When talking about Mass Effect: Andromeda, the most common reaction you’ll receive is disdain. On one hand, you have fans claiming that it’s one of the worst Mass Effect games and that it simply doesn’t compare to the trilogy. Critics, on the other hand, give mixed to positive reviews on the game – mainly complimenting the atmosphere, improved combat, and visuals.
BioWare wanted to make a game that explores the hidden potential the other Mass Effect games could not. However, a multitude of issues and complaints caused BioWare to neglect to release any single-player DLC to further the game’s story. While it’s clear that the game had its few issues, we personally believe it’s nothing that couldn’t be solved with a few hotfixes and patches. Of course, nearly every game has a rocky launch – especially one that went through development hell to boot. But is the game really that bad?
Are everyone’s negative reactions following the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda warranted? Is there even a mote of quality hidden within all the awkward animations, bad writing, and technical issues players have encountered? There are many factors we must consider before making the final verdict. That’s why we’re here to answer the question – is Mass Effect: Andromeda worth playing?
How many Mass Effect games are there?
There are three Mass Effect games in total, and the goal of Mass Effect: Andromeda was to combine the positive elements of each game.
The first Mass Effect game came out in 2007 and already became critically acclaimed. The game received great praise for its cinematic design and interactive storytelling. This is a given considering BioWare’s games always include great narratives and impactful stories.
Of course, that means it helped jumpstart the game series’ fame and popularity. The story focuses on Commander Shepard (the player character) in his efforts to prevent the Reapers (a highly advanced machine race) from carrying out their plans of galactic invasion. The developers of Mass Effect: Andromeda intended to include and improve the exploration capabilities from the first Mass Effect into their project.
Mass Effect 2 saw its release in 2010, just three years after the success of the first game in the series. We can agree with critics’ positive reviews of the game’s presentation and cinematography, as well as the complexity and diversity of the characters. It’s evident that Andromeda’s developers also agreed with these reviews. That’s why they took these strong story elements and incorporated them into Mass Effect: Andromeda.
The third game in the series, aptly named Mass Effect 3, came out in 2012. With only two years between the second and third installments, fans criticized the game’s ending. BioWare mitigated this criticism by releasing an Extended Cut that planned to expand upon the events and the ending of the game. However, despite the criticism, the game did really well, and the combat system stuck out the most. Expanding upon its quality and refinement, the developers of Andromeda hoped to take this element from Mass Effect 3 and incorporate it into their own game.
One thing you’ll notice is that these first three installments only had about two or three years’ worth of gap between their releases. Subsequently, you’ll notice ME:A came out in 2017, five years after the third game and two years after its announcement in 2015. Of course, this peculiarity has its reasons, which we’ll talk about later.
When does Mass Effect: Andromeda take place – before or after the trilogy?
It’s kind of weird. The Mass Effect timeline is expansive and the Andromeda timeline doesn’t exactly fit the question. This is because the events begin after Mass Effect 2 and end a long time after Mass Effect 3.
In 2185, the Andromeda Initiative sent members of different Sol species on a trip to the Andromeda Galaxy, with no plans for return. This would place the events of Mass Effect: Andromeda to begin right after the events of Mass Effect 2. This was already planned in 2176 when the Andromeda Initiative was founded and started making plans to find a new home for humanity in the Andromeda Galaxy. The trip, in the end, would take 600 years. The Andromeda Initiative would arrive at the Andromeda Galaxy in 2785. That’s nearly 400 years after the ending of Mass Effect 3.
With this in mind, I think we can say that most of the Mass Effect: Andromeda story takes place after the trilogy.
Is Mass Effect: Andromeda worth playing after the trilogy remaster in Legendary Edition?
This is a question not many people ask themselves. Long-time fans of the series will immediately tell you the answer is no, Mass Effect: Andromeda was so bad it doesn’t even deserve a chance. We, however, don’t really agree with this. Some factors play into the quality of the game, and we won’t deny the bad parts. We just think there’s some good in all of it.
Why was Mass Effect: Andromeda so bad? Spoiler: it wasn’t
The root of ME:A’s problems begins in development. The previous Mass Effect games were handled by BioWare’s Edmonton studio, but this game was handled by BioWare’s new Montreal team. Of course, this was bound to cause conflict. Edmonton’s team thought that the game didn’t have a clear enough vision, and Montreal’s team thought they were trying to sabotage them. This caused nearly a dozen Montreal staff to leave for other companies. The game’s creative director changed. The team was slowly beginning to lose excitement for a project they were working so hard on. The Frostbite engine issues did not alleviate the situation, and neither did the concept of procedural generation they were going for.
But the wonky animations and technical issues that arose from this don’t make the game, in our opinion. Fans saying it doesn’t compare to the trilogy usually don’t mention the fact that the trilogy had time to flesh out its world, characters, and concepts. I mean, it spanned across three games and got extensive feedback after each installment! Another positive aspect is the combat system which differs greatly from the other Mass Effect games. Rather than being able to pause the game, players must navigate through combat in real-time from an over-the-shoulder perspective. When mentioning atmosphere, it’s hard not to talk about the music and ambient noise. It really serves to help the player realize the weight of Ryder’s mission to find a new home for humanity, as well as the challenges the chosen protagonist and their crew face throughout.
For us, though, the protagonist really makes the game. While Commander Shepard was an elite human soldier, Ryder is a young adult trying to make sense of their mission. It’s understandable that they would be a bit awkward and lost in some situations. All of these aspects make Ryder human and real, and to some players perhaps even endearing. They’re no Shepard, but we think it’s refreshing to be able to meet and get to know a new protagonist.
How long is Mass Effect: Andromeda?
Is Mass Effect: Andromeda worth playing from a game-time perspective? There’s an easy answer. Taking into account the main story, it should take up about 20 hours of your time. When you combine that with extra content, the number rises dramatically, up to 65 hours of playtime. That means players have a lot of content to enjoy while playing the game, including the multiplayer mode!
There are five primary planets and over a dozen hub worlds to explore. It features an open-world setting and various objectives for each area. Some even have environmental hazards to look out for. Knowing this, we think Mass Effect: Andromeda will keep you entertained for a while.
How many endings does Mass Effect: Andromeda have?
BioWare’s games are known for their extensive choice of endings, mostly influenced by hard choices that the player must make throughout the game. Some choices are so impactful that they even impact choices and endings in the subsequent games, and some players play these games exclusively for this aspect. The Mass Effect trilogy is no different, with all three games offering at least two endings to choose from.
However, you’ll be disappointed to know that Mass Effect: Andromeda does not offer this option and only has one ending. Having said that, there are several choices you can make throughout the game. Some even seem like they could be particularly important for future games, which in itself makes Mass Effect: Andromeda worth playing.
Is Mass Effect: Andromeda good enough if you don’t want to buy the remaster?
The short answer is yes, Mass Effect: Andromeda is good enough. The Andromeda storyline has almost nothing to do with the original trilogy and, in turn, with the remaster. However, if you want to be familiar with the setting and know your way around the timeline, it’s probably a good idea to play the remaster. As with every game, there are a few minor details that are better explained in the first three installments.
Final verdict – to buy or not to buy ME:A?
If you’re looking for a perfect game, Mass Effect: Andromeda is probably not for you. The animation and technical issues make that clear. However, if you’re looking for a fresh start and an emotional experience, then you should definitely buy the game. Getting attached to the characters, trying to make the right decision, doing your best to complete your mission… This game offers it all, and it does it well. You can always count on BioWare and this franchise to tug at your heartstrings and give you an immersive experience. In that aspect, this game is no different.
So, our final answer to the question if Mass Effect: Andromeda is worth playing – definitely yes!