Mass Effect: Andromeda has performance issues on both Xbox One and the base PS4

With this latest installment in the Mass Effect franchise, BioWare has moved the story 2.5 million light-years away from the controversial ending of the original trilogy. Thanks to a lengthy development period, a new engine, a new crop of consoles, and a fresh narrative start, the expectations of fans are fairly high. We’re all dying to see if BioWare delivered the goods.

Here’s the story: After a 600-year journey, ships from the Milky Way are arriving in Andromeda in the year 2819. The Citadel races (Humans, Turians, Asari, and Salarians) have sent tens of thousands of individuals to colonize planets in a different galaxy, and these poor souls are largely unaware of the giant robotic space squids that their friends and family were inundated with back home. Sadly, things aren’t so rosy in Andromeda either.

The pre-release news cycle was fairly brutal for Mass Effect: Andromeda, but it seems that the final reviews were relatively muted. Our sister site IGN gave the game a “Good” score of 7.7/10 on consoles, and that’s largely in line with the critical average. Based on 30 reviews, the PS4 version of Andromeda has earned a 75/100 on Metacritic. The PC and Xbox One versions don’t have quite as many cataloged reviews, but they’re in the mid-to-high 70s as well.

By and large, the biggest criticisms of this new Mass Effect title revolve around the fit and finish. Some of the animations, character models, and even the quest structures seem like they’re straight out of an Xbox 360 game. In spite of making the move to DICE’s impressive Frostbite engine, there are moments that make it seem like we’re looking at a dolled-up UE3 release.

There’s a tone of disappointment that pervades the coverage of Andromeda, and it’s easy to see why. Excluding the foofaraw around the colorful endings of Mass Effect 3, the original trilogy was extremely well-liked. Anything less than perfection will inevitably be met with crossed arms and furrowed brows. Even if some of the most glaring problems were sanded down before release, it’s safe to assume that this interpretation still would have met with a somewhat disgruntled public.

Beyond the rubbery skin and lackluster animation, BioWare seems to be having a hard time getting Frostbite to play well with consoles. On the vanilla PS4, the game mostly renders at a native 1080p — shrinking to 900p in some cutscenes. The Xbox One, on the other hand, generally sticks to 900p with drops to an oddball resolution of 1344×756 for some scenes.

Digital Foundry examined gameplay on both consoles, and found that the performance was damn-near identical. Both versions are capped at 30fps, and it’s not uncommon to see drops to the mid-20s, screen tearing, and some ugly judder during hectic combat. The PS4 edges out the Xbox One slightly in the smoothness department, but neither one is worthy of praise.

After roughly five hours of play on the Xbox One, we found the stuttering to be annoying, but mostly harmless in terms of single-player gameplay. With aim-assist on, hitting your target shouldn’t be a problem in the campaign. As for the impact on the co-op multiplayer mode, we’ll simply have to wait for more analysis.

On the PS4 Pro, we can expect a 1800p checkerboard mode, so perhaps some of the issues can be smoothed out with the extra processing power. And since the minimum specs on the PC side are reasonable, our fingers are crossed that high-end machines will be able to handle the game with aplomb.

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