Warning: The following article contains some spoilers for Mass Effect 1 and 2, as they're difficult to avoid when discussing what we'd like to see in Mass Effect 3.
In just a few months, eager gamers will be able to get their hands on the conclusion to the Mass Effect trilogy. After the controversial Dragon Age II, BioWare has a fair bit of its reputation riding on Mass Effect 3. Things are looking good for the title so far, but, of course, we all have a wish list of things we'd like to see in the game. Here's what we want from Mass Effect 3.
We Want a Suitably Epic Ending to the Saga
Mass Effect 3 is the conclusion to one of the most ambitious trilogies in video game history; a space opera starring a gutsy human hero who must steer a course through a political minefield while attempting to warn the galaxy against a horrifying new threat. In Mass Effect 1, we had a compelling introduction to the Mass Effect world and its major players. In Mass Effect 2, Sheppard developed deeper relationships with squadmates and came closer to discovering the secrets of the Reapers. In the conclusion to the trilogy, BioWare has given us an impressive setup, with the Reapers attacking Earth and Shepard rallying the various galactic civilizations to fight the threat together.
Living up to the promise of the trilogy is a daunting task, however, and there's an understandable concern that Mass Effect 3's story could drop the ball when faced with such a powerful foe. At least the focus appears to be in the right place; after a sophomore game that focused largely on Shepard's squad, Mass Effect 3 will have Shepard interacting with the leadership of powerful galactic factions. We just hope that the game doesn't get too bogged down in side stories; there needs to be plenty of time at the end to allow the story of Shepard versus the Reapers to end with a bang, not a whimper.
Once our army has been built, we don't want Shepard to sit back and watch the action. We want our hero to actively participate in a battle for the ages. After spending three games as Shepard, we want to feel like a real hero when we make the right choices that allow us to oust the Reapers from Earth. We want the name "Shepard" to be whispered in the furthest reaches of the galaxy as the hero who faced down a seemingly impossible foe. We want a suitably satisfactory ending to be available to a Shepard who is either Paragon or Renegade, as well. That's not asking too much, is it?
We Want Our Old Friends Back
Shepard's relationships with squad members have been of major importance in the series, and picky fans are going to want to have meaningful interactions with their favorite characters in the final game. A number of popular series characters are confirmed to be returning as squad members, but others are simply confirmed to be appearing in the game, provided they survived a player's previous playthroughs.
Returning characters are certainly complicated by the fact that almost everyone could die at the end of Mass Effect 2, but that shouldn't ruin the experience of gamers who worked hard to save everyone they could in previous games. We want to be able to continue our friendships and romances from previous games, and to have those characters react to the choices we've previously made. So far, the series has done a fairly good job of this, so we hope to have the chance to interact meaningfully with as many characters as possible during Mass Effect 3. Although not every fan desire is likely to be fulfilled, (we suspect Wrex will remain unromanceable and we're still unlikely to have an elcor squadmate) we hope BioWare has put the time and effort into providing meaningful reunions for the Commander and his or her former companions.
We Want More Meaningful Exploration
BioWare has acknowledged that galactic exploration has been a bit of a weakness in the series so far. Sure, it was possible to fly around and explore various worlds in the first two games, but it wasn't usually worth the time and effort involved. Trundling around largely featureless planets in the Mako could be a tedious and frustrating experience in Mass Effect 1. Unfortunately, the planetary scanning and mining feature in Mass Effect 2 was no better, and was generally criticized as a boring and overly time-consuming activity.
For Mass Effect 3, we understand that vehicle-based exploration is back, though we hope that it'll be easier to drive up inclines and more difficult to flip over. We also hope that the worlds we explore will be interesting. It's okay to limit the number of places to explore in favor of providing a more interesting exploration experience, with a greater density of things to do and side quests to pick up on a smaller number of planets.
We Want the Best Possible Blend of RPG and Shooter
So far, BioWare has mostly shown off combat sequences from Mass Effect 3, which has worried fans who enjoy role-playing. The company claims that this is to keep the story under wraps as much as possible, so we'll have to trust that there will be plenty of role-playing goodness under the hood. We hope that the claims of multiple endings have been made in good faith, and that different choices throughout the trilogy will be strongly reflected in the story and the end of Mass Effect 3.
We also hope that Mass Effect 3 strikes a good balance between the first and second game in terms of character and weapon customization. The first Mass Effect game went a bit overboard in this area, leading to too much weapon micromanagement, but the second game was too streamlined. We'd love to see a generous selection of weapon and character choices in Mass Effect 2 without too many bits and bobs to handle.
Finally, shooter fans are hoping for fluid, responsive combat action in Mass Effect 3. BioWare seems to be becoming surer of itself in terms of designing action combat, and the improvements to momentum and melee combat that have so far been reported are encouraging. We hope that the new squad commands will allow companions to back up the action intelligently and add a strategic element to battle without taking away from the action.
Many of us are excited about the promise of Mass Effect 3, and fan expectations are very high for the game. BioWare certainly appears to be listening to fan input and incorporating many of these wishes into the game as best it can. Come March, we'll see just how well the company can deliver on its bold plan for the conclusion to this epic science fiction adventure.
By Becky Cunningham
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*