Mass Effect 3: What we want to see
18th Dec 2010 | 12:00
Mass Effect 2 was an incredible experience. We're certain that it will have a fair share of 'game of the year' awards when gaming outlets start dishing them out later this month.
Bioware's sci-fi role-playing franchise has gone from strength to strength; while the first game had its fair share of flaws overall it was an incredibly exceptional game that breathed new life and character into an overused and somewhat clichéd genre.
Mass Effect 2 built on the strengths of the first game and streamlined the RPG elements of the game, allowing players to focus more on the unique characters, their relationships and ultimately on deciding their fate.
It's no wonder then that expectations for Mass Effect 3 are astronomical and judging from the trailer released late last week, we're pretty sure that Bioware is acutely aware of that fact.
The short but oh so sweet trailer for Mass Effect 3 concluded with Shepard turning away from a burning planet Earth relying on him to be its savour with a quiet, confident and determined resolve. We can't help but feel Shepard's demeanour reflects Bioware's attitude.
If that wasn't enough, studio co-founder Ray Muzyka said he believes that Bioware's best work is still to come, which makes us even more excited about the newly announced Mass Effect.
We're pretty sure BioWare will do a bang up job with ME3, but that won't stop us from putting together a list of things that we want to see in the final chapter of the Mass Effect trilogy.
We're not sure how it went down in your campaigns, but a fair few of us spent hours and hours developing our Shepard so that we'd be able to discharge the infamous 'Wrex' moment without losing one of the games coolest characters. And we were mighty proud when we managed to pull it off.
Imagine our disappointment then when we learned that you could only make use of the data import feature in Mass Effect 2 if you had a completed save game that didn't have a new career started on it, followed by the crushing realisation that the game assumed that (spoilers!) Wrex was dead. We're not sure if there's a way to suggest he lived in the conversation with Miranda at the start but as you can imagine we're not too keen on starting a new campaign just to find out, at the risk of botching another opportunity to carry our game into ME3.
Hopefully Mass Effect 3 will be a little more forgiving on its requirements, but not just that, we'd like to see our actions in Mass Effect 2 have more of an impact in the next game both in terms of the story and world as well as the character development. DLC such as Shadow Broker suggests that ME3 will be far more in touch with Shepard's history and the state of the universe as he left it in Mass Effect 2, and after the events of Shadow Broker, we can't wait to see what happens next.
MASS LORE MASTER
This one is short and simple. We love learning about the Mass Effect universe, the lore on different species, institutions, cities and events fascinates us. We also like playing the game, what we don't like is picking between doing one or the other.
We'd like to see BioWare take a page out of the BioShock/Batman school of information delivery and allow us to listen to the information provided in the Codex in the background while playing the game at the same time. We'd be far more inclined to explore the numerous info packets if we didn't have to stare at a menu to do so, it affects the pace of the game and pulls us out of the experience.
We're guessing it'd be a bit of a challenge to implement this system given the game's reliance on audio both in combat - through prompts and guidance provided by the AI - and in the conversations, but a simple automatic or manual pause and resume function should take of that, right?
Since the Codex were all voiced in Mass Effect 2, we're hoping Bioware is thinking of this as the next logical step.
Although Mass Effect 2 allowed players to choose from a range of different classes to play as, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and abilities, they all felt somewhat restricted in terms of variety.
The scope for development and customisation within these classes was quite limited; a quick glance at the level up menu would reveal the handful of powers you were stuck with for the entirety of the game. Levelling up simply meant modifying the attributes of that particular move, with the occasional extra ability unlocked once a certain ability-tree has been maxed out.
AI team mates also shared the same abilities, we understand this was to encourage strategic combination attacks and we took every opportunity to get one of our team mates to pull an unsuspecting enemy towards us before throwing out a curved mass effect field to launch them off into the distance. However it would be nice if there was more of a variety and less 'shared' abilities to distinguish the classes and characters better.
It would be nice to have a system similar to that used in World of Warcraft, where players could choose where to place their upgrade points and have multiple paths peppered with different abilities to follow.
SPACE PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES
Players didn't respond to well to the Mako sections from the first Mass Effect, which is why we're guessing Bioware opted to drop it from Mass Effect 2 main game and released it as DLC.
We're fans of the nippy little micro space machine. Sure it was a bit unwieldy at times and the majority of the missions that used it required travelling across bland environments on uneventful missions but we made our own fun.
We quite enjoyed using the buggy's zoom in turret and jump features to give use the edge in combat. Driving to the edge of a combat zone, close enough to alert the enemies, then picking off the grunts from afar while using well timed jumps to hop over missiles turned out to be quite satisfying.
We'd love to see the Mako make a return in Mass Effect 3, we're pretty sure that it would be a totally different story if the non-essential planet exploration in Mass Effect wasn't so mind-numbingly boring. Given the tremendous leaps in mission design exhibited in Mass Effect 2 we think BioWare could use the vehicle in interesting new ways.
We'd totally settle for more car combat though. The Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC featured a short segment in which Shepard pilots a flying car around Illum - the free-trade Asari city - while attempting to catch an assassin. If you're struggling to picture it, just watch the taxi chase scene from Fifth Element on YouTube, Bioware ripped that off wholesale - not that we're complaining, it was brilliant. More of that please.
MAKE OR BREAK
The loyalty missions in Mass Effect 2 are the most memorable parts of the game, not only were they full of outstanding gameplay moments but they also provided an opportunity for the player - and Shepard - to learn more about his team.
Doing these missions often provided valuable insight into what makes that certain person tick and what motivates them, which often coloured how the player would play the rest of the game and treat that particular character.
It's a given that we'd like to see more of these, but we'd also like to see the characters in Mass Effect 3 be more dynamic. In ME2, once you've lost the loyalty of a team member there was absolutely no way to gain it back, which in mechanical terms could mean you'd locked yourself into a certain progression path.
We would love the opportunities to influence a characters loyalty beyond just the obvious 'loyalty missions', perhaps in numerous smaller 'make or break' moments that take place at various points of the game. This could also lend itself nicely to situations where your actions subtly affect the relationships between other members of the team, excluding you.
Over to you guys, what do you want to see in the next Mass Effect?