Returning to Mass Effect

If there’s a game or series that defined the Xbox 360 generation for me it was the Mass Effect trilogy. To this day I still consider it the best, most well crafter universe ever created in video game form. Maybe even in all of media. So I couldn’t wait to jump back in, save the galaxy all over again, this time with a newer console, some quality of life improvements and a new, shinier appearance.

Going back really reminded me of why I loved this series in the first place. The setup of this ancient technology that allowed the human race to journey through the stars seems on the surface to be quite stale and generic. But if you dig into the lore and codex entries it becomes so much more. Humanity straight away ending up in a war with the Turians is very on brand for our nightmare of a species. Though humanity isn’t the only race that loves shooting people, there’s also the Krogan.

Big, bulking brutes, the story of the Krogan and the genophage is a plot line that permeates throughout the entire trilogy. A disease created by Salarian scientists that reduces the Krogan population and limiting the amount that can be born is lets face it, a war crime. Through the games, however you choose to play Shepard will determine what happens to the Krogan. You can help them cure it, or if you choose, decide that they’re a war loving species who need to have their population controlled. And that’s why I will always defend the way the trilogy ended, the choices you make.

Yes, at the end of ME3 it all comes down to three choices of what you want the ending to be. But that for me isn’t the point. This is a character piece. During this playthough of ME3 it all went a bit wrong for some of my former crewmates. Miranda didn’t see the end credits sadly, the same with Kasumi. Turns out I missed a few crucial story beats that would determine their fate. Oops. And this never happened to me in my first playthrough. In fact, back before I did a “perfect Insanity difficulty run”, Miranda didn’t make it past the Suicide Mission in ME2. Then in my perfect run afterwards, she survived all the way to the end of the trilogy. It’s these little nuances that make it all worth it, even if you don’t have a choice over the overall fate of the galaxy.

Even now, after multiple playthroughs I’m discovering new things by going and reading the many articles over the Internet. Kelly Chambers, your assistant on the bridge in ME2, I didn’t even know she appeared in ME3 until I read about her. I missed her entire subplot, that in classic Bioware fashion, can either go right or horribly, horribly wrong.

I should use this time to give a shout out to the lead write of the first two Mass Effect games as well as a bunch of tie in novels, Drew Karpyshyn. The amount of backstory and history that has gone into everything is truly staggering, it makes me wish they released the story bible, because it must be an absolute tome. Every planet you view in the galaxy map has a rich history, whether it be terraforming or how it was first discovered. Then there’s the Codex entries that give you even more backstory to the universe and the different species. There’s just so much.

The enjoyment of revisiting this world also made me consider checking out Mass Effect: Andromeda again. Considered the embarassment of the series, Andromeda had a horrible time at launch, from critics and fans alike. It was fine. Buggy, yes. And the cast of characters has nothing on the likes of Garrus, Tali and Grunt. But it was good enough that I did complete it. Just don’t ask me to tell you the names of any of your teammates. Or the plot.

But for now I’m content with the ME world. Maybe I’ll head back to Andromeda one day, or perhaps do an Insanity run for the first time with this Legendary Collection. Whatever I do, it’s good to have Shepard and his crew back and this has done exactly what it set out to do, got me invested and once again anticipating a new game in the series.

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