At the start of the year, there was minor controversy surrounding Mass Effect: Andromeda’s animations. According to fans, the Ryder, the protagonist, didn’t emote enough. At the time, Bioware chalked it up to a “facial performance bug” that they would “improve,” but now that a trial version of the game is widely available, folks are once again picking apart Andromeda’s animation quality.
On social media, players are sharing all sorts of clips highlighting stilted or silly animations, like in this video by xLetalis:
In my time playing it, I have encountered some stiff facial animations that made me pause. The humans in particular don’t seem to emote enough, sometimes staring blankly, or blinking at odd intervals. Andromeda crosses into the uncanny valley at times. But, honestly, in the hours that I’ve poured into the game, these details haven’t ruined the experience. They’ll briefly take me out of the moment, sure, but a few awkward seconds in, say, a 15 minute engrossing conversation with someone is minor. I’ve yet to encounter any funny walking animations, personally.
Despite lackluster facial animations, the environmental animations/scenery can still be killer, and major cutscenes still look slick and detailed.
The aliens, I am happy to report, are so expressive, they sometimes upstage the humans.
In context, some of the clips people are sharing aren’t actually as terrible as they might appear, nor do they seem particularly worse than other recent games. I reviewed Horizon Zero Dawn last month, and I’d say that game had distractingly bad lip sync where the characters didn’t always make believable expressions...but most people overlooked that, because it had no bearing on the overall quality of the game. Bioware, on the other hand, has to wrestle with a giant negative stigma following the Mass Effect 3 ending, so fumbles like these seem more like an uphill battle. Shortcomings like occasionally wonky animations feed into the ongoing narrative that Bioware doesn’t give a shit about player’s experience, which realistically speaking, probably isn’t true.
In short: yes, some (but not all!) of Andromeda’s animations look hilarious online, and can be easily mocked, but it’s not actually a major deal while you’re playing it.