We just completed our playthrough of Mass Effect 3. This was the first time hubby had played ME3 since it launched in 2012. We played it at release, before the extended endings or any DLC, and I only went back a few years ago but didn’t do all the DLCs. I guess it’s a bit of a sign of the times, with more and more games being released, there just isn’t time to return to games you’ve already played. Even if they’re beloved games.
Mass Effect 3 has aged rather well, and the Legendary improvements were just icing on the cake, making for a truly enjoyable experience.
If you haven’t yet played ME3 and are worried about spoilers, you might want to stop here.
We decided to get as close to 100% as we could, using the war readiness as a completion counter. We finished just about every side quest I came across, as well as the DLC missions. We chatted to every crew member until they told us to go away. The Citadel DLC, which adds an apartment for Shepard to live in, and opens up a new mission (which was really cool) and unlocks numerous meetings with past and current crew members, is my favourite DLC by far. It culminates in a party with everyone we cared to invite – which was everyone who was still alive – and was a really nice way to say goodbye to the crew. As for the other DLCs, it was great to play something completely new, even for a game that’s nearly a decade old.
It was interesting seeing our past actions affecting things in the game. Playing as paragon meant finally reaching the conclusion of the Conrad Verner storyline. Turns out, despite being a overly enthusiastic Shepard fan, he also has a dissertation that was directly relevant to the construction of the Crucible.
Despite our attempts to do everything in this playthrough, we missed a meeting with Miranda, which led to her death in the Sanctuary mission. While this was a devastating loss, I now have a kind of morbid curiosity to see what the game would be like if I let as many crew members as possible perish throughout the trilogy.
Like its predecessors, ME3 is not without its tedious and awkward parts. I actually came to miss the Mako as we flew around star systems blindly scanning for anything interesting, before being forced to evade the Reaper forces that were attracted by our scans. This is something that has to be repeated dozens of times across the various star systems, and it is entirely boring. It made me wish I could be exploring different planets in a rover, or scanning planets for resources, or, well, anything else really.
Running up and down the Citadel looking for new quests, almost all of which were boring fetch quests that involved scanning in a certain star system, also became extremely dull. There were fairly limited conversations to have on board the Normandy – towards the end most of the crew were just greeting me as ‘Shepard’ and had nothing more to say. Characters like James, who I really liked, had little more than a few voice lines after each major mission. Heck, I took him along on the final mission, and he didn’t have a SINGLE WORD to say. I really missed the squad chatter that’s present in Mass Effect Andromeda. I felt like I was alone on many missions, and began choosing squad members based on their abilities more than anything else.
The standout moments in ME3, for me at least, were the character interactions (just like the other games!) We ended up romancing Specialist Traynor this time around, paving the way for Tali and Garrus to get together, still one of my favourite interactions.
And of course, there was the pre-Andromeda thing Bioware loves – letting you get attached to a crew of special characters, only to have you go into the final mission on your own. It really felt like a bit of a let down at the end there.
The ending of ME3 was quite contentious when the game was released. This was because the three endings had almost identical cutscenes based on your final choice, though this didn’t really bother me because the real difference was in the choice I had made. Having seen the ‘extended cut’ now, and having watched the other two options on YouTube, they are very similar as well, but the narration is very different, and of course everyone has glowy green eyes if you choose the synthesis option (I couldn’t resist it 9 years ago, and I couldn’t resist it now!), and EDI and Jeff are together and everything is beautiful.
I am so glad the Legendary edition brought me the chance to replay these amazing games again, and removed many of their frustrating aspects in the process. I look forward to trying a lazy renegade Shep sometime and seeing how many crew members I can lose along the way.