Posted tagged ‘mass effect dlc’

Let’s React to the Mass Effect: Andromeda News (Or Anti-News)

August 23, 2017

After months of speculation, it was made official a few days ago: There are no planned future patches for single-player or in-game story content for Mass Effect: Andromeda.

While they say patches and not paid DLC, I think it’s pretty clear they mean single player content period. They elaborate: “we will continue to tell stories in the Andromeda Galaxy through our upcoming comics and novels, including the fate of the quarian ark.”

Kotaku’s Jason Schreier called it in May and again in June and is now probably enjoying the biggest I-told-you-so of his career. Anyway, his posts caused the fandom to erupt in a “Is it true? Is he right?” explosion that took Bioware what feels like forever to confirm or deny. I feel like at this point, they’re just accepting all publicity as good publicity.

Speculating on the Why

I browse the Mass Effect subreddit pretty often. The audience seems younger and less thoughtful than the Dragon Age subreddit, but there’s sporadic decent discussion and frequent fantastic fanart.

Regarding Andromeda DLC, there are plenty of (relatively) long posts about how the game under-performed, how it was mocked by early reviews and how troubled the development process was (a topic also explored in depth by Schreier – I don’t normally endorse “professional” blog-like sites because I rarely like them, but if everything Schreier wrote is true, then that was some excellent reporting. And if it’s all made up, well, it was still one of the most interesting things I’ve read all year.)

All factors which most likely influenced the decision to abandon single player (for the foreseeable future).

What isn’t mentioned nearly enough though, is the less dramatic but probably main issue: in comparison to single player, multiplayer is really freaking lucrative.

Content DLC calls for a giant boatload of people: writers, voice actors, cinematics, animators, programmers, sound crew, testers, etc. A huge machine to put or keep in motion. All that to produce a few hours of story and gameplay that will sell for 10-15$ per player.

In multiplayer, players will throw 10-15$ at the game, over and over, for weapons and cosmetic items that already exist. They do have to keep the game fresh, but – and I admit to knowing very little about game development – it seems to me that APEX mission development requires a fraction of the team needed for single player DLC. Plus, it seems that the multiplayer team is sailing along smoothly, while the key single player developers, those who hung on until the end, are probably still trying to unlive the past few years.

Speculating on the future of Mass Effect

Will there be another Mass Effect game?

Everyone seems to think so. (Even Schreier posted Reddit that he guesses something would happen in 5-6 years)

I assume the game direction options are: 1) a prequel to the original games, 2) a sequel to the original games, 3) Andromeda 2, 4) a non-RPG game in the Mass Effect universe (think Blizzard’s Hearthstone).

Option 4 is the safest option from a business perspective – just like the current multiplayer, a card, an arena style or a MOBA would bring in the dough with minimal effort and risk. As an RPG player, I think this idea sucks massive donkey balls.

Option 1, a prequel, has been considered, I believe. Something about a focus group that revealed that fans adamantly want a sequel and not a prequel. I’ve seen fans say they’d like to play in a prequel world as another species, but believe it would never happen because apparently the larger player base only wants to play humans. Me, I think playing a non-human is trivial compared to a prequel’s bigger problem: one of the major joys in Mass Effect is discovering an unknown world and not knowing what will happen to it. A Mass Effect in known surroundings leading to a known outcome doesn’t sound very fun. In my humble opinion, of course.

A sequel, Option 2, would force some sort of backtracking on the endings. The meaning was a clear “fuck it, we’re done and we’re going to mess up the universe so they can’t force us back”. They all guarantee to leave the galaxy in one of several unplayable states. (So this recent tweet from former project director Casey Hudson made me chuckle.) While I would love to play some kind of investigator/explorer part of a galaxy rebuilding team, Synthesis Galaxy is awful and Refusal Galaxy would just be the same story with a different face. Destroy and Control could be worked with as a what-if, I guess. Cameos of beloved characters would also be a pain since pretty much everyone has the potential of being dead.

Then, Option 3, ME:A2. Popular opinion seems to be that the Andromeda setting is toxic. I disagree. The Andromeda setting is awesome. Going to a different galaxy totally blew my mind. At least for the first hour or so. It had, and still has, tons of potential. The weaknesses in the writing: the pathfinder’s progression, the shallow squadmates and new species, the sub-optimal placing of plot twists and the general lack of inspiration are all more due to the chaotic development forcing the game being published before it was finished. The bones of the story were interesting, they were just given to us without enough meat to sate our hunger. ME:A2, with a proper development team, using the first Andromeda’s loose ends could potentially be a exceptional gaming experience.

As for a time frame, I actually find 5-6 years to be short. Look at Dragon Age: Inquisition, a game that did well. It was released in late November 2014 and closed with its last DLC less than a year later. It’s been almost 3 years and almost 2 years since Trespasser, and while the team has made it clear that they’re actively working on DA4, there’s no formal announcement and probably won’t be until Anthem is released in (tentatively) Fall 2018. Which would set a Dragon Age release in 2019 or 2020, 5-6 years after DA:I. So for a franchise that has taken as many blows as Mass Effect, I don’t think 5-6 years is a long time.

What About These Comics and Books?

I wonder how they could wrap up the Quarian Ark story in a satisfying way via books or comics. While I doubt most of us are really attached to the bulk of our choices in ME:A, designating “cannon” pathfinders would ruin what little sense of ownership we felt over the universe. The other option, dodging the problem by not involving any pathfinders in the Ark retrieval, would be very, very difficult to pull off (yay APEX rescues the Ark! ….ugggg).

As for already published Mass Effect literature, I haven’t felt inclined to read any of original trilogy media, however I’m told the Drew Karpyshyn books are outstanding. I have read Nexus: Uprising (from Andromeda) and enjoyed it. (The selling point was that one of the authors, Jason M. Hough, hung out in the Mass Effect subreddit and made some very relevant posts. He seemed like a cool guy so I decided to read his book. I don’t regret it.) Supposedly the next book features Cora’s past. I’ll wait until it gets reviewed before deciding whether or not to get it. Same for any other Andromeda books. I am pretty unlikely to read comics though, just not my thing.

Looks like a grim future for us Mass Effect fans (and for us RPG fans in general, if the market keeps it’s current direction), but what can you do?

Advertisements

This Happens when I Play Mass Effect DLC

April 18, 2013

I didn’t want to tell my coworkers that the reason I was falling asleep everywhere earlier this week was because I had been up all night playing Mass Effect: Citadel.

Not up all night playing video games – that happens all the time. No one thinks anything of it anymore. Playing Mass Effect, though, that’s different. I didn’t want to say anything because they just wouldn’t understand.

I didn’t plan on getting Citadel. When I finished the game, I moped a bit and was eventually distracted. I wouldn’t say I was really done with Mass Effect but I was done with other people’s (including Bioware’s) Mass Effect. “Best seats in the house” is when headcannon takes over the rest just fades away.

I was finally, you know, “getting over it”. I wasn’t avoiding Mass Effect DLC to make a foolish nerdrage stand. At this point I’m mostly sad for Bioware because they came so close to making something perfect only to miss the bullseye at the worst possible time.

Rather I was avoiding DLC because I didn’t want to pick at my post-Mass Effect scab.

How I broke

One day I typed “mass effect citadel” into a search field on Youtube. I swear I only watched a video for a second!

Well.

The first time.

The second video I watched a little longer. The third video I watched big chunks of.

Eventually I figured I might as well act before I spoil everything for myself. I ripped that scab right off and downloaded Citadel. And now I bleed all over this blog post.

Dear person who’s never played Mass Effect

Some time back a guy “friend” was sitting in my living room and had the balls (or outright stupidity) to say “people were just mad at the Mass Effect ending was because it wasn’t happy“.

Hence the quotation marks around friend.

Over the years I’ve learned some restraint. So he didn’t find himself skyrocketed from my balcony. But I never forgave the ignorance (he has never played Mass Effect, nor has ever even read anything about the game), the callousness (he knows how emotionally involved I am in the Mass Effect story) and the lack of understanding in that comment.

Yes, I’m that pissed off over a comment about a video game. Oh, and it gets better. I can rant for a long, long time.

I’m not going to hide that the lack of the possibility of a traditional happy ending does come up in conversation at times (there’s even a mod!), but it’s so much more complex than that. And going straight to “u mad at no happy ending bro” is an insult to any disappointed fan of the series.

You know, the default ending isn’t even really sad.

The original ending went kind of like: you fight boring mobs, you fight boring mobs, you fight boring mobs, there’s some conversation, there’s some weird conversation, then some explosions set to music, then the end. And you’re sitting there thinking “Okay… Soooo… Did I win?

The Extended Cut was a little better. You can see that you did win (unless you refuse, in which case you help people 50 000 years from now win), but you’re still in the dark about what winning means. And all the puzzle pieces you spent hours and hours finding and trying to fit together: clues about the Reapers, about Cerberus, about the Illusive Man, about other galaxy mysteries. You never get a snapshot of the finished puzzle. Actually, you never even get a finished puzzle. You sit there watching the credits with stray puzzle pieces in your hands, a blank stare on your face and a sick feeling in your stomach, saddened over never learning where these pieces go.

Next, on Life and Death

Shepard living and dying comes up a lot. Trolls (I figure) post “people are just mad that Shepard dies“. Destroy players call out “My Shep didn’t die!

In my heart, neither is really true. Ok, so you see your Shepard disintegrating and end up with a plaque on your ship. That’s not what death is. Maybe it’s part of what death is, but it’s not all death is. Death is the people who love you grieving and moving on without you. Death is someone else picking up your torch and continuing where you left off. That never happens, so, to me, it never felt like death.

As for living. Living! You get, what, a gasp and no plaque on your wall? That’s not living! Living is carrying on with the injuries that don’t heal, it’s rebuilding, it’s having a place in the world. A gasp and no plaque is nothing of that.

As far as I can tell, in the game, Shepard doesn’t really live or die. The official story ends before that.

Of course, you can look at it from another angle (and this is one of the few not too bad things about the ending). Mass Effect forces you, the player, to build a certain relationship with your Shepard. Some people play Shepard as badass versions of themselves, some play Shepards in honour of real life people who’ve touched them, some people just want to blow shit up.

Me, I played Shepard as my imaginary BFF. Mass Effect came to me at a time in my life where I had been forced into a situation that I wasn’t prepared or qualified (and, well, willing) to handle. Not of galaxy-saving-in-face-of-hopeless-odds proportions, but still. I found a lot of comfort and (imaginary) complicity in shooting things, shopping for weapons (and miniature ships) and mouthing off to idiots with Shepard as we coped with what life handed us.

Had I played Shepard as myself in a science fiction world, she (I? we?) would have died. When the game is over you leave the world. The world is still there but you’re not because the game is over and you’ve moved onto another game, another pretend life. But Shepard was my imaginary friend and imaginary friends live with you a long time.

Magic Space Kid’s Legacy

After a year, the icky feeling that stuck to me wasn’t about crew reunions, wasn’t about unfinished stories, wasn’t about Shepards stuck in limbo (but know that I can get myself worked up over those things if I try hard enough!). What makes me block out the real Bioware ending, as a story and world lover who lets her imagination run wild, is, no matter what you do, Mass Effect’s official post-ending legacy sucks.

What resonated with me about the Mass Effect world was how plausible it all was. I could totally picture the galaxy like that 150 years from now. But then, a couple hundred hours into playing around in this fairly realistic science fiction world, everything gets all new agey weird.

And after all is said and done, you’re left with 4 options to work with:

1)This cycle ends so any kind of post-game imagining has to be about the world 50 000 years from now, which we know very little about and thus don’t care.
2)You end up with an entire galaxy (universe?) of cyborgs, which is really not fun to build personal stories with.
3)You end up with a world that has a Reaper-god Shepard, which is also not fun to work with.
4)The tons of hours you spent doing diplomatic (and match making!) crap go to waste when you kill half the people you spent huge chucks of the game coercing.

Srsly. What the heck am I supposed to do with that?

My Headcannon

So. My kind-yet-feisty Shepard (for whom death really doesn’t fit) is badly injured, never recovers and is forced into a Council position she hates. Her and Garrus pursue their bizarre cross-species relationship and adopt cute little krogan orphans. Garrus is a surprisingly good stay-at-home dad. Kaidan gets the Normandy, mostly as a Spectre vessel. Everyone else goes on with their usual occupations. My own characters are weaved in, but that’s personal so you’ll never find out.

Citadel

I played Citadel as if it was happening after the ending.

At first I felt a little guilty and justified myself by saying that I spent 15$ on this DLC and can play it in any mindset I want.

As the DLC goes on, though, it almost feels like that’s how you’re supposed to play. If you replace every “we’re at war” with “we were at war“, it actually works really, really well. Some of the scenes – Vega’s N7 tattoo, Garrus’ ballroom dancing recital, fundraising for Salarian space cancer research – make a lot more sense if you think of them as happening after the war.

So yeah, it’s after the war, we’ve moved all the gross bodies out of the Citadel, we’re going around the Galaxy rebuilding and getting rid of whatever the Reapers left behind, the Normandy needs a tune up and Anderson (who survived being shot, because, really, I’m not too sure he got shot in the first place) is all “I’m not leaving Earth, go hang out at my place in the Citadel“.

The timeline is after Shepard has recovered enough to help in the Galactic Clean Up Effort and before her being dumped against her will into Udina’s dirty Council chair.

And then… It felt like when I was a kid. On the last day of the school year, we were given candy, we played games and teachers slacked off in enforcing the rules. Citadel was like that last day of school. The “rules” didn’t matter, it was just celebrating, reminiscing and gorging myself with sweet, sweet candy.

I’d followed the blurbs from different Bioware employees who were involved in creating and marketing Mass Effect on the Bioware Blog. (You should check it out! Tends to be forcefully positive because of, you know, PR and stuff, but still very interesting.) Playing Citadel was like experiencing those blurbs. I kept imagining the writers sitting around a table tossing around their favorite jokes and game references and just laughing and laughing. I felt connected to the game like I always do, but I also felt connected to everyone who’d loved Mass Effect over the years.

By the way, the references to Multiplayer throughout the Strip were brilliant. I spent so much time listening to the pair discussing bad pugs! It was the first time I felt like Multiplayer was actually part of the story and not just a ploy to keep people playing the game longer.

Critique of Citadel?

Um. My first reaction to Shepard’s new apartment was “Wow, that’s a lot of wasted space.Tiny house fan knee jerk reaction, sorry. I would have liked a bit more customization available too (which is hilarious because normally I don’t care about customizing anything – I’ve never even transmogged in WoW! Mass Effect is just special.), but I could understand how there’s no point in adding tons of extra items that’ll only be seen for a few hours.

I love how the plot dragged me through the archives. Perfect idea for a final DLC! I would have liked more lore, though, and lore that I didn’t already know about. I would have loved to stumble across some ancient, ancient story. But I’m splititng hairs here. I loved the archives. I’d even pay for a DLC that consists of nothing but archival exploration. (In case you were wondering, the character that I’ve always related most to is Liara. She’s like the video game me, only with a gentler voice and fancy biotic powers.)

Found in the Archives. Unsure of purpose. Nothing happens if you shoot it.

Found in the Archives. Unsure of purpose. Nothing happens if you shoot it.

And Legion. Why no Legion? Mordin and Thane got a nod (I cried like a baby during Mordin’s!), but Legion… It’s like he never even existed. (Ashley didn’t get anything either, but since she’s mentioned a lot during ME3, I was fine with it.) I even checked all the arcade scores for “Infiltrait0rN7” and nothing.

And now I’m hooked on the Arena

When I heard the combat simulation, I thought “Why would I want that when there’s plenty of actual combat to go around?

Then I tried it.

Damn.

It’s all the fun of Multiplayer without the stress of playing with strangers. I enjoyed all the mini games in Citadel (again, hilarious because I normally just ignore mini games) but the Arena, in all its simplicity, was so much fun.

When I reached the end, I let the tears flow at Shepard’s “The best” line and thanked the game and its creators for giving me such a good run.

Then I hit “load” and ran back to the Arena.

masseffectgroupphoto

The best.