Over the last few months, a lot of talk has circulated around Mass Effect: Andromeda’s facial animations. While many were greatly anticipating the game, its animation, especially on the faces of characters, has given fans pause about whether the quality of the experience might be up to par.
Then, things came to a head when Mass Effect: Andromeda entered its EA Access early trial, and gamers got to see for themselves what the facial animations would look like in the finished product. The response wasn’t exactly glowing and despite claims from BioWare that animations would improve, the end result showed that there were still areas that needed work.
Needless to say, the animations in Mass Effect: Andromeda have caused quite a stir for BioWare, to the point that gamers have started trying to find who is to blame for them. To BioWare’s credit, the studio has released an official statement that deferred any blame on one person, but that hasn’t changed fans’ frustrations over those animations. In fact, many are saying that the animations are bad enough that they either decided not to buy the game or have canceled their pre-order.
Obviously, this is an extreme reaction, but it’s not uncharted territory for BioWare either. Some may remember that there was a massive discussion surrounding the ending to Mass Effect 3, specifically how it didn’t take into account players’ choices throughout the game/series. Which begs the question as to which is worse: the Mass Effect 3 ending problems or the Andromeda facial animations?
When it comes to Mass Effect: Andromeda’s facial animations, most are pointing to main character Sara Ryder for the most outrageous examples. While other characters, like new Asari Peebee, have been featured in amusing gifs, it’s Sara’s facial animations that most have seen shared around the Internet.
Why exactly the animations look the way they do is likely a complex issue that only the devs at BioWare can understand, but it’s something that could eventually be polished over time in development. Say what you will about the delays to Mass Effect: Andromeda, but there’s little doubt that BioWare needed to deliver a finished game in March. Most major companies, EA included, end their fiscal years in March, and the launch of Mass Effect: Andromeda was likely going to be a perfect end cap.
So perhaps the rush to get Mass Effect: Andromeda out on time, and the scope of the project, which includes both single player and online multiplayer, was enough for some issues to fall through the cracks. As some have pointed out, the facial animations in the game do improve as players go on. Unfortunately, the EA Access early trial only offers the first 10 hours of the game.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Mass Effect 3 ending, which no one knew was a potential problem until reviews hit. For those who might not have followed the news, the major issue fans had with the Mass Effect 3 ending was that it felt very cut and dry. There were three choices, each with a color attached, but none of them took into account a player’s overarching decisions.
This was a trilogy that fans had invested a lot of time into, with characters they had come to love, but the main focus was on a “ghost boy.” In simpler terms, there wasn’t a lot of nuance to the endings, and for a series that was all about little choices many players felt like all that history was replaced by a random color wheel. To BioWare’s credit, the developer eventually updated the endings with fleshed out cutscenes, but the fact still remains that Mass Effect 3 had a lot of negative buzz surrounding it at release, not unlike Andromeda.
Ultimately, the Mass Effect 3 ending wasn’t something BioWare could fix, but it could improve. With the facial animations, however, the solution is likely more complex. According to BioWare there is nearly double the dialogue in Andromeda as there was in Mass Effect 3, and tweaking the facial animations to support that dialogue took a long time.
Regardless of whether things change, the good news for Mass Effect fans are that the game is getting mostly positive reviews and things apparently improve on the facial animation front deeper into the game. Still, it’s hard not to draw parallels between the discussion happening now and the one that took place back in 2012.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.