.

When I came back to it, and accepted it for what it was rather than what I and others had anticipated it would be, I was astounded--it was easily the best game of the series, and the admittedly half-assed ending aside, was full of good writing and scenes; the ultimate ending was more than made up for by the ending of the Tuchanka and Rannoch arcs. (You can still bring an ME fan to tears with a few quotes from the game: "Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong." "Does this unit have a soul?" "Guide this one to where the traveller never tires, the lover never leaves, the hungry never starve.") And the Citadel DLC was maybe my favorite DLC of any game ever. It was well worth the time, effort and expense, and it saddens me that the usual shitlords couldn't see past the negative gnats that they were straining at.

I'm downloading the files now, and already have some time mapped out for the beginning. Yes, it will have one thing or another that is less than satisfactory, and will presumably be fixed in the next iteration. Maybe I won't like it as much as ME3; maybe it will turn out to be the sort of thing that should have taken half the time to create and put out. Whatever. I don't trust the same shitlords that created Gamergate and are too obsessed with creating hot takes and getting page clicks to be even remotely objective. A lot of this "criticism" reminds me of the people who reduced Frozen to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it clipping issue in a split second of animation. Fuck 'em.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:46 PM on March 19 [12 favorites]


Nothing I've heard so far either dissuades me from wanting to play the game (I'm taking the last half of the week off to play) nor addresses my misgivings, which are way way nerdier than anything anybody is talking about so far.

Signed, a guy who thinks the first game is underrated (story-wise)and that the conversation with Vigil the Prothean VI on Ilos was the high-water mark for the entire series, which series I nevertheless mostly adore.

(Seriously, complaining about janky animations? Have you....have you played video games....?)

Anyway, is this thread where we trade user IDs for multiplayer purposes? Because I am going to be all up on that.
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:48 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


The Mass Effect 3 controversy predates GamerGate, though it certainly involved those on /v/ and other communities who radicalized into GG.

It wasn't simply about the endings though, but rather a general feeling of slipshod work that EA was trying to pass off as a masterpiece to a much-beloved ending. Tali's face revealed to be a Photoshop of a model's face? Stealing image assets from DeviantArt? Questionable, fanservicey writing decisions like sexualizing EDI by giving her a robot body so she can be with Seth Green? No doubt the internet grassroots hatred against EA is misdirected and disproportionate. There was still much to laugh about at Mass Effect 3, though. But, unfortunately, the sort of crusading and self-organizing and moral outrage awareness it created throughout various internet gamer communities gave rise to GG, and well, last year.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:52 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I've got several hours penciled in for this game the next few weeks, which will stretch into months if the multiplayer's as much fun as ME3 co-op was.

I don't invest time in a game because of animations. Though if I'm playing a Bethseda game and something goes flying into the air that can admittedly be a draw.

(VioletVengabean on the XBox if we are doing the multiplayer exchange thing.)(I suppose I should actually sign up for MeFightClub as I've been meaning to for the past, oh, nine years or so.)
posted by rewil at 12:52 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


if the multiplayer's as much fun as ME3 co-op was.

Loved the co-op. It was my first and best multiplayer experience. So great helping guys.
posted by Trochanter at 12:56 PM on March 19


What hhuh? What? Zelda. What? Where am i? Wait, how link was i playing? Other games? What?
posted by sexyrobot at 1:23 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


John Walker is a notorious curmudgeon, which doesn't mean he's wrong. ME3 had a hilariously overblown storm in the tiniest of teacups over its ending, and there's a lot of leftover animus around that. There were hundred page threads of just constant constant insane rage. I think that was at least like people are getting the hate in early so they don't get fooled again, sort of thing.

My personal impression is that ME (and other Bioware titles) are games that are often culturally coded as female, or leaning towards female players. That makes the bottom feeder nerd identity really flare up with some of these guys, who would only give passing disdain to a flop in the modern shooter, or MOBA genre.

Interesting suggestion, though I'm not sure I'd agree. With the exception of Dragon Age 2, maybe?
posted by Sebmojo at 1:31 PM on March 19


Played a previous incarnation and never made it out of the citadel. The stilted dialogue and frustrating combat completely killed it for me
posted by dmt at 1:34 PM on March 19


My personal impression is that ME (and other Bioware titles) are games that are often culturally coded as female, or leaning towards female players.

Anything that doesn't specifically cater to lowest-brow interpretations of male interest and male gaze is commonly categorized as "coded female," so I guess, maybe?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:35 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


Yes, there were great moments in ME3, but you had to get over "We Fight, Or We Die" to get to them. Oh, the pain of that line (which you can't skip).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 1:41 PM on March 19


I don't think it's so much coded female as coded liberal, progressive, etc. Which jars the macho astro commando wish-fulfillment fantasies of the detractors. And is weird- there's a ton of space marine games out there, Doom is one of them, even.

Why can't we just all come together and laugh when a hyped game comically stumbles over itself. The universal, simple slapstick humor of bad art should know no ideology.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:43 PM on March 19


I loved ME2 and 3, in fact I bought the trilogy again and installed 2 on PC to get ready for Andromeda. Anyway the beginning of 2, probably the best of the series, is still fucking boring after the initial explosion. It really takes a while to get to the interesting characters. I only made it to the first conversation with the illusive man. Really the games start off pretty slow.

However I have one big question: is there controller support on PC? Because if any game is a couch game its Mass Effect.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:50 PM on March 19


I really enjoyed ME2. I think it was probably peak Mass Effect.
posted by pharm at 1:54 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]


Polygon ran a good piece about that review,

...Who the hell DDOSs a website over a review they disagree with what is this
posted by eykal at 1:56 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


There's some weird conflation of criticisms going on here. It's OK to criticize video games. Rock Paper Shotgun is not one of the macho bad guys; it's pretty liberal and champions diversity, and was itself targeted by GGers.

Besides, RPS's actual review won't be out till least Monday. We can all freak out then if it turns out they didn't like it.
posted by zompist at 1:58 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


If only GamerGate would mutate into HeavensGate and take all these comically entitled assholes with it.
posted by benzenedream at 2:02 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Bioware have earned enough goodwill with me that I still have a copy coming to me in the next few days, Amazon willing. If it sucks, oh well. I have a feeling it'll end up where I put most Bioware games, though; even when they're not that great (Dragon Age 2), I still have a good time. As of late, I also find that I enjoy Bioware games a lot more than the forum consensus, so I'm not particularly worried at this stage. This is especially true now that so much of the early criticism turns out to be "hey we found another woman in development we can harass endlessly until we chase her out of the business entirely."

Which, if that's the way things are going, I'll start buying ten copies of every Bioware game from now on because FUCK YOU.
posted by chrominance at 2:05 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


oh hm. i would be interested in seeing if the co-op is more like da:i or like ac:unity.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:06 PM on March 19


oh hm. i would be interested in seeing if the co-op is more like da:i or like ac:unity.

AFAICT, it's almost a direct copy of the (excellent) co-op multiplayer from Mass Effect 3.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:08 PM on March 19


Hmm. The only Bioware game I've played before was Inquisition, which I found terribly padded and painfully slow. I ended up fucking one of the characters without even realizing I was flirting with him, and when it came to the place where it says "this is the final mission, you may not be able to go do all character side quests after this" I just kinda put it down and walked away. People tell me I should play Mass Effect but the prospect of slogging through three 30h games full of party characters constantly talking at me sounds kind of hellish. (And yet I loved Night in the Woods, which is pretty much "hang out with three goofy friends for 30h". Maybe in part because none of the dialogue was voiced. And because Mae didn't have someone tagging along 24/7.)

Hopefully this game turns out better than this review sounds for those of y'all who like their stuff. It sure doesn't sound like the place for a new player to start, despite deliberately dropping a lot of the required character knowledge built up over three games.
posted by egypturnash at 2:12 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Watching lefty games Twitter furiously pivot to "Uh actually you're a shitlord if you don't like Andromeda" has been fun.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:14 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


The cash-in side story sequel to a series that had already reached its natural conclusion, and wore out its welcome in the process, isn't good? Clearly this can only be explained by the foul influence of feminist witchcraft!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:23 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


Watching lefty games Twitter furiously pivot to "Uh actually you're a shitlord if you don't like Andromeda"

Are you being serious? I haven't seen anything like that. Certainly nobody suggesting that liking or disliking the game per se is virtuous or not. Good lord.
posted by Sokka shot first at 2:28 PM on March 19 [8 favorites]


Wonky animations don't bother me. But the continued evolution of Bioware games towards the "single player MMO" open world paradigm certainly does. Please no, Bioware.
posted by Justinian at 2:46 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


Sounds like yet another mass effect.

Good news: the guy that started this harassment campaign is going to jail for assaulting a police officer.

Bad news: the (multiple) people he's harassed can't unharass what happened.
posted by Yowser at 2:49 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


I am going through my second play of ME 1/2 (because I might finally buy ME3 this week) and like shapes that haunt the dusk gf said, those complaints look exactly like a ME game.
Look, sometimes I wonder if the characters are having a stroke during the cutscenes. There's something in the expression engine that sometimes forgets to do both sides at once (Liara in 2 seems particularly affected by it. Or maybe the asaris are just like that), and characters often like to do a David Cameron and suddenly leave the cutscene by going out of frame suddenly. The story/sidequests are not as seamless as anyone would expect and the missions are occasionally boring. In gameplay terms, I liked the first better because it looked less of a shooter than 2 (and as I expect, 3).
I really wouldn't expect any better from ME. Yes, if they're still stuck in the same problems, it's not going to get the same accolades as the first trilogy (and losing Jennifer Hale is gonna hurt, very much like Uncharted would lose without Nolan North*). But of course, being an EA game with a side-dish of harassment, of course people will be freaking out about it being the worst game ever.

Yet, I still like it. Maybe I'd like it more if it was a bit more like a modern Starflight (from which it draws massively), more open-ended, perhaps a bit more grind-y, with some actual random encounters.


* and of course, like SR4 featured Nolan North as Nolan North as an extra voice to add to the ridiculousness, I wish Bioware ponied up to get H Jon Benjamin to play a second maleShepard because renegade Shepard would sound so much like Archer.

ALSO:I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favourite store in the citadel forum on the internet
posted by lmfsilva at 2:52 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Aaaaand, I'm preloading my preorder. I hate myself.
posted by Justinian at 3:17 PM on March 19


I mean "clumsy animation" just makes me picture Shepard walking away from a conversation. You know, like that awkward turn s/he does?

Yeah, that was always so painfully awkward, especially in the first one where every single character does it to spontaneously end conversations. Oh, well. I should go.

I should go?

I should go?

I should go.
posted by byanyothername at 3:28 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


I've completed and enjoyed all the previous ones in the series, so I pre-ordered a while ago. The animations being poor doesn't bother me, but I'm a bit concerned about some of the criticisms regarding the writing and voice acting. We'll see, I guess.
posted by juv3nal at 3:32 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Also, as funny as the various slapstick mishaps and collisions into Uncanny Valley have been, I find Sara Ryder's goofy smile utterly endearing and can't imagine it not lending the game a dose of much-needed self-aware winking, even if it is wholly accidental.
posted by byanyothername at 3:33 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


I really enjoyed ME2. I think it was probably peak Mass Effect.

Same. Honestly, the Reapers were the thing I enjoyed least about the series, which is probably why I never actually finished ME3. And I felt much the same about the big bads in Dragon Age.

I'm super happy to run around and adventure with my friends and help them with their daddy issues or whatever. Existential threats? Meh. That's just something to do while I'm hanging out with my buds.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:57 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Bioware seems to get a lot of heat that other studios don't get. Is it because they are known for their romance side quests? Dudes write whole essays about how terrible it is that they only human woman their straight male character can romance has SHORT HAIR and that makes their penises sad!

I guess I'm a loyal Bioware fangirl since I preordered MEA even though I hated the ME3 ending. Looking forward to exploring planets and banging aliens!
posted by lovecrafty at 4:07 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


I can't wait to endure yet another tsunami of naive thinkpieces telling me why I shouldn't enjoy something (for non-ethical reasons). That's my favorite thing on the Internet. /sarcasm

Seriously though, I would love to see games criticism move away from quality assurance evaluation and more towards...I don't know...actual criticism? I would read and reflect the fuck out of an article that talked about whether or not the Salarian genophage was ever forgivable, or whether the militarization of Turian society is a glossy fascism, or LITERALLY ANY OTHER CONCEPT IN THE GAME.

I think we really do lose something important in the conversation when we see reviews as forms of quality-assurance proofing instead of the beginning of a new way to see something.
posted by donquixote at 4:09 PM on March 19 [11 favorites]


Complaints about ME3's ending are bizarre to me. Sure it wasn't that great, but ending these types of intricate, alsmost decade long stories that inevitably shift and change during the course of production is really fucking difficult. Just look at the ending of almost every mainstream commercial serialized fiction ever. I wasn't surprised at all and thought it was fine. The Reapers were almost inconsequential to the real meat of the experience. I don't know I just don't get being angry about it. Its pretty conventional. That's disappointing but this isn't a passion project. It really is quite similar to Star Trek. Some of the time they just have to write a fucking ending! I think the Mass Effect is comparable to a good television run like TNG or DS9 had, with maybe a better ratio of hits to misses. No one gets angry about how the ending of the Locutus 2-parter doesn't live up to the promise of the cliffhanger. The discourse around Video Games is fuckin broken.
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:25 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


It's OK to criticize video games.

Done, by me, regarding this franchise, more times than I can count, including things that AFAIK have never been touched on by any review. #TeamIYellBecauseICare

Rock Paper Shotgun is not one of the macho bad guys; it's pretty liberal and champions diversity, and was itself targeted by GGers.

But getting those pageviews from the haters is so tempting. I assume that that's why the allegedly liberal Salon hired Camille Paglia. And they can self-righteously cling onto the "diversity of opinion" fig leaf until Judgment Day.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:27 PM on March 19


Krogans 4eva, genophage is unforgivable. The salarians uplifted the pre-spaceflight krogans (who had already destroyed their own homeworld with a nuclear war!) in order to use them as ground troops against the rachni, and then developed the genophage for the turians to deploy when the krogans started demanding more planets. Better to have quarantined them and let them breed out their aggression on their own, like the council did when the yahg killed a first contact team.

Notice the salarians also have an illegal yahg they're testing in their labs in ME3. Good times.

I hope I can smooch Drack...
posted by lovecrafty at 4:34 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Some of the time they just have to write a fucking ending!

That was basically the main complaint of ME 3 pre-patch, that it didn't have an actual ending. The endings were palette swaps of each other. By standards of the genre, whether in Fallout or KOTOR (the first being one of BioWare's own games!) or Obsidian's games, ME 3 fell far short by not giving any information about the consequences of players' choices.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:39 PM on March 19


But getting those pageviews from the haters is so tempting. I assume that that's why the allegedly liberal Salon hired Camille Paglia. And they can self-righteously cling onto the "diversity of opinion" fig leaf until Judgment Day.

I haven't read the RPS article thoroughly because I'm trying to go into the game with a minimum of story spoilers. But I think "getting pageviews from the haters" is an unfair assessment of what appears to be some thoughtful first impressions and criticisms. I've generally been pretty into Bioware games despite their flaws, but that's not the same as pretending those flaws don't exist. If Andromeda is indeed full of fetch quests like Inquisition, a lot of people will be rightfully turned off by that. If Andromeda ends up feeling very much like the Milky Way, with the same old conflicts and the same mostly-humanoid-oh-and-one-Hanar-esque-species rogue's gallery of enemies, that's a legitimate criticism based on the assumption that a new galaxy would be a new adventure where everything is unknown.

It's probably not fair to judge the entire game based on its first few hours, but that's why the article isn't pitched as a review.
posted by chrominance at 4:50 PM on March 19 [7 favorites]


But getting those pageviews from the haters is so tempting. I assume that that's why the allegedly liberal Salon hired Camille Paglia. And they can self-righteously cling onto the "diversity of opinion" fig leaf until Judgment Day.

But what has Salon's hiring of Camille Paglia got to do with the review of Mass Effect? I'm genuinely confused as to why you're linking RPS's first-look with Gamergate or reactionary politics in general. Yes, some people hate the Mass Effect series for some deeply unpleasant political reasons. But some people just won't like any game, movie or any other piece of entertainment ever made.

I don't see anything in John Walker's piece to suggest that his opinion is politically motivated or deceptive. He appears to just be a reviewer who doesn't like what he's played of the game. If you think that there's something I'm missing that would make me think otherwise, I'm happy to have my mind changed.

Expressing an honestly held opinion in order to attract readers is what game reviewers do for a living. I feel like your argument tends towards implying that publishing negative criticism of ME games is somehow necessarily a bad thing, because it gives comfort to reactionary readers - but I don't think that can really be what you mean to imply, so maybe I'm misunderstanding, and there's something about this piece that I'm missing.

Not trying to fight, but I am confused.
posted by howfar at 4:52 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


I think we really do lose something important in the conversation when we see reviews as forms of quality-assurance proofing instead of the beginning of a new way to see something.


It can do both, but at the same time 60+ dollars is a lot of spend on something that you don't have QA data on. Even if people can get some deep talk on the themes, concepts and theories of games, if you aren't enjoying it because of mechanical issues all that is window dressing.
posted by Ferreous at 5:05 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


AFAICT, it's almost a direct copy of the (excellent) co-op multiplayer from Mass Effect 3.

yes, but since i have not played me3 i instead gave two examples of co-op that i HAVE played as reference points
posted by poffin boffin at 5:23 PM on March 19


I don't see anything in John Walker's piece to suggest that his opinion is politically motivated or deceptive. He appears to just be a reviewer who doesn't like what he's played of the game. If you think that there's something I'm missing that would make me think otherwise, I'm happy to have my mind changed.

I'm not sure that that's possible, because, above and beyond my skepticism at his framing of the review (he insists that he's a fan of the original trilogy, but many of his criticisms are based in aspects that, virtually everyone else who's played the preview insists, are part of the original games), his tone is strongly sneering. At the end, he tries to walk it back by saying that he might change his mind completely once he's played the game a bit more. I can’t even imagine how anyone can feel okay with writing that into a review without experiencing enough shame to just get up, walk away, and keep walking until they fall off of or into something. (Does that preceding sentence sound harsh? It's one of Walker's, with a single word changed.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:49 PM on March 19


yes, but since i have not played me3 i instead gave two examples of co-op that i HAVE played as reference points

The point being, I expect, that there's quite a bit of material out there on what ME3 multiplayer is/was like, so if you want to know about Andromeda's multiplayer, looking to reviews/videos/whatever of ME3's multiplayer mode is a good place to start.
posted by Sokka shot first at 5:50 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


get up, walk away, and keep walking until they fall off of or into something

Seems apt for this game
posted by Apocryphon at 6:03 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


60+ dollars is a lot of spend on something that you don't have QA data on

Yeah, the only reason I ever read game reviews is because they're expensive and it's worth knowing if it's something I might like. But I've also noticed that some of my favorite games have gotten really mixed reviews, and that I don't always love games that people rave about (like for whatever reason, I couldn't stand Witcher 3).

It's like Yelp reviews of a restaurant. Some people give a place 1 star because the service was slow and the ambience was awful. Some people give a place one star because their chicken was undercooked and they got horribly sick. I care way, way more about the latter than the former, but unless you read in depth you're not going to know why a place is rated the way it is.

It's the same thing with a game - sometimes I don't care if the graphics are outdated, sometimes I don't care if there's a bunch of fetch quests. But a game's reception can be overwhelmingly negative based on criteria like those. It's fair, but it doesn't account for the individual, idiosyncratic tastes that make someone like me actually enjoy a game. But I also can afford to just buy everything until I find something I like.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:09 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Ahem, I mean I cannot afford to buy everything.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:36 PM on March 19


Seriously though, I would love to see games criticism move away from quality assurance evaluation and more towards...I don't know...actual criticism?

One of the reasons why people seem to care what RPS think is because their reviews are very much like this. Walker has strong, curmudgeonly opinions, but their reviews are always honest evaluations of their time with a game, what it does well and poorly. This annoys some people - I know people were criticising Walker for not talking about 'the graphics' because reviews are expected to run down the checklist - but it is key to their approach. RPS does not play the checklist game. It is why their reviews are worth reading.

I'd imagine, if RPS wanted to chase page views, their first move would be to start covering consoles. Until they do so, I assume they have a website and they have opinions and sometimes those opinions will surprise others.
posted by Merus at 6:57 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Reviews of X-Com 2 have put me off buying it. Maybe the reviews are wrong, but I'm not going to find out until the price comes way down. Maybe this summer.
posted by Trochanter at 7:00 PM on March 19


My husband is still excited about it, but I'm coming at it from having finished Horizon Zero Dawn recently and nothing looks as good to me as that game.

To be fair, Horizon is probably the best game I've played since Metroid Prime. Pretty much anything is gonna be mediocre in comparison, and while I haven't played new Zelda yet I fully expect to play a few hours and then be like "eh I'd rather track down the last few Vantages".
posted by Itaxpica at 7:03 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Come down to where, Trochanter? Last steam sale I thought I saw X-Com2 for like ten bucks.
posted by Justinian at 7:15 PM on March 19


Reviews of X-Com 2 have put me off buying it. Maybe the reviews are wrong, but I'm not going to find out until the price comes way down. Maybe this summer.


Playing X-Com put me off buying X-Com 2. Honestly, if I wanted someone to come over and kick me in the nads once or twice a week, I could probably get them to do it for free.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:21 PM on March 19




Come down to where, Trochanter? Last steam sale I thought I saw X-Com2 for like ten bucks.

Fudge. Slept through that one.

if I wanted someone to come over and kick me in the nads once or twice a week

Save scumming. I wouldn't have lasted without it.
posted by Trochanter at 7:29 PM on March 19


To be fair, Horizon is probably the best game I've played since Metroid Prime.

I've been debating picking up HZD versus waiting until I can find a Switch but those there might be the magic words.
posted by thecaddy at 7:49 PM on March 19


Horizon is fantastic. Super well polished, fun gameplay, excellent writing. The only bad thing is it's a PS4 exclusive.
posted by Nelson at 10:26 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]


Yeah, Horizon looks really cool but we've only got an Xbone. We were looking at both systems, but at the time the PS4 was bundled with the Nathan Drake series while the Xbone was bundled with Tomb Raider. We were both more interested in the female protagonist, so we went that way. Maybe the wrong call? Supposedly PS4's graphics are slightly better. I was under the impression that MEA would be exclusive to Microsoft, but I guess that's not the case. It seems like there are more PS4 exclusives than the other way around.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:53 PM on March 19


Rock Paper Shotgun has now released their full review of Mass Effect : Andromeda. John Walker did not change his mind.
posted by suckerpunch at 3:41 AM on March 20 [6 favorites]


I used to read RPS for the good-quality reviews and articles despite not having really PC-gamed for a decade plus, but...

Walker has strong, curmudgeonly opinions

Yeah. I stopped reading RPS when John Walker said asking companies to stop advertising in the (racist, fascist, xenophobic) Daily Mail was (paraphrase) "as bad as Gamergate threatening companies who advertised on sites they didn't like" and basically censorship. I mean, that was said on Twitter and not like an official RPS statement, but fuck that bullshit.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:43 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Can you still cheat at games and is there site or github repos that you can follow for cheats? Because I like games like Mass Effect and other RPGs but I hate the drudgery and slowness of starting out and doing the grind, and the long levels where you're just not invested into that subplot and want to go into God mode just to get through it.

Anyway I'd download these games more if I could cheat in them, but I don't have time to mess around with like 1999 warez sites and typing in "Mass Effect Trainer v4.2.4"
posted by geoff. at 4:44 AM on March 20


You can put them on easy mode & blast through the combat if you want geoff. It’s not really “cheating” - just optimising the game for your preferred approach.
posted by pharm at 4:48 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


The consensus so far from today's reviews seems to be that it's kind of middling, around Dragon Age 2 quality. That's not great, but it seems worse given just how many good games have come out this quarter--seriously, almost every week since mid-January there's been something new and amazing to play, and even the most diehard is probably behind at this point.

I'll probably hang on to my pre-order, but mostly because I got it at deep discount. The next few weeks are murder between this, Horizon, and Persona 5, and I'm not even on the Zelda train.
posted by chrominance at 5:21 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


I've watched a bit of the intro. I think one problem is that they went for a simpler, cleaner, softer-but-brighter kind of look to their space stuff. So even though the characters' skin is detailed up close, it's kind of flatter at normal ranges. The eyes and mouth have to carry more of an expressive load, but their engine and animations are not up to the task.

Whereas ME2 and ME3 were way more grim 'n' gritty and the characters' weird faces tended to be half in shadow, poc-marked, scarred, and stubbly, so it's okay that they looked bad. Also, 90% of what they said was grim stoic shit anyway.

A bigger problem is that the storytelling and characters kiiiinda seem like crap. I'm not feeling drawn to the adventures of a bland, smirky commander's kid fighting space orcs while their boring-looking ship is trapped in some kind of silly space overgrowth. Maybe it gets better later on.. DA:I had a janky discombobulated beginning as well. You gotta put cool and clever stuff on screen ASAP, there's no excuse, especially in Today's World where you are giving review copies to streamers.
posted by fleacircus at 7:50 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Dan Stapleton reviews it at IGN.

"...nor was I confident that I wouldn’t get sucked into cover when I didn’t want to be. "

That is one thing I was really hoping they would fix. Sounds like they've still got 'sprint' and 'take cover' on the same key.
posted by Trochanter at 7:52 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


The consensus so far from today's reviews seems to be that it's kind of middling, around Dragon Age 2 quality.

DA2 is not only my favourite Dragon Age game, it's the only Dragon Age game I outright love. So this is conflicting to me, because otherwise I'm getting very strong Dragon Age: Inquisition vibes from this game, and I didn't care for that one at all. (Trying to be open world throws all of Bioware's strengths out the window, IMO.)
posted by tobascodagama at 8:02 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Can you still cheat at games

Yeah. It's usually​ just a matter of making a simple change to one config file and then activating the console by hitting the tilde key. Then you can type in a range of commands that will pretty much let you do anything you want, e.g. these for Mass Effect and inevitably "god" or "godmode" too.
posted by howfar at 8:10 AM on March 20


Another option instead of cheating at a game is just watching a video playthrough. I imagine in all the Let's Plays there are some edited for just the story, not the gameplay fiddling. Although that's less appealing in the Mass Effect games since making plot decisions is half the fun of playing it through.

Metacritic review scores are collecting, around 75-78. Good but not great, a step down from the 85-90 of the trilogy. Just relieved it's not "OMG terrible and broken".
posted by Nelson at 8:20 AM on March 20


The outrage about video games and their reviews always flabbergasts me.

Generally speaking, I'm a pretty cheap gamer: I borrow discs, pick from the discount bin and buy used. A game has got to be pretty glitchy or terrible for me not to want to play it. So until recently I had only played Mass Effect 2 which I liked, especially with the DLC. It tapped into my deep love of Starflight and Star Control II which I still don't think have an equal in contemporary games in terms of story & immersiveness. But playing the Mass Effect games through recently a lot of the complaints about the latest game mentioned in the above articles could easily be leveled at the older games.

I know some people really connect with the story of the trilogy, personally, I find it derivative & weak (and I have pretty low expectations when it comes to modern games). As others have commented ME2 is really the high point in terms of overall story (if a little too libertarian for me). While the combat is better in ME3, the story is remarkably uneven, lacking internal consistency, the dialogue choices are poor and the pacing of the missions is underwhelming. The ME3 dialogue choices are unclear and ambiguous often resulting in very different outcomes then you intend (often hilariously so). I've taken to playing it while looking at the wiki in order to get the outcomes I'm interested in exploring and finding the missions that hinge on a single dialogue choice or specific encounter at a specific time. While I don't mind doing that, I really shouldn't have to do that if the writing was better.

Any new ME game to get me excited would have to address some of these issues. For instance, dealing with the dialogue tree in a more nuanced way & having better body language (Shepherd twitching constantly as s/he is trying to have a conversation is ridiculous) or having a writer with some skills take over the duties and have the game mechanics work for the story rather than the other way around. In anycase, a year from now when it starts showing up used cheaply and there's some DLC that augments the game substantially I'll have a look at ME:A. Until then... there's always Minecraft.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:34 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I think we really do lose something important in the conversation when we see reviews as forms of quality-assurance proofing instead of the beginning of a new way to see something.
The problem is that games are very expensive (I don't even remember the last game I've bought full price) and might not work. A book with missing pages is returned to the publisher as faulty. A film or tv show that has 5 minutes of glitched sound or [MISSING FOOTAGE] isn't put on the screen unless by accident. A play where the actors for no reason start mumbling their lines is likely stopped until they figure out what's the problem. With a game, well, if you wait, it's likely to be fixed. Even if it might not. For instance, I've never finished Far Cry 2 because the game has a game-breaking bug near the final, and apparently I was lucky to go as far as I did with an unpatched version as people with an up-to-date version had their game crash much earlier, and I'm not going through it again just to crash randomly at any point.
So, while there should be room for exploring the themes of the game, a review probably isn't the place for that, if only because it might be creating spoilers, and, well, movie reviews are usually also light on the technical details - you won't see many reviews mentioning the technical aspects of the movie other than small throwaway lines like "beautifully shot" or "magnificent score", even if you can find enough articles on how Kubrick turned every scene on Barry Lyndon into a moving painting or how Zimmer set the mood of TDK with his score.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:46 AM on March 20


Metacritic review scores are collecting, around 75-78. Good but not great, a step down from the 85-90 of the trilogy. Just relieved it's not "OMG terrible and broken".

I really wish fanboys and haters alike would get it through their skulls that 7/10 is a good score, actually. Because you know there will be two equally obnoxious groups overreacting to this, one that will be furious about how "unfair" the scores are and the other that will be taunting the first group by saying that these "shitty" scores prove the game is bad and anybody who likes it should feel bad.

But it's a pretty good score, actually.

The Siskel & Ebert thumbs-up/thumbs-down system never seems wiser than when a new AAA video game comes out.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:44 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Can you still cheat at games

The modding community is one of the coolest things in games, I think. But I would guess EA doesn't allow it. Cause they're idiots.
posted by Trochanter at 9:47 AM on March 20


7/10 is a good score, actually

It depends on the publication though. And then Metacritic has its own thing going on. If I read that right they don't re-weight an individual publisher's scores, if a publication gives every game 9/10 they still report it as a 90%. They do weight each pubilcation's score differently in the metascore though.

Here's a graph of Metacritic PC scores that shows the distribution of all games up to 2011. And here's a graph of average score by year: critic reviews average around 72. FWIW I look at Metacritic Games 80+ as the minimum for a game for me. For me it's not about the money, it's about the time. Andromeda is a 50+ hour commitment, is it worth it?

I'm with you on the scoring being sort of meaningless though. I like RPS's stance of not reporting a score at all.
posted by Nelson at 10:02 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Count me as one of those people repulsed by the loathsome GamerGate scum who still thinks that Bioware has been a sheet of ice slowly collapsing into the sea since about 2010. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but I loved the original Mass Effect and despised the sequels. This may be because of the dynamic pointed out to me by someone at a con: If the first Mass Effect was inspired by Gene Roddenberry, ME2 was inspired by Ridley Scott and ME3 was inspired by James Cameron. Well, fuck those people: I want my damn Star Trek game. I don't want Gears of War in space.

Also, can we have a moratorium on player characters who are the one true chosen saviors of the entire universe? I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm tired of saving the universe. I want to play the Mass Effect game where you save Commander Shepard's marriage.
posted by zeusianfog at 10:34 AM on March 20 [14 favorites]


“Mass Effect: Andromeda Review Discussion - Vic's Basement”[1:04:03; Caution: Language]Electric Playground, 20 March 2017
Mass Effect: Andromeda is finally here but Victor Lucas is NOT HAPPY! :( Watch this discussion, complete with a lot of great questions from the community, to find out why.
Just to summarize quickly, Vic gets to the meat in the first 10 minutes. He says he's heartbroken, but, "I have enjoyed some things about this game. It's not fundamentally broken. It's not hitching. It's not a piece-of-crap. Okay? Jeez. Quote me on that. There's definitely cool stuff in this game, but…." I haven't finished the video, but the gist of his complaint is that the game is unfinished.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:54 AM on March 20


I want to play the Mass Effect game where you save Commander Shepard's marriage.

But I'm not sure I'm ready to see Shepard and Garrus have marital problems. Can't they just have a Happily Ever After? They deserve it.
posted by asperity at 11:07 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


zeusianfog : funnily enough, Dragon Age 2 covered territory similar to what you're looking for. It's partly why that entry is so fondly remembered by some people.
posted by suckerpunch at 11:11 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


I also think ME1 was the best of the series! Sure, it had clunky combat and a frustrating inventory system, but oh man... that last segment of the game, from the trench run on Ilos, talking to Vigil, driving the motherfucking MAKO through a motherfucking MASS RELAY, battling up the exterior of the Citadel, talking Saren into... you know what. ME1 was a fantastic and exciting game that the other two didn't really live up to.

I did enjoy ME2. The combat was fun and the suicide mission was very well done. But someone really had a boner for Cerberus, which I just didn't enjoy. I wanted to tell the Illusive Man to go fuck off way sooner. But I did get to bang Garrus, so it's all good.
posted by lovecrafty at 11:21 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


To me, Mass Effect (the original) was a terrible frustrating awful game with painful mechanics which you had to manipulate to let you see more of its extraordinary world. Finishing it took resolve and morale conviction. ME2 fixed most of the mechanics, lost some of the charm, and ended up being a solid game. ME3 tried to get philosophical and somewhat famously blew the ending.

Andromeda so far looks like a return to the series' roots, too ambitious, not great to play, but the pieces all there for you to see how it could have been.
posted by ethansr at 11:23 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


7/10 is a good score, actually

Well... here's the thing. It's a "good score" if the scale actually went from 1 to 10, and "average" was 5. But it isn't. Polygon has an average of 72. Gamespot is 68. Most sites seem to place their average somewhere in the high 60s and mid 70s and some even in the high 70s. The scale is more of a regular 6-point scale where 5 is really bad (and under 5 is generally "comedy option"), 6 is poor, 7 is average, 8 is good, 9 is very good and 10 an instant classic.
So, a 7/10 is distinctly average, which on the other hand might exactly be what ME:A is. But it's not a "good score".
posted by lmfsilva at 11:28 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]




I'm tired of saving the universe. I want to play the Mass Effect game where you save Commander Shepard's marriage. live in the central hub of the city/place where trading occurs.

Just picture it, you're trying to live your life selling some sniper rifles to a Turian who has the credits to spend. And all of a sudden some asshole named Shepard is battling a junkie Batarian, crashes into your shop and all of a sudden your merchandise is scattered to shit and wrecked. Fast forward two months, Shepard is in court for disturbing the peace and you have a civil lawsuit pending with your Turian lawyer. I'm down for this game. Mass Effect: Ace Attorney
posted by Fizz at 12:45 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]


Mass Effect: Ace Attorney

I have no objection to this.
posted by asperity at 1:03 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]


Most sites seem to place their average

Ah, but here's the thing. Most sites don't review games that are literally unplayable garbage. If a site is reviewing both AAA Sequel 3 and Shitty Asset Flip Simulator in about equal numbers, and their average review rating is still sitting around 80, then something's definitely very wrong. But the review averages that most sites have reflect nothing more than selection bias, IMO.

I don't expect to see a sub-5 review score from most places unless they're picking games to review off Steam at random or there's a new AAA game that completely shit the bed, on like an Assassin's Creed: Unity level. The vast majority of games that are actually outright bad fail the notoriety qualifications for getting a review in the first place.

Also, can we have a moratorium on player characters who are the one true chosen saviors of the entire universe?

funnily enough, Dragon Age 2 covered territory similar to what you're looking for. It's partly why that entry is so fondly remembered by some people.

This is definitely one of the reasons I loved DA2 so much. The other is that I didn't have to do a lot of aimless wandering for the loot and crafting pickups. There are some games where that's half the reason I'm playing, but those are all made by Bethesda. DA:O also got this balance right, but DA:I failed it miserably.

Actually, one of the reasons I was initially excited about ME:A is that the premise seemed to suggest that the Ryders are just (ironically) shepherds for the Ark project rather than galactic saviours. I haven't read any reviews yet, but I'm gonna take a wild ass guess that these Remnant blokes turn out to be a proper galaxy-threatening big bad that Only A Pathfinder Can Stop. I hope I'm proved wrong on that, but I'm not optimistic.

I have no objection to this.

Ah, yes, "objections". We have dismissed those claims.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:11 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]


So before you head to Best Buy and cancel your Mass Effect: Andromeda pre-order, consider checking out all the previews, including the ones that are saying that it's a fantastic game.

Well, those are hard to come by, when metacritic's average is 75. Or as notable shit stirrer Jim Sterling puts it: "a good score." But everyone knows that grade inflation is a thing, and a 75 is not a marker of quality. Now maybe RPS's pre-review set the tone for others to tune theirs to, but it seems more likely the reviewer is being shot for bearing the message.
posted by pwnguin at 1:45 PM on March 20


I don't have a pre-order because I have taken an oath to never pre-order a game again.

But I'll probably wind up buying it shortly after release. Even the godawful garbage ending of ME3 didn't totally ruin the series for me, though it did come damn close.

Bugs and bad animation I don't worry about too much, those will be fixed by patches (though it's awful we live in a world where people release broken stuff and patch it after purchase, that's the world we live in).

The writing, and especially how they handle the colonial aspects is mostly what I'm interested in and/or worried about. If all they're going for, and based on a couple of trailers it kind of looks like it might be, is that **our** colonialism is totally fine because there's these much worse colonial powers over here then I'm going to be disappointed.

They're entering a bit of a political minefield here, and I hope they manage it without too many stumbles.

But good voice acting and decent characters can salvage a game, and their absence can ruin it. So far the voice actors look good, not Jennifer Hale ZOMG fanboy squee awesome, but good.
posted by sotonohito at 1:50 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


As far as ratings go, there's a weird scale involved for those 1-10 sites.

1-6 = The absolute worst game ever of all time, games that are totally and irreperably broken, games that are total shit, and so on.

7 = Maybe, if you like this sort of thing, it's kind of tolerable.

8 = Pretty good game

9 = Good game

10 = Their check cleared
posted by sotonohito at 1:56 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Also, can we have a moratorium on player characters who are the one true chosen saviors of the entire universe?

This is one of the things that Fallout 3/NV/4 mostly get right imho -- the PC matters a lot in a medium-small venue. You're the big hero!!!... who fixes one aspect of life in the Capital Wasteland. Who is the fulcrum on which control of one city rests. Who is the fulcrum for the general tenor of life in the Commonwealth. Things that are big, but not SAVIOR OF THE GALAXY!!! or SAVIOR OF ALL TAMRIEL!!! big.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:27 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Just picture it, you're trying to live your life selling some sniper rifles to a Turian who has the credits to spend. And all of a sudden some asshole named Shepard is battling a junkie Batarian, crashes into your shop and all of a sudden your merchandise is scattered to shit and wrecked. Fast forward two months, Shepard is in court for disturbing the peace and you have a civil lawsuit pending with your Turian lawyer. I'm down for this game. Mass Effect: Ace Attorney

Obvious settlement: Shepard records an endorsement that your shop is her favorite store on the Citadel, in exchange for a minor discount.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:27 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]


>>> I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm tired of saving the universe. I want to play the Mass Effect game where you save Commander Shepard's marriage.
>> funnily enough, Dragon Age 2 covered territory similar to what you're looking for
> This is definitely one of the reasons I loved DA2 so much.


I think in a way DA2 has the worst of both worlds. Its character stories are very human. On the other hand, you still are the Champion of Kirkwall. There's matters of import a-goin' on: murderous oppression, civil wars, fantasy 9/11's. Your characters play a big part in the events, but instead of being able to influence them, you're trying to help the chief of police on a first date.

It would probably work better if it was a littttle more aware of itself, a little more trying to say this was Verric's fictionalized account. THAT would have been brilliant. But it doesn't really do that, and to me the overall effect is kind of gross. I wouldn't recommend it as a game with a more mundane scale, anyway.
posted by fleacircus at 2:57 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


What I really love about DA2 is that you don't stop anything, right up until the finale. You just help clean up the messes. It's ridiculous that superficial shit like the "repetitive environments" complaint (well, yeah, you're in one city the whole time) overshadowed just how good everything else was.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:44 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


It's ridiculous that superficial shit like the "repetitive environments" complaint (well, yeah, you're in one city the whole time) overshadowed just how good everything else was.

Oh, come on. The really annoying part of the reuse wasn't that it was the same city all the time. No, every single cave (every house, etc) had basically the same layout; the only difference being that they sometimes closed different passages (but they couldn't even be bothered to show this cleanly in the automap). They did something similar with the side quests in ME 1 (one standard spaceship, one standard station); but in DA 2, even the main quests took you to those same cloned dungeons again and again and again. It's great if this didn't bother you; but one can expect more from a triple A game.
posted by erdferkel at 3:57 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


So it seems like the majority of the responses to my post here fall back on the following:

Games are expensive, therefore QA assessments are necessary in review, since they behave as a form of consumer protection.

Game reviews also shouldn't discuss content because it risks spoiling the game.

-------------------------
So, if I'm understanding this right, the idea is that game reviews should be concerned with making sure a consumer gets a product that meets a minimum of expectations (whatever those expectations may be). I'm still not going to be persuaded here. Yes, games are expensive. It is a risk to buy one. Should there be a form of consumer protection, regarding the functionality of a game? Sure. Is critique or review the place for it? Nope. Consumer protection ought to be its own thing and deserving of its own gravity. Putting it in a review waters down both the importance of the consumer protection message and the analysis of the content itself. Beyond that, while I'm not a fan of the resort to caveat emptor, I think it applies here fairly well.

As far as not going into content due to spoilers, well, I'll level with ya. I have yet to be persuaded of the value of not "spoiling" content. Narrative is often seen to have value only if it has a surprise of some kind. But I'm unconvinced that surprise is really all that necessary for good story, or even mediocre story. Surprise is a garnish, one that can be done without. I find the attachment to a linear experience of a story to be more intuitive than argued for, mainly because -surprise is not the only way one experiences quality within the action of a story-. Simply because I know Aeris dies or Alys Brangwin or Dumbledore or even Mordin (if you're not a monster) does not make me feel any less. Hell, it gets harder with repeated viewings, as I find more qualities in the scene. So yeah, I'm unreceptive to the appeals to spoilers.
posted by donquixote at 4:07 PM on March 20


It seems like you're talking about two different things, donquixote, both classified as "reviews" (or maybe more accurately "critiques") but with very different goals. I think there's room for, and a need for, both.

To compare to movies - Reviews that come out on or before release day should absolutely talk qualitatively about the movie and avoid spoilers as much as possible (It sounds like you don't mind and invite spoilers, but... that is not a universal position). I want to know if Big Budget Summer Sci Fi Action Flick is a technical masterpiece, or fails the uncanny valley. I want to know if this indie comedy is well written and acted, or if unenthusiastic actors are delivering stilted, cliched lines to collect a paycheck. I want to know if the story is coherent and complete, or nonsensical dreck - without knowing the details. Yes, much of this is opinion, but with enough opinions you can achieve consensus (or not, which says something too). It helps me decide if I want to spend my money to see it in the theater, or wait until it's streaming, or skip it.

Now, after I've seen the movie, or if I know I won't, I might be interested in a deep dive into the symbolism, motifs, political ramifications, hidden meanings, etc of a work. More of the literary criticism you seem to want. But that's a completely different type of thing, serving a completely different purpose, then reviews released before the movie (or game) is even available to the general public.
posted by Roommate at 4:24 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


One thing about reviewers is that 1.) They got the game for free, and 2.) They're going to have to review another game next week.

Seems that would colour things.
posted by Trochanter at 4:29 PM on March 20


As far as ME:A goes... I had it preordered, but cancelled it a few days ago. Partly because of some of these criticisms, but mostly because I'm deep into Horizon Zero Dawn right now, and the final Dark Souls 3 dlc comes out soon, and I have limited time for gaming as it is... I can wait a bit.

Honestly, in the "no publicity is bad publicity" department, I seem to find myself craving a game *more* when it gets some bad reviews. The SimCity reboot, No Man's Sky... I never learn.
posted by Roommate at 4:41 PM on March 20


I think game reviews should try to be less objective. There are so many reviewers out there, and I'd rather just know "oh, so and so never really gets into this kind of game" than expect their reaction to be The True QA check on something. Yeah there's basic quality issues like "will it crash all the time?" But the rest of it is largely pretty idiosyncratic.

I want to compare it to film criticism, but games are a much bigger commitment in terms of time and money. I can handle wasting $12 on a movie ticket for something I hated, but a $60 game is something I can afford very infrequently (which is why I usually wait to play something until it's several years old). So there is an element of wanting to know what I'm getting into, but there also seems to be this conventional wisdom that says Witcher 3 is an objectively amazing game, and you're going to love it. I really didn't care for it.

I actually think sites like Metacritic make things worse, because it's not like 70/100 translates to a 70% chance of liking the game, especially if it happens to be set in Victorian London, and the story isn't great, but oh my god, it's just so cool to run around the city, look at all those chimneys. You can't quantify how much I'm going to enjoy something, and I think those numbers end up being misleading more often than not, at least for me.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:49 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I want to know if Big Budget Summer Sci Fi Action Flick is a technical masterpiece, or fails the uncanny valley. I want to know if this indie comedy is well written and acted, or if unenthusiastic actors are delivering stilted, cliched lines to collect a paycheck. I want to know if the story is coherent and complete, or nonsensical dreck - without knowing the details.

I think the ultimate disagreement we're having here is that you seem to have faith that these kinds of qualitative binary judgments can be communicated authentically. I don't buy it. We'll blame philosophy for that, but I just don't buy that another person's qualitative binary judgment can communicate anything useful to me beyond "This person thought X or Y". There might be some incommensurability worries here, but we're not talking scientific causality or anything quite so robust. People can communicate ideas. But communicating the quality of a thing in an actually reliable way? Hrm. Not so convinced.

This problem is brought out really well in the cases that shapes that haunt the dusk is bringing out (thank you by the way, since the Witcher 3 case is really useful here). (I agree that Metacritic makes things so much worse...but that's another rant)

Anyway, I think, despite the initial disagreement over cost risk, shapes and I are saying similar things. Games criticism needs to stop pretending to be objective. Critique functions best when it is subjective. If you need a consumer report to protect you against a bad purchase due to bugs and what not, by all means, that should be a thing. I am all for that. I agree with you Roommate that both a consumer report and a critical analysis of content are going to be necessary. But trying to combine it into this really obstructive thing called a review? Nah. I don't think that's a good move.
posted by donquixote at 5:01 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Echoing others upthread: just finished Horizon Zero Dawn twenty minutes ago. Lifetime, I'm somewhere around 750~800 games beaten, HZD is now in my all time Top 10 games ever.

It is worth buying a PS4 to play, and that goes double for those of you wanting to support feminism in gaming, because it doesn't get better than this in mass media. Everything good about the gameplay and characterization of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, Witcher 3's open world, and the best story in 5 years.

Then throw in a gorgeously balanced combat system where you can shoot the artillery cannon off a 50-foot Robo-Tyrannosaurus, pick it up, blow off his armor panels and shoot a Tribes 1 Disc Launcher into his big coolant-pump heart. Most fights you will swap weapons at least 3-4 times because they're all useful, and you'll shift between melee once or twice.

God help them, they managed to narratively justify shooting robot dinosaurs in a post-apocalyptic Stonepunk future, and in a way where I don't feel even a little bit stupid or silly embracing it. They didn't need to do this, but they did it anyway, which is a recurring theme with the game.

Basically you need to stop reading about Mass Effect drama, or really anything, and go play Horizon Zero Dawn.
posted by Ryvar at 5:20 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I think the ultimate disagreement we're having here is that you seem to have faith that these kinds of qualitative binary judgments can be communicated authentically.

Well, no, and I may have been a little too stark in my compare/contrast. I don't think a single review can objectively claim an authentic, irrefutable judgment. I did briefly mention I think even these kind of reviews are opinionated. A single review might not be worth much, but taken in aggregate (and not just as in "average of 77/100 on metacritic/rotten tomatoes") they can paint a picture.

Shapes is right in that I can't tell you if you'll like a game. But I can tell you if *I* liked it. If based on my previous reviews, I like many of the same things you like and dislike many of the same things you dislike, that might be worth something to you. If still might be informational to you in the opposite circumstance - if we tend to like/dislike different games, maybe my appreciation of a game doesn't tell you much. Maybe my appreciation for a game in a genre I don't usually enjoy tells you something. My review in isolation isn't worth much - but in relation to my review history, or in relation to other reviews, it's a data point.

The Witcher 3 was widely loved. But not universally. There's no such thing. Singin' In The Rain has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm sure there's plenty of people who would say "ugh, musicals", and hate the movie. That doesn't mean those ratings are worthless.

Your best option is to find reviewers who's opinion you respect and see what they have to say. Or just read multiple reviews. I dunno. We seem to have gotten off the rails here... back to the original point: There is value in knowing that Breath of the Wild is widely praised, while Andromeda is much less well received. There is value in seeing actual gameplay footage of goofy animation and glitchy physics, and knowing how prevalent that is in the game, vs the carefully selected marketing material released by the company. There is value in knowing that many people think the control scheme is unintuitive and the menu systems needlessly complex. It's not everything, but it's certainly not worthless review material.
posted by Roommate at 5:22 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Basically you need to stop reading about Mass Effect drama, or really anything, and go play Horizon Zero Dawn.

I'd love to, but it's a Playstation exclusive, and I will never forgive Sony for this insult.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:15 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I've loved each of the Mass Effect games. I didn't have a big issue with the original ME3 ending. (I like the remake of it just fine, too. I just didn't read it nearly so negatively as a lot of folks did).

I also loved each of the Dragon Age games, though I do agree with the folks who say Inquisition's open world was more of a down than an up for it.

I'm not putting a lot of stock in the negative reviews, because it's early days. What little I've seen so far of the gameplay, I liked, and at this point I'm pre-ordered, pre-loaded, and waiting semi-patiently for it to unlock in 80 minutes or so.

I fully expect to find things I like and dislike throughout it, like I do in any game I played.

I fully expect to get enough enjoyment to be worth the money. (Heck, I'd feel that way if all I get out of this is some new good Mass Effect multiplayer).
posted by Archelaus at 7:43 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Yeah, not playing a playstation exclusive. I'll pick up HZD if it is ever ported to PC.

Current Status: Looking for blue aliens to hit on in MEA.
posted by Justinian at 11:39 PM on March 20


Re: Playstation exclusive - don't hold your breath for any ports, Guerrilla is a dedicated Sony orbital, same as Naughty Dog. Honestly, I almost skipped HZD because my opinion of Killzone is pretty rock-bottom for AAA FPS franchise attempts, but fortunately my wife knew better and just went ahead and bought it.

Best decision in a long time, although we're both regretting not pre-ordering a Switch/BotW right about now.

You should probably own a PS4 anyway, as it's the XBox 360 of this generation (tons of extra developer love because their dev tools were superior early on this generation, opposite of last gen). Between HZD, Uncharted 4, and Bloodborne there are now three absolute-must-play Playstation exclusives, and now that Rise of The Tomb Raider's exclusivity expired there are zero for the XBone by my count (maybe, like, a half for Sunset Overdrive if that's your kind of thing).
posted by Ryvar at 5:49 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Games criticism needs to stop pretending to be objective. Critique functions best when it is subjective.

Reviews are supposed to give an opinion - they aren't "pretending to be objective". If a reviewer thinks a game is shit, they should say so, without cluttering up the copy with a bunch of hedging about subjectivity.
posted by thelonius at 6:35 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


Games criticism needs to stop pretending to be objective. Critique functions best when it is subjective.

I enjoy when a video game reviewer shares their personal feelings. Which doesn't mean I have to agree with everything that is said, but I like that someone cares passionately (even if its a negative) about a game. There are a few video game journalists I follow purely for their hate reviews of various games and then I have a few that I follow that I tend to agree with, that enjoy the types of games that I enjoy playing and I value their critiques quite a bit.

I think it's best to mix it up. These are a few of the places that I tend to get my reviews from: IGN, PC Gamer, Gamespot, Polygon, Kotaku, KillScreen, Giantbomb, Destructoid, so many more. I also have a fair number of YouTube gamers I follow, some serious and some not so much. And then throw your friends reviews into the mix. What are they saying on Facebook or Twitter or when you're on the couch talking about the newest releases.

It's a large spider web of video game journalism for me. I'm caught in the middle and I'm looking at everything around me.
posted by Fizz at 7:23 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Reviews are supposed to give an opinion - they aren't "pretending to be objective". If a reviewer thinks a game is shit, they should say so, without cluttering up the copy with a bunch of hedging about subjectivity.

I think an equivalent problem is whenever the New York Times sends someone who absolutely hates genre to review Game of Thrones, and they complain about all the weirdness in worldbuilding and sneering judgements about fantasy tropes. Well, yes, they thought it was shit, but they should also mention that they don't like the genre. I find the actual game review numbers mean nothing to whether or not I'll like a game, but the content of the review - what exactly they liked or disliked about it, or what other games they tend to praise. And this is true of other types reviews as well, but because gameplay is constantly changing and new genres rise and fall in the span of a decade, there just isn't time for reviewers to really specialize the way you might have a genre TV or book critic.

And god dammit, so many games I've wanted to play in the last few months have been ps4 exclusive but I still don't know if I can justify a whole new system considering I usually play maybe one or two AAA games a year. I'd go back to my fourth playthrough of DA:I but I lent the game out to someone else.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:30 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Arby's has a Mass Effect: Andromeda tie-in ad on Twitter.

I can't.
What.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:41 AM on March 21


Arby's social media presence is kind of like Denny's, but with more geek culture references. It's a thing.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:44 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


so many games I've wanted to play in the last few months have been ps4 exclusive but I still don't know if I can justify a whole new system

I would not buy a ps4 right now. PSN is having unending, massive fuckups. My ps4 is wired directly into the fios router and I cannot download games/updates at a sustained rate of more than about half a megabit, even after I set a pc as a proxy to get around one of the ways they seem to have fucked up the network stack on the ps4. This is apparently a very common problem.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:58 AM on March 21


yeah but Bloodborne
posted by Roommate at 10:06 AM on March 21


ROU_Xenophobe I have that download speed problem too, but I find I can fix it by completely shutting the PS4 down and restarting it. (As opposed to sleep mode, which I normally use). It's been like that for a year+. I can't fathom what goes wrong with the networking that a hard restart fixes it, but it's simple enough to try.
posted by Nelson at 10:06 AM on March 21


I think an equivalent problem is whenever the New York Times sends someone who absolutely hates genre to review Game of Thrones, and they complain about all the weirdness in worldbuilding and sneering judgements about fantasy tropes. Well, yes, they thought it was shit, but they should also mention that they don't like the genre.

I was going to stay away from Walker's follow-up review, I really was, but the above made me think again of the nut graf (IMO) from his review:
Think about a new galaxy, a whole new potential of life forms, of evolutionary exoticism, of astounding new ideas. Now discard them all and think of intensely familiar bipedal people living in ordinary cities with ordinary thoughts, relationships, educations, jobs, and would you believe it, technology exactly on a par with what you just happened to bring with you. Floating octopuses that think in cascading colours? Societies based on amorphous interaction? Ideas better than the ones I’m throwing out? Nope, not a single thing.
That's why I think that his reactions to the game are more than a little disingenuous. He claims to be a fan of the original trilogy, but he's apparently shocked, shocked to discover that a game that's a follow-up to a big space opera, that has shown itself in teaser after teaser and gameplay trailer after gameplay trailer to adhere to the space opera genre, is--hold onto your Kuwashii visors, kiddies--a big ol' space opera. (And his proposed alternatives sound an awful lot like Baby's First Acid Trip. What is a society "based on amorphous interaction", even? "Floating octopuses that think in cascading colours" would be... the hanar, I guess?)

And, let me make it clear, I am absolutely not claiming that the game is or should be above criticism. I stuck my toe in the waters last night--after upgrading my graphics card, which took little time, and various additional files and drivers, which took more than a little time--and, yes, the character graphics are a major disappointment, so far. I can believe that the team that put this together weren't composed primarily of people who had worked on the original trilogy, because each of the first three games were much better at establishing the tone of the game with their respective initial cutscenes. But I'm also seeing a lot of promise, too.

I've also got my eye on HZD, with all the praise it's getting here and elsewhere, although I'm not sure that I want to buy yet one more piece of hardware, after making the investment in a new graphics card and RAM for MEA. Unless I end up hating MEA, I'll probably wait for HZD to come down in price or end up as a bundle.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:52 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


The criticism isn't that it's a space opera, it's that it could have been a really interesting space opera that explored new ideas about what life in the galaxy is like.

It's not an unreasonable expectation, since the original trilogy DID do that, in a limited way. The Elcor stands out in my mind as one of the most interesting species in Sci-Fi not merely because they aren't bi-pedal but because the game said something about how an alien language might differ in more than just vocabulary, and how that species would choose to adapt to communicate with us.
posted by danny the boy at 11:02 AM on March 21


If they're just going to do a big ol' space opera they could have just made a side story to the original trilogy instead of waving around the brand spanking-new galaxy thing. Have some creativity for God's sake. BioWare has had years to brainstorm something fresh and new, and if they didn't get the chance then it's more of the same corporate whip-cracking and tyranny-of-metrics mismanagement from EA.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:27 AM on March 21


Wait, is this Mass Effect: Voyager?
posted by dinty_moore at 11:27 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


The Elcor stands out in my mind as one of the most interesting species in Sci-Fi

Sure, but what did the games do with them? Not much. In my mind while it is nice to be able to role play different genders I think a new ME game should allow you to explore what it means to be any alien race - from Elcor and Hanar on down to Geth.
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:57 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


That's why I think that his reactions to the game are more than a little disingenuous. He claims to be a fan of the original trilogy, but he's apparently shocked, shocked to discover that a game that's a follow-up to a big space opera, that has shown itself in teaser after teaser and gameplay trailer after gameplay trailer to adhere to the space opera genre, is--hold onto your Kuwashii visors, kiddies--a big ol' space opera.

I think you're misreading him; he's not shocked that Andromeda adheres closely to the conventions of the original trilogy, he's disappointed that a game that has been marketed as being about exploring a Whole New Galaxy is, in fact, substantively about exploring Actually The Same Galaxy But Very Slightly Different. At that point, why not set the game back in the Milky Way galaxy? Why have New Galaxy be the central premise of your new game if you aren't going to do anything interesting with it? That's (I think) his point: that he liked the first trilogy, and he's not opposed to more space opera in the same fashion, but that if the creators of the game are going to make a big deal about how it's different, it's fair game to ask how different it actually is. Does it actually feel like a different galaxy?

Walker's answer is 'no;' not having played the game, I can't say. How much that matters to any given player is really up to them, but I do think that Walker is partly reacting against the game's marketing -- the Voyager comparison is probably apt, there, in that Voyager sold itself more on being set in unexplored territory than DS9 ever did, despite both shows technically being substantially set outside of the Alpha/Beta quadrants of the predecessors.
posted by cjelli at 12:14 PM on March 21 [2 favorites]


The criticism isn't that it's a space opera, it's that it could have been a really interesting space opera that explored new ideas about what life in the galaxy is like.

So I write sci-fi, and after three books of all-humans-with-aliens-only-mentioned, I'm wrestling with including some truly alien aliens in the next book now. And I gotta say, for what it's worth, that this sort of thing is way harder from a writing standpoint than it sounds at first brush.

At some point, your characters have to be able to relate to the aliens. So how different do they have to be before they're really "alien" enough? And then what does that alienness do to your narrative? There are so many things our imagination takes for granted -- bilateral symmetry, speech, paths of technological development, economics -- because we haven't seen other models. Figuring out the way these divergences will intersect in a way that makes sense is a lot of work. And then, once you've got that done: can your entirely human audience relate and latch onto it? Can you still tell a narrative that they will relate to?

And if they can relate to it, did you really make it alien enough?

The other thing is, we do this all the time. We do it with Star Wars. We do it with Star Trek. The Klingons aren't really all that alien. They're just a mash-up of human cultures and qualities. They're samurai-Viking-bikers in space. And hell, even the really weird aliens of Mass Effect like the Hanar were, ultimately, created to showcase very human qualities in a non-human package.

In the end, we're using those aliens to tell ourselves stories about ourselves.

So you could do all that work I talked about. You could get the BioWare team together and say, "Give me something super fucking trippy and new," and that might turn out to be really cool. But would it still be Mass Effect? Would you be giving the Mass Effect audience what they want... which is mostly more Mass Effect? It sounds to me like Walker wants a different game altogether.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:12 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]


why not set the game back in the Milky Way galaxy?

There's a big in-game reason why they're not in the Milky Way. For that matter, there's a pretty major in-game reason why MEA has mostly-familiar surroundings: they're specifically looking for places where humans could settle and thrive with minimal or no terraforming. (The original trilogy was really good about noting the different ecologies of the planets that you visit or scan, including those which are almost but not quite suitable for humans for one reason or another.) They're specifically on a colonization mission, not a general Trekky explore-strange-new-worlds-and-whatnot mission. Hey, I'm all for aliens that stretch the concept of life and/or sentience as we understand it. (For my money, the really alien aliens of the trilogy were the geth, with their nature as a collection of concurrently running processes and their "bodies" just platforms on which to run those processes.) Hopefully, if this game does well enough, there will be a sequel or two in which they open things up a little and have more exploration-for-its-own-sake and get a little more creative in the races that we meet. But I'm not complaining about having most of the races be the familiar ones from the trilogy, when this is exactly what we've been told for some months now.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:43 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Sure, but what did the games do with them? Not much. In my mind while it is nice to be able to role play different genders I think a new ME game should allow you to explore what it means to be any alien race - from Elcor and Hanar on down to Geth.

That would be really cool, but also hell from a game development standpoint to have a true diversity in game experiences and not just a few different lines or different origin setup (like in Dragon Age Origins). You'd be selling one game but creating the materials for three or four or five. It simply isn't marketable the same way. Though I guess the solution could be to create smaller budget games that focus on other races, maybe even have that act as an experiment for gameplay. There are certainly enough facebook/freenium minigame tie ins these days, it could be fun to do something a little more with that. Especially if you can have the aspects of the game affect the minigame or vice versa.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:48 PM on March 21


There's a big in-game reason why they're not in the Milky Way...They're specifically on a colonization mission, not a general Trekky explore-strange-new-worlds-and-whatnot mission.

They're not really people, though, so that just kicks the can down the road to why the designers & writers (1) created a game about colonization and not exploration, (2) didn't set it in the Milk Way. The game only exists in the form it does because people created it, and it's not wrong to frame a critique around the act of creation.

I'm not complaining about having most of the races be the familiar ones from the trilogy, when this is exactly what we've been told for some months now.

I don't think Walker is complaining about there being familiar races except insofar as the game is premised on NEW GALAXY; I don't think he's voicing some sort of intrinsic opposition to them. And, hand-in-hand with that, I don't think the fact that marketing has also talked about how this is going to be the case really removes the complaint; that marketing went hand-in-hand with other marketing about NEW GALAXY, and a lot of people were voicing the same critique in response to that marketing, before previews were actually out.

Again, I don't think (from my reading of the Walker piece) that he objects to Same Old Aliens per se, I think he objects to be sold a game that's premised as Exciting New Aliens and finding the game to not be that. It's an objection to the dissonance between the framing and the execution, not an objection to the content in-and-of-itself (although he makes some critiques along those lines elsewhere).
posted by cjelli at 1:58 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Quick, someone pitch Solaris: The Video Game.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:15 PM on March 21


If we as a civilization can turn Roadside Picnic into a haunting and memorable shooter, we can make any sci-fi adaptation game.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:21 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Minute spoilers ahead

Also, Disclaimer - I'm a ridiculous Bioware fangirl that also never finished Mass Effect 3 because reasons. I've done 3 nearly complete playthroughs of the trilogy with various Shepards and have stopped all of them before the last mission.

I'm about 7 hours in. A bit disappointed so far, but still greatly entertained. As a Bioware game, it seems to be following the Dragon Age Inquisition path - open ended sandbox but in a way that makes it hard to always know what you should be doing. I'm ok with it, because I'm a bit intuitive with my thinking anyways - but it drives my linear, logical husband crazy. I need to buy the guide book for him. It's still Mass Effect but the dialogue feels a bit clunky, my hair animation is weird and nothing is really wowing me but...Aliens!

A lady Krogan and Turian!

I really just came here to say, that it was tonight that I realized my love for Turians totally overrides my hetero status. Garrus has been my one true love, but I've only just met her and I'm already half in love with Vetra Nyx.
posted by Lapin at 10:54 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]


I've played for several hours now, and I'm enjoying it for the most part. There's something off about all the human eyes, though. It's distracting. The character creator is a big step back from Dragon Age Inquisition's, and I don't like it. I suppose DA has always had more CC options than ME, but this one feels extra limiting compared to DAI (and Fallout 4, which had a great CC). Also, it's blindingly obvious that all the asari except for Peebee have the same face model. Kind of a bummer.

The krogan and salarians look amazing though, as do the planetary enviroments. Combat is fun, and the jump jet is AWESOME. I just met the new aliens--the Angara--and they are gorgeous. All in all, feeling more positive than negative and not regretting my pre-order yet!
posted by lovecrafty at 7:25 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]


I'm glad you're liking it! Now I feel bad because I'm about to be a bummer.

I watched about an hour of people playing on Twitch last night and was baffled at how comically bad the animation is. It felt like ~2010 level animation tech. I can't really understand how it got released like this. I mean facial animation is hard, sure, but plenty of games the last few years are significantly better. (Horizon Zero Dawn, to name an example from this thread.) Mass Effect is a game that's all about watching people's faces as they talk to each other expounding dialog, it's a shame it's so bad. Maybe it's the sheer quantity and variety of faces that make it hard to do well?
posted by Nelson at 8:02 AM on March 22


The Giant Bomb podcast this week spent a good amount of time talking about simple game bugs - animation issues aside - just stuff like NPCs spawning in the wrong place, unfinishable broken quests, reappearing completed quests, textures disappearing, cutscene issues, inventory problems, duplicated NPCs wandering around the ship. "No coincidence this is coming out at the end of March", says Brad (i.e. squeezing it out at the end of Q1 even though it's not ready).
I can look over bad animation. I can maayyyybe look over bad dialogue. But all that and actual bug bugs? I love ME but this has really put me off.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:20 AM on March 22


Though I guess the solution could be to create smaller budget games that focus on other races

I'd pay real actual money to watch Elcor Hamlet. No gameplay required, just give me Elcor Hamlet.
posted by asperity at 9:34 AM on March 22 [7 favorites]


I'd pay real actual money to watch the Blasto movies.
posted by lovecrafty at 10:03 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]


I love Mass Effect. I've played through the series a couple of times, went to the local Comic con primarily to hear a panel of its voice actors, and have been looking forward to Andromeda all year.

I hate this game.

The face animation is ridiculous, with the characters eyes being a cross between dead and the last thing you see before someone drugs you and steals a kidney. The dialogue is dull. The voice acting is unremarkable at best, painfully amateur at worst. (Good lord, how I miss Jennifer Hale) You can't control your squadmates' powers, so you're mostly dependent on the AI, and strategy/combos become much less of an option. All the trappings of the Mass Effect universe are there, but they're all jumbled lifelessly together like a bad video game fanfiction.

Mass Effect 2 and 3 both had their problems, but for me, each game showed significant improvement in graphics and gameplay. Andromeda feels like it would have been an ok game five years ago. It's inexcusably sloppy and dull now.

I mean- whatever. Video games are not the most pressing concerns of my life at the moment. But damn, Bioware didn't just release a crappy game, they squandered a loyal fanbase who had come to expect so much more.
posted by bibliowench at 10:07 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]


At the risk of sounding like I'm overpraising the game to justify my criticism of the critic, I'm very pleased with it so far. Maybe I just don't play as many games as other people, and so my first instinct isn't to say "that's so 2010" or whatever. Maybe the reviews got to me a little and lowered my expectations. Regardless, it's lots, lots better than the pile-on would have it. The character that's being used as the most common example of how bad the animation is? Actually quite an engaging character, one of the first ones that you talk to in that particular setting, and coming off as a real jerk toward Ryder before you realize how scared shitless she (and most of the other people there) are at how badly things seem to be going compared to their original expectations. I found myself wishing that I could give her a hug.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:14 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


I'd pay real actual money to watch Elcor Hamlet.

Confident but reserved. Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Slightly nervous. Your noble son is mad.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:38 PM on March 22 [8 favorites]


Hey sooooo if anybody wants to be Bad At Multiplayer with me I'm SokkaShotFirst on PS4.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:28 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


"Indecisive: To be or not to be, that is the question..."

Actually, if I were staging Elcor Hamlet, I'd have literally every line of Hamlet's start with "Indecisive:" until at least the fifth act. The Yorick scene would be "Indecisively melancholy:".
posted by tobascodagama at 7:20 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


The actual line used in the elcor Hamlet snippets we get is "Morose rumination: To be or not to be..." And later, "Nostalgic melancholy: Alas poor Yorick..." And that's why Francis Kitt is an award winning director. Blasto's elcor partner just does everything "Badassfully." Not an actor's director on those flicks.

Prothean no like you!
posted by lovecrafty at 7:50 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


Having put 3 hours or so in, it definitely feels a step backwards from Dragon Age Inquisition (and ME 2&3, but DAI seems the fairer comparison to make as it's more recent/they're both Frostbite engine), but even so, I prefer sci fi over fantasy and it's not that bad that I'm not enjoying it.
posted by juv3nal at 1:50 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


That's my bottom line so far. Not nearly as good as it could be but not so bad that I'm not having fun.

So it's a bit of a disappointment but not a disaster of epic proportions. I think the next ME game is, however, a make or break moment.
posted by Justinian at 3:15 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


oh and, as for this

I mean facial animation is hard, sure, but plenty of games the last few years are significantly better. (Horizon Zero Dawn, to name an example from this thread.)

Not that it lets Bioware off the hook, but there is this round table from industry AAA animators and this twitter thread from a Naughty Dog animator (and former Mass Effect 2 animation lead) that both address the inherent challenges of tackling something of the scope of Andromeda.

But basically something less expansive can use bespoke animation, mocap & camerawork for all their dialogue scenes, whereas Andromeda, because of how much dialogue needs to be covered, is forced to use procedural systems.

Again, this doesn't let Andromeda off the hook because there are games of similar scope that do a better job (Witcher 3, previous Bioware titles), but it does point to why something like an Uncharted or an HZD may not be an apt comparison.
posted by juv3nal at 4:19 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


Right, I was about to point out Witcher 3.

Like it or not, it is now the benchmark by which all future fully voiced open world RPGs will be judged. It raised the bar. Going backwards is not acceptable.
posted by Justinian at 4:20 PM on March 23


I don't know, I don't like the whole attitude that every major game needs to meet a minimum benchmark for graphics. If resources are limited, I'd rather they go to stuff like story and voice acting. People complain a lot about graphics looking too 2014 or something, and if it's a good game, I honestly don't care. I think the popularity of the retro whole pixel graphics thing is partly a rebellion against that, besides the obvious nostalgia.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:29 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


I don't like the whole attitude that every major game needs to meet a minimum benchmark for graphics

I'm not talking about the graphics (or at least only the graphics). The writing, some of the voice acting, the level of immersion in the worldbuilding, the lack of fetchy sidequests, etc were all significantly better in W3 than they are in MEA.
posted by Justinian at 5:21 PM on March 23


I think the next ME game is, however, a make or break moment.

At the very least, ME:A needs a gangbusters DLC like Citadel or Leviathans that proves the new team can provide the kind of crowd pleasing or jaw-dropping experience people are looking for from their Mass Effect games.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:52 PM on March 23


For what it's worth, I've already spotted one obvious opening for a big ol' DLC add-on, and I'd be shocked if they don't do something with it.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:16 PM on March 23


I'm not talking about the graphics (or at least only the graphics). The writing, some of the voice acting, the level of immersion in the worldbuilding, the lack of fetchy sidequests, etc were all significantly better in W3 than they are in MEA.

Oh, I see. That's fair enough. I was reading you in response to the previous comment about the animations.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:28 PM on March 23


combos become much less of an option.

While it does nothing to address your other complaints, combos can still be plentiful because skills are on individual cooldowns now instead of a common one. You can fire the primer followed by the detonator right away. It just means that's 2/3 skills accounted for off the bat.
posted by juv3nal at 2:40 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


A shift towards combat being primarily about single character combos rather than multi-character combos is, of course, the sort of "dumbing down" of combat that is routinely decried by critics.
posted by Justinian at 2:44 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Ehhhh if you're playing that way and explicitly directing squad fire, you don't really have multiple characters. You just have one character, one POV, one targeting reticle, but three sets of powers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:29 AM on March 24


I hope they at least add an option to change the appearance of your allies, because some of them look confusingly similar to certain enemies in their current color scheme, so I sometimes go "crap where did that guy come from" only to realize it's just my squadmate Bob.

I've played a fair bit and the gameplay is more ME1ish than M2/3ish to me, since you have access to most skills from the word go and have to figure out a combination that works for you. I was plowing through enemies in the open world with my sniper rifle and tech/combat, since the enemies spawn away from you and you can take them out before they reach you, but I got my ass handed out to me once I hit a "set piece" mission where they come from all sides. I respecced to a vanguard (biotic charge and a shotgun), and it works quite well, though it's not easy mode like it was in ME3.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:46 AM on March 24


Like it or not, it is now the benchmark by which all future fully voiced open world RPGs will be judged. It raised the bar. Going backwards is not acceptable.

Ehh. There's some pretty big differences between what Witcher 3 was trying to do and what Mass Effect was trying to do, both in terms of narrative and gameplay - in Witcher, pretty much everyone is human. There's the occasional elf and other creature, but all of the faces you're paying attention to are human. Having different types of races means having to multiply the work and the time it takes to do the work and the money it takes to do the work. . .

The other thing is that Witcher is very much about controlling one character. Sure, you might occasionally switch the one character you're controlling and have an our or two of playthrough with an AI, but Geralt is a loner. Mass Effect is about a squad - you have a main character, but the other characters are important, too.

I don't really want to get into a 'what is a better game' contest, because Witcher 3 was a wonderful game underneath a really irritating scuzz of sexism, but most of the conversations I have about it end up being about whether or not the game is sexist, really or if I just didn't get the trenchant political message and grimdark grimdarkness. But also - yeah, Witcher 3 had better graphics than ME:A, despite being an older game. But it's also trying for something different, and saying 'hey, we want everything to always look this awesome' means limiting both gameplay and the narrative to just be about one person interacting with the same kinds of people.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:50 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


And also - this shouldn't factor as an excuse for Mass Effect: Andromeda, because there are other ways to get around the many faces issue. I laughed when I first saw the 'everyone in Orlais wears a mask' crop up in Inquisition, but it's a very good way in-game to get out of making a bunch more faces and adds some interest to the world and the narrative.

You can make it that alien species do look alike to humans and tend to wear obvious identifying marks so people can tell them apart. I mean, how many people can tell one penguin from another? Have some fun with obviously different voice actors with different personalities complaining about how speciesist humans are, maybe have them confuse Shepard with some other humans. If you do have these limitations, you are allowed to hang a lampshade on them.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:27 AM on March 24


Have some fun with obviously different voice actors with different personalities complaining about how speciesist humans are, maybe have them confuse Shepard with some other humans.

That would work pretty well as a long-joke in the three games - a character (Volus or Turian, maybe?) that for some reason has to cross paths with Shepard a number of times, but never acknowledges having met Shep before because "all humans look the same to me".
Could be another reporter. One that doesn't work in tabloid journalism, or make snide insinuations or disingenuous assertions.


(also, update: couldn't find ME3. Maybe next time - I totally forgot there was a new game coming, and people usually go back to the originals leading in to the release)
posted by lmfsilva at 9:09 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


But also - yeah, Witcher 3 had better graphics than ME:A, despite being an older game. But it's also trying for something different, and saying 'hey, we want everything to always look this awesome' means limiting both gameplay and the narrative to just be about one person interacting with the same kinds of people.

Right, but that doesn't explain the superiority of the sidequest system, the "massive, living, breathing open world" with virtually no loading times, or the other ways it advanced the ball. Compare Novigrad in Witcher 3 to cities/city equivalents in Bioware/Bethesda games. There are, like, 9 NPCs in a city sector in DA:I or the Citadel in ME. Novigrad will have a single city square with 100 NPCs in it. That sort of thing.

It's not that Bioware or Bethesda are behind the curve in one area; the facial animations, say. Sure, they are. But for any one aspect like the face animations you can come up with a reasonable explanation. It's easier to concentrate on animating Geralt when it's not a squad based game! Sure. But they're behind the curve in virtually every area. Character development of your friends and squadmates was the one way that wasn't true and even that fell behind with ME:A.
posted by Justinian at 2:26 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


I agree with you that it's depressing when most conversations about W3 devolve into sexist/notsexist. Really? That's all you've got when discussing what was in many ways the most advanced single-character (as opposed to party based) RPG ever made?
posted by Justinian at 2:27 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing about Witcher 3 vs. Andromeda complaints, and I swear I'm not being glib. As amazing and polished as W3 is, it has a big problem: no spaceships.

For big, plot-and-character-heavy, high-budget RPGs with a space opera theme, Mass Effect really is the only game in town.

But don't get me wrong. If CD Projekt Red announces a science fictiony project, they'll have my attention for sure. (And yes I know about the cyberpunk thing, but space opera is the genre of my heart.)
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:55 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


At this point I'm wondering if they're going to do the Starsiege: Tribes or Unreal Tournament thing and turn a previously single-player focused franchise into a multiplayer-focused community, without a campaign. Looks like people liked ME3 multiplayer well enough.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:07 PM on March 27


Here's the thing about Witcher 3 vs. Andromeda complaints, and I swear I'm not being glib. As amazing and polished as W3 is, it has a big problem: no spaceships.

I'm that way too; part of why I like the Falloutses better than the Elder Scrollses too. I've also found that the line where the gross objectification of women goes from "tiresome and embarrassing" to full-on "No" is, just as an empirical matter, somewhere between ME2 and Witcher3 for me.

Not only is Mass Effect the only game in town for space-opera RPG, it's just so gorgeously, over the top committed to a space opera setting. It's like they fed Syd Mead a kilo of coke and told him to just design the shit out of everything and then spooned some more 80s-future-straight-out-of-Starlog goodness on top. And the ships! They look like they fell out of a Terran Trade Authority book! Or out of a prog-rock album cover; same thing really.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:46 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


I'd be normally pretty disappointed in the reception of ME:A, but I've been playing Zelda: BOTW every moment I can spare and it's the most enjoyable game I've played in a decade.

I thought Mass Effect 3 did a mostly good job with the resolution of past setups though it favoured flash over nuance. DA:I had a lot of tedious filler and boring antagonists. I don't care about twitchy animations and I could skip filler, but what worries me most is reviewers being underwhelmed by the writing. Thankfully there are so many great games out, I can wait for impressions of people who finished (or gave up on) the game.
posted by ersatz at 12:05 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


I agree with you that it's depressing when most conversations about W3 devolve into sexist/notsexist. Really? That's all you've got when discussing what was in many ways the most advanced single-character (as opposed to party based) RPG ever made?

If it's sexist it's bad, whereas if it's not sexist it might or might not be bad. If a person has said it's sexist you'll never be able to look at it or hear about it again without thinking 'that's sexist'. One drop is all it takes.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:57 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Feminism ruins everything.

Not in the bad way that the MRA's and other anti-feminists mean it, but in a sort of good way. Once you start seeing things from a feminist lens you can't really stop, and that means you often encounter stuff you want to like, but you have problems with because of feminism.

Pre-feminist me wasn't really motivated by the male gaze rewarding stuff crammed into games, but I wasn't bothered by it either. Post-feminist me notices all the fan service and eye candy and cheesecake and all the other ways you can say "female characters posed in a way that sexually titillates the hypothetical straight male gamer", and it takes me out of the game and bothers me.

ME2 was a great fucking game. And the camera never left Miranda's butt or tits and that bothered me, as does the sex/relationship mechanic in general (I'm not sure its possible to build a sex/relationship mechanic into a game that doesn't bother me), and various other somewhat lesser objections (you'd hope that by 2183 we'd be past using "cheerleader" as an insult, for example).

Like anything else, we each have our own level of tolerance, our own ways of living with the patriarchy. Some people find ME to be too sexist, others (like me) can accept it and play and enjoy the game.

Feminism ruins everything though. And that's good.
posted by sotonohito at 4:12 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]


It's perfectly okay to engage with things you know are problematic (though like sotonohito says, you'll have to decide for yourself what's so egregious it makes it not worthwhile). If you only engage with media that's proof against such criticism, well, you're probably looking at some pretty slim pickings, and, even then, what seems fine today could well be rife with problems when viewed in retrospect a decade from now.
posted by juv3nal at 4:24 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


“Animators: Awkward 'Andromeda' Animations Are Automation Amok,” Rob Zacny, VICE Waypoint, 27 March 2017
posted by ob1quixote at 9:52 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Ooh...the plot thickens (yt).
posted by juv3nal at 4:28 PM on April 6


The Giant Bomb review.
I just can't overstate how buggy this game is, nor can I remember ever playing a full-priced, marquee video game from a major publisher with such an embarrassingly wide array of glaring issues. I could fill the entire space of this review with nothing but the bugs I ran into, which tended to affect practically every aspect of the game, from conversations to NPC animations to quest logic, sound effects and dialogue triggers, combat encounters, character collision, crashes and infinite loading screens, and more.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:03 AM on April 7


Good timing; BioWare just released a major patch that not only fixed a bunch of bugs, but also made some small but appreciated changes in gameplay; you can skip over a chunk of the flying-from-planet-to-planet animation when scanning a solar system, for example, and there are also number-pad options for dialogue. The most remarkable changes, though, were the subtle changes in faces that reduced much of the "uncanny valley" effects that people complained about. I found the tendency of many characters to have sanpaku, including my own Ryder, very distracting, and that's gone.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:08 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


That bodes well for me buying it on sale six months from now.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:40 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


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