Andromeda Hangout

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Mar 29, 2017

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 97 comments

A couple of weeks ago Josh and I got together with Jarenth to stream Mass Effect: Andromeda. Here is the archived video:

Link (YouTube)

I don’t have the game yet, so I don’t have anything to add to what was said during the stream. I know people are curious if I’m going to cover Andromeda, so let’s talk about what I’ve written and what I’m planning to write…

As I mentioned on the Diecast, I’ve got three more months of Batman postsThese are done and scheduled to post. If I drop dead now, this blog will continue to post Batmans until June.. I’ve just finished about five additional months of BorderlandsThis isn’t “done”. The words are written, but I still need to proof, edit, add links, add screenshots, etc. So about half the work is done.. That means I’ve got enough words written to take us into November or December, assuming I stick to my Thursday posting schedule.

I’ve also got part of a series on Fallout 4 that’s been on the back burner for about half a year. I should probably finish that. I’m struggling with it because the problems with Fallout 4 are pretty well-documented and I don’t want to pointlessly repeat stuff that was said last year. If I’m going to talk about the game I want to have something fresh to say. I have a few novel takes, but I don’t know if there’s enough to justify long-form analysis. I should probably play some Fallout 4 and see if that shakes any more thoughts loose. Also I’m not sure if the world still cares. Fallout 4 seems to have vanished from the conversation a lot faster than Skyrim, and maybe it’s not worth exhuming the corpse of Fallout 4 to continue shouting at it.

I wanted to do a series on Witcher 3, but I don’t think I can make it work. I really hated Witcher 1 and quit at some point in the first act. I got a little further in the Witcher 2, but I got bored and quit long before the end. I love Witcher 3. I really don’t care to revisit either of the first two games, but there’s no way I can tackle Witcher 3 without getting nitpicked to death by “Well Shamus, if you played Witcher 2 then you would realize that…” It’s the old, “I know more about this so your opinion is automatically invalid” defense. I just went through that with Dark Souls and I’m not in a hurry to do that dance again.

I’m also toying with the idea of covering GTA V. It’s not terribly popular on this site, but it’s this monumentally big deal in gaming culture at large. That might make for an interesting conversation. The downside is that once in a while GTA V likes to sneak over to the culture war and chuck a brick through the window before running off and pretending like it has no idea why you’re upset. I’m not sure if that would spill over onto my site if I tried to cover the game. The game actually pushes some of my buttonsThe torture scene is something about which I Have Opinions. and it would be very hard to do my normal analysis without my own politics slipping in.

Getting back to the topic at hand:

I’m kind of conflicted about Andromeda. If the franchise is going to try to tell another overarching story then I should probably wait until the tale is told in full, so I can analyze the whole. But if the games are each self-contained then I might as well cover them one at a time. On the other hand, I should probably wait until we cover the game on Spoiler Warning before I write about it. Otherwise all of my commentary will be, “Like I said on my blog…” and there’s only so many times you can say that without getting punched in the face.

I will say this:

I really dislike that so much of the Andromeda conversation is dominated by “Facial animations LOL!” (And to be fair, we did our share of that on this stream.) It seems like there are more fundamental problems with the game than lack of graphical polish, and I’m worried the next game will work hard to fix the animations without addressing any of the deeper issues.



[1] These are done and scheduled to post. If I drop dead now, this blog will continue to post Batmans until June.

[2] This isn’t “done”. The words are written, but I still need to proof, edit, add links, add screenshots, etc. So about half the work is done.

[3] The torture scene is something about which I Have Opinions.

From The Archives:

97 thoughts on “Andromeda Hangout

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    These are done and scheduled to post. If I drop dead now, this blog will continue to post Batmans until June.

    Ah,but the real question is:How many of them have breaks for the front page?Or are they all going to appear in full there?

    1. Shamus says:

      Glad you reminded me. I just checked. Two of them were missing breaks. So hard to remember that. It’s the one mistake that you can’t see until the post is live.

    2. Nixorbo says:

      You are the hero this blog deserves.

      1. Bubble181 says:

        *AND* the hero this blog needs. Two-for-one!

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Im not a hero,Im the merc with a finger .

          1. lucky7 says:

            But I thought you were not a mercenary.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              I am not Josh.Honest.Would I lie?

              1. Joe says:

                Obviously. If you were Josh, more things would shoot at you.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    How about this:You combine fallout 4,gta 5,witcher 3,and andromeda into one big “This is whats wrong with open world games” series?Because there is plenty to say about the current trend of “Our game is bigger!“.You barely touched on this when you were on your nms bender.

  3. CruelCow says:

    I’m a bit sad you won’t be covering Witcher 3. In my opinion the main story makes no god damn sense but everybody else is praising it.

  4. baud001 says:

    I'm worried the next game will not address any of the deeper issues.


    1. kunedog says:

      The good news is that Cyperpunk 2077 is likely to address/avoid many of them, and ME:A may pave the way for it the way SimCity paved the way for Cities Skylines.

      Say what you will about how little the CP2077 teaser told us, but it (and later Witcher 3) at least made it definitively clear that CDPR won’t make the character models (especially women) look ugly/goofy, either intentionally or unintentionally, or out of spite, or to meet the budget (or whatever Bioware’s excuse is).

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        What I really love about witcher 3,that doesnt get mentioned enough,is that they have more than just two character models.They have kids,they have people with missing limbs,they have it all.And this is not limited just to quest important npcs,but to randos that have nothing important to tell you.They just hang out to add to the atmosphere.

        So yeah,those guys know how to make an immersive world.

        1. Thomas says:

          Their random NPCs don’t have animations or good dialogue unlike other RPGs and games though and you can’t interact with them meaningfully like you could in say, a Fallout.

          1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

            Then again, that is almost always the case with random background NPC’s. They almost alway just use standard animations, and ususally you aren’t allowed to talk to them. And even if you are, they usually have nothing to say beyond a few shared lines.

            1. Joe says:

              Patrolling the Mojave almost makes me wish for a nuclear winter.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                I used to be an adventurer like you,then I took an arrow in the knee.

                1. Lachlan the Mad says:

                  Chee koo hadow hadonga.

  5. SpaceSjut says:

    I personally would LOVE to read you writing about the Witcher 3.
    Also, I ran into EXACTLY the same issue: I quit the first in the prologue (I can’t even say why anymore), I quit the second (of which everyone told me it’s SO MUCH BETTER!) in the prologue because the tutorial totally failed to give me a working knowledge of the fighting system, and I LOVED the third. In fact, the Witcher 3, together with the expansions, was one of my best gaming experiences in the last years and ending it felt incredible weird.
    I’m currently re-visiting the second part (and fare much better now than I did last time), albeit on easy on explicitly for reasons of “I want to see how this plays out”. Whether or not I go back to the first… probably not.

    1. Ivan says:

      I had more or less the same experience with the first Witcher. I quit during the prologue cos it was interminably long, boring, and the combat it extremely dull, and fiddly somehow. However, I will say, if (if) you can stick with it it becomes worth it. By the end of the first act it’s worth it. But, I totally understand if you can’t manage that, it is a real slog to get there.

      1. Tektotherriggen says:

        I actually quite liked Witcher 1 (finished it last month), but I don’t recommend that Shamus play it.
        1) It’s sleazy as hell. It’s not just the sex, or even the infamous “sex cards” that the lovely ladies give you afterwards. It’s the utter perfunctoriness of the preceding romances. Example: Lady says, “It’s such a shame that nobody grows tulips any more”. You say, “Here are some tulips”. She says, “Let’s find somewhere private!”. Sex happens.
        2) Although you get some choice in your own dialogue, if you side with the same faction twice, your character can start spouting utter bull. I sided with the Order of the Flaming Rose twice, to try to save hostages, and suddenly my character was a complete nonhuman-hating racist. It would certainly be interesting to hear Shamus’s take on this, but I know he’ll just hate it…

    2. The tutorial in the second game sucks all kinds of ass; even after playing through the entire game once, I still couldn’t actually finish the tutorial because of the way it’s set up.

      The first…doesn’t really have much impact on anything in the other games outside of who lives and who’s dead in terms of major NPCs. The key thing is that things start out crappy for non-humans and it keeps getting worse regardless of your choices.

  6. Rory Porteous says:

    If the backlog of content waiting to go live builds up enough would you ever consider pushing it to two a week?

  7. Christopher says:

    I think that if Bioware had the ability to make good animations, they would have done so in the last 7 games they made. It seems more likely to me that they address the story/tone/dialogue. It looks like they’re going for a more lighthearted adventure movie approach, which I think could totally work if they could sell it better. Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC was basically more Saints Row 3 than ME3, so I know they can make funny jokes and heartwarming characters. It just seems, from what I’ve seen, mind, that they couldn’t do it for this game.

    Five months of Borderlands kinda sounds like a personal nightmare, because BL2 was gameplay I didn’t enjoy coupled with jokes I thought were annoying, a cel-shaded style I thought looked cheap rathern than pretty and loot I thought was tedious rather than engaging. But I know you’re a big fan, so I’m interested in seeing what you have to say about the games. In this case, you’re the person I know of who’s the most knowledgable about them. And unlike Fallout 4, where all your opinions and complaints are neatly gathered in that spoiler warning season, there’s not one great place to go for your take on Borderlands.

    I think Witcher 3 would work pretty well just because Witcher 3 was such an approachable game compared to what came before, so you’re not alone in just playing that one through. But I must admit that it’s more interesting with an analysis blog where you know all the material rathe than only the third installment of a trilogy based on old books.

    1. Elemental Alchemist says:

      I think that if Bioware had the ability to make good animations, they would have done so in the last 7 games they made.

      Post ME1 and DAO (i.e., games developed after the EA takeover), Bioware have had access to far bigger animation resources than they did previously. EA has its own dedicated motion capture studio, and it could easily outsource to one of the big third party mocap studios if needed. Even if Bioware wanted to do everything in-house, they have the resources to recruit talented staff and build a high-end facility (or at least would have circa-2010 or so, when they were still the apple of EA’s eye). I have to wonder how many of Bioware’s seemingly many issues are rooted in management, given the tidbits that have leaked out about MEA’s development, coupled with regular departures of high level staff in the year or two before release.

  8. m0j0l says:

    Shamus, have you considered doing something different, like a more ‘lets-play’ analysis-as-you-go type thing? I’m not sure you’ve ever done anything like that and it would be cool to see you process ME:A ‘in real time’ so to speak… otherwise, kinda like F4, once your actually get to play, analyse, and then post it, it might be old news and sorta not worth it.

    (Really hope thats not true and it starts the same kinda legacy as ME1… but seems unlikely)

    1. Ofermod says:

      I believe he did something similar (live-tweeting) with the first Dragon Age game.

    2. DGM says:

      He’s said before that he can’t comment while focused on playing.

      Although that does make me wonder about something… Hey, Shamus, why were you going to be the one to play the original Deus Ex before Cyber-Satan possessed your stream? Surely you had things to say about it?

      And have you ever tried being the player again since then?

      1. Shamus says:

        I was thinking maybe people wanted to hear what Josh had to say for a change.

        I have not tried being a player since then. I don’t have time to edit the show, and so I’d need to get all those gigabytes of footage to Josh for editing.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I was thinking maybe people wanted to hear what Josh had to say for a change.

          “You see,back in the edo period emperor tokugawa decided to build a complex pipe system for his royal bathroom.And then…”

          1. Josh says:

            I’m pretty sure at this point Daemian could just make a Josh chatbot and give it a text to speech voice and replace me with it and no one would notice the difference.

            1. djw says:

              I thought Daemian was making a subtle Shogun 2 playthrough reference, although I guess that wasn’t edo period (but on the other hand… the Tokagawa’s weren’t emperors either).

  9. Twisted_Ellipses says:

    Expanding on the whole ‘these are colonists/invaders’ too idea AND the fact they look like The Collectors from Mass Effect 2, why not make it so The Collectors (a.k.a The Protheans) had the same idea? It would explain why they’re so warlike. The new look could just be a product of a small selective genetic pool and evolving to the new worlds. It has promise as an idea…

    1. Emily says:

      50,000 years is nowhere near long enough for evolutionary changes to the degree necessary for the kett to have been Protheans. Maybe intentional genetic manipulation for the same purpose but not natural adaptation.

  10. John says:

    If I had purchased and disliked two consecutive Witcher games, I think I would have been far too consumed by buyer’s remorse to purchase the third. Frankly, if I had purchased and disliked the first then I doubt very much that I could have been induced to buy the second. Once burned, twice shy, etc. Shamus is a braver or more optimistic man than I.

  11. Henson says:

    It sounds like, if you were to do a Witcher 3 series, you would want to use a consultant who is familiar with parts 1 & 2.

    *cough cough*

    ….or maybe Josh would be able to help you out.

    1. I was going to suggest the same thing, but it’d cause a bit of a tonal problem when whoever wrote the first two games’ worth of content stopped so Shamus’ stuff could start. :P

      1. Tektotherriggen says:

        Unless the non-Shamus person adds commentary to what Shamus writes, perhaps in yellow boxes like Shamus did to himself in the WoW series.

        Or they could collaborate properly, which would need more editing effort.

      2. Henson says:

        I was thinking more along the lines of: Shamus asks questions about whether such-and-such happened in W1/W2. Shamus writes a first draft of each part, consultant reads and brings up points answered in W1/W2. Shamus edits to account for new info. Though if Shamus & Josh wanted to collaborate, that would be good too. I’m not sure what works best for how Twenty Sided posts are written.

  12. King Calamity says:

    I actually think Bioware’s laughable animations and its “deeper issues” are the same problem. Their last couple games seem to be very much mixed bags in every department, from art to writing to design, which I think signifies that Bioware has got some very talented people who are being managed horribly. I’m not sure if it’s because of EA or their own leadership, but that’s my armchair diagnosis.

    1. Tizzy says:

      Or maybe some very talented people working alongside not so talented ones?

      1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

        As a wise man once said:

        “Why not both?”

  13. Jonathan Scinto says:

    People are focusing on the animations, when it’s the writing that’s terrible. Andromeda’s plot is hot garbage, and the companions are only mildly interesting.

  14. Shen says:

    The thing with Andromeda is that you need to mentally wipe the “Mass Effect” part from the title. Then the horrible waste of potential won’t feel so horrible, the terrible writing decisions won’t feel so terrible and the world-breaking gameplay changes won’t feel so world-breaking and you can enjoy playing Halo 2017 in peace.
    Wait, I meant Andromeda.

    (Would still like to see the Fallout 4 piece, even if it is beating a dead horse)

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      No,even ignoring all of the preexisting lore,this is crap.People say it gets better after this initial area,and thats not hard to believe.Because its really hard to make it worse.

      1. Christopher says:

        I think that’s a little melodramatic. Not saying I loved that intro or anything, but I wasn’t repulsed by anything that happened in it either.

        It’s definitely more fast and loose than the first trilogy, though. Between the world building writers having left the building and it being the fourth game it feels like they decided to largely drop the establishing shots, which is a bit of a shame in a completely new galaxy. But I can still see my self appreciating it if I warmed up to the characters and the dashing feels good.

        I must admit it’s a little gratifying to see people at large complain about the technical issues, though. I get that this isn’t top of the list for people who come to role playing games for role playing first and everything else a distant second, but I always thought the game feel(controls, kinaesthetics, whatever) as well as the graphics were a bummer in the series. Maybe this all sounds a little shallow, but I can’t enjoy a story that much if it’s being portrayed by the 3d model equivalent of terrible actors on a cheap set.

        In some aspects, Andromeda surpasses the original, certainly in environments. I’m also way more into the nice kids angle than the dry military angle of 1 or the badass merc murderin’ angle of 2. 1 would introduce party members as they were standing around talking. 2 introduced characters while they were slitting throats and crushing heads. I’m fine with Andromeda introducing characters by them sitting cowgirl style on the protagonist and then shooting robots. I just wish they didn’t have weird smiles and held their pistols backwards when they did it.

        1. Geebs says:

          Andromeda is a heck of a lot better than it’s reputation, and the gameplay is vastly improved. In particular it doesn’t have anything that is as completely miserable to fight as the Ravagers or Banshees, apart from the shoot-the-orb bosses. The dialogue is occasionally cheesy but really not that much worse than much of Bioware’s stuff – at least in this game it’s possible to end a conversation without accidentally implying that you just really, really need the bog.

          The only thing I’ve found really disappointing is the new species. The original Mass Effect species are pretty well designed and look cool. The new species look like something out of the Spore character creator.

          1. Christopher says:

            The rock men bring a certain level of grit to the new setting. They seem like a solid opponent, but while they were busy stoning the locals, they left themselves wide open for you to rock their world. They’ll bring out the worst in Rutskarn, is what I’m saying.

            I think the angara look yucky. They’re like humans wearing flesh scarves and meat caps.

      2. Shen says:

        I didn’t mean calling it Halo 2017 to be a good thing :v I knew the writing was dead on arrival when they introduced Ryder’s distant dad who was N7 and broody and had a dead wife and was just so cool you guys. Them deciding that learning about your walking cliche of a father should be your protagonist’s personal quest in this brand new galaxy was less “nail in the coffin” and more “tombstone shaped like a willy.”

        It’s a shame because there’s so much that could have been better if they would just break from formula. The crew being less military shooty guys and more scientific explorers would have been absolutely wonderful and could have finally delivered that modern Star Trek feel the first game promised but they just couldn”t not be about shooting bipedal monsters from behind cover with assault rifles. Frankly, the fact that everyone is awful at being scientists feels like a deliberate choice just to rub it in.

  15. katre says:

    Borderlands? Sweet, I can’t wait to read your thoughts.

    As far as Fallout 4, do you have ideas on why it doesn’t seem to have the staying power that Skyrim did? I’d be interested to hear about that, at least.

    1. TMC_Sherpa says:

      Mods. The creation kit came out late and the tools (like SKSE or your regional equivalent) needed a lot of work.

      1. MrGuy says:

        I think it’s something more fundamental about the game that seems “off” somehow. I generally don’t play with mods, and I still don’t like FO4.

        I have over a hundred hours logged in FO3, and more than double that in New Vegas. FO4 is sitting at 10 (1 playthrough complete, one “faffing about” run in progress), and I just have no desire to pick the thing back up.

        I’m not sure why, but I’ve heard similar “meh, just couldn’t get into it” from an admittedly limited but non-zero sample of friends.

        I don’t know what it is, but I’d be more likely even now to pick up a few hours of Skyrim than FO4…

    2. Writiosity says:

      Whole thing (it’s four videos) is well worth a watch, though be warned if you’re a Skyrim fan, he does NOT like the game. But he also puts across WHY he doesn’t very well with good points and humour.

      If you really want to skip to just the relevant bit on why Skyrim stayed in the consciousness of gamers for far longer, listen to his closing statement:

      xttps:// (place the x with an h, time stamped videos don’t seem to embed properly here)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        The embeds work properly with time stamps.Its having text after the video link that makes it fritz out.

  16. boota says:

    and here i am hoping to see any thought shamus might have on horizon: zero dawn…

    1. Christopher says:

      Horizon is my Most Anticipated season of Spoiler Warning.

      Speaking of spoiler warning, it’s nice to see that the last two seasons are up in the archive!

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I actually really want SW season on Horizon, because I don’t own the console it’s locked to. Pretty frustrating that the first (second) console generation that we’ve had where the machines are actually using (nearly) standard computer hardware, and there’s still games being locked to certain brands. :S

        1. Christopher says:

          I don’t think that’s ever gonna change. “You can only play this great game on my platform” is a pretty compelling reason to get that platform.

          1. Philadelphus says:

            Or a pretty compelling reason to stop caring about the game, in my case.

            1. Christopher says:

              You do you! You’re the one who’s gonna save hundreds of dollars/not get to play the game. I tend to wait for a console until it’s got so many games I wanna play that it feels worth it to me.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Or better yet,wait for it to be emulated on a pc,and them play them while being able to save at any time.

                1. Christopher says:

                  I mean, sure, but that’s a great way of giving people zero money for their hard work at making games that you want to play. I’m not one to judge considering the DS emulator I got a lot of good use out of during 2009-2011, but at least I still bought the handheld and games for it. If you’re like “I only play on PC because I can just emulate everything else”, that’s a real good way of giving absolutely nothing to developers. A console isn’t no money, but it’s not that expensive either.

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    You can still buy just the disk and not the console.That way,you can say that you did not pirate the game,and at the same time supported the developer without buying an overpriced gimped computer.

        2. boota says:

          that’s not gonna change until platform creators stop making or funding games, though. which won’t happen since it’s pretty much the only way they can differentiate themselves. also, just because the hardware is more similar doesn’t mean that porting between the systems is straightforward.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      That game will not be on spoiler warning because they already saw dawn:

      1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

        But did they see any horizon’s?

  17. Fictional Skill says:

    Honestly my major beef with the Andromeda complaints is people saying “You repaired your helmet before why can’t you do it now?!” That scene has a lot of problems, and it frustrates me because that isn’t one of them. The first time it was a crack in the glass (or spaceglass or whatever it is), the second time it was a massive gaping hole where glass should have been. In real life if you get a crack in your car’s windscreen you can easily get it repaired. If your windscreen gets a hole in it (or shatters completely) then you’re paying for a new one.

    That being said the scene is still terrible and contrived of course (why couldn’t they just swap the helmet back and forth?)

    I’ve played a fair amount so far, and I’m having a ton of fun. However there’s a lot of “Rule of Cool” scenes, like the Tempest instantly going from FTL travel to an instant dead stop with zero forward momentum, that make me grimace. In fact that scene in particularly made me think “Don’t they need to be facing backwards to slow down? Isn’t that explicitly mentioned in earlier Mass Effect games? Now that I think of it shouldn’t every cutscene of the Tempest or Normandy arriving somewhere from FTL have it arriving backwards?” Which would look goofy sure, but the point is that in the earlier Mass Effect games I never even gave it any thought because there was nothing so jarring that it made me give it any thought.

    Overall, I think it’s a good game that suffers from trying to be too big and the writers not giving as much concern to being scientifically plausible as the writers of Mass Effect 1 seemed to (but in a world where Mass Effect 3 exists can anyone be surprised by that?)

    The multiplayer is actually really good though. Jumping, hovering, and dashing adds a ton.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      What bugs me about the helmet scenes is:
      You fall from kilometers up in the air,after your ship blew up,and your visor only cracks a bit.Then you fall(on your back,no less) from just a few meters,and your whole visor is shattered.Whaa?

      1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

        I think it’s the crate hitting you in the face and forcing you to fall that broke the glass, not the fall.

        The problem I have with it is that it’s… glass. Same sound, breaks the same way… Makes no sense.

    2. Fizban says:

      (strikethrough)Magic(/strikethrough) mass effect fields. Dunno if the lore mentions it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the only reason their ships even have a facing is for atmospheres.

      Edit: those are spoiler tags, not strikethroughs.

    3. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      The sense I got from the Dad death scene is that young Ryder was concussed from the impact and was passing out. An unconscious person can’t be counted on to hold their breath, they would just suffocate and die when it wasn’t their “turn” with the helmet. Dad Ryder, knowing this, gives up his helmet to ensure his kid survives. The fact that so many people have trouble with this idea is uh… shocking to me. It basically seems like people were so primed to be negative, they’ll even jump on completely logical scenes to try to make some kind of dumb point.

      1. Emily says:

        Yeah, the fact that Ryder passes out for an extended period pretty much immediately after he puts the helmet on them implies that they’re probably dealing with more issues than “not enough air” and that adding that one probably wouldn’t have helped their situation not to mention, you know, parental over protectiveness isn’t generally 100% rational.

    4. Josh says:

      My issue with the second time the faceplate is broken is not that I don’t find it reasonable that the damage could have been too much to repair this time (I actually agree with you on that point) but more that it invites the comparison at all. In the first scene the character fixes their mask with what amounts to space magic with limits that aren’t adequately explained to the player. It’s probably reasonable to assume there’s a limit to which it can repair the faceplate, but the player is never told what that limit is. So when the second scene happens and suddenly they can’t fix their faceplate, it immediately invites the player to say “Well why couldn’t we just do what happened the last time?” Taken together, the first scene looks like it’s setting up something that then isn’t paid off in the second–or even acknowledged as an option at all.

      I assume the actual intention of the writer was to use the first time the faceplate breaks to foreshadow the second time, where it leads to the tragic death of the character’s father. But because no reason is provided explicitly for why the second faceplate can’t be repaired, it takes the player out of the moment and starts them on the mental path of “Well why couldn’t….” And that’s almost never a place where you want your player, viewer, or reader to be.

      This is a simple writing failure that could have been fixed with a single line of dialogue. After your character fixes it the first time, they could say “That was close. Any bigger and it wouldn’t have sealed!” That would establish the limits of the technology and answer the “Well why couldn’t…” question before it even comes up.

      Or, if we wanted to get a bit more creative with it–and give the father’s death scene some actual pathos, because dear god it needs some–imagine this: Ryder hits the ground and their faceplate shatters. Cradling his child in his arms, Ryder’s father desperately attempts to reseal the helmet. We get a closeup of Ryder’s unconscious face as the omni gel spreads across the helmet, only to waver and shatter, unable to bridge the gap. Ryder’s father tries again and again, each time more distressed, more desperate. But it won’t work, and he knows it, and his shoulders slump forward as he heaves a sigh of resignation. Removing Ryder’s helmet, he replaces it with his own, and holds them tightly to his chest as he heaves the last breaths of his life.

      Now that would be a more interesting death scene. Not only does it fix the setup without payoff problem, but it also gives daddy Ryder more of a character than “I am a person who is sometimes not very happy.”

    5. Joe Informatico says:

      The ME lore in the codex wants you to believe the setting is “hard SF” (at least in the 1970s/80s New Space Opera sense of the term), and once in while during gameplay you run into scenarios like the artillery chief in ME2 with the “Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space!” speech lending credence to that type of worldbuilding. But then the cutscenes just keep going back to that Star Wars WWII dogfighting in space aesthetic every time.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        The space battle in the original mass effect being in close quarters does make sense even for a hard scifi.Sovereign is close because its goal was to hump the citadel,not win a war against the entire fleet,and the geth were close in order to protect sovereign,mainly by distracting the enemy.

  18. Durican says:

    “It's the old, “I know more about this so your opinion is automatically invalid” defense.”

    Personally I want to sound like “I know more about this, so here’s some viewpoints you may not have considered that I hope will enable some further evaluation of this interesting topic.”

    But I can’t deny that I probably end up sounding like the above.

    EDIT: I just realized that it’s impossible to say “I know more” without it being read as “than you”.

    1. Christopher says:

      When it comes to analytical content creators, whether that’s youtubers or bloggers, I like it most when they talk about things they know. Anyone’s allowed any opinion on any work, you don’t have to earn it. But it’s a little different when you’re writing blog posts or analysis videos about it, for other people to watch and read. When Shamus brought up comparisons to Dark Souls or Chris makes an Errant Signal video about them it’s not that interesting, because they clearly dislike them(To different degrees, it seems). It limits the discussions you can have about them as well, with both of them focusing very much on the difficulty, and even then the discussion is limited because of everything they don’t know. Chris explicitly stated in his video that he wasn’t deep in enough to do his usual thing and instead went with various short talking points of stuff he thought about while playing Dark Souls 3(with difficulty being the whole topic for the first video and both “git gud” culture and “The Dark Souls of X” as a replacement for “this game is hard” being topics for the second one).

      Meanwhile content creators who enjoy them and played them all can talk about the individual enemy and boss designs, the lore, the developers, the level design, the themes, the trends and changes in each game, the environmental storytelling, the architectural influences, the various weird builds you can make, the NPC sidequests, the sound effects and music, the secrets and the community they are themselves involved in. I think being knowledgable about a game is directly linked to how interesting it is to hear someone talk about it, especially if it is a very deep game with lots of aspects and systems to it.

      I don’t think you need to cover everything to be interesting. Shamus’ isn’t big into Batman comics, FFX-2, the Mass Effect DLC or books for instance, and I still love those longform critiques. But it’s possible to not be knowledgable enough about something to be interesting to listen to, at least if I’m already a fan of what they’re covering. A big part of why the Mass Effect blog series was so much fun to me is that I’d finish reading half the posts thinking “Oh, now I understand“. If Shamus did one on Dark Souls, I think I’d be thinking “Oh, he doesn’t understand” instead.

      I have no idea where the Witcher 3 lands on that scale though.

  19. Jokerman says:

    Id like to see either Fallout 4, Borderlands,Witcher 3 or GTA V next….

    Ok, that didn’t help, but really… these all sound like good ideas, id love to read what you have to say on any of them.

  20. winawer says:

    Personally, I would love a Fallout 4 analysis. The five-part ‘Blistering Stupidity of Fallout 3’ was one of my favourite pieces, and a similar one on Fallout 4 would be most welcome.

    Shamus, its your articles on Mass Effect that brought me to this site. I’ve read the entire novel sized analysis on the series, and loved every part. I don’t see how you couldn’t cover Andromeda. Not as part of a series, but as a stand-alone game, which I think Bioware have stated it is. I’d be most interested to see what you think are the deeper issues (aside from animations).

  21. somebodys_kid says:

    I would love to hear some sort of long form analysis from you about the entire fallout series rather than just the most recent one. But all of the things you listed sound like great reading.
    Also have you considered watching a let’s play of the previous Witcher games so you can at least get a grasp of the story and characters?

  22. evileeyore says:

    “The downside is that once in a while GTA V likes to sneak over to the culture war and chuck a brick through the window before running off and pretending like it has no idea why you're upset.”

    Is GTA really throwing the bricks or is it sitting there minding it’s own business and occasionally a Culture Warrior decides to start another fight over GTA?

  23. shadowhawk says:

    Well, alright. I doubt I’ll ever play this game.
    The writing seems utterly awful. When it’s not predictable, it’s super cheesy. When it’s not that, it’s just bad. Mostly, it seems to be all three.

    – Oh look, here’s a super personified VI we’re giving a lot of attention. that won’t turn out to be an AI later, right?
    -This time, we’re giving you TWO family members. Both are going to have something horrible happening to them before you can build any meaningful connection to these characters. You better feel bad now, they’re your family after all!
    -Here’s some bad guys. Make them as unambigously Evil as possible. Shoot on sight, shoot people who surrender, and make the leader look like a sith lord.
    -Oh, look. Dad/SAM can magically decipher the totally foreign alien language. Also, good thing there was a tower to disable the storms and dad/SAM magically knows what it does from looking at it.

    And it only goes from there. The voice acting’s mostly mediocre. There’s hardly any facial animation. There’s tons of silly bugs. It just really feels like a trainwreck to me.

    That said, the combat looks to be not totally awful. So maybe there’s that.

  24. EBA says:

    so, you could, if you were so inclined to actually play the game (i’m having fun), play it and give us some early impressions and talk to the controversy in a post or two, saving a long form essay for a later date.

  25. happycakes says:

    Wow, I just saw the dad death scene. I feel like maybe they wanted to do something dramatic and emotional.. I think it comes back to the animation issues this game clearly suffers from, maybe it just wasn’t in budget or maybe they were just incapable or lazy. It could have actually been a decent moment (even though up to this point you’ve just been shooting dudes and don’t really feel anything for any of these characters) if commander ryder had tried desperately to fix her helmet with space magic but it wouldn’t work, along comes dad to martyr himself and both you and he shuffle helms around but the atmosphere gets the better of you both, you were just lucky enough to be picked up a few seconds after death.

    I wanted this game to be decent, but the combat looks garbage and I worry for the story after watching that.

  26. Sunshine says:

    I’m certainly interested in reading a Fallout 4 series. I’m late on starting it and even if it hasn’t grabbed me quite like 3 and New Vegas did, I still have opinions about it.

  27. RTBones says:

    I am just not feeling this game. It simply does not grab me. I’m sure I’ll watch Lets Plays of it, and if SW ever does a full season of it, I’d watch. But get it myself and play…I dont think so.

    As to what I’d like to read – Witcher 3 is high on the list, probably the top. I got Witcher 3 because I got Witcher 2 very late (Enhanced Edition) and enjoyed it. Never played the first one, apart from a few minutes after I picked up the Enhanced Edition on a Steam sale. I’ve really enjoyed W3 – I would be quite happy if the game was continuously given DLC.

    Borderlands 2 is also high on the list. I’ve recently come back to it, as it runs reasonably on my Surface Pro 3 (handy for work travel), and I never completely finished the game.

    Fallout 4 – probably third on the list. I generally enjoyed the game, until jumping to the Institute. Is it possible that a game can be good and “meh” at the same time?

  28. peacemon says:

    This may get long, but I think that’s only fair since I enjoyed Shamus’ ME retrospective so much. I also fully agreed with him about 95% of the time, which of course means that it’s the smartest thing ever written about the series. By this alone you can guess I’m a huge ME1 fan, was in parts very disappointed by ME2, and hated ME3 with a passion. This is important for my following opinion on ME:A.

    I am massively enjoying it. I’ve not come very far yet, but so far it’s easily a 9/10 for me. With “not very far” I mean 18 hours in and 17% completion according to the game. I’m on the third planet right now. You will be faster if you rush it–I explore places, talk to people, try to understand things instead of just walking away, do side quests etc., but I don’t just idle around. This game is HUGE. If that progression percentage is anything to go by, I’m in for a 100-hour playthrough–which means it’ll take me longer than the entire trilogy. So if you don’t want to invest a lot of time, it might be best to stay far away from this game. I love that because I rarely buy a new game, I tend to stick to a few games and play the shit out of them.

    First things first, ME:A was always going to divide, and I won’t recommend it to anyone, because many will be disappointed by it. But many other players do love it. So this is just my perspective. For this it’s important to be clear about where I come from, what I wanted, and what I expected.

    After ME3 I had not the slightest hope anymore that there would be a good story again. I didn’t expect one from ME:A, I went into this just for gameplay. And the story so far isn’t anything to be excited about, even though some say it gets better later in the game. It’s not terrible, just a bit forgettable and uninspired. However that means it’s already better than ME3’s, which was terrible; it committed plot suicide in the opening text already, something ME:A doesn’t. And ME3 was unfortunate in that it had to be a good closing to the trilogy that ME1 started, and actually pretended to do so–and failed horribly. There’s no pressure this time, it’s a fresh start, and I can just lay aside my gripes with the trilogy. Take it this way, imagine there’s a somewhat cartoonish and more light-hearted CGI spin-off to the Star Wars trilogy. If you measure it by the SW trilogy’s storytelling you’ll be disappointed, but if you just take it for what it is and enjoy what it does on its own you might be in for a treat.

    As for illogical nonsense–you’ll get a great lot of that. Just look at where the Ark Hyperion pops out of dark space, how distant it is from the Andromeda galaxy. I did a few maths based on guessing the distance. Let’s say it got from there to a planet in a week (the game doesn’t state how long it took, it’s only a few minutes of game time): at that travelling speed, it would have taken the Ark at most fucking half a year to get there from the Milky Way. Be extremely conservative and it would still be less than 20 years. Which means the 600 years of “hyperspace travel” was pretty much walking speed. This alone should make it clear that you can not expect any logical consistency in this game at all. At that point I think it’s pointless to complain about the ability to fix the visor. And to be fair, even beloved Star Trek is full of nonsense and plotholes.

    Now when I say cartoonish, ME3 was cartoonish too. Problem was that it pretended not to be, it tried to be dramatic and serious and thus it fell apart. It started in ME2 actually with the introduction of the Vorcha, a whole alien race based on Marvel comics. ME:A doesn’t really try to be too serious, it’s more light-hearted and so it gets away with it. I don’t really mind the animation issues and the somewhat comical look because I don’t take them too seriously. Mind, most of the really bad animations I’ve encountered were in the opening hours, there was less of that as I progressed.

    So much for why I don’t have as many issues with ME:A’s flaws as others. But why do I love it, why 9/10, you’re asking? Glad you asked. It’s all about the gameplay.

    Most of it has to do with me being a ME1 fanboy. ME1 had great ambitions, it had a solid foundation, but had obvious flaws in execution. What I wanted from ME2 was an improvement on everything ME1 did. More exploration, bigger worlds filled with more life, improved combat and all that. But of course that’s not what I got.

    What I got was a savage cut. Yes, it was much more technically accomplished, but it just threw half of ME1 in the bin. Very reduced levelling system, no inventory/looting anymore, no Mako anymore, no sense of scale, much fewer people to talk to etc etc. And ammo clips for God’s sake. And there were things ME1 combat did better, actually. There was very close combat, there was very long-range combat, combat environments were very different. In some places there was a lot of cover, in others little or even none, which means you can’t just duck there behind cover all the time.

    The cover system was more dynamic: instead of clicking into cover and be safe, there was better and worse cover, and some that turned out to be not helpful at all. You had to try to find a good spot at the side of your cover to get a shot at enemies without revealing yourself too much. Often, instead of taking cover, you were fighting in the open.

    In ME2 and 3, just move to the end of your cover where Shepard magically stops and is still unhittable. I really don’t like that system, I think it’s very dumbed down and digital. ME1 was much more organic here. In a recent playthrough, I was crouching towards the hill over the large open area where Nilus was killed, trying to find a good place to get a good shot with my sniper rifle–and I just noticed this was something that never happens in ME2/3.

    And in ME:A it’s all back. Organic environments instead of rectangular building blocks, sometimes lots of cover and sometimes none at all. Seamless transition between walking and taking cover, and yes, if you move too far to the edge, you’re going to get hit. And overall it’s much more dynamic than the stationary hidefest of ME2. However unlike in ME1, there’s nothing clunky here. The game manages to combine the best of ME1 and ME3 combat which is no minor feat and honestly more than I dared to hope for. This is the combat I wanted from ME1 sequels, only better.

    There’s one central point here: Shamus accurately wrote that the hypothetical “guy” who made ME2 hated ME1. Not sure about the guy who made ME3, at least he picked up ME1’s story again, he just messed it up beyond recognition. The guy who made ME:A, be it Mac Walters or not, loves ME1. I never expected so much coming back that was abandoned in ME2, it’s as if he actually recalled ME1 and tried to make the game that ME2 could have been (except for story/writing).

    Here are some points that are picked up from ME1 and often improved:

    – obviously, there’s a Mako of sorts again
    – there’s a real sense of scale
    – there’s a map
    – there’s an inventory and lootboxes all over the place
    – there are different levels of each item
    – items have stat numbers
    – there’s a radar of sorts, not the actual two-dimensional radar of ME1, but at least a one-dimensional one like in Skyrim
    – there are hazardous environments that will drain your life support; in ME1 that was kinda pointless because you didn’t really have to go on foot there, but in ME:A it actually matters
    – you can craft weapons with the aptly named “vintage heat sink” if you want that back instead of ammo clips. Having this choice is ingenious as it makes everyone happy no matter which system they prefer
    – the PC version makes use of the keyboard again! No more “just make space do everything”, there’s E for use and shift for run and hotkeys for inventory and squad screen etc. Praise the Lord!
    – while you can have only three powers mapped at a time, they have separate cooldown timers, just like in ME1. This makes a lot of sense for biotic combos and stuff.
    – four weapon slots: pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles :) well, and one for melee weapons.
    – the opening text talks about exploration and technology again, no doom and gloom and human domination and all that shit. Little things like these…

    That’s just what comes to my mind right away, I think there’s a lot more. Gameplay-wise, ME:A carries much more ME1 DNA than 2&3 did. I never saw that coming.

    But there’s more. Your first minutes of gameplay aren’t straight into the action, you walk around on the Ark, talk to people and stuff. And if you thought the Citadel was a time sink/waste of time, wait until you’re on the Nexus.

    The guy who made ME:A also loves RPG’s because there’s a lot of geeky RPG stuff, actually making this the “most RPG” Mass Effect game of all. You can talk to hundreds of people, ask them who they are, what they’re doing here, why they joind the Andromeda Initiative and so on. If that’s good or bad is for you to decide, but it’s a clear step away from ME2+3 towards more RPG. It’s all pretty insignificant, but it shows the creator’s change of direction.

    Overall I think there are some similarities to Skyrim. That was also a two-sided affair, mixing an immersive world and freedom and tons of things to do with insignificant story and wonky dialogue. I never had a problem with that, in fact it was often good for a laugh, and I truly loved that game anyway. Andromeda has some of that vibe, if for better or worse is for you to decide.

    So. Andromeda has obvious flaws but it does so much that I love that for my liking that 9/10 is entirely justified.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      So much for why I don't have as many issues with ME:A's flaws as others. But why do I love it, why 9/10, you're asking? Glad you asked. It's all about the gameplay.

      Like I said before the game came out:The story will be shit,but the gameplay will be great.Because of the jetpack.Everyone loves jetpacks.

      1. djw says:

        The gameplay makes a pretty big difference though. The tedium of the combat in DA:I made the nauseating MMO quest design a chore that drove me to quit less than half way through the game. ME:A doesn’t feel as bland, even though it is, because the combat is way more fun.

    2. peacemon says:

      I think I forgot my main point: Andromeda isn’t Gears of War anymore.

  29. Philadelphus says:

    From watching the video:

    ““Huh. So it turns out dark matter is actually just perfectly natural space kelp. Who knew?

    ““So if the atmosphere has a level of oxygen too low to support human respiration, how is that fire burning away so merrily?

    ““Loved Shamus’s idea of an alien race that gets powered up by shooting it, and thus assume you’re trying to make friends with them.

    ““How did Greer manage to land from orbital entry inside a cave? Although maybe he moved there/was brought there.

    ““”SAM is fully sentient.” But is he/it sapient?

    1. djw says:

      I assumed the air was toxic, not oxygen free, but I don’t know if this head canon is supported in game.

  30. The Victorian says:

    Does anyone else feel that this game is just totally turgid and listless in its presentation? There’s no passion or drive to the spoken lines of dialogue; it sounds as if the voice actors are either utterly bored or just haven’t been given proper direction. Which is more than a bit odd, because one can always count on BioWare titles to feature quality voice work at the very least.

  31. BenD says:

    I would absolutely LOVE some GTAV content. Just saying!

  32. Lachlan the Mad says:

    I actually finished GTAV for the first time last night. Now I’m deeply tempted to write up an analysis of it in Shamus style. My copy is for the X360, though, so I’d have to re-buy and re-play it on PC…

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Shouldnt you finish writing about some other game before that?You know,an obscure little fantasy game known as fable 3.

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