The littlest things can make the biggest differences. When hearing a phrase like this, it usually has to do with making a personal effort to make the world a better place. You know, cleaning up litter, offering a donation to a charitable organization, or something along those lines. Today, we’re going to apply that thinking to Mass Effect: Andromeda. A game that seemed middling, perhaps one people might even want to avoid, is gradually becoming a project worth saving. Why the sudden change? Because some of the smallest initial improvements are making big differences.
This month, BioWare announced a series of changes for Mass Effect: Andromeda, kicked off by a 1.05 patch that was something of a good faith endeavor. In addition to increasing inventory limits, making Remnant decryption keys more viable, and making it possible to skip while traveling, it made two major animation adjustments to the game. Put simply, Asaris and humans don’t have wandering, dead eyes and Ryder doesn’t look like a scuttling crab when he or she runs. These seem like incredibly small updates, right? The thing is, they show how much hope there is for Mass Effect: Andromeda as a whole.
You don’t realize how much the character faces matter in a game like Mass Effect: Andromeda until a simple patch comes and vastly improves them. This first update made a world of difference. After all, it wasn’t the gameplay that was so much the problem in this entry. Complaints had more to do with character animations during story segments and the story itself. This update adjusts the shaders and appearances for eyes and faces, allowing people to look more natural and realistic. The uncanny valley and disconnect present before the patch is gone. Makeup doesn’t look like it was applied by Bozo the Clown. Eyes don’t seem like they’d better fit on a hyperactive zombie. The facial animation’s don’t seem plucked from a Looney Tunes cartoon. Everything is more subtle and makes the game look more like something you’d expect on a current generation console, rather than something from the previous era.
That such facial animations and appearances could so quickly find a remedy is encouraging. It suggests hope for the awkward full body animations that still provide much unintentional amusement to Mass Effect: Andromeda. After all, “ongoing improvements to cinematic scenes and animations” is one of the commitments BioWare has made. While adjustments to faces and eyes was a rather simple fix, maybe this means more normal movements for everyone in the next month or two? Maybe people won’t move like robots, after a little fine tuning? It’s another thing that could make the game as a whole better.
There’s another Mass Effect: Andromeda improvement that’s even more encouraging. BioWare has committed to repairing relationships within the game. Some people expressed concern over the relationship with Hainly Abrams and lack of same-sex relationship options for a male Ryder. BioWare formally apologized for the Hainly conversation, in which she reveals her transgender status in a rather unrealistic manner, and promised to improve and alter her character to be more sensitive and authentic. People had also expressed concerns that male Pathfinders can only romance Gil or Reyes, not Jaal, which is leading to unspecificied “improvements to male romance options.” In both instances, an increased sense of awareness is being shown. BioWare is working to make the game better.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is a game that has always had potential. It just had so many glaring and silly flaws in the way. Of course it wasn’t going to be on par with the original Mass Effect trilogy, It has a strong foundation. The initial updates already are making major improvements to its appearance. BioWare has already promised to make the romances, relationships, and other animations more realistic. Maybe there’s a chance the game as a whole could still be redeemed and remembered fondly.