Let’s break this down. Bioware releases the long-awaited sequel to their popular Mass Effect trilogy. The Internet lambasts it, targeting its poor facial animations and a series of small bugs and glitches. Bioware responds by announcing a series of patches to fix these issues. The Internet reacts again by calling it an “Early Access Game” and encouraging players not to purchase it.
There’s Just No Pleasing Some People
After a good 40 hours in the game (on the PS4 version) I can safely say that I’ve run into three actual glitches:
- If you leave the game running and let it go into hibernation, you need to restart it completely once it comes back up. This is really bizarre and absolutely should have been fixed.
- Once (again, over the course of 40 hours) a conversation glitched out on me and had the models in the neutral T-pose. And it was hilariously bizarre but not actually that big of a deal.
- Liam’s loyalty mission is stupid. You’re in a ship that has gravity changing, and that’s fine, except you can get stuck in like half the geometry. I got stuck in corners like four times and had to keep restarting. When you get stuck in the geometry, your character won’t move at all. You can’t do anything. And you can’t spam save/restore because they don’t let you save during loyalty missions!
So there are problems. But, notably, these aren’t even close to the problems that were in say, every Elder Scrolls or Fallout game ever. So what digs?
The Animations Set the Tone
Bioware’s audience was already primed to hate the game when the facial animations were first revealed. An entire controversy bloomed and then died around this, leaving only resentment. A great example of this is the “Mass Effect: Andromeda Motion Capture Session” that has been floating around for the past 24 hours. In sequence, this actually shows:
- A sprawling walk animation that can only be created by mashing A and D over and over (and may not even appear then).
- A bunch of people in areas without gravity, which leads to a weightless and strange appearance (also people in an explosion).
- Yeah actually I have no idea wtf that last one is.
No one’s arguing that the facial animations aren’t horrible, but it is also a very weird thing to harp on. Which leads us to…
Most of the People Complaining Haven’t Played the Game
If you visit the comments section of any of these articles, you see a very common refrain: “Wow, this game is horrible. I’m never playing it!” Somehow the attacks against Mass Effect: Andromeda have taken on a life of their own, and lead to an asinine, hyperbolic circle jerk about it being nothing more than an “Early Access Game.”
Interestingly, many of the leading complaints about the game, such as about its plot, are actually answered within the game itself. And not in an aside, but as a major plot point. But these aren’t being addressed because people have been, again, complaining about the game without actually playing it.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is certainly a complete game. You could even call it a good game. It has its flaws and its bugs — but they are limited in scope compared to the outright furor that has taken over the Internet. Rather than focusing on all of the small little animation details that have missed, perhaps we should actually be focusing on the thing that matters most: its generic, horrible writing. There’s probably nothing that’s going to patch that out.