If there’s one game that pretty much every gamer in the office is passionate and nervous about in equal measure it’s Mass Effect 3. This game, so very different and for each one of us, has the capacity to be the defining moment in our gaming lives; a denouement so epic, so complete with all the ramifications of past decisions and failures that it becomes in a real way our game.
On the other hand, we all agree. If it’s bad... Dr Ray Muzyka is going to be our public enemy number one.
Winston Churchill said (no doubt while puffing on a cigar and downing a liter of brandy, “Why, you may take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman or the most audacious soldier, put them at a table together - what do you get? The sum of their fears.”
It’s the same with us, and these are the sum of our Mass Effect 3 fears.
1. Too much combat
Blowing up Geth and various other baddies has always been a part of the Mass Effect milieu, but recent changes to the way BioWare refer to the game have us a little worried. Back in the day, it was very much an RPG with shooter elements, but more recently BioWare’s been engaging in some linguistic legerdemain and calling ME3 an RPS, or Roleplaying Shooter. That’s okay, but given that the bulk of the hands on time and footage we’ve seen has focused on action, and shooting mechanics (leaving some viewers to now look at the game as a more earnest Gears of War), it’s easy to feel that BioWare’s going too far in this direction. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good shooter. But I want story and character to be the main thing I take away from Mass Effect 3, not stealth takedowns.
2. Multiplayer focus
I don’t know about anyone else, but no one I know has ever finished Mass Effect and said “You know what that game needs? More teabagging, griefing and team-mates whining about OP weapons.” In other words: multiplayer. Sure, what ME3’s bringing to the table is co-op, but is that what the game really needs? Sure, the way it’s being integrated does sound interesting, but then, I do actually like co-op shooters – but what about folks who have been loving Mass Effect for just how resolutely focused it’s always been on quality singleplayer content? The fact that you’ll be able to influence the campaign outcome through your co-op prowess has these guys a bit nervous, and even we’re a bit unsure about it. But hey, we lost most of our crew attacking the Reaper ship in ME2, so anything that helps us get through without a similar slaughter can’t hurt. Right?
3. No one’s talking RPG
This kinda correlates with point one, but something that John brings up is that no one’s been talking about awesome roleplaying stuff. Now that he brings it up... yeah, he’s right. We saw some dialogue stuff, and some interesting decision-making at E3, but it was obviously very early in the game, and it was a very brief encounter. It was also behind closed doors and we’ve not seen anything of it since. Mass Effect, at its heart, is about just those moments; it’s about deciding who lives, and who dies, about being loyal to all sentient races our putting humanity first. Tough decisions that have dire consequences, and finding your path through them. It’s about an emotional arc. When we’re told by some marketoid that ME3 is going to be the best place to start for those that haven’t yet played the game... that’s worrying. Surely it should be the worst?!
4. EA’s Origin
There’s been more than a few Battlefield 3 PC fans unhappy with EA’s decision to only offer the game digitally through its Origin service, and now us PC-playing Mass Effect types are starting to fear the implications of having the game similarly tightly integrated. The game’s digital deluxe edition is only available through Origin, and it’s currently unknown if Origin will be a blanket requirement to run any version of the game. Given the current furore all over the net and EA's own forums regarding Origin’s rather interesting EULA (especially in regards to monitoring user files), there’s a lot of folks who simply want nothing to do with the program, or EA. Similarly worrying will be whether or not Origin will need to be running, and if so, what that means for save games (please, PLEASE do not go the Ubisoft route!), and the stability of that platform. If all I’m doing is playing the singleplayer campaign, I really do not want to be relying on a service that may or may not be undergoing service during my peak gaming hours (Battle Log, cough-cough).
5. Dragon Age II
While I quite liked DAII (I have the scars to prove it!), a lot of fans felt it was a repetitive and over-simplified mess. So, it’s unsurprising then, that those same fans are living in fear that that kind of design ethos will creep into Mass Effect 3. “If I find the same warehouse occupied by 20 different badguys,” said both John, and Nic Healey, “I’ll be so damn upset!”. I can certainly see where they’re coming from. Too, a lot of people thought the decision to ditch the classic travelling quest structure of Dragon Age in favour of a more sedentary story in Dragon Age II problematic. Again, I liked that, but I also can see that if Mass Effect 3 follows the same pattern, it would be... well... suckful.
It’s easy to come across like we’re all worrying for nothing, but I can’t overstate just how invested we all are in the career and the story of our own individual Shepards. However, every time I feel a little worried, every time my faith is a little lacking, I think back to that debut trailer.
It hits every note I want from the game. It's dark, it's emotive, and it hints that shit is getting real... surely, the guys who made that can’t screw it up. Right? RIGHT?!