What to Expect From “Mass Effect 3″: The Story
What does Bioware have planned for us in the finale of the Mass Effect franchise?
In a refreshingly quick turnaround time, Bioware announced with a trailer that Mass Effect 3 would be released holiday of 2011. As of now, precious few details regarding the game are known outside of vague comments and an amazing announcement trailer. However, it has been known for years that Mass Effect started its inception with a trilogy of stories in mind. As a result, clues to how the third game will play out are planted throughout the first two narratives. So, let’s take a quick look at all the material we have available and see what we can find out about how the story and gameplay of Mass Effect 3 will work.
The Overall Plot:
Potential Spoilers. As stated before, the following is all speculation:
At the end of “Arrival”, the Reapers have seemingly entered the galaxy, but are stranded at the edge without a Mass Effect relay to travel to other systems. In order to carry out their plans, they need to access the relay network… and the closest entry point is Earth. At the start of Mass Effect 3, it stands to reason the Reapers will have completed their slow FTL journey and attacked Earth, leaving little more than a Human resistance movement to defend the planet. The Reaper invasion and subsequent annihilation of all sentient life in the galaxy has begun.
And it’s up to you to stop it. No pressure, right?
From what we know of the previous Reaper invasions, they directed the evolution of cultures to be dependent on the mass effect relays. When the Reapers decided to invade, they simply shut off the mass effect relays to isolate each system. Without the possibility of communication between worlds of reinforcements, each system became easy to destroy one at a time. Therefore, it stands to reason at the start of the game the Reapers would immediately turn off the relays, leaving the various factions of the galaxy in disarray. As Commander Shepard, your only hope is to unite the factions of the galaxy established in the first two games and launch a counter offensive on the Reaper’s beachhead: Earth.
Essentially, think of the story like Dragon Age: Origins with a galactic scale. It would fit Bioware’s story structure to travel to each race’s space, fix their particular problem to gain their trust, and then recruit them into an allied army against a common foe. Two points, however, make the recruitment structure more interesting than other games. First and foremost, your choices from the first two games will deeply impact exactly which races you can recruit and how you go about doing it. The second is that several sectors of space will be locked away from you due to the lock down of the mass effect relays, meaning you will have to build up your races in sequences as different parts of the galaxy open up to you, similar to the tiered sequences in which you can recruit party members in Mass Effect 2.
Shepard had a subplot in Mass Effect that involved visions granted by a Prothean beacon that showed him/her the extinction of the Prothean race at the hands of the Reapers. The subplot was conspicuously absent from Mass Effect, but its unlikely Bioware would drop it altogether. On Ilos, the VI described how the last generation of Prothean scientists worked to discover ways to counteract the Reaper threat. It’s possible that in their research they invented a procedure or device that unlocks the mass effect relays. Knowing Bioware, it would be far too simple to just have a blanket key that would unlock all the relays. In the same way Bioware placed mandatory story missions between recruitment sequences such as investigating the disabled Collector ship, the attack on Horizon, and the Reaper IFF mission, there will be sequences of faction recruitment missions broken up by excursions that end up in unlocking another sector of the galaxy. Obviously, the goal of the game is to unlock Earth’s relay near Pluto in order to launch the counter invasion, which would be achieved in something similar to the Reaper IFF mission. It’s also likely that there is a far more powerful device or piece of information pioneered by the Protheans that holds the key to the Reaper’s downfall waiting to be uncovered. Obtaining the means to take down the Reapers once and for all will most likely be the crux of the game and play into the visions given to Shepard by the beacon in the first Mass Effect. During the counter invasion at the end of the game, using whatever the Protheans came up with will probably be the ultimate objective and the key to saving the galaxy.
In the next installment, we’ll go over the factions and how they’ll play a role in your campaign.
Aaron also writes reviews and editorials on his site Media Rushes.
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