When 2017 was still new, there was a lot of anticipation surrounding the 4th chapter in the Mass Effect saga. BioWare had proven themselves master game makers not only with the first three games in the series but there other titles were largely all hits and the developer had cemented their reputation as one of the industries best, in fact we even named the game our 2nd most anticipated game of 2017, behind only The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Well time truly does make fools of us all, as the final game we received was rife with issues (both technical and artistic) and tarnished not only BioWare’s reputation but possibly ensured that we don’t get a new entry in the series for years to come.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty behind Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s failings let’s be clear on one thing – it isn’t a terrible game per say. When we reviewed the game, the conclusion was reached that “The game doesn’t do anything horrible, but nothing great either” and awarded it a score of 5.1/10., so definitely not a ‘horrible’ score in the grand scheme of things and not so bad as to end up on our list of the worst games of 2017. But rather it was a game that came nowhere near meeting our expectations considering its pedigree and left nothing but a bad taste in our mouths after playing it. This is why we’ve come to the conclusion that Mass Effect: Andromeda is the most disappointing game of the year.
Things got off one the wrong foot right away with the game, as early previews and reports from players were that the game was a glitchy, buggy mess. Animations were off, characters disappeared and popped back into the scene with reckless abandon and items and people clipped into each other as if they were all hollow. This flew in the face of the series’ history, which while not perfect was always known for its deep lore and how players got attached to their favorite characters, but now they seemed more like plastic toys than heroes we wanted to emulate. From the very beginning the whole game felt ‘cheap’ and ‘slapped together’ and rushed out to meet its release deadline. Definitely sins when it comes to game releases, but what’s worse is how EA basically refused to fix the issues.
Shortly after the game’s launch, EA and BioWare released several patches to attempt to fix some of the game’s most glaring issues though to this day many of the problems that were present on launch day are still part of the game today, about nine months after the game was released. In a lot ways it felt like EA was abandoning one of their most loyal fan-bases (the ones that stuck with them after the Mass Effect 3 controversy) and trying to immediately make us forget that they had released an incomplete game for full price. What’s worse is that EA and BioWare immediately announced their new game, Anthem, at E3 2017 which again reeks of trying to sweep the game under the rug.
It’s also worth nothing that Mass Effect: Andromeda was not the only bit of controversy that EA got themselves into this year. Most recently the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) was marred with the ‘loot box debacle’ but unlike with Andromeda, EA has been working quite diligently trying to fix that game’s issues (though the results are still up in their). It’s a total mystery why they decided to fix one game over the other but its obvious they have the will and resources to work on making things better with their major titles but Mass Effect: Andromeda still suffers from its issues and likely will never get fixed at this point.
However the worst thing about this whole thing is how the legacy of one of the best game series of all might be forever damaged by one, single, mis-managed game. EA and BioWare have both been tight-lipped about the series future but have hinted that it will be a long time before we get to see another game in the series. Add to that Anthem shares a very similar aesthetic and sci-fi universe, making it even more unlikely that we’ll be heading back to the Mass Effect universe any time soon. This is made even worse by the fact that Andromeda obviously takes us to a very new location, filled with possibilities for new ideas and adventures. Possibilities we might never see come to fruition.
Andromeda was supposed to be the start of something new and great for the series. Instead it seems more likely that it will serve (at best) as an abrupt pause for one of gaming’s most beloved franchises. It’s a real shame since many of the game’s issues (the more technical ones at least) are very much fixable and could be patched out, but it seems like that opportunity has passed and both BioWare and EA are both moving on to new adventures . I really want to believe that this is all just a minor bump in the road for the series, but there’s no denying how much of a letdown Mass Effect: Andromeda was (and still is) and that’s why its our biggest disappointment of 2017.