Mass Effect? More Like Mass Disappointment

Let’s just call this spring a write-off. Between Iron Fist’s failure of a series, Pepsi’s disaster commercial (recently pulled), and The Ghost in the Shell’s unashamed whitewashing, the entertainment world has had a rough go of it.And now Mass Effect: Andromeda’s animation is one to add to the list of the year’s biggest failures.

The latest installment of BioWare’s massively successful series came out on March 21, but it was already receiving negative feedback from those with advanced copies. Their early reviews weren’t flattering, citing glitchy animation and bad voice acting as the worst culprits for breaking immersion. These sentiments were echoed on Twitter, reddit, and 4chan as soon as the rest of the world caught up.

Watching the trailer for MEA, you’d have no idea what you’re in for. On the surface, the fourth installment looked like it was going to build on the great graphics of the rest of the Mass Effect universe. But once we dug a little deeper and experienced actual gameplay, we realized the franchise didn’t arrive 600 years into the future totally unscathed.

The issue for most players are the goofy animations. These glitches cause Ryder to walk as if (s)he is riding a saddle, and the resulting waddle when (s)he runs is unintentionally hilarious. If you cast an eye towards the NCPs, you can usually catch them doing something strange, like typing on a bare table, disappearing behind objects, or standing half-through a wall.

The Mass Disappointment from the latest release of Mass Effect would stress you out if you were her...

But the biggest issues are the close-ups during dialogue sequences. In the past, these shots were what made ME so special. Now they’re why the game’s the Internet’s biggest joke. Up close and personal, these characters take on a hyper-real design that actually makes them look less real. They’re plastic, robotic, expressionless, and reminiscent of games released decades in the past, so the high-resolution textures are hardly worth the trade-off.

While the majority of gamers took these glitches in stride, posting the worst offenders in gif form, there was an uglier side to the issue. Disgruntled gamers with nothing else to do joined an online GamerGate harassment campaign directed at the supposed lead facial animator at Electronic Arts. It was led by Ethan Ralph, who posted a picture of a woman and called her an inexperienced cosplayer.

Ralph and his followers were quickly lambasted by critics and BioWare alike, as no one person is responsible for these mistakes. BioWare also issued an official statement clarifying the women in Ralph’s post was misidentified as the lead developer before requesting their fans don’t attack any member of their team.

Clearly, the issues with MAE are systemic and something BioWare as a whole will have to shoulder. Thankfully they’re already making efforts to fix these problems. The MEA Patch 1.05 went live to some success, correcting even the infamous My Face is Tired scene. If this continues, we may have hope for the game.

To be fair to MAE, even without these patches, it’s not unplayable. When it isn’t animating character faces, the high resolution is a beautiful addition to the game, especially when played at 4K. It’s a ridiculously large game to explore, and it’s newly open world environment can be a delight to navigate.

But it’s hard for some people to get over the worst of the glitches. If you’re willing to give it a go, it’s available on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. But if not, there are better ways to focus your energy. You could design a custom PS4 skin with the help of dbrand to transform the look of your console and improve the grip of your controller. The new PS4 skins at dbrand.com/shop/sony-ps4-skins come in true colors and décor-approved textures. Or you could check out one of the games that didn’t fail at its launch, like The Last Guardian, Resident Evil: Biohazard, or Horizon Zero Dawn—all of which earned over 80% from Metacritic.

There’s no hiding the fact that MEA is riddled with issues. They should have delayed its release to iron out the glitches and smooth over any off-putting facial tics, but we live in a reality where they pushed it out too soon. Now you just have to decide whether you want to pay the big bucks to see these glitches for yourself, or if seeing them in gif form is good enough.

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