Andromeda is about as good as the original Mass Effect and that’s not good enough.
Been thinking about Mass Effect and Bioware games in general. Ultimately, I think Andromeda is comparable to the original. It’s hard to gauge because of familiarity, time, weight of expectation, yadda yadda yadda, but I think Andromeda is about as good.
And that’s fucking awful. Where’s the progress? Sure the shooting is better, but if I was playing for the shooting, I’d play something else. BW should make dating simulators, because character stuff is the only thing they’re good at.
RPGs are so damn stagnant right now. Fallout 4 had some nice mechanical bits and bobs, good environmental storytelling, but in terms of RPG stuff, it was a huge step backwards from New Vegas.
The old “look to the indies for innovation” chestnut just turns up a bunch of attempts to recreate old Bioware/Black Isle games. Torment took pretty much everything innovative from the Numenera mechanics and tossed it out the window to squish it into generic CRPG shape.
The last couple of Shadowruns at least managed to step away from the template a little in terms of structure. Having a neighbourhood as your base and keeping the stories grounded there is refreshing after so many jet-setting adventures. The fixed locale was one of the things that made Dragon Age 2 the most interesting entry in the series. It’s a shame the game was so rushed, because more resources in that area could have made it something special.
Ultimately, I think the major issue is that they’re all laser-focused on murdering everything. Sure, there may be stealth or talky options, but they’re an aside, a temporary relief from the violence. All of the best RPGs I’ve played recently have been ones that shifted that focus, however slightly. The Witcher 3, for example, has a huge amount of filler fisticuffs, but the bulk of the actual missions are investigation and hunting. It’s subtle, but it feels fundamentally different from being dumped in a location with a bunch of things to kill and some objective at the end of the clearly-marked murder maze.
Heck, the Souls series, which is about as fighty as you can get while still being vaguely RPG-adjacent, feels more like a dungeon-crawling RPG experience than any isometric RPG of late because the exploration of the dungeon, player awareness and so on is so vital. But folks don’t recognise it as “gameplay” because there are no buttons to push.
Shadowruns Dragonfall and Hong Kong, despite really simple, stripped down mechanics, actually feel like tabletop Shadowrun because the missions are about your team going after set objectives in heist-like scenarios and the shooting is the result of everything going hilariously wrong.Years ago, one of the RPS crew called Mass Effect “Guns and conversation” and they nailed not only ME, but so many RPGs. Some dialogue and a moral quandary at the end of a bunch of pre-ordained murder doesn’t make an RPG. Yes, it is about player choice, but it’s about player choice in how they deal with situations, not about whether they’re gonna be an angel or an arsehole at the end of the killing.
That’s what I want to see RPG devs doing. Using the latest shiny tech to give players a bunch of interesting options in how to deal with situations in interesting environments. Where are the games that do what Vampire: Bloodlines, or Fallout: New Vegas did, but better?
I was gonna write a toot on Mastodon, but it turned into seven, so I compiled them here.