Biggest Letdown of the Year
Release Date: March 21-23, 2017
Platforms: PC / PlayStation 4 / XBOX One
Genre: Action RPG
Publisher: Electronic Arts
An unsurprising choice for this “award,” Mass Effect: Andromeda represents a new low for BioWare, showcasing undoubtedly the worst writing and least role-playing in their long history as an RPG developer. There are good reasons everyone laughed at the game as a bad joke, and these reasons stem from it being a rushed mess.
The main thing people laughed at were the glitchy animations and record-setting bad facial animations. True, those contribute to it “winning” this “award” but they are not the only reasons. Mass Effect: Andromeda also launched with some of the most broken AI I have ever seen, similar to what we saw with Battlefield 1 last year but at least Battlefield 1 is primarily a multiplayer game. Friendly AI was completely useless around launch time in this game: they often fail to fire at enemies right in front of them. The funny thing is, Andromeda is more reliant on friendly AI being good compared to the previous Mass Effect games, due to reduced squad control (no pausing, cannot control their abilities) yet companions always get themselves killed unless you just have them hunker down by directing them to a safe place. These companions also randomly ignore your wait command and follow you anyway, and like Dragon Age: Inquisition they will only wait until you surpass around 20 feet of distance from them, then they automatically follow you again (this is slightly more understandable in this game though).
Enemy AI is terrible as well. They have perfect aim and don’t seem capable of missing, so the developers had to dumb them down in other horrible ways to avoid making the game too challenging. For example, they made it exploitable in the dumbest ways. Remnant bots are helpless if attacked from around 100 meters or more, and just tricking them like they’re babies, e.g. running around a wide enough pillar makes them helpless. Not only was AI broken at launch and for some time after, the game, as usual for modern AAA games, released in a beta-like stage despite being sold as a complete product.
Then there are all the other issues with the game like the poorly designed mechanics, poor balance and stats for weapon mods and companion characters (e.g. shorter barrel weapon mod increasing damage somehow, Vetra, a Turian, has more HP than Drack, a Krogan, and the player character being significantly weaker than all of them), random invisible walls (e.g. you can’t shoot in between two plant stalks or stems that are 5 feet apart because of an invisible wall between them), removed pausing mechanic and squad control mechanics, limitation to 3 usable abilities at once. The cover system is inferior as it requires manually swapping camera from one shoulder to another (using a key which already has many other functions) to shoot from both sides of cover, whereas this was automatic in the previous games, plus sometimes it is useless to take cover as it exposes you too much. The player can’t call the Nomad on certain planets, for no good reason. The severe lack of variety in wildlife, blatantly seeing the same animals and critters on planets distant from one another. The amount of NPCs, especially Asari NPCs with the same face mesh. Excessive linearity despite the apparent scale. The rushed, repetitive quest design that is totally underwhelming from a gameplay perspective: every quest involves either going to a marked location (every single thing is marked with objective markers) and killing everything there, or going to a marked location and holding E to interact with something, or the worst dialogue in the Mass Effect franchise. Sorry, a space exploration game that involves interacting with super advanced alien technology in a totally different galaxy should have better, more unique, and more thought out interaction with this technology than just holding E for 1-2 seconds and being done with it. This tech is often too recognizable as well, making it seem like the game just had an art team that was nearly as unskilled as their writers.
These are just SOME of the issues that are obviously the result of the game being rushed leading to a bad launch. Mass Effect: Andromeda scores poorly in every category except for sound fidelity and graphics fidelity.
Some may expect us to list Star Wars: Battlefront II as a nominee for the Biggest Letdown Award, but we expected it to be terrible. The loot box scams were worse than we expected, that much is true, but when you look at DICE’s recent history of dumbing down and relying on overpriced DLC, nobody should expect anything but garbage from DICE/EA. See how their previous Battlefront game compared to the classics without DLC.