I sat down last night for 4-5 hours and dug into the beginning tidbits of MEA with EA Access. I'll break up the post into different categories to focus on the various aspects of the game and what I saw. Performance: I'm running a relatively powerful rig but nothing 100% up to date. 980 ti (SLI), i7 Processor, etc. I had to disable SLI because the second planet (Eos or whatever) turned the game into a slideshow. It runs extremely well on a single card, and the optimization is looking solid. There's some texture pop-in but it's not as terrible as most other games with this issue. Encountered zero FPS issues (running at all settings Ultra with temporal AA, HBAO, all that good stuff). Pretty sure SLI support will be available post-launch. So far I'm liking how the game performs, but the sample is limited to 2-3 areas. There is no telling how other planets will handle compared to Eos. Visuals and Planets: Game looks nice visually. It's a lot like Dragon Age Inquisition so expect more of the same in that regard. Some areas are packed with detail whereas others are sparse or empty. The first planet you visit is called Habitat-7 and it's eerily similar to Storm Coast in DAI minus the gigantic ocean. There are alien ruins amongst steep cliffsides and certain areas have puddles of acid. It's raining a lot and there are occasional thunder strikes that can really hurt your shields up if you stray into the areas it's hitting (easy to avoid, though). The Nexus is mostly a Citadel 2.0 so it's pretty uninspired and feels more of the same. Really didn't enjoy my time on that hub so I didn't take as much time checking the place out. The second planet, Eos, is very similar to Western Approach (geographically) in DAI but with a twist - there's radiation which means there's a subtle filter when you're outside of the radiation safe zones. It's a pretty cool planet, tbh. I'm partial to desert planets though so I don't mind how it looks visually. What's concerning is how many similarities I'm finding between DAI and Andromeda in the beginning steps of the game. Planets seem to borrow heavily from locations in DAI (Storm Coast / Western Approach) so I'm getting a sense of "I feel like I've seen this area already" even though it's supposed to be a new game. Character Creation: It's dreadful. Probably the worst character creator i've seen in a modern Bioware game. It makes Fallout 3, maybe even Oblivion, look like competent, fleshed out character creators - and those were terrible. You can't make adjustments to specific areas or select different types of facial features. Birthmarks are permanently glued to the preset face, and scars looks like a kid scribbled on your face with sharpie. You can't even select various mouth, nose, or eye shapes. You can only really adjust the height, depth, or width of these features. There's no control for the sellion, nose bridge height/width, nostril flares, eye rotation, etc. First game I've played where I had to go with the default character because of how bad it is. It's dreadful in every sense of the word, and for a game that's built on face-to-face interaction with NPCs, it's 1,000 steps backwards. I'm astonished that Bioware thought this was an acceptable character creation toolset. They didn't even attempt to add in decent hair/beard options. Beards look like somebody glued modelling flock onto their jaws, and hair colors have no depth/shadows to them. Everything just looks like plaster. If you thought the default characters were ugly...buckle up. The default presets drew their likeness from composite sketches of serial rapists and killers. It's that fucking bad. Dialogue/Characters: Dialogue is fine but the NPCs are all lifeless. They have this fucking thousand-yard stare like they've seen some serious shit and are struggling with PTSD or something. There's no fucking detectable emotion from their eyes/body language. You know how we all kind of squint when we're confused, or rotate/furrow our brows when we're feeling sympathy/emotion? NPCs don't do anything like that. It's a blank, full-blown stare where they give you some exposition about the area or send you off on a quest. What I did like was there was some acknowledgement as to whether or not you did certain things or not during the prologue mission. Like, if you didn't explore an optional Alien ruin, your dad basically called you a little bitch for not investigating it. Speaking of which, they handled the father figure well, in my opinion. From the very get-go he's detached to you as a family member, so you as a player don't feel emotionally manipulated into giving a shit about him. When he got killed off, I as a player didn't really give a shit about him dying, and there was dialogue to support that sentiment. Cool beans. Some NPCs (mainly your crew) don't suffer from this. Well, that's a lie. Suvi - that scottish co-pilot/researcher - is just completely dead in the eyes. It doesn't help that it's the same voice actor (I think) for Cait in Fo4, so if you hated her voice in that you're probably going to get triggered and never interact with her unless you absolutely need to. At least she's not trying to do an Irish accent this time around. Your companions: Liam - He's some former police officer in the Alliance that's part of the initiative now. He's really fucking boring and his voice acting is irritating. He's a black Kaidan Alenko with a slightly more bearable voice, but still irritating. If he dies, or if I'm given the option to let him die, I probably won't bat an eye. Cora - Apparently she was your senior officer at one point. She's OK looking but I have a feeling she was a washed up P.E. teacher at one point or another in her life. The voice work is alright but nothing spectacular - too much emphasis on being gruff and tough. Her personality is mirrored over into her combat style - up close with a shotgun and biotic slams. Vetra - Basically female Garrus with a silver-tongue. I actually like Vetra because of how effective she is as a companion. She has roughly the same load-out as Garrus (concussive shot, tech abilities, etc) and packs a punch. They introduced Drakkus (that fat fucking Krogan or w.e his name was) and he was OK. He doesn't join the crew yet but he basically shows up, kills a lizard dog, cuts a tooth out, tells you to fuck off, and leaves. My kind of lizard. They also introduced PeeBee and you work with her on the main story mission for that first part of Eos. I think she looks a lot better in game than how the trailers portrayed her. Either that or I'm just sexually attracted to Shrek. DGAF - I'll be laying some pipe in her swamp. Rest of the crew is mixed. Suvi, as I mentioned, is terrible. The Doctor lady is Natalie Dormer who sounds like she did her voice work with a synthesizer. I tried to flirt with her but she said she doesn't fuck around with her patients. We'll see about that sugar tits. The pilot is some Salarian. That's it. He's fucking boring and lacks the sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek humor that Seth Green brought to the table as Joker. I hope he dies in a gas explosion or something. Gameplay: It's a mixed bag. They have this 'new ' scanning feature which is just a more limited version of DAI's location scanning/pinging (instead of spamming V you press G and frantically pan the camera around in order to find an object that's scannable). It's really uninteresting tbh, and the only reason they did this was to honor fact that you're an "explorer exploring the unknown." If you've played Batman Arkham City it's basically the Batvision detective shit. You gain research points for three different categories (Milky Way, Helios, Remnant) depending on the object you scan. If you scan a device from the Initiative you get Milky Way research points, for example. You then spend the research points on schematics you've looted or bought, and then you spend resources you've collected from mining on creating the researched item. -- Movement is a lot more natural and less retarded than in ME3 where Shepherd's sprint animation looked like he had a 12 inch thigh gap and permanently flared lats like he was a fucking bipedal Chimpanzee. Only thing I saw that looked funny was the slight hop-step the character does when going forward. It sort of looks like he's skipping around a small rock jutting out of the ground even though nothing is there (it only happened a few times). I'd honestly be surprised if they told me the movement wasn't motion-captured because of how smooth the transition is from idle -> walking -> running. Even turning the character on the dime has it's own momentum build-up. -- The combat is ME3 + rocket jump. It feels chunky shooting and smacking things. You can customize/build guns and attachments but I haven't gotten far enough into the game in order to really build anything super powerful. -- The leveling is pretty standard and there's no more class locking due to this profile system. You link up with S.A.M (the new EDI) and he'll unlock the ability for you to switch your specialty from say Soldier to Infiltrator from the menu. I didn't touch the profile system to really get a major impression as I stuck to using automatic guns and a few tech abilities (concussive shot and fire grenade). I kind of like the idea of it, however, since it'll allow me to at least play my character as a sort of soldier/engineer hybrid. -- Planet navigation is pretty terrible, as is the planet scanning for minerals. They ditched the original map navigation from ME2/3 and opted for encapsulated, first-person cutscenes EVERY SINGLE TIME you travel planet to planet using the map interface on the bow of the ship. I'm extremely suspicious that they did this in order to create an artificial time-sink and fool players into thinking they're getting good time/value for their money. If you jump cluster to cluster you're basically going to watch a cutscene of jumping into FTL. If it's planet to planet you're going to see roughly the same thing except it's not FTL and you can see the neighboring planets whizz by you. -- On the main planet surfaces you can engage in some sidequests like investigating missing colonists and what not. It's mundane but nowhere near as bad as DAI's idea of sidequests. There are designated mining areas that you'll drive the NOMAD around and call down mining probes in order to harvest their resources. They straight up copied the DAI globe-trotting/astrarium globes for the first main mission of the storyline. You're doing it this time because you need to normalize the atmosphere of the planet (terraforming I suppose) because of how fucked up the radiation is in certain parts. You basically drive around, find alien-remnant ruins, find 2 glyphs in each area, and interact with the central device in order to restore the node. I did this three times before some giant columns rose from the basin in the middle of the map and I had to go there. I couldn't progress past this point (trial hard-cap) so here's to hoping they don't make us repeat the same song and dance on each planet. The game's really locked up on the first planet, though. I tried to follow up on some more side quests but I kept going into extremely radiated zones which completely fucked up my life-support systems and killed my character/NOMAD. Really felt cornered and limited but I'm guessing once I complete that one quest (which I can't do because of the trial cap) the planet will open up more. TL;DR - Mixed bag, initial impressions = bargain bin kind of game.