MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA Update from the Studio

https://www.masseffect.com/news/mass-effect-andromeda-update-from-the-studio


This is pretty disappointing, I bought the deluxe version for 90$ CAD and enjoyed the story, gameplay and exploration but with the thought there would be some kind of single player dlc especially with the the way the benefactor and Jien Garson thing was left unresolved as well as Quarian Arc.

Any future Mass Effect, and Dragon Age, games will be strictly wait for a sale now for me. Which is a real shame because I enjoyed Andromeda a lot and I also liked the novel Nexus Uprising by Jason M Hough and K.C. Alexander, I was really hoping that Andromeda would be the starting point of a new series of games. I’ll probably end up picking up the next novel, Mass Effect: Initiation by N.K. Jemisin, mostly because I’ve liked her writing and storytelling in her Broken Earth Trilogy.

So scratch another developer off my list of buying games at launch. Blizzard, CD Projekt Red, and Bethesda is all that’s left for me now.

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What I am playing/listening to/watching/reading/looking forward to for August 2017.

3 episodes into season 7 of Game of Thrones, been pretty good so far and it only makes me want to read The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring even more, if GRRM manages to even write and release them that is. The show is good and is a fine adaptation, but it is also very hamfisted and unsubtle. What I mean by that is, a mainstream show like Game of Thrones  can only take the straight and direct path of Story Telling and Character Development, in GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire things are complexly intertwined and paced that are on the verge of being convoluted and drawn out. However, in the adaptation to a show, there has to be a clear path from a to b, and a lot of the internal struggles or inner rationalizations have to be explicit and either vocalized or characterized in such a way that there can be no doubts in a characters motivation.

August has a couple of shows on netflix that I want to watch: The Defenders, Glow, and the Mist season 1. I’ve already watched 2 episodes of Glow and liking it a lot already, the cast is pretty good with Marc Maron insanely funny so far.

In my on again/off again World of Warcraft playing, I am back to raiding semi casually. I still prefer mythic plus for gearing as it feels more rewarding and that I have more control of the outcomes. All isn’t great with my on again WoW playing, I pretty much stopped playing the Uncharted Collection and I was near the end of Uncharted 3. I’ll start again but I’m not sure if I’ll go back to the Uncharted Collection because during a steam stale I picked up Dark Souls 3 for a decent price, I’ve already mentioned last month picking up Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (which is released on August 8th), The Long Dark’s season one story mode called “Wintermute” is out on the 1st at 8am PST, and I also picked up another interesting crafting survival game called Light and Dark that is in early access. I picked up Light and Dark because it’s a survival RPG with crafting elements but in a fantasy setting.

I delayed picking up John Wick 2, Kong: Skull Island, and Ghost in the Shell until later in the month. I will also probably pick up Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I’m still on the fence about picking Passengers.

I’ve been listening to the Black Company series the last 2 months, I’m on book 4 at the moment and so far the series has exceeded expectations for me and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. On August 15th, N.K. Jemisin’s 3rd book in the Broken Earth Trilogy called The Stone Sky is out and I’ve already pre-ordered it. If it’s as good as The Fifth Season and Obelisk Gate, I will most likely pre-order Jemisin’s Mass Effect Andromeda: Initiation audiobook as well.

There are a couple of movies that are out now or coming soon this month, The Dark Tower and Atomic Blonde, that I want to check out but I will most likely wait for it to come out on Blu ray.

What I am playing/listening to/watching/reading/looking forward to for July 2017.

How fucking good was that first season of American Gods? I can’t wait to see how they adapt the House on the Rocks and the Spook Show for season 2.

The adaptation of characters like Laura, Shadow, Anansi, and Mad Sweeney have been great, and I’ve enjoyed the additions and changes to the characters. I’ve particularly enjoyed the arc between the “Dead Wife”, the Leprechaun, and Salim. It was a nice refrain to the Mr. Wednesday and Shadow road trip. The changes to Anansi and Technical boy were also pretty good. Orlando Jones is great as Anansi. Ibis and Jacquel were also very good.

Game of Thrones starts up this month as well and I have dutifully avoided every trailer because I want to go into season 7 without having anything to guess at what is going to happen. It’s unfortunate that the show has over taken the books but the show has been decent so far, there were some definite misses but has had more hits than misses. I haven’t had to jump into any of the short stories or anything ASOIAF related to keep my interest going in the series, I’m genuinely excited to see how it plays out.

Game of Thrones isn’t the best thing on TV anymore, Westworld and American Gods are definite contenders now.

I started listening to the Black Company series by Glen Cook, it has every element I enjoy in a good fantasy series. The narration by Marc Vietor is pretty good. I just finished the first book and starting up the second book, Shadows Linger, this month. I would have bought the third book as well but I decided to pre-order N.K. Jemisin’s final book in the Broken Earth Trilogy, the Stone Sky. I will probably pre-order N.K. Jemisin’s Mass Effect Andromeda: Initiation as well.

I have also started a re-listen to the Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which will also include The Wise Man’s Fear as well, I forgot how well written and well narrated, Nick Podehl is extremely good, the books are. The Name of the Wind is especially good, however, I found the Wise Man’s Fear has a hard time to get out of the shadow of the first book.

I’ve been working my way through the Uncharted Collection, still only on the first game so far. I’m looking forward the Amy Hennig games of Uncharted 2 and 3.

During Steam Summer sale, I picked up the season pass for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Dark Souls 3. I am extremely tempted to pick up Dishonored 2 for 24.99$ CAD as well as Morrowind GOTY edition, and Oblivion GOTY too which are only 9.99$ CAD but I may just wait to pick those games during the new years sales.

I will probably pick up Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice next month, it looks extremely good and the price is good one at 32.99$ CAD.

I have a number of games I want to start during the summer, which is usually a deadzone for gaming. Metro 2033 Redux (which I’ve played about an hour so far), Metro: The Last Light Redux, Rise of the Tomb Raider (which I will probably start immediately after the Uncharted Collection),  Dishonored, and Firewatch. There are other games like Shadowrun: Dragonfall, Bioshock remastered, Bioshock 2 remastered, Bioshock Infinite, and Far cry Primal but those will probably be something I try out later in the year.

The first season of the Long Dark is out in August, and I’m extremely looking forward to playing it, it has been something I’ve been waiting for a couple of years now.

The Defenders series starts up in August, which is something I also want to watch as I’ve enjoyed both seasons of Daredevil and Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones which I thought was extremely good.

I also plan to pick up John Wick 2, Kong: Skull Island, and Ghost in the Shell on blu ray this month.

What I am playing/listening to/watching/reading/looking forward to for May 2017.

I’m gonna start with what I’m watching, as these posts usually start with what I’m playing or listening to/reading, and there are a couple of things I’m watching that I like and interested in.

First off, how fucking good was that first episode of American Gods? Definitely a great episode and what an excellent way to start off a series. The casting is very good and we haven’t even gotten to see Media, Sam Blackcrow, Mr. World, Mr. Nancy, or Czernobog yet. Ian McShane is fucking great as Wednesday and that first time you see him hustling the air port lady is such a good way to get a feel for his character. Pablo Schreiber as Mad Sweeney is also excellent, he really encompassed the character from the book and added his own great interpretation of the character. I thought the interplay between Mad Sweeney and Shadow was awesome and I liked that the coin tricks, the Iko Iko song by the Pixie Cups, and the fight was faithfully adapted, and even possibly better than it was in the books. I also thought the changes to Shadow, Rickey Whittle also is very good, were positive and well done. Shadow in the books is a more taciturn and introverted character, as well as a little bland, which doesn’t really translate that well when adapted for a show or movie, it’s easier in a book because we are able to hear the inner monologue and thoughts Shadow has while he experiences the first time the secret world of the Gods. For a TV show, the normally reserved and quiet Shadow would translate to being a moody-ish brooding thousand yard stare, which would be extremely uninteresting. Lowkey Lyesmith bits was also pretty good, the don’t piss off airport bitches story was great. Laura’s funeral scene was also extremely good, and I thought it was done better than it was in the books because it fleshes out the relationships Shadow/Laura/Audrey/Robbie. The scene with Shadow and Audrey was also extremely good, I loved the changes because it made it more believable and I loved the “I am trying to get my dignity back here” scene. The changes to Audrey also made her more sympathetic. The Technical boy confrontation was also pretty good, although I thought it was a little forced because in the book Shadow is supposed to deliver a message/threat to Wednesday. However, the lynching scene was extremely powerful and evocative, so the change from the book made it easier to understand the conflict between the Old gods and the new ones. The Midnight Special outro was great. I am extremely looking forward to watching the rest of the season. The Totem Pole intro was a nice touch, it is a good reminder that North America wasn’t an empty land and sets a good tone for the series. I can’t believe HBO passed on this show.

The Last Kingdom on Netflix is extremely good, each episode has been good and the build up has been great. I am hoping that after this last episode of this season, the wait for series 3 won’t be as long as the one for the 2nd series.

I’m gonna be checking out Hap and Leonard, after the Last Kingdom, because I’ve been thinking about starting the Hap and Leonard books by Joe R. Lansdale and I’ve heard extremely good things about the show from the various subreddits I lurk on.

This month I’ll be listening to the audiobooks for N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season and Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest.

I plan to pick up the second book in Jemisin’s Broken Earth series and then starting Glen Cook’s Black Company series. The reason for Black Company is that Eliza Dushku is producing and starring in an adaptation for a TV show. It’s also something I’ve been wanting to check out for at least 2 years now and I also like to check out something when it gets adapted into a show or movie.

I’ve also started a re-listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks, I’m currently on the Goblet of the Fire and I will continue with it after The Fifth Season and Into the Forest.

I picked a PS4 Pro recently and I finally got to play The Last of Us, the Remastered version. I was extremely impressed and immensely enjoyed playing through such a well crafted game with such a good story with very compelling characters. It has a New Game Plus mode that I plan to play through again with. I plan to pick up the Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection next, and possibly Uncharted 4 as well. The Last of Us is every bit as good as I read about it and I was quite impressed with gameplay and story telling, it is a great example of linear story telling. Not all games need choice or a branching story, and I really like a well crafted story. I can’t wait for the extremely well hyped Last of Us 2. I have a list of games that I’m looking forward to checking out on the PS4 Pro, games that are available on the PC are excluded because I pick up those on steam/uplay/origin/GOG instead. So games like Deus Ex Mankind Divided, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Far Cry Primal, for Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain (or Dark Souls 3) I am not sure if I want to pick up on the PC or PS4.

Here is the list of PS4 games that I’m gonna pick up eventually:

  • Bloodborne
  • The Order 1886
  • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
  • Dark Souls 3
  • Metal Gear Solid 5
  • Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls collection
  • Final Fantasy 15
  • Uncharted 4
  • The Last Guardian
  • Horizon Zero Dawn

I will probably add to the list but this list a good place to start.

I downloaded the remastered version for Darksiders 1 and 2, I’ll play these eventually but I want to play Dishonored and Rise of the Tomb Raider this month. I’ve been putting off both for long time now and I want to get it through my backlog of games. However, I am also doing an off and on again 2nd playthrough of Mass Effect Andromeda, so it may cut into playing either Dishonored or Rise of the Tomb Raider. I’ll probably just commit to playing through Rise of the Tomb Raider this month though.

I’ve also got back into playing Overwatch, which is still pretty good game but definitely has some match making issues. As the wait time for group queuing, is pretty long with a lot of false starts on games.

Logan comes out on Blu ray this month is being released this month and I’m extremely looking forward to picking it up and watching it.

Audible for April/May 2017.

So, after a little struggle with my 2 audibooks per month for the last 3 1/2 years, I (finally) really got back into the pace I had in the first 3 years.

In the last month and first 3 weeks of this month, I’ve been on an audiobook binge in various fantasy and scifi genres. I finished up John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, P.N Elrod’s Blood Circle, Bernard Cornwell’s The Flame Bearer, Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men, Stephen King’s It, Mass Effect Andromeda: Nexus Uprising by Jason M. Hough and K.C. Alexander, and I’m currently listening to Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys.  I am about half-way through Anansi Boys, which I am really enjoying because of the great story and interesting characters, as well as the excellent narration by Lenny Henry. Henry’s provides a great range of voices and is very consistent with them, it really adds the listening experience and really adds a lot to the story. I picked up Anansi Boys because it was on an Audible Daily deal for 3.95$ USD, about 5.45$ CAD, and it was well worth it. I’m not usually one to buy anything on a daily deal of any sort, especially on a whim, but Anansi/Mr. Nancy in Gaiman’s American Gods was such an interesting and compelling character that I thought it would be worth it. It was also well recommended on the various subreddits I lurk on or comment in.

I’ve already gave my thoughts on Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire in a previous post, however, I will reiterate how much I enjoyed it and how good Wil Wheaton’s narration was.

For Blood Circle by P.N. Elrod, book 3 in the Vampire Files series, there was a change in narrator for this book and it was jarring at first but it grew on my as I finished it. This is a series I will be jumping in and out of, as it is a 10 book series, because there are a lot of other books in my audible wish list that I wish to listen to based on my mercurial listening habits. I’m hooked into anything with a decent story and interesting characters, doubly so when it involves Vampires and Werewolves, and the Vampire files series has a very interesting characters with a good story with vampires. Overall, I enjoyed the book and so far the series hasn’t disappointed me on any front, I look forward to jumping back into the series when I can.

The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell was extremely well done both in story and characters, as well as top-notch narration by Matt Bates. I’ve read the entire series since I’ve watched season 1 of the Last Kingdom on Netflix, with season 2 nearly over as well. I can totally see how this series influenced A Song of Ice and Fire in some respects. The series over all is great and well worth listening to as all the books are well narrated despite a couple of change in narrators over the series. I’m probably mistaken in calling this a finished series, but I since I’ve finished in the last book in the series so far, I consider it done for moment. At least until I hear or read something that says otherwise. With the BBC/Netfilx series, The Saxon Stories or The Last Kingdom Series is well worth checking out if you are checking out the TV/Netflix show adaptation. The audiobooks are in the 10-12 hour ranged, something I consider in between light and moderate length.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, is about 7 and 1/2 hours long, and if you watched the movie you basically got the what the entire book is like. The movie is an extremely well adapted from the novella and manages to get a lot of the book into a 2 hour movie. After listening to this, it made me want to check out Blood Meridian. However, if I didn’t pick this up on an audible daily deal, I probably would not have listened to this audiobook.

Mass Effect Andromeda: Nexus Uprising by Jason M. Hough and K.C. Alexander. This was my first tie in to videogames spawning a book, and I was impressed by it. It had all the elements of what I consider best in a mass effect game, namely good characters and a decent story. Fryda Wolff, who voices Sara Ryder in the game, narrates the story extremely well and proves a good range of voices for the different characters in the book. I thought the book would be a decent one, but impressed me enough to want to check out more of the 2 authors other work. I’ve already was extremely impressed with Hough’s Zero World, so I added his series Dire Earth Cycle books to my audible wish list all of which are narrated by Simon Vance, who has narrated some of my favorite scifi audiobooks (Dune, 13/Blackman.) Unfortunately, I could not find any of K.C  Alexander’s books on Audible.

It by Stephen King narrated by Steven Weber, this was well worth the purchase because it’s a great story with good characters and Weber, aside from a few clipped sentences here and there, did an excellent job narrating. Weber did an amazing job proving a good voice for the dialogue for all the characters.

With my 2 audible credits this month I picked up N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season and Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest, I’ve been looking forward to checking Jemisin’s Broken Earth series because I’ve heard she drew some inspiration from the mage/templar conflict from the Dragon Age Series and Into the Forest because I watched the excellent movie starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood and only realized it was an adaptation a book after watching the movie. I will most likely start listening to both in May because I’m currently listening to the Anansi Boys.

Mass Effect Andromeda, 1 week later after release.

I am about 75% through the game at the moment, with 77 hours played so far.

I’m looking forward to reviewing and sharing my thoughts on it when I have finished the game, which should be about 1 or 2 more days from now.

My first impression is this:

The meme about facial animations are 80% overblown, you know it’s there and it is does detract from the experience slightly. However, if you are playing the game rather than waiting for something to break “immersion” (imagine me doing Dr. Evil air quotes here), you notice in the same way when you see a picture hanging slightly off-center. For some people, this is maddening, other’s don’t give a shit, and for some others this is the SJW or Virtue Signalers ruining the world for the straight white male aged 18-60 that takes them out of their safe spaces.

The other criticism of the characters and story being, picture me doing Dr. Evil air quotes again, “bad” and “terrible” and “Bioware beating you over the head with stick of diversity, sexual orientation, and feminism,” is also overblown. The story and characters are interesting so far, and some of them develop pretty well. Most of the meme-type lolbad, imagine the Dr. Evil air quotes again, “critiques” or “criticisms” are focused solely on the intentionally awkward romance scene with Suvi or the offball humor. The options for the dialogue are done pretty well most of the time.

The game looks amazing, the environments and skylines are some the best looking in any game so far. Riding around the massive levels of various planets you explore in the Nomad, is pretty fun and you can really appreciate great looking environments.

The combat is extremely satisfying, the best in any mass effect game so far. However, the lack of hot keys for weapons and consumables is huge oversight. The limit of 3 equipped powers is also a questionable decision but it actually plays well in the profile system.

The exploration aspect of the game is great, it really nails the milky way species hanging on by their finger nails for survival and how resource starved they were before the Hyperion arrived.

Anyways, I’ll be doing another post soon with my review and my thoughts when I finish the game in a few days.

2016 year in review. Gaming/Movies/TV/streaming.

This year was more gaming focused for me this year rather than last year, a first since I started listening to audiobooks 2 years ago. I played an insane amount of the The Division, World of Warcraft: Legion, Overwatch, and The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine. I also played a decent amount of Civilization 6, Battlefield 1, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, and Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

The game that surprised me the most was The Division, the leveling experience, the game-play, and the coop experience were all very well done. It had a huge drop off in play for a couple of months because of the very lax response to cheaters and exploiters, the nerf to crafting, and the reliance on the Dark Zone as endgame. Since 1.5 patch, however, it has been changed for the better. It’s extremely easy to gear but still very satisfying to do because there are numerous path’s to get good gear, and the are interesting play-styles that are enjoyable to play. I’ve been playing a lot recently as it is a nice break from WoW mythic+’s.

My personal best experience of the year is easily The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine DLC. It provided a great story with very compelling characters and interesting conflicts while also giving a nice closing of the series. I personally thought Heart of Stone was better story-wise but this year no other game I played this year has really had such a well done story that can branch out in drastically different directions.

The only game I found disappointing was Assassin’s Creed: Unity, as I’ve said in a previous post. In contrast, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue was a very interesting and well done game, it took what made Black Flag good and then added to it, and told an interesting as well as compelling story that also advanced the modern-day Assassins vs Templars story.

I’ve switched up how I buy games, unless it is a game or developer I have confidence in, I wait for a sale to pick it up. It’s a patient gamer approach and really manages expectation vs investment. Games that are bought at full price usually have some regret and disappointment involved, not to mention the current trend of Developers releasing buggy games at launch. Buying games later on sale really cuts through disappointment from buyers regret or from having high expectations from a game that does not deliver on the hype.

Here are my arbitrary and personal choices for best games I’ve played this year, some of these games are oldish but new to me, as explained above:

  1. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine.
  2. World of Warcraft: Legion.
  3. Overwatch.
  4. The Division.
  5. Civilization 6.
  6. Battlefield 1.
  7. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue.
  8. Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

Here is a list in my to be played queue:

  • Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider.
  • Far Cry Primal.
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
  • Fallout 4: Far Harbor and Nuka World.
  • Planet Coaster.
  • Doom.

I also have fewer games in my backlog that I hope to get into or back into to replay eventually:

  • Dishonored.
  • Splinter cell: Blacklist.
  • Bioshock remastered 1 and 2.
  • Bioshock Infinite and it’s DLC.
  • Crysis 2 and 3.
  • Final Fantasy 13 and 13 two.
  • Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines.
  • Legacy of Kain: Defiance.

For Movies and Tv/Netflix or other streaming services this year, How fucking good was Westworld? My show of the year and very easy choice. I think its as good as, if not better than the HBO’s Flagship Game of Thrones. Can’t wait to see season 2. I also got to watch the Wire (seasons 1-5) this year and was very impressed. I was also very impressed with the various Netflix series, Daredevil season 1 and 2, Jessica Jones, Stranger Things. I still need to get around to finishing Luke Cage, which I enjoyed but The Division and Legion took my focus. Game of Thrones season 6 was also good, I was able to guess alot of what was going to happen but the show also threw some nice curveballs to my expectations.

My movie of the year is definitely Deadpool, it showed that a superhero movie could be successful with an R rating and it really did justice to my favorite X-man Colossus. I also enjoyed and liked Batman vs Superman, while many people didn’t like its darker tone and the change of character for Batman. X-men Apocalypse was also a favorite of mine. Captain America: Civil War was also decent. Hateful Eight and The Revenant were also stellar. Star Trek Beyond was also decent.

I have a trip to Vancouver next month, in which I will be watching the following movies:

  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Star Wars Rogue One
  • Arrival
  • Dr. Strange
  • Passengers
  • Live by Night
  • Fantastic Beasts and where to find them

Can’t wait to see all those movies.

What I’m looking forward to in 2017:

Gaming:

  • Mass Effect: Andromeda
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Vampyr

Books/Audiobooks: Either coming out in 2017 or new to me.

  • Neil Gaiman’s North Mythology
  • The Vampire Files series by P.N. Elrod
  • The Black Company series by Glen Cook
  • Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey
  • The Expanse by James S. A. Corey
  • Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski

Movies:

  • Logan
  • The Dark Tower
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • John Wick 2
  • Wonder Woman
  • Alien: Covenant
  • Guardian of the Galaxy 2

TV/Netflix/Streaming:

  • Daredevil season 3
  • Game of Thrones season 7
  • Jessica Jones season 2
  • The Expanse
  • Penny Dreadful
  • Luke Cage
  • Stranger Things season 2
  • Spectral
  • Westworld season 2

Again, if you read all of this, I hope you have a great 2017. Happy New years!