I’ve not posted here in forever, but I still occasionally return to find new, very intelligent comments on my work.
Consider this a thank you, dear readers.
I’ve not posted here in forever, but I still occasionally return to find new, very intelligent comments on my work.
Consider this a thank you, dear readers.
I am informed via Twitter by one of my Origin friends:
@Xarathos Seems the fucker also changed your account name. Seems to be quickspeed1221 now.
So, you know. What a dick.
Let the formal record show that Origin user “quickspeed1221” is an evil hacker bitch, and let him be scorned for the wickedness he hath wrought.
May the gods have no mercy upon his soul.
So, my Origin/BSN accounts were both hacked. I've taken back the Origin name Xarathos because apparently the jackass changed it there, but it's still taken on BSN.
Live chat told me they couldn't verify my DOB, which is just WEIRD, and so now I'm waiting for them to escalate it.
I'm mostly posting this here in case anyone checks the BSN account and sees that this is the website associated with it, they'll know that it was hacked and I am the one true Xarathos… Except in League of Legends, where it was already taken and I'm KaiEffingLeng. >,.,>
Anyway. I'll update again when I have news.
Evidently, as a self-identified member of RetakeMassEffect / HoldTheLine / Etc (I’d be a card carrying member if they gave out membership cards) my choice to embrace this… particular analysis of Mass Effect 3’s ending is not a popular one.
I have heard it referred to as “The Dark Side” by at least one fellow Retaker, and listened to a number of common objections that have honestly gotten a bit tired, since I once used them myself.
More to the point, though, hearing those objections applied to me mostly made me wonder: did you actually READ what I wrote? Or are you just using the same objections you use with every Indoctrination Theorist who crosses your path?
I’ve also had a few other objections raised in comments on the previous entry, and feel I should probably address them as well.
These are the most common arguments I have encountered, including some that I regret having used before settling on this interpretation.
But first, an interlude.
This was a fairly recent objection raised. The basic premise of the argument is that Final Hours doesn’t mention Indoctrination Theory or the idea of Indoctrination (or seems to refute it in places), and that the notes concerning the ending essentially boil down to “LOTS OF SPECULATION FOR EVERYONE.” This, the argument goes, proves that the developers didn’t have anything like Indoctrination in mind when they wrote the ending. It essentially proves that the ending is just that terrible.
Measured response: No, actually, it doesn’t prove anything of the kind.
Look, I admit, I haven’t SEEN the app yet. I have read only what other people have said about it, and generally assume that they’re picking the parts that support their argument best. But where exactly does it say that ALL of the notes on the ending are in the app? How do we know that? Was the documentary maker privy to every meeting? Was every scrap of paper put through a scanner to be released into the wild?
I maintain the answer is no. The odds of them letting him see or know EVERYTHING about something like that are pretty slim, even if the ending hadn’t been a complete clusterfish,* or if it had been intended to be completely straightforward.
Would YOU? Would you, as a game developer, let someone witness EVERY secret? Or would you guard a few and hold them in reserve?
I suspect if the app contained EVERYTHING that went into the making of the game, it would be a lot bigger.
Measured response: honestly, I agree with you on this one. It’s one of the reasons it took me so long to come around; a LOT of people who support IT are kind of dickish about it. However, it’s still an ad hominem argument, and it doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
Probably has something to do with believing that you understand something no one else is privy to, and wanting to feel superior about it.
This is a stupid attitude, and I’m doing my best to bridge the gap. All I’m doing is presenting my findings. Disagree with my evidence if you wish, but read it and address me on that level.
Also known as the “multiplicity of evidence” argument, the “begging the question” argument, the “Oily Shadows Argument,” etc, etc… basically this says that a lot of evidence used to support IT is obscure and doesn’t really mean anything, and you can’t just add a bunch of facts into a pile and assume they make a good case. Therefore IT is bunk.
Measured response: I admit. I’ve read a LOT of breakdowns of IT, and more than a few of them get a bit overboard, bringing in dozens of obscure plot points, throwaway lines from the previous games, all that rot. I wrote my piece because I didn’t see the point of that. The only thing I refer to from ME1 is Saren (only because that’s a MAJOR plot point), and I could just as easily have stated that Synthesis is bad because that’s what the reapers do to people – just look at The Illusive Man. No, seriously, look at him in that scene. Look at that Cerberus trooper you see unmasked at the beginning. Look at the husks. That’s synthesis. Right there. Does it look like a good thing? No? Okay, then.
I built my case primarily on evidence found within the game itself, because I feel that it is the strongest evidence. The other details are just that: details. Some of it is probably wishful thinking, some of it MAY have been intended, but the stuff I chose is there because it’s obviously deliberate
Also known as the, “why am I still a fan?” argument.
I honestly don’t know how to touch this one. But I’ll give it a shot.
BioWare has said repeatedly regarding the Extended Cut: Clarity, Context, Closure, “Artistic Integrity,” “Artistic Vision,” BLAAAAAARGHIAMAGIANTSQUIDOFANGER and a bunch of other words that most believe would just lead to “throwing good writing after bad,” I believe is how the creator of Tasteful Understated Nerdrage put it. Or as another of my fellow Retakers put it, “that sounds like they’re just going to give us more of what we don’t want.”
If, however, Indoctrination Theory is true – or something LIKE Indoctrination, even if only PART of the theory was originally intended – clarity and closure could actually be legitimately good. And if it’s not true, why would you trust them to be able to fix it now? I mean, they thought the ending we have is good, apparently. So why would you trust them to fix it if they still believe that… and you reject the only interpretation that could POSSIBLY vindicate them? If you assume they screwed up that badly, you might as well just give up and headcanon the whole thing now.
I state again: if the ending was meant to be taken literally, it’s simply bad. There’s no way around that fact. None. And I’ve yet to hear anyone capable of addressing the logical problems just in that last scene in a way that also assumes that the scene is literally happening. It is, in short, a complete clusterfish.* Or not. Depending. One opinion matches what BioWare has told us, one doesn’t. Which is better? Decide for yourself, but don’t be rude about it either way. For me, I’m going to go with the assumption that says I didn’t just give $80 to a bunch of hacks.
This is the, “BioWare didn’t give us enough choices, and you’re trying to take two of them away,” argument. It even goes so far as to suggest that having Shepard be indoctrinated could make a more interesting story, because we could control his/her squadmates to ‘rescue’ him/her.
My response? Look, I’m just telling you what I see and hear and what I think it means. I think we’re being warned away from taking two of the three options (Control, Synthesis) and that there are legitimate reasons to fear them. I’m not going to speculate about what kind of story could be told afterward. Maybe you’re right. Maybe that would be interesting. I don’t know. I don’t really want to know. I picked Destroy. All my Shepards’ WILL pick Destroy. I picked destroy without seeing the endings first, and now that I have I am confirmed in my belief that it is the sole correct choice for Shepard and for the galaxy. Anything less betrays what and who Shepard is.
And as far as I’m concerned, you don’t need any more proof than this comparison.
Do you want to know why I argue that Destroy is the only correct ending for Shepard? It’s not even that it’s the only one where Shepard can/is shown to wake up (though I admit that is a factor). Look at those images. REALLY look at them. You know what’s wrong with them? Two of the Shepard’s in that picture aren’t Shepard anymore. They’re something ELSE. Something strange and horrifying and terrible. We’ve always complained that the ending breaks Shepard. Well, look at it. Really look at it. Look at Shepard in the Destroy ending, bottom right corner. That is what Shepard is SUPPOSED to look like. Beaten, battered, yes, but still strong, still moving forward, and most importantly still human.
Those other two images… are what a broken Shepard looks like. The Illusive Man, naturally, is there for comparison.
Destroy is the only ending where Shepard is still Shepard. If you can honestly look at those images and come to any other conclusion, there’s nothing I can do to help you. You have been indoctrinated.
Let me say that again. If you can honestly look at those images and come to any other conclusion, there’s nothing I can do to help you. You have been indoctrinated. Not even Shepard anymore. YOU. Even if, goddess forbid, it turns out that this is literal and Shepard is really experiencing these fundamentally illogical and idiotic things, those images are all the proof I need to know what the right choice is.
In short, Indoctrination Theory isn’t trying to steer you toward destroy. The game itself is.
This isn’t a Paragon versus Renegade choice anymore – though the ending uses the colors we’ve always associated with them. It’s a choice of whether Shepard is going to lay down the core of her identity and surrender, or keep fighting and continue being the Shepard we’ve always known. Even if that leads to her DEATH, that would be fundamentally preferable. I would rather die as a human than live as a monster. Anything less is a betrayal of who Shepard is.
And maybe that is the real message of Mass Effect 3. And if so… hell. Even as mad as I’ve been, I have to admit, maybe it is kind of beautiful. Assuming that a kick in the quad can ever have anything beautiful about it.
Now, this is actually two separate complaints. The second one, the complaint about BioWare not giving us variation, is a legitimate one and I agree to an extent. The thing is, if the ending was complete and coherent, the final choice wouldn’t be the important one for having variation of the story, it’s all the ones we made before that. Even Mass Effect 2 had basically 2 choices, but the rest of the choices we’d made still felt important. And BioWare, admittedly, dropped the ball here. At least by my estimation. We’re given no context for what happens after we make the final choice, whether Shepard lives or dies, what happens to his/her crew… This is a legitimate problem that BioWare has claimed will be solved in the extended cut – a chance to see our choices play out. We’ll see how it winds up working.
Assuming IT is false or an unintended interpretation, those answers are unlikely to help me significantly.
Assuming IT is true… the story picks up when Shepard wakes up. And THAT is a story I want to see told. I want to see what happens when Shepard stands, bruised, but alive and whole of mind, and figuratively or literally spits in Harbinger’s eye. That’s where I want to pick up.
And this was a small part of an exchange I had with Jessica Merizan during my initial frustration with the ending, when I first found Indoctrination Theory and initially found it wanting.
Referring to the StarChild, naturally.
This was my position then. I’ve gone from that, to wanting a complete rewrite, and circled back to my original position. Here I stand. Here I hold the line. This is what I want, BioWare. This is what I’ve always wanted. If you can give me that, or something equally acceptable, I’ll hail you as GODS of storytelling. If you can’t… I’m not sure I want what you’re selling anymore.
Hints have existed since the beginning that there’s more to the ending that we’ve been shown, and God willing the Extended Cut DLC will answer all our questions. Because if it doesn’t… well. That would be terrible.
This is no more the Dark Side than Anderson is a Renegade.
Again: I stand with Retake Mass Effect. They are my friends, my fellow gamers, and I will fight with them until the end. But I believe there is more to the story we’ve been shown, and so I also trust BioWare. I trust them to show us the real reasons behind what we see. And I trust them to finish what they’ve started.
*Again, thanks go to htewing for coining the phrase, “Clusterfish.” I think that may be my favorite thing about this whole thing.Except Marauder Shields.
For Marauder Shields, the First of Us to Fall.
He Died Trying to Stop Us.
We Should Have Listened.
In His Memory, We Hold the Line.
I’m a latecomer, I know. I’ve been clinging to pieces of the indoctrination theory because it was the only thing that I felt could POSSIBLY excuse, let alone explain that monster of an ending.
And the more I think about it, the more everything fits. It just… takes getting used to.
I’ve seen lengthy analysis on both sides, weighed the arguments, and finally been pointed to the one last piece of evidence that I feel constitutes proof that something is legitimately weird here, and that BioWare did it on purpose. And suddenly, I realized I’ve been maddened because I’m not used to treating games the way I treat movies. But the non-interactive nature of the ending… sort of demands that treatment.
And if so… then the ending to Mass Effect 3 may well be the most legitimately amazing thing in the history of video games, and I am merely disappointed that the story seemingly ends before the best part — something I now hope will be corrected in the Extended Cut.
Before I continue, though, I will also add: I still stand with RetakeMassEffect and HoldTheLine.Com – and I refuse, categorically, to accuse anyone of disliking the ending because they ‘don’t understand it.’ Simply put: there are multiple levels to view any piece of fiction on, and this is a BIG jump to make in a series like Mass Effect. One that has never before asked us to question Shepard’s perception of reality, or our own sanity. Viewed on a surface reading, the ending makes no sense and is objectively terrible, violating many of the series primary themes and possibly condoning genocide. But I write this because I now dare to hope that there’s something behind that surface, something that is begging us to look deeper and question what we are being shown. I write because I am convinced that BioWare took a huge storytelling risk… and is now watching it backfire spectacularly, and handling it the best they can.
Indoctrination Theorists: I beg you, let the theory stand on its own merits. Present your evidence to all you wish, but accusing people of being “too linear” or “not understanding” does you no favors. In short, don’t be a dick.
Let me run through what convinced me, and see if it will do the same for you. I’ll start with the common evidence and move on from there.
First of all, these dreams (like much of the ending) are barely interactive. There’s only one thing to do: move toward the kid, hear whispers, see shadows, hear reaper noise, watch kid burn.
Shepard has three of these dreams, getting gradually worse (more shadows, more whispers from dead friends, all that rot), but they’re all basically the same except for the last one. In the final dream, Shepard sees himself embracing the child, then watches both of them burn. Not happy, nor frightened, just staring at him. And since we’re talking about character models and not actors… we have to conclude that those expressions are very deliberate (Meanwhile the look on Shepard proper’s face is much more in tune with the nightmarish nature of the scene).
Side note: it could be argued that scenes like this are where Mass Effect 3 feels the weakest, and also the least like a video game. But that would be an entirely separate issue, and since Batman: Arkham Asylum/City both did it and got away with it, I’m willing to let it slide. Let’s move on.
The first two could be mere nightmares, Shepard mourning the loss of those he couldn’t save, but this one is different. It has a distinct meaning. And given the ham-fisted symbolism here it’s hard to read it more than one way.
The obvious interpretation: embrace the child at your peril. Following this child will lead to your doom, Shepard. Take heed. This is a warning.
Shepard’s “unhappy place,” as I like to think of it, has very distinctive trees. These appear again as Shepard sloooooowly staggers forward toward the teleport ray (and a possible death at the hands of Marauder Shields…) after Harbinger’s beam, but not before. They had to be added deliberately.
One could argue that they’re simply reused art assets, but one would still have to contend with the fact that they weren’t there before Shepard was struck. Why add them unless something has changed?
Either Shepard is unconscious and dreaming, (fairly likely given the other logical inconsistencies that have been well covered by many others, such as Hackett’s radio call), or she is conscious, but hallucinating. A LOT. And lest we forget, the second game spent a LOT of time hammering home the idea that Harbinger wants Shepard alive. And right now, Shepard is right where the reapers want her.
Putting aside the questions of the pathway – how Anderson got here first, how he followed us up when there’s only one path, where The Illusive Man even comes from, why there’s still TRAFFIC on the citadel when it’s been cleared out by the Reapers… Ignoring all of that, even though it’s reasonably compelling on its own. Putting aside the question of how The Illusive Man could control Shepard without a control chip (something the game reminds you you don’t have several times, very deliberately – the plot point gets like three subplots devoted to it).
Shepard is forced to shoot Anderson in his lower left side… then shown shortly after clutching that spot on his own side, bleeding from a fresh wound. Don’t ask for a picture here: YouTube it if you want to double check me. It’s easy to spot.
That does not happen by accident. We are shown this very deliberately. We are meant to see it and question it and think about it. It gets its own close-up, and as an old girlfriend once told me, close-ups tell the story. A close-up only happens if the filmmaker (or game designer) wants to draw your attention to a detail.
In any film, this would be an obvious sign… and since the game is at its most film-like here (annoyingly enough: separate issue entirely, as I mentioned above) we have little choice but to interpret it the same way we would in a film. Conclusion? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Suddenly, we are lifted from a setting with a few inconsistencies (but still mostly believable) to a world of seemingly utter nonsense. If taken at face value, this scene raises more questions than I can count, and the only conclusion I can draw is that it was meant to. For example?
And so on.
Mass Effect does not deal in “transcendent planes of existence,” – never has, probably never will, and if it was going to it damn well should have foreshadowed it somehow – so anything this illogical can only be a) completely real, poorly written, and therefore a giant waste of my time and money, or b) completely unreal, and a construct of Shepard’s mind.
It only makes sense if interpreted as a fundamentally unreal experience… and it only makes sense if you understand Indoctrination and are familiar with the two previous major villains of the series, Saren and the Illusive Man… One of whom you were reminded about when you watched him die, indoctrinated, not two minutes ago, and the other of whom you MAY have been reminded of at the same time when The Illusive Man shoots himself – just like Saren.
(Unless you’re like me and you just shot TIM yourself. And who can blame you?)
The AI offers you three paths, two of which it claims are better. Control and Synthesis. Control is advocated by The Illusive Man, Anderson (who has always been someone you trust and agree with) stands for Destruction… And Synthesis was advocated by Saren in the first game. Don’t believe me? Try this quote on for size:
I’m not doing this for myself. Don’t you see, Sovreign will succeed. It is inevitable. My way is the only way any of us will survive. I’m forging an alliance between us and the Reapers, between organics and machines, and in doing so, I will save more lives than have ever existed. But you would undo my work. You would doom our entire civilization to complete annihilation, and for that, you must die.
You, the player, are meant to remember this detail and question this. Shepard cannot. There is no other logical explanation for a reversal of this magnitude.
And lest we forget, I refer you back to Shepard’s dream. Siding with the child leads to her doom.
Proof? I can offer proof.
Sadly, these two last warnings do not appear until it is too late to change your mind. And had I not sought video of the two endings I didn’t choose, I might never have noticed them… and the first, I still might not have caught had it not been pointed out to me.
The first one is subtle. Right before making your choice, at the end of the pathway, right as the ending goes into full cut-scene mode (AAAARGH) the music changes. And right after the change, but before the soulful piano piece that now fills so many of us with rage and sadness… There is a brief musical cue. An interlude, if you will, separate from either track.
For Control and Synthesis, this cue is identical. It includes the distinctive sound of a reaper, and is dissonant and off-putting.
For Destroy, it is almost… Hopeful. Undeniably positive.
Listen for yourself at that point in all three paths and tell me I’m wrong. It’s there, and it’s deliberate, and it’s very obvious once you’ve heard it.
Music is never accidental in a big budget game, nor in a film. If that sound is there (and it is), it is there for a purpose. It is there for you, the player, to hear… even if you’re not consciously aware of it. It had to be written, uniquely for that moment. Especially for a cut-scene or a transition like that one.
The next point is a more common one. In the Control and Synthesis endings, Shepard’s eyes take on the appearance of Saren’s or The Illusive Man’s. The eyes of someone who’s been indoctrinated. And once again, we’re given a close-up to emphasize the detail. We see Shepard’s skin pulling back to reveal the same kind of metallic substance we saw on The Illusive Man’s face minutes ago. And then, we see Shepard seemingly die.
I remind you, close-ups tell the story. They highlight details the developers want you to notice.
In destruction, those visual cues do not appear. We see Shepard’s eyes are his own. We get a close-up, again, to hammer this point home. We see Shepard idiotically walking toward the exploding tube in a very purposeful manner, and then…
We get the same bullshit “visions of hope” in all three choices, assuming your EMS was high enough to not destroy the universe by mistake. And if your EMS is high enough, in the destroy ending… You get that ridiculous teaser of Shepard breathing in rubble that does NOT look like anything on the citadel. At all. Especially if (as some of the writers have evidently asserted) the citadel isn’t destroyed in any of the endings.
And several have pointed out that it’s possible to see EDI alive in the Red ending if she was in your final squad…
Shepard breathes that last breath only in the destroy ending… despite the child’s claims that it would kill you, as well, on the grounds that “even you are part synthetic.”
Explanation? Simple. The kid is lying. I mean, seriously. He’s trying to con us. Make the two endings he favors (Control, Synthesis) appear as “good” as possible by claiming that the consequences of the red ending will be dire. The Geth are incredibly sympathetic characters, and the little brat knows it. He lies to you to make you hesitate to do what you have ALWAYS known you had to do. It’s a hostage situation, and he thinks he can use the Geth as shields to protect the reapers from your wrath.
Simple fact: we have no more reason to accept his word on the consequences of our choice than we do to accept that his “solution” is better than ours, and everything about this scene is designed to make us question his statements. We, the players, have to take the step he tries to steer us away from… and yes, that includes illogically shooting the exploding glass tube.
When asked about Indoctrination Theory, the panel at PAX refused to confirm or deny it. Jessica Merizan has also refused to refute it on the grounds of “liking literary analysis,” which honestly is probably true (and let’s not forget, she is a fan, like us, and may not have the information she’d need to officially confirm or deny it anyway. And as always, the disclaimer that her tweets represent her own opinion and should not be taken as “word of God/Dev” applies. Be nice to her. She’s cool. Seriously. Don’t make me send out the owlbears, because I will.)
But I think there may be another reason why they haven’t confirmed it – despite the plentiful and now apparent clues that it MUST be true, or something like it. Keeping in mind that this is only speculation on my part (I know, we hate that word…)
I’m glad you asked. The answer is actually pretty simple.
Because they can’t.
They literally cannot tell us that this is true without completely destroying the point.
Think about it. If the entire point was for us, the players, to come to this conclusion on our own and wrestle with the damn thing, telling us it’s true ruins the puzzle. And if the theory is true, that would go against the entire purpose of the exercise.
Of course, the problem with this defense is that even if it’s NOT true, they probably still wouldn’t tell us, because it’s too brilliant. But let’s assume, for the moment, that we’re dealing with skilled writers here, and that they actually have crafted something incredible, if VERY frustrating.
My chief frustration in all this is that I was told before buying the game that it would be the end of Shepard’s story, and that this is not an ending: it is merely the place the writers stopped writing. If all this is meant to indicate that the real ending to the story hasn’t happened yet, I want to see what happens NEXT.
But now… I’m getting the distinct impression that BioWare has changed their tune.
Repeatedly since the outcry began, we have glossed over the message of the StarGazer (mainly because we were so ANNOYED by him after that perceived clusterfish* of an ending and the call to purchase more DLC while we were still emotionally fragile. It takes a real quad to ask someone for money after you’ve just kicked them in theirs.)
*Thanks to htewing for coining that one.
That message: One more story.
Blog posts from BioWare in response to our outcry have even casually (between all the apparent PR approved doubletalk and perceived marginalization of our collective voices) suggested the possibility of both story DLC and full Mass Effect games to come, along with the quote, you haven’t seen the last of Commander Shepard.
We wait. There is every possibility that the free ending DLC (The Extended Cut) will clear this issue up, or at least make the game more satisfying without having to constantly play detective. Not that I’m against playing detective, mind you, but it is getting to be a bit of a headache.
We wait. We hold the line. We keep holding out for what we really need (the REAL end to the story and the fate of our friends) and support BioWare’s staff as best we can.
For me, there can only be one option.
I am an Indoctrination Theorist: I have Seen The Ending Within The Ending, and I Want to See What Happens When Shepard Wakes Up. I have Faith in BioWare, in Commander Shepard, and in my Fellow Gamers. I Trust that BioWare will Resolve This Controversy Well and Effectively, and Address Our Concerns, and promise that When they do so I shall Sing their Praises (and probably purchase everything I can find with a Mass Effect Logo On It). Until I Am Vindicated, I Will Hold The Line.
Okay, a word of warning: I’m a little upset right now and apt to use crude language and cruder metaphors to make my point. If either of those things bother you… well, you probably wouldn’t be on the internet. But just in case, here’s a kitten.
Now that that’s out of the way…
I’m going to make a very crude argument for why the “changing the ending to Mass Effect 3 would set a bad precedent for art” argument falls flat.
Well, actually I’m going to make one less crude argument first and then move on to the crude one.
First of all, random person who disagrees with me but deliberately sought me out so you could insult my intelligence and demonstrate how poor your comprehension of the entire situation is, you can’t set a precedent unless you’re the first one to do something. And this would not be the first time an ending changed because people didn’t like it. That’s what test audiences are for in the film industry. It’s why authors have their friends and editors read a book before releasing it. It’s why Bethesda released the Broken Steel DLC. ‘Art’ changes all the time. It happens any time ‘art’ intersects with ‘the desire of artists to make a living.’
So. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
The problem is that in this case the test audience is composed of thousands of upset fans who preordered the game expecting something with an ending that wasn’t terrible (Or genius but incomplete, depending on what you’ve been smoking this morning). Specifically, something that lived up to the promises made during the prerelease hype that made us buy the game because they sounded good.
Perhaps you can understand why we’d be a little upset.
Now, it’s time for the crude argument we’ve all been waiting for, kids.
I’m going to start this off by pointing out the even more obvious problem with the argument. I’m a design student. And arguing ‘artistic integrity’ to defend something that was meant to be sold but did not satisfy a significant portion of its audience tells me that you do not understand art, either.
You want to know what one of the first things we learned in design class was?
Design is to art as sex is to masturbation.
I kid you not. I got that straight from one of the best teachers I ever had, and let me tell you why it’s applicable now.
If you’re having sex, and your partner doesn’t like what you’re doing… you fucking change what you’re doing. You don’t whine about how that would compromise your sexual integrity or some shit like that. You compromise. You find something that will make both of you happy. You seek middle ground. And if you disagree with this point I suspect your lovers will be very unhappy.
If you’re masturbating, of course, nobody can tell you you’re doing it wrong. 😛
Now, sometimes a designer can argue that it’s better his way and convince the client and make them happy. Sometimes the client/customer doesn’t know what they want, and it’s your job to help them see it your way. That’s fine. But BioWare hasn’t exactly gone out of their way to make a convincing argument that the ending is better how it is. And claiming ‘artistic integrity’ doesn’t cut it.
Until they do, I’m going to keep holding the line.
I’m tired of the ‘artistic’ argument. I’m tired of the ‘bittersweet’ argument. And I’m tired of dealing with people who want to assume that I’m a ‘linear’ thinker who ‘didn’t get it.’ This is the kind of argument that makes me apply Hanlon’s Razor to your comment and opt to stop dealing with you.
I welcome civil discussion, but using the same tired arguments as everyone else will get you nowhere fast. They’re just as wrong now as they were a week ago.
Lastly: I support Retake Mass Effect. I believe that BioWare has claimed repeatedly that Mass Effect is OUR story, and we should have some say in how it ends.
And if you just want to insult me, I have one thing to say to you.
Get the hell off my ship.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the ending to Mass Effect 3. In fact, I’ve been able to think of little else. For the next week after completing it I was unable to sleep properly. Granted, about three of those days were because I’m a design student and had a lot of projects due, but part of it was definitely that ending.
That bleak, seemingly universe shattering ending.
Spoilers, obviously, but I’ll try to keep them minor.
There have been a LOT of very insightful posts on the BSN about why the ending is frustrating – posts about violating the reader/writer contract, posts about the definition of tragedy and why Mass Effect isn’t one until it abruptly ends like one in the last ten minutes, posts about the emotional connection we have with the characters and the universe…
I have a gut feeling about why the ending might be the way it is, and I’d like to share it here. But before I do, just a reminder: this blog is protected by trained owlbears, and they eat rude comments and produce sarcasm.
Anyway, on to my thoughts.
Essentially, my thought is that the problems with the ending feel very strongly of a phrase that I have come to loath as a comic book fan (and a regular viewer of Atop the Fourth Wall).
That phrase is: Editorial Mandate.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with that phrase and all its loathsome implications, editorial mandate is what happens when editors take it upon themselves to dictate the course of a story instead of, you know, doing their own job and letting the writers write.
Often it results in extraordinary levels of character derailment, world breaking changes, and large amounts of handwaving or A Wizard Did It. Or, in the case of the most loathsome Marvel offender, “it’s magic; we don’t have to explain it.”
Yes, I’m still upset about that DON’TYOUDAREJUDGEME. Ahem.
One of the problems with editorial mandate is that it often forces writers to write against their own storytelling instincts and more often than not, they really, really, REALLY don’t want to. “We need you to kill off X,” and so on. Or, in this case, maybe, just maybe (I have no proof of any of this mind you), “We want you to blow up the Mass Relays.”
It also often results in stories that are poorly written, because the writer has no real investment or ownership of the forced course of the story; he just phones it in. This happens in comics, and when it does it becomes pretty easy to pick it out from the contrast with the rest of the writers work.
See: the Ending.
Now, can I prove this? No, of course not. Heck, I’m still trying to decide if I think the ending was a giant hallucination that was intended by the writers to show Shepard fighting indoctrination (and indoctrinate US, the players, in real time). But assume for a moment that the endings were meant to be taken at face value (doubtful).
In all endings, the Mass Relays are destroyed*. The Normandy runs away from the fight*, crash lands on a garden planet*, and (improbably), characters who couldn’t possibly have been on the Normandy get out*. And in somewhere between 2 and 3 endings, Shepard dies*.
Assuming any of that actually happens, it must have been mandated to happen. Which is INCREDIBLY annoying in an RPG that centers on player choice, because honestly, we didn’t realize we were being railroaded.
Now, the problem with all this is one little spoilery fact.
If you take the Destroy All Synthetics ending and have enough preparation, Shepard lives. Probably.
There’s a little problem with this, though.
If the weird little godling was to be believed, the Destroy ending would have killed Shepard, because, and I quote, “even you are part synthetic.” Ugh, now I have to wash out my mouth with bleach because I quoted that horrible plot contrivance. Give me a moment.
This is worse than Lost. And we were promised it wouldn’t be like Lost.
So if the god child lied about that… what else did he lie about?
And this is the part I find most annoying. Because we don’t know. And if the ending were left as is, we’d have no way of knowing. And since for most of us, the goal wasn’t so much “destroy the reapers,” as it was, “save the galaxy we’re emotionally invested in,” having an ending that refuses to answer the important questions AND fails to provide emotional resolution… well, for lack of a better word, sucks.
I was promised answers and resolution. Not a giant mind screw.
I want to believe it was all a lie… but at the same time, I don’t, because if it is, that is an incredibly mean thing to do to your players.
Now, I asked the question in the title: what does this mean for gaming?
A movement has been going on to get the ending changed. This movement, Retake Mass Effect, raised over $80000 for Child’s Play, and now supports a new charity drive, Full Paragon. There has been an amazing level of love for Mass Effect shown, and Retake Mass Effect has done a great job of keeping it (mostly) positive.
The basic thrust of the argument is this: we were not given the endings we were promised. We want BioWare to make them and provide the series with an ending it actually deserves.
Over 60000 players have voted in at least one poll, with something like 97% of them wanting the ending changed in some fashion. If this is a ‘vocal minority,’ it’s a statistically significant one.
There have been some arguing that if Retake gets the ending changed, it will “set a bad precedent.” Actually, it wouldn’t set any precedent – games have changed their endings before. What would set a bad precedent is if the fans just rolled over and took whatever a game company makes without complaint, even if it’s not what we wanted or were promised. That sets a bad precedent for capitalism.
There have also been a lot of smear pieces written by review sites like IGN, Gamasutra, and Kotaku (who apparently has writers on both sides of the issue and is chasing page views). None of these sites included the ending in their review of the game. None of them bothered doing any research on what the disgruntled gamers disliked about the ending. None of them are worth the server space they’re taking up, apparently – too busy publishing fluff opinion pieces instead of communicating the facts. Just my opinion, but hey, this is my blog. If you didn’t want my opinion, you’re in the wrong place.
Yes, I see the irony of that statement. Remember the owlbears, smartypants.
Forbes, meanwhile, has been overwhelmingly supportive of the movement (as well as well researched and insightful), and GameFront wrote an article that proved they’d done their research. Guess which one looks more important?
We have learned that we cannot trust the majority of paid reviewers, and we must instead look to our peers – our fellow gamers – and to ourselves for honest reviews.
(And yes, Angry Joe counts. The man speaks the truth. Angrily.)
And we have seen that BioWare takes us seriously. If not, there would have been no statement – even if that statement was worded oddly and could be taken as marginalizing the movement.
We were promised an announcement in April. What form that announcement will take, we have yet to see. But there is hope. Hope for awesomeness. Hope for Mass Effect.
I should go.
Alright. I have to post this addendum to my last entry.
I touched briefly on what’s called the “Indoctrination Theory” concerning the ending to Mass Effect 3.
This theory basically states that the reason the ending makes no sense is because it’s intentionally dream like, because Shepard is undergoing ‘indoctrination,’ which is essentially Reaper mind control. And it has a lot going for it, as a theory. See here for a good video breakdown of the evidence via the Angry Joe show: of special note is that about 19 minutes in, he cites one Jessica Merizan’s responses to my tweets with her about the ending. I guess this makes me a contributor to the Angry Joe show now, albeit unintentionally. You’re welcome, Joe!
Obviously, spoilers, if you haven’t played the game.
Do I believe it? I don’t know. I want to. I want to because it gives BioWare a LOT of credit, and I want to believe that. On the other hand, I don’t want to, because it’s a giant mind screw, and I genuinely loath giant mind screw endings.
The problem, as I see it, is this:
If the Indoctrination theory is false, the ending is BAD and needs to be FIXED. This belief requires me to assume that BioWare dropped the ball in a way that I’ve never seen them drop the ball before… and it requires me to believe that they actively violated their own franchise.
If the Indoctrination theory is true, the ending is GOOD, but it’s INCOMPLETE, which is almost more galling.
I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what makes more sense. I suppose whichever one lets me enjoy the game again… until April, when they’ve said they’ll be announcing their ‘content initiatives.’ Whatever that means.
Time will tell…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I imported my first vanguard character (second Shepard created), because she had a better playthrough than my soldier (first Shep created).
I started fresh, just to see what that would be like.
Imported my first save.
Imported my ME2 Infiltrator.
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.
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).
BroShep, I have a FemShep ME2 save I like but I wanted to try it fresh.
BroShep. I’ve played ME2 once as FemShep for the novelty.
Vanguard. Biotic charge + nova = my new best friend.
Engineer with both the Combat Drone and Turret so I could mostly use the guns.
Adept, because I found in the demo I’m not too bad with biotics. Sentinel second playthrough.
Adept. Because a space wizard did it.
Black widow sniper rifle, Disciple shotgun, Scorpion pistol.
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.
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.
Tempest SMG, Predator Pistol, Argus Rifle just because I like the style of it.
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?
This unit is a PC. We are building a consensus.
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.”
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.
Customization. Both with more weapons and mods for them and with more choice for abilities.
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.
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. 😀
I felt like there were less dialogue wheels and interrupts, but I might be wrong. Well, I’m pretty sure there were fewer interrupts.
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.
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).
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Either that or Grunt. Having a Krogan around is always fun.
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.
Garrus, because of the scene where he and you shoot things and because he was in the first 2.
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)
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.
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.
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.
Starting fresh with Ashley.
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.
Liara, continuing from the backstory comic, through Shadow Broker all the way to the end. Resulted in some amusing conversations.
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.]
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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. 😦
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 . . .
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.
This is too hard to choose from 2 choices, so I’ll include both.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?”
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. ^_^
Punched for catharsis. Game reloaded. Unpunched in legitimate playthrough.
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!]
Unpunched. Paragon to the end. I never harm anyone if possible (Except Anders in DA2, fuck that guy with a rusty chainsaw.)
Unpunched… though it took some effort to resist, even in ME2. Convinced myself “Save it for Cerberus”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not necessarily in order;
In no particular order:
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.
The dialogue wheels/interrupts, as I’ve mentioned twice before.
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,
I would add missions with more variety. Maybe even have space combat with Normandy when encountering reapers, or maybe traveling pirates.
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…
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.
In one way yes, but first playthrough and own choice, no.
Is there a stronger word for no? No? No.
. . . 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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
It’s all a Hallucination and Shepard isn’t actually dead.
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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…
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.
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.
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.”
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!]
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.
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)
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.
Only five? Uh . . .
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.
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.
Only five? Fine, I love a challenge.
No. I feel like everything I did was in vain because, well, everyone’s dead and I picked a pretty color.
Not really at all: it looks like almost exactly the same cinimatic, no matter which option you choose.
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.
First time, I did. After seeing the other endings… I do not.
… 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.
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
No. The rest of the game, yes. The ending, absolutely not.
Well, more Reaper interaction would have been nice.
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.
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.
At the moment, taking the actual ending rather than the various sub-endings which would be fine without the relays issue… No.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Something that honors the following themes:
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.
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.
I’m going to keep this short because it’s dead week, and I’m emotionally drained. We haven’t had a D&D game since October, and I just finished Mass Effect 3. I may post a full review of it here (as non-spoilery as possible) later, after I make it through the aforementioned dead week. And finals, obviously. There’s a lot I need to say about that game, and I have to get it off my chest somewhere.
Sorry for the scarcity: school comes first.