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Video Games: Next Stop... Andromeda

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45 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

That video was pretty damning. It's not just the glitches, it's that the game looks hideous and the dialogue is just awful. I don't care about making the bestest graphics ever, but those faces are truly unnerving. 

Its not great; but its also easy to cherry-pick particularly bad moments, or moments where its glitches that most players won't necessarily see (e.g. there's a ton of Skyrim glitches that I never encountered). I've been a fan of Mass Effect for far too long to back out now; without seeing the game for myself.

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Just now, Fez said:

Its not great; but its also easy to cherry-pick particularly bad moments, or moments where its glitches that most players won't necessarily see (e.g. there's a ton of Skyrim glitches that I never encountered). I've been a fan of Mass Effect for far too long to back out now; without seeing the game for myself.

Even in the videos BioWare has released it looks awful. I'll wait for the fellas and lass' review here. 

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Posted (edited)

I feel better after seeing those videos. They aren't as bad as I thought they would be. Nothing I've seen was unforgivable as long as it's in low doses.

Female Ryder looks bad but I'll b playing male on my first playthrough. And idk is the face going to be customizable? 

Some of the actors don't seem great but I recall reading there r over a thousand speaking characters. Idk how many different actors that translates into but how difficult is it to get say 10 good actors on one project

Edited by DunderMifflin

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On 16/03/2017 at 8:33 AM, KiDisaster said:

This is my favorite part of open world games though to be honest. I love to go do all the side stuff that's available before moving on with the main quest. I want to do all the things and get all the collectibles. 

Currently having the same experience with Horizon. I did all the side quests (that I've found so far anyway), uncovered the whole map, got all the collectibles as of last night and I'm finally ready to continue the main story. Downside being the recommended level for my current main story quest is 15. I am level 47 :lol: 

The solution to that is having level caps for main story way points. The game can save up your XP and give tyou a level up blast once you get past a particular story beat. Some people like to be a bit over levelled for main story missions (I know I do), so the level cap should be set at recommended level +5 or +10.

But I would also like open world games to be developed with time sensitive elements, bot in terms of side missions and main story missions. We have examples in the likes of Heavy Rain and Until Dawn that no matter what happens the story goes on. IN open world RPGs it should be possible to have the clock running and if you don't get to a main story event in time then the game simply takes a different direction and you have to take a different route to the end, or the end itself is different. And with side missions, if there are 10 side missions available you only have time to complete 5 or 6 because the clock is running on most of the side missions. If you miss some early side missions then the consequence could appear later in the game, which could include the appearance of a side mission that would otherwise not be available if you do the earlier side mission.

I know there are games where if you get past a story point then certain side missions are no longer available, so that creates a bit of a sense of time constraints. But all that does is exacerbate the problem of over levelling by completionists.

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With all the doom and gloom about Andromeda I decided to go for the free week of Origin access on offer and try the game out.

So far I've only done the intro mission, which is your standad ME opening: shit has hit the fan and you need to scramble to pull through.

Movement controls feel a lot like ME3, though cover is now a passive function, which combined with the jetpack makes the combat gameplay a lot smoother and more dynamic.

 

While there is the occasional questionable directoral choice or weird facial animation, it's not stuff that makes much of an impression when I'm engaged in playing the game. Plus there's lots of dialogue in the game, and a lot of it is exposition (this is Mass Effect after all), so I don't expect it all to be super gripping.

The most dramatic moment so far was actually fairly low key, I quite liked that, though I would have liked it even more if the game hadn't had the characters move on from it immediately.

 

Most annoying so far has been the design decision to not allow saving manually in story missions, instead forcing you to rely on checkpoints.

 

I'll definitely get through all ten hours of free gameplay over the weekend, which should tell me enough to make a decision about purchasing the game.

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50 minutes ago, Jon AS said:

 

Most annoying so far has been the design decision to not allow saving manually in story missions, instead forcing you to rely on checkpoints.

 

 

WTF! I hate checkpoint only parts. But I know ME2 and 3 had them in several places in segments of story missions. Though I don't recall entire story missions being checkpoint only.

What exactly is wrong with people saving after each sub-mission combat encounter. As long as the checkpoint saves are fairly frequent it won't be too much of a pain. But I'd rather manual save was left on permanently.

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I played male Shepherd all through ME. And I'm not really one to replay games much - too many other games to play and too little time.

I was considering playing female Ryder this time. But after seeing those videos - Male Ryder it is. There's no way I'm looking at that for 50 hours.

And her name makes it even worse. Every time some-one said her name, I'd be thinking "No fucking way - I aint touching it. You ride 'er!!!"

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I decided to get Origin Access myself. That vault deal actually looks pretty solid. And at $5/month with 10% off purchases, it'll easily pay for itself if I remember to cancel it after a couple months.

So I'm downloading Andromeda now to try out the free trial as well.

At the very least it'll distract me from the snag in my Stellaris campaign. There was only one tiny corner of the galaxy I hadn't explored, it was cut off by an empire that closed its borders to me. Well it turns out that tiny corner was where the galaxy's only fallen empire was. And I know this because I got a message a few game-years ago that said fallen empire was awakening. They are on the far side of the galaxy from me, but they are expanding rapidly and their fleet power and technology is rated as 'overwhelming' compared to me. And since they are the only fallen/awakened empire, there's nothing to counter them. Hopefully an end game crisis hits soon and near them.

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1 hour ago, AndrewJ said:

I played male Shepherd all through ME. And I'm not really one to replay games much - too many other games to play and too little time.

I was considering playing female Ryder this time. But after seeing those videos - Male Ryder it is. There's no way I'm looking at that for 50 hours.

And her name makes it even worse. Every time some-one said her name, I'd be thinking "No fucking way - I aint touching it. You ride 'er!!!"

Eh? Can't you customise Ryder's appearance? I always thought the default female Shepard was meh, same with the default female Hawke in DA2. But with character customisation I was able to create pretty close to the exact look I wanted.

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I am considering trying that and seeing if I can get something that looks half-way decent.

I thought the default models were supposed to be better than anything people could create themselves, though (the giant bomb crew mentioned something like that with regards to male Shep just the other day). But I fully accept that may not be accurate.

And let's face it... you'd probably be hard-pressed to create something worse than the default fem-Ryder.

 

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Posted (edited)

Apparently the character creation in Andromeda is pretty bad. There's very little facial customization and none of the presets look particularly good from what I've seen. I might end up just using the default look for the first time ever. I think both defaults look fine. When they're still images anyways, the animations look awful on both of them. 

Edited by KiDisaster

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9 hours ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

 

I'm canceling. Haven't played any games in weeks anyways, maybe I've outgrown video games. That looks like a goddamn nightmare of awful. 

I cancelled it today too. For 60 bucks (I always have to have their nickle and diming DLC), it just seems too big of a risk. I want to give it some time and see how things turn out. My son's gonna be bummed. We LOVED Mass Effect 2. I think he's been really interested in other PS4 games that are out now, so I will take him to the game shop and let him pick one out. What a bummer.

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1 hour ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Eh? Can't you customise Ryder's appearance? I always thought the default female Shepard was meh, same with the default female Hawke in DA2. But with character customisation I was able to create pretty close to the exact look I wanted.

The default Shepherd was meh.  The default Ryder is literally the stuff of nightmares.

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Okay, so I played through the first big story beat of ME:A; which took about 90 minutes. Game seems fine. Better than fine. There are absolutely some problems, but it feels like another Mass Effect game so I'm on board.

Character customization is definitely weak. The defaults aren't great and the presets are terrible. I was able to make a customized female Ryder that looked okay. She's basically the default, except with darker hair, better makeup, and a properly proportioned mouth/jaw/chin. I kept male Ryder as his default, since he wasn't too bad. For some reason this made dad Ryder (who apparently is based on a combo of the twins' looks) black; my custom Ryder didn't even have a tan.

Graphics outside the conversation camera are good. The outdoor environments actually look great, the indoor environments (so far) look like reused ME3 assets; which are still acceptable looking. I haven't seen any issues with character movement when the camera is free moving; including during combat.

Graphics with the conversation camera have some problems. The eyes are the biggest problem; they do look pretty dead and they tend to dart around oddly, not focusing on other people or objects. Character movement here is sometimes fine and sometimes kinda janky. There is an incredibly noticeable difference in facial detail between the main characters and everyone else; enough that it can be distracting when both are in the same camera shot. Lip syncing seems poor, but I barely notice that kind of thing. In that vein, I quickly stopped noticing all the problems here; except for the eyes.

The larger graphical problem is the stuttering that would happen sometimes. I was playing on Ultra settings, but I've got a 1070, so I don't think the problem is on my end (though Nvidia hasn't released the driver update yet that they probably have for Tuesday). And I didn't have problems during seemingly graphically intense moments like combat. The stuttering would occur when there were scenes were something was moving very fast in the background but the foreground was not; and if I rotated the camera around quickly the first few seconds after entering  new areas; and during conversations when the camera quick-cut multiple times in a row. And sometimes after the stuttering ended characters would move way too quickly for a second or two; presumably to "catch up" to where they should be. Which makes me think the game engine has optimization problems. I also noticed texture pop-in a couple times, which I didn't think was a thing the Frostbite engine did. It was nothing like what the Unreal engine did, but I did notice it.

I liked the combat a lot. I picked my starting loadout as a Scrapper though, which is the Vanguard, and therefore I believe that cover is for wimps. As soon as I leveled up I increased the recharge speed for Charge and I learned Nova, and I was all over the place. It feels a lot like ME3's combat, but with the added bonus of the jumpjet to further increase mobility; which is great for a Vanguard. I didn't love the default field of view, but I was able to expand it in the settings to a point that I liked. I didn't touch the multiplayer yet, but with combat being what it is, I think I'll have as much fun with it as I did with ME3's.

The menus are fine, but the map is terrible. As with way too many AAA games these days, I find the map to be almost unreadable and completely useless.

The voice acting is totally solid. I have zero complaints whatsoever there. There are a few awkward pauses, but only when the dialog called for awkward pauses. 

Finally, the writing. I'm only 90 minutes in, but so far its good. The dialog is not the greatest, but it is completely acceptable science fiction pulp; which I'm totally onboard for. After all, that's what the original series was at its core as well. I haven't had any long crew conversations yet, it was all plot-dependent so far (which makes sense in context) but the dialog wheel was there, and the different choices certainly seemed different. Though they were mostly about differences in tone rather than actual choices (but that early in the game, it'd be hard to have real choices; even The Witcher 3 was pretty straightforward while you're in White Orchard). I haven't run into any times yet where Ryder ended up saying something that I didn't intend due to the wheel not being clear. I'm not too attached to any of the other characters yet, except maybe Liam a little bit, but they haven't had any opportunities. Almost all of that 90 minutes was a single mission where there wasn't really time for getting to know each other. I already like Ryder a lot though. She's got more personality than Shepard or the Inquisitor, but not as much as Hawke; yet at least.

As for the story. I'm hooked. Again, seems like science fiction pulp; but I like science fiction pulp. There have been some moments that were too rushed; seemed like the writers wanted to get through the initial setup quickly and get to main story. I think they'd have been better served starting the game in media res, and filling in these opening hours as backstory later. But video games don't seem to ever do storytelling like; even though it happens in books and movies all the time. Be that as it may, they've started to setup the central mystery of the game and its working for me. I want to know more.

In sum, game seems fine to me through 90 minutes at least. Its definitely more Mass Effect and doesn't seem that innovative, but I really liked Mass Effect and was ready for more of it. The character eyes and the graphical stutters are the only problems that actively annoyed me throughout my playtime. The other problems were either pretty minor or the kind of thing that didn't bother me.

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49 minutes ago, Simon Steele said:

I cancelled it today too. For 60 bucks (I always have to have their nickle and diming DLC), it just seems too big of a risk. I want to give it some time and see how things turn out. My son's gonna be bummed. We LOVED Mass Effect 2. I think he's been really interested in other PS4 games that are out now, so I will take him to the game shop and let him pick one out. What a bummer.

Horizon: Zero Dawn, despite the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad name is meant to be a very good game. And I'm sure it's a pretty decent time sink if you want it to be.

Nothing in that Andromeda montage really caused me any worries. Obviously zooming in and slow-mo'ing on faces is going to let you accentuate the negatives. But I don't play games zoomed in and slow-mo'd, so there is no way I would notice any of those flaws. Nothing deal breaking there for me. I was never likely to buy ME:A on day one, and I am not reordering my game priorities.

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7 minutes ago, Fez said:

 In sum, game seems fine to me through 90 minutes at least. Its definitely more Mass Effect and doesn't seem that innovative, but I really liked Mass Effect and was ready for more of it. The character eyes and the graphical stutters are the only problems that actively annoyed me throughout my playtime. The other problems were either pretty minor or the kind of thing that didn't bother me.

This is good to hear. I'm still going to give it a shot come Tuesday, but I'm tempering my expectations for now. 

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The creepy eyes are definately off putting to say the least. I think I can get used to it though if I can convince myself - hey, ppl in this universe just have weird eyes. Maybe it will add a macabre element. Or maybe I'm in deep denial like everyone was for a week or so after the Phantom menace came out.

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3 hours ago, AndrewJ said:

I thought the default models were supposed to be better than anything people could create themselves, though (the giant bomb crew mentioned something like that with regards to male Shep just the other day). But I fully accept that may not be accurate.

The default male Shepard in the ME series was modeled after an actual person rather than being created in the character creator, which made his the most realistic face you could get for a PC of either gender in the series, but I don't know if the same is true for the default settings in Andromeda. I didn't bother with character customisation at all, this is just a trial run after all.

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I tried out the ME:A multiplayer for a bit before work this morning. It is almost identical to the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, so if you liked that you'll like this, and vice versa if you didn't. It looks like there may be a few more progression systems in it, but I'm not positive; I didn't want to spend much of my limited time in the menus. There were a couple times that thanks to the jumpjet I landed in spots where characters aren't supposed to stand, which led to me sort of "floating" there until I jumpjetted away. But other than that, zero problems. There was no graphic stuttering either, so I think that is definitely an optimization issue with the conversation/cinematic camera; which isn't a thing in multiplayer.

Close-ups of people's eyes also aren't a thing in the multiplayer.

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@Fez I did the same as you and gave in to temptation last night: Origin Access + the free trial. Gonna post my thoughts before I read yours to see how well we synch up. 

I didn't spend much time on character customization, but I can say I was not impressed by what I saw. For the life of me I don't understand why game companies don't put more time into making player characters look better. After a quick look at the alternate presets (and knowing how much time it usually takes to make a decent customized character in a Bioware game) I decided to just stick with default Sara.

I have to say I did not have the same poor experience in the early game as some of the critics I've seen. I actually found it to be rather exposition-light, with much of the explanatory dialogue delivered while out in the world exploring. The opening dialogue sequences were mediocre in content and execution, but moved quickly and didn't bog down the flow of the game. Then once the action got going on the first planet, the action moved briskly with a nice mix of free exploration and scripted events. My thumbnail sketch of the core gameplay is that it's a mashup of ME3 and DA:I with some interesting jump shooter elements (think Tribes or early/non-crappy Firefall). In fact, the planetside exploration/movement felt a lot like DA:I, so the "DA:I in Space" comparison is not a bad one. The controls were easy to pick up and very intuitive, and thanks to jump jets + ledge climbing the terrain never felt like a major obstacle. Overall I had a lot of fun in this aspect of the game, which is a very positive sign for me.

Graphically - the game looked pretty great and ran smoothly for me planetside. The cutscenes were mostly OK too, but as is well documented some of the facial animations and especially the eye movements were pretty goofy. Luckily I'm more apt to find this stuff amusing than offputting, but at this point I'm sure it's a deal killer for some. The real oddity is in how inconsistent the cutscene rendering and animation looked. In short, there were times when it looked phenomenal and others when it looked godawful. I can see what they were trying to accomplish, it just feels a little (or at times, a lot) off. Maybe they can figure out the glitches and patch them up before too long.   

Story wise, it was fine. No big surprises thus far. The planet and its environs felt alien enough to be convincing. The side characters were a bit bland, but it's still very early so that's to be expected. I actually like what I've seen thus far from Ryder as a character; very different from Shepard, more of an explorer/scientist feel which seems appropriate given the setting.

I stayed up til midnight playing the first planetary mission and wanted to keep on going. I will certainly get the full 10 hours in this weekend. I'll try to keep reporting in as I progress.

To recap - if you're having doubts, hold off. You likely will not be satisfied until some of these issues are patched. On the other hand, if you're a Mass Effect junkie who also liked DA:I and doesn't mind a goofy facial expression or two, by all means go for it.

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