I was meandering about the Mass Effect wiki the other day and I came upon the Rachni article, detailing the extinct/not extinct alien race (depending on player actions). Scrolling down, I came across the part in Mass Effect where Shepard encounters a Rachni queen that was recovered and raised to breed more Rachni. The player can either kill the queen, effectively eliminating the species, or let her leave to another part of the universe to be in peace.
In Mass Effect 2, if Shepard allowed the queen to live, he encounters an Asari who mentions a Rachni queen somewhere praising Shepard’s kindness. This doesn’t have a lot of impact on the game.
But here we are now at Mass Effect 3 as Shepard is about to take on the Reapers. As it turns out, rumor has it that if the player spared the Rachni, they will be coming to the player’s aid in this final installment. Sweet! Except…
Playstation 3 owners didn’t get the chance to play the original Mass Effect. To thwart this, Bioware released a digital comic with new copies of Mass Effect 2 in which the player could make several crucial decisions – including whether or not to spare the queen. For those of us who either purchased the game used and didn’t pick up the comic or Xbox 360 owners who simply didn’t play the first game, the default course of events includes the death of the queen.
|Paragon Shepard disapproves.|
Here I am, with my paragon-as-paragon-gets Commander Shepard, about to take on the Reapers to save the entire universe, and I have been assumed to have killed off a strong ally.
Now I realize that a default decision had to be made, but this is a good example of buy-new-incentive gone horribly wrong. One of the biggest draws of Mass Effect is the player-driven story and the decisions spanning each game. With that digital comic, EA pulled the carpet out from under people attempting to get into the series.
So I get that developers want more profit. Do they need it? I won’t comment. But to do so at the expense of the player experience is contrary to what designing a video game is ideally about – creating an experience. People don’t put vouchers for stuff in movies, all of which are now connected to the internet via Blu-ray. We don’t get special stuff for buying books new. In fact, video games are essentially the only market where this strategy is employed, and in some cases, it’s putting a hole in the game. It’s one thing to put an online cap on or eliminate online altogether without the redemption of a pass, but to impact the story that encompasses three entire games – that’s just outrageous.
In other news, I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition, and so this day-1-DLC everyone is complaining about is being shipped with my copy. Not that I don’t have a problem with the idea of day-1 DLC, I do. The excuse is that developers have down time before the game is released and so have developed the DLC in that time. I would like to argue that they could continue play-testing and have a day-1 patch ready for us or get their staff started on the inevitable next project. Instead, they’re going to continue to empty our pockets. This decision was no-doubt influenced by perennial pocket-diving publisher Electronic Arts.
I just thought I’d note that I’m getting it anyway.