Tuesday marks the end of a 5 year journey for me and millions of fans as Bioware releases the next installment in their space opus: Mass Effect. We get to travel to the Andromeda solar system with an all-new crew to strike out and find a new home for our races among the unknown. I am very excited and hyped, to say the least. However, I have some concerns that have gotten slightly larger as the release looms overhead like a Reaper about to blast some random kid, which I can’t get over for some reason.
I am a huge fan of the original Mass Effect trilogy. I’ve played the games multiple times, have an N7 decal on my car, rock an N7 hoodie, read through all the books (except Deception, yuck), and I have a statue of Tali (my space girlfriend – sorry wife), among countless other bits of fandom. The series gifted me all kinds of memories and experiences, not all of them good. But for every Kai Leng there was a Garrus, and a Mordin, and a Wrex, and a… well you get the point.
EA’s decision to release part of the game early for press and EA Access members has been a controversial choice. There has been a significant backlash to elements of the game, but the facial animations have taken the brunt of criticism. To the point of “men” harassing a woman who was falsely believed to have been a lead animator on Andromeda. This disgusting behavior has no place in my hobby and should be called out and brought into the light (which Bioware thankfully did) so that we can eliminate some of the stigmas that come with being a “gamer”, but I digress. To be fair there have been several blunders including, but not limited to, a character holding and firing a gun backwards in a cut scene. Even a place with blind devotion like the r/masseffect subreddit has become divided. To say that the fan base has high expectations, is an understatement.
The studio working on Andromeda is a side studio of Bioware, mostly known for bringing us the fantastic and addictive co-op from Mass Effect 3. This is their first full game as a team, even though there are several industry and franchise vets on staff. Knowing this, I am approaching Andromeda’s impending release like a kid who knows Christmas is right around the corner but doesn’t know if Santa is going to bring him the present he wanted more than any other (mine was Donkey Kong Country) or something else.
Yes, I want Andromeda to be everything I hope it could be. Will I freak out if it isn’t? Probably not. The game has enormous shoes to fill and the titanic task of following up on what I consider to be a gaming masterpiece in the form of the original trilogy.
Can Bioware replace the love I had for Garrus? No. Can Bioware give me a new galaxy to explore and characters to meet? Yes. Will I enjoy it? I hope so.