by Jason Howard Kelly
I finally got around to watching the Mass Effect: Andromeda gameplay trailer that was aired during the Games Awards last night. I am going to give you my initial impressions through the lens of a man who is currently playing through Mass Effect 1. I decided to replay the original trilogy before Andromeda comes out, and I think the comparisons and contrasts will be quite interesting.
Let’s start with just the general look and feel of Andromeda. Obviously, being produced in 4K resolution is going to add an amazing new look to Mass Effect that fans of the franchise are not used to. The last Mass Effect game to come out was back in 2012, so graphics and gaming systems have dramatically improved since then. The graphics look crisp and clear which gives the player a strong sense of immersion into the new Andromeda galaxy.
And now we come to the only part of the trailer that made me cringe just a tiny bit. While the base design of the Ryder character looks pretty there is something that really bothered me in this trailer. The scene between Ryder and Sloan Kelly (whoever that is) looked clunky and disjointed. I’m not sure how else to describe that scene other than that. Was it just me or did Ryder’s facial expression not even slightly change a single time throughout that entire interaction? This, unfortunately, harks back to the old Mass Effect games in which Shepard’s facial expression barely changed at all regardless of the situation. The most you would get is a cock of the eyebrow. Personally, I was hoping the developers would have made some alterations to that to make the main character seem less robotic and unaffected. Perhaps I am expecting too much, but it’s hard not to look at games such as Uncharted or even Mafia III and think, “How come Nathan Drake and Lincoln Clay can show more emotion in one scene than Shepard or Ryder can in a whole game?”
Maybe when I’m able to actually get my hands on the game and play through a few more dialogue scenes I will see something different, but I’m not counting on it.
Luckily I was able to shake off the chills of disappointment I got from the dialogue scene with the combat display in the next part of the trailer. The combat looks to be vastly improved from the older Mass Effect games. No more hiding behind a box and popping out every 2 seconds with your shotgun. It looks like they have taken biotic abilities to a whole new level to accompany the standard combat weapons. They have also added new enemies and a wider variety of enemy types to avoid stagnation. The combat looks fast and exciting which is an upgrade over the slow, plodding, duck-and-cover combat from the original trilogy.
I can’t wait to try whatever that move is that sends you slicing through the air and landing right next to your opponent for close-range combat. That looks downright filthy (in a good way).
Last but certainly not least we come to the soundtrack. I will freely admit that I have no idea whether or not the music we heard in the final 30-45 seconds of the trailer is part of the actual game. However, if it is part of the soundtrack, then Mass Effect is sure to have yet another kick-ass soundtrack. The music of Mass Effect has always had a special place in my heart as a gamer. It amplified the emotion and the sentiment of the story in the game. If you felt absolutely nothing during scenes such as “Leaving Earth” in Mass Effect 3 then you might actually be clinically dead inside. A strong soundtrack is crucial to the Mass Effect franchise, and it looks as though they’re picking up right where they left off.
Overall I am still beyond excited for Andromeda to come out. Admittedly, it is always challenging to make any concise judgment on a game that hasn’t been released yet based on a 4-minute trailer. As I mentioned, the dialogue scene was my only quibble with the trailer, so hopefully a full play through will dispel those doubts. For now, I’m going to keep playing through the original Mass Effect trilogy and appreciate the fact that BioWare has already given us a tremendous game.
I think they got a few more great ones left in them. Get hyped for March!