Role-playing computer games are judged on two independent things: narrative, and gameplay. An RPG has to tell a good story, while also serving the basic functions of a video game — and the gaming studio often delegates the two realms to completely different teams. It needs good dialogue just as much as it needs good combat, and this is true whether you’re talking about Fallout, Final Fantasy, The Witcher, or any BioWare game. And the latest entry into the latter’s catalogue looks like it will serve as an absolute base breaker: unlike any Mass Effect game, unlike any BioWare game in a long time, Mass Effect: Andromeda enjoys deeply-layered, well-thought gameplay, including exploration, combat, and multiplayer — at the expense of truly unfortunate cut-scenes and story.
ME:A is not a game that will see universal acclaim once press embargoes are lifted and full reviews go online Mar. 21. It falls gravely short of the exquisite quality demanded of BioWare writing, characterization, and animation. I was honestly surprised to see its PC-version Metacritic score just barely break 75%. But on the other hand, its bread-and-butter gameplay — the shooting, the leveling, the crafting, the exploration, and notably, the multiplayer — stands taller than any other Mass Effect entry, or arguably even any BioWare product since the original Knights of the Old Republic. This game is going to divide Nerdworld more decisively than The Dark Knight Rises. Great gameplay with a forgettable story is the way of Mass Effect’s brother-from-another-mother and one of its greatest influences: the Gears of War series. And geeks are having a bit of a crisis over seeing BioWare, of all studios, putting out a game with better wham-bam action but worse storytelling than Gears of War 4. What follows is an overly long post about the game’s glaring negatives — followed by its impressive positives. Either way, most players should wait for full reviews before making any decisions.
This dissertation comes from the 10-hour PC preview.