What To Expect From “Mass Effect 3″: The Factions
How the different races and organizations will play their roles in Bioware’s finale to the Mass Effect story.
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.
Potential Spoilers. As stated before, the following is all speculation:
Systems Alliance (Humans):
With entire planet of Earth reduced to a war zone, the Systems Alliance will need all the help it can get. Even with your offer of assistance, it may come down to political pull on whether or not the faction will openly help you. Whoever holds the seat for the humans on the citadel council will be the one who allows your petition of assistance to be heard. If you chose Captain Anderson to champion the human government, he’ll most likely stand with you in any military or political action you decide to take. The risk you run with Anderson is that his aggressive attitude lacks tact, which may lead to less than satisfactory relationships with some alien species who are scared that the Systems Alliance has been transforming the galaxy into a homo sapiens only club. The reaction you might receive among other species could be: “Your home planet is trashed? Fantastic. We didn’t like you anyway.”
One race in particular, the Batarians, are on terrible terms with the humans. Terrorisim, kidnapping, and piracy are just some of the acts they’ve committed on human territory. While outright war hasn’t been declared between the two races, the events of the “Arrival” downloadable content make things a little more volatile. To delay the Reaper’s advance into the galaxy, Shepard destroyed a mass effect relay, wiping out a star system populated by more than three hundred thousand Batarians. Though Shepard is no longer officially affiliated with the Systems Alliance military, he is a human and the Batarians are well aware of his record. With the destruction of the Batarian’s star system at the end of “Arrival”, they may want blood from the humans… who could possibly be willing to sell Shepard out in the interest of peace.
If you chose Udina to represent humanity on the council (seriously… who did?), then you’ll find yourself with a different set of strengths and weaknesses to deal with. While Udina is a self serving pain in the ass that makes your life a living hell, he does it in a diplomatic way. Udina often plays nice with the other races to be as politically correct as possible – often at your expense. While his behavior may be infuriating, it does pander to the other races in the interest of political equality. With Udina in charge, other races might look at the Systems Alliance as less like potential human overlords and more like team players.
Regardless of the choices you made in Mass Effect 2, the threat of Earth’s destruction would mean too much to the Illusive Man for him to do nothing. Cerberus will be a major proponent for swift and total retaliation on the Reapers at any cost. If you sided with the Illusive Man you’ll have a vast financial backing, but a plan to unite the other races of the galaxy might not coincide with his ultimate goals. Where you as Shepard might see your mission as forming a united military coalition, the Illusive Man might just see a colorful array of meat shields. Cerberus’ motto is “humanity first”, which means that in a shooting war they’ll let the aliens take the front line jobs if it means human lives will be saved.
If you chose to save the collector base rather than destroy it, then Cerberus will have no doubt stripped it dry by the time of the third game. Using their new technology, Cerberus could quite possibility transform from a well funded covert operation to a full blown military power. The biggest problem for you as Sheppard will be after the dust settles. Once the fight to take back Earth is over (assuming you were successful), Cerberus is going to push its own agenda of a human dominated galaxy.
The Citadel Races (Turians, Salarians, Asari)
While it’s possible there will be different story missions for each of the three major citadel races, the general narrative often groups them into one unit representing citadel space. If you saved the council in the first game, it’s most likely they’ll be more willing to assist Earth. While their refusal to admit you were right all along about the Reapers if frustrating as hell, it’ll be rather hard for them to refute the evidence when it’s invading the neighbors.
The Asari have always been the ones who were willing to hear you, so it’s not hard to see them joining your cause. The Salarians are a bit harder to predict, but with your joint mission with the Salarian Special Task Unit on Virmire, it’s not hard to think you’ve earned a great deal of respect in their eyes. The real wild card is the Turians, who have had a diverse history with humanity. From the First Contact war to their later joint military programs (The first Normandy was a project designed by engineers from both species), Turians and Humans have had their share of diplomatic ups and downs. It’ll likely come down to your actions to influence their decision to assist in the liberation of Earth.
The Quarians may live in a fleet of second hand ships, longing to reclaim their home world from the Geth, but they are a very underrated power in the galaxy. Their fleet is a formidable armada that is a force to be reckoned with, but it also serves as the only homes they have. Asking the Quarians to go to war is asking them to put their very civilization at risk. In Mass Effect 2, Tali’s loyalty mission allowed you to make several important decisions that could alter the state of the Quarian people. First and foremost, Tali can either be exiled or a prized member of the Quarian Flotila. If she is still welcomed within their ranks, Tali can serve as a potential ambassador for you in a recruitment mission. If she’s exiled or died in the suicide mission, then it might be a bit harder to earn the Quarian’s trust.
Second and more importantly, you can influence the Quarians to go to war with the Geth to reclaim their homeworld. If the Quarians do attack the Geth, then both sides will have lost a great deal by the time the third game starts. The Quarians may not be able to spare the manpower… and if they do their ability to assist you will have been severely hindered. If you urged the Quarians to let go of their homeworld, their forces would remain intact and ready to assist you in your mission.
The character of Legion added a massive amount of depth to the Geth. We learned of a faction of Geth more interested in learning from organics than destroying them that oppose the aggressive Geth that allied themselves with the Reapers.
During Legion’s loyalty mission, you were given the choice to infect the Reaper allied Geth with a virus that could possibility reprogram them into the ranks of the friendlier faction or destroy them altogether. Assuming the virus reprogrammed most or all of the “Heretic” Geth, then you have a potentially massive Geth army to recruit. Being machines themselves, the Geth would have a unique insight of the Reapers and their technology. They could be invaluable in counter electronic warfare in both ground and air. If you destroyed the heretic Geth, then the Geth faction you can recruit would be at half as large. Even worse, if they’re caught in a war with the Quarians, then it stands to reason that Geth strength would be a mere fraction of what it could be.
If Legion was a loyal member of your crew in Mass Effect 2, and more importantly survived the suicide mission, then he could act as an envoy for your interests. Sheppard is a person of extreme interest to the Geth and Legion has personal experience with you. His personal recordings would have spread across the Geth data network by the time of Mass Effect 3, making you a minor celebrity among the race. Play your cards right and could probably get them to follow you to hell and back.
A warrior race that make the Klingons look like a group of drag queens, the Krogan have proven over the course of the first two games that they have the potential to be a devastatingly powerful faction of the galaxy if they get themselves organized. Even though the genophage has dwindled their numbers and made them increasingly desperate, their skill in battle is impressive. The largest factor in their willingness to join the mission to save Earth would be their leadership. If you managed to spare Wrex in Mass Effect, he became the Clan leader of the most progressive and powerful faction of the Krogan civilization. By the time of Mass Effect 3, it’s very likely Wrex’s clan would have a ruling majority over all Krogan. Wrex’s loyalty to Sheppard is absolute, so all you’d have to do is ask for their help against a superior on a suicide mission and they would jump at the chance to prove themselves in battle.
If you didn’t save Wrex, then it’s possible the Krogan will not be as united as they could be. In addition to uniting the different clans under a common goal, you would have to convince them in the first place to join your cause. Given how stubborn the Krogan are… it may be pretty difficult. If you successfully ally yourself with the Citadel, which holds the Turians and Salarians, the Korgan’s hatred for these races might prove as a hindrance. If Wrex isn’t around to push your agenda, the trick is going to be to convince the Krogan they have something to gain from helping you retake Earth… or they’ll be more concerned with tearing each other apart.
To save the Queen or drown her in acid? That little choice on Noveria in the first game might have huge ramifications in Mass Effect 3. If you took the time to talk to the Rachni Queen, you would learn that they’re not evil as a species, but simply mislead.
Around 1 AD, the Rachni were discovered by the Citadel races and a war soon broke out. As the combined might of the Citadel began to dwindle in the face of the Rachni, the Salarians gave technology to a tough as hell, but unknown species in the galaxy: The Krogan. Using the Krogan as reinforcements, the Citadel wiped out the Rachni, until you as Shepard discovered that Sarren was trying to create his own breed of Rachni on Noveria. It turns out the Rachni Queen is (or at least claims to be) a benevolent creature that just wanted to be left alone and build a peaceful hive. If you saved the Rachni Queen, she contacts you through an Asari emissary on Ilium to let you know she’s doing well and keeping out of trouble. It appears, as far as her word in Mass Effect 2 goes, her peaceful intentions remained true.
In Mass Effect 3, it’s pretty obvious that the Rachni will be a possible alley if the Queen is alive. With the time between the first and the third game, it’s possible that the Queen has now built herself a new hive with a lot of drones that don’t have emotional problems. As a favor for letting her species survive, it’s possible she’ll give you a force of her warriors to aid in the liberation of Earth.
In the next installment, we’ll take a look at how the different types of gameplay may change due to tweaks or the story.
Aaron also writes reviews and editorials on his site Media Rushes.
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