Despite my feelings about the ME3 ending, I picked up Mass Effect: Andromeda last night. Here are my initial impressions from about an hour of play.
I usually don't pay attention to internet complaints about graphics. To my non-artistic eyes, pretty much every modern game looks good.
However, the facial animations in ME:A are horrifically bad. Lips move, but the entire rest of the face has been botox-ed into immobility. My current head-canon is that it's a side-effect of the cryogenic sleep process, and everyone's face has simply not thawed yet. It looks really terrible, and is extraordinarily distracting.
I'm playing with the default Sara Ryder, and her eyes have pupils which are not centred correctly. It looks like she constantly has her eyes half-rolled up.
The biggest problem, though, is that's there's a clear mismatch between the quality of the head model, and the quality of the animations. This actually makes the problem worse. Maybe if the models hadn't been aiming for "realistic" so hard, the animations wouldn't stand out so much.
ME:A graphics spiked in quality the moment the characters put on their helmets.
Now, that being said, perhaps you get used to it. It wasn't nearly as distracting at the end of my play session.
The story is just starting up. It's interesting how they leave everything from the original series somewhat ambiguous. In some ways, it's like the story is set in Mass Effect universe, but ignores the plot of the Mass Effect games.
So far, the writing is okay. It's not good, but it's not bad either. It kind of reminds me of a author with potential writing her first novel. It could get a lot better, but it might not either.
One interesting thing Bioware has done in conversation this time around is to categorise responses as either emotional, logical, casual, or professional. It's a very explicit way for you to define your character, especially as not all choices have all options. Sometimes you have to decide between emotional or logical. But other times, you might have logical versus professional. My tentative feelings on this system are positive, as it provides a nice framework for choices.
As a side-effect, options which are purely informative are also labelled, so you can go through all those without accidentally making a true choice.
Now we get to the outstanding part of the game so far. The combat is excellent so far. Powers work well. The shooter mechanics are crisp and nice.
I'm probably going Tech/Arms, and the tech powers are interesting, and combo nicely with each other. There's a lot of powers and skill trees for RPG enthusiasts to enjoy.
Combat feels good in this game, and that's a major positive for the game.
When you think about it, the facial animations are probably disproportionately distracting. But I can guarantee you that it's the first thing you notice when you start playing the game. The story is very generic at the moment, but hopefully the writers hit their stride and pick it up as the game goes on. But the combat mechanics are quite fun and well done.