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BioWare's Mass Effect: Andromeda has just about a week to go until it's fully released, and since there's a 10-hour trial along with review copies in the hands of a number of online outlets, we're already able to read through some of their impressions of the first several hours of gameplay. One thing's for certain – there isn't some universal consensus regarding this upcoming title. Check it out for yourself:
Rock, Paper, Shotgun thinks the first hours aren't good:
This time out you begin by choosing whether you’re a lady or a man called Ryder, daughter or son of a leading figure in an expedition to leave the Milky Way and start new lives in Andromeda. Using magic telescopes the various familiar races of Mass Effect were able to spot “golden planets” in the new galaxy, and setting out in massive ships called arks, each race shipping about 20,000 passengers, they set off on a six hundred year trip in cryo-tanks to reach the new lands. I love this start! It says, “We can be anything, do anything!” If that’s the plan, the game isn’t showing its hand in this early section.
I’m at a loss. What I expect from BioWare is slightly dodgy combat, but splendid writing and characters. What I’ve seen so far is some decent enough combat (but nothing beyond what you’d expect in a third person shooter), and some of the most dreadful writing. I cannot emphasise enough how poor it’s been.
PC Gamer has mixed feelings:
Five of us at PC Gamer have been playing Mass Effect: Andromeda pretty much non-stop for the past week. We’ll publish our review on Monday, but until then we’re limited to only discussing the very beginning of BioWare’s new space opera, which is what Origin Access subscribers will be able to play starting Thursday. We’ve gathered all our players to talk about what we think so far—expect spoilers for the very beginning of the game, and some fiery takes because, so far, none of us fully agree with each other.
Tyler Wilde: We’re only allowed to talk about the first couple missions in Andromeda right now, and I think we all agree that’s a mistake on EA’s part. The opening moments are not the highlight of Andromeda at all. James and I are still forming opinions, but I think Tim hates it at this point. Chris has played further and likes it much more—but again we can’t say why until our review on Monday.[...]
Eurogamer says that the game shows promise:
There's a natural symmetry in Andromeda being both your character's new stomping grounds and, as a fresh start for BioWare, the Mass Effect series' new home, too. Even after a few hours, the game shows heaps of promise - strong foundations and characters you'll want to spend time with. Here's hoping the rest of the game builds upon that.
Kotaku calls it overwhelming(in a good way):
Character creation seems like an improvement - I made someone who appeared human on the first go around, without feeling too much regret once I saw them in action.
The new dialogue system is MUCH better. Now there are a many different types of responses, none of which are the obvious right/wrong/paragon/renegade choices. I’ve found myself picking liberally, depending on what felt right.
The voice acting feels more natural now, because you’re not a gruff Spectre.
Combat is more intense and kinetic, largely because of the added mobility. I can run, I can dash, I can get in the enemy’s face. On normal, the game seems harder, too - I’ve died in the tutorial mission / first real mission, which I’ve never experienced in a Mass Effect game before.
I love that I can mix and match abilities, regarding of what specialization I pick.
Then again, the number of SYSTEMS and CHOICES are kinda overwhelming, and Andromeda throws you right into the thick of it. Where older games felt as if Bioware were making a compromise between an RPG and an action game, it feels like they’ve gone full throttle in both directions this time around. Combat is thrilling, but you’re also going to spend a lot of time managing resources and equipping different things.
GameInformer is enjoying the story so far, while getting frustrated by some aspects of exploration:
My early thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda are all over the place at this point. I'm enjoying the story immensely. The Andromeda system is proving to be an exceptional canvas for discovery. I love how nothing in this sector of space is defined until another species or a document tells you what it is. We instead see humans trying to decipher what they are seeing. That's a fantastic little touch. BioWare also nails the pacing in the early moments of Andromeda. If you want to take it slow to soak up the lore, you can take on a number of side missions and activities to keep you occupied for hours. If you want to blaze through the campaign, you can bypass those moments and keep moving along the critical path – meaning you won't run into big lulls like you did on Citadel. The new hub world, called Nexus, is nicely designed with most waypoints grouped together tightly. There is a tram ride that takes a few seconds, but again, the destination you seek is usually close.
The lull you'll likely run into is tied to world exploration. Each planet I've landed on has been huge. For those of you who want to explore every little cave and camp, you could spend an entire day on one planet. If you just want to stick to the story beats, get comfortable with the idea of driving vast distances and having to navigate rocky terrain to reach your objective. You are the "Pathfinder" after all. The Nomad controls well, and is an absolute beast when you kick it into six-wheel drive. I haven't unlocked any weapons for it yet, but the base controls are solid. Frustration comes from figuring out how to navigate mountains and uneven terrain. Not everything can be climbed. I'm enjoying the exploration and Nomad moments, but these aspects are where Mass Effect Andromeda slows down to a crawl.
Admittedly, all this in not necessarily representative of the final product so we'll try to keep you updated when the actual full reviews start coming in.