On Trials and Adulting

So, no update on Esme Ryder’s adventures, as real world concerns took precedence yesterday. Namely some sitting room renovations which have left us temporarily without the door. Since my choices were either to turn the volume right down, or wake the toddler with the sound of gunfire [you may have noticed from screenshots that I have subtitles on – yeah, my hearing isn’t great] I pretended to be a responsible adult, and am waiting til later today to play the rest of my trial.

While playing MEA I’ve been aware of how the trial has affected my experience of the game, and wanted to talk a little about that.

Let me preface this by saying that a 10-hour trial is definitely preferable to a demo. As I recall, the Mass Effect 3 demo covered the opening sequence on Earth, then skipped ahead to a limited version of the Surkesh mission. The whole thing took around an hour and a half to complete. Since it was released about a month before the game, it eventually got boring.

Of course, that was 5 years ago. Most ‘demos’ I’ve played recently have in fact been the beginning of the game in question, locked after a specific time period or at a specific point, with the save carrying over when the game unlocks at release (Final Fantasy XV’s demo, part of a transmedia approach to the game narrative, is a notable exception).

There are some downsides to the trial approach though. The first, is that I’m always clock-watching, which I think would have happened even if I hadn’t eked my 10 hours out across a week. My natural tendency is to wander around and investigate everything, but I’ve felt a pressure to keep moving, and see as much as I can. One casualty of this time pressure was codex entries. I just stopped reading them, especially after reaching the Nexus where I picked up a lot of entries very quickly. I’m not convinced that I’ll make the time to read them all once I have full access to the game, and wonder what nuggets of world-building and character insight I may miss.

Decisions, decisions….
Similarly, I’ve felt anxious over my decisions to fully explore the Nexus, and then the Tempest: should I stop and figure out the sabotage side quest on the Nexus? Do I talk to my crew on the Tempest or head straight down to Eos? Perhaps I’m overthinking things, but the constant awareness of my limited play time has sapped some enjoyment from the initial experience of Andromeda. 

Another slight advantage of the old-style demo was the opportunity to try out the different classes, and get a little feel for how combat styles differed. In theory I could have used my 10 hours to replay the opening with each different training background, but why would I do that when there’s a planet to explore? 🙂

This won’t be an issue for everyone. I primarily play Mass Effect games for the sense of discovery and exploration; others may prefer to focus on combat, and testing themselves against the various difficulty levels. Each to their own. 

And I can also see how offering a trial, rather than having to build a demo version of the game, benefits both developers and players. 

Perhaps the solution for future games is for me to pretend to be an adult, exercise patience, and wait for the full game to be released?

Oscar gets it.