Mass Effect Andromeda Reviews And The Logic Of Predetermined Quality

Probably the last game I thought to myself that I would surely enjoy was Dead Rising 4. Usually, I go into playing and reviewing a game with no expectations, but I was almost positive that Capcom's latest zombie romp would be a good game. Suffice it to say, I was wrong.

More importantly, though, I was open to being wrong. The same can't be said for many now-disgruntled fans of Mass Effect Andromeda. I first came across this logic on a thread in r/masseffect that bemoaned what they saw as inevitable sub-par review scores. But they weren't upset that Andromeda wasn't going to be as good as they hoped; they were upset because Andromeda, a game they somehow already knew would be amazing, wasn't going to get the recognition they thought it deserved.

Before you sharpen your pitchforks and immediately scroll down to the comment button to tear me four fresh new ones, I'm not here to say anything of the quality of Mass Effect Andromeda. I have not played the game in any capacity, so any judgment of quality would be inappropriate. I am here to question the logic of predetermined quality and the ever-present reality that people who buy a game will automatically love it, and this applies well beyond fans of Mass Effect. I only use Andromeda as the most recent example.

Now, Andromeda did have a 10-hour free trial, so perhaps fans would have an idea of whether or not they would like the game. However, if you found out that someone reviewed Andromeda after only playing the trial, or only playing 10 hours in general, you'd be pretty upset and for good reason. So, I question that a whole fanbase automatically knew that Andromeda would be good after playing the trial if game reviewers would be lambasted for it.

This is logic I could understand, on some level, maybe five years ago. A video game being $60 is, of course, a big investment, and I can see how it would be harder to admit you wasted $60 than it would be to convince yourself that you didn't. But that shouldn't be the case anymore. We're in an age where everything, digital copies of video games included, is refundable. In fact, a good friend of mine has refunded both For Honor and Battlefield 1 in the past few months alone because they weren't up to his expectations. If a game you bought isn't up to snuff, you're not married to it – you can get a refund.

The reaction I expected to see when early reception of Andromeda was less-than-positive was that of disappointment. "That's a bummer. I was really looking forward to this game," perhaps. Instead, we're left with what is at times militant backlash. And this is not to say that you're not allowed to have a different opinion than the masses, or think a game is better or worse than its Metacritic score. Of course you are, and you can back that opinion up likely just as well. The key is that this assessment should be made after having played the game in question, and you should leave yourself open to the idea that any game, no matter how much you're looking forward to it, can turn out poorly.

Perhaps this speaks to the greater problem of video game reviews and review scores in general. Reaction to reviews is either "see I was right," or "wow, you're a paid-off shill." And while those reactions exist, I've also heard people say about games they're skeptical of "I'm going to wait for the review scores to come out," while reacting with vitriol when publishers like Bethesda don't give out early review copies. It's a seemingly contradictory set of realities in which gaming consumers live: that they demand to know early if a game is good or bad, while having already decided one way or the other.

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