I Shouldn't Have Feared The Reapers

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I Shouldn't Have Feared The Reapers

Believing in the story screwed up my game of Mass Effect 3

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I agree completely, it's always a problem in "save the world" type RPGs - every single type of game I've played like that, I've gone around doing main quests with all urgency, and then I'm suddenly at the end of the game and I've done NO side quests, it's quite annoying really.

Luckily in ME3 I avoided your problems
1. Because I've learnt from this in previous games.
2. Because I heard how bad the ending was, and didn't want to rush to experience it.
3. Because I wanted to savour as much ME3 possible before the ending.

The ironic part is that you could have just kept playing and there'd be no difference to your ending :D

Made me feel pretty silly for doing every single side quest in the game only to get... that.

Cerberus attacks the Citadel? How? Do they have their own fleet of ships and army or something?

Irridium:
Cerberus attacks the Citadel? How? Do they have their own fleet of ships and army or something?

id recommend you dont dig any more into it if you dont like being spoiled...

draythefingerless:

Irridium:
Cerberus attacks the Citadel? How? Do they have their own fleet of ships and army or something?

id recommend you dont dig any more into it if you dont like being spoiled...

I don't mind. After all, I did just read an article that said there would be spoilers in it.

Irridium:
Cerberus attacks the Citadel? How? Do they have their own fleet of ships and army or something?

Yeah. We aren't told how deep their resources run, but given the circumstances in ME3, they decide to drop all subterfuge and go all-in, and they have A LOT.

EDIT: Also, before the attack, they were being funneled a VERY significant amount of money by Udina.

Going to have to be careful interacting with you all in here this week lest I see spoilers. It was totally worth replaying those nine hours again but man, I gotta see this ending fresh.

@Irridium: Your avatar is fantastic.

@endtherapture: That's the thing, I know the risk of losing side quests through narrative progression, was not necessarily in any rush to get to the end, and generally want every drop of content a game has to offer me - but the narrative was so engrossing that I forgot all of that and pressed on.

That's also my point - no RPG has ever done this to me before, which is the exciting part. I LIKED that the artificial nature of RPG worlds didn't shine through over the cinematic narrative being given to me by Mass Effect 3. I didn't like that I had to miss content in order to enjoy the "realness" of the game world. Hence the idea that RPGs which want to have driven narratives could alter the typical RPG structure accordingly. :)

MiracleOfSound:
The ironic part is that you could have just kept playing and there'd be no difference to your ending :D

Made me feel pretty silly for doing every single side quest in the game only to get... that.

While very true, and I fall on the side that loathes the endings, I must say I would not skip all the side quests along the way. True doing them wont change the ending, but one of the most powerful moments in ME3 include Thane. I wouldn't miss that.

Dennis Scimeca:
I Shouldn't Have Feared The Reapers

Believing in the story screwed up my game of Mass Effect 3

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I understand where you are coming from. At first when I started playing I felt a rush to do main story lines too, but somewhere before the end of the Tuchanka I stopped that line, and finished up side quests. It still felt a bit wrong at first to be doing side quests while earth burned, but then I understood that the side quests were progressing the story too in the form of building war assets.

@Dennis Scimeca: Why, thank you. Yours is pretty good as well.

Avatar Roku:

Irridium:
Cerberus attacks the Citadel? How? Do they have their own fleet of ships and army or something?

Yeah. We aren't told how deep their resources run, but given the circumstances in ME3, they decide to drop all subterfuge and go all-in, and they have A LOT.

EDIT: Also, before the attack, they were being funneled a VERY significant amount of money by Udina.

If they're some all-powerful force without any real explanation, I'm going to be quite miffed.

WARNING: Mass Effect 2 spoilers in here

This seems terribly nit-picky to me. I suppose if you want to you could fault the game for not making it urgent enough but then you get the issue of ME2 where you're forced to either skip a bunch of the game or have a bunch of your NPC's get turned into reaper slurpies.

Story-wise, a forced timer adds tension but game-wise, this locks out a bunch of stuff. I feel that you need to meet the game half-way here...

Irridium:
Cerberus attacks the Citadel? How? Do they have their own fleet of ships and army or something?

I thought it was pretty well implied that Cerberus was a very powerful and VERY rich organization based on Mass Effect 2. I mean, they obviously had the abilities and financial backing to raise someone from the dead...

Daft Ghosty:

MiracleOfSound:
The ironic part is that you could have just kept playing and there'd be no difference to your ending :D

Made me feel pretty silly for doing every single side quest in the game only to get... that.

While very true, and I fall on the side that loathes the endings, I must say I would not skip all the side quests along the way. True doing them wont change the ending, but one of the most powerful moments in ME3 include Thane. I wouldn't miss that.

Oh agreed 100%... I was more meaning all the busywork like planet scanning and collecting random things for people. The actual fleshed out sidequests were fantastic

Irridium:
@Dennis Scimeca: Why, thank you. Yours is pretty good as well.

Avatar Roku:

Irridium:
Cerberus attacks the Citadel? How? Do they have their own fleet of ships and army or something?

Yeah. We aren't told how deep their resources run, but given the circumstances in ME3, they decide to drop all subterfuge and go all-in, and they have A LOT.

EDIT: Also, before the attack, they were being funneled a VERY significant amount of money by Udina.

If they're some all-powerful force without any real explanation, I'm going to be quite miffed.

It's not really that bad. They ARE said to have a lot of resources and recruits (who are being controlled with Reaper tech), but the amounts never feel THAT implausible. For example, the assault on the Citadel is not something that they do to attempt to control it, it's a fast smash-and-grab sort of raid with a very specific goal in mind. This feels right; they have resources, but they can't last too long in an fight against actual military and they know it.

Irridium:
Cerberus attacks the Citadel? How? Do they have their own fleet of ships and army or something?

Just to give an indication of how deep Cerberus' resources run, here's a couple of factoids about their past achievements. Spoilers if you haven't played Mass Effect 2 or read any of the books.

-Rebuilt a top secret warship that cost more money than likely any ship the Alliance had built previously. And then upgraded it.

-Brought the dead back to life(that's you).

-Invaded the Quarrian Migrant Fleet(much harder to get onto than the Citadel) and set them up the bomb.

-Engaged in extensive(and often disastrous) studies of Reaper technology.

-Sponsored a research project to allow a human to speak to the Geth.

-Located the previously untraceable Shadow Broker.

Also, in Mass Effect 3, they pretty much have the capability to use Indoctrination to boost their numbers. So they definitely have the army thing down, and there's no need for a fleet if they can capture key points of the Citadel and lock down security. At that point all they have to do is outgun C-Sec and any currently docked military units since they can mostly keep other ships from docking.

MiracleOfSound:
The ironic part is that you could have just kept playing and there'd be no difference to your ending :D

Made me feel pretty silly for doing every single side quest in the game only to get... that.

Though especially with the ending we got I'm glad I got a strict sidequests-before-core-missions policy I keep to in all games. Those sidequests were worth it all by themselves. Another problem with those priorities was that the sidequests involving characters who could potientially be dead by the end of Mass Effect 2 couldn't be too story-centric, at least not all of the time; missions that did replace those dearly departed with almost identical standins just felt so much better with the original characters already. It would probably have been silly if they had done that for all of the ME2 squadmates.

Ironically, the only missions that have some kind of timer on them are sidemissions, like the Cerberus attack on Grissom Academy. That timer worked similar to the timer after you installed the Reaper IFF in ME2 (where you had to get to the collecter base really fast to save your whole crew).

I think the game has a point there: The Reaper invasion is was happend inevitably, the gathering of war assets is what you have to make time for. You let a lot more people die on earth to give the rest a fighting chance (as opposed to hurrying back as soon as possible with a fleet that's probably too weak to make the difference you need).

It's a shame to miss any content at all, tho. Even the most insignificant background event can be hilarious, heartwarming or just plain awesome. I'm glad I was right to trust in the bit of gameplay/story segregation that allowed me to explore every bit of the game.

Started a new Shepard in ME1 a few days ago. I heard there was still some content I missed. Not this time.

Irridium:

If they're some all-powerful force without any real explanation, I'm going to be quite miffed.

MiracleOfSound:

Oh agreed 100%... I was more meaning all the busywork like planet scanning and collecting random things for people. The actual fleshed out sidequests were fantastic

Agree. I was half expecting a Volus would ask me to go turn off his stove on some moon for a Bombing fleet.

I kinda felt the same way about Shep's dilly dallying on the Citadel.

"Oh look, Shep's doing some embarrasing Shepard dance."

-------------- meanwhile on Earth --------------

"HELP US, SHEPARD!!! PLEASE!!! OH GOD, WE CAN'T HOLD OUT MUCH LONGER!!!"

Sorta killed some of that looming threat.

The problem with eliminating or streamlining the side quests in the game is that Bioware games are already fairly linear, and without the side quests, you would have something a lot like Final Fantasy X in structure. I know a lot of people like that game, but when it came out, a lot of people complained that it was just a straight path with no room for deviation(and then FFXIII came out). If Bioware went that route, you really would have Call of Mass: Modern War Effect.

The scanning game, though? That can die in a fire. I would prefer more mini-missions to liberate forces and resources than scanning.

Very nice article. I remember experiencing the same feelings when I started playing. Was able to avoid those pitfalls for the same reasons as endtherapture listed.

I also remember thinking at the time on how the beginning could've been done a bit differently in order to avoid this. As in dialing back the initial feeling of urgency ever so slightly so as a player you didn't feel guilty every time you strayed away from the priority missions. It mainly centered around delaying the fall of Earth. Could've had the fall of Earth happen about a third of the way into the story. The opening cutscene would've dealt with the Reapers arriving in the Sol system with a massive engagement taking place at Pluto, which would've been built up as the Alliance's version of the Maginot Line. The logic behind that being the humans having decided that, given the location of the Charon relay, any invading force would have to drop in next to Pluto, which would be fortified with multiple planetary defense cannons. Have these cannons take down a Reaper or two before the Reaper counterattack that annihilates the planetoid. It would be shortly after this point that the Normandy would sneak out of the system to seek reinforcements. The Reapers not jumping immediately to Earth via their FTL drives would be explained via a plot device of humans employing a recent Alliance creation: Mass Effect Interdiction Fields. a device that interferes with the Mass Effect field, preventing faster than light travel within the system and giving Shepard a time frame of a week or two to gather reinforcements. That way you would still have the Reapers closing in on Earth, but not actively processing millions of people a day. When Earth did inevitably fall a third of the way in it could've had a similar feeling to the gut punch we felt when Thessia falls near the end.

nice work!

I made a similar mistake in the first Mass Effect. I took the whole "plant bomb on Virmire" to seriously, I though if I didn't return to the bomb then it wouldn't go off, so I left Ashley to die (Shep mourned for at least an hour before jumping into bed with Liara!)

Thinking back to it, I just found out that I didn't even feel the urgency with regards to a timely return to earth; it felt more important to come back in force rather than soon; also, I had to "wait" for the crucible to be finished anyway.

Could be that Anderson usually reported that they were doing as well as they could under the circumstances; people still died by the millions, but the survivors would have the best chance if I "brought back every fleet I can".

Might be because I played most of the game with a Galactic Readiness of 100 %. Multiplayer was fun.

endtherapture:

2. Because I heard how bad the ending was, and didn't want to rush to experience it.

Thats how I managed to not miss those quests. I always make sure I head to the Citadel, just so I dont miss out on any relics I found that could help the war effort (Im... slightly, in denial of the end. As I only rented the game to check out how it compares to the previous two, im not in a hurry to buy it for real, at least until I know what Bioware plans to do.)

Also, Im very happy I didnt miss out on meeting Thane. Otherwise, I would have missed a very good bit of emotional impact.

Scars Unseen:
The problem with eliminating or streamlining the side quests in the game is that Bioware games are already fairly linear, and without the side quests, you would have something a lot like Final Fantasy X in structure. I know a lot of people like that game, but when it came out, a lot of people complained that it was just a straight path with no room for deviation(and then FFXIII came out). If Bioware went that route, you really would have Call of Mass: Modern War Effect.

The scanning game, though? That can die in a fire. I would prefer more mini-missions to liberate forces and resources than scanning.

I'll give you an example using Dragon Age Origins.
During the quest 'An Unlikely Scholar' Dagna asks you to go ask the Circle of Magi if she can study there. If you talk to her again before you leave she says "You're back? But it takes a minimum of two weeks and four days to make the journey to the Circle Tower and back."

So while the world is literally coming to an end and i'm trying to secure Dwarven troops so that everyone in the world doesn't end up dead, she expects me to go off on an 18 day trip to the tower to see if she can go read some books?

The same goes for ME3, so while literally millions upon millions of people are dying, you expect me to take a trip to the Volus homeworld to find a book that'll give me 5 war assets, instead of maybe curing the genophage so that the Krogan will stop the Turians from going extinct?

I like having side quests, I have an obsession with getting 100% completion so I scour EVERYWHERE again and again before i do every main quest so i don't miss anything. But it annoys me and it cheapens the experience because it seems like the reapers are just sitting around while im having a tea break.

SirBryghtside:
Yeah, that's always been a problem in Mass Effect games. Shepard has to go and hunt down Saren before he destroys the Citadel! ...so she goes and collects squadmates. Shepard has to assault the Collector base before they kill more innocent civilians! ...so she goes and collects even more squadmates.

While that is true for ME2, in ME1, you had two of your squad mates before you even finished Eden Prime. And you had three more from just trying to find evidence against Saren. The only one you do go looking for is Liara, and you actually need her more for her understanding of the Protheans than as a squad mate. So Me1 had a means of getting squad mates just like ME3... in fact, you actually get atleast three squad mates before you are able to even get to the Citadel.

Really, its only ME2 where it seems odd that Im trying to save human colonies and fight the reapers, yet had to waste time finding squadmates. I think you have maybe 4 or five missions total that actually are part of the main mission (stop the collectors). All the rest are pointless (storywise) side missions or squad mate recovery/loyalty missions.

Another thing I didnt really like about ME2...

That's why I think they should stop trying to be "cinematic". Games aren't movies, and have different pacing rules. Games can take their time, movies have at most 3 hours to tell a story.

If they really want to emulate a different medium, it should be books or television shows. Books can be as long as they need to be, and television shows understand that they have plenty of time to tell a story.
Game of Thrones or Walking Dead have 12(ish) episodes a season to tell a complete story arc, as well as several episode-specific stories, yet they have no trouble building tension or drama.

This speaks specifically to why I did not purchase ME3. In ME1, you could take your time because Saren had no idea where his objective was. In ME2, you could take your time because the side quests offered as much of a chance of fighting the Reapers and preparing the universe than working for Cerberus. The full force of a Reaper invasion? I couldn't possibly get into the 'wander, explore and discover' mindset.

WanderingFool:

Really, its only ME2 where it seems odd that Im trying to save human colonies and fight the reapers, yet had to waste time finding squadmates. I think you have maybe 4 or five missions total that actually are part of the main mission (stop the collectors). All the rest are pointless (storywise) side missions or squad mate recovery/loyalty missions.

Another thing I didnt really like about ME2...

In fairness to ME2, the reasoning behind that is because of how completely unknowable the collectors are, you are trying to assemble a team which could give you a fighting chance. The resolving their personal issues does stand out a bit but it's partly related to getting them in the right frame of mood for the mission, like any good suicide mission you are trying to deal with any lingering problems to ensure full commitment.

well every time games try to give you a REAL sense of urgency (like majoras mask or pikmin) it always ends up just being a giant annoyance hanging over your experience, a timer looming in the background reminding you to stop having fun and get on with it.

it is of course great that ME3 could make you actually want to hurry up on your own, but really stupid that they left sidequests in the way that they were. of course, it is obvious that most RPG aspects of ME3 are artifacts of what the series was SUPPOSED to be instead of what we got when they decided to ditch drew's plot (and one would argue, ditch their original fanbase). i think ME3 has to be fairly unique in how you look at it, because it is painfully obvious that what we got, while excellent, is not how the trilogy was planned.

this isnt really an issue of standard RPG conventions being incompatible with a more cinematic experience, its an issue of ME3 being incompatible with its original intent. RPG's generally have issues with sidequests feeling superfluous and rather detached from the story, but given the insane sense of urgency thrown at you in ME3, it is almost impossible for anything outside direct and immediate action to the main plot to not feel like, "well, thats another 3.6 million people dead because i was dicking around in a bar".

the plot of the game REALLY does not befit an RPG. it is more befitting a zombie survival game where you get 2 minutes of break before the next slavering horde comes. you really cant have a desperate struggle against the freaking apocalypse alongside a space opera. video games must be paced more like TV shows than movies: take your time building up to the apocalypse, so that when it comes its like, "OH MY GOD SHIT IS GETTING REAL" because it is a significant break from routine, not a 2 minute cutscene followed by "oh i guess the apocalypse is here" like we got. again, ME3 was a great and engaging game, but really, really misplaced. like buying a DVD of the godfather and opening it to find an audio tape of lord of the rings.

tippy2k2:
WARNING: Mass Effect 2 spoilers in here

This seems terribly nit-picky to me. I suppose if you want to you could fault the game for not making it urgent enough but then you get the issue of ME2 where you're forced to either skip a bunch of the game or have a bunch of your NPC's get turned into reaper slurpies.

Story-wise, a forced timer adds tension but game-wise, this locks out a bunch of stuff. I feel that you need to meet the game half-way here...

Irridium:
Cerberus attacks the Citadel? How? Do they have their own fleet of ships and army or something?

I thought it was pretty well implied that Cerberus was a very powerful and VERY rich organization based on Mass Effect 2. I mean, they obviously had the abilities and financial backing to raise someone from the dead...

Yeah I felt that was a problem I had with ME2, but I do agree that not having the forced story quests does take out the tension. On the flip side, I didn't do any side missions in ME2 so I would have time to get Loyalty from my squadmates and even then there wasn't enough time. Its one of the big reasons why I didn't like Dead Rising, I just don't like being funneled into playing a part of the game where I could be enjoying this other part instead.

I think the only game in recent memory to do the 'Sword of Damocles' rather well was inFAMOUS 2, an often underrated gem in my opinion. I could do the side quests, but I felt as though the danger was still omnipresent (with the big ol burned map, and the Beats is this far away from raping you again).

It's a shame the ending butchers those feelings.

Losing sight of the ultimate goal is a common problem in western RPGs, but in the abstract its an acceptable tradeoff if we sacrifice urgency for freedom. After all, the free roaming and exploration focus is probably the strong suit of RPGs like Skyrim and Fallout. I wouldn't write off side quests entirely, but tying them back to the main plot whenever possible is probably smart. Mass Effect 3 actually does this really well in some places, like when you're prompted to investigate a Cerberus presence at the ground to space cannon on Tuchunka, it's related to the overarching story, and its easy to understand how doing or NOT doing that quest might affect your mission.

Now when it comes to non-sequiter "My wife has been kidnapped by gnolls" side quests, those could probably afford to be phased out of RPGs.

Interestingly, I found myself punished for meta-gaming in ME2. When the collectors abducted my crew, initially I was all psyched to save them, but I got sidetracked and ended up reasoning that "it's not like the game is keeping track of how many quests I do." Well, turns out it was...

Casual Shinji:
I kinda felt the same way about Shep's dilly dallying on the Citadel.

"Oh look, Shep's doing some embarrasing Shepard dance."

-------------- meanwhile on Earth --------------

"HELP US, SHEPARD!!! PLEASE!!! OH GOD, WE CAN'T HOLD OUT MUCH LONGER!!!"

Sorta killed some of that looming threat.

While this is true, its also human to block the stress for a little while at least. I can relate to what you're saying, but at the same time. My Shepard was on the citadel a few times through the game (ME3). And even if people were dying in the billions...Shepards responsibility was to see the big picture. How spending one more hour making diplomatic relations to the asari could save millions later on earth. How actually relaxing for a few minutes at the citadel, and have a drink could relieve stress and keep you from making a horribly wrong decision later because you're too tightly strung.

Thats how I rationalized it at least, and it doesnt sound too bad in my ears. Is it an easy decision? No, but more or less nothing was easy in ME3 :P

I have to admit that weaving side quests into the main plot is definitely something ME1 did better than both 2 & 3.

When you arrive on the citadel for the first time in ME1 you pick up a tonne of side quests because the game encourages you to explore the area. If you can't complete them all on that first visit you're given opportunities later in the game to complete them because the main story forces you to come back to the citadel, and, unlike in ME3, everything hasn't changed or been screwed up.

Perhaps the main quest of ME3 could have had Shep returning to the citadel more often for priority reasons, reasons that wouldn't irrevocably change the citadel, in order to allow the player to move far more naturally into the side quests there.

Stuff out in the galaxy is totally understandable for me - you're building war assets.

I never had that sense of urgency,Mass Effect can be immersible,but not the same way as it is to others.I know there's nothing to rush to no matter how urgent it's said to be,I know I can waste all the time in the world,so I'm breaking that part of my willing sense of belief,to enhance my experience by playing ALL the content I can find.
On Mass Effect 1 I went to almost every planet,in ME2 and ME3 I've made sure that every star sector has 100% completion.
That's what I get for being a completionist whore.
Same problem with Assassin's Creed 2,a shit load of collectibles plenty of contracts,but I paced them along with the story missions as much as I could,yes it brakes up the story pace,but doing all that content after you're done with the main plot will really feel like a grind.

A large part of the appeal of an RPG for me is that it's possible to play through the games in vastly different ways, railroading people through content does not seem the best way to do this. Nor for that matter do RPGs fit well with the idea of a pressing and immediate narrative: The world is in danager and the only person who can save it is currently level one and struggling to take out a rat in a prison somewhere.

RPGs are about developing as a character and the best ones structure their stories to give you time to do this. What would I have suggested for Mass Effect? have the levelling continue from previous games when you import your character, the gameplay changes they made were mostly bullshit anyway...

The more linear a game becomes (I don't just mean, storywise I also include variety in the way you can level your characters, number of problem solutions etcs.. ) the harder it is to call it an RPG.

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