Friday, November 5, 2021

Mass Effect 3: Dat ending.

So, just a year or so after I played through the Mass Effect Trilogy for the first time, EA and the animated corpse of Bioware released the Legendary Edition of the trilogy with updated graphics for the first game, and HD textures for the other two, as well as some gameplay tweaks and such here and there throughout all three games.  And with all of the DLC included as well.  So, I was sitting there, looking through what was on sale in the Xbox store a few weeks ago, and there it was, the Mass Effect Legendary Edition 50% off.  I thought, well hey, I only played through one of the DLC packs in the whole trilogy because I didn't want to spend 10-15 bucks a pop (7 years after the final game released might I add.  Those prices are freaking ridiculous!) for a few 1-3 hour story missions, $30 to pick up like $100 worth of DLC, plus the updated versions of all three games?  That sounds like a great deal.

So, I replayed all three games, this time going through all of the DLC along the way.  So, here's what I thought about them.

Bring down the sky from Mass Effect 1 - Was kind of meh.  It was pretty generic without much in the way of story.  It did have a pretty good moral choice at the end though, and it was good for a few extra xp, I guess.

The Shadow Broker from Mass Effect 2 - This is the one DLC pack I actually bought my first run through the trilogy, because I liked Liara.  It's fun.  It's very cinematic and has a lot of cool buddy moments with Liara.  It also expands upon the lore around the Shadow Broker quite a bit as well as giving a better look at Asari culture and the city of Nos Astra on Illium. 


Firewalker/Overlord/Kasumi/Zaeed - Firewalker was basically just a collectothon.  Kasumi/Zaeed were just added characters with short story missions that weren't terrible, but not great either.   I did really like Overlord though.  It's a great story about an insane AI taking over a research station on a remote planet which has some pretty horrifying revelations and moral implications later on in the story.

The Arrival from Mass Effect 2 - I didn't really like this one.  Mass Effect without your favorite squadmates quipping and commenting on things, or adding dialog to conversations is actually pretty boring, not to mention that combat without any of them to support you can be rather challenging.  Also, I didn't like the fact that whether you choose Paragon or Renegade, Shepard is still a mass murderer at the end of the day.  Yes, it was a necessary sacrifice.  A few hundred thousand to save billions.  But it basically gives the finger to the Paragon/Renegade system that the entire rest of the trilogy is built around.  I think that they probably shouldn't have gone with this story for a DLC pack, or reworked it to fit more in line with the morality system that the entire game revolves around.  It kind of feels like my choice is being taken away in a game that is literally all about your choices mattering and having an impact on the outcome of the story.

From Ashes from Mass Effect 3 - This is the absolute worst kind of DLC, vital story content that was cut so that EA could make a few more bucks.  An important character and a lot of important lore is locked behind this DLC paywall and that is freaking unforgivable.  Overall the mission is kind of generic, but what Javik, the DLC character you get from this pack, adds to the rest of the story is priceless and something that enhances the game experience greatly.

Leviathan from Mass Effect 3 - AGAIN!!!  They did it AGAIN!!!  Vital story elements cut from the game and hidden behind a DLC paywall.  This DLC is great.  It goes into where the Reapers come from, what their goals are, and why.  It basically gives a hell of a lot of context to the ending, and motivation to the Reapers.  It's unthinkable to me that this vital piece of the story was sold separately.  What the actual hell!

Omega from Mass Effect 3 - Meh.  I don't really care about what happens to Omega all that much, and though Aria is voiced by Carrie Ann Moss, she's never really struck me as all that interesting a character.  Mostly it's just kind of really long, and really boring, and just not all that fun to play through.

Citadel from Mass Effect 3 - I think this is my favorite DLC of the whole bunch.  Yes, it's silly.  And I can see why the humor doesn't land for a lot of people.  And it's this big comedy bit right in the middle of a very dark and very serious story.  But man, I loved it.  There are so many great moments of all of you past and present squadmates quipping off of each other and it's probably the most fun I've had with the entire series.


The DLC in Mass Effect 3 alone more than doubled the length of the game for me.

Anyway, I didn't really talk about the ending when I first posted about Mass Effect 3.  Now, keep in mind that I came to this series in 2019, long after it had finished.  I didn't have any of the hype going into Mass Effect 3.  I didn't have any of the waiting, or the expectation.  And I'd just come off of Mass Effect 2 which I thoroughly disliked.  I was aware that a lot of people hated the ending when the game came out, but it wasn't really my thing at the time, so I didn't really care.  I have never seen the original ending to the game.  I've only see the extended cut.

So, when people talk about the ending to this game, they're pretty much just referring to the last 10 mins of the game, and the pretty generic what's your favorite color choice.  But, all told, depending on the choices you've made in all three games leading up to it, there are about 12 different endings.  True, most of the differences are very minor, but your choices throughout the trilogy ARE reflected in the ending, if only minimally.  

But I tend to think of the entire game as the ending.  And when you look at it that way, it's a pretty great ending.  People like to complain that their choices didn't matter in the end.  And maybe that's not entirely wrong.  But when you look at the big events of the game leading up to the end, the Genophage cure, the Geth/Quarian conflict, the Cerberus attack on the Citadel, heck, even Miranda's side story.  All of these things can have wildly different outcomes depending on your choices, and many of those choices don't even take place in THIS game.  What the hell do you mean that your choices don't matter?  For me, it's not the last 10 minutes that's important, it's the 45 hours that lead up to them.  Huge things happen in this game, and their outcomes depend on everything you've done up to that point in all 3 games.  Your choices throughout the entire trilogy shape what happens in this game in a big way.  This second playthrough had very, very different outcomes to all 4 of those story moments for me.  It was practically a completely different story with how wildly different their outcomes were for me this time through.  Your choices matter in this game.  They always have.  People are just too busy focusing on the last 10 minutes to see it.

The biggest problem that I can see is that Mass Effect 2 did NOTHING to build toward an ending.  It was all character based.  There was very little plot to that game.  It didn't set anything up.  It didn't move toward a conclusion.  It basically left Mass Effect 3 with the job of being both act 2 and act 3 of the story.  Any problem that you might have with the ending of Mass Effect 3 can be directly laid at the feet of Mass Effect 2.  THAT is why I DO NOT like Mass Effect 2.  Even this second playthrough of it when I had my expectations lowered, it was just too light on story for my tastes.  And Mass Effect 3 suffered directly because of it.

Was this the best ending ever?  Hell no.  Could it have been better?  Yes, it could have.  I understand why people are still angry about it to this day.  Everything built up to what's your favorite color.  I get it.  There aren't 17 million different endings that all play out differently because of everything you did in all 3 games.  I understand the frustration.  But, you know what?  With all of the hype that this game had, no ending, no matter how good or bad, was going to satisfy everyone.  It's a decent ending.  I actually kind of like it.  I also like how your choices throughout the entire trilogy can impact all of the major events of the game leading up to it in such huge ways.  The ending doesn't really need to be fixed, as people are still saying to this day.  It's fine just the way it is.

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