It’s flooring me how much of a different experience I’m having with Mass Effect Andromeda this time around, playing for myself and not on a deadline. For starters, I can REALLY avoid the story as much as possible. When you just focus on roaming all over the new worlds and making them better for all living there, it’s rather enjoyable. Well, it is until you reach a game-breaking bug (happened twice over the weekend) or you see a really awful character animation, but you know that’s a risk as you go in. As you bond with the characters (that’s still 20 hours in, take note) and learn more about the galaxy from side quests, it becomes the open world Mass Effect game you’ve always wanted.
All you have to do is procrastinate on the story missions as much as possible.
In addition, I’m not nearly as frustrated with playing because taking my time to do literally all of the side quests has leveled me up considerably. At 40 hours in, I’m nearly level 50. When I played the game for review, at 40 hours in I just turned 30. It’s amazing (not amazing) how much easier grinding through the story missions, or even any mission, is when you are properly leveled. Since you can’t save your game mid-mission, and the checkpoints are far and few between, I spent most of my review overly frustrated. Like any RPG, if you take the time grind, most of the game will be a cake-walk except on the hardest difficulties. This time around, I’m having far more fun completing the main missions because I’m not dying every three steps.
It’s also nice to be able to take the time to make the planets habitable and create outposts. No time to do that before. For the first time, I really feel like I’m settling the Heleus Cluster and making a real difference for the Nexus and the galaxy.
This makes me even happier to have walked away from games writing. Who knows what other games I might have enjoyed significantly more if I wasn’t pressed to complete them in a matter of days?