Mass Effect 3: Feedback is Important

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the first ever Round Table Review here at PG4D.

I’ve recently finished Mass Effect 3, and… I don’t feel my impressions by themselves would be good enough. Needless to say, there has been a lot of controversy about the game, and particularly about its ending. Fair warning to those who have not played: there will be spoilers.

But I didn’t want to talk about this alone. And I wanted to make sure that we discuss the game in its ENTIRETY, good, great, less great, bad, and ending. I don’t want to risk throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

My impressions alone aren’t enough for me to feel that I’m being thorough. So I’ve invited a few friends to join in and give their impressions as well. I answered the same questions independently, and nobody read anyone else’s answers before hand. Though I will admit freely that we have discussed many of these factors outside of this review.

I want our honest impressions recorded. I’ve divided the interviews into three sections: the introductions, the main body of the game, and the ending itself. Pull up a chair, folks: this is a LONG one.

Let’s kick this off.

Introductions:

What brought you to RPG’s originally? What do you like about them?

@htewing responds:

Growing up, I was a writer and avid reader. I wasn’t popular, so I used writing as an escape. I grew up on epics like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. My first RPG (Neverwinter Nights) was an accidental stumble-upon in Walmart when I was in high school, and I loved the fact that I could craft my own personal story through the game depending on the choices I made, and thereby both make it my own and unique . . . along with taking out the day’s frustrations on inanimate pixels.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

My dad used to play RPGs in College with his buddies. So when my brother and I got old enough in his eyes he got us started with D&D. I like RPGs for a captivating story, lots of character customization options, player interactions, and combat.

@greil9 responds:

Initially I started with Final Fantasy series, mostly because I liked the fantasy setting and the battle system. For several years my whole experience with RPG was painted by games like Chrono Trigger, Pokemon and Final Fantasy. When I first heard of Mass Effect I thought “How can a shooter be an RPG?” since for me RPG meant fantasy with fireballs and abilites, usually with separate battle screen, since most of my RPG views were still from JRPGs.

When I first played DA: O, I learned how much more RPGs are with story, character and ROLEPLAYING your character. Later I bought Mass Effect 1 from Steam and 2 later when I got a PC that wasn’t a piece of shit.

@roryoconner5 responds:

A chance purchase of Final Fantasy 6. The ability to actually change things in the game and make choices, even if sometimes it’s only ‘I can’t carry any more, which of these two do I take’ level.

@xarathos responds:

I home-schooled as a kid and always saw myself as kind of an outsider… which is weird, because I actually enjoyed a small measure of popularity in high school. Regardless, like most people I liked the idea of stepping out of my shoes into those of someone greater than myself, and doing amazing things. That, and some friends who were very good at playing ‘let’s pretend’ probably led directly to my embrace of both video game and tabletop RPGs.

I played video game RPGs first, naturally, because there was no one to play D&D with. Neverwinter Nights and KoTOR, yes, but also littler ones, like Irrational Games’ squad based superhero RPG, Freedom Force (and the sequel, yes). I got into D&D in high school, and into Mass Effect as late as last summer during the Steam summer camp sale. Since that sale I’ve been a Mass Effect evangelist, basically, telling anyone who would listen how much I loved the series. I loved the character customization, but more than that, I loved the stories and the relationships between the characters. I loved the vast, detailed worlds.

How much of the Mass Effect series have you completed? Which game did you start with? Have you played other Bioware games in the past? Which ones?

@htewing responds:

All of it. Repeatedly. I didn’t become a console gamer until I was a junior in college (2 years ago) so I was rather late to the game, but after picking up 1 and 2 they easily usurped KoTOR’s top spot. I have at least 4 unique Shepards (a soldier, two vanguards, and an infiltrator) over approximately eight playthroughs of both games, all Sheps started in ME1.

As for other Bioware games, I already mentioned Neverwinter Nights and KoTOR. I also played DA:O, but not 2 or Awakening.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

I started with ME2. I then played part of ME1. I really like the story and combat of ME2. I started ME1 but because I played ME2 first I was not happy with ME1’s combat and thus didn’t finish it yet. I’ve recently played SWTOR when it came out and I have played Jade Empire. One of the things I really like about Bioware games is the story.

@greil9 responds:

I started from Mass Effect 1 and played all three, 1 and 2 twice. I also played Dragon age: Origins and 2 and played both partially again. I also tried Baldurs Gate, but I was 19 at the time and couldn’t cope with the old gameplay with tons of grind in the beginning and the UI wasn’t up to modern standards.

@roryoconner5 responds:

Mass Effect 2 and 3 several times, 2 I bought after a friend recommended I try the demo. I played a little of KOTOR when I was at a friend’s house, and I got the original Neverwinter Nights by chance.

@xarathos responds:

I’ve played through Mass Effect 2 about six times on two different computers, including NG+ at least once. I have a half finished Mass Effect game I started later, because I played ME2 first like a complete blasphemer [Editor's note: that was a joke]. At the time, I felt very strongly that in terms of both story and gameplay, Mass Effect 2 was probably the strongest game I’d ever played (my readers on StufferShack.com will know this already). And obviously, ME3 or we wouldn’t be discussing it now.

Before that… I’ve played both KoTOR games, Jade Empire, and the original Neverwinter Nights, though I have to admit to both a) not finishing it, and b) modding the HECK out of it, because… that’s just what I did with games back then. Dragon Age as a series has been on my ‘to-do’ list since I played Mass Effect 2.

Concerning the Main Body of the Game:

For your first play through of Mass Effect 3, did you import a save from the last game, or start fresh?

@htewing responds:

I imported my first vanguard character (second Shepard created), because she had a better playthrough than my soldier (first Shep created).

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

I started fresh, just to see what that would be like.

@greil9 responds:

Imported my first save.

@roryoconner5 responds:

Imported my ME2 Infiltrator.

@xarathos responds:

Imported a save. My Shep had a few choices tweaked from ME1(Wrex alive, saved the Rachni queen, saved Kaidan, saved the council and put Anderson on it, etc: I have a friend with Genesis and started the save on his PC before moving it over) but was otherwise a standard ME2 Shep. He was also one of the few saves I’d taken through NG+, so I started ME3 at level 30. Currently, I consider him my ‘canon’ Shep.

In that vein, for your first play through: FemShep, or BroShep?

@htewing responds:

Being one of the apparently rare female ME players, I basically always play FemShep. Plus, Jennifer Hale’s voice acting is AMAZING (So’s Mark Meer, btw, I just bloody love Hale).

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

BroShep, I have a FemShep ME2 save I like but I wanted to try it fresh.

@greil9 responds:

BroShep.

@roryoconner5 responds:

Femshep

@xarathos responds:

BroShep. I’ve played ME2 once as FemShep for the novelty.

Class?

@htewing responds:

Vanguard. Biotic charge + nova = my new best friend.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Engineer with both the Combat Drone and Turret so I could mostly use the guns.

@greil9 responds:

Infiltrator.

@roryoconner5 responds:

Adept, because I found in the demo I’m not too bad with biotics. Sentinel second playthrough.

@xarathos responds:

Adept. Because a space wizard did it.

Preferred loadout?

@htewing responds:

Black widow sniper rifle, Disciple shotgun, Scorpion pistol.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

INDRA and Hornet, I liked the INDRA’s Assualt Rifle fire rate with its sniper rifle accuracy. I took the Hornet because I could make it light and I was getting adept at moving the mouse down when I shot to give it high accuracy.

@greil9 responds:

Sniper for most fights (Valiant or Black Widow), but I wield a pistol if out of ammo or close combat, and I prefer accuracy over rate of fire so my usual choice is Carnifex.

@roryoconner5 responds:

Tempest SMG, Predator Pistol, Argus Rifle just because I like the style of it.

@xarathos responds:

Talon heavy pistol, and either the Locust, Hornet, or N7 Hurricane SMGs, depending on circumstance. Sometimes I mix it up a little and bring an assault rifle or sniper rifle instead, but for my Adept I generally like to travel light. I’m also a big fan of the Scorpion pistol, but the Talon is by far my favorite pistol in the game.

Why? Come on. It’s a shotgun in pistol form. What’s not to love?

Platform?

@htewing responds:

Xbox.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

PC.

@greil9 responds:

PC.

@roryoconner5 responds:

PS3.

@xarathos responds:

This unit is a PC. We are building a consensus.

Let’s talk technical. What would you say is your favorite change from the last two games?

@htewing responds:

Definitely the rolling in and out of cover. While Shepard occasionally doesn’t want to get into cover no matter how many times I press the A button, being able to roll or sprint between cover was a godsend.

And the background squadmate interactions, if this can go under technical. I loved opening my map after a mission and going . . . “Okay, is Javik in his cargo hold? No? He’s with . . . oh god.”

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

I like the way ME3 implemented Weapon Mods. ME 1’s weapon mods were confusing while in ME2 there weren’t any. I like the ability to customize my weapons.

@greil9 responds:

Customization. Both with more weapons and mods for them and with more choice for abilities.

@roryoconner5 responds:

I can’t say for 1, but changes from 2 to 3… mining gone, improved pathfinding (ME2 when I played recently Zaeed chose to float 3 metres in the air) and the ability to take different weapons. ME2 as the Infiltrator it always annoyed me seeing my character with the default assault rifle in cutscenes then my SMG as soon as I was actually in control.

@xarathos responds:

Better interaction with cover means dying slightly less often, so I’m all for that. The fact that it’s all on one button makes things tricky, though – I’d at least like a separate interact key.

I hate to say it, but I was actually tremendously grateful for the removal of so many hacking minigames. I wouldn’t mind one or two, but after about the third matching game in ME2 when I got the hang of it, it just got tedious.

Also, seeing the squadmates move around the ship and interact with each other? Amazing. Such a seemingly simple little touch, and it instantly upgrades them to something that much more human. No more standing around waiting for Shep to come talk to them; they have conversations with each other. They seem to have lives, more so than any other BioWare game. And that’s awesome.

Customizing guns on the new weapon bench is probably my favorite part, though. Oh. And heavy melee. :D

This is what awesome looks like.

Anything you miss from the previous games? Explain in as much detail as you like.

@htewing responds:

I felt like there were less dialogue wheels and interrupts, but I might be wrong. Well, I’m pretty sure there were fewer interrupts.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Squadmate Missions, because on those squadmate missions I got to know why I should care about each squadmate and a bit about their history. ME3 has a few missions that require you to bring certain squadmates but it’s not the same as a mission all about their story.

@greil9 responds:

Missions in which you can do something other than shoot like in Kasumi: Stolen Memory or Samara’s loyalty quest from ME2. The shooting feels better when it’s not all you do.

Reducing city hubs from 4 in ME2 (Citadel, Illium, Omega and Tuchancka) to only the Citadel in ME3 really reduced the feeling of exploration, which was already reduced in ME2 even though ME1s vehicle exploration were just shit.

Having a large squad. This time the squad as sized down greatly and only 2 new character of any interest (Vega wasn’t the worst character but we had little to learn about him, unlike everyone in ME2).

@roryoconner5 responds:

A few of the armor items I had didn’t port over, the multiple mission hubs so for example there’s not a peaceful base on Tuchanka that you can access whenever you want to go talk to or listen to a random NPC… second is more just I liked the variety though, you can still do that and the citadel is far larger than I ever expect. Still get lost searching for the mission NPCs sometimes.

@xarathos responds:

Side conversations that were a bit more interactive. I understand streamlining some of the conversations, but I’d like it if, say, after a side/fetch quest, I at least got to see the look on the face of the person I just helped.

Though I don’t really feel the need to have the same, “feel like talking? No? Okay,” dialog with Garrus fifty zillion times. There’s no WAY he spent all that time calibrating the guns… He’s up to something. I just know it. “Calibrations,” my ass. :) So streamlining those is fine by me.

I’d make the argument that we tend to connect with Bioware games because of the characters. Who was your favorite addition to the series in the new game? Who was your favorite familiar face? If you could have picked one squadmate from a previous game to have back, who would it have been?

@htewing responds:

I. Freaking. Love. Javik. Half the time, I can’t tell if he’s being dead serious or if he’s deadpanning.

Garrus goes without mention here, but I was also (as a Raphael Sbarge fangirl) so happy to get Kaidan back (also helps that 3/4 of my Shepards romanced him in 1 and no one in 2. My infiltrator hooked up with Garrus). And then there’s Joker, who’s sort of in Garrus’ category. And Tali. And Jack. And I’m going to stop, because otherwise this is just going to turn into a recount of 90% of the previous squadmates. I was also happy to get Engineer Adams back, though, as well as Gabby & Ken.

Wrex. Because Wrex is awesome. Or Legion, because Legion was equally as awesome. At least he went out like a boss.

Also, not a squadmate, but I really wanted Rupert Gardner back. I’m not sure why. He amused me.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

EDI joining the squad because she has some great lines :)

Mordin, it was really nice to see Mordin again because he sings XD

Grunt, I miss having a Krogan in my squad, James may think like a Krogan, but Grunt was awesome.

@greil9 responds:

For the new game the best addition was Javik. Partially because he was the only good one (since only Vega was a new squadmate with some personality and I don’t count EDI as a new character only because she has a body). Partially because I could learn of the Protheans, and he was an interesting character based on how he pondered how the galaxy had changed in 50000 years, and how he reacted to seeing how the world works in the modern day.

Favourite familiar face, I’d say Mordin. He was still a funny and deep character, feeling even more guilty about the genophage. He was always fun to talk with, interesting and sympathetic. Not to mention he had a new song. Too bad he never got to do experiments on the seashells.

If I could have one back, it would be Grunt. He as always a badass and even now he kept being a badass, even if he wasn’t as intriguing as before since his conflicts were already resolved. Not to mention his defining moment. Even though Mordin was my favourite returning character, Grunt is just a lot better on the battlefield.

@roryoconner5 responds:

I think favorite new character, Cortez. Familiar face would be hard to pick, it was good to see Tali, Liara, and Garrus again definitely, but the changes to some of the ME2 introduced characters interested me too. I think Wrex, good personality and I wish I actually knew more than ME2 and the backstory comic tells me about him.

@xarathos responds:

Before I answer the question directly, I want to add that this is what kept me playing BioWare games after KoTOR. Because BioWare was the only company who was able to make NPCs seem real. I tried three times to play a dark sider in KoTOR, and failed halfway through because I felt too bad for the NPCs. Apparently, I’m just not that much of a jerk.

Contrast this with how I play a game like Magicka where the NPCs are little more than scenery with lines (namely, blast everything with fire and watch it explode), and you quickly see what I mean. There’s a fundamental difference between a BioWare character and a character in, say, Fable. Namely, I wouldn’t think twice about robbing a character in Fable blind and then burning their house down for laughs (or buying it and evicting him instead). Because in Fable, they don’t seem real. It’s a testament to how good BioWare is at writing and fleshing out world details that in every one of their games I’ve played, I almost necessarily gravitate toward a more… benevolent view.

Now, to the real question.

For me it’s a toss up between EDI and Javik. Both have some exceptional dialog and both had very interesting character arcs. Plus Javik brought that cool gun with him… Hmm.

In terms of familiar faces, I came to like Liara a LOT after playing Lair of the Shadow Broker and during my first half of ME1, so having her on the squad was nice. Garrus, obviously. My favorite engineers from ME2. Tali (always). Seeing all the ones I’d helped along the way was great, too. Wrex, Mordin, Legion, Thane, Miranda, and Jack—oh, yes, Jack that crazy badass psychotic biotic. Seeing how far she’d come and knowing that it was my influence that made it possible? Priceless.

If I could have one squadmate back, it’d probably be Miranda. I just like having her around. Probably because I’m a big fan of Chuck. Yes, that must be it. It couldn’t possibly be the fan-service camera angles. No. No, of course not. :whistles:

Editors note: Yeah, it's like that every time she shows up. We think it's in her contract.

Either that or Grunt. Having a Krogan around is always fun.

Of all the squadmates, who would you describe as your Shepard’s ‘best friend?’

@htewing responds:

Out of squadmates, definitely Garrus – they’re in platonic life partner stage by now. And, non-squadmates, definitely Joker. They’ve been together for too long.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Garrus, because of the scene where he and you shoot things and because he was in the first 2.

@greil9 responds:

Garrus Vakarian. He was there with him from the first game and they had some nice interactions and just joking around a few times. Their best moment was the shootout atop the Citadel (Which I won, guess you’re not the best sniper Garrus. No one shoots better than Greil Shepard)

@roryoconner5 responds:

Best friend… hard to pick just one, but… Joker. I Nearly said Chakwas but she’s more mother figure I think, and says so herself.

@xarathos responds:

Garrus, easily. He’s my bro. It might have been Kaidan, but his… curiosity… has made just about everything with him seem intensely… awkward… for my BroShep. Words were said that cannot be unheard.

Did you have a love interest? If so, which one? Continuing a previous romance, or starting fresh?

@htewing responds:

Kaidan Alenko. It helps that he spent the first quarter of the game shirtless. In this game and most of the others it’ll be a continued romance from one.

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Editor's note: I'm just going to leave this here.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Starting fresh with Ashley.

@greil9 responds:

I kept with Liara since the first game, though not romancing anyone new in 2 might have been because I knew I can continue Liara romance in Lair of the Shadow Broker since it was already out.

@roryoconner5 responds:

Liara, continuing from the backstory comic, through Shadow Broker all the way to the end. Resulted in some amusing conversations.

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@xarathos responds:

Tali’Zorah vas Normandy. She’s adorable, and I’m a complete sucker for adorable. Continuing from ME2, of course.

I was saddened when I had to let Liara down… I felt like such a jerk. :( [Editors note: you monster.]

She's doing that because she saw how it ends.

Bioware games have often asked us to make hard choices. Mass Effect 3 has a lot of big choices throughout the game. What choice hit you hardest in Mass Effect 3? Was it the choice itself, or the consequences?

@htewing responds:

Letting the rachni queen go or saving Grunt. At the time, I didn’t realize that Grunt wouldn’t die if he was loyal in 2, so I had to actually pause the game for ten minutes, weigh the pros and cons, and then finally decide that the rachni queen had more potential value than Grunt. I almost cried. Then the little bastard strolled out covered in Ravager blood.

It was definitely more the consequences versus one of the characters involved. I knew helping the queen would help the war, but I really just didn’t want to lose Grunt because, come on, while he’s not as awesome as Wrex, Shep practically raised him. It’d be like leaving your kid to die while you rescued the President. Sort of.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

If you don’t import from Mass Effect 2 The Quarians force you to choose between allowing the Geth to defend themselves or letting the Quarians destroy them and take back their home world. I allowed the Geth to Defend themselves and the Quarians attack anyways. The Quarians are decimated and Tali goes and jumps off a cliff. When I chose to allow the Geth to defend themselves I didn’t realize that the Quarians would lose so many ships, I thought it would just be that annoying general if anyone and I certainly didn’t realize that Tali would jump off a cliff. I feel sorry for anyone who tries a fresh ME 3 only play through because there is no way to avoid choosing between the Geth and the Quarians you have to allow one of them to be destroyed.

@greil9 responds:

Choosing between saving the Geth or Quarians. However there was a way to save both, so I´m not sure if it counts. [Editor's note: yes, it does.]

@roryoconner5 responds:

I’ve been replaying so might not remember some, but I think the ending first time. Thessia in second, because I knew despite what Liara felt it was my fault that happened not hers, I’d seen what would happen if I took the other choice but because I forgot in that moment… Moving on.

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@xarathos responds:

Probably the choice to save the Rachni queen again, because I fully expected that Grunt wouldn’t make it. I felt such agony watching him make what I thought would be his final stand (his ‘Boramir moment,’ was how I phrased it in my head while I sobbed and exulted in how EPIC that moment was), and then he came out of the cave covered in Rachni goo and I laughed for joy. Score one for completing all my loyalty missions in ME2, I suppose.

Either that, or when I had to break Liara’s heart. I suck. :(

In that vein, what was the most emotional moment of your playthrough?

@htewing responds:

Mordin. Solus. Primarily because he was the first death, and also because I wasn’t expecting it. And then he sang. And . . . yeah. Pause the game, sob for ten minutes, come back.

Basically all the character deaths. Thane only because it was so well-written, Legion only after I realized that he couldn’t back himself up to the geth consensus anymore and died an actual person. :(

Oh, yeah, then there was that bit with the ending where I realized that this was how they were ending it . . .

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

I really liked Mordin’s heroic end. Mordin singing, the long elevator ride, the explosion and his noble sacrifice all make it an emotional moment especially if you know Mordin from ME 2. Again, I feel sorry for those who only play ME3 because there is no way to save Eve from dying if you didn’t get to make any choices in ME2.

@greil9 responds:

This is too hard to choose from 2 choices, so I’ll include both.

  1. Seeing Grunt charge into the Rachni reapers, thinking he would die there. The music made me feel hopeless and seeing Grunt fight on even when he lost his shotgun was just awesome, showing his true Krogan spirit. And I never thought a piano score could fit a fight scene, but these guys pulled it off. Not to mention the joy I felt when I saw him walk out of that cave alive.
  2. The peace between Geth and Quarians. Ever since learning more about the Geth from Legion in Mass Effect 2 I started seeing them as not the evil side, but as a victim. The more I learned, the more I thought “maybe I can get a peace between them in ME3″. Then it was time. At first I was hopeless since I didn’t see an option for peace. I had to go on and finally saw the option. Seeing Shepard talk them out of attacking and Legion’s sacrifice really moved me. The final closure to that came as Quarians and Geth conversed about Quarians returning to Rannoch and the final talk with Tali.

@roryoconner5 responds:

Rannoch ending… having seen the other ending online either way it can end is to me, just opposite ends of the spectrum. There were a few others but they were only emotional in such force if I went One way.

@xarathos responds:

Mordin, Thane, Legion – all get crowning moments of awesome (not to be confused with the unrelated Awesome Moment of Crowning). I cried for all of them. I cried again when Thane’s final prayer was for me. I wept on the long walk at the end when Tali said, “I wish we had more time.” So do I, Tali. So do I. And I raged and mourned for the fall of Thessia in a way that I hadn’t when the reapers came to Earth.

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Positive emotional moment: seeing Rannoch. Walking on the Quarian home world, and seeing Tali there. It probably had more significance for me because of the romance subplot, but it was absolutely glorious. Hearing Tali say, “I love you,” and answering back, “Keelah Selai.” Seeing peace finally a reality between the quarians and the geth. Watching the sunrise. Perfect.

Mass Effect 3 is also filled with moments of humor. What were your favorite(s)?

@htewing responds:

Where do I begin? Wrex on Sur’Kesh. Armando Bailey. “I’m Garrus Vakarian and this is now my favorite spot on the Citadel.” Garrus immediately recalibrating the guns. Joker. Javik and Wrex. Javik and just about anyone. James’ gambling problem. Helping that pair of people in the bank only to have one go “Who was that?” (finally). The Illusive Man: “You’re in my chair.”

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Joker and Garrus having a joke contest, especially the part when they tell jokes about each other. I also like the part where Garrus and James talk about your accomplishments in ME 1 2 and 3 as if they were their own with some help from a few friends. ^_^ Also Joker and EDI getting together and your conversations with each of them about it is a hilarious moment, especially when EDI asks Joker who’s hot between people on the Citadel.

@greil9 responds:

I’d have to say it’s Vega and Cortez talking about the vehicles of previous 2 games. Nice to see the game laugh at itself. That or Garrus and Joker telling jokes to each other.

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@roryoconner5 responds:

So many on the ship, I think the ‘Emergency Induction Port’ was my favorite, followed by I think Javik and pretty much anyone… “The lizard people Evolved?”

@xarathos responds:

Many, many little moments. The entire scene with the drunken Tali, especially “Eee-meer-gen-cy in-duc-tion port.” Garrus and Joker sharing jokes from their respective races about each others militaries (“how many humans does it take to open a mass relay?”). And when Jack made her crack about how we all know Shepard can’t dance. Priceless.

And let’s not forget the “please don’t touch that,” dialog chain on Sur’Kesh. Yeah. I totally touched that. ^_^

Khalisah Bint Sinan al-Jilani of Westerlund News: punched, or unpunched?

@htewing responds:

Punched for catharsis. Game reloaded. Unpunched in legitimate playthrough.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Punched, or at least I tried, she dodged and punched me back. I saw the Renegade interrupt and went for it. I didn’t realize how quickly the next renegade interrupt would show up. [Editor's note: good for her!]

@greil9 responds:

Unpunched. Paragon to the end. I never harm anyone if possible (Except Anders in DA2, fuck that guy with a rusty chainsaw.)

@roryoconner5 responds:

Unpunched… though it took some effort to resist, even in ME2. Convinced myself “Save it for Cerberus”

@xarathos responds:

Unpunched. Though I did punch her the first time I played ME2 completely by accident. It just… I didn’t feel right. Again, even a character as obnoxious as that one made me feel guilt over treating her badly.

Now, punching Admiral Gerrel, THAT felt right. Threaten Tali while I’m around, and the beatings will continue until morale improves.

I know there are some people who feel there are many flaws in the game, technical and otherwise. What flaws did you notice, if any? Feel free to discuss plot holes here, or anything else that just didn’t quite add up.

@htewing responds:

While there was interaction with the squad members, I felt like there could have been more cut scenes with them.

Plot holes? Well, I see there’s an ending section . . . apart from that, I didn’t see that many, and none that were that glaring, so we can forgive.

Though, I did want more Harbinger.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

It would have been nice to actually have squadmates who use SMGs and Heavy Pistols actually using those in all cut scenes instead of sometimes using Assault Rifles or something else.

@greil9 responds:

One word for plotholes: Ending.

Technical flaws were mostly in conversations when characters would disappear for the duration of conversation. Also the game crashed twice towards the end, but with a good autosave feature it never cost me more than 5-10 minutes.

Once I found an odd glitch in multiplayer: While playing with Vanguard in the fuel station map (forgot the name) my character started stuttering up and down, also losing barriers and armor. Later on it got worse as I went higher and eventually through the roof into some kind of negative zone. There I lost health continuously and I was stuck. Seems I´m not the only one with it (according to youtube).

Sometimes the online netcode seems a bit wonky. I have a very good connection, yet sometimes I still get lag-

Some characters reasons for not joining the squad were really flimsy. I don’t think Samara even gave you one. Also the more I think about it, the less Legion’s Sacrifice makes sense: Why didn’t he just upload a copy of himself or something? I’m not sure about the technicalities, but it bothers me a little.

@roryoconner5 responds:

To be honest I didn’t notice many, but as the guy who got me to try ME2 points out, I tend to ignore flaws if I can complete something at all. 500 hours on one save in New Vegas and 300 in Skyrim without giving up due to the famed bugs of either, I’m kinda used to working around odd issues. Multiplayer had a few worth warning about, invisible turrets, enemies that bug and are only moving and killable to some of the team, not always including the host… and the odd poor soul who ends up falling through the map infinitely.

@xarathos responds:

As someone who didn’t read the books, I’m a little confused by the appointment of Councilor Udina… Or why he tried to stage a coup… And there is one minor technical issue: I keep seeing Shep and crew using the game’s default assault rifle in some of the ‘cinematic’ sequences, even though no one present uses one. Magic guns! It hurts immersion a bit, so I hope the patch team gets word about this one; that would help a lot.

And then there’s the infamous, “I was talking to joker and now my feet are stuck in the floor and I have to reload the game,” bug. ;)

All in all, though, I didn’t feel there were many flaws that jumped out at me. Certainly not the first time.

What would you consider the top five greatest strengths of Mass Effect 3?

@htewing responds:

  1. Character interactions.
  2. You feel like the decisions you make actually do something important.
  3. The storyline feels real. You can actually feel the desperation throughout the entire game.
  4. Garrus Vakarian, the Milky Way’s Batman.
  5. Character expressiveness. Why did I have to tell them about the dalatrass’ offer of support if I sabotaged the cure? Because I couldn’t stand the look of hope on Eve and Wrex’s faces.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

The ME 3 has an engaging Story, superb Character Interactions, a variety of Choices when it comes to customization of Classes & powers, a good third person shooter with Customizable weapons & armor.

@greil9 responds:

  1. The impact of story. Of course it wouldn’t have been as powerful if we didn´t know all the characters, but we did so it was all the more meaningful.
  2. Improved combat and customization (counts as one for me). Not only is Shepard more agile, but you’re given the freedom of customizing your weapons and skills. The customization in ME 1 was just rolling around numbers, which isn’t fun in a videogame. Second one took it all away, giving you max of 3 weapon per class and one customization on each skill and there were 4 skills for non-Shepard, 6 for shepard. This time they nailed it.
  3. Characters, once again. The familiar faces were a joy to see and converse with. Especially Garrus “The Calibrator” Vakarian, a Turian so damn good even an AI couldn’t beat him in calibration. However, the impact was reduced due to not introducing us to anyone new and itneresting (Vega was kind of meh).
  4. Multiplayer. When I first heard I was skeptical about whether they could pull it off. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the forced co-operation, different play-styles for all class/race combos and weapons. Not to mention unlock system made you try different things, making the experience even more enjoyable, though towards the end it just got annoying how you couldn’t unlock that one weapon or class you want.
  5. Seeing the homeworlds of all the races. So far we’ve only heard of them, but now we got to see them. The ruined civiliation of Krogan, the science laboratory of Salarians, all the different locales.

@roryoconner5 responds:

Not necessarily in order;

  • Every mission to me was interesting and featured something that set it apart from any other.
  • The fact that even minor characters (bar my favorite cook, I guess because Alliance hygiene police got him) often returned or at least were mentioned. As in apart from Gardner I can’t think of one that didn’t reappear or send a terminal message.
  • The various ways you can deal with unpleasant things in new ways (Do I blow it up, do I shoot its driver and use it to stomp his friends, do I hack it so it turns on its creators while I laugh from behind this wall…)
  • Customization, even if some armor parts from ME2 didn’t show up, the ability to customize the guns to suit a role I want, and that as long as I can use that gun, I can mod it to be as good as any other, rather than ME2 where there wasn’t really a drawback to going for the newer weapon.
  • The ability to actually legitimately Be a Paragade, rather than just a few choices then you stop getting the choice your Shep is mostly aligned towards. If I continue the third playthrough there’s going to be a higher level of ‘evil for fun and profit’ from that save.

@xarathos responds:

In no particular order:

  1. Reputation system finally lets me play Shepard as ‘mostly’ paragon (“Paragade”) without penalty. Thank the goddess.
  2. An overall narrative that USUALLY does a great job of making my choices matter, and of showing me the importance of unity, diversity, and compassion. That shows me that differences between individuals are not problems, but valuable potential solutions so long as they are bridged by understanding.
  3. If a main character is going to die, it’s best for them to go out in a Moment of Awesome. Otherwise, it’s a senseless shock death, and taking away the ability to tell stories about a character for a senseless shock death is almost never worth it. Mass Effect 3 knows this, and for the majority of its narrative upholds it perfectly. Mordin. Thane. Legion. They all feel deeply meaningful. They all feel like important sacrifices. Brilliant storytelling.
  4. On a technical level, combat is more fun than it’s ever been, and the weapons are more balanced. Any weapon is a legitimate choice if it suits your style, and all can be modded and upgraded. If you find a new weapon, switching to it isn’t mandatory. There are no ‘strict upgrades’ anymore. This is WONDERFUL. And the hybrid weapons like the Raptor and the Mattock are excellent, too.
  5. Mark Meer. His voice acting as BroShep is the best it’s ever been, and let me tell you, it’s AWESOME. He brings a depth to the role that makes the character for me. I’m not kidding when I say that I hear everything I want to be in that performance. Badassfully. :)

On a similar front, what about the top five greatest weaknesses?

@htewing responds:

  1. I still feel like there weren’t as many dialogue wheels and interrupts as there were before.
  2. Putting the minor quests on the galaxy map. It took me an hour to find the damn volus homeworld. I didn’t even know what system the volus were from!
  3. Shepard doesn’t always want to get into cover when I tell her to.
  4. The weapons-screen loading scanner is clever, but seriously. This is my bloody ship. I can take weapons where I want.
  5. . . . dunno, since I doubt you want me to put “The Ending” here. Uh . . . . . . . . . . all those side quests? I’m saving the galaxy, not running a courier service!

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

1) The ending is like someone else wrote it, 2) their reaper chasing minigame could have been a lot better, 3) would have like more enemy options (reapers are fun to fight the first few times but after seeing them over and over again you start to wish there was more fights with the geth), 4) nothing you can do to avert the choice between Geth and Quarians if you don’t import from Mass Effect 2 or a way to save Eve, 5) not being able to skip the animation when you travel between star clusters.

@greil9 responds:

  1. Ending. Enough said.
  2. Loss of conversation options. Not only were the normal ones reduced from 3 to 2, they also greatly reduced the amount of paragon/renegade persuations and Paragon/Renegade interrupts rarely had any effect other than giving you more points.
  3. Lack of exploration. In ME 1 it was done poorly, but it was there. In ME 2 it was taken down even more, but there was still some with city hubs and with several areas on each planet with a city hub. Now there is nothing left of it. On two planets you got more than one locale and only one city hub. Maybe it’s bigger than before, but it all looks the same unlike different locales in ME 2.
  4. The size of your squad. Why couldn´t we have the same size squad as in ME2? You can’t pull the “to get more out of the ones you have” because we got more than enough in 2, every character had their place and personality.
  5. The bad business decicions like day 1 DLC. I usually don’t count it in reviews since they should just be about the game and not any circumstances surrounding them, but I was really out of options here.

@roryoconner5 responds:

  1. The ease with which, if you don’t know a major milestone is coming up, you can lose a lot of side missions because you tried to save it all up until you needed to go back.
  2. The limited multiplayer appearance options, but that’s just due to single player squad appearances including an armor set I would’ve loved to use on my Asari online.
  3. Even if it’s just a squad AI problem, the way My powers (Grenades, warp, stasis pre-bubble) have travel time whereas if a squadmate uses the same power it’s instant. It’s useful sometimes, but when I’m trying to combine some powers, for example instant warp and instant overload has a habit of leaving the guy with just shields gone.
  4. The lack of a map sometimes… I spent half an hour searching for the way back across the map on the DLC mission before I noticed that I could just jump down and climb the other side.
  5. Still no option to watch Blasto, the first Hanar Spectre movies? Sorry, couldn’t really think of a serious 5.

@xarathos responds:

  1. Minor glitches as mentioned above: to reiterate, Shep sometimes gets stuck in the cockpit after talking to Joker or EDI. I see characters using guns they either don’t have equipped or can’t equip in some cutscenes (usually the Avenger). The last section at the end switches us to a seemingly ‘magic’ pistol that I’d never carried after the first level. Little things like that.
  2. A few unexplained oddities. Choices from previous games that don’t seem to carry forward. Udina suddenly on the counsel, for instance. I mean, I could understand if Anderson got sick of the politics and went back to the military, but it would’ve been nice to have it explained somewhere. Am I the only one who feels like there was key exposition cut from the beginning? [Spoiler: no, I'm not.]
  3. Too many fetch quests, not enough interactivity on them. A cutscene would have been nice, at least. See above. And tying them into the galaxy map so heavily… Eh. I enjoyed the combat side quests well enough, but miss some of the great side stories, like the squad loyalty missions from ME2. Jacob and Samara’s both jump to mind. Samara’s because it was non-combat, Jacob’s because it was just… very well put together.
  4. Only one hub world. I like the citadel, and it works well, but I miss having Illium or Omega to explore. I understand why we wouldn’t from a story standpoint, but…
  5. The armor system doesn’t feel any deeper than ME2, and put next to the weapons system it does feel a little boring. Granted, it’s just armor, but still.5.5 The ending. I’ll get to why below.

If you could make any one change (technical or story), what would it be? Again, we’re not talking about the ending YET.

@htewing responds:

The dialogue wheels/interrupts, as I’ve mentioned twice before.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Allow you to do some missions, someone to talk to, or change the default choices so you aren’t railroaded into choosing between the Geth and the Quarians, also so that you don’t have to lose Eve. Otherwise,

@greil9 responds:

I would add missions with more variety. Maybe even have space combat with Normandy when encountering reapers, or maybe traveling pirates.

@roryoconner5 responds:

Technical, whatever causes those invisible turrets would be nice. Story… not about the ending, maybe make one or two extra ‘support X or Y’ type ones, there were a couple of background characters I really wish I could resolve the issues of, where it gets slightly more depressing each time you hear that it’s not changed…

@xarathos responds:

The armor system is BEGGING for more depth. I’d love to see everything pulled into the customizable armor section: blood dragon/terminus/N7 Defender/Reckoner/etc armor split into separate components and made customizable (colors, patterns) as well. Make EVERYTHING mix and match: no prebuilt armors required. Prebuilt armor could be replaced with armor presets, basically saved armor configurations – and pen the possibility of saving our own presets. Armor mods in addition to armor components (so individual pieces could be tweaked the way weapons are). Mods for the Omniblade/heavy melee. Armor pieces that can be upgraded like weapons. That sort of thing. I would LOVE this. I would throw money at this.

Throw in support for custom textures/omniblade colors, and I’d be in heaven.

And for the record, I only even notice this because the weapons system is so cool already.

The Ending: Here Thar Be Spoilers. You have been warned.

Were you satisfied with the ending? A yes/no answer here, as we’ll be discussing the reasons to follow.

@htewing responds:

No.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Yeah, no.

@greil9 responds:

No.

@roryoconner5 responds:

In one way yes, but first playthrough and own choice, no.

@xarathos responds:

Is there a stronger word for no? No? No.

What questions do you feel the ending raises? What plot holes stand out to you, if any?

@htewing responds:

. . . um . . . 1. What the hell happens to the mass relays? Do they all explode? Is everyone dead? 2. Where are the turians and quarians going to get food? 3. How long before the collected fleet blasts the hell out of one another over lack of resources 4. So nothing I did mattered? 5. Why did you insult Joker by making him run from the battle? 6. How did Anderson beat me to the control panel when he was totally not in front of me? 7. Who the hell is that Godchild AI? 8. What’s the real reason the Reapers were created (please tell me there was one)? 9. What are the Keepers? 10. What was up with all that dark energy buildup from the last game? 11. Why couldn’t I point out that the geth are technical pacifists and thereby could cohabitate peacefully with organics? 12. What happened to all those people on the Citadel? Are they all dead? 13. Did Garrus invent teleportation or something? 14. Why would my squad have left the fight on Earth when I know damn well all of them would have fought to the death?

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Why did the Normandy leave and why were the squadmates that I took on the final charge with the Normandy? What happens to the Earth saving force if their way home is destroyed? What did your War assets actually do? How did Anderson get on the Citadel?

@greil9 responds:

Plotholes:

  1. Why was Joker fleeing? He is loyal and would never leave everyone else to die. Even if he did all my squadmates would force him to turn around.
  2. Even if he wanted to flee for the sake of argument, how did he get into the Mass Relay? He would have needed to get my squadmates, then get to the relay and all that before it exploded.
  3. Wouldn’t destroying all the Mass Relays cause the same kind of explosions as in “The Arrival”? That would effectively wipe out all the most populated solar systems.
  4. Even if they said “Well these explosions are different”, which is a load of bullshit, the entire Victory fleet would be stuck and couldn’t go anywhere. Earth couldn’t support them all even if it wasn´t in ruins, not to mention quarians and Turians can’t eat human food. Not to mention if someone was visiting a system with Mass Relay that has no habitable planets, they would starve slowly.

@roryoconner5 responds:

The ‘best’ ending makes me uncertain whether it was real, the rest I didn’t see why Normandy flew off. If the majority of the fleet had died fine but I saw how much was left before I made the final choice. Plot holes… I’m bad at spotting, but trusting something the reapers took control of seems silly to me.

@xarathos responds:

More questions than it answers, to put it mildly.

Why should I listen to the opinion of some AI who has just admitted that It thinks genocide is an acceptable solution to a non-existent problem? It doesn’t have a great track record: why would it be right now? Why would following in the footsteps of The Illusive Man and Saren EVER be the right path? How will all those planets who rely on other worlds for farming rebuild after the mass relays are destroyed? What happens to all those fleets orbiting Earth? Why should the Geth suffer destruction along with the reapers? Why can’t the crucible just destroy the reapers and nothing else, like it was supposed to?

And who the heck designed this thing, anyway? In continuity, I mean. Unless this machine is a manifestation of Shepard’s shattered psyche and not literally there, it makes no sense at all. I seriously found myself reacting to it in Shepard’s voice: “Wait. So this thing was designed with three completely different functions? Why? Why not just one—destroy the reapers? And what is UP with this interface? Let me get this straight. If I want to control the reapers, I’m supposed to grab those electrical looking rods until they kill me to death. Fantastic. And if I want to… I don’t know, magically make everyone part synthetic, I’m supposed to jump into a giant green laser beam of death so it can vaporize me. GREAT, I just evaded a RED laser beam of death, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble by standing still. Oh, and if I want to fire the giant death gun of death and destroy the reapers like I originally intended, I fire it… by shooting that power conduit? Really? Who designs a gun to activate when you break it? What, is this one of those ancient glow sticks? Seriously, it would make WAY more sense if you’d just directed me to a big red threatening button and told me not to touch it.”

Yeah. Not an intuitive interface. Unless it’s a dream. Or indoctrination.

Plus, there’s the whole, “Joker and my squad would never abandon me,” issue with the Normandy crash… And the question of why Tali looks so hopeful without me. And the question of how long it’ll be before half of them starve to death because of being built on the wrong proteins.

If you were satisfied, why were you satisfied? If not, how do you rationalize the ending to yourself? How did it make you feel?

@htewing responds:

First I made the Doctor come in and fix everything. Then, the next morning, as I reflected back on it and did some internet searching, I stumbled across the indoctrination ending. That made everything make sense, and I was thus able to rationalize it.

Initially, I finished the game at 12:30 AM. I then youtubed the other endings, figuring I’d just picked the bad one. I ended up having to sit up and write the aforementioned Doctor fix in order to sleep. The next day, I felt pretty disconnected from everything because I was so emotionally distraught. I moved into the displeased phase rather quickly, though, primarily thanks to the fix fic and the indoctrination theory, to the point that I was able to help my one friend cope through talking through that theory as well.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

It’s all a Hallucination and Shepard isn’t actually dead.

@greil9 responds:

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@roryoconner5 responds:

On the satisfied side, Shep properly saving the galaxy. As in 5,000 odd years legacy at least of saving everything or being a badass who decided if whole species deserved to live or die…

On the unsatisfied side, it was more selfish reasons than anything for me. All the talk pre-ending with Liara, Chakwas, Garrus, etc. about settling down and retiring afterwards, little blue babies and all, and then that happens. Three choices, two of which you guaranteed die, a third where you’re going to die unless there happens to be a really determined medical team or a second Lazarus project…

@xarathos responds:

I was not satisfied. I was being asked (to my thinking) to make a largely arbitrary choice between three non-optimal solutions. Not only non-optimal, but choices that Shepard, as I knew him, would never have accepted. I was presented with, at face value, a genocidal little godling, expected to care about its opinion when I had no familiarity with it whatsoever, and to believe the word of something that just ADMITTED to being the greatest war criminal in history. And for the first time, I was not allowed to argue.

Not to mention: he just admitted to thinking that the reapers were a good idea at the time. He doesn’t exactly have a fantastic track record when it comes to deciding which solution is most optimal.

Image

Yes, we went there.

I was forced to accept a choice that invalidated everything that made Shepard great, everything that had brought him this far in the first place, every sacrifice that his friends and allies had made along the way, every loss, every triumph…

And then, when I finally made my choice, I was treated to a few vague visuals that raised more questions than they answered, was struck by the oddness of the Normandy’s escape (see the, “why’d Joker run and how did he rescue my squad and also WHY WOULD THEY LEAVE ME BEHIND” plothole), and was annoyed to see that they didn’t even look sad that I wasn’t there with them. Add a sharp intake of breath while covered in rubble, giving me one tiny mind screw, and cut to credits. None of this gave me any sense that my choice was a good one, or even a substantially DIFFERENT one, and none of it resolved the biggest question of all: was it even worth it?

In short, I was denied the chance to feel anything, even sorrow. I was left with only frustration and pent up tension that had nowhere to go but the forums.

I found the indoctrination theory sometime after my initial shock wore off, and it makes a lot of good points. It fits the evidence far better than anything else… But the fact that it needs to exist strikes me as galling, and a number of its proponents have been less than pleasant to me.

Right now, all I’m left with is the sense that it was all for nothing. It’s bleak and nihilistic, and a bit upsetting. And it’s not what I wanted from Mass Effect.

What path did you choose: Control, Destruction, or Synthesis? What were your reasons for making this choice?

@htewing responds:

Destruction. After the Godkid AI told me that the relays would be destroyed no matter what, I knew that everyone would die. So, and I believe my exact muttered phrase was this, “F*ck it, I’m taking y’all with us, bitch.”

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Synthesis. To be perfectly honest, it was late when I started the ending and by the time I finished it was about 6am. I was hearing blah blah 3 choices blah blah destruction, synthesis, and control blah blah if choose destruction blah will kill geth also. Blah. I had bothered at rather great expense to allow the Geth to exist, so I chose Synthesis. [Editors note: 6am is a bad time to decide the fate of the galaxy!]

@greil9 responds:

Destruction. I wanted the Reapers to be dealt with once and for all, so control was out of the question, and I was insecure about synthesis. Sacrificing the geth sucked, but I was acting on instinct like I usually do when I can’t decide in a moral choice.

@roryoconner5 responds:

First time, Control. Thought the relays breaking was only destruction due to wording, and felt ‘well if demon child is right, why not have the extinction army on our side? My life or the lives of all my friends, and LI, seemed the best choice. The relays destroyed ruined that plan though… a random planet somewhere unidentified which may or may not be through a dozen mass relays and so decades or centuries away…(source: Codex entry Mass Relays)

@xarathos responds:

Destruction. Because I couldn’t stomach the morality of control or synthesis, and I believed the Geth would rather die to defeat the Old Machines than let them continue… And as sad as it made me, I knew EDI would agree. I hated myself for making that choice, but it seriously felt like the ONLY real choice.

And the ‘Shep Breathes’/Indoctrination theory lining up with it hasn’t made me feel worse about that. But I still hate it. It’s no real choice at all. And the more I think on it, the less happy I am with it. Even if it’s a dream, it’s just… Not presented well.

List the 5 most important reasons why you did or did not like the ending.

@htewing responds:

Only five? Uh . . .

  1. Plot holes.
  2. Did not make any sense looking at the overall themes of the work and previous established canon.
  3. I didn’t get to melee the Illusive Man to death. (Minor detail)
  4. There isn’t even a chance to get a happy ending, even by working at it. I’d shell out $20 a month to up my galactic readiness on multiplayer if I thought it’d give me even that chance.
  5. Poor writing, which stuck out with how awesome the rest of the game was.5.5. My Shepards, who are all highly argumentative, don’t even get a chance to argue.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

1) The ending is inconsistent with the rest of the story and all that “let’s destroy the reapers” stuff, 2) no big boss fight like in ME 2 — I really liked that end sequence, 3) not enough or in some cases any screen time for your war assets, you see hardly any of them actually do anything, 4) No what happens to your war assets or squadmates after the ending, and worst of all 5) Shepard dies no matter what you choose.

@greil9 responds:

  1. No closure. It doesn’t really feel like you finished the story when it just kind of stops without explanation or showing what happened to everyone afterwards.
  2. GIANT plotholes mentioned above.
  3. It made no sense. So Reapers kill all advanced organics so they wouldn’t create synthetics who would kill organics. So couldn’t they just have left a note, like “Synthetics will kill you so don’t make them!” or maybe just destroyed the synthetics instead?
  4. Choices didn’t matter. Bioware always pressed how much our choices matter and they will create different endings. Yeah, they didn’t, at all.
  5. Going against several themes of the series like organics and synthetics getting along (EDI and joker, Geth and quarians), defying fate (Shepard just goes along with Starchilds choices, never questioning him, never arguing), unity of all, while keeping individuality (synthesis ending).

@roryoconner5 responds:

Leaving the entire fleet stranded, again due to mass relays. I just got the Quarians their homeworld back, and now they’re stuck… well, pretty much on the opposite side of the galaxy for one. Some of the species I got to join the fleet I’m 90% sure can’t even breathe in an earth-type atmosphere, let alone eat our food etc…

From end choice, having to destroy an entire synthetic species, and a friend, just because of some ancient beings paranoia… after creating peace with them, and giving EDI true individuality.

@xarathos responds:

Only five? Fine, I love a challenge.

  1. I hate the indoctrination theory, even though it makes sense. Because anytime I try and discuss the ending as its actually presented, I get hit with: “you don’t like it because you don’t understand it,” which is not true at all. It’s not exactly complicated, people. I followed the plot to Inception just fine.
  2. I am bored with seemingly senseless tragedy. I am bored with strange plot twists and Inceptions. I admit all this, but I want it understood that it is not my main complaint. If I merely had to deal with sorrow, I could have accepted that. If the ending were legitimately bittersweet, I could have accepted that. I admit, I WISH there was a happier epilogue. I want Shepard to get his chance at happiness. I want to see his squad digging him out of the rubble, see his loved ones crying over him if he is dead, or rejoicing at finding him alive. One way or another, I want a reason to CARE. And i don’t want to hear anyone telling me that “it needed a Sudden Downer Ending because All True Art is Angsty.” If you believe happy endings are childish, never have children.
  3. I believe we were promised ‘wildly varied endings,’ and while from a certain point of view they are… they don’t appear that way in presentation. I never feel the consequences of that last choice. And because Shepard ‘dies’ (maybe) and his squad is thrown goddess knows where, I’m separated from the only characters who could make me feel them. I want to FEEL something.
  4. No matter how I look at it, one of the consequences of an ending like this (frustration, nihilism, inevitability) is that it also destroys my sense of accomplishment for beating the game. There is no sense of victory, no closure, no clarity, and nothing to strive for. I had hoped the ending would be more like ME2′s suicide mission, with varying levels of tragedy and a sense of accomplishment for doing exceptionally well. A chance to survive, though not unscathed or without loss.With no sense of accomplishment, there is no motivation to play the game again. At least, not one to overcome the crippling sense that whatever I do, it’ll never have a better outcome than the one my last Shep got.
  5. If the ending is left unaltered, the underlying message of Mass Effect 3 is that diversity is a problem that needs to be fixed. The Geth and synthetics are different from organics, and that is the problem. The “solutions” (so-called) we are given are either a) genocide, or b) forcibly removing these differences through homogenization. The problem – we are told – isn’t intolerance of these differences. The problem is that these differences exist. That is a disgusting message, one that runs completely opposite to the entirety of the series as a whole, and indeed to the rest of Mass Effect 3! If it is left as it stands, it destroys the integrity of the series, and yes, creates a lot of justifiable anger.

When it comes down to it, did you feel like your choice mattered?

@htewing responds:

No. I feel like everything I did was in vain because, well, everyone’s dead and I picked a pretty color.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

Not really at all: it looks like almost exactly the same cinimatic, no matter which option you choose.

@greil9 responds:

They did, exactly one line you couldn’t comment on: if you saved the Geth then the Starchild said all synthetics will be destroyed “including the Geth”.

That’s how my choices mattered.

@roryoconner5 responds:

First time, I did. After seeing the other endings… I do not.

@xarathos responds:

… No, unless I subscribe to the indoctrination theory, according to which I made the sole ‘correct’ choice. And since we’re not shown the real impact on the galaxy… Still no.

How do you feel about the speculation regarding the ending – fan theories, etc? Do they make you feel better or worse? Discuss.

@htewing responds:

The indoctrination theory is probably the best one out there, and yes, I definitely agree with it. It makes me feel better as well, because even if Bioware had thought the ending would be fine as-is, they can easily fix it by rewriting an ending and releasing it as DLC along these lines.

Hell. Bioware, contact me. If you don’t know how to do it, I will write it for you. For free. Or, mostly free.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

The visual that gives me hope that what I saw wasn’t the ending is when Sheperd is in the rubble and takes a breath.

@greil9 responds:

I choose to ignore them until I have offical news from Bioware on what they’re going to do to the ending since so far we’ve got nothing but delaying our inevitable assault to their offices with torches and molotovs. [Editor's note: he's kidding, BioWare. We think. Also note, this response was collected prior to the most recent announcements.]

@roryoconner5 responds:

Some, Indoctrination theory and ‘might be a DLC’ make me feel better, and will do until a statement from bioware themselves… I’ve been on the bioware forums since checking the various ‘this disproves Indoc. Theory completely’ threads and so far I’ve not seen something clear and definite. The number of “Russel’s Teapot” responses are enough that if I go into space I will take a teapot just to anger all who use that rather than giving an actual answer though.

@xarathos responds:

On the one hand, the indoctrination theory is really well thought out and draws on clues within the level itself, the game as a whole, the series lore… On the other hand, some of its supporters have been kind of jerks about it. “If you don’t like the ending it’s because you don’t understand it.” <— Typical indoctrination theorist.

And if it IS true, then what we see isn’t a real ending to the story at all. And that’s just sad.

Do you feel that the ending, as currently presented and ignoring speculation, meets the criteria promised during the pre-launch hype?

@htewing responds:

No. The rest of the game, yes. The ending, absolutely not.

Well, more Reaper interaction would have been nice.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

It does not have a widely varied end based upon our choices or feel like the end of Mass Effect 3. It left me feeling that Sheperd wasn’t done. When Moridin died I felt sad that he died; but his end was massively heroic and epic. I felt that Sheperd’s supposed end was confusing at best and a compromise, not an epically heroic destruction of the Reapers.

@greil9 responds:

No. It didn’t give the conclusion we were promised, our choices didn’t matter as we were promised, Bioware just lied to us. 100% lied, no going around that.

@roryoconner5 responds:

At the moment, taking the actual ending rather than the various sub-endings which would be fine without the relays issue… No.

@xarathos responds:

Honestly? No. I wish I could say otherwise. But I was expecting something that was at least emotionally satisfying. Instead I got a bizarre twist ending that makes less sense than Lost and a prompt telling me to buy DLC – the LAST thing I wanted to think about after spending $80 sight unseen on the promise that there would be ‘varied’ endings impacted by my choices throughout the series – and that I wouldn’t be shoehorned into an “A, B, or C” end.

If you could change anything, what would you have liked to see in an ending to Mass Effect as a series, and Mass Effect 3 in particular?

@htewing responds:

I didn’t go into the game expecting a “sunshine and butterflies” ending. I went into the game expecting people to die, civilizations to be destroyed, massive destruction, and answers. I would have rathered anything to have happened that wasn’t this ending. I would have preferred a deus ex machina (Daleks, maybe?) to this ending.

What this series deserved was this: an ending that lived up to the previous writing, that tied up all loose ends as promised, and that didn’t leave me feeling like I was a worthless human being for pouring probably over 200 hours of my life into these games. I expected better writing from Bioware, I expected closure, and I certainly didn’t expect a screen asking me to buy more shit.

Hope this helps. I could go into more depth on the last question but I’m actually running a little behind this morning.

@Shad0wSTR1k3r responds:

An option that doesn’t require Sheperd’s sacrifice and gives us a movie sequence of how our choices shape the Universe and we get to see our war assets in action. I don’t want to feel like the fleet that rescued earth is going to be stuck there for a very long time.

@greil9 responds:

For one I’d like a conclusion to my decicions. I don’t care if it’s just DA: O style textbox as long as I know my choices mattered. Maybe even let me visit all the planets myself.

Second maybe it´s best to leave Reapers origin and motivation unknown with just their cryptic messages and speculation. We remember what happened in The Matrix: Reloaded and ME3 did the exact same thing: introduce some bullshit new character who suddenly created the villains for some bullshit reason.

Third: MAKE CHOICES MATTER. You know, LIKE YOU PROMISED IN EVERY PREVIOUS STATEMENT!

@roryoconner5 responds:

If Shepard has to die/be near death, at least don’t condemn every force that followed him/her to slowly travelling home for tens or hundreds of years, and that’s assuming that every ship has FTL drive.

The Quarians just got their home back, any remaining civilians on Palaven, Tuchanka, Thessia, and every other homeworld of some entire species Shepard pulled into the war left not even knowing if anyone survived, as the codex goes on about All communications going through the relays so there’s minimal delay between transmission and receiving…

Trying not to dwell on all the people on the Citadel… Any and all essential forces who were left to hold X War asset during the battle, some of which were in systems totally uninhabited except for the planet that’s on. Thinking of the side mission on Cyone where that N7 squad stayed behind to guard the factories, and pretty much any world which relied on Mass Relay based trade for food or materials to produce things.

The Normandy crashing regardless… the war assets were high enough that random Hammer forces didn’t get hurt, yet the most expensive ship in the alliance navy does?

Plus the whole stuff about Arrival’s mass relay, which at low war assets would indeed be the case based on the vids for Destroy.

@xarathos responds:

Something that honors the following themes:

  1. Strength comes from unity of diverse species and people brought together for a purpose. This includes organics and synthetics alike. Both are important, both are necessary. This has been hammered into us for 3 games, and I don’t want to see it tossed aside.
  2. Overcoming impossible odds is possible, but hard and often costly.
  3. Shepard, specifically, can do the impossible because of these strengths.
  4. The reapers are an unfathomable Evil with a Capital E.
  5. We care about the people we fought with, not some grandfather and his child hundreds of years later. We want to know it was worth it.

I want to argue with the catalyst AI. I want to prove it wrong. And then I want the chance to win or lose on the heroic plane.

I would also like to see ending possibilities that run the gamut from happy to bittersweet to downright tragic. And the current endings… Well, they should be presented better, but they should be included in that spectrum. All endings should offer closure and emotional resolution. Resolution that shows that yes, we accomplished what we set out to do. We saved the galaxy we cared about.

Conclusion

And there you have it.

BioWare has issued a statement since these interviews were collected indicating that they are open to the possibility of changing the ending, and that they’ll be announcing specifics in April. Until then, they are collecting constructive feedback.

My honest impression? Look, it’s a great game. Except for the ending. If that’s acceptable to you, jump in. The journey is fantastic, and the setting is as wonderful as it’s always been… but unless the ending changes, you might not want to finish it more than once. On the plus side, the multiplayer is very fun, so if that’s something that will motivate you, great. This is the warning official review sites will not give you. This is the truth.

If/when the ending is changed and my issues are resolved in some fashion, my final recommendation will change with it.

If I can spin a theory for a moment before I depart. There has been a tonal shift from BioWare with regard to Mass Effect 3 and its place in the series. Originally, we were told this would be the end for Shepard. That this was “the end of Shepard’s story.” Now, in response to this backlash, we are hearing, “This is not the last you’ll see of Commander Shepard.” To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of that yet.

I guess we’ll see in April. BioWare, I look forward to seeing what you can do to fix this. I know you can find a way. You’ve built an amazing game. We just want it to have an ending to match.

Also, I want to issue a personal thanks to Jessica Merizan, BioWare’s community manager, who helped me talk through some of my initial reaction to the ending. While it didn’t strictly make me feel better about the ending itself, it helped me see why I was really upset. She’s a great person, and a credit to BioWare.

I’d also like to thank Marauder Shields.

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