The video game industry is surrounded by a level of passion that is hard to be matched by any medium. Movies, books, music have passionate fans regarding franchises, bands, series, but few can accrue as much love or hate as the most prominent video game franchises.
And we have seen that with the yet unreleased Mass Effect Andromeda, the new entry in the beloved sci-fi franchise that became an icon in the industry. N7 jackets, cosplays, tattoos, regarding Commander Shepard and the world around him proliferate in conventions, and even in everyday life.
But like any major brand, as we see with Star Wars’ prequels, the same fans who adore the characters and the lore can feel betrayed, as what happened with the controversial ending of Mass Effect 3. And some of that hate has transferred against Mass Effect Andromeda, and I’m not defending the game, that is yet to be found out if it’s worthy of being considered as part of the franchise.
Yes, the animations truly look horrendous, sometimes worse than what we saw in the first entry, that came out in 2007, and far inferior to those in Dragon Age Inquisition, that came out in 2014, by the same studio. But it feels that everybody is going beyond that and considering the game a failure based on the impressions of the first few hours, that doesn’t give an amazing first impression, but neither did Mass Effect 1, and many other revered RPG’s.
With a game that has such a big scope, spanning through an entire galaxy, a new one, hundreds of characters, and dozens of hours of content, we can’t judge it based on its first hours. After all, a lot of story, character and gameplay developments will happen after that.
Many other games were released with a negative impression, with problems that weren’t related to the visuals, but that was clouded by doubt and proved to be at least good games. Last year’s Hitman, was criticized by many for adopting the episodic business model and ended up becoming one of the biggest surprises of last year. It didn’t have an amazing story, but through brilliant level design and incredible replay value was voted by many as their game of the year.
The outstanding Horizon Zero Dawn, that is a candidate for game of the year, previewed well but wasn’t deemed as an incredible game, with many journalists pointing to strange facial animations as a flaw, albeit they are not as bad as those in ME: A. And it had an amazing reception, being pointed as a new franchise for the PlayStation, possibly becoming a staple of the brand for the future.
Final Fantasy XV also wasn’t unanimity among the media, with lackluster demos, characters that looked formulaic and uninteresting. All of that added to the morbid curiosity of seeing a project that took several years, and fundamental changes throughout the years to be released. And the final result proved to be positive, well-regarded by reviewers and fans alike, proving to also be a success when it comes to sales, that may never turn into a profit given the long development cycle and huge marketing effort behind it.
And we can never forget, that looks may deceive, as we saw in The Order: 1886 and Mafia III. Both games were touted as possibly groundbreaking, due to its jaw dropping graphics in The Order and its story in Mafia III that tackled tough themes. Even though they managed to succeed in these areas, both were plagued by poor gameplay, and worlds that felt lifeless and underwhelming, being considered huge disappointments.
I’m not saying that Mass Effect Andromeda is going to be a great game, or that it shouldn’t be criticized based on its flaws. But at times we have judged a game before seeing the final product, and many times we were wrong. All I’m saying is that we should at least give it a chance to get a fair assessment, if indeed it really is a sub par entry, then it shall receive its share of reasonable criticism, but if it’s good then let’s all enjoy it.