The Best And Worst Parts Of Every Mass Effect Game

The Best And Worst Parts Of Every Mass Effect Game

It’s hard to hear the name BioWare without conjuring up some image from Mass Effect, its groundbreaking series of sci-fi RPGs. Mass Effect was pretty damn good. Whether you were in it for its smoochable aliens, expansive world building, or its choice-driven gameplay, Mass Effect had a little bit of something for everyone. And with a new game on the horizon, anticipation is at an all-time high for BioWare to breathe new life into the beloved franchise.

Here, as Kotaku’s resident Mass Effect-fanatic, I’ve assembled my thoughts on the series’ many peaks and valleys for your reading pleasure. (We’ve done the same with Halo and Borderlands, too.) Without further ado, here’s the best and worst parts of every Mass Effect game.

Mass Effect

The Best: The world-building. Whether you are playing Mass Effect with fresh Asari-blue eyes or are nearing the end of your tenth playthrough, the game’s captivating world-building will have you fighting hand over fist for more of that sweet lore. Your first hour is bursting at the seams with intergalactic politics, diverse alien species, and dialogue and codexes on how the two have and haven’t gelled. Setting the tone for all future Mass Effect games, this first one lets you blaze your own trail in the universe by acting as a Renegade or Paragon.

(With unbridled appreciation) And whoever came up with the concept of Elcors deserves a kiss on the mouth. Love those guys.

 Read More: Mass Effect Legendary Edition Makes The First Game Required Playing

The Worst: Samey-feeling planets. OG Mass Effect stands the test of time as the most full-on RPGish game of the series. Sadly, being a large-scale, planet-exploring RPG also came with the inescapable feeling of all those planets feeling a bit hollow and bereft of diversity. Sure, there’s a little in the wallpaper-worthy backdrops of some of the planets, but outside of discovering a multitude of cadaverific space explorers and a shifty-looking cow, there ain’t a lot to see out there.

Mass Effect 2

The Best: Loyalty missions. Commander Shepard probably thought they had issues having to deal with the whole sci-fi resurrection, impending Reaper invasion, and prying questions about how they survived the onslaught on Akuze (Kill Bill sirens intensifies). But it turns out the N2rmandy’s rough-and-tumble assortment of crewmates is just as troublesome…but worth the effort of sorting out.

Mass Effect 2’s loyalty missions are by far the highlight of the game. Whether you’re helping your krogan son through puberty or engaging your sea-shell-loving Salarian in a rousing debate over the morality of the genophage, Mass Effect 2’s crew-centric episodes are the bedrock of the game and contain the most creative missions and world-building of the series. And for romantic players, the culmination of a loyalty mission has the added bonus of eventually letting you suck face with your favourite aliens or (sigh) human crewmates. I’d say the fraternizing aboard the Normandy warrants an emergency HR meeting, but its resident therapist is too busy either feeding Shepard’s fish or giving them a lap dance.

Read More: Fuck, Marry, Kill: Mass Effect Party Member Edition

The Worst: No Mako. Boo, tomato tomato. As if to over-correct gripes about Mass Effect’s repetitive and uninspired space exploration, Mass Effect 2 removed it entirely. Sadly, this decision not only eliminates the explorative feel in favour of more linear gameplay, it also excludes any and all drivin’ around in the Mako. Instead of clunkily scaling the side of impossibly vertical mountainsides or flinging yourself into an unsuspecting Geth Colossus from the safety of the Normandy’s Nokia phone-esque all-terrain vehicle, you just watch repetitive cutscenes of the crew in their mini spacecraft shuttling themselves hither and thither across the galaxy. I love you Mako-sama, you big hoss, you.

Mass Effect 3

The Best: The Citadel DLC. Anyone who played Mass Effect 3 would tell you the best part of the game nay, the entire series, is its Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC. Citadel is essentially a fanservice-laden celebration of Mass Effect. In this wacky slice-of-life misadventure, your crew takes a break from preventing the world from ending and throws a raging house party chock full of hilarious party fouls and a plethora of mini escapades across the ancient Prothean space station. It’s camp, it’s cute, and it almost makes up for the game’s infamous dookie ending. Hell, this DLC is so popular, there’s a Nexus mod to make it the epilogue to Mass Effect 3.

Read More: After Backlash, Mass Effect 3 Devs Say Team Crunched To Deliver New Ending

The Worst: The ending. There was no way Mass Effect 3 could’ve stuck the landing — not with that much baggage, not with that many expectations. I’m not talking about the original incarnation, nor do I really take issue with the choice-based narrative boiling down to two or three choices. (C’mon, you all ended up making the same story decisions anyway.) And I certainly do not support that ridiculous bad-faith campaign against it.

But I couldn’t help but feel deflated with the conclusion, hitting it for the first time earlier this year during my run through Legendary Edition. Mass Effect is a 150-hour-long messy, complicated tale about the power of personal choice. It culminates in a tidy finale about the inalienable power of fate. Not saying this ending undermined anything I’d experienced prior. But I’d have loved a finale as intricate and grey as the rest of what I’d played. Also, what was the deal with that kid again? — Ari Notis

Mass Effect: Andromeda

The Best: The combat and banter. Thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine, Mass Effect: Andromeda’s combat is the crispest the series has ever been. Detonating biotic attacks, manoeuvring around crowds of enemies, and stringing together squad attacks is all seamless. When you aren’t ragdolling fools with your biotics, traversing planets in your Nomad (this game’s Mako) is a downright delight. Any time spent crammed in the Nomad is filled with banter from your squadmates. Not only will they comment on your shoddy driving, they’ll also make asides about whatever planet you’re on, and, more importantly, your love life. God bless.

Read More: The Story Behind Mass Effect: Andromeda’s Troubled Five-Year Development

The Worst: Where all the new aliens at? Aside from the horrendous state of Mass Effect: Andromeda’s release, how on Commander Anderson’s green Earth does the Andromeda galaxy only offer the Mass Effect series three new alien races? Like seriously, what the hell? Are you telling me that in an entirely new galaxy, we’ve only got Kett, Angara, and Remnant filling out Andromedan census surveys? Sadly, BioWare announcing that there wouldn’t be any DLC for Andromeda buried all hope of receiving a consolation prize in finding the lost Quarian ark and increasing the game’s alien race count to a healthier nine.

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