How Mass Effect Changed My Life

Happy N7 Day 2023!

How Mass Effect Changed My Life
Image: Bioware.

It's November 8th, 7:54 AM. I went to bed last night after watching an amazing short trailer for Mass Effect N7 Day. If you missed it, it was this one:

Video: Mass Effect / Bioware.

And this trailer excites me to think about the franchise's future. It seems, based on this footage, that the game is proceeding pretty quickly. So, even though we've seen some layoffs recently, I still feel hopeful for the next installment.

The Mass Effect games are a very personal experience. So, I want to share mine and how it changed my life.

It All Began With Mass Effect 2

The first Mass Effect game I picked up was Mass Effect 2. It was on sale on EA, so I downloaded it because I was looking for a new RPG game. I had just finished Neverwinter Nights 2 and Dragon Age Origins for the second or third time. Stargate was big then, so an RPG set in space was an interesting concept.

I played Mass Effect 2 for a bit, and it was the second game I could romance somebody. The first was DA: Origins. And I was thrilled to explore multiple types of relationships with my companions. It always excited me to see how the dialogue would change. I was also obsessed with getting the highest Paragon score.

At some point pretty early on, I realized you could import your save from Mass Effect 1. That save import shaped your game by your previous decisions.

That's when I returned to buy Mass Effect 1, play it thoroughly, and import my save to Mass Effect 2.

That imported playthrough was the epitome of a video game experience. My decisions mattered. Finally.

I Wanted All Games to Follow The Trend

I couldn't play any games that did not have as much human connection as Mass Effect taught me to expect.

Much later, I discovered The Witcher video game and fell in love with that kind of storytelling. There was romance there too, but it was not as flashed out as Mass Effect.

I've been spoiled, and now I couldn't go back.

The biggest change for me was...

Mass Effect and Dragon Age Taught Me Storytelling

All of these games follow the Hero's Journey template religiously. We enjoy it, and it works. Here are a few examples.

In Mass Effect 1, the inciting incident is receiving the vision from the beacon on Eden Prime and beginning the chase after Saren. The loss Sheperd endures on Virmire is the point in Act 2 where our hero needs to rethink everything. The entry to Act 3 is traveling to Ilos for the final part of the vision. From then on, you're committed to the end of the game.

In Mass Effect 2, the inciting incident is being resurrected by The Illusive Man. Given a ship and a mission to gather the best people for the job. The point of rethinking everything is on Horizon when Sheperd finds Ashley or Kaiden. They doubt his authenticity in working with Cerberus. The start of Act 3 is when The Collectors abduct your people. Any time you waste instead of saving them means many of them will die.

In Mass Effect 3, the inciting incident is The Reapers' arrival on Earth. You must gather strength and resources to return to Earth and save it from the reapers. In ME3, you have multiple points where you can lose people if your decisions betray them. The start of Act 3 is the realization that The Citadel itself is The Catalyst, and the reapers captured it. That's when we're committed to the final sequence of the game.

What's Next?

The next logical step for Mass Effect is a story that unfolds in an open-world setting. Fans have told the development team for a decade how much they love the world. Being able to follow a quest line removed from the main one just for the sake of lore and discovery would be amazing. We don't expect it to be Starfield, with auto-generated worlds and little storytelling. It could be a combination of the two.

I would love to be able to explore the Mass Effect universe more intimately than ever.

Regardless of what comes next, cheers, Mass Effect. Thank you for everything.