What To Expect From “Mass Effect 3″: The Endgame
We speculate on how Bioware’s Mass Effect 3 will close out the trilogy.
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 and Minor Spoilers. As stated before, the following is almost all speculation:
You’ve made your choices. You’ve gathered your allies. It’s time to take back Earth from the Reapers.
If we can take anything away from Mass Effect 2’s suicide mission, it’s that the degree of loyalty each faction has with you as well as giving them the right jobs to do will mean a great deal when it comes to getting the job done.
Now, as much as it would be amazing to have a system wide campaign where you’re taking back your territory planet by planet, that seems a bit too intricate and expansive for what Bioware usually does. No, they’re going to want a two hour barn burner of a mission that’s neat and compact. That means we can forget the other planets in our system (though, I have a small feeling Mars might make an appearance. Call it a hunch.) and go straight for the prize: Earth. You and your allies are probably gonna sling shot out of the Mass Relay around Pluto (though I swear something is gonna be up with Mars) and make a mad blitz for Earth. Once you get there, however, you’re gonna have to make some tough decisions to take back your home planet from occupying force.
It stands to reason that the Reapers aren’t simply going to beaten back with brute strength. There’s too many of them to simply be overwhelmed. Most likely, Shepard will have acquired a Prothean device or some piece of critical knowledge (or computer virus, with a Mac laptop to upload it) that will have to be used in a certain way to give the allied forces a fighting chance to take down the Reapers. Obviously, you’ll have to get on the ground, on a specific point or installation to use it. Getting there is gonna be the tricky part.
Most likely, the Reapers are going to have a massive space force deployed around the planet which you will not be able to bypass. Therefore, you’ll have to break through their blockade and have a strike force of some kind land on the planet. The question is: Who do you assign to stay in the skies?
Three choices come to mind as the best. First and most obvious are the Quarians. They have a Flotilla that is considered the most powerful space armada in the galaxy. In addition, being confined to their environmental suits due to almost nonexistent immune systems would make them less of an advantage on the ground. While the Quarian Special Forces proved to be pretty bad ass in Mass Effect 2, it’s pretty safe to say that they would be more of a liability when you could be fighting beside Krogan.
The second choice would be the Turians or, if you can’t single them out, Citadel races as a whole. If you recall the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2, if you allowed Garrus to upgrade the cannon on the Normandy he replaced it with a Turian design back engineered from technology found in Sovereign following the battle of the Citadel. The resulting upgraded weapon system tore through a massive Collector ship like butter. Now, imagine a whole fleet full of those and it wouldn’t be hard to see the Turian fleet along with anyone else equipped with the technology having much better odds against the Reapers.
Thirdly, the Terran Alliance Navy has proven it can hold its own in a variety of situations, both on screen and in the universe’s back story. Because of the joint military programs between Humans and Turians, the Terran Navy could have a powerful arsenal of weapons at their disposal. It is possible that humans could be included in the Citadel Races, but more often than not they have stood on their own.
A possible fourth race that could be formidable in the skies are the Geth. Their knowledge of “The Old Machines” could prove useful, as could their shielding technology. Unfortunately, we haven’t really seen a detailed account of the Geth fighting ship to ship. In the Battle of the Citadel, Sovereign mostly used them as distractions while it tore apart enemy ships. If anything, the biggest threat posed from the Geth navy is their drop ships, which have been seen to deploy shock troopers from the atmosphere. So, if you were thinking of sending the Geth on ship to ship attacks, it might be better to use them to run the blockage if possible.
Whoever you’ve chosen to engage the Reapers in the air, the Normandy has delivered you and your strike team to the ground. It could be anywhere on Earth, but it’s possible from the trailer that you could be fighting in London (how cool is that!?). Regardless of where you’re fighting, you’re going to need to clear the area and make your way to your objective. So, who would be best for the quickest shock and awe campaign in gaming history?
First and foremost, it goes without saying that you should use the Krogan. It doesn’t matter if they follow orders or not. Put them on the ground, show them what the enemy looks like, and let them shoot, tackle, and shred their way to victory. Ready, fire, aim.
The second best ground forces you could use will fall to the Rachni. If you saved their Queen, she’s going to have a massive amount of drones to commit to your cause. These things are deadly in close quarters, as they spit acid and have massive pincers. While it’s possible acid and pincers won’t do a lot to machines, they could be very helpful against husks or indoctrinated troops. With their ground burrowing abilities, the Rachni can be used in both defensive and offensive capacities.
If you didn’t use the Citadel forces to help you break through the blockade, then they could be excellent on the ground. Asari commandos could be very powerful allies with their biotic powers to protect troops. Turian infiltrators would make for excellent snipers and could provide cover fire in getting from point to point on the way to your objective. The Salarian special tasks unit could… well… act as a diversion. That seems to be their specialty. Tell them to hold the line and run away.
If at any point you need reinforcements, the Geth would probably be the ones to call. They would also be a great idea if the scenario called for a flanking option. Their drop ships let them stay mobile and dangerous.
You’ve broken through the Reaper armada, fought through the legions of ground forces, and finally made it to your objective. It could be a command Reaper, or a coordination installation, but you’re on the home stretch. Countless soldiers have died to get you to this point. It’s time to show the Reapers what they get for pissing you off.
Let’s say there’s some fortified installation the Reapers have established where you need to use your Prothean artifact (or whatever) to wipe them all out. Despite your advances with the ground war, you’re still out manned and out gunned from all sides. The best you can do is achieve your objective before you’re completely overrun. Efficiency, trickery, and possibly even stealth could be key.
Sounds like a job for Cerberus.
Now, in the Game Informer article, the project director said Cerberus is out to kill you in the game. Their hostility may have something to do with you telling the Illusive Man to take a hike at the end of Mass Effect 2, or his possible indoctrination from being around the Collector Base too long depending on your decisions. If there is an option to recruit Cerberus as a faction, then we’ll assume you’ve taken care of the Illusive Man in one way or another and recruited a small, but effective force loyal to humanity’s survival. Cerberus has proven it can send covert strike and research teams into virtually anywhere in the galaxy to achieve an objective. If you don’t believe that, play Mass Effect 2 again. That’s exactly what you were doing for the whole game. With the help of Cerberus operatives, you could get rather far into any particular installation the Reapers have established. The problems might come when you actually reach your objective and the Illusive Man decides to screw you. If you’re paragon, I’d watch your back if you go in with Cerberus. If you’ve been a steadfast renegade, you’ll probably be fine.
Another faction to take along with you could be the Geth, as they have a knack for getting into heavily guarded places they are not welcome. Having a squad of Legion-esque Geth troops could be invaluable and allow you to get your artifact where you need to put it.
Congrats. You’ve either destroyed the Reapers completely or driven them back into dark space for another 50,000 years. You’ve broken the cycle of destruction and rebirth they’ve imposed on the galaxy or at least given your descendants a much better fighting chance against them. Now what?
You as Shepard are the linchpin of the entire galaxy. Through your leadership, all known sentient races have overcome the greatest threat to their existence they will ever face. Depending on how you navigated the politics of different factions, they might end up in very different places at the end of the trilogy. Really, there are two concrete outcomes to the universe as a whole.
The paragon ending will involve exactly what you’ve been doing for three games: bringing the factions of the galaxy together. After the operation to take back Earth, the organization of the Citadel races will most likely be expanded into a new alliance that includes everyone who helped stop the Reapers. It might take a little charisma, but creating a unified government consisting of Humans, Turians, Asari, Salarians, Quarians, Geth, Krogan, and Rachni would usher in an unparalleled era of peace and cooperation in the galaxy. Really, the only outlier could be the Illusive Man… but just maybe he’ll be more of a team player after seeing aliens risk their civilizations to save Earth. Either way, you’ll be creating a government very similar to the United Federation of Planets in Star Trek: a place where all races can put aside their differences and (mostly) get along for a mutually beneficial relationship.
The renegade ending will be a little different, but no less conclusive. Rather than uniting the races in a fair and equal government, you’ll elevate humanity as the sole dominating force in the galaxy. While it may not be a tyranny or dictatorship, the other races will be subject to your species’ whims. Like the decision to let the Citadel council die, it’ll be up to you to put human interests before all others. The worst part is that if you followed the renegade path to the letter, all the other species will be too weak to stop you. The Quarians and Geth will be depleted from a war, the Krogan will be fractured, the citadel will be run by humanity anyway, and the Rachni won’t even exist. Humanity, as the Illusive Man wished, will be the center of power in the universe at the possible expense of the other races. So, congrats, you’ve made your race strong… but they may have lost a bit of their souls. *cough* facist! *cough*
Depending who what factions you assigned to different tasks in the final battle, along with their strength at the start of the game, I’m sure there will be a few nuances for each race. Overall, however, those two endings should cover the resolution of the plot in the broadest terms. Because, really, it’s either those or you fail and the Reapers harvest all life in the galaxy.
After playing Arrival, it’s also possible that you as Shepard might have to answer for some of your more… creative solutions to certain problems over the course of the trilogy. The recent Game Informer article pointed out that the game actually starts with Shepard on trial, only to be interrupted by the Reaper invasion. So… after your save the galaxy it would be reasonable to assume they’ll put you back on the stand and finish your court martial. It’s possible that trial that will judge your actions over the course of the trilogy. Depending on some of your choices, you might face demotion or even prison time. It’s also possible, that certain characters testifying on your behalf could exonerate you. Hopefully, you’ve made some friends over your tenure as a SPECTRE.
Aaron also writes reviews and editorials on his site Media Rushes.
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