Why Mass Effect Andromeda Being Bad Is Not So Bad

Overall, Mass Effect Andromeda is a rough game. But, is there something salvageable underneath all the mess?

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Mass Effect Andromeda is bad in some parts. It's a fact that we as fans of the series have to face. However, even though there are some severe technical issues with Andromeda, and the facial animations and voice acting aren't exactly up to par, there is plenty in the game that Mass Effect series fans will enjoy. I've bashed on ME:A for its flaws and our review-in-progress does a great job of pointing them out, but how is the game from the perspective of a longtime fan? I'll take you through some of the reasons you may actually like Mass Effect Andromeda, even if the overall package has issues.

Some Glitches, Animations, and Voice Acting in Mass Effect Andromeda Are Hilarious

For some people, the visual and technical issues in Mass Effect Andromeda will be completely immersion-breaking. However, if you're a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, then some of the schlockiness of Andromeda's plot and characters may be a blast to lampoon for you. I'm a meme-a-holic, and for as much as I've loved hits of the year like Breath of the Wild and Resident Evil 7, they just don't have the meme potential that Mass Effect Andromeda does.

The unexpected timing and effect of glitches in the game can end in frustration or hilarity. Above you can see where an NPC on the Nexus had a bugged out movement path. If I had just seen him doing his same old routine, that GIF would have never been born, and that's just sad. Mass Effect Andromeda glitches can be infuriating and result in reloads and lost time, but for me, the game isn't challenging enough to negate how much fun finding programming weirdness has been.

There's a Ridiculous Amount of Stuff to Do In Mass Effect Andromeda

In a way, Mass Effect Andromeda's greatest strength, the immense amount of things to do, is also its greatest weakness. While I wish that BioWare would have perhaps narrowed their focus and polished the core game experience instead of making a massive amount of side quests and world content, there's a lot of quality content to be had in Andromeda.

Each of the Golden Worlds you visit has a unique main quest line which branches into tons of side quests. They're not all just simple mini-quests either. Most quests in the game feel at least a little important because they're typically involved with directly helping a colonist or contributing to solving the mystery of the kett and Remnant. There are still a fair amount of fetch quests, or "go here scan this" requests from NPCs, but that's an issue with almost every open-world RPG.

Mass Effect Andromeda Brings Plenty of New Mass Effect Lore

If you loved the universe created in the original Mass Effect trilogy, you probably have been clamoring to know more about how it works and the history of the various species inhabiting it. Mass Effect Andromeda brings plenty of new info on the backstories of the different races of the Milky Way. Regardless of how hamfisted the plot can sometimes be, Andromeda does further develop the Mass Effect universe in a meaningful way, though at times it seems more like an interesting side story than a full entity unto itself.

Mass Effect Andromeda Looks Good When it Tries

I played Andromeda on PC, and as one of the few titles that support 10-bit HDR on PC, it looks great. I'm a sucker for HDR, and in my opinion, the wider color gamut was put to good use by the developers. The odd thing about Mass Effect Andromeda's graphics though is their bipolar nature. There seems to be an issue with texture loading and lighting that make the game look uglier sometimes than it should.

The high-res textures for Andromeda look great. Characters have realistic looking skin, and it really does a lot to make up for their lackluster animation. However, for whatever reason, those textures aren't used all the time, even if all the graphics settings are maxed out. Instead, for a lot of conversations, when the zoomed-in camera makes higher-res textures essential, the regular walking around lower-res textures stay loaded. Additionally, the lighting in some areas just isn't dynamic, which makes shadowing weird. When everything is working correctly, though, ME:A looks awesome, and perhaps with a few patches, it can show its true colors all the time instead of just under certain conditions.

Don't Get the Wrong Idea

I don't want to seem like an apologist for BioWare at all. There are major issues with Mass Effect Andromeda, and I don't think I'd recommend it at full price. However, just because Mass Effect is bad doesn't mean it's all bad. Andromeda is a great game hiding in the shell of lackluster, rushed content. If you look for it, you'll find it. More than likely, Mass Effect Andromeda will become a bargain bin darling, and that's okay because the game does have issues that make liking it hard–especially at MSRP.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 21, 2017 8:30 AM

    Jason Faulkner posted a new article, Why Mass Effect Andromeda Being Bad Is Not So Bad

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      March 21, 2017 8:32 AM

      this feels like that article where the dude claimed to prefer his bethesda games to be action packed with bugs

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        March 21, 2017 8:39 AM

        Hardly. I have plenty of issues with the game, but it can look good when it tries. It does technically add more lore (if you give a damn about these characters), and there IS a bunch of stuff to do, etc. I just don't really care for it, and it's riddled with issues that make me not care. There are bright sides if you look, but you have to look with a magnifying glass.

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        March 21, 2017 8:41 AM

        Not really. I think the bugs I've seen are funny and I try to get some enjoyment out of what would otherwise be a frustrating experience. It's kind of a "glass half full" mentality.

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      March 21, 2017 8:42 AM

      I'm only a couple of hours into the SP game so far. The control differences and the changes to the save system are the parts that are affecting me the most at the moment, although the emotional weight of your father sacrificing himself to save you at the beginning didn't seem to be there.

      That said, there's a lot more game to get through. Perhaps the payout will be coming...

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        March 21, 2017 8:50 AM

        what changes are made to the save system?

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          March 21, 2017 8:53 AM

          Checkpoint saves only while on primary missions.

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          March 21, 2017 9:57 AM

          They also removed quick saves.

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            March 21, 2017 11:02 AM

            Oh ugh. So no reloading to see different dialogue options?

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              March 21, 2017 11:28 AM

              Doesn't seem to be an easy and quick way to do so.

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                March 21, 2017 11:43 AM

                How can this be called an rpg with no quick save i cant even That's just so disappointing :/

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                  March 21, 2017 12:19 PM

                  Well, at least there's alien butt sex.

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                    March 21, 2017 1:44 PM

                    I played for an hour in the prologue and just quit after finding the shuttle and crewmember. I assume that triggered some sort of save!

                    I wanted to romance cora as sara :(((

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            March 21, 2017 11:21 AM

            so, how do you save just your progress going around and chatting with folks outside of a mission?

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              March 21, 2017 11:25 AM

              Not sure if there's a better way but I have to go through the whole work flow to make a manual save.

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        March 21, 2017 10:34 AM

        I love the motion and it feels like Mass Effect but the story point you mentioned definitely lacked weight. They could have pushed it too far towards melodrama, but it was like Oh, he's dead, that's a shame.

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          March 21, 2017 12:22 PM

          Kind of spoliery? They actually add weight to that moment as the game goes on through a few elements. I'm not even halfway through the game but already have unlocked enough additional information on Ryder Sr that the initial flatness of his death is making sense.

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            March 21, 2017 12:22 PM

            Oh good to hear, thanks!

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            March 21, 2017 12:40 PM

            By that point, it was made clear that you barely knew him, then he died - of course there wouldn't be a hell of a lot of emotion, outside of the "it would have been nice to get to know him" type. I suspect he cares a lot more about his sister, so we'll see how that pans out. Also, I figure that as you find more and more memories they will explain how dad actually wasn't an ass for not being around for the kids, and the impact will settle in.

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          March 21, 2017 1:12 PM

          In my play-through, it more than lacked weight. My character had one of their eyebrows raised and a big smile pasted on their face. I guess that didn't happen to everyone, but it was a giant WTF to me.

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      March 21, 2017 8:44 AM

      I've put about 6 hours in so far and I am enjoying it. Not getting all the hate.

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        March 21, 2017 11:17 AM

        same here.
        i mean, i get that its janky as all hell..

        So far i havent had much of an issue with the acting. Some of its not so good but overall ive played games with a lot worse.

        It doesnt quite grab you, story wise, like the originals but im having fun.

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      March 21, 2017 10:07 AM

      Played a couple hours last night and I'd say the story so far isn't bad, the gameplay is solid and the voice acting, animations, faces, dialogue are all horrendous.

      There is an entire scene where my main character's face was stuck in the Dreamworks face with the weird eyebrow raise. For no discernible reason.

      http://i.imgur.com/PAFXhbb.jpg

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        March 21, 2017 10:10 AM

        AAA title right thurr

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        March 21, 2017 8:55 PM

        They must have assigned all the good artists to the environments... assigned some interns to make the head models, and hired a bunch of marionettes to do the mocap from. The awkward movements and facial animations keep making me want to say "Thunderbirds are GO!".

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          March 21, 2017 9:00 PM

          Every time I think, "This is feeling like Mass Effect now, awesome," they throw in a cut scene where my character has some goofy expression on it and I bust out laughing as the game turns into a comedy. At least it's amusing, but not the way I was expecting.

          I'm starting to wonder if I screwed up making my character and there's some hidden flaw that only shows up when they animate it.

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      March 21, 2017 11:12 AM

      problem is ME is a franchise people expect to vie for GOTY not "it's decent if you look past the obvious flaws"

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        March 21, 2017 12:30 PM

        Agreed.

        But we need to accept that the BioWare of old is gone. The bulk of the people who worked on their most critically acclaimed games have moved on to other studios or left the industry altogether.

        If it's a better than average game, even if not a great BioWare game, I can see some value to it if it's fun to play, albeit perhaps at a reduced price. I'm still on the fence about it and haven't picked it up; I don't get too caught up in video game stories and will let shitty writing pass in favor of solid gameplay. But the myriad of bugs on this one is what's really scaring me away.

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          March 21, 2017 12:33 PM

          Haven't ran into any bugs in the game at all worst thing that happened to me was quitting the game didn't stop the process.

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            March 21, 2017 1:33 PM

            You're right. I'm reading/watching reviews, and while all sorts of wonkiness is going on, the game itself seems relatively stable.

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      March 21, 2017 11:26 AM

      Y'all sound ready for the Lowered Expectations™ DLC this summer.

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      March 21, 2017 12:19 PM

      I guess I've been lucky to have experience basically no technical issues / glitches (aside from some stuff in multiplayer) and have been absolutely loving the game.

      The combat is the best in the series by far. Good enough even that just grinding combat is actually fun, something that was not at all true in the previous games. The setting / story are suitably epic thus far, I haven't beat it yet so that could change but I'm really enjoying the larger arc and the numerous smaller arcs, all of which feel full and fleshed out.

      I'm already planning on a bigger write up when I actually finish the game but my thoughts so far have been overwhelmingly positive and has me thinking that the internet as a whole isn't giving the game enough of a chance.

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        March 21, 2017 1:01 PM

        haven't tried MP yet, but SP has been fine so far here as well.

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        March 21, 2017 1:34 PM

        I forget where I read it (maybe Jim Sterling?) but someone was saying that there's been a witch hunt out for this game since long before it launched.

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      March 21, 2017 12:34 PM

      It's weird that we are okay with the 'jank' that is expected with a game like Battlefield, Fallout, Skyim, etc. but it becomes a dealbreaker for so many for Mass Effect (myself included). Mass Effect is my favorite franchise from the last generation and even though I tried to set low expectations, I feel like I'm still holding it to a much higher bar than most games - perhaps unfairly?

      People seem ready to shoot this thing in the head sight unseen, and I know I've felt that way a little bit as well.

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        March 21, 2017 12:41 PM

        Hmm, I dunno, Fallout 4 received a lot of backlash for bugs and bad writing. I think if the next Elder Scrolls releases as buggy as Skyrim and others in that series, it will get a ton of backlash as well. After HZD and BotW, and TW3, people's expectations are understandably much higher.

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        March 21, 2017 12:42 PM

        I think tolerance for the jankiness in those other franchises has decreased too. Fallout 4 certainly wasn't given a pass.

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          March 21, 2017 2:58 PM

          Fallout 4 wasn't given a pass because it was the same jank they gave us in 2008, they didn't change or improve much of anything. If it was a big step forward with all new jankiness I think people would have been ok with it.

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            March 21, 2017 3:01 PM

            Exactly. And I think that's why something like Skyrim gets a pass for jank. Because they did enough at the time to impress people with some newness to account for rough edges. If the next ES game goes the FO4 route and still has abominable animation and conversations and a mediocre story I think you'll see less tolerance for it too on the back of The Witcher 3 and such. People would be giving ME:A a pass if they did something massively new with the series but it mostly just seems like more of the same (at lower quality than usual) plus jank which is a pretty sad result for their first effort this generation given how far into the generation we are.

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              March 21, 2017 3:04 PM

              Man I would LOVE a brand new ES with a new and improved engine with all new jank, but I know they aren't going to do that :(

              I tried playing the Skyrim remaster on PS4 and it has not held up well *at all*, it looks like boiled ass. They desperately need a new engine for the next game.

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                March 21, 2017 3:29 PM

                I can only imagine the type of meetings had to decide whether to throw out man decades of dev work and known pipelines and tooling processes for something entirely new. "Surely we can just fix what we have for cheaper" while they drown in technical debt.

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                  March 21, 2017 3:35 PM

                  Yep, I'm sure that's exactly how it goes down. I don't know a whole lot about game dev but it would be awesome if they could just use some other engine that doesn't suck.

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                    March 21, 2017 3:39 PM

                    Did FO4 sell particularly well relative to the rest of the games? I wonder if they just take the hit on the jank up to a certain point because most people are gonna buy it anyway.

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                      March 21, 2017 3:41 PM

                      Looks like it sold more than FO3 and NV

                      That's a bummer.

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                        March 21, 2017 3:53 PM

                        I imagine the effect of this sort of thing is more likely felt in the iteration after the disappointment assuming it was merely a disappointment and not complete disaster

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                      March 22, 2017 1:01 AM

                      They still had some goodwill left. I feel like their next title will have to try much harder.

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        March 21, 2017 12:49 PM

        I think it depends. I'm don't tolerate jank in those series either. It's simply unacceptable in this day an age for a AAA game to have the kind of flaws this does.

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        March 21, 2017 12:57 PM

        I've never understood this dumb gamer mentality of hating something before its even released. All this outrage without even being able to play it and the dumb desire to flock to metacritic the second it's available to give it a big fat 0 to stick it to the man.

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          March 21, 2017 1:06 PM

          do you really think the issue is a bunch of people were hoping so hard a new ME would suck so they can hate it? This is what disappointment looks like.

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          March 21, 2017 2:55 PM

          Only vaguely related, but according to metacritic, Shacknews' top review score is 90 (Super Mario Maker cited), and the lowest is 10 (Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 cited).

          http://www.metacritic.com/publication/shacknews

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        March 21, 2017 3:06 PM

        zelda 10/10, runs at 20 FPS if you play it on a tv and the wind blows too hard. not been patched a few weeks after launch

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          March 21, 2017 3:12 PM

          I think zelda is the opposite of a "janky game" unless you're super sensitive to FPS drops

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            March 21, 2017 3:24 PM

            all i know is i've been repeatedly forced to walk off platforms once because the game didn't recognize my controller wasn't connected (was this a switch issue maybe) and the FPS regularly drops if connected to the TV and there's any weather effects or you're in an area with a lot of stuff going on in the environment. i've only had one slow down on the handheld. i think i was swinging the camera around that purple ooze stuff in a thunderstorm.

            that is pretty janky in my books and i'm a regular console gamer that doesn't mind playing games at 30fps

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              March 21, 2017 3:33 PM

              I bet those problems are switch specific, wasn't the game developed for the Wii U and ported to the switch?

              I'm playing on the Wii U and haven't noticed any problems. I'm sure the frame rate drops occasionally but it's nothing I notice.

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                March 21, 2017 3:50 PM

                Oh bullshit, that framerate on the WiiU *tanks hard* into the 15s and below. If you don't notice that, you're broken in some way. It's not enough to make me outright quit playing the game, but glaring issues like that make it not the "perfect" game so many people claim it is. Perfect games don't drop to 12 FPS when you turn the camera or deal with more than 3 enemies at once.

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                  March 21, 2017 3:54 PM

                  I'm about 40 hours in and have yet to encounter a noticeable frame drop. Maybe you're a freak of nature or something.

                  And I definitely agree it's not the perfect game, there are plenty of flaws, but I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

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                    March 21, 2017 3:55 PM

                    No, this has been covered extensively by multiple outlets and Digital Foundry themselves.

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                      March 21, 2017 3:57 PM

                      I know, just saying it's not drastic enough for me to notice.

                      I'm 100% serious, I've never noticed a drastic slowdown. My pet theory is folks who do a lot of PC gaming are more likely to notice frame drops.

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                        March 21, 2017 4:08 PM

                        I'm comfortable at 30 FPS on the consoles (though 60 is always preferable) so long as its sustained. Zelda is all over the place. It never exceeds 30 and frequently dips into the 10s.

                        Good on you if that doesn't bother you; I'm almost envious that such a massive performance drop isn't noticable.

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                        March 21, 2017 5:55 PM

                        i hate nearly every aspect of PC gaming, and play 99% of games on console. 30fps doesn't bother me in the slightest.

                        Zelda isn't locked 30, at all. It drops all the fucking time on Switch, and you can absolutely feel the chug when it happens.

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                        March 21, 2017 8:38 PM

                        Are you playing it docked or handheld? I've read that it performs much better in handheld mode.

                        BTW I agree with you on the pc gamer thing. If at all possible I play games on the PC since I finally started keeping up with hardware upgrades in 2012. Since then I definitely have become more sensitive to lower framerates. It takes me a good couple hours playing a 30 fps console game to readjust. I'd imagine some people either have a harder time, or just don't bother to take the time to get used to it.

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                      March 21, 2017 4:01 PM

                      hahah, man that is such a slight change in speed, I can't believe people are freaking out about it. I've been to those stables a bunch in game and never noticed the slowdown.

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                        March 21, 2017 4:23 PM

                        That's the most tame of any drop.

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                        March 21, 2017 4:37 PM

                        Watching that video and I still hardly see it. It's not blightown. Guess I am lucky for not noticing those things.

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                          March 21, 2017 5:54 PM

                          you can absolutely feel it when you're playing on the Switch, and it's pretty common.

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                            March 22, 2017 6:41 AM

                            I have a switch and playing Zelda and hardly noticed anything yet. Will see how it progresses.

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                      March 21, 2017 4:07 PM

                      And this is nothing compared to Kakariko (sp?) village.

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                        March 21, 2017 6:01 PM

                        the framerate around the Giant Fairy above Kakariko is awful

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                      March 21, 2017 11:36 PM

                      This game should be on pc

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                        March 22, 2017 1:05 AM

                        It basically is. Cemu will have that shit at 4K 60fps in a month based on their progress so far.

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                    March 21, 2017 4:08 PM

                    I've played maybe 14 hours on the Wii U and have had lots of severe experience altering frame drops.

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                    March 21, 2017 5:52 PM

                    while i agree it is not bad, if you haven't noticed anything then you are in the extreme minority of people. a minority that likely consists of one.

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                March 21, 2017 6:15 PM

                It's their flagship game on their brand new system and they couldn't even smooth out the framerate with all the extra time they took. It's just not a 10/10 game regardless of the hardware limitations. They should have designed the software better.

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                  March 21, 2017 6:19 PM

                  You clearly have something in your craw about BOTW but there are like 100 other games you could have used as better examples of buggy games that got god reviews.

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                    March 21, 2017 6:22 PM

                    I'm talking about here and now. Why reminisce on the old days?

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          March 21, 2017 6:12 PM

          Zelda BOTW is shockingly bug free for such a huge open world game. I've seen 2 bugs in 100 hours and they were both AI trying to path through eachother, one was a startled crane trying to fly up a boars ass, for example.
          The frame rate drops are clearly hardware limitations.

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            March 21, 2017 8:25 PM

            It's pretty good low bug wise, but certainly not bug free. That's simply impossible in anything but I get what you are meaning. It's very low considering if this was a Beth game it would be a trainwreck.

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        March 21, 2017 3:14 PM

        Lemme know how that Battlefield Hardline worked out.

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          March 21, 2017 3:27 PM

          I don't remember much 'jank' in it. A lesser game perhaps, but it was pretty bug free for me.

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        March 21, 2017 3:19 PM

        I think a chunk of it has to do with the fact Bioware used to be one of the more polished devs. There was a point where I would buy their games no questions asked. But they'd been on a decline for a while. Whereas Bethesda games and Battlefield games have always had a bit of jank so I guess I'm more forgiving of it. Though I do think Bethesda needs to seriously step up their game at this point.

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        March 21, 2017 5:57 PM

        The reviews I've read say that it's not very good even overlooking the jank. I've heard complaints about story, acting, animation, and mission variety.

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      March 21, 2017 12:38 PM

      found my first t-pose last night, neat stuff. also framerate absolutely tanked in the eos settlement and nucitadel docks, anyone else experiencing drops like that? rest of the game ran fine up until then :(

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        March 21, 2017 12:48 PM

        Dropped for me on Eos as well, but the newest game ready nvidia drivers helped. I also changed the graphics from high back to auto-detect

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          March 21, 2017 5:50 PM

          Wow just tied the new drivers. quite a noticeable difference at least from an eyeball test. Thanks for the heads up

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      March 21, 2017 12:57 PM

      Completed the first vault and am tooling around the first world trying to do/look for side missions. I'm enjoying it, though I don't care for the lighter, casual tone of the conversations and characters. They feel like kids to me. Yes, I'm old, but I didn't get that from the other ME games. There was much more gravitas.

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        March 21, 2017 2:39 PM

        I mean, they really are kids, save for Draco who is pretty old for his race. Ryder twins are like 22? And they've never been in a real leadership position like this. Shepherd, in contrast, was a military veteran long before we even first saw him.

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        March 21, 2017 5:48 PM

        I felt the same way about the lighter tone of the conversation. I'm just not buying the argument that these people are younger or inexperienced. They're all professionals. Male Ryder has a military background. Cora was an Asari assassin. The dialogue is just ridiculous at times.

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          March 21, 2017 6:09 PM

          hmmm good point, actually. damn it!

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          March 21, 2017 6:18 PM

          I'm only an hour or so in, but I like the tone so far. Reminds me of stuff like Stargate. But who knows, maybe it gets more annoying as it goes.

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            March 21, 2017 7:24 PM

            I hated the Stargate TV show, so yeah.

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              March 21, 2017 8:37 PM

              Whaaaaaaaaaat SG-1 is amazing.

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              March 21, 2017 9:41 PM

              What. The. Fuck.

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              March 21, 2017 10:33 PM

              You can't mean SG-1. You meant Universe, right? Maybe Atlantis if you hadn't started with SG-1 (although hate is a bit much in that case), but you just can't mean SG-1.

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            March 21, 2017 10:35 PM

            This excites me!

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      March 21, 2017 1:00 PM

      I am nearly through the tutorial/main exposition phase, and it's not "BAD" yet.

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      March 21, 2017 5:17 PM

      Is there a way to turn on subtitles for the non interactive npc conversations? I have normal subs on but the volume seems really low for npc dialogue unless you are actually in a conversation w/ the wheel/walking up to an interactive conversation. Anyone having this issue?

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        March 21, 2017 5:51 PM

        its definitely super quiet and not just you :(

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      March 21, 2017 5:36 PM

      Let's talk movement on the PC so you auto cover when your aim now and I can't swap aim from left and right cover. Is that gone?

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        March 21, 2017 8:18 PM

        Eezo buoyant cocktails are all the rage, didn't you hear?

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      March 21, 2017 9:01 PM

      it's bad?

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      March 21, 2017 11:41 PM

      this is annoying. i'm like 2 hours into the game and i have no idea which aliens i can bang

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      March 21, 2017 11:49 PM

      Couple hours in and I'm having fun.