Alright Bioware, Let’s Talk About Facial Animations

Posted by March 16, 2017 9 Comments

mass-effect-andromeda-ryder

I mean this in the best way, but the facial animations in Mass Effect: Andromeda just look worse every time I see them. And I’ve seen them a lot, I’ve been very excited for this game because when Bioware does good work, they do it fantastically. But the facial animations problem that’s plagued them for years has hit critical mass with Andromeda.

I know the game only went gold under a month before launch, but perhaps thats when it’s best to shelve the Q4 profits and put it out some time later, like Ubisoft has had to do with South Park. Hell, Andromeda makes Watch_Dogs 2 look like a masterfully designed game when it comes to facial animations.

It hadn’t been obvious in the older Bioware games, because they weren’t ever THAT much worse than any of their competitors. But even 2015’s The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, which was basically produced on the equivalent of a shoestring budget two years ago, has more realistic animation.

If you aren’t entirely sold on that comparison, check out youtuber TeraJK‘s side-by-side comparison.

The internet has been having a field day with Andromeda so far, and I can’t say I blame them. Sarah Ryder’s face changes so much depending on what angle you look at her that it was impossible to ignore. But I have tried. I have tried so hard Bioware. But now that I’ve had a chance to sit here and stare at so much evidence from sources other than official channels, it’s clear that every human face in this game is a mess. Somehow Sarah Ryder is the most affected.

Not only does she have the jarringly uncanny and wooden reactions of every other human in Andromeda, she’s got a sad case of wandering eyeballs and cringing facial ticks that look anything but intentional.

And we’ve known this. Bioware said they were working on the animations back in December, but clearly they didn’t have time to do much. This is more than a simple facial performance bug. Notice, we haven’t seen a whole lot of characters talking in the more recent trailers, have we?

Meanwhile, the game is mostly playable today for a wide audience, and those facial animations problems are still alive and well. So unless there’s some miracle difference between the EA Origins Access demo and the full game as shipped, we’re going to be dealing with this problem for upward of 40 hours.

Still don’t think it’s that bad? Youtuber xLetalis has yet another compilation of the buggy facial animations. In fact, a quick search of Twitter will show you more than you’d like to see of the particular uncanny valley Andromeda has fallen into.

 

At this point, this facial animations problem is just egregious. Sure, Kotaku‘s Patricia Hernandez doesn’t find the animations to cause problems playing the game. And I’m still planning to play the hell out of Andromeda, but I know quite a lot of people who won’t be picking up Andromeda due to the pasty-faced lack of emotion.

And it’s not like Bioware can’t do fantastic facial animations. The aliens in Andromeda are so damn expressive. Even the Asari have better facial animations than the humans, and Asari have very, very human features.

So, Bioware, what gives?

Is this some kind of avante-garde way to tell us that the human characters in Andromeda are nothing more than a plot device used to introduce us to a world where humans are a nonentity? Are they nothing more than dolls used for us to put ourselves into this story as a vehicle for our imaginations? Is that why they look like the soulless husks I would expect after living through a Lovecraftian horror?

Or were you just rushed as hell getting this game out the door and, much like the multiplayer tech test, the facial animations fixes got shelved because there was no time?

(Last Updated March 16, 2017 7:21 pm )

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About Madeline Ricchiuto

Madeline Ricchiuto is a gamer, comics enthusiast, bad horror movie connoisseur, writer and generally sarcastic human. She also really likes cats and is now Head Games Writer at Bleeding Cool.

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