We’ve been thinking and talking a lot about Mass Effect lately, what with the new game out this week. Which has had me thinking a lot about my re-play of Mass Effect 3… and the fact that I haven’t finished that. The whole point of it was to get to the end and see the “new” ending, but before that I got lost in the new DLC’s and all. I apparently stopped right before the best bit of the best one!
With Andromeda out, I don’t know when I’ll be back to this game… but my initial thoughts on the re-play were interesting for me to re-read, so hopefully you’ll enjoy them as well!
I know, it’s happening. I’m going back to Mass Effect 3.
The timing of the creation of our blog is such that we haven’t necessarily talked much about Mass Effect 3. I don’t think any other game has ever received quite the backlash that this game did. I feel safe in saying that because few games have ever created as much anticipation and fan buy-in as the Mass Effect games – playing the same character, with that many choices and decisions, for that long, is pretty much unprecedented. We cared. And, never have we seen a response like we did with this game – the studio went back and made an “extended cut” ending, supposedly to make it make more sense.
I say supposedly, because I had beat the game and was pretty much done with it before this ending came out. As such, I haven’t seen it. That’s one of a few reasons I decided to replay Mass Effect 3! So let me lay out some reasons, and then share some of my initial experience with the play-through, and maybe you’ll decide you need to re-approach this title as well!
WHY MASS EFFECT 3?
I’ve mentioned it a bit (and quite a bit on Twitter, I suppose) that I have finally been finishing up Dragon Age 2. This is in anticipation of Dragon Age: Inquisition, the third in the series. Both series are by BioWare, with a lot of similar elements. The stories are ending up very different, though (different protagonists in each Dragon Age game, for one thing, which is a huge difference), so it’s fun to play them all. Or at least, see the story through – thus why I hadn’t finished Dragon Age 2, I had seen Holly beat it.
I finally picked up one of the powers that had a strong “Force” component – and I loved it! I rush forward, and knock people back and over, and they can’t stop me! I started getting that bad idea… I could start over with a character focusing on these sorts of powers…
I realized, though, that these powers are at least in part based on the Biotics in Mass Effect. These telekinetic powers lift and throw around your enemies. I had never really focused on these powers, though, preferring some of the Tech and weapon powers… so pretty much explosions.
But here were the powers I wanted! So… replay all of Mass Effect? I had been thinking this was the best thing to do, so I kept saying no. That’s a bajillion hours. I looked at achievements, too. There’s a few I could use from Mass Effect – which I could get best by playing an Engineer. And there’s precisely one I need from Mass Effect 2: beating the game on its hardest setting, “Insanity” mode. That’s a lot of work for very little payoff.
Which is what got me to thinking… what if I just dived in to Mass Effect 3? Yes, it had left a sour taste in my mouth. But there were several DLCs that we hadn’t gotten (they were on sale! Might still be today, but with the new month tomorrow, maybe not). There was the new, extended ending.
Because really, I felt like this video had explained the series in an interesting way. Had they come up with something better?
I needed to find out. I could get my force-physics that I wanted, new content, and re-explore an old title… all in one. I decided to give it a try.
MASS EFFECT GENESIS
So I didn’t just want to re-play my old games, I wanted something new. This would be some of the benefit to playing through the whole series: new main character, new decisions and choices and influences. If I was skipping all of that… I needed Mass Effect Genesis.
Technically Genesis 2, this is a motion-comic from Dark Horse, where you watch a refresher of the plot, and make critical decisions from the previous games. They did this first for Mass Effect 2, and then released one for Mass Effect 3. It took some time, but the refresher was nice, the comic was fun, and I got to make some choices – rather than go with whatever the “default” play-through would be for a “new game.”
It does a pretty good job of working you through options, too… I have a FemShep in a relationship with Garrus (because, Garrus), who has kept both the team and large parts of the universe alive. From what I saw online, you can also make decisions such that almost no one in your squad survives – which I imagine would be an incredibly different experience!
An interesting side-effect of this approach is that it starts you at level 1. When importing from Mass Effect 2, you start at your character level – where the cap was 30. Starting the game at level 1 instead of 30 is a huge difference! The enemies pretty obviously seem to scale with me, but having fewer skill points still makes a huge impact. However, I’m getting to figure out what works and what I like as I go, so that’s a plus!
Something else that is happening because of doing this is that it is more like playing a new game. Yes, I’m remembering a lot of the nuts and bolts – the missions themselves, where I might find people, stores, or loot… but the conversations are a constant surprise. Does this character like me? Did this person survive? I keep finding out new aspects to the implications of the (very few) decisions I made in Genesis.
Meaning, if you are hesitant about re-playing Mass Effect 3, and like me haven’t played it since early 2012 (say, before The Avengers came out), then this might be the way to do it. Create a new, stand-alone game experience, and see how the game stands on its own.
Because to be fair, they never really had much of a chance of making us all happy… there were too many choices, too many possibilities, too much leading into it… but they could have done better. And maybe they did. I will just have to find out with this new ending!
As my final thought… Hopefully they’ve learned from this for Dragon Age: Inquisition. What do you think?
Editor’s note: awww, dang.