I've spent a good part of the day today playing ME:A. I got to a point in the exploration of a planet where progress is locked until tomorrow's release at 9:00 PM Pacific.
Graphics and Performance:
The game gave me a message when I first tried to run it to get the latest nVidia driver so I did that. It ran flawlessly with no crashes or hiccups of any kind the whole 7 hours I played. It ran great maxed @ 1920 X 1200 (i4770k + nVidia 980)
The graphical improvements you'll see right away are the skin textures. They're the best I've ever seen. Faces are textured complete with minor flaws that add a great level of realism. Aged faces (eg. your father's face) look very naturally aged without the usual exaggerations most games resort to in order to simulate aging. You'll see for yourself but skins are just outstanding.
Expressive eyes is the other big one. Although I also acknowledge the impressive tech at work here, they didn't quite nail this one as they did with skin. Most of the time the eyes work just fine but they occasionally seem to overdo their expressiveness for no particular good reason. They are just "off" enough at times to nudge the game into uncanny valley territory.
If you've played Dragon Age inquisition you'll notice some of the similarities. It is still very much an ME game but the planetary exploration in particular will remind you of the openness of DA:I. There's a lot to do and discover in those planets. The game feels definitely 10X more open than any previous ME game in a very good way.
The use of cover in firefights is also very well done. It's automatic and intuitive: you just move near something that should provide cover and it does putting you in cover mode with no fuss.
If there is a way to pause in the middle of fight to issue orders and use abilities, I didn't find it in my preview. It might be there but I didn't look for it and just fought in real time. In that sense it feels much more like the multiplayer ME3 mode than the single player portion. At any rate, combat is well done, fast paced and enjoyable even with my limited lowbee abilities.
I consciously decided to not focus on that for my preview but saw enough of the interface to know that there is a lot you can research and craft. Much more than in any previous ME or DA game.
This takes some getting used to. There seems to be more nesting of menus than is actually necessary and some of their interface choices are odd. By the end of 7 hours I was getting used to it but I can't say it was an enjoyable experience. Navigating the menus for quests and many other things just seems to require too many keystrokes and often not the keystrokes you would think. OTOH, it doesn't really get in the way during combat but I'll still put this one in the "con" column.
Overall it looks very good to me and I can't wait to get the full unlock tomorrow,
“Microtransactions? In a single player role-playing game? Are you nuts?” ― CD PROJEKT RED