5 Things We Hate About Mass Effect 3
Written Wednesday, March 21, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
As much as we loved Mass Effect 3, the purist and perfectionist in us will always find things to nitpick about in the game – it’s what we’re paid to do, after all – and while it was a triumph, there’s certain aspects that we weren’t fans of.
Every man and their dog on this site knows that I’m a bit of a Mass Effect fan. Having followed the series from the first game, read every book, tried to read every comic – I literally lost track of the different comic series though and lost my way eventually – it’s been a while since a franchise has gripped me personally with its lore alone. That, however, makes me personally more critical regarding BioWare’s space-opera than your usual games journalist, and when we discussed ideas for post-release Mass Effect 3 features, this featured heavily on my “to do” list.
Mass Effect is a franchise that’s changed massively from the first to the latest iteration. Some things for the better, some things for the worse. And while Mass Effect 3 was a truly epic game, there’s things that we would like to have seen improved upon - or even improved upon for the inevitable sequel/spin-off - so in a follow-up to our “5 Things We Love About Mass Effect 3” feature, here’s 5 things we hated about Mass Effect 3.
Oh, and if by some miracle you hadn't realised that an article picking apart Mass Effect 3 at the seams would have big spoilers in it, let me clarify: It's going to have spoilers. Lots of them. It was always going to. Derp.
Lack of Exploration
We’re not sure what BioWare were aiming for in Mass Effect 3 in terms of exploration. After seeing the franchise go from a huge, expansive, almost open-world universe in Mass Effect 1, to a slightly smaller but more detailed and rich universe in Mass Effect 2, the franchise ended with a fairly enclosed and linear universe in Mass Effect 3. From our perspective, we much preferred the approach the developer took in Mass Effect 1 - and even 2 - to that of 3.
Aside from the Citadel in ME3, there really weren’t many places for players to go out and explore just for the hell of it. If you wanted to do that in Mass Effect 1, you could land on an uncharted world and explore to your heart’s content. In ME2, you had the Citadel, Illium, Omega and even Tuchanka to sink your teeth into. In ME3, you have the Citadel and that’s it. For the next game - which there’ll obviously be eventually - we’re hoping for a hybrid of Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 i.e. a much more open universe but with more variety and effort put into those worlds. Mass Effect 3 for us moved the wrong way on the spectrum, if we’re being perfectly honest.
So Many Unanswered Questions...
Say what you want about Mass Effect 3’s ending, the thing that we couldn’t get our heads around was the ending’s – and even the main game’s – inability to grant us closure on more than a few things. There were a ridiculous amount of unanswered questions that we were hoping BioWare would answer in the game. Who and what exactly were the Keepers? Did Wrex and Urdnot Bakara have their baby? Did Garrus finally get to relax on the beach like he always wanted? How did James get on as part of the N7 program? Did Miranda reunite with her sister properly? Did the quarians settle down on their homeworld, or conversely, did the geth? Moreover, were the two races able to play nicely? What the hell happened to Earth? What happened to the galaxy? If the relays were destroyed, what happened to all the different races stuck on Earth?
The list goes on... Even ‘Lost’ gave us more closure than Mass Effect 3’s ending, and that’s saying something. Should BioWare change it? Hell no, it’s their story and they’re entitled to do whatever the hell they want with it and we'd be offended if they did change it, but they should at least have given people - who had been invested in the franchise for five years – what they deserved. What we deserved. All we want is closure. Questions answered. Which it seems like we may get now.
Not As Many New Interesting Characters
Around every corner in Mass Effect 2 there was an interesting and new character that we got chance to know and explore the inner workings of. Complete their loyalty mission and you could get even more of an insight. In Mass Effect 3 though, new and interesting characters - aside from James and Javik – are few and far between. Sure, it was great to be able to explore EDI's character as she attempted to become more human, but that was it really.
The lack of new squad members was pretty disappointing, and characters like Diane Allers seem like they were shoehorned in for purely commercial reasons – why did we need another reporter when we could punch Khalisah Al-Jilani every time we saw her? We’d have much rather welcomed back Emily Wong with open arms than Miss Allers.
Allers aside though, Mass Effect 3 gave us three genuinely new squad mates to recruit and get to know, which is a hell of a lot less than Mass Effect 2’s ten. Now, we’re not saying we wanted another ten – that might have been a tad too much – but somewhere in the middle wouldn’t have hurt BioWare and would have given us a new bunch of characters to get to know.
We did like Traynor though... Probably because she’s a Brit.
Forcing Players to Play Multiplayer
We don’t care what BioWare said. It’s almost impossible to get enough assets together for the best possible ending in Mass Effect 3 without playing the multiplayer. In order to achieve such an ending without the multiplayer, you essentially have to not put a foot wrong and get an Effective Military Strength (EMS) of 5,000 before the final battle. This allows you to save Andersen, keep Shepard alive and destroy the Reapers – well, this is what we understand from our research on the subject.
In my playthrough I had completed Mass Effect 3 100% (every side mission, fully explored the galaxy and so on) and still only went to the final battle with 3,700 in terms of assets (EMS). In order to get the perfect ending I effectively would have had to save the Collector’s ship in Mass Effect 2 and broker an agreement between the quarians and the geth. I’d probably have had to deceive the krogans as well. That meant that in order for me to get that ultimate ending, I’d have to play the game in a way that I didn’t want to. Hardly ideal. So for me, I’d have had to play the multiplayer to get that ending, which is something we find deplorable.
This whole thing is contrary to what BioWare said as well and I don’t know about anyone else, but I couldn’t care less about the multiplayer. Mass Effect for me is, and always will be, about the single-player story-driven adventure. We’re not saying the multiplayer is bad by any means, but the single-player and the multiplayer should be two separate entities. Dead Space 2 and Assassin’s Creed’s multiplayer doesn’t encroach on the single-player, so why did BioWare find the need to do it with Mass Effect 3? In short: keep the multiplayer completely separate from the single-player... is that so hard to grasp, BioWare? Really?
Lack of Side Missions
Outside of the main narrative, Mass Effect 3’s idea of side quests is six N7 missions and a variety of fetch quests. Yes, that’s it. For a so-called RPG, there really wasn’t that much lying off the beaten path. What makes it worse is that the N7 missions feel shoehorned into the game, you know, considering that they're essentially the game’s multiplayer maps. Take Mass Effect 2 for instance: the N7 missions there seemed to be well thought-out, provided a better narrative and looked less like a desperate attempt to use the multiplayer assets in a meaningful way in the campaign – it didn’t have multiplayer in 2, that was probably why they felt like standalone missions.
If you track the progress from Mass Effect 1 to Mass Effect 3, you'll see a few patterns that seem to correlate with one another. From Mass Effect 1 to 3 you’ll notice that A.) the explorative elements were a big part of the game and as each game came and went, they became more and more scaled back; and B.) there are fewer side-missions the further into the franchise you get. That’s disappointing to say the least. BioWare’s aim for Mass Effect 2 was to make the side-missions more like mini-experiences on their own, focusing on quality over quantity. We’re more than okay with that. We’re just not quite sure what their goals were with ME3 as both the quantity and quality took a dive.
So there you have it. The other end of the spectrum. We’ve now gone through the 5 things we love and the 5 things we hate. Check back on Friday for our top 20 Mass Effect moments. You’d be a fool to miss it.