There will probably be a part 2 with the recent announcement for the extended cut of the ending so that’s why part 1.

This post is not spoiler heavy except maybe the part about the end.

Automated squadmates dialogues on the Normandy

It was a surprise at first as we haven’t been used to this in the other games but it’s not something I would complain about. It do makes the conversations feel a bit less engaging but then I’m not sure what kind of choices could have been offered to players to really make that much a difference.

In Mass Effect 2 the whole game is about building a team for a suicide mission so of course you want to make sure you can count on everybody when the time comes even if it means taking care of all their problems. You want everyone to be focused on the mission so you first need to take out the garbage to make that happen. Having lengthy conversations with multiple choices made sense. Once you go through the Omega 4 relay these people will be the only ones with you.

As for Mass Effect 3 it’s really about some kind of diplomatic campaign for which Shepard is the only figure that really matters.  It’s also about a huge war with millions of people involved and a single character doesn’t have that much of an impact. Non-squadmates characters can have an impact on your war assets but as for your squadmates they really don’t have much of an impact on the how the whole thing can be resolved.

Of course as a fan I’d always like to get more. Having fully branches conversations each time would have been amazing but for ME3 I actually don’t mind it.

Fetch quests

I hated the Mako in ME1, I hated the Hammerhead in ME2 (that one is a DLC) and I hate the fetch quests in ME3. I’m glad they at least forgot about vehicles this time. Seems like they never got how to make this enjoyable for me (always stuck, lost, die, etc.). Anyway back to fetch quests.

First you can get a quest without even knowing about it if you’re not paying attention. You just need to walk near some random NPC and something is added to your journal. Now you’re supposed to bring back something to that NPC but most of the time you’re not quite sure what it is.

On my first run I was really confused about that at first and had to check the forums to know what was happening. Okay so I walk around, get quests and then … scan …

I liked scanning in ME2 because every single planet you visited you were getting something out of it. For me it was also a way to take a break and slowly drink a beer while I was getting resources and the occasional N7 mission. In ME3 though scanning is just a big random mess in which you can’t relax because you’re always in danger of bringing Reapers’ attention. It also doesn’t help to do that scanning for quest items. You kinda “have” to do it if you want the “best ending” (more on that later). In ME2 once you played the game once you could pretty much just forget about scanning and just go for the N7 missions easily found on the web.

To make things worst it’s not quite clear what you get out of these fetch quests. All you see is that you have more “war assets” but it’s not clear what would have happen in the end if I didn’t get these. Sure there are some differences but it’s all contained in the short final cutscenes. On my first run I had no idea what difference it would have made if I haven’t gone through the trouble of not doing almost all of the fetch quests.

To bring back ME2 again it’s pretty clear in that game what can happen if you decide to not do something. You can actually say “oh I’m glad I did this otherwise this character would have died”. In ME3 I wasn’t able to say that so it’s like it didn’t matter much (even if possibly do) and I wasted a lot of time doing something not very fun.

I probably won’t play as a biotic

I started a sentinel character for my 2nd run and stopped after 4-5 hours. The whole “biotic detonation” just stripped away all the fancy colors I was getting from playing a biotic. Sure I can just “avoid” biotic detonations but then I’m facing the issue that not all my powers are actually useful. Enemy is shielded, has armor or barrier? Sorry but some of your powers now only become a generic damage power. Maybe if I was playing at higher difficulty levels I could have some fun with enemies with only health bars but at normal or casual difficulty these enemies are dead before I do any fancy trick. I don’t play higher difficulties because I don’t really care about challenging myself when I care mostly about the story.

The Prothean Launch-day DLC

I can understand the technical/resources reasons they gave to release this as a DLC but the lore/info you get from the Prothean helps a lot to bring light to the Mass Effect universe so it still feels lame that this was released as a DLC. Sure it doesn’t change anything related to gameplay (I’m not crazy about the Prothean in combat) but if you don’t get that DLC you’re missing a lot of interesting bits of lore and closure about the Protheans.

I mean if you’re to provide closure on many stories in the Mass Effect universe why make a DLC for the race that we’ve been hearing about since ME1. They kinda play a big role in what’s happening now you know …

The ending

At first I just couldn’t see why people were complaining. I’ve seen the videos, the thread and all that and all that was coming to mind was “crybabies”. I still don’t get the people raging over it but my opinion has changed thanks to the moderate ones and what I am experiencing in my 2nd and 3rd runs (as well as peaking to some YouTube videos).

I already said that the whole “war assets” thing is not quite clear. It’s only now that I have seen what happens if you have a really low EMS (effective military strength): (spoiler) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5S-SX13rp0

While it do make a difference for the universe it still doesn’t make that much of a difference to players as after this cutscene the game is over anyway. You only get a tiny glimpse of the consequences (and it’s quite tiny) and are then told to start another game. It doesn’t feel like trying to do your worst run ever will change much anyway (in ME2 at least you could see all the dramatic endings of each squadmates you’ve screwed).

I’ve seen everything there is to see about the indoctrination theory and for a time it was all I needed. But then things started to get blurry a bit and even if the indoctrination theory do fill some holes some things are still just confusing.

According to the indoctrination theory the destroy ending really is the only “true” ending. The problem? Why is the synthesis the “hardest” to get (meaning you must have a decent EMS score). Well actually it’s not the hardest as the really hard one is to see Shepard breath at the end when choosing the destroy ending. Just for the record if your EMS score is really low the destroy ending is also the only option available.

So I’m confused a bit. Why is synthesis so “hard” to unlock while the breathing scene from destroy is even harder? I don’t want to chase the “perfect ending” but as someone who likes to play multiple times ME games I’d like to “adjust” my playstyle to match one ending or the other.

For example in ME2 my first run was a perfect one. Everyone survived. For my 2nd run I just wanted to see how I could kill as much crewmembers as possible. I wanted to see crewmembers suffer, cry and so on. I knew how this could be done and I saw the consequences of being a jerk to everyone. Actions -> consequences. Now with ME3 even though I’m playing because I enjoy the “main game” I’m not really sure which direction I should go to really see something different in the end. Do I just have to forget about the fetch quests? Is that all? I mean I already have a “jerk run” in which I lie, kill and let die pretty much everyone but when it comes to the actual ending I’m not sure how it will matter (and from what I’ve seen it really doesn’t matter).

So as you can see while I was pretty happy with the ending at first my opinion has now changed a bit. Not to the point to make me say the ending was “bad” but to the point where I can feel comfortable saying “something might have been rushed about the ending”. Let’s say I see money, deadlines and some corners cut round. Hopefully the extended cut is all I need to improve my impression of this part of the game (and I pretty much think it will as I don’t mind all the other things people can complain about). All I want is to “see a bit more what are the differences between each endings”.

Multiplayer

Sigh … I thought it was a waste of time to work on multiplayer and I still think it was. It is fun however … Well fun but not for someone like me. Let me explain.

I get how the whole get credits, get random stuff, unlock new characters thing can keep people busy in an enjoyable way. If I cared much about playing with other people I’d be enjoying that a lot. The problem is that ME was never about multiplayer. I never thought combat in ME was “that” amazing to try to make a pure action game out of it.

The problems start when you are a newbie and try to find a game. I spent the first 20 minutes finding games, getting kicked of many and seeing many players leaving in the lobby. I didn’t even chatted with them (no mic) all they saw was that I was a newbie. Not interested to risk failing the mission with me.

Then comes the difficulty level. I play on normal difficulty. Even the bronze level of multiplayer is not as easy as the normal difficulty level of single-player. For someone like me it’s hard to keep up. I don’t enjoy multiplayer enough to go hardcore about it and making sure I stay sharp. I’d just enjoy getting in a game once in a while when I have 20 minutes with nothing else to do. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing so far and I can understand why other players don’t want newbies around. I’m always the one the others have to revive OR the one hiding away struggling to not lose that last bar of health I still have. It’s just over my head. I’d like to have casual fun with it but it really feels like you have to keep training just to do okay.

You’ll tell me that all multiplayer shooters are like that. Fine. But Mass Effect was targeted to people enjoying single-player games for a long time. Would it have been that difficult to add another level of difficulty called “you suck at multiplayer games so play here”? I’d play there.

So while I see the fun in multiplayer I probably won’t get much from it. I just play once or twice a week and it keeps getting a frustrating experience each time. And the main reason I play multiplayer is because I want to see the impact on my single-player game which brings me to the other point …

Multiplayer affecting single-player

There was a stickied thread on the Mass Effect forums saying that you didn’t need to play multiplayer to “get the best ending”. Funny as I search for this thread now I can’t find it anymore … Then again I’m not sure what they were defining as “best ending” anyway …

Anyway long story short you need to play multiplayer to at least get the breathing scene when selecting the destroy ending as it’s been proven again and again that you can’t get enough EMS otherwise (war assets are divided by galactic awareness which is raised by playing multiplayer and other iDevices apps).

For now I’m not really upset about that as I don’t quite see what I really get from having a higher EMS score. It still feels weird though. Let me play my single-player game in peace. As someone who played over 10 times ME2 and bought all its DLCs I don’t need to be bothered with multiplayer. I avoid multiplayer games (and now MMOs) because they don’t fit the time I have available to play so it would be appreciated to keep both experiences separated. Like I said multiplayer is fun … but not to me …

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