There are a couple of things I've seen in the game's favor, and some against it. On one hand, I've seen more and more commentary (starting with Forbes) about how the review embargo was not just a bad idea, but executed in the worst possible way.
The tl;dr on this is that the game is huge, expands tremendously beyond hour four, but the reviewers (and early access) can only talk about (or see, for the early access) the first bit, and that the embargo effectively stops them from discussing anything but the negatives. In the article, the author implies either that 1.) the game improves amazingly beyond the intro or 2.) that the game is so awful it should never have been early accessed, at all.
As for the "quality" of the animations, I've actually got a pet theory on this, based on information provided.
The dialogue for this game is enormous. The quote I keep hearing is: "three times more dialogue than the entire trilogy, combined". That's absurd, in a good way. Looking at the shitty talking-animation (even compared to ME1, ffs), it appears that main problem is that the animations aren't complete (no movement but the mouth/jaw, eyes locked on camera/character, heads dead-still). What I hypthesize is that, do the sheer scope of the dialogue, they made a "decent" animation program that would move the faces along with the expected sounds of the words, tested it on a couple of spots, and then turned it loose on the game. This mass-production animation would produce something like this, whereas an animator would add things like aside-glances, tics, and shifts in posture, which would make the game much less "Mass Effect: Androidema".
The problem with this, if this is true, is, once again, the amazing things it implies about Bioware's corporate culture.
Let's go back, to the lead-up to the third game, when the voices in the wilderness started to cry out over a "leaked script", and said the ending was trash-tier. Bioware responded, and stated that the leak wasn't real, that it was an old draft, and that the problems had been fixed.
Disregarding, for the moment, the best parts of the ending, one of the gasoline-on-the-fire factors that turned it from "bad game decision" into "career ending PR disaster" was the decision by Bioware to shut up, lock down, and admit nothing. Denials, deflection, and radio silence, followed by "no, you're wrong".
Here, we see the same opening moves to the dance. Pre-release, groups began to quesiton the facial animations, and Bioware announced they were fixing it. That it was a bug. Now, as release closes in, we've gotten statements about "ship has sailed" and nothing is wrong. If this carries through to launch - if the story/gameplay aren't enough to gloss over the problems - I predict we'll see the silence, and the 'you're bad people' narratives start up, again.
Jesus. Christ. Can't you guys help yourselves?
So much of the "Reclaim" firestorm could have been prevented with a ME:A Culpa. One "yeah, we screwed up, we were trying to do X, but it turned out Y" would have defused the majority of the anger. Instead, we got corporate speak, denials, counter-narrative, and a refusal to admit fault.
It looks like that ship is setting sail, once more. Instead of "hey, our game is huge, the only way to get it done in time was this animation method we automated, but we're working on it", we got… corporate speak and denials.
I pray to Yog-Sothoth that these guys don't go back down the Old Road.
It'll be even worse this time, because people remember the debacle, chunks of the gaming press aren't in lock-step with their PR department this round, and there is an entire other block of people pre-emptively angry with Bioware who normally don't care about vidja games, but are quite adept at making things incredibly shitty for people.
All this aside, I do have some hope, as some commentators I generally respect have been pointing out, as Edisnoom said, that the gameplay itself is quite fun, that the setting is engrossing, and that the story is far better than the writing. If the game is as large as it appears, and those elements are good enough, then this might actually serve as a decent jumping point for a reborn series.
The tragedy, even in this case, however, is that Bioware got a name based on excellent stories, well written, with amazing characters. It would be horrible, in the most corporate way, to see them become just another competent shooter company, making unremarkable-but-playable games.
I just saw that I, apparently, have access to the early trial. I'm gonna DL it tonight, and give it a whirl after work tomorrow. I'll let you guys know what my official, completely-amateurish, opinion is.