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Found 109 results

  1. EA Shuts Down Creators of Dead Space

    Earlier today, EA sent out an update regarding the development of the unnamed Star Wars title. The title, codenamed Ragtag, has long been rumored to have internal development troubles, and the announcement all but confirms those rumors. Patrick Söderlund, EA Worldwide's executive vice president, penned the public message that attempted to clarify the company's decision to close Visceral Games, one of their most well-known subsidiary studios: Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design. We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life. Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore. This move leads to a few other changes: A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project. Our Visceral studio will be ramping down and closing, and we’re in the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA. Lastly, while we had originally expected this game to launch late in our fiscal year 2019, we’re now looking at a new timeframe that we will announce in the future. This move seems to be coming from EA in an attempt to move the game away from being a linear, story-focused experience and toward a more long-term investment. Essentially, this is EA stepping in to make sure that project Ragtag can continue generating money post-launch, probably through microtransactions and/or DLC, both of which have become core parts of their business strategy in recent years. I suspect that it will also be shifting focus of the title from a linear, single-player story toward a multiplayer competitive title that can be milked for money via DLC and microtransactions for years after release. Kotaku was able to get some further clarification on Visceral's closure. Söderlund responded to their questions by saying that the EA Vancouver team that was already attached to the project would take the lead along with a team taken from across EA Worldwide Studios. EA executive producer Steve Anthony will lead the entire effort and much of the work done by Visceral will be used in the final game such as assets that have already been built. Amy Hennig, known for her work directing Uncharted 1-4, had been helming Visceral's Ragtag project. Her fate seems to be uncertain, although an EA spokesperson stated that, "We are in discussions with Amy about her next move." EA has said that they are trying to move as many devs as possible to other parts of EA, but many will be finding themselves without a job. Other studios across the industry, such as God of War developer Sony Santa Monica and 2K Games, have expressed their sympathy for the people affected and opened their doors to applicants who might not make it through the dissolution of Visceral.
  2. Earlier today, EA sent out an update regarding the development of the unnamed Star Wars title. The title, codenamed Ragtag, has long been rumored to have internal development troubles, and the announcement all but confirms those rumors. Patrick Söderlund, EA Worldwide's executive vice president, penned the public message that attempted to clarify the company's decision to close Visceral Games, one of their most well-known subsidiary studios: Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design. We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life. Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore. This move leads to a few other changes: A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project. Our Visceral studio will be ramping down and closing, and we’re in the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA. Lastly, while we had originally expected this game to launch late in our fiscal year 2019, we’re now looking at a new timeframe that we will announce in the future. This move seems to be coming from EA in an attempt to move the game away from being a linear, story-focused experience and toward a more long-term investment. Essentially, this is EA stepping in to make sure that project Ragtag can continue generating money post-launch, probably through microtransactions and/or DLC, both of which have become core parts of their business strategy in recent years. I suspect that it will also be shifting focus of the title from a linear, single-player story toward a multiplayer competitive title that can be milked for money via DLC and microtransactions for years after release. Kotaku was able to get some further clarification on Visceral's closure. Söderlund responded to their questions by saying that the EA Vancouver team that was already attached to the project would take the lead along with a team taken from across EA Worldwide Studios. EA executive producer Steve Anthony will lead the entire effort and much of the work done by Visceral will be used in the final game such as assets that have already been built. Amy Hennig, known for her work directing Uncharted 1-4, had been helming Visceral's Ragtag project. Her fate seems to be uncertain, although an EA spokesperson stated that, "We are in discussions with Amy about her next move." EA has said that they are trying to move as many devs as possible to other parts of EA, but many will be finding themselves without a job. Other studios across the industry, such as God of War developer Sony Santa Monica and 2K Games, have expressed their sympathy for the people affected and opened their doors to applicants who might not make it through the dissolution of Visceral. View full article
  3. EA has once again opened up the Vaults of EA and Origin Access, subscription services that gives members access to "free" games from the publisher's portfolio, among other perks. Headlining the pack of newcomers is Mass Effect Andromeda, which launched earlier this year to a polarizing reception. Members will also be able to play EA's biggest holiday titles ahead of launch, including Star Wars Battlefront II. Beginning this month until December, the following titles will be added to the Vault. Mass Effect Andromeda Dead Space 3 The Sims 4 (Play First Trial) Star Wars Battlefront II (Play First Trial) Need For Speed Payback (Play First Trial) If you're an EA Access member, what do you think of the new additions? For non-members, is this line-up enough to convince you to give the service a shot.
  4. EA has once again opened up the Vaults of EA and Origin Access, subscription services that gives members access to "free" games from the publisher's portfolio, among other perks. Headlining the pack of newcomers is Mass Effect Andromeda, which launched earlier this year to a polarizing reception. Members will also be able to play EA's biggest holiday titles ahead of launch, including Star Wars Battlefront II. Beginning this month until December, the following titles will be added to the Vault. Mass Effect Andromeda Dead Space 3 The Sims 4 (Play First Trial) Star Wars Battlefront II (Play First Trial) Need For Speed Payback (Play First Trial) If you're an EA Access member, what do you think of the new additions? For non-members, is this line-up enough to convince you to give the service a shot. View full article
  5. EA announced that Fe, one of the upcoming indie titles from their EA Originals program, would be launching early next year. Fe tells the story of a small animal that awakens in a forest full of sounds and music. Over the course of the game, players learn to communicate with the world around them and learn to interpret the wordless story as they encounter friends and foes on their journeys. Fe has been developed by Zoink Games, the Swedish studio behind indie titles like Stick it to the Man and Flipping Death. Klaus Lyngeled, the CEO and creative lead at Zoink released a statement alongside the release window saying, “We wanted to create a game that gives the feeling of exploring something special. We would spend hours in the woods as kids, and while it felt scary at first, eventually the strange sounds became familiar -- you become part of nature and the forest feels like home. Players will realize similar feelings as they play through Fe. Wherever and however the game is played, we ensure it will be a unique experience of discovery, unlike anything played before.” “Through Fe, Zoink has reminded us that everything is connected. They have created a game where the magic and beauty of nature, and all its creatures, come alive,” said Patrick Soderlund, the EVP at EA Worldwide Studios. “This game and this studio embody the spirit of the EA Originals program that we started a little over a year ago – the freedom to create, and to bring uniquely innovative and memorable games to players all over the world." Fe will release worldwide in early 2018 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
  6. EA announced that Fe, one of the upcoming indie titles from their EA Originals program, would be launching early next year. Fe tells the story of a small animal that awakens in a forest full of sounds and music. Over the course of the game, players learn to communicate with the world around them and learn to interpret the wordless story as they encounter friends and foes on their journeys. Fe has been developed by Zoink Games, the Swedish studio behind indie titles like Stick it to the Man and Flipping Death. Klaus Lyngeled, the CEO and creative lead at Zoink released a statement alongside the release window saying, “We wanted to create a game that gives the feeling of exploring something special. We would spend hours in the woods as kids, and while it felt scary at first, eventually the strange sounds became familiar -- you become part of nature and the forest feels like home. Players will realize similar feelings as they play through Fe. Wherever and however the game is played, we ensure it will be a unique experience of discovery, unlike anything played before.” “Through Fe, Zoink has reminded us that everything is connected. They have created a game where the magic and beauty of nature, and all its creatures, come alive,” said Patrick Soderlund, the EVP at EA Worldwide Studios. “This game and this studio embody the spirit of the EA Originals program that we started a little over a year ago – the freedom to create, and to bring uniquely innovative and memorable games to players all over the world." Fe will release worldwide in early 2018 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Nintendo Switch. View full article
  7. BioWare has created some of the most beloved moments in gaming history. The Mass Effect series stands as one of the greatest gaming trilogies of all time. However, many people point toward the conclusion of Mass Effect 3 as something that undid all of the goodwill the series had fostered up until that point. For all of their talent, BioWare also created one of the single most divisive and negatively received moments in gaming history. In Part One of our Mass Effect 3 discussion, we talked about the larger game leading up to the final minutes that threw the Mass Effect fan base into chaos. Part Two covers the ending and touches on some aspects of the DLC. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Myst III: Exile 'American Wheels of Wonder' by Mazedude (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01749) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  8. BioWare has created some of the most beloved moments in gaming history. The Mass Effect series stands as one of the greatest gaming trilogies of all time. However, many people point toward the conclusion of Mass Effect 3 as something that undid all of the goodwill the series had fostered up until that point. For all of their talent, BioWare also created one of the single most divisive and negatively received moments in gaming history. In Part One of our Mass Effect 3 discussion, we talked about the larger game leading up to the final minutes that threw the Mass Effect fan base into chaos. Part Two covers the ending and touches on some aspects of the DLC. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Myst III: Exile 'American Wheels of Wonder' by Mazedude (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01749) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  9. This week our topic was a bit tricky - Mass Effect 3 released to critical praise in 2012 but also made a name for itself by being at the epicenter of one of the biggest fan backlashes in gaming history. In order to properly talk about the conclusion of the Mass Effect trilogy, we made the decision to split the podcast into two parts. In part one, we discuss everything but the DLCs and the ending. Next week we will return with another full episode dedicated to discussing the ending of Mass Effect 3 and the apocalyptic public response that it received. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Mass Effect 'Nova Siberia' by Big Giant Circles (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02036) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  10. This week our topic was a bit tricky - Mass Effect 3 released to critical praise in 2012 but also made a name for itself by being at the epicenter of one of the biggest fan backlashes in gaming history. In order to properly talk about the conclusion of the Mass Effect trilogy, we made the decision to split the podcast into two parts. In part one, we discuss everything but the DLCs and the ending. Next week we will return with another full episode dedicated to discussing the ending of Mass Effect 3 and the apocalyptic public response that it received. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Mass Effect 'Nova Siberia' by Big Giant Circles (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02036) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  11. Since launching last fall, Titanfall 2 has been bolstered by a steady stream of content at no cost to its players. The latest freebie DLC pack, The War Games, brings even more goodies, the centerpiece of which is a remastered version of the War Games map from the first Titanfall. War Games takes place in a combat simulation scenario that combines virtual metropolitan elements with those of the real-life Pilot/Titan training center. Players battle across city streets and within towering buildings, using suspended virtual surfaces for wall-running. Other additions include the introduction of a third weapon slot, a slick "shadow boxing" Holo Pilot execution, Titan Brawl as a permanent game mode, and a new Live Fire map dubbed "Traffic." Check out the action-packed trailer below. Titanfall 2 released October 28 of last year. For Titanfall fans, are you looking forward to jetpacking around War Games once again? View full article
  12. Since launching last fall, Titanfall 2 has been bolstered by a steady stream of content at no cost to its players. The latest freebie DLC pack, The War Games, brings even more goodies, the centerpiece of which is a remastered version of the War Games map from the first Titanfall. War Games takes place in a combat simulation scenario that combines virtual metropolitan elements with those of the real-life Pilot/Titan training center. Players battle across city streets and within towering buildings, using suspended virtual surfaces for wall-running. Other additions include the introduction of a third weapon slot, a slick "shadow boxing" Holo Pilot execution, Titan Brawl as a permanent game mode, and a new Live Fire map dubbed "Traffic." Check out the action-packed trailer below. Titanfall 2 released October 28 of last year. For Titanfall fans, are you looking forward to jetpacking around War Games once again?
  13. I'm Not Mad AT EA Play. I'm Just Disappointed

    I can’t say I wasn’t a bit excited to receive my EA Play pass. I’d heard the tickets to last year’s event flew quick, so the moment this year’s event was announced earlier this year, I signed up right away. My golden ticket to EA’s house of digital wonders arrived soon after. My spot at the show was confirmed. Or so I thought. Over a month later, EA emailed an updated version of my ticket. Confused, I inspected my new confirmation and noticed an additional disclaimer: Space is limited. Tickets do not guarantee entry due to capacity. Wait, what? That wasn’t what I was promised in my original confirmation. Why would my ticket not guarantee me a spot? Isn’t that the whole point? I made the effort to register early in order to avoid being bumped. Why was I still in danger of missing out? Subsequent emails would reiterate this caveat and attempt to explain it: Due to Fire Marshall capacity, tickets do not guarantee entry. Fair enough, but if you’re aware of the venue’s capacity, why not just offer the exact number of tickets and cease issuing them once the event has been filled? This message suggests EA was either still is handing out tickets beyond the roughly 2000 person capacity or found out later that they had less room than they originally planned. Neither explanation is all that great. Despite these red flags, I made the trip to EA Play with fingers and toes crossed that I’d make it in regardless. I was met with a rude awakening. My position about 40 mins or so into the wait. I originally started roughly a block behind. Upon reaching the venue, my jaw dropped at the serpentine line coiled around the building like a giant anaconda. I expected a large turnout, but this line seemingly trumped the mammoth Zelda line at E3 2016. It wasn’t a total surprise, though. The tickets were free. From my understanding, you could even sign-up at the event on the day off. Of course a ton of people turned up. Covering EA’s press conference kept me from arriving as early as I wanted, but I still beat the opening time by almost two hours to no avail. Not that it would have mattered anyway. After chatting with several of the folks in line, many of them shared that they had been waiting since around noon, shortly after the time that the morning session entered the event at 11 am. As I made the long trek to the line’s end, I cheered myself up. “I’ll get in”, I thought. I have a semi-valuable ticket! I shot the breeze with my line neighbors and made line friends. We chatted about the games we were looking forward to playing as a half hour turned into 45 minutes, then became an hour. The line moved steadily at first, fueling my confidence that I’d make the cut. After all, EA assured me they would try to get as many of us in there as possible: As a reminder, tickets do not guarantee entry, but every effort will be made to fulfill all ticket holders Then the bad news began raining down. When I was roughly half-way through the line, security personnel began informing us that the event was nearly filled up but that EA was letting new people in as previous attendees trickled out. This surprised me, as I expected EA to simply kick out the morning crowd en masse once their session expired, do a quick reset, then let in the afternoon crew. Were there still morning players inside? What if they took forever to get out – or worse, if EA is taking forever to get them out? We started to get nervous. This is the most I got to witness of life on the inside. Despite visiting EA Play for the sole purpose of covering it for work purposes, I was unable to secure a press pass prior. With nothing to lose and tired of the wait, I decided to try flexing my media muscles and head for the entrance to grovel for press entry. Unsurprisingly, I was denied. Understandable, as others outlets secured their spot in advance. I can live with that. Turns out, though, that the gate was filled with other forms of media fighting for entry and having a difficult go of it. One streamer I spoke with claimed to have been denied entry despite being invited by EA directly. To be fair, he had a contact inside he was having trouble reaching and EA wouldn’t let him in unless the contact came out to verify his presence. But he claimed that he was told he only needed to show his credentials to enter beforehand, not have his contact physically meet him at the entrance and the EA rep he was dealing with seemed confused. It may have just been me, but the entire vibe I got while hovering around the front gate was one of disorganization. But don’t worry. Even the folks in line will have fun and could walk away with cool branded items. My favorite quote from the confirmation emails. I can’t speak for every person waiting in line, but the people in my general radius definitely weren’t having the time of their lives. Nothing happened outside to entertain the line that I saw, outside of various independent gaming news outlets filming and interviewing crowds. However, at one point a backdoor to the event opened and I spied one of the Patriots drummers from the presentation hunched over eating a sandwich. I chalked that moment up as “fun” for me. Others weren’t so amused. Many I spoke to registered far in advance as I had and felt that, despite the disclaimer, should have had priority over those who signed up later. The initial atmosphere of enthusiastic optimism soon soured into disappointment, annoyance, and confusion. That last sentiment is especially true, as we were repeatedly told by EA that we probably weren't getting in but the line was still moving, albeit slowly. Those waiting were faced with a dilemma: should they walk away after investing so much time waiting or hold out since the event wasn’t officially closed off. It was only 5 pm around this time, so there were still a few hours to wait in hopes of getting in. As long as it was still open (and you had nothing better to do), why not stick around? The final blow came when EA’s swag crew arrived to pass out some “cool” EA-branded back sacks. Once most everyone sported a bright red bag, a rep informed us that the afternoon session was completely booked and no one else would be able to get in for the rest of the day. When I asked him to clarify if “done” truly meant done, he admitted that they were still funneling people in as others left but that the chances of me getting in at that point were, in his words, “0%”. Softening the blow, one sack at a time. The problem with that answer was that he left a sliver of hope. Was the event closed or not? Instead of just saying it was over outright, the rep implied it was still possible to get in, just highly unlikely. Unfortunately for EA, people caught onto this and were willing to wait as long as the answer wasn’t a final, definite “no”, even if it was probably meant it to be. And they seemed to, as the longer people stuck around, the more frequent the “come back tomorrows” got. One particular rep told us to return the next day in a snappy tone that rubbed everyone around me the wrong way. I felt like the hounds would be unleashed upon us before long. After waiting around for another 15 minutes, I tapped out. Although the event remains open for the next couple of days, I won’t be available to make them. The same could be true for others whose schedule only allowed them to attend Saturday’s session and are now out of luck until next year. And if you do try your luck on the other days, who’s to say you’ll get into those unless you’re willing to wait hours in advance? EA’s questionable approach to accommodating guests for its Play event needs some reworking, chiefly in determining the number of people they can handle in advance and immediately closing it off to anyone else once they’ve hit that number. Proceeding as they have, they left a lot of people - many of them EA’s most rabid fans - out in the cold and feeling more disgruntled about the publisher than excited.
  14. I can’t say I wasn’t a bit excited to receive my EA Play pass. I’d heard the tickets to last year’s event flew quick, so the moment this year’s event was announced earlier this year, I signed up right away. My golden ticket to EA’s house of digital wonders arrived soon after. My spot at the show was confirmed. Or so I thought. Over a month later, EA emailed an updated version of my ticket. Confused, I inspected my new confirmation and noticed an additional disclaimer: Space is limited. Tickets do not guarantee entry due to capacity. Wait, what? That wasn’t what I was promised in my original confirmation. Why would my ticket not guarantee me a spot? Isn’t that the whole point? I made the effort to register early in order to avoid being bumped. Why was I still in danger of missing out? Subsequent emails would reiterate this caveat and attempt to explain it: Due to Fire Marshall capacity, tickets do not guarantee entry. Fair enough, but if you’re aware of the venue’s capacity, why not just offer the exact number of tickets and cease issuing them once the event has been filled? This message suggests EA was either still is handing out tickets beyond the roughly 2000 person capacity or found out later that they had less room than they originally planned. Neither explanation is all that great. Despite these red flags, I made the trip to EA Play with fingers and toes crossed that I’d make it in regardless. I was met with a rude awakening. My position about 40 mins or so into the wait. I originally started roughly a block behind. Upon reaching the venue, my jaw dropped at the serpentine line coiled around the building like a giant anaconda. I expected a large turnout, but this line seemingly trumped the mammoth Zelda line at E3 2016. It wasn’t a total surprise, though. The tickets were free. From my understanding, you could even sign-up at the event on the day off. Of course a ton of people turned up. Covering EA’s press conference kept me from arriving as early as I wanted, but I still beat the opening time by almost two hours to no avail. Not that it would have mattered anyway. After chatting with several of the folks in line, many of them shared that they had been waiting since around noon, shortly after the time that the morning session entered the event at 11 am. As I made the long trek to the line’s end, I cheered myself up. “I’ll get in”, I thought. I have a semi-valuable ticket! I shot the breeze with my line neighbors and made line friends. We chatted about the games we were looking forward to playing as a half hour turned into 45 minutes, then became an hour. The line moved steadily at first, fueling my confidence that I’d make the cut. After all, EA assured me they would try to get as many of us in there as possible: As a reminder, tickets do not guarantee entry, but every effort will be made to fulfill all ticket holders Then the bad news began raining down. When I was roughly half-way through the line, security personnel began informing us that the event was nearly filled up but that EA was letting new people in as previous attendees trickled out. This surprised me, as I expected EA to simply kick out the morning crowd en masse once their session expired, do a quick reset, then let in the afternoon crew. Were there still morning players inside? What if they took forever to get out – or worse, if EA is taking forever to get them out? We started to get nervous. This is the most I got to witness of life on the inside. Despite visiting EA Play for the sole purpose of covering it for work purposes, I was unable to secure a press pass prior. With nothing to lose and tired of the wait, I decided to try flexing my media muscles and head for the entrance to grovel for press entry. Unsurprisingly, I was denied. Understandable, as others outlets secured their spot in advance. I can live with that. Turns out, though, that the gate was filled with other forms of media fighting for entry and having a difficult go of it. One streamer I spoke with claimed to have been denied entry despite being invited by EA directly. To be fair, he had a contact inside he was having trouble reaching and EA wouldn’t let him in unless the contact came out to verify his presence. But he claimed that he was told he only needed to show his credentials to enter beforehand, not have his contact physically meet him at the entrance and the EA rep he was dealing with seemed confused. It may have just been me, but the entire vibe I got while hovering around the front gate was one of disorganization. But don’t worry. Even the folks in line will have fun and could walk away with cool branded items. My favorite quote from the confirmation emails. I can’t speak for every person waiting in line, but the people in my general radius definitely weren’t having the time of their lives. Nothing happened outside to entertain the line that I saw, outside of various independent gaming news outlets filming and interviewing crowds. However, at one point a backdoor to the event opened and I spied one of the Patriots drummers from the presentation hunched over eating a sandwich. I chalked that moment up as “fun” for me. Others weren’t so amused. Many I spoke to registered far in advance as I had and felt that, despite the disclaimer, should have had priority over those who signed up later. The initial atmosphere of enthusiastic optimism soon soured into disappointment, annoyance, and confusion. That last sentiment is especially true, as we were repeatedly told by EA that we probably weren't getting in but the line was still moving, albeit slowly. Those waiting were faced with a dilemma: should they walk away after investing so much time waiting or hold out since the event wasn’t officially closed off. It was only 5 pm around this time, so there were still a few hours to wait in hopes of getting in. As long as it was still open (and you had nothing better to do), why not stick around? The final blow came when EA’s swag crew arrived to pass out some “cool” EA-branded back sacks. Once most everyone sported a bright red bag, a rep informed us that the afternoon session was completely booked and no one else would be able to get in for the rest of the day. When I asked him to clarify if “done” truly meant done, he admitted that they were still funneling people in as others left but that the chances of me getting in at that point were, in his words, “0%”. Softening the blow, one sack at a time. The problem with that answer was that he left a sliver of hope. Was the event closed or not? Instead of just saying it was over outright, the rep implied it was still possible to get in, just highly unlikely. Unfortunately for EA, people caught onto this and were willing to wait as long as the answer wasn’t a final, definite “no”, even if it was probably meant it to be. And they seemed to, as the longer people stuck around, the more frequent the “come back tomorrows” got. One particular rep told us to return the next day in a snappy tone that rubbed everyone around me the wrong way. I felt like the hounds would be unleashed upon us before long. After waiting around for another 15 minutes, I tapped out. Although the event remains open for the next couple of days, I won’t be available to make them. The same could be true for others whose schedule only allowed them to attend Saturday’s session and are now out of luck until next year. And if you do try your luck on the other days, who’s to say you’ll get into those unless you’re willing to wait hours in advance? EA’s questionable approach to accommodating guests for its Play event needs some reworking, chiefly in determining the number of people they can handle in advance and immediately closing it off to anyone else once they’ve hit that number. Proceeding as they have, they left a lot of people - many of them EA’s most rabid fans - out in the cold and feeling more disgruntled about the publisher than excited. View full article
  15. Star Wars Battlefront II was undoubtedly EA’s centerpiece attraction this E3, with the company dedicating more than half an hour of their press event to the team shooter juggernaut. After a new trailer that featured never before seen maps, heroes, and vehicles, EA presented a long look at a single multiplayer match. Keep reading for a full rundown of everything we saw. EA’s live demo featured the new “Assault on Theed” map, set on the lush and architecturally luxurious planet of Naboo. The map seems to be taking a lot of inspiration from the final battle of Episode One: The Phantom Menace, where Separatist droids fought with the Naboo army in the streets and palace halls of Naboo’s royal city. Much like the Hoth map in the 2015 Battlefront, the assaulting team (Separatists instead of Emperial this time) must escort a siege tank to the front doors of the Naboo royal palace, tear down its defenses, and shut down enemy activity inside the palace. Players are able to take the form of your standard Star Wars prequel trilogy characters, including variants of battle droids and clone troopers. The live demo showcased players competing for every inch of a sprawling, dense, yet surprisingly spacious lane of activity. When players weren’t fighting building to building on either flank, they were sprinting across the large center roadway along the siege tank’s path. Clone troopers were able to make use of AT-RT “chicken walker” tanks, bite-sized prototypes of the original trilogy’s AT-ST’s. The AT-RTs are capable of sprinting long distances in mere seconds, although it seems their attack capabilities are withdrawn as a result. When they are firing lasers, droids are easily mowed down with ease, though the lackadaisical pace puts clone troopers in a vulnerable spot. Separatist droids have their classic battle tanks at hand, which can shells at a modest pace or lock themselves into siege mode, which provides greater power but zero mobility. Clone troopers won’t have to rely on just AT-RTs to get around though. Higher class troopers can spawn with the same jetpacks seen in 2015’s Battlefront. However, the droids might have air superiority in the skies above Naboo, with their numerous vulture droid starfighters dogfighting clone V-Wings. Players were able to zip around the city at daringly low altitudes, in between large stone arches, though any level of contact is of course instant death. Heroes and villains are sure to get their due as well. After the first stage of the battle is complete, and the palace doors blown to bits by the droid’s siege tank, Darth Maul made his debut by chopping up clones into itty bitty pieces. He’ll have some deadly moves, including a lightsaber toss and spiral lunge that can decimate tightly packed groups of enemies. Rey showed up, too, but her player couldn’t hold a candle to Maul’s malevolence, so it was a bit of wash. Evidently, Rey will be able to make use of her Jedi mind control powers she tapped into in “The Force Awakens” to momentarily stun enemies. The live demo ended with the droids taking the palace throne room, essentially walking all over the clones, and ensuring their victory by numbers. While the Frostbite engine will always impress, and while Naboo is certainly a colorful locale to do battle in, it remains to be seen if Battlefront II will be able to differentiate itself from its predecessor. Make sure to check out the gameplay trailer for a more varied look at where Battlefront II will take players later this year.
  16. Star Wars Battlefront II was undoubtedly EA’s centerpiece attraction this E3, with the company dedicating more than half an hour of their press event to the team shooter juggernaut. After a new trailer that featured never before seen maps, heroes, and vehicles, EA presented a long look at a single multiplayer match. Keep reading for a full rundown of everything we saw. EA’s live demo featured the new “Assault on Theed” map, set on the lush and architecturally luxurious planet of Naboo. The map seems to be taking a lot of inspiration from the final battle of Episode One: The Phantom Menace, where Separatist droids fought with the Naboo army in the streets and palace halls of Naboo’s royal city. Much like the Hoth map in the 2015 Battlefront, the assaulting team (Separatists instead of Emperial this time) must escort a siege tank to the front doors of the Naboo royal palace, tear down its defenses, and shut down enemy activity inside the palace. Players are able to take the form of your standard Star Wars prequel trilogy characters, including variants of battle droids and clone troopers. The live demo showcased players competing for every inch of a sprawling, dense, yet surprisingly spacious lane of activity. When players weren’t fighting building to building on either flank, they were sprinting across the large center roadway along the siege tank’s path. Clone troopers were able to make use of AT-RT “chicken walker” tanks, bite-sized prototypes of the original trilogy’s AT-ST’s. The AT-RTs are capable of sprinting long distances in mere seconds, although it seems their attack capabilities are withdrawn as a result. When they are firing lasers, droids are easily mowed down with ease, though the lackadaisical pace puts clone troopers in a vulnerable spot. Separatist droids have their classic battle tanks at hand, which can shells at a modest pace or lock themselves into siege mode, which provides greater power but zero mobility. Clone troopers won’t have to rely on just AT-RTs to get around though. Higher class troopers can spawn with the same jetpacks seen in 2015’s Battlefront. However, the droids might have air superiority in the skies above Naboo, with their numerous vulture droid starfighters dogfighting clone V-Wings. Players were able to zip around the city at daringly low altitudes, in between large stone arches, though any level of contact is of course instant death. Heroes and villains are sure to get their due as well. After the first stage of the battle is complete, and the palace doors blown to bits by the droid’s siege tank, Darth Maul made his debut by chopping up clones into itty bitty pieces. He’ll have some deadly moves, including a lightsaber toss and spiral lunge that can decimate tightly packed groups of enemies. Rey showed up, too, but her player couldn’t hold a candle to Maul’s malevolence, so it was a bit of wash. Evidently, Rey will be able to make use of her Jedi mind control powers she tapped into in “The Force Awakens” to momentarily stun enemies. The live demo ended with the droids taking the palace throne room, essentially walking all over the clones, and ensuring their victory by numbers. While the Frostbite engine will always impress, and while Naboo is certainly a colorful locale to do battle in, it remains to be seen if Battlefront II will be able to differentiate itself from its predecessor. Make sure to check out the gameplay trailer for a more varied look at where Battlefront II will take players later this year. View full article
  17. Everything at EA's E3 2017 Press Conference

    For a publisher as monolithic as Electronic Arts, it's no surprise that they had a ton of stuff (read: Sports...and not sports!) to digest at their E3 press conference. From basketball slam dunks to Star Wars Battlefronts, here's a rundown of everything we saw from EA. Star Wars Battlefront II Gameplay Trailer Reveal - Check out the new heroes, maps, and vehicles in this appropriately righteous trailer. Mass Effect Developer Teases New Franchise "Anthem" - Get a brief look at Bioware's newest world before the full trailer. Need for Speed Payback Channels Burnout and Fast & the Furious - The new Need for Speed trailer is channeling some serious Burnout influence, and if that doesn't sound exciting, we can't be friends. Battlefield 1 In the Name of the Tsar Expansion Takes it to the Eastern Front -- New maps, vehicles, weapons, and story are coming to Battlefield's Russia-centric add-on. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Developer Reveals 70's Crime Drama A Way Out - Escape prison with a buddy in this co-op adventure game. Madden 18 Taps Award Winning Actor Mahershala Ali - Live the dream of becoming a football legend with the guidance of Luke Cage's Mahershala Ali in "Long Shot" story mode. FIFA 18 is Coming to Switch, Details Announced - You'll be able to take FIFA on the go, complete with a ton of gameplay modes. NBA Live 18 Takes it to the Streets in The One - NBA Live's story mode lets you rise up the ranks from pick-up games to stardom Let us know what you're most excited for at E3, and don't forget to check back with us every day as more E3 news drops!
  18. For a publisher as monolithic as Electronic Arts, it's no surprise that they had a ton of stuff (read: Sports...and not sports!) to digest at their E3 press conference. From basketball slam dunks to Star Wars Battlefronts, here's a rundown of everything we saw from EA. Star Wars Battlefront II Gameplay Trailer Reveal - Check out the new heroes, maps, and vehicles in this appropriately righteous trailer. Mass Effect Developer Teases New Franchise "Anthem" - Get a brief look at Bioware's newest world before the full trailer. Need for Speed Payback Channels Burnout and Fast & the Furious - The new Need for Speed trailer is channeling some serious Burnout influence, and if that doesn't sound exciting, we can't be friends. Battlefield 1 In the Name of the Tsar Expansion Takes it to the Eastern Front -- New maps, vehicles, weapons, and story are coming to Battlefield's Russia-centric add-on. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Developer Reveals 70's Crime Drama A Way Out - Escape prison with a buddy in this co-op adventure game. Madden 18 Taps Award Winning Actor Mahershala Ali - Live the dream of becoming a football legend with the guidance of Luke Cage's Mahershala Ali in "Long Shot" story mode. FIFA 18 is Coming to Switch, Details Announced - You'll be able to take FIFA on the go, complete with a ton of gameplay modes. NBA Live 18 Takes it to the Streets in The One - NBA Live's story mode lets you rise up the ranks from pick-up games to stardom Let us know what you're most excited for at E3, and don't forget to check back with us every day as more E3 news drops! View full article
  19. EA announced details on the Nintendo Switch version of FIFA 18, which is sure to give football fanatics a reason to rejoice outside of home. As expected of the Switch’s unique portability, players can bring FIFA 18 wherever they want by disconnecting it from the home dock. The game reportedly outputs at 1080p when docked and 720p when mobile. Visual performance might take a hit if you prefer to game on the field, but at least it’s nowhere close to the downgrade cross-generation ports of previous sports games entailed. Players can participate in Local Seasons mode across two Switch consoles, in addition to Kick-Off mode, Career, Online Seasons, Tournaments, Women’s International Cup and Skill games. EA also debuted a new gameplay trailer for FIFA 18, although footage largely looks to be from the PlayStation 4 edition of the game, so take any visuals with a grain of salt if you're planning on getting the Switch edition. FIFA 18 is out on September 29 for all major consoles. Where do you plan on hitting the field?
  20. EA announced details on the Nintendo Switch version of FIFA 18, which is sure to give football fanatics a reason to rejoice outside of home. As expected of the Switch’s unique portability, players can bring FIFA 18 wherever they want by disconnecting it from the home dock. The game reportedly outputs at 1080p when docked and 720p when mobile. Visual performance might take a hit if you prefer to game on the field, but at least it’s nowhere close to the downgrade cross-generation ports of previous sports games entailed. Players can participate in Local Seasons mode across two Switch consoles, in addition to Kick-Off mode, Career, Online Seasons, Tournaments, Women’s International Cup and Skill games. EA also debuted a new gameplay trailer for FIFA 18, although footage largely looks to be from the PlayStation 4 edition of the game, so take any visuals with a grain of salt if you're planning on getting the Switch edition. FIFA 18 is out on September 29 for all major consoles. Where do you plan on hitting the field? View full article
  21. NBA Live 18 Takes to the Streets with The One

    NBA Live has had a rough go of it the last several years with a string of disappointing entries. EA hopes to ignite new interest with a new mode called The One. Like the title suggests, players invest in a single B-baller to help him rise through the ranks, both professionally in the NBA and on the new street courts. Street ball allows players and their friends to compete against NBA icons in 5-on-5 pick up games on famous courts around the country such as Venice Beach. The better players perform, the higher your their character’s hype level grows which unlocks new gear and improved skills. The best of the best can eventually enter the Pro-Am tour to continue building their skills and earn the right to challenge basketball’s greatest. Check out the trailer below for a full look at the courtside action. NBA Live 18 takes to the court this August.
  22. NBA Live has had a rough go of it the last several years with a string of disappointing entries. EA hopes to ignite new interest with a new mode called The One. Like the title suggests, players invest in a single B-baller to help him rise through the ranks, both professionally in the NBA and on the new street courts. Street ball allows players and their friends to compete against NBA icons in 5-on-5 pick up games on famous courts around the country such as Venice Beach. The better players perform, the higher your their character’s hype level grows which unlocks new gear and improved skills. The best of the best can eventually enter the Pro-Am tour to continue building their skills and earn the right to challenge basketball’s greatest. Check out the trailer below for a full look at the courtside action. NBA Live 18 takes to the court this August. View full article
  23. Battlefield 1 is receiving a substantial update in the form of its first expansion, In the Name of the Tsar. Arriving this September, the expansion brings 6 new maps based on the Eastern front. New weapons and vehicles are included, as well as the new Russian army the famous Women Battalion of Death. You can check out the expansion’s teaser trailer below.
  24. Battlefield 1 is receiving a substantial update in the form of its first expansion, In the Name of the Tsar. Arriving this September, the expansion brings 6 new maps based on the Eastern front. New weapons and vehicles are included, as well as the new Russian army the famous Women Battalion of Death. You can check out the expansion’s teaser trailer below. View full article
  25. Mass Effect has been a series dear to my heart since I played the first entry almost a decade ago. That original trilogy captivated a generation of players with a science-fiction universe into which BioWare wove a spellbinding tale of heroism that sought to answer some of the very fundamental questions of human existence. The trilogy ended on a note that left an entire Milky Way galaxy irrevocably changed – the kind of ending upon with it is difficult, if not impossible, to continue. To that circumvent that finality, Mass Effect: Andromeda sends players on a mission to colonize a completely different galaxy. Having left years before the conclusion of Mass Effect 3, several arks house the primary sentient species that inhabited the Milky Way. Those familiar races, the humans, asari, turians, salarians, and krogan, spent six hundred years in stasis pods to reach the Andromeda galaxy. This journey promised a fresh start for those who embarked upon it. The Initiative, the organization behind the resettlement, launched the Nexus, a gigantic space station that would serve as a new galactic hub, around the same time as the ark ships. Several “golden worlds” had been identified, prime targets for habitation for the various settling species. Everything was planned to the letter. Except very few things ever go according to plan. Really, that above sentence could apply broadly to Mass Effect: Andromeda, not just the story. No doubt most people reading this review will be familiar with the facial animation issues in Andromeda. While those animation woes are by no means small, the extreme focus on them has eclipsed a lot of the discussion regarding the more interesting problems that plague Mass Effect: Andromeda. When I think back on my time with BioWare’s latest attempt as a space epic, I remember all the time I spent on sprawling planets that initially held a certain thrill of discovery. I was an explorer! These were planets in a new and unknown galaxy! Who knows what kinds of crazy lifeforms or interesting encounters might be around any given turn of the terrain? Heck, BioWare even resurrected a planet roving vehicle and improved its handling to hark back to the original Mass Effect and its Mako tank. As I delved deeper and deeper into Andromeda, the game begin to feel routine. Why? Part of what contributed to the mundane atmosphere that pervades Mass Effect: Andromeda can be traced to the waste of its own fundamental premise. Players were on an adventure to an entirely unknown galaxy, a situation prime for introducing truly alien encounters. Instead of expanding the Mass Effect universe in interesting ways, players simply find more of the same stuff. BioWare took a creative approach to write themselves out of the corner they had created with Mass Effect 3, but chose to ignore many of the interesting elements that their solution would entail in order to bring everything back to some arbitrary status quo. Instead of encountering novel beings that would arise from a galaxy free from the cycle of destruction within the Milky Way, the two new sentient races encountered in Andromeda are humanoid with immediately relatable wants and desires. The main quirk of the angaran? They are more communal and open with their emotions. The main quirk of the kett? They have a rigid theocratic hierarchy based around genetics. We’re in a new galaxy in a rich sci-fi universe where the creatures we encounter could be anything: sentient energy crystals, renegade swarms of nanites that have achieved a hivemind, mouse-sized silicon creatures whose ways are completely incomprehensible. Literally anything could exist in a galaxy so far removed from any kind of interaction with the galaxy BioWare crafted in the first three games. Those interesting possibilities are shoved aside in favor of more familiar and “relatable” allies and villains. In fact, this desire to return to the pre-Mass Effect 3 status quo in a new galaxy even extends to some of the most thought provoking questions of encountering alien species. The most important part of first contact involves figuring out how to communicate. Entire films have been based around that premise *cough* Arrival *cough*. Even Star Trek: The Next Generation took an hour for Picard to figure out how a new alien species communicated. You could take it for granted in the trilogy that humans had figured out communications with the aliens of Citadel space decades previously, so it wasn’t an issue. Mass Effect: Andromeda spends not even five minutes on that subject with either of its new additions to their galactic cast of character species. Not only that, but the entire sense of scale, the stakes, and the urgency at play is skewed. If things go wrong with the ark ships, the entire initiative could fail. Even ground-level, no-name NPCs don’t seem too concerned, despite their desperate circumstances that present a threat to their survival. In one side mission, Ryder encounters two human pot heads living in the middle of nowhere on a planet where the water is so toxic it is literally on fire. The duo should be in the perfect position to know how monumentally screwed the Initiative’s future is, but they simply don’t care – an attitude reflected in how most NPCs react to deadly danger in Andromeda. Here’s an example: One of the primary locations in Mass Effect: Andromeda is an ice planet called Voeld. It’s one of the worlds controlled by the angara, but the player is told that it has become the front line in the war against the kett. When players land and begin exploring Voeld, the planet presents absolutely no evidence of any kind of protracted war. There are some scattered bases, some ships overhead on occasion, but nothing resembling an ongoing war. Heck, there aren’t even any craters to be seen. We know from Mass Effect 3 what a war in Mass Effect’s universe looks like. Palavin was a colossal battleground between the Reapers and the turians. Soldiers were breathless, tired from combat and wiped out emotionally. They did everything and anything they could to hold the line against an overwhelming adversary. Voeld has none of that. They even have entire towns – one of which has a hotel. They have scientists traipsing around researching animals beneath the ice or old ruins. The kett, supposedly an existential threat to the angaran people, seem at worst a nuisance. Very few characters act appropriately to the situations in which they find themselves. Most almost always go for a glib one-liner on par with Batman Forever’s Mr. Freeze, “Ice to meet you.” Arrived at what should be the sparkling hub of your new civilization only to find that it seems partially derelict? Time for a quip! Wandering in the belly of a completely unknown alien civilization’s living ruin? Time to just randomly activate things because you think you know what they do! Side note: Just once I want to see Ryder or their allies activate one of these alien devices only to find out it starts a giant alien weapon made to warp the planet into a star or some nonsense. They literally have no idea what these devices do, just their best guess and a human created AI that also is just making educated guesses. Then we get to the actual exploration, supposedly the core of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Very little exploration goes on. There are several huge maps covered with constantly respawning camps of enemies that stand between players and objective markers. The missions encountered in the wild rarely become anything more complicated than a fetch quest to get a thing from some bad guys. Sometimes pleasant surprises lurk at the end of seemingly boring quests, like gigantic robot boss battles, but often these grunt work tasks reward the player with habitability points. These points act as a kind of gating mechanism for upgrades, similar to the points used on the world map in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Outside of that, they don’t feel that impactful or important. Even raising planet habitability to 100% feels pointless. The settlements remain the same, some marginal rewards increase, but other than that there never felt like a compelling reason for anyone to bother unless they are a completionist. I’d like to contrast this approach with the original Mass Effect. While the first Mass Effect game certainly had problems, there was genuinely a sense of adventure. Every planet scanned might lead to something unique, like an ancient alien ruin or a collective of terrorists or rogue scientists whose experiment has gone awry. These sequences also had large, open maps that were filled with a lot of nothing and filler enemies, but enough was done to the planets to make them feel distinct and many of the encounters, though reusing assets, were written well enough to be interesting and involved player choice. None of that random exploration is present in Andromeda. I scanned every planet and found not a single unique situation or hidden adventure, only resources for crafting. That crafting system that BioWare touted in the lead up to Andromeda’s release? Unfortunately, it rarely feels impactful. I used weapons I picked up and they worked fine. I crafted weapons a handful of times and they also worked fine in slightly different ways. Most of the time the only things I was excited to craft for Ryder were improvements to the roving tank to improve its speed or boosters. For the most part, Andromeda’s supporting cast manage to provide endearing personalities. Drack as a krogan grandpa and Vetra’s lady-turian smuggler were fun additions to the crew, but on there aren’t any Garrus Vakarians or Tali’Zorah vas Normandys to really latch onto as standout characters. That’s something BioWare could build toward over time with sequels, but I didn’t feel any particularly strong connections with most of the characters in this first outing. The disconnect between the player and various characters in Andromeda largely boils down to the amount of inconsequential fluff that pads out Andromeda. There’s so much busywork with so little pay-off that players lose track of what makes the cast fun or special. There was a 15+ hour long period in my playtime where I was just bored with what I was doing. Oh no, a scientist put her thesis on a hard drive that was stolen by bandits. Time to drive to the middle of nowhere to kill them and get it back (and the solution is almost always kill some ambiguous “them”). Missions like this exist in abundance throughout Andromeda – little to no interesting character interactions, just straightforward affairs that have players going around the same big environments. When the worlds open up, players naturally invest themselves in the various activities thinking that there might be an interesting moment or pay off to any of it… but there isn’t. Instead, players start to forget what they’re even supposed to be doing or care about. The narrative loses its propulsion. Trudging through the motions of establishing colonies and checking off the soon routine alien ruins spread across planets while dealing with disgruntled colonists- it all becomes work. All of this should be fun – we’re using cutting-edge technology to forge a new home on planets full of alien technology and life forms we have never seen before. The first beat of life after the exciting introductory sequence occurred over a dozen hours later when I was able to take on companion missions. It felt like things were happening! I got to see characters interacting with each other! Some well-written scenarios that made me laugh or excited! Liam’s side mission in particular felt like such a welcome breath of fresh air it almost seemed like it was from a different game. When Andromeda leans into those more linear segments and allows its characters to be themselves with Ryder or other companions, it really shines. Remember the action button prompts that would frequently pop up in Mass Effect 2 and 3? The ones that allowed extreme actions to be taken during dialogue sequences? Those are so rare that I could count with one hand the number I saw in a full playthrough. It got to the point that I just pressed it excitedly when it popped up without really knowing what was going to happen and at least on one occasion that resulted in a character’s death. While ditching the Paragon and Renegade system of years past seemed like a necessary update, it also eliminated the short hand players could use to predict what kind of an outcome pressing the action prompt might have in Andromeda. Combat stands out as the most solid aspect of Mass Effect: Andromeda. This is the smoothest and most action-filled BioWare game to date and it just feels good to take down enemies. On top of that, the new jump and boost mechanics give combat a whole new degree of mobility that it never had before. It feels free and fluid, providing players with more options in a fight than ever before. The responsive gunplay and interesting abilities really come to the forefront, making it easy to sink a lot of time into the less interesting parts of the game just to discover the perfect combination of abilities. The smooth combat translates into an enjoyable multiplayer experience who enjoy the gameplay on its own. Players accomplish a variety of objectives around various maps before escaping in shuttle craft. Succeeding in these missions allows players to level their multiplayer character and unlock new weapons and abilities for that character. Some rewards also carry over into the single-player campaign. It's a solid experience, but I'm not entirely sure how much longevity it has for players who have had their fill of fighting from the core game. Unfortunately, the combat stumbles when it comes to progression in Mass Effect: Andromeda's campaign. Players begin by choosing specialties, but can decide to respec their ability points at any time from their ship or simply use points from new levels to unlock abilities outside of their beginning specialties. Only a handful of those abilities are gated to certain levels, meaning that most abilities are available from the start. This all sounds great, but the problem comes in when players discover their preferred play style and abilities. When that happens, the motivation to experiment comes to an end. Upgrading those abilities simply makes them more effective, but doesn’t change the player’s approach to gameplay. This leads to gameplay becoming stale toward the end of a prolonged playthrough, which is hardly ideal. All of this doesn’t even touch on the various glitches that can plague Mass Effect: Andromeda. These manifest in a number of ways. Sometimes the game randomly crashes. Other times NPCs duplicate themselves. This can happen during conversations and can be really jarring. Sometimes NPCs get stuck in world objects. Notably, a random NPC on the Nexus space station would stand still on a stage staring straight ahead. She unnervingly persisted throughout my entire playthrough. Enemies in the respawning zones around the various worlds sometimes just float in the air. Sometimes characters simply disappear from cutscenes or fuse with other characters to create horrifying chimeras. Note: A recent patch weeks after release managed to fix the bizarrely dead and distracting eyes that often appeared to be locked into a look of fear or surprise. That patch doesn’t fix some of the other issues most of the faces in Andromeda seem to have with emoting, though. Some characters have certain resting faces that make them look like they are perpetually smiling, regardless of the situation. This issue is particularly noticeable with certain versions of female Ryder or her ally Cora. Also, and this is really not important, but female angaran character models look like they weren’t finished. Compare them to male angaran faces and they seem to lack a lot of detail or defining features. Conclusion: Mass Effect: Andromeda has the potential to be built into something great, but that potential is buried under a pile of issues that range from structural to technical. These problems range in scale from insignificant to huge. That this game launched without a fix for something as basic as the patch that fixed how eyes looked is incredible. Combat manages to top that of its predecessors, but becomes mired when it comes to progression. The visual presentation of the various planets at times reaches awe-inspiring heights, but gets brought low by the facial animations and persistent glitches. The potential of a new galaxy stretches out for players to explore and define, but that promise gets squandered in a number of disappointing ways. All of that being said, Mass Effect: Andromeda succeeds in laying a foundation on which sequels could successfully build. This outing might not live up to the series’ roots, but the possibility remains open for the entries that are sure to come. Mass Effect: Andromeda is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC View full article