They say the trick to applying makeup is to make it look like you're not wearing makeup at all. By the same token, the trick to animating faces in a video game is to make them not look like horrifying ventriloquist dummies. Mass Effect: Andromeda's facial animations failed this test, with its eerie peepers offering a constant reminder that you're venturing through a simulated universe. Yet developer BioWare wasn't about to let this common criticism go unaddressed and in its latest patch it's added a new eye shader that goes a long ways towards humanising its humanoid cast.
As you can see in the following video by Push Square, the new shader makes eyes less glossy. They now look noticeably more natural.
The difference is arguably most pronounced with director of colonial affairs Foster Addison. You can see her around the 56 second mark in the video above, or here's a still image comparison by Redditor jizabo.
It's worth noting that Mass Effect: Andromeda is a very ambitious game with a huge cast, reams of dialogue, and a customisable protagonist, so it's understandable that the facial animation wouldn't be up to scratch compared to something like a linear Naughty Dog adventure, for example. Eurogamer contributor Alex Wiltshire recently investigated the trials and tribulations developers must go through in order to animate a realistic human face. Indeed, it's one of the medium's most troubling challenges.
Let's just be grateful that we've come a long way since this guy in Assassin's Creed 2.
Become a Eurogamer subscriber and get your first month for £1
Get your first month for £1 (normally £3.99) when you buy a Standard Eurogamer subscription. Enjoy ad-free browsing, merch discounts, our monthly letter from the editor, and show your support with a supporter-exclusive comment flair!