As anyone who read my review last week knows, I was totally blown away by Mass Effect 2, more than anything I was amazed by how much Bioware had listened to criticism and fan opinion in order to craft a vastly superior follow up. What follows is my own cynical attempt to influence them by listing my own ideas/desires for the final part of the trilogy.
Needless to say, spoilers for both games follow.
Mass Effect 2 ends with the chilling revelation that the entire Reaper fleet is on it’s way out of dark space and heading to a galaxy near you. In Mass Effect 1 it took several fleets to take out one of these guys, now there’s hundreds. You might recall that when the Illusive Man gives Shepard his mission at the beginning of ME2, Shepard comments that he’ll need an army, or one hell of a team, I respectfully submit that for ME2 he’ll need one hell of an army.
If you’ve been paying attention to the previous games, you’ll notice that several factions have been manoeuvred into a position where Shepard can influence their politics. Anyone who has read the Codex will have also noticed how the military doctrine of each species seems designed to interweave and work together, the individual toughness of Krogan, the numbers and discipline of Turians, the notorious special forces teams of the Asari and the intelligence networks of the Salarians, not to mention the fast movement and creativity of the human military.
Here are some quick ideas as to how you recruit these armies and how they would work:
This is a picture of an Asari. It’s relevant because it’s cool looking.
Asari/Salarians/Turians – The non-human council races will probably be recruited together, as a mission for Shepard to prove the Reaper threat to the council once and for all, most likely before the game ‘opens up’. Realising the threat the council names Shepard to lead the fight, giving him the powers to recruit other races to his cause. Sidequests allow him to visit the homeworlds of each race to generate extra support and foster co-operation.
In battle the numerous and disciplined Turian military acts as an ‘anvil’, holding the line and providing a firebase for the more manoeuvreable human forces to flank enemies. The Asari offer some of the most lethal special forces troopers in the galaxy, while Salarian intelligence assets are unmatched.
Humans – You’d have though you’d get humanity’s support by default wouldn’t you? Well you aren’t getting off that easy. You know how you got the cold shoulder from the council in the last game about all those human colonies going missing? Well it turns out that you aren’t the only one pissed at that, the general population is rather annoyed at having ten thousand people get killed shortly after saving the damn galaxy.
The extremist Terra Firma party is receiving unprecedented support and is taking a xenophobic, isolationist stance to the coming threat. Shepard has to journey into the murky world of Alliance politics, contending with a resentful (or power mad, depending on your choice in ME2) Illusive Man along the way. Every party wants to use his symbolic stature to boost their support, but who will back you in your time of need?
In battle humanity acts as the ‘hammer’ to the Turian ‘anvil’ making quick cavalry style strikes into enemy territory.
Krogan – Krogan love a scrap, so getting them to fight the biggest, baddest thing the galaxy has ever seen shouldn’t be hard, but your choices in ME1 and ME2 can really alter their society. If Urdot Wrex survives he is close to uniting the race, but sees a challenge from within (lead by Grunt, if he survives) from a more warlike member of the Urdnot clan. Shepard must support one side or the other, a warlike leader will see the Krogan seek to fight Reapers for the glory of battle, while Wrex will see them as a threat to Krogan survival.
This choice will impact hardest after the battle, depending on your resolution of the genophage issue and choice of leader the Krogan have four possible outcomes. They either continue tearing themselves apart on the homeworld, continue trying to desperately survive despite severe losses in battle, expand outwards in a warlike fashion or expand outwards in a cautious peace.
In battle the Krogan are few, but the toughest troops around, acting as shock troops for the rest of the army.
Quarians – We saw a lot of Quarian politics in the second game, and they’ll likely once again feature in Mass Effect 2. It’s almost certain that their section will be again dominated by the Geth question, some factions favour attacking the Quarian homeworld, surely suicide without some sort of superweapon, as Legion reveals the Geth have serious numbers in ME2, others colonising far away from the Geth. Peace seems a laughably impossibly option, but Shepard makes the impossible his business, could it be done?
Your decision on Tali’s trial weighs heavily on what happens, if her father’s research is revealed peace in much harder to achieve, but taking back the home world becomes a real possibility. If Tali is acquitted without revealing his secret then she eventually takes his seat on the admiralty board, allowing you to influence them more. If Legion also makes it then it is possible (but seriously hard) to negotiate a tentative peace between the races.
In battle the Quarians bring the largest fleet in the galaxy to bear, along with unprecedented technical skills, forming a ‘engineer corps’ on the ground.
Geth – If you activated Legion in the second game you get a chance to actually negotiate with the Geth in the third game, this is understandably hard, and you’ll most likely be forced to choose between them or the Quarians. However with a lot of work, persuade skills and with the right choices from the previous game, Shepard can forge a tentative peace between the Quarians and Geth, with the council acting in a peacekeeper/neutral third party role.
In battle the Geth will work much like the Quarians (with one usually replacing the other) Legion hints at a vast Geth fleet, and they usually have strong tech skills. If both are recruited the Quarians become the ‘engineer corps’ while the Geth are used as strike teams in indoctrinated areas (they are immune, those who followed Sovereign did by choice)
Rachni – Those who saved the Rachni queen in ME1 get a short message from her in ME2, suggesting that Reaper indoctrination started the first Rachni war and that the Queen intends to help you against this common enemy. There is no quest for the Rachni, but if saved they arrive as emergency re-enforcements at a crucial moment of the battle.
There’s several dangling plot threads that Mass Effect 3 really needs to address, here are a few prominent ones:
The Shadow Broker – Who is he? I thought that when the first game gave me a chance to sell him some information that it would come up in ME2, but it’s yet to be revisited. Liara is now gunning for him, which only adds more mystery. The Shadow Broker is one of the most intriguing background characters in the Mass Effect Universe, which only makes it more frustrating how underused it is.
The Genophage Question – The Krogan genophage is one of the most complex and multi-faceted historical events in Mass Effect’s history, Mass Effect 2 in particular dwells on the problem, and Mordin’s involvement in particular. It’s clear that Bioware are building towards a resolution on the final game, sooner or later we’re going to have to decide whether to reverse the effects, and if the Krogan can handle it.
The Geth Question – Even in the first game, where the Geth were mostly mindless enemies, there were hints at more, their war with the Quarians began when their creators panicked at the Geth’s developing intelligence. The addition of Legion in the second game develops things further, most Geth are in fact merely insular and have no desire to attack organics. Sooner or later we’re going to have to revisit their status in galactic society, hopefully with the option to bring them into the fold.
Dark Energy – Seriously, both of Tali’s quests keep going on about the destabilised sun in Haestrom, that one has to come back, although I honestly don’t know how.
Why? – Sooner or later, they’re going to have to explain exactly why the Reapers wipe out organic life every 50,000 years.
Thane and Garrus have awesome space suits. Reason enough for a return
With the baggage of two whole games, the Mass Effect world now has a lot of characters we’d like to see return, although Mass Effect 2′s ‘anyone can die’ philosphy makes it unlikely for many to return as full team members, I’ll nevertheless attempt to illustrate several levels of engagement they could have with the plot.
Garrus - We all love Garrus, and if you don’t you’re dead inside. He’s been one of the poster boys for ME since the start, and one of only two team members to make it into both games, we’d all love to see him get the hat trick, but if that isn’t possible he’ll still need to appear. Mass Effect 2 had Garrus mention recruiting his own team in Shepard’s absence, makig him seem almost like your protege, during ME3 I’d love to see Garrus leading his own squad, complete with cool ship and rousing speeches, perhaps meeting Shepard when they get the same mission. Just like old times indeed.
Tali – I never really got how Tali managed to get such a big fanbase, but she does and they will demand her return. If she does return she will have a serious impact on the Quarian political situation no matter what happened in her story. If she was acquitted she may now be on the admiralty board, or commanding the Quarian Engineer Corps.
Wrex – We all missed Wrex in ME2, Grunt wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t a patch on his predecessor. Right now Wrex (if he lived) is busy leading the Krogan to survival, and will undoubtedly return in that role in the finale. We’d all like to see him suit up again though, I mean, if the Reapers win, the Krogan aren’t surviving anyway, right?
Thane - Probably the least likely to with the ability to die in the finale of ME2 and a terminal disease. If he’s still around by ME3 then he’s on his last legs, but gets offered one last job, taking out the Illusive Man. Do you help him, or do you warn the man who betrayed you before?
Mordin – As an elderly Salarian, Mordin is unlikely to last much longer, but assuming he’s again not a team member, you find him running a hospital ship during the Reaper war. Despite his failing health he insists on saving as many people as he can. He may also feature in the genophage decision (above)
Legion - If he lived, Legion will offer you a gateway into Geth politics, a possibility not open to you if he did not survive the final battle (you are forced to ally with the Quarians instead).
Kal’Reiger – I loved Reiger the moment I met him, he’s a badass Quarian marine who protects Tali on Haestrom. He’s voiced by Adam Baldwin and well, acts much like people played by Adam Baldwin, but the way this contrasts with the delicate nature of the Quarians makes for a far more interesting character than the habitual Krogan soldier.
Technically Reiger can die on Haestrom, but it’s really hard to do, so I’m hoping they simply ignore that option (like with Conrad) and bring him back as a full team member.
Captain Kirrahe – An ensemble darkhorse from the first game, Captain Kirrahe’s courage and rousing ‘hold the line’ speech made him a favourite of mine. Again he can die on Virmire, but it’s unlikely, hopefully we’ll see him as a full companion, probably in a Tech/Soldier Infiltrator role (currently filled by Garrus). Otherwise he would be the natural choice to command the Salarian forces in the Reaper war.
Conrad Verneer – Conrad was so amusing Bioware overrode the savegames of those who let him die in the first game to bring him back. In the third game I’d like to see him attempting to lead his own squad of fanboys and misfits.
Aria T’loak – is Aria really the commando who fought Wrex on a space station in his story? I must have answers!
Rana Thanoptis – I swear woman, if I catch you in a third evil lab you’re going down, no matter what you protest.
Imagine this guy, but with a cool hat.
Elcor and Volus Crew – The Elcor and Volus are the real dark horses of Mass Effect races, they aren’t really given more than one note jokes, but they’re so well written that it works. Sadly Volus’s lack of stature and the Elcor’s general immobility means they are unlikely to be on the front lines (quietly shelves plans for swashbuckling Volus space pirate) but that doesn’t mean they can’t be part of the Normandy crew. The more the merrier.
Elcor Hamlet – Everyone loved the Elcor Hamlet gag in the first game, and Bioware responding with some wonderful gags in the second. Well I’m not satisfied, I demand more! Even if they can’t deliver the whole ‘unforgettable fifteen hour experience’ then we should at least see some. Perhaps we can have a clandestine meeting with a contact during the performance?
Blasto the Hannar Spectre – Similar to Elcor Hamlet, the blaxsploitation movie trailer about Blasto had me in stiches the first time, let’s get some more going next time.
Well that’s your lot, what are the rest of you looking forward to seeing? Comment below!