Andromeda Part 24: The Boss Fight at the End

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Apr 2, 2019

Filed under: Mass Effect 88 comments

Maybe this series was longer than it needed to be. My original retrospective covered all three games in 50 entries. Here I’ve spent half that on just a single game. Despite that, I’ve skipped at least as much material as I’ve covered. Sometimes I worried that I wasn’t covering the game in enough detail to really drive home how numerous the problems are, and other times I felt like I was beating a dead horse. Mass Effect Andromeda is an enormous game and there’s a lot wrong with it.

Regardless of how we got here, we’re now at the endgame. Ryder chases the Archon to the heart of the Meridian control system for…

The Big Dumb Showdown

I know it's hard to get a sense of scale from these screenshots, but that's the Archon and Scott on top of this big mound of space triangles.
I know it's hard to get a sense of scale from these screenshots, but that's the Archon and Scott on top of this big mound of space triangles.

So we arrive at the central control room. The Archon is up on a platform, using his floating robot to use Scott to use SAM to use Meridian to summon a giant robo-worm for you to fight. He gives us one last monologue before the fight starts, and it’s yet another repetition of the same cartoon dialog we’ve been hearing since the first act of the game.

The Archon gets one sort of interesting line here where he bellows, “I am the genetic inheritor of a thousand species!” That hints at why he thinks he deserves to win. You could probably expand that idea and do something useful across the entire story, but at this point it’s far too little and much too late.

The player has probably fought this same robo-worm boss several times already on the various habitable worlds, because this game designer thinks that if something is fun once then doing it four times will be four times as funThey are wrong..

Just shut up and let's get to the fighting.
Just shut up and let's get to the fighting.

The pieces are now in place. Our big dumb bad guy has a damsel we don’t care about, and is using the damsel to access a machine we don’t understand to summon a re-run boss monster we need to defeat so we can push three buttons and win the game. The entire sequence is a microcosm of Mass Effect Andromeda. It’s somehow both insultingly simple and needlessly convoluted at the same time.

The worst part of all of this is that the Archon WILL. NOT. SHUT. UP. All of his faults are amplified to maximum intensity here. Here are some of his actual lines:

ALL YOUR WORLDS WILL BURN!

YOU ARE UNWORTHY!

YOUR PEOPLE WILL BEG FOR MERCY, AND THEY WILL BE DENIED!

You have to listen to a dozen variations of this repeat for eighteen solid minutesThat’s how long the fight took in my footage, anyway.. It’s not a great boss fight to begin with, but it’s so much more tedious with this dunce announcing the inevitability of his victory while you gun down his minions.

At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan the Accuser starts belting out his big speech on the punishment he’s bringing. The thing is, the screenwriter doesn’t make us listen to the whole thing, because that wouldn’t advance the plot or entertain the audience. We get just enough of it to get the idea, and then the good guys do their thing. If the Archon is going to do this much talking, then he really needs to be saying something. And if he doesn’t have anything to say, then he needs to keep his mouth shut. Our villain is a boring thug who talks like a cartoon character and has nothing interesting to say but who keeps talking anyway. It’s like being stuck in an online shooter against an exasperated tryhard who keeps screaming nonsense into his mic and we can’t mute him for some reason.

After listening to his howling for a third of an hour, the writer doesn’t even see fit to have it lead up to something. Ryder doesn’t refute his ideals. Archon doesn’t get a reaction shot where he realizes he’s lost and expresses panic. You don’t see his belief system shatter as he experiences doubt for the first time in his life. He doesn’t die screaming in some horrible conflagration of lasers and exploding machinery. You don’t even get a moment where Ryder looks down at his body and drops a one-liner.

If you’re going to write childish action schlock, the least you can do is make proper action schlock!

This is Ryder's big hero moment where she summons her strength and finally overpowers the villain. She's activating a computer console.
This is Ryder's big hero moment where she summons her strength and finally overpowers the villain. She's activating a computer console.

In fact, his death scene makes it seem like the writer thinks this is a tragic moment. He falls from his doom machine and lands on the central platform with a light shining on him, eyes closed. The score is telling us this moment is “somber” and not “triumphant”.

Maybe the writer was trying to make a callback to the death of Saren, overlooking the fact that:

  1. Saren was a three-dimensional character and not a bellowing tryhard.
  2. Saren was a tragic figure because he tried to outwit a Reaper and failed. There’s nothing tragic about the Archon. (At least, not in-universe.)
  3. You can actually sort of redeem Saren through dialog, making him realize he’s been indoctrinated.
  4. Most importantly: Saren only spoke when he had something to say. And at the end, he conceded your victory before he died.

For contrast, the Archon just falls down and exits the story without comment.

This guy is dead and he's still hogging the camera.
This guy is dead and he's still hogging the camera.

Shamus, maybe they’re ignoring him on purpose to show they stopped thinking about him the moment he died?

I would really approve of that. The thing is, if you’re going to have the heroes ignore the villain, then you need to show them ignoring the villain. For example you could do something like this:

SAM: Pathfinder. Meridian is now operational. You may activate it when ready.

(Ryder looks around to see the Archon’s dead body, ingloriously draped over a nearby console.)

Ryder: Sure, just let me… (Ryder grunts as she casually shoves the Archon off, into the abyss.) …move this. (Operates the controls.) There. That should do it.

(The lights come on, showing the terraforming network is now operating.)

THAT is how you show the hero doesn’t care about the villain. Instead, it feels like the game treats him with undeserved reverence that makes the whole thing dissonant.

This is the final shot of the Archon. Note the lack of being blown up, vaporized, impaled, crushed, or other bodily dishonor according to this rules of action-schlock villain demise.
This is the final shot of the Archon. Note the lack of being blown up, vaporized, impaled, crushed, or other bodily dishonor according to this rules of action-schlock villain demise.

After all the Archon monologuing the writer forces us to sit through, it feels very strange to have nothing for either party to say once the fighting is over. That’s it? You don’t have a coda? You don’t want to underscore a theme or refute a thesis? No jokes, no callbacks, no inversion of earlier dialog? Not even a crude taunt on the part of Ryder to make the dying Archon taste a little of his own medicine? The hero isn’t going to cut off a final monologue? You’re not going to give the player some sort of visceral show by having the Archon burned or atomized by the unwieldy machine he was trying to control? You don’t want to give him some sort of karmic retribution or ironic death? No moment where he realizes he was wrong?

Sure, a lot of these might have been cliche or lameThis is for Thane, you son of a bitch!. I’m just baffled that the writer brought us all this way and had nothing to say at the end.

I suppose it’s possible that this writer was wary of repeating the sins of Mass Effect 3, which tried so hard to talk about BIG IDEAS with SYMBOLISM and ended up collapsing into nonsense. And to be fair, I guess this simple story that says nothing is better than Mass Effect 3’s infuriating puzzle box of contradictions and incoherency. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for more than this from a game with the BioWare name and a budget of $100 million. Somewhere between “saying nothing” and “saying something stupid” is the opportunity to say something interesting. That’s the entire point of this genre.

You Win!

Thanks for showing up about 20 minutes late, everyone.
Thanks for showing up about 20 minutes late, everyone.

After the fight, we emerge into the daylight and someone says the Nexus wants to know what happened. We can be a jerk and tell them off, or we can be nice and give them the good news. Which is really odd. The game will let us disrespect the mildly annoying Director Tann, but not our genocidal main villain?

After the credits roll, we cut to a view of a Kett ship. Another Kett leader glowers at her display screen, turns, and walks away menacingly. Fade to black.

So this is the writer’s big idea for a sequel hook? Next time, we can fight the exact same unimaginative aliens? Is this the plan for Mass Effect going forward? These boring one-note assholes are supposed to carry a franchise? If this is their plan then I guess it’s for the best that the series died here. In fact, it’s a huge relief.

Wrapping Up

I'm not kidding. This is our after-credits stinger. Another glowering Kett despot with the same flying gizmo, walking menacingly towards the camera.
I'm not kidding. This is our after-credits stinger. Another glowering Kett despot with the same flying gizmo, walking menacingly towards the camera.

We’re done with the plot. This is where I’d analyze what the game had to say and speculate on upcoming games. But since it didn’t really say much of anything and the franchise doesn’t seem to have a futureActually, since writing this some people at BioWare have been making noices about revisiting the franchise. I’ll talk about that another day., I don’t know what I can tell you. It’s just over.

That’s it for the plot of Mass Effect Andromeda. Next week I’ll have some final words on BioWare, and then I think we’re done with this franchise for good.

 

Footnotes:

[1] They are wrong.

[2] That’s how long the fight took in my footage, anyway.

[3] This is for Thane, you son of a bitch!

[4] Actually, since writing this some people at BioWare have been making noices about revisiting the franchise. I’ll talk about that another day.



From The Archives:
 

88 thoughts on “Andromeda Part 24: The Boss Fight at the End

  1. ShivanHunter says:

    And somehow, the boss fight is the perfect finish for ME:A. I spent the entire fight wondering if they designed the worm specifically for it and then plopped it onto the planets as well, or designed it for the planets and tried to cram it in here because of deadlines.

    I think I speak for most of us disappointed in what’s become of Mass Effect when I say:

    F

  2. Karma The Alligator says:

    Wow, I didn’t realise when you showed the picture of the worm in the first post, saying we fight this guy a few times, that he would actually be the final boss. That is such a letdown, both for the story (what about fighting the Archon himself?) and gameplay (I can’t even think of any game where the final boss is the same as a boss you already fought).

    1. Sarfa says:

      Really, the “final boss” of Mass Effect 3 (in that it’s the final fight you can actually lose- and thus winning it means winning the game) is a fight against a bunch of husks, culminating in killing yet another Banshee. The only difference between this Banshee fight and all the others is that you’ve had to fight through a small horde of other husks (all things you’ve fought before) before getting to this point.

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        Nah, the last boss there is Marauder Shields (he can kill you). Although I guess that makes TIM the real final boss.

        But seriously, I tend to not count those fights as boss fights because, well, they’re not. They’re just regular fights. ME3 doesn’t have a final boss.

        1. CrokusYounghand says:

          The final boss is the voice of reason in your head. Conquer it, and you’ll have found the zen of the Cereberus.

          Then you start smoking…

        2. andrew says:

          The final boss was the friends we made along the way.

          And also the TV. You win by smashing your controller through it.

          1. CrokusYounghand says:

            The final boss was inside you all along.

            That will actually make for a dope Aliens game.

            1. Karma The Alligator says:

              But then who do you play once the boss comes out?

              1. CrokusYounghand says:

                You crawl and hide your near-death self from the boss and try to eject it into space. Some kind of stealth focused rouge-lite immersive sim might actually be able to work with this.

                You know from the beginning that their is a alien inside you, but you can’t do anything to kill it. So, you study the environment, create traps amd then once it comes out, try to get it trapped. If you fail, you get to try again.

                1. Syal says:

                  If you fail, you get to try again.

                  I love the idea of an alien bursting out of someone, and they just grab it and shove it back inside them.

        3. Gautsu says:

          /Respect for Marauder Shields

      2. Coming Second says:

        And that Banshee might possibly have a name you recognise? I forget if it’s that one or another in the same area.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          You can find Jack in the Cerberes base if you fail to save her. Not that the game draws any attention to that.

          1. Attercap says:

            Ditto with Morinth (if you saved her in ME2). She’s one of the first Banshees in London, but you have to be looking at enemy names to catch it.

    2. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Unfortunately, I can think of a couple like that. The final boss of Halo 5: Guardians is the same guy you’ve had to fight a couple of time (The Guardian), but with three bodies active at once. So it’s at least an escalation. Just not a very good one. The final boss of Chrono Trigger is Lavos, which is interesting since you fight him throughout the game in fights you’re meant to lose. But thanks to time travel and New Game +, you can technically win ANY of those fights and end the game right then and there.

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        I should have said: fought and killed, as in it’s a copy paste job, not one that keeps coming back.

    3. Fabrimuch says:

      Devil May Cry 3 had Vergil as the final boss, who you’d already fought twice before. But it actually works really well there because the entire story was about the rivalry between Dante and Vergil and he was a genuine challenge to overcome each time.

  3. Wangwang says:

    And then maybe you can talk about that universally loved movie of 2017.

  4. Jenkins says:

    and then I think we’re done with this franchise for good.

    Oof.

    The first Mass Effect might be my favourite game of all time, and one of my fondest moments is the closing shot where the Normandy is seen disappearing into the darkness of space. It didn’t need an after-credits stinger to make me excited for what was to come next, because the game had already done such a wonderful job of pulling me into that world. Like Mass Effect itself, I consider its closing shot to be a happy accident. Had Bioware been certain of the series’ narrative direction at that point, I have no doubt Mass Effect would’ve closed with a *DRAMATIC* shot of a grim-looking Illusive Man instead.

    What made Andromeda’s *DRAMATIC* after-credits scene all the more laughable is the fact we already had an almost-identical shot (at 1:57) at the beginning of the game. It wasn’t good the first time, let alone the second.

    And yet it still might not be as inane as the Stargazer scene at the end of Mass Effect 3.

    1. CrokusYounghand says:

      Even in the original game, the fact that they asked our character to decide future role of humanity in galactic politics rubbed me the wrong way. Like sure, blowhard politicians totally care about the opinions of soldiers fighting on the front lines. NOT.

      Bioware and Bethesda seem to have same ludo-narrative problem- their characters need to become more important in the game world but still somehow stay a soldier following orders. In real life, soldiers retire to become community leaders and politicians. In games, they wait for the release of the sequel.

      The pathfinder seems like an almost logical extension of that- a character who would have been a diplomat with experience in dealing with first contact scenarios is a soldier and a talking voice in her head.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        Yeah, usually in an RPG, it’s a player character’s ability to kill dragons that gives them a say at the big boy’s table. You get to decide on important things because you’re the one actually doing them.

        Bioware, at some point, decided that the player needed to be (nominally) in a position of authority, rather than one of an independent force with enough personal power to influence events.

        1. CrokusYounghand says:

          That’ what RPGs have been, sure. That’s not what they have to be.

          I’d love to play an RPG as a missionary, diplomat, politician or trader. Sticking to the “adventurer” archetype will only constrain the types of stories we can tell.

          1. Syal says:

            Recettear does the trader one.

          2. baud says:

            Age of Decadence has non-combat (or combat light) path with the scholar and merchant backgrounds.

  5. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    No take on the weird choice of Heleus leader at the end? I was flabbergasted by that part, I had no idea what they wanted me to choose, what the person’s powers would be, how long they’d be around, if we could vote perhaps…

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      They hedge their bets a little bit there by saying that your opinion could greatly sway the choice instead of just straight-up saying “You should pick our leader.” But it comes across as effectively the same thing.

      It would’ve been really nice to have the conversation option of “I don’t nave the necessary skills, experience, or knowledge base to have any input whatsoever on such a decision.” Even though I had just saved the Heleus Cluster, the last thing I was in the mood for was to essentially crown the next emperor. Let the people whose job it is work those decisions out.

      1. Syal says:

        “We should decide the new leadership via Battle Royale.”

        1. King Marth says:

          Now *this* is a sequel hook. Mass Effect is saved!

  6. CrokusYounghand says:

    “Yipee-ki-yay, ….wierdo?”

  7. Jabberwok says:

    The original trilogy also seemed to have an increasingly weird amount of focus on and affection for its villains. I wonder if this could be a potential problem with writing a game that has a blank slate for a main character. The writer ends up latching onto the villain (the biggest character with a set arc?), yet the player is going to be focused around their own character and supporting cast.

    Then again, RPGs have always done this. But the isometric varieties were usually more interested in fleshing out a convincing world rather than telling a linear story.

    And it’s still no excuse for having a crappy villain. Just the opposite.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Man, I thought Sovereign was written a bit trite and cliche in Mass Effect 1. That’s still true, but now I see how deep the bottom of the barrel is. ^^;

      1. Jabberwok says:

        I can’t remember that far back, but I thought Sovereign and Harbinger were both fine in comparison to the Illusive Man by the third game. Not to mention Kai Leng…

      2. Jbc31187 says:

        I won’t say Sovereign wasn’t cliche, but the writers knew how to use Sovereign. Sovereign had a clear goal, a clear plan ( his army of geth and krogan and rachni), and he had a contingency plan with finding the conduit. When push came to shove, Sovereign could take on two fleets at once and not die. And best of all, he never called you every five minutes with vapid generic bad guy chatter. From the very beginning Sovereign was established as unique and dangerous, and he only talked when he had something to say.

        There wasn’t much to Sovereign beyond « big imposing robo-cthulhu » but he supported and was supported by more-fleshed out characters like Saren. And this was only the first game, and the writers had plenty of time to work on the Reapers…

  8. Christopher says:

    Next week I’ll have some final words on BioWare, and then I think we’re done with this franchise for good.

    I suppose there’s still the anime.

    1. RichardW says:

      This makes me wonder… whatever happened to the actual movie that was announced forever ago? They had a Comic Con panel for it and everything. I mean, I guess the obvious answer is- Mass Effect 3 happened (and then Mass Effect Andromeda) but I’m unsure how much that would effect the Hollywood end of the equation. Maybe the guys at Bioware just decided to cut their losses in the end. After the Warcraft movie didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it might not have seemed all that enticing a prospect.

      Somewhat related, the BioShock movie is never happening because Ken Levine admitted a while back that it would just never turn out good, and he apparently had enough sway to put the brakes on the whole thing.

  9. Daimbert says:

    While I haven’t played this game, what’s standing out to me about this is that Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn’t seem to have these faults. While I didn’t care for it that much, what I didn’t like had little to do with the actual plot or characters and had more to do with the open world concept. DAI in terms of story is still mostly fun and still hooks up to the world and previous games in interesting ways. NONE of the DA games where as bad as this, even DA2. Why is it the case that Mass Effect went down this path while Dragon Age mostly didn’t?

    1. Christopher says:

      I think they share a lot of the same issues (I couldn’t help thinking about the final boss of Inquisition, in which you fight another one of the dozens of dragons you could’ve fought already ’cause it’s their one boss monster), but the staff on Inquisition was still the main crew at Bioware. This was the ME3 multiplayer studio, making a new Mass Effect to keep the lights on while the main team worked on the new big IP. They had a really troubled development full of job changes, technology problems and management issues, and then they didn’t have the experience on top of that. Reading about the development, you start to be amazed that they managed to put out anything at all.

      1. Daimbert says:

        The thing is, though, the problems in the Mass Effect franchise started before Andromeda. While DA2 was somewhat rightly criticized for making it so that the player can’t ever win and can only keep chasing failing policies in the hopes of presenting disaster, it at least did that in the service of telling a tragedy that was supposed to set up the themes for the next game with inspirations and threads from the first one. ME2, as Shamus has pointed out in detail, took away your agency in the service of having you work for a character and organization that the writers cared about but the player had no reason to, and did that in a way that didn’t build on the first game and didn’t set anything up for the third game. It’s only because the characters were so much more interesting in ME2 than in DA2 — Varric and Merrill are probably the most interesting DA2 characters, and they might rise to the level of Jacob or a little higher — that this gets ignored. And then ME3 went full-in on the Cerberus plot, sidelining the main villains of the Reapers, and ended that in an idiotic way. MEA is just more of the same problems that started in ME2 and ME3. Dragon Age, on the other hand, has been able to keep decent plots with interesting characters and maintain lore elements throughout the entire series, at least so far. Yes, it has stumbled, but not this badly.

        As a direct point of comparison, look at how ME treats TIM compared to how DA treats Flemeth. Arguably, they’re both in similar roles, but Flemeth is the mysterious manipulator who can directly intervene while TIM, supposedly more “illusive” displaces everyone else. Why wasn’t TIM more like Flemeth?

        1. Scampi says:

          can only keep chasing failing policies in the hopes of presenting disaster

          Did you mean preventing disaster or did you mean to imply the player is happily announcing he just discovered a disaster and would like everyone to have a look?

          1. Daimbert says:

            I did mean preventing, although for DA2 presenting makes a certain amount of sense, as Hawke had a tendency to see the disasters coming before anyone else did. Especially snarky Hawke.

    2. Shengar says:

      It just a matter of time, really.

  10. Asdasd says:

    I don’t mean to veer into linguistic pedantry right off the bat, but it’s interesting that ‘concede victory’ and ‘concede defeat’ can have the same meaning. I guess it’s because both elide context for the sake of brevity (‘I concede [that the] victory [is yours]’ vs ‘I concede [that the] defeat [is mine]’).

    1. Shamus says:

      Thanks. I’ve edited it for clarity.

    2. Syal says:

      ‘Concede’ generally means ‘accept the opponent’s decision’. So conceding victory and conceding defeat are both allowing the opponent to decide the outcome of the fight. More of a ‘half full, half empty’ thing.

  11. tremor3258 says:

    The ‘this guy is dead and still hogging the camera’ had me laughing.

    From the summary (I missed Andromeda because of the reviews and every day I feel better about my decision) – I assume we’re about three games away from the main character turning out to be the Legendary Super Saiyan as the narrative dissolves, so maybe it’s best it dies now.

    1. CrokusYounghand says:

      Legendary Super Saiyan

      So, Kai Leng?

      1. tremor3258 says:

        Kai Leng was Batman-but-OC(Do not steal)-and-cooler, so it checks out on the progression, yes.

  12. Randy M says:

    Never played a ME game, but I’ve read every word you’ve written about the series (on this site, not counting comments). That’s gotta say something!

  13. Dreadjaws says:

    Actually, since writing this some people at BioWare have been making noices about revisiting the franchise. I’ll talk about that another day.

    This game reminds me a lot of The Amazing Spider-Man (the movie):
    – Pedestrian storyline.
    – Awful dialogue.
    – Wrong style focus.
    – Unlikable protagonist.
    – Stupid-looking villain.
    – Not as bad as the third entry in the last we’ve seen of the franchise, but perhaps worse in the sense is that it’s mediocre and, as such, less memorable.

    I’m perfectly fine if we never see another Mass Effect game, but if we do I’d rather they try and fail than not try at all like they did here.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I think they *did* try and fail with this game. If they hadn’t tried at all, I don’t think Shamus would have had anything to cite, for over-important dialog/characters/story – it would just be a bland, forgettable, space-shooter-RPG.

  14. Collin Pearce says:

    I remember when video games were so scarce that I was happy just to play one. In some ways I miss that.

    There are markets in the world that expect much less than this product. I can’t tell anymore if the western markets are spoiled or if the suppliers just oversold their products.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      That’s like saying that all films should be as terrible as horrible B-movies[1] from the 80s, so that we’d enjoy them more. No thanks, I’d rather have the many films like Citizen Kane, Terminator, Alien, Alive, The Fifth Element, etc, which have provided so much entertainment to myself and others.

      [1] Or that we should all eat gruel, instead of being spoiled with food that tastes good. There’s many ways to do this metaphor.

  15. Michael Anderson says:

    Yeah … definitely this series was too long. Some interesting stuff – but given how uninteresting and mediocre so much of ME:A was … you put WAY too much into the series.

    The game is what would happen if they made another Indiana Jones movie without realizing that Crystal Skull was garbage and then hiring the folks who did the recent ‘Holmes & Watson’ to make it without giving them any direction or context.

    Mass Effect was dead well before this, as was Bioware. We mourn the names, not any reality.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Strictly to avoid the phenomena where only people who don’t like something say anything and so seem like the majority, I didn’t think it was too long. Bioware games can be dense and have a lot in them, and in this case the point was to analyze this game and how it failed rather than fit multiple games that have been talked about forever into an overall framework, which explains its length compared to the Retrospective. While there’s always times where points aren’t that relevant to the overall project, I can’t really think of too much here that could have been taken out without later things being confusing or being brought up later as things he missed. For me, in fact, I think that sometimes the details were lacking, and so it probably could have been longer.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Obviously a case of varying mileage but I’d like to add that the series didn’t feel too long for me either, perhaps because I haven’t played the game, only seen bits of it played, so most things Shamus was talking about were new for me.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I haven’t played it either, so that might be a factor.

    2. Ivellius says:

      This isn’t to argue against your comment, but I would’ve been happy to read twice as much about the game.

  16. Karazor says:

    Oh my god, there’s a typo in the subtitles of the final battle?!

    Fucking look at it, “No, you have lead your people to their deaths.”

    Argh.

    1. Geebs says:

      To be fair to Subtitle Guy, I’d have given up trying a lot earlier in the game.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Cripes, it took me five times and check in the dictionary to verify that’s a mistake. This language sucks; We need a phonetic alphabet. :S

    3. Syal says:

      Obviously it’s supposed to be “you have to lead”.

      1. Syal says:

        …oh, right. I forgot about Silent Hill’s wonderful misspelling. So, it’s… actually in good company?

        1. Daimbert says:

          Blue Reflection was worse. I swear the number of subtitled lines — and I think the original voice acting was still in Japanese so if you wanted to understand was going on you had to read them — that were correct were LESS than the ones that had at least one easily noticeable error. It’s the first game where I would think that “production values” was a valid thing to talk about wrt the game.

  17. Matt says:

    I highly recomend checking out this article https://kotaku.com/how-biowares-anthem-went-wrong-1833731964

    It’s mostly about Anthem but there’s a couple of things involving Andromeda and it’s failure as well. Also problems with the Frostbite engine which explains some of the issues this game had as well.

    1. Christopher says:

      Yeah that was timely.

    2. Asdasd says:

      “BioWare director Casey Hudson and a small team of longtime Mass Effect developers started work on a project that they hoped would be the Bob Dylan of video games, meaning something that would be referenced by video game fans for years to come.”

      Staggering hubris aside, I think this will prove to be true, but not for any of the reasons Casey (or indeed Bob) would have hoped.

      It’s a shame though. The concept as described during the ‘ideation phase’, of the denizens of a world beset by its becoming this cosmic Bermuda triangle of accidental invaders, with dynamic and inexplicable fluctuations in weather and atmosphere, really does sound worth getting excited about.

      1. Geebs says:

        Cosmic Bermuda Triangle is basically the plot of the Tomb Raider reboot, though. Since that game came out right around the time Bioware were prototyping, that makes Anthem rather more George Harrison than Bob Dylan.

    3. tremor3258 says:

      Could not have picked a more apropos time for this article to drop.

    4. Liessa says:

      That was a fascinating and depressing article, and it confirmed something I’ve suspected for quite a while: that Bioware’s problems are at least as much of their own making as of EA’s. I loathe EA, and they can certainly be blamed for some things (enforcing the Frostbite engine, pulling experienced devs to work on other projects), but the failures in leadership, management and communication are all on Bioware’s head. This lament of “we had 7 years to make a game, but we didn’t get our arses in gear until the last 18 months” is becoming increasingly familiar.

      And the way they responded to the article is disturbing in its own way. Sounds like they didn’t even read it, but just assumed it would be a hit-piece against individual developers and lashed out accordingly. It makes the points raised in the article, about their poor attitude to criticism and feedback, seem even more painfully relevant.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        According to the article’s author, it was literally impossible for BioWare to have read the article before posting their response; he had reached out to them for comment and sent some parts of the article, but their response went up before the full thing did. It really reeks of damage control.

        1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher says:

          I mean, they posted their response less than 5 minutes after the article went live, and Schreier claimed he didn’t give them an advance copy of the article.

          So they very clearly knew something like this was going to drop soon and had this response ready to go as soon as they saw the article land.

          1. Syal says:

            He did say he sent them a summary and asked them about specific people, apparently they assumed from that it would be an attack. Also possible one of those anonymous leakers told their boss it would be a hit piece.

            But yeah, it’s so off the mark for Schreier’s story I had to Google ‘Anthem game articles’ just to see if there was another one they meant.

      2. Karma The Alligator says:

        I have to say, I’m seeing this “trend” of basically doing nothing (as in, nothing that ends up in the final game) for a few years then scrambling in the last 2 or so years to get something out in others companies these days. Square Enix seems to also be working somewhat like that if we go by how the development of FFXV went (could probably add KH3 in there, although a lot of those delays are due to Disney).

        I wonder if this is how games used to be made and the devs keep doing it because that’s how they’ve always done things, except nowadays it doesn’t work because the games are so ambitious?

        I’m also wondering if Frostbite being hard to use is deliberate, or just an accident (my first thought was that it was EA being EA, but surely even they can’t be that stupid)?

        1. Chad Miller says:

          Frostbite was made by DICE specifically for the Battlefield games. Every feature you see in the BioWare games starting with DA:I is something that they had to hack in after the fact.

          From the sound of various anonymous comments it seems that Frostbite is really good at what it was originally designed to do but they never anticipated having to generalize it to, say, third-person camera RPGs.

    5. Kavonde says:

      I was hoping to see someone else bring that article up. I wonder if Shamus will do much rewriting to his final post in light of this?

  18. Gurgl says:

    I found Andromeda to be an alright game but its poor reception should make Bioware cautious about direct sequels for now.

    What they could do if they want to squeeze more shekels out of the series is to revisit the original trilogy with cooperative campaign mode, ideally splitscreen.

    1. OldOak says:

      And you’re not alone in your perception. There are positive reviews of the game on http://www.imdb.com (there’s even a 10/10 one). Of course, the overall rating of 6.4 gives a different spread of opinion, though.

  19. Nixorbo says:

    Kotaku has a postmortem on Anthem and it mentions Andromeda a bunch:

    https://kotaku.com/how-biowares-anthem-went-wrong-1833731964

    1. RichardW says:

      I’m sure Shamus has already read the incredibly in-depth expose by the same guy on Andromeda itself, but for anyone who hasn’t.. https://kotaku.com/the-story-behind-mass-effect-andromedas-troubled-five-1795886428

      I actually bought Blood Sweat and Pixels not long after that, and as someone in indie dev reading that, it sort of makes me a little glad i’m not part of the AAA grinder.

      1. Jenkins says:

        The worst thing is, according to another article by Jason Schreier (whos writing on Bioware over the past few years has been spot on) before Anthem’s release, Dragon Age 4 – which had already been in development for several years – has been rebooted so more “live elements” (whatever that may be, but almost certainly something that would fall under the games-as-service umbrella) could be implemented into the game.

        Given that developers were pulled from Dragon Age and Andromeda to join development on Anthem, its entirely possible development on the next Dragon Age game hadn’t progressed very far and thus there wasn’t much to lose by rebooting it. But it’s a worrying sign given the troubles of Andromeda’s and Anthem’s development, and Bioware’s seeming dissarray.

  20. Prime says:

    Having read (and very much enjoyed) both this series and your original Mass Effect one, and after reading the Kotaku article linked by others in the comments, I can’t help but be reminded of a short and sweet little itch.io text-game called The Writer Will Do Something. It’s a funny, cutting, and surprisingly insightful look at how mangled a story can get when the writer has to paper over cracks caused by constant “changes of vision”, and it’s pretty clearly done by someone who has been in the position of video game writer on a game that has seen a ton of mid-development changes.

    Funny enough, given the dates of when this came out and when Anthem and Andromeda were being worked on, I’m almost tempted to say it’s ABOUT those games. Pure unfounded speculation, of course, but it’s an amusing thought.

    It’s also about the only excuse I can think of that Andromeda turned out the way it did with regards to story, dialogue, and writing. In the immortal words of JC Denton, “What a shame.”

    1. Ivellius says:

      Yeah, that’s been linked before on this site. I think it was by Rutskarn, probably about one of the Fallout games, or maybe in one of the Diecasts? It’s been a long time.

      Good to bring it back up, though.

  21. Pinkhair says:

    Viewing on mobile, I briefly thought that that first image was a shot from Independence Day.

  22. Sleeping Dragon says:

    The question I can’t wrap my head around is “how?!” How do people who are ostensibly professional storytellers can be so tone deaf while operating on what is basic tropes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the fact that they wanted to fall back on something more basic in terms of storytelling after the ME3 mess. What boggles the mind is how can people whose job it is to tell a story make such basic mistakes on every level, like think they’ve established the Archon as some kind of tragic villain, or that the supposed tension between Ryder and the leaders of the initiative has been written like a conflict that adult people would have about serious issues, or that the socio-economic drug based system of their hive of scum and villainy has any right to work… I could go on but there’s no point in repeating the entire retrospective. The point is not everyone who is doing a job in some kind of creative writing needs to be a great artist but I’d at least expect them to be a competent craftsman.

  23. Nimrandir says:

    I’m having a hard time processing the decision to make a post-credits tease with a villain model the player has already seen. It’s kinda dark, but isn’t that just another Ascendent kett?

    Seriously — if you don’t have a new antagonist in your model library, just cut the sequel tease!

  24. Bob Case says:

    Bit ironic, but one of the things I really liked about Andromeda was the ending. Not the final showdown with whatshisface about the whatever, but the post-ending sequence where you could talk to all your crew members, which I thought was nice. Also, the song that played over the credits (youtube.com/watch?v=LPQoQkGRHYo) was catchy.

    Even after all this, I hope there’s another Mass Effect game someday. They won’t just bail on it, right? The IP has value. Shareholders like value. There’ll be another Mass Effect someday, and it might even be good.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      That gives me a bit of hope for getting to the game’s conclusion myself; I must admit my playthrough is in danger of floundering.

  25. Paul Spooner says:

    Your description of the Archon’s marionette chain got me to lol. Well done everyone. Slow_clap.gif

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