PATHWAYS/015: Returning, reloading, rejoining

In the months before Mass Effect 3, I replayed Mass Effect with the intention of doing a full runthrough, this never happened.

There are worst-case scenarios when reloading anything — you could find the avatar in an unwinnable position due to missing items or lack of gameplay understanding, or you could just be hampered by an unwillingness to complete the narrative.

I often boot up old Oblivion and Fallout 3 saves, just to play about in the world a bit and recover my whereabouts. Most of my saves are in expansions I no longer have access to, so I end up in the places before large moments or post mission completion. I know what and where I want to go, but due to an inability to reset quest progress, I’m unlikely to start a new save just to complete The Replicated Man or any of the Daedric quests.

I don’t think the achievements drove me to complete the game, but the bonuses definitely helped on my run-throughs with different characters, as I wanted to hear everything they wanted to say.

By having played both games on console, I’m locked out of the mod community. A desire to replay the entire game with my endgame is only going to happen if I replicate my inventory and stats, but if we go the full way, why not simply respec existing points? It’ll happen one day and I’ll be over the moon.

It’s a bit harder when choices matter in games, as sometimes it’s hard to recall the exact decisions and whether you still agree with them — in a lot of cases I’d rather restart, which can lead to the issue I currently have with the Mass Effect trilogy. At this point my saves and choices are so far removed that I end up replaying the original, and most likely making the exact same choices. As such, due to save corruption, my original Shepard is lost. The cycle stated above has led to me never actually playing Mass Effect 3 to completion (I’ve just met back up with the Shadow Broker).

In the months before Mass Effect 3, I replayed Mass Effect with the intention of doing a full run-through. This never happened.
Even though Johann was the character I put all the hours into, it would be Orion who made Mass Effect for me.

Instead of actually progressing to Mass Effect 2, I tend to challenge New Game+ playthroughs of the original. To this day I’ve not reattempted the suicide mission, as in my mind I perfected it all three times (Chambers doesn’t count) I completed ME2. My ME3 save is a Shepard I don’t recognise, and who doesn’t have the connections I remember from my most recent ME1 playthroughs, which are ever so slightly different from my ME2 save, or possibly not…

Beginning of the game, version of the ultimate boss, as opposed to core antagonist. This is technically unwinnable.
Final version of said level once everyone has powered up and it becomes a winnable state.

I tend to prefer the set pieces of the original to the nostalgia of reuniting the team in ME2, which is my main worry about the third entry. I think I understand why there was a massive T800 at the end of ME2, but I don’t think it was a good idea, nor the fact that the entire series is based on a failure to remember the time massive creatures attacked the home of an intragalactic council.

The characters and story in ME2 are incredible, but it feels like a rescue mission rather than an investigation into a new realm — something that, from my tiny experience with the third game, seems to be its sole purpose.

The villain in all three games is technically the Reapers, but Saren and Benezia are antagonists in a way the player can combat. This is a weird tangent and will most likely fall flat, but in Warriors Orochi 3 (a spin off of the Dynasty/Samurai Warriors franchise) the actual cause of destruction is a eight-headed hydra. This is unkillable without progressing through the narrative via time travel (as you do), causing certain events like the restocking of heavy artillery or even the invention of such.

It wasn’t the complaints about the ending; for some reason it just never bit.

The hydra is more a weapon of destruction than the actual villain, but the game has its squad of antagonists creating chaos through history. From memory, the only real antagonists I remember in Mass Effect 2 and 3 are the footsoldiers of the Reapers, who are essentially mute, and characters who are rivals (if not enemies) of your squadmates new and old.

This isn’t my total play time. It’s not mentioned in the article, but I had to revert a few saves due to weird bugs; as such just under three hours of my seven-plus hours are recorded.

The original Mass Effect is a different game to its sequels. It feels more pulpy due to things like being unproven and the risk that the game could fail — something its sequels forgot. As such, it often feels like there is only one true ending, and that’s the original. The sequels ends with an explicit nod to a planned sequel of sorts, whereas the original ends with the possibility of more, rather than the explicit identification of a clear threat to the universe from Mass Effect 2.

I keep putting off returning to ME2 — I’ve just always had more drive to revisit C-Sec, Feros and Noveria. One day, I’ll revisit Omega and that biotic Volus. I don’t see any reason to finish the trilogy until I do.

PATHWAYS is an ongoing series about the way we make our journeys through the worlds of games. You can read the rest of the series here.

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