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FTN Saturdays! Mass Effect: What Does the Future Hold?

April 14th, 2012 by Crowbar Comments


The Mass Effect trilogy has ended with Mass Effect 3. After the large uprising of crybaby fanchildren about the ending of the most recent installment, what is left for the series? Commander Shepard and his team of diverse soldiers have brought an end to the Reapers. What can Bioware add as DLC to keep the game going? From Ashes was alright, but ten bucks for five minutes, a new character and near useless weapon is a kind of cop out. The multiplayer addition was an interesting idea, but some parts of it seems unfinished. Could the franchise gain more or a multiplayer focus? Once you complete the story multiplayer sort of loses the appeal.

Mass Effect is known for the brilliant science fiction story and showing that moral choices will change your future. While the story was consistent in the greatness, the gameplay was dwindling away, becoming more of a third person shooter and less of an RPG. If a new Mass Effect game would be made, what kind of story would we expect? Mass Effect 3 is the end of Shepard’s story, no matter what ending the screaming “fans” want. You cannot continue a story arc like this one with the same character and have it not seem stale. The story ended the way it was supposed to. You can only start new from here.

I can convey my ideas through another game franchise that has a large fanbase but the series cannot seem to let go to it has never shown any signs of finally ending. The Halo series is one of the most successful videogame franchises in history whether the games are good or bad is up to the player. There is no that denying people like these games. A while back, Bungie assured fans and consumers alike that Halo 3 was to be the last Halo game to feature Master Chief as the main character. So Halo 3 was the end of his story. See where I am going with this?

Halo 4 is nearing its release and those who are following the game know that it is about Master Chief. Although the game is not being developed by Bungie who still own the rights and own 343 Studios. So clearly Bungie was not that serious about having Halo 3 be the last we see of the last spartan. Contrary to what many corporate gamers and sheep believe, this franchise is not old, but outdated, and Halo Reach already explored the mythos (to an extent) about what happened in the past. A new trilogy will end up being stale. What will Chief do now? Sure humanity will always have its enemies, but how many Halo Rings and alien alliances will have to be destroyed and overthrown before it gets old as hell?

My main point is that a franchise with an iconic main character needs to settle down and not be the hero anymore. There are of course some instances where this does not apply, Devil May Cry, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Twisted Metal and various other titles. However, a game like Halo and Mass Effect takes place during a war. And when that war is over what else is there? What happens when a galaxy, no, an universe is at peace? But maybe I am getting slightly off track.

The purpose of this editorial is to see where Bioware can go with the Mass Effect franchise. With the new ending being confirmed, it makes you wonder what will happen. Could it lead to a new game? Maybe it can lead nowhere, but here are my ideas for Bioware and the Mass Effect franchise’s future.

There is plenty of backstory and mythos to back up the Mass Effect universe. No doubt the franchise has a history within itself. It has the content to create spinoff games to expand the stories of not only the characters, but all the races themselves. This can either be through a full game release or even DLC for Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect 2 explored the mystery of the Shadow Broker with DLC and it was arguably the best DLC for the game. It offered backstory to something that player did not know much about. I think Bioware could learn from this. Think about it, how much do we really understand the Turians, Krogan, Rachni, Asari, Salarians, Protheans, Volus and Yahg? We know what the codex in game tells us as well as the stories you hear form the characters in the game. But none of us were actually there, to see it for ourselves.

The “From Ashes” DLC was an ok start. You got to see what happened to the Protheans. But you only got to see it. Imagine a Mass Effect game where you experienced that event as a Prothean. The possibilities in just that alone would be through the roof. The story of the Protheans is an interesting one. The most advanced race in the universe, demolished by the Reapers. How did it happen? Even Jarvik says he has heard stories but the turmoil happened before he was born. Staying on the Prothean idea, this idea can easily be translated into a DLC format. The Protheans and relive and see any memory an object or living being has. Maybe a ruin or new beacon was discovered and Jarvik interacted with it, causing him to relive the moments of a former Prothean.

I could get into more detail about how that could actually be turned into a full fledged disc game or expansion but for the sake of boring you I will move on. The Prothean idea was just one. Any DLC that explored the past of scarred races would be enough to keep people playing. One great DLC or even full game could be about The Krogan Rebellion when the Turians and Salarians had to formulate the genophage to stop the Krogans. It was a dark time for those races and for the player to get an insight on just what exactly happened during that time period would be fantastic.

The Rachni are long time enemies of the universe, and most importantly, the Krogan. There was a time where the Rachni were the biggest problem, why cannot we see how that went down? How about the Geth and their story. Legion tells us that the Geth we have fought are not true Geth. So where are the true ones? This is all coming back to a common them, expanding the mythos. Expand the game to keep people invested. Shepard’s story and war is over, time to pass the torch to a new character or relive some of the universe’s darkest times.

DLC has made it possible for developers to continually expand on a game without having to spend a large amount of time putting it on the disc. Now I know what many gamers think, “Well DLC should be free or the developers should just put it on the disc.” While that sounds like a logical standpoint there are two sides to the story. Little to many gamers know that making a videogame takes time and effort and keeping the fans happy is not always the easiest thing to do. When a game takes to long to be released it gets too much hype and it will most likely not live up to the standards. If a game is rushed it looks unfinished and it still will not please the fans.

DLC allows developers to get the core game out and give them time to formulate new ways and reasons to play the game. I am a gamer, and I can get eager about a game. But I do not want a developer to rush the title and give me something unfinished, and I do not want a product that takes so long to be released I have moved on to something new and I do not care about the game anymore. So I view DLC to be something that should stay and for games like The Elder Scrolls or Mass Effect these games need it.

DLC offers so much more to a game, and with Mass Effect 3, it just may save the franchise and keep it going for that much longer. Where can this series go? No more Shepard people, what new can rise to a challenge, or what hero who’s name has been lost to time. The possibilities are endless and if Bioware is done with careful consideration with the help of fans, Bioware can have a bright future for Mass Effect.

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Crowbar is an angry young man, but he knows his games. We all have our passions and his come alive when his digital self is hammering baddies, solving puzzles or flying. He also has a penchant for dressing like giant penguins, but we promised him we wouldn't mention it.