It was Havaarl that broke me.

 

Fucking Unearthed Remnant stuff. Who want’s that shit, anyway?! I must’ve tramped for bloody hours through that goddam jungle, fighting the same respawning enemies, in the same locations, over and over and over again. Boosting up onto random rocky outcrops, spinning my Ryder around like a top to use his suit-light to shine for the damn tech. (Oh and who the hell in the Initiative decided to chest mount the light!? Who does that!?)

 

I mean I found it all eventually. But by the time I had worked it out I was sick of the damn game and that’s a really sad end to what I had been enjoying immensely.

 

You see when I first read the reviews coming out about Mass Effect Andromeda, I was sceptical. It’s no exaggeration to say that the original trilogy is my favourite series ever, bar none, so I was in a state of almost paralytic ecstasy when the new one was announced, and the game was loading into my PS4. I’d firmly decided to make my own decisions and I was justified in this; if you ignore the ‘Tasks’ at the bottom of your quest log the game is good. Really good. It’s not ME2 or 3 good but it’s the equal of ME1 and that’s to be expected.

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See the reviews bemoaned the lack of character development, lack of new worlds, new alien races. They were mostly right but if you cast your mind back to Mass Effect 1, we didn’t get that many more alien races, and that much more character development. Certainly no more than you get by the time you finish the main game. Because those reviewers had made the cardinal sin of NOT FINISHING THE GAME properly before casting judgement. More balanced reviews have come out since, and are more accurate; not that Bioware aren’t to blame partially, because they are. They should absolutely have given those reviewers more time to make a better judgement, especially with a game this big.

 

That’s the thing about this game. It’s a basis, a start, a foundation to what comes after. Remember that this is another Trilogy and the characters and game will do nothing but expand and build from here. With this game Bioware aren’t weaving their space opera, they’re building the house and shell from the ground up and if they’d tried to include more races and story here then the whole thing would’ve been to unwieldy. So I am sanguine about what I’ve played because I loved the main storyline and campaign, and I think the crew we have are nicely balanced and set up for the 2nd and 3rd instalments which will no doubt be much more diverse and in depth. (NB Won’t they, Bioware….)

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But that isn’t it. See I played the main campaign and all the planetary missions and all the Allies missions – I pretty much ignored the ‘Tasks’ because they seemed mostly superfluous (and proved to be). So I focused on the Primary and Secondary missions of the game, rather than the Incidental ones. Which was perfect, gave a solid decent game with quite a few of the famous difficult choices Bioware are known for. Its only after I’ve finished the game and let the completionist in me drag me back to clear up my Tasks Log that I’ve come to hate the game, and it explains why those who tried to do it during the campaign got so angry with it all.

Because it’s not just Havaarl. I mean I did finally find them and then moved onto Elaaden and the myriad of boring, trackless sand dunes and chasing down Outlaw camp after Outlaw camp to find datapads, ill bodies or I don’t know what else. Dull, pointless, repetitive as HELL and a total waste of resources and my time. I know why Bioware did it – it’s an attempt to force you to explore the wastes, explore the new planets and find all the nooks and crannies. It’s just exceptionally badly judged.

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Players of this kind of game will do that anyway – we’ll fundamentally go and search and find stuff because that’s half the fun of it for us. The SAM memories and that god-awful rock chasing game actually resulted in my finding all the camps anyway – the Tasks were a total waste of time, since I’d already found all the forward points. The SAM Node quest, and the Science Rocks nonsense were dull and annoying but they did give me points in the blacked off areas to drive to. Every new planet before I did anything else I jumped in my Nomad and took off into the wilderness, ticked those points off and that usually gave me the whole map. THAT was a good idea, because they had map markers. The absolute worst thing about these DAMN tasks is that they’re unguided – there’s little to nothing worse than vaguely driving around the map hoping you may possibly find what you’re looking for.

 

It almost a game-breaker. I’ve read that they are procedurally developed to an extent, but that’s no excuse. It was a waste of disc space and a waste of dev time – if Bioware had spent that effort on a third new species, on an additional Allies task per crew member, or even just MORE character lines for the Tempest crew that do exist then it would be  a much better game.

 

It’s bittersweet. I enjoyed this game. It’s a fitting, fascinating start to a series and a very very good game – it’s just fallen victim of the same shit that Witcher 3 had – pointless, extra sub quests sprinkled throughout the map when what we really want is more depth to the characters and plots that we have. I’d go so far as to say its ruined the game for me, spoilt the end, like a bitter surprising aftertaste to a good steak. ME2 and ME3 got the balance right – hopefully Bioware remember this in two years time.

 

PS. Liam…. just…. urgh. Worst character i’ve ever had the misfortune of being forced to have in my team.

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