The newest chapter in the Mass Effect saga released 2 weeks ago and I haven’t put it down since installing the game. There was quite a bit of controversy in the weeks leading up to its release. Some of the uproar was warranted although a few took it too far. If you listened to our BS Corner episode about the game (which I highly recommend) you know that I really like the game. I want to go into more detail about why and be a bit more spoilery than I was in the recording. I am not finished with the game (I am currently solving mysteries on Kadara) as I like to complete every possible quest on my first time through the story. So, as in my Horizon post, all of these point will have an implied “at least so far”attached.
I want to touch on the combat first as this is the best it has ever been in the series. The jet pack and profiles make combat fast, fluid, and fun. I don’t use profiles too much as I went straight biotic and will save tech and combat skills for a subsequent play through and multiplayer. I only utilize it when I switch between ranged and close quarter biotic skills and some tougher enemies have insta-kill melees, so getting close is not such a good idea. Enemies are much smarter and will flank you and use height to their advantage. Your squad mates are also much more competent on their own and don’t need as much micromanaging as in other installments. There have been several times where Drack (my new space bro) has flushed enemies out of cover for me by running at them with his war hammer.
Speaking of squadmates, I do find myself becoming attached to several members of the Tempest’s crew. As I mentioned before, I am a fan of Drack. He has a great personality and several of his quips in the heat of battle have been hilarious. Jaal is an interesting character because his race is new to the series and his motivations for joining you are unique. Peebee borders on likable and annoying for me, so I can’t decide how I feel about her yet. Her loyalty mission so far has started to change my mind though. Vetra is going to be my new space girlfriend. She is a strong and somewhat private character that appears to have an interesting past. Can’t wait to finish her loyalty mission and learn more about her. The human members of the crew are humans, and I don’t play Mass Effect for humans… so moving on.
The game isn’t all good though. I hate hate hate the new galaxy map. It was supposed to be more immersive, but all it does it make scanning planets for resources even more of a chore. There are some bugs that have caused me to have to reload saves a few times – such as enemies spawning inside walls that I have to kill to move on and cannot get to them. I have had some weird death glitches too where the game over screen doesn’t load and I am able to move the camera around and Drack and Vetra are still fighting enemies. The animations are a bit wonky on the human character’s faces, but not crazy terrible but definitely not good. Another thing I found a little annoying is that I was expecting a lot more new alien races and new crazy tech, but at times it just feels like an extension of the Milky Way and not different enough. I get that they tried to keep things somewhat realistic and within the boundaries of science, but going to a new unexplored galaxy gave the developers a golden opportunity to go nuts with things. I am glad they had restraint and avoided being silly, but they could’ve done more.
I am enjoying the game and consider it a worthy addition to the franchise. It has yet to reach the lofty heights of the original trilogy. I don’t think any game in the series ever will because of how special those games were to me. Multiplayer is fun and the single player is definitely checking off most of the boxes on my Mass Effect checklist. But, most of all I just miss Garrus.