Despite having a wholly exhausting Tuesday (the 21st – release day), I was determined to enjoy all that Mass Effect: Andromeda could offer that evening. The game downloaded in just a couple hours (score one for the new PC!). After all my nighttime chores, I settled in, only to be met by…uh…sputtering? Well, not immediate sputtering. The game loaded up fine, and I created a new female Ryder. After that is when the sputtering started. The initial opening scenes cut in and out like a buffering video. It happened intermittently every handful of seconds or so, but then things smoothed out after the title card appeared. Once the story began, it looked like I was good to go. No sputtering, no “buffering.”
I got knee deep into the game’s first mission, and!…the game froze. I sat there staring at the screen for a minute or two, cursing under my breath, and then…the game sputtered forward. And then it sputtered forward again. And again. Something was definitely not right, and I couldn’t get back to the menu screen because of it. So I rebooted the PC. Upon restarting the game, it looked as though my first Ryder had met an early demise. Not wanting to waste time, I used a default Ryder and set off. Again. This time around, the game’s opening scenes and title played out smoothly, but!…everything froze, again, right upon starting the story. I sighed a very long sigh, and I rebooted the PC. Again.
By that time, it had gotten quite late, and I had to call it quits, sadly. But before conking out, I worked out a couple possible solutions. After all, the PC itself more than met Andromeda’s technical needs. It seemed the easiest solutions were the one to pursue first the next day: (1) reinstall the game the PC’s other, less used drive, and (2) update any and all drivers.
Wednesday might have been the longest in the history of ever as all I could think about during the workday was getting a good restart in Andromeda. As soon as we got home, I turned on the PC and immediately started to doing ALL the updates. (Turned out there were a number of them, include a rather important driver update – Aha!) After all that had subsided, I uninstalled and reinstalled the game on a different drive, one that had much more space. After a couple more hours of waiting and dinner and such, Andromeda commenced. The game started up like butter. No sputtering or “buffering” or choppiness of any sort. It was…beautiful. I started fresh with a brand new and newly-created female Ryder I named Max. Her story began, and I was let loose.
As of writing, I’ve only spent about an hour and a half playing the game. It’s hardly enough for me for me to form any realistic opinion of it so far, but it did jot down some quick thoughts about seeing the game for the first time and what it was like.
- The character creator was…different. I might have missed the part where I could have changed the default Ryder’s face, so meeting a series of preset faces that I could then customize was unusual. From there the actual options were rather minimal. I did enjoy all the different hair options, but why can’t Bioware animate long hair? It looks so pretty in The Witcher 3.
- Nice set of training options. I picked Operative, which I read as a thief- or assassin-type. Could be completely wrong there, but it sounded interesting. (Partly influenced by my current go-round as Zer0 in Borderlands 2. Boy, do I enjoy him.)
- Wow, the game looks super pretty. Very pleased with my decision to get it on PC.
- (Only now I’m totally going to wimp out and use the controller over the keyboard. Ah, well.)
- Yep, the facial animations are strange. Why does everyone have such big, emotive eyes? And every time my character furrows her brow, her face scrunches up in the oddest way. It’s almost like her nose and mouth float over her face, in the same sense that a kneecap floats above the knee joint. Outside of that, everyone’s body movements look natural…maybe a little twitchy at times.
- Huh, I guess I should have customized my twin. Maybe next time.
- Hello, Tasha Yar…uh, I mean, Cora Harper.
- Scanning is straight outta Metroid Prime. Not sure how I feel about that yet. Will probably end up SCANNING ALL THE THINGS.
- Back to the game. Ooo, it’s nice and fluid. The controls are very responsive, and movement makes sense. Liking the conversation options as well, and that they aren’t black and white.
- Scotty? Are ya givin’ it all she’s got? Sorry, but the Star Trek influence is strong here.
- Onboard with the story so far – excited to see what’s out in the universe!
- We’re off to our first planet, Habitat 7…on the exact same shuttles from Mass Effect 2 and 3?! C’mon now, really?
- The alien planet is certainly alien. Looking at the floating rocks and giant mushrooms, all I can think of is No Man’s Sky. Oh dear.
- Again, movement seems solid. Great to have vertical abilities. Combat feels meaty, though I have to get used to the cover system, which is a little sloppy at the moment.
- Okay, scanning and discovery is fun. Going to be, uh…interesting(?)…dealing with that in the wake of the main story.
- The enemies look pretty cool. Nothing to complain about yet.
- Not paying much attention to the script or acting. Should probably do that.
I remain positive that Mass Effect: Andromeda is going to offer up some enjoyable and addictive gameplay. But it’s only the beginning. I still have a long way to go in helping humanity find a new home.
All images (© Bioware) were taken by cary using GeForce Experience.