I really hope I can pull this off. But Mass Effect left a lasting impression on the gaming industry.
A mass effect, if you- okay, that was lame. Stopping Mass Effect puns now before it infects this entire article.
When it was first revealed, it was always destined for it to be a trilogy doing something no one had been doing: letting choices last. Every decision you made will carry over to the next game and there will be consequences. And when it was released, it did something not a lot of games had done at the time: letting a party member die. It’s permanent, there’s no replacement. Their character arc ends when that bomb goes off. Or screw up even more and let two die, causing a great number of problems down the line.
The original Mass Effect had many flaws but it was doing something ambitious right from the get go. When Mass Effect 2 released, it shipped two million in just two weeks and is generally considered a massive improvement to the last game. The story was much darker, your character was killed in the first 30 minutes of the game and many of your old party members have moved on, and the suicide mission - where if you screw up with your choices and don’t get the right upgrades, party members will die to the point where Shepard will die and your save file is rendered unusable and unable to be transferred to Mass Effect 3. Even delaying your suicide mission would lead to even worse endings and you will feel every mistake and choice you make. You also got to know your party members more, how they lived over the past two years and resolve their problems, which was an entirely ignorable side quest in the last game. It was why it was regarded as one of the best Mass Effect games.
But then the Mass Effect 3 ending happened.
Okay, let’s not beat around the bush. The ending was essentially different coloured explosions. It was only with the Extended Cut DLC they tried to give the endings more meaning. Destroy (Blue explosions) just kills all the Reapers, but also kills all synthetics including EDI. However, Shepard lives...barely. Control (Red explosions) lets Shepard control all the Reapers and have them rebuild the galaxy. And then there’s Synthesis (Green explosions, plus everyone glows green) which turns everyone into organic cyborg...things, but Shepard definitely dies here. They also added a Refusal ending, which essentially dooms the galaxy but lets the next generation win against the Reapers millions of years later. The Extended Cut could only do so much to improve the endings and the backlash was...gigantic. There was a petition/fundraiser for Bioware to change the endings (which was actually illegal since you can’t raise money for something that doesn’t specifically raise awareness for that charity), thousands of forum posts complaining about how that was the pay-off to three games of story, invented a (honestly believable) fan theory just to justify terrible writing and essentially decrying Bioware as hacks. And I say...Yeah, they sucked but didn’t invalidate the journey to getting to it.
Mass Effect 3 was a great game that showed the horrors of war and the potential annihilation of the galaxy, and how hard you have to work to get everyone working together. People were dying by the billions and the galaxy’s survival essentially all rested on you, and you can feel the weight of it and how it takes its toll. But it also has more peaceful moments, like sniping bottles with Garrus or drinking with your old buddies. It had amazing writing and intense gameplay but I felt a lot of people invalidated it because of the ending.
But to me, it didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I can barely stand the first Mass Effect now because of how poorly Bioware's first attempt at crafting a shooter has aged but I gladly replayed it because I missed Conrad’s quest in it and decided to play through the whole trilogy for the third time just so I can see it pay off in Mass Effect 3 and experience the terrible ending again. And with the release of the Legendary Edition coming in May 14, I can finally play all the DLC and make choices that were already made for me when I played on my Xbox 360.
But to anyone at Bioware...I have a request despite the small chance anyone there will read this article...
Please let the Legendary Edition and Mass Effect 4 be good and not the release trash fires to the likes Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda. Fix the Conrad Verner glitch at least. There’s only so much faith left in me.