In Depth

Mass Effect: Andromeda – New patch to solve animation flaws

Improved 'facial acting' and 'appearance of eyes' should reach disgruntled players by Thursday

Mass Effect

BioWare has announced it is releasing a patch to rectify the animation and technical glitches in its newly released Mass Effect: Andromeda.

In a blogpost on its website, the company revealed immediate plans to solve the game's bugs, with a software update that has "improved lip-sync and facial acting during some conversations" and tweaked "the appearance of eyes for human and Asari characters".

Other improvements include refined "logic, timing, and continuity for relationships and story arcs", as well as an option to skip the autopilot scenes when moving between planets. 

Complaints about Andromeda began shortly before its launch last month. Fans using pre-release copies had "mocked" the "flawed animations", reported Polygon, which said the finished product "could have used a bit more time to be perfected".

There are more changes on the way, says ArsTechnica. Tweaks to the character creator and "procedurally generated conversations" will reach the game in the coming months. 

Further facial animation and hair effect updates are also expected to be bundled in with future patches. 

According to The Verge, conversation improvements to the trans-gender character are also on the horizon following "negative feedback over how the dialogue was handled" in the launch game. 

"BioWare is evidently aware of many of Andromeda's issues", adds the site, although the swift release of software updates could lead to more gamers investing in the space epic.  

The software patch is expected to reach players on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on Thursday and will be free to download.

Mass Effect: Andromeda - BioWare seeks feedback after mixed reception

31 March

Mass Effect: Andromeda has come under fire from fans and critics over poor animations and technical bugs.

A report from Kotaku this month claimed gamers were "trashing" the title, with several home-made videos highlighting the "stilted and silly" characters.

Business Insider also criticised Andromeda's facial animations and character models, saying they "look terrible", although there is "clear potential despite [the game's] many, many flaws".

Now the game's developer, BioWare, has released an official statement on Twitter addressing the mixed reception of Andromeda and asking fans to "keep your feedback coming".

The EA-owned studio, which is also behind the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic franchise, said this would help them "gather information and plan out solutions" for improving the game.

While BioWare has yet to confirm any details of how it plans to improve the space epic, it has said that an announcement will be made on 4 April.

GameSpot says the company has already released a patch for Andromeda to target "many cinematic, conversations, and other character interactions". The update also addresses some "minor quest-related issues" and improves overall performance.

However, the software fix is currently only available to subscribers of the EA Access service, which allows users to play a variety of its games for £3.99 per month.

Mass Effect Andromeda: Critics dubious about 'inconsistent' RPG

23 March

Five years after the last instalment, the Mass Effect series has returned - but critics aren't quite as impressed as they were with the original trilogy.

Mass Effect: Andromeda takes players outside the Milky Way galaxy to find a new home for humanity from four potential habitable planets. 

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Gamers control Ryder, who can be either male or female and customised with different hairstyles and skin tones. Whichever gender the player chooses, the opposite one will become Ryder's twin brother or sister.

While familiar alien races such as the Asari and Turians play a prominent role in the overall story, there's no connection with the events of the original trilogy. 

With an all-new cast of heroes and an unfamiliar galaxy to explore, is Mass Effect: Andromeda worth the five-year wait?

GameSpot isn't so sure, awarding a score of six out of ten as the game's "breathtaking worlds" and "frenzied" combat are accompanied by "dull" characters and script writing.

However, shooting and combat feel "stronger" than in any other game in the series, particularly as character classes can be changed throughout the game, unlike the original trilogy. 

But those characters lack the "measurable emotion" of the older games, with conversations rarely extending beyond "small talk". According to GameSpot, even romance options feel less exciting than those seen in the franchise before. 

Andromeda is also "inconsistent" in the way it blends "morally grey" player decisions with fetch quests, IGN says. 

There are moments when players will be forced to decide between "the greater good" and saving lives, but these are separated by a host of "filler fetch and kill quests", set up through "stilted conversations" and which can become a "tedious" chore. 

One of Andromeda's stronger suits is the abundance of open-worlds planets to explore, says The Independent, all of which "range wildly in design".

These worlds also contain unique creatures, with one housing massive animals that "swim" through the air.

But the Independent concludes that while Andromeda has a "fearsome" amount of content, it ultimately falls short of the better titles released this year. 

Mass Effect: Andromeda is available now for £44.99 on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, while the PC version retails at £41.99. 

Mass Effect Andromeda: Cross-play 'not in current plans'

30 January

Mass Effect Andromeda will not feature cross-play online gaming when it launches on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in March.

Producer Fernando Melo confirmed the news on Twitter.

The news means players will be limited to competing against others using the same gaming hardware in multiplayer modes, as is needed with Mass Effect 3

Cross-play gaming is becoming more prominent between console and PC systems and Microsoft pairs Xbox One players with Windows 10 users on Forza Horizon 3 and Gears of War 4. However, as Sony does not have its own desktop system, its cross-play capabilities are currently limited. 

PC gamers will, however, be able to play Andromeda with an uncapped frame rate, says DualShockers, although they will have to wait a little longer for details about desktop system requirements and console performance. 

The new trailer for Mass Effect Andromeda, which surfaced last week, has given fans a sneak peek at some of the new characters appearing in the series, with players leading a squad of humans and aliens – and possible romances opening up later in the game.

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Pre-orders have opened at Game, which is offering Mass Effect Andromeda on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for £47.99. PC players can get the game for a cheaper £39.99. 

Squad mates revealed in new Mass Effect Andromeda trailer 

27 January

A new trailer for Mass Effect Andromeda has shown us a first glimpse of the squad mates who will join the player in the upcoming space opera. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"107106","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]] 

Gamers who have played previous instalments in the Mass Effect series will be familiar with many of the alien races that join the player's squad, including a blue-

skinned Asari and reptilian Salarian. There's also a female Turian and a heavy-hitting Krogan – similar to the character Rex in the original game.

Joining the array of friendly aliens is a pair of humans who can become romantically involved with the player, although gamers are expected to complete loyalty missions for these characters to gain their trust.

The squad faces a new enemy called The Archon, who looks similar to the Collectors from the original trilogy. It's still not known who The Archon is or why he confronts the player, but this is expected to be answered closer to the game's release.

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Players will be able to choose between a male and a female protagonist, with the latter appearing in the majority of teaser trailers so far. If gamers choose to play as a female, the male alternative will then become the player's brother in-game. 

Unlike the original trilogy, which focused around the Milky Way galaxy, Mass Effect Andromeda is set in a different galaxy with all new worlds to explore. Players are given the task of finding a new home for humanity and building partnerships with characters along the way. 

Pre-orders have opened at Game, which is offering Mass Effect Andromeda on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for £47.99. PC gamers can also pre-order the space opera for a slightly cheaper £39.99. 

New Mass Effect Andromeda gameplay revealed at Nvidia keynote event in the US

5 January

A gameplay trailer for BioWare's upcoming space exploration title, Mass Effect Andromeda, has been revealed in a Nvidia keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)in Las Vegas.

While announcing its GeForce Now services, which allow gamers to play on high-end gaming computers remotely through the cloud, Nvidia chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang introduced the Mass Effect Andromeda trailer which is due to launch in March. 

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The trailer offers a glimpse of the mysterious pathfinder protagonist, who the player will guide through the galaxy to find a new home for humanity. The name of the planet in the video is unknown, but the volcanic environment will be set in a different galaxy to the original trilogy. 

Andromeda uses a similar user interface to its predecessor, Mass Effect 3, with squad commands positioned in the centre of the screen and three special abilities that can be deployed using the top-mounted buttons on the game controller. Other similarities include the over-the-shoulder camera angle and omni-tool that was used by the protagonist of the first trilogy, Commander Shepherd. 

Notable differences appear on the pause menu. Players can now change their character class in real-time rather than being locked into one at the beginning of the game. There also appears to be a more in depth skill tree, which could allow players to upgrade their unique abilities and character perks using experience points. 

Andromeda is a completely open galaxy, according to The Guardian, which is traversed using Ryder's space ship, the Tempest. Jumping between star systems subjects players to an "unskippable cutscene" that could turn them off from scanning planets for weapon and vehicle resources. 

Landing on these planets and heading out on foot can also be "a nagging habit" that players will come across while playing the main campaign, says the paper, although this can yield some "interesting" items to pick up.

Visiting plants will spawn missions that help establish loyalty among your ship's crew, which the Guardian says are some of the best quests in the game. For instance, one mission tasks players with "infiltrating a mine" and "driving around on an asteroid in low gravity".  

The game tells the player that there's "potential greatness and majesty” in the Andromeda galaxy, says ArsTechnica, but in reality the game "falls well short" of providing that experience. 

Character interactions are somewhat "predetermined" and "lacking in spectacle", with the site saying that the available conversation options "leave almost no room for ambiguity". There's "little room for interpretation without ambiguity", which makes the open world seem relatively small. 

It's been nearly five years since the launch of the critically acclaimed Mass Effect 3 in which players save the Milky Way galaxy from a hoard of giant machines called the Reapers. Andromeda promises a new story and setting to the original trilogy and will launch in March on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. 

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