Bigger is not always better

There's a hot new rumor on the proverbial street that details a huge list of details for the new Mass Effect game. Some of it is exciting. Some of it isn't.

As you may read in the link, this leak may in fact be true because of the way Dragon Age Inquisition leaked. So for the sake of the blog post I will consider it true, though, again: It is a rumor. This could all be made up.


Premise: Set in the Helius Cluster of the Andromeda Galaxy, removed by time and space from the Mass Effect "Commander Shepard" trilogy and its ending. Play as a "Pathfinder" explorer leading expedition with the aim of establishing new home for humanity. Encounter "savage untamed lands", "cut-throat outlaws", and "warring alien races" in an effort to survive and colonies. Andromeda is home to a mysterious alien race, the Remnants, who've left their vaults and ancient technology throughout.

Game Objective: Explore 100s of solar systems (over 4x size of Mass Effect 3) collecting resources, developing your ship, crew, and arsenal, while engaging in diplomacy in order to set up colonies, while discovering the mystery behind the Remnants and racing to secure their technology.

New Species: Remnants, an ancient race who've left ruins and technology throughout the galaxy. And Khet, seemingly antagonistic.

Squadmates: Same as previous games: make friends, take two with you on missions. Cora is able to generate biotic shields you can fire out of. Drack is a Krogan.

Loyalty Missions: Same as previous games: complete to unlock increased loyalty and new skill tree for that character. Example: Krogan colony ship has been stolen by outlaws. Track down the ship and return it to increase loyalty with Drack. Dialogue trees and end game impacted by loyalty status.

Dialogue: "Meaningful choices". Deeper control over responses, such as interrupting conversation. Action based choices are physical choices to shape the course of conversation, such as pulling out a weapon and forcing them to open a door instead of attempting to do so purely via conversation.
Here we go. We've got an out from the ending of Mass Effect 3. Or rather, the endings. They were all radically different from one another with intense consequences no matter which way Starchild told you to go fuck yourself the pendulum swung. It was inevitable. Bioware wrote themselves into a corner and the only way out is to either reboot, which would be stupid but you never know in this industry, do a prequel, or something like this by sending you off somewhere else.

A fresh beginning in the Andromeda Galaxy, which is the neighbor to our own Galaxy and also a television show starring Space Hercules. It was pretty weird and a lot of cast members ended up in Jason X but then Jason X was the dopest shit ever so Andromeda must have been really cool also.

The scary part comes from that second bulletpoint, the Game Objective point.

The year is 0079 of the Universal Century. oh wait wrong game never mind

See, they promised something similar with Dragon Age Inquisition. They said that Inquisition would be big. Unlike a lot of other developers that promise such things and end up massively disappointing, Inquisition was actually right on the money. The levels were massive, the quests were nearly endless and if you weren't paying attention you would end up spending almost 30 hours in the starting area of the game.

Indeed, I ended up putting over 100 hours into Inquisition into just one playthrough alone, not to mention my 50-something hour other playthrough.

The issue with that though is that the quantity far, far outweighed the quality. Everything was a fetch quest of some sort. "Go here, get this, go there, get that". It was time consuming and completely unrewarding. All you get out of the quests are an arbitrary number that acts as a type of currency that you could spend on this thing called a "wartable" which basically took all cool quests and turned them into words on the screen. Gone were the days of going into the world of Dragon Age and finding something interesting and exciting. Not with the war table to stand in the way.

I know, I'm a total hypocrite. I put it in my top so-and-so games of the year for 2014. But it ended up being a "second thought" type of game, where you're into it and willing to put in the hours but once it's over, once you look back, you think "Goddamn I hate that game". Hate is a strong word, but forgettable monotony is even stronger.

Mass Effect 1 had a whole galaxy to explore thanks to the Mako. Being able to land on planets and drive around them and explore was what made Mass Effect special. I remember my first exposure to Mass Effect was actually Mass Effect 2. I never had an opportunity to play the first Mass Effect so I had actually ended up playing through 2 and 3 before I even got my hands on it.

I still remember it fondly. Getting in the Mako and driving around, thinking "So this is what people were talking about" The feeling you get of sitting on the moon and looking straight back at that big blue marble in the sky, also known as "Earth". It was special, plain and simple. The story was exciting and filled with intrigue and the characters were larger than life.

It wasn't perfect, in fact I found the inventory management to be absolutely rage inducing. Also those goddamn elevator loading screens began to test my insanity. But it was there. The blueprint of Mass Effect. The customization, the conversation abilities, the exploration, the (very rough) gameplay. But it worked.

In fact, as funny as it is, I was so consumed by Mass Effect 1, as I watch the ending cutscene for the first time I remember thinking to myself "Wow, where the hell can they go from here! It's a galaxy of possibilities!". I was filled with so much wonderment that I hadn't even realized that I knew where they were going, because I had played both of it's sequels, and multitude of DLC's. And it hit me like a truck "That shit sucks".

See, Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite games ever. You put me on an island and give me a PS3 and one game, that game won't be Mass Effect 2. Nope, it'll probably be something like Metal Gear Solid: The HD Collection, but I'll be thinking about Mass Effect 2 from time to time, but I'd still rather have Metal Gear.

Point is, the first Mass Effect retroactively made me think differently of the second game. Whereas the first game was a starry eyed, bright and excited individual flying across the galaxy, the second one was a downtrodden hardcore mercenary who didn't have time for your bullshit. The exciting nature of the galaxy was gone and it was now all scary and dark and depressing and filled with murder.

Mass Effect 3 of course was even more of this except it wasn't very good in some places and yet somehow even better than ever before in others. But the ending sucked so I don't give a shit about ME3 anymore. In fact, before the announcement of this new Mass Effect game, I thought I was done with the series. I thought there was no way they could make me care about the series after Starchild fucked me and millions others with his giant electric hatedick the ending of ME3.

But that's where the dangerously exciting concepts of this leak comes in.

Reboot all ye who enter!


Tempest Starship: Pilotable ship to discover 100s of solar systems. Customisable with trophies/loot/photos taken through the galaxy. Transition between flying ship, to landing on planet, to driving Mako, to getting out on foot, all seamless with no loading screens.

Mako Vehicle: Upgradeable with turbo boost, shield generator, hostile detector, etc. Customisable paint job.

Planets: 100s of surfaces to explore, for discovering places to colonise, and alien vaults/outputs to conquer.

Colonies: Build settlements on habitable planets. Able to decide what type of settlement for bonuses. EG: Recon Settlements will clear fog of war on space map and offer more strike team missions, meanwhile Mining Settlements will periodically supply crafting materials.

Blueprints: Allow you to craft alien technology using materials for better equipment and weapons, such as a jetpack for jumping, cryo-beam to target enemies, etc.

Crew: Customisable skill trees, gear, weapons, etc.
These bulletpoints are starting to sound like Dragon Age Inquisition. It's not exactly a bad thing if they can get it figured out, but as I say above in the post, Inquisition featured a large space filled with quests and forts and camps to capture. It added a ton of hours to my total completion time, but it wasn't really rewarding. You were just doing the same thing over and over again until the monotony set in. So my biggest fear right away is that they will retread the same territory without making any meaningful change.

Customizing your crew is always a good thing, as these games are RPG's and being in control of your crew and their gear is very important. In the NeoGAF thread detailing the information from these leaked survey's, the customization was detailed as allowing you to customize your character as well as crew's clothing and aesthetic modifications that you unlock throughout the game. As well as being able to take pictures and put them up in your ship, the Tempest.

Being able to pilot your new ship is an exciting new addition. If what they say is true, which it is too far into development to know for certain, it would be an incredible change from the usual: Starmap, planet, load screen, on planet. Just to be able to go straight to the planet you want and actually fly down and land all on your own. It makes me think of one of my favorite games of recent memory, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. It popped the proverbial cherry by taking the series into an interesting new direction by putting you into the role of a pirate on the seven seas. You could control your ship all by yourself and get involved into some pretty fun naval combat. Aside from the usual combat and shit, it was really fun to just float around and take in the sights. The scenery was truly something, and that's just on the ocean. Imagine what kind of imagery you could see in a whole new galaxy.

And that's just space. With the addition of the Mako, you can go back to planets and explore new alien territories up close and personal. The Mako was absent from Mass Effect 2 and 3, though an alternative named the "Hammerhead" made an appearance in some Mass Effect 2 DLC. Hopefully it's not as frustrating as the original. Though with a huge advance in a timeline that I'd imagine the new Mass Effect game has, that shouldn't be a problem.

The new additions welcome. Mass Effect started out an adventure game but the sequels pushed it more towards action and less towards exploration. Regardless of what may change, because this early in development it is a definite that things will change, I am excited to see this new game push it back on track towards discovering for the first time. To boldly go where no one has gone before. Or some shit I don't know.


Remnant Vault Raids: Ancient ruins in two variants. Standard: Accessed by finding and activating Remnant Monoliths, explored to find a "powerful artefact". Acquiring artefact triggers defence systems: robots, traps, and restructured layout. Rewards with valuable loot, crafting resources, and Star Keys. Orbital Facilities: Unlocked with Star Keys, provide permanent stat bonuses, and optional higher difficulty vault raids that add Khet patrols and outlaws. Rewards with rare loot and narrative acclaim.

Khet Outposts: Optional wave-based combat challenges that reward with XP, reduced Khet power and additional narrative options in the region if destroyed.

Strike Team: Spend resources to recruit mercenaries and develop AI controlled strike teams to be deployed on randomly generated, time sensitive missions. Include settlement defence and remnant artefact recovery. Strike Teams return 20 - 30 minutes later with XP, currency, and equipment depending on mission outcome. Spend money/resources to train Strike Team, and buy better equipment, to increase success rate and send on dangerous missions.

Active Strike Team: See above, however you can choose to complete the Strike Team mission manually via play using your multiplayer roster of characters. Able to play co-op with friends, more friends increasing difficulty and rewards. Bonus rewards for joining another players strike team mission. XP, loot, and customisation rewards for Strike Team played characters are cohesive with multiplayer specific horde mode.

Horde Mode: Similar to Mass Effect 3: four players against waves of enemies with additional objectives such as disabling a bomb or assassinating a target. Similar XP/loot rewards to Mass Effect 3. APEX funds earned to be used in single player.

If there is one thing I can tell you for a fact it's this: I spent a ton of hours in the multiplayer aspect of Mass Effect 3. So much time. Too much time. I was there during wave after wave of Banshee cries and sync kills. I was there when they added Volus and the hoards of fanboys from the Bioware Social Network raged hard at how it "ruined the lore", regardless of how goddamn fun the Volus were.

The team behind the development of the multiplayer, Bioware Montreal, are actually the people behind the development of the new Mass Effect game. So it's no surprise that it returns once again. Of course, I guess it was never a surprise because it was hugely successful and made a lot of money so of course it's going to come back.

With the Strike Teams, it's interesting that you could allow the game to take care of it for you, or you can jump in with your multiplayer characters and even bring some friends, albeit with a higher difficulty. It sounds something like the Strike Team missions in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 that blended tactical strategy games with the frantic fast paced FPS gameplay Call of Duty is known for.

Change is good, and these new modes will undoubtedly add onto the multitude of hours you can expect to put into the game.

I know I am excited to see the future of Mass Effect. If even half of these details turn out to be true, ME4 or whatever it will be called will be a huge game with a lot to do.

Or these details can turn out to be fake and make me an asshole who wrote a huge article about a rumor and tarnish my reputation forever. I don't know. I can't say for certain. I guess only time will tell.

But regardless of rumor or not, Bioware needs to learn from their mistakes and make a game with content that means something, and get rid of the quantity of quality mentality that led to DA:I featuring 100 hours of fetch quests.

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".

    Post Your Comments


Post a Comment