Mass Effect Series Catch-All

BadKen wrote:

Are you saying Asari are not known for their powerful armies? Asari Commandos are among the most feared soldiers in the galaxy. The Asari matriarchs we met in the series were known for being the most powerful biotics anywhere, *and* among the wisest leaders. Benezia basically had her own cult built up around her, and her own army of commandos.

Asari Commandos engage in sabotage, propaganda, and infiltration. Asari army units, in themselves, are not known for their front-line prowess. This is revealed in sound bites from Aethyta. James Vega mentions the krogan and batarian as "meat" necessary to form a strong backbone for a coalition force. The turians, not the asari, form the main force of the Council army and navy. Later on, humans contribute to this significantly. It is noteworthy that asari do not, with the exception of their powerful flagship, the Destiny Ascension (if it was saved).

Pikey26:

I don't think it's glossed over at all, just talk to all those people that got neck-deep into the multiplayer in ME3.

Even as early as ME2, anyone playing at Insanity difficulty realized ability combo is pretty much the most effective method of breaking down shields and barriers by a mile.

ME1, ability mechanics were not as good as ME2/3 with all their bendy projectiles and what not (plus early combat was not scaled well AT ALL for that style of gameplay).

I think the MP arena in ME3 did a great service to the community and the game by informing its participants of the true nature of ME combat. It is notable that they play a lot like I play (and presumably how we play) the single player arenas - taking very little actual hard cover.

For the non-ME3 MP players, here's an example of how that looks like:

Basically, it's hard to see ME and especially ME3 as a cover shooter when you're not really using all that much of the cover to begin with.

It was actually NOT that obvious to anyone playing at Insanity that power combos were the way to go. I was present a lot more in the Bioware forums around that time and pretty much no one there knew about it. The same was true of the greater internet content, and certainly it wasn't immediately obvious in the ME2 thread that all that many people knew.

There were so, so, so many "Biotics are useless" threads in the Bioware forums at the time, and I really got into it with a few folks. Of the many, I remember a user called GrumpyWizard being the most entrenched of the lot, and it was only after I realized that no one knew about combos that I actually started to just stonewall and tell people pointblank and in very clear terms what to do and look out for.

This became a whole lot easier after TheAverageGatsby created his walkthrough videos demonstrating the use of the power combos. He favored Singularity-Warp, though, which is slow and inefficient, IMO. Here's a sample:

The videos were made with the express purpose of making it absolutely clear that he's using combos to go through the game. This is because it was not clear at the time to a lot of people what these things were and how effective they really could be. We're talking large swathes of the ME-playing community here, many of whom had supposedly already cleared Insanity with their Soldiers and Infiltrators and were finding the going extremely tough with their Adepts.

Also, squad PLAY wasn't that involved imo, beyond having two more primary abilities (one decent from each member) on your bar... at least in my experience. Squad combo was pretty huge and that's about it.

Many of your squaddies can lay down significant amounts of fire. Samara and Garrus were notable for this in ME2. In ME3, many of Garrus' powers center around making him tougher and more damaging. In the Armax Arsenal arena at level 60, I could actually just leave Wrex and Grunt to wreak havoc on their own against Elite opponents, providing nothing more than supporting power usage. And I'd still get the Gold medal.

Squaddie placement in both ME2 and ME3 allows you to pin down enemies to specific areas of cover, which allows you to flank them and shoot them without giving them the benefit of cover. Indeed, one of the primary uses of Cloak in both ME2 and ME3 was to circle around the front of battle to a side or back location for easy pickings. In this way, squad coordination can be similar to unit management in XCOM. Conversely, a Soldier can Storm an enemy unit position and force them out for easy kills by your squaddies. A Vanguard or Adept charging the front with Shockwave can do the same thing.

Garrcia wrote:

The Krogan however had a crazy high birth rate, and most likely precontact the majority did not make it anywhere close to 1000 years in age.

The interesting thing about the codex entries for the Krogan is that they are technically considered a prey species. Their eyes are on either side of their head instead of on the front, they evolved in an extremely hostile environment where 'eaten by a predator' was the most likely form of death, and have several redundant biological systems. I mean, just count those testes!

I loved the story and the epic scale, but what worked for me (gameplay aside) was simply those small one off bits of humor. Those trivial moments helped ground the game and provided a polar opposite to the all the gravitas heavy storylines.

My favorite examples:
I already thought the Citadel DLC was great, but once I heard Mordin Solus' amino acid song I absolutely lost my mind. "Now the aromatics!"

Mordin singing Gilbert and Sullivan was already hilarious, but the best part was the dramatic pause afterwards followed by the awkward, embarrassed cough. Perfect comedic timing.

...and of course, drunken Tali.

Mordin is great, playing through ME2 right now, and still fairly on:

"Trying to determine how scale-itch got on to Normandy. Sexually transmitted disease only carried by Varren. [inhale] Implications unpleasant."

Surely the best thing about the DLC was hanging out with Garrus. Love the series (apart from the well discussed issues), thinking of giving it another play through from the start with a broshep but just not sure if it would feel right.

LarryC wrote:

I think the MP arena in ME3 did a great service to the community and the game by informing its participants of the true nature of ME combat. It is notable that they play a lot like I play (and presumably how we play) the single player arenas - taking very little actual hard cover.

For the non-ME3 MP players, here's an example of how that looks like:

Basically, it's hard to see ME and especially ME3 as a cover shooter when you're not really using all that much of the cover to begin with.

This approach works for Bronze and most of Silver. It falls apart completely in Gold. For Gold and Platinum, avoiding damage in the first place is key, especially because of the shield and health gate timings being basically nothing. You can go from full health to dead in the blink of an eye, especially if you're against Reapers. Ravagers will end you if you're caught out of cover on gold and platinum.

I've actually watched a few youtubes on Gold and Platinum basically playing the same way. It's dependent on enemy type and projectile, of course. For enemies like Banshees, it's preferable to stay out of cover because you can just dodge the ranged attack. This is doubly true when Husks are wandering around the place, or if there are Brutes. Don't want to stay in one place too long. Ravagers are more of a reason to use cover when they're firing, but no reason to stay in cover when they're not.

Says the person who's never played MP.

But we're talking SP anyway. SP's pretty easy. I've heard that even Insanity is only equivalent to Silver on the MP settings, so you should be able to run-and-gun fairly easily in SP. I know I do. Given the AI scripts, Guardians, and maps, it's a lot less advisable to stay put in ME3 than it is in ME2 where cover basically makes you invulnerable. ME3's a whole lot easier when you keep on the move and pay attention to squad tactics.

The only real reason to use the cover mechanic is when soft cover isn't available in certain missions.

ME3 single player, even on Insanity, is pretty much a cakewalk. The hardest thing you face is the 2 banshee fights at the end of the campaign.

For multiplayer, that's the final wave of Silver. Or wave 4 of Gold. Or wave 2 on Platinum. And it only gets worse from there.

There is the glitched Armax Arena boss rush fight. Not sure how tough that is comparatively, but it can't be that hard. Pause on command is just an unfair Shepard advantage.

maverickz wrote:

I was under the impression that in the lore, the Asari appear as the same species-ish as the "viewer".

For the longest time, I figured that the Asari operated like that one scene in Galaxy Quest:

(at about 3:11)

LarryC wrote:

The videos were made with the express purpose of making it absolutely clear that he's using combos to go through the game. This is because it was not clear at the time to a lot of people what these things were and how effective they really could be. We're talking large swathes of the ME-playing community here, many of whom had supposedly already cleared Insanity with their Soldiers and Infiltrators and were finding the going extremely tough with their Adepts.

Do they ever explain combos in the game itself? The only form of tutorial is three garbage videos in your cabin. BioWare are terrible at that kind of thing.

Power Combos are only detailed in the Manual of ME3, and the documentation is quite sparse. They were tangentially referred to in the power descriptions for Warp in ME2. The description of the power is what led me to experiment with comboing the powers and allowed me to discover the brokenness that is Biotic Explosions. Otherwise, documentation is infamously scanty.

kazooka wrote:
maverickz wrote:

I was under the impression that in the lore, the Asari appear as the same species-ish as the "viewer".

For the longest time, I figured that the Asari operated like that one scene in Galaxy Quest:

*video*

Heh, Galaxy Quest--take a look at his space rifle in that scene. Looks kinda familiar to me. Also a little trivia: the villian Sarris is played by Robin Sachs, the same actor who voiced Zaeed.

So, question. Say someone were to get a hankering to play the series over again, from one to three, on the PC. What's the best way to go about this?

I got the first two on Steam as a gift, and I went ahead and activated them on Origin as well, figuring that since the DLC and third game are only available there it might simplify things down the road.

What about mods? Is there anything in the way of fan patches / graphical upgrades that's considered de rigeur these days? What about controller support? Widescreen?

I play on both Steam and Origin. Steam is better for the most part. I get messages from ME3 that disallow me from playing the SP content when EA servers can't authenticate my game for whatever reason. I never get this problem with Steam, even when I'm offline. Saves are imported from a unified Bioware folder on your Documents folder in your PC profile, so it doesn't really matter where you're playing previous games. They'll load just fine.

Might be better to go for Steam for modding. I'm fairly sure Steam games are mod-friendly, but given how draconian EA is about control over a game you supposedly are licensed to play, I wouldn't play it on Origin unless I had no other choice, and especially since mods might mess with authentication.

ME1 graphics are awful. They were bad and jaggy even for the era in which the game released. Fortunately, there's a single hi-resolution mod that will fix that right up. That would be the MEUITM at Mass Effect Nexus. Be warned, it is unofficial and can crash or break games. I did, however, successfully install it and it was pretty nice. All it does, really, is update the game to look like the latter two games. This is less noticeable once you really get into the game and the graphics just melt away; but some people really, really mind.

Widescreen 16:9 and 16:10 is supported in at least ME2 and ME3. Will check ME1 when I get home.

ME is a game best played to a character, or to yourself. Don't try to "win" the story game. You can't lose it. Each playthrough can feature new content. One content isn't necessarily a better experience than another just because your points didn't allow you to choose the latter options. Playing "All-Paragon" or "All-Renegade" to minmax your story experience ultimately dilutes and mechanizes it. Decide what's appropriate to the drama or your Shepard's character and go with that. This is ultimately a more rewarding experience over the 3 games.

For DLC, Lair of the Shadow Broker, From Ashes, and Citadel are top recommendations. Some would include Omega and Leviathan, though I feel that both are somewhat superfluous - kinda like good support stories on the side. Omega feels kinda like fanfic. For what it's worth, Bring Down The Sky in the first ME has a keyless installer that can be applied as it was released for free about two years ago. Doesn't really add anything memorable, honestly. Might be autoinstalled on the Origin version.

I believe there are unofficial fan-made alternate downloadable ini-files that allow you to use a controller for ME2 and ME3, but they're not pro work and they can break the game.

LarryC wrote:

ME is a game best played to a character, or to yourself. Don't try to "win" the story game. You can't lose it. Each playthrough can feature new content. One content isn't necessarily a better experience than another just because your points didn't allow you to choose the latter options. Playing "All-Paragon" or "All-Renegade" to minmax your story experience ultimately dilutes and mechanizes it. Decide what's appropriate to the drama or your Shepard's character and go with that. This is ultimately a more rewarding experience over the 3 games.

Agreed on all counts. I've played through the trilogy once on 360, this would be a replay.

For DLC, Lair of the Shadow Broker, From Ashes, and Citadel are top recommendations. Some would include Omega and Leviathan, though I feel that both are somewhat superfluous - kinda like good support stories on the side. Omega feels kinda like fanfic. For what it's worth, Bring Down The Sky in the first ME has a keyless installer that can be applied as it was released for free about two years ago. Doesn't really add anything memorable, honestly. Might be autoinstalled on the Origin version.

IIRC on my first play-through I had all of the story DLC except for Citadel, Omega, and Leviathan, since I played ME3 near-launch and those didn't come out until later. Of the ones I played, I'd tend to agree that Shadow Broker and From Ashes were excellent, the rest ranging from "entertaining-but-optional" (Kasumi, Arrival) and "might-as-well-skip" (everything else).

The PC version seems to be a pain in the ass when it comes to figuring out what DLC you have. The Steam version gives you a list of what you've already got installed (read: what's included in the package you bought) when you right-click it in your library, but AFAIK you can't buy any of the story DLC through Steam so that's of limited helpfulness. The Origin version doesn't even give you that much, and the little "Downloadable Content" button in the launcher just opens your web browser to a 404 error on EA's web site.

Dear EA: I am trying to give you money in exchange for a product. You are not making it easy for me. You suck. Love, hbi2k.

I'd consider double-dipping on the content I already own on the PC if they'd just release a "hit this button and get all three games with all DLC already included so you don't have to mess with it" version, but AFAIK "Trilogy" doesn't include any of the DLC for 2 or 3. Eff that.

It's easier if you can link it to a Bioware account, which itself links to an EA account. I had a previous physical copy of ME2, but I lost it and rebought it on Steam. I have a physical copy of ME1, but the physical install is a hassle. Steam sale ME saw me buying the 1-2 package. BDtS was free, and the installer was agnostic, so I just ran it. I redownloaded all my relevant ME2 DLCs from my Bioware account and ran the installers. ME3 in Origin has an "i" icon that will tell you which DLCs are available, which you've bought, and which are installed.

It is tragically and unnecessarily complicated for the ME games on account of EA's Origin shenanigans. For BL2, you just get the GOTY Edition thing with the Season Pass and it all installs and updates automatically.

In any case, thanks for all the help. Installing MEUITM right now, decided to forego trying to mod in controller support until / unless I decide I absolutely hate M&KB controls. I don't tend to like M&KB for third-person games, but who knows, they may be tolerable in this one. I'll give them a shot.

Since I don't consider any of the DLC in ME1 to be crucial, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it I guess.

Stick with the M&KB. The controller mods are pretty terrible. The xbox UI is included in ME1, so that mod feels the closest to a seamless controller experience. Though IIRC, you still have to press a button to pause things and bring up the radial menus and then press it again to get back into the game, so it's still a bit janky. With the other games you end up using a controller to navigate a UI designed for a mouse and keyboard.

ME1 UI is not the best, but it's actually not bad for a first effort. It is the most transparently a squad-command UI, with prominently displayed commands to tell your squaddies which targets to attack, where to seek cover, and whether to attack or hunker down. In ME2 and ME3, the pause command is held; I'm thinking that you can configure ME1 to have the same UI. In both ME2 and ME3, squaddie commands are buried in the key bindings and there's no clear designation to attack or defend. You're more or less going to have to handle it with weapon commands. Some weapons associate with aggressive attack, some emphasize distance attack for safer squaddies.

I rebound my key bindings in ME2 and ME3 to have two thumb buttons for power commands, Q and E for squaddie powers, and up scroll and down scroll for more Shepard powers. This corresponds to 6 mappable buttons for powers, plus 1 for Medigel, 2 and 3 for the secondary active powers, and 7 and 8 for ammo powers.

Inventory is poorly done in ME1, but it's less annoying on a PC. That said, it's best to aggressively omnigel anything that you're not going to use. Pick two armors, two of every weapon type you can use. One spare amp or omnitool with alternative stats. Junk everything else. This keeps your inventory nice and streamlined. Between 3 squaddies, this already constitutes a significant amount of inventory space. Once you get Spectre weapons, they're all obsolete anyway.

The Mako is a polarizing sort of game mechanic. For those who found it rough the first time, here's what I gathered after 5 playthroughs: it's not an off-road vehicle. It looks like it should be, but it's happiest on flat ground. If there's a nav point you need to get to on the Mako, chances are there's a flat path to it. The least annoying game challenge for me is in finding that flat path. You can blast through the rough stuff, but that's the kind of game control that sets people's teeth on edge.

I often wonder (and I've never gone and done any research on this) whether ME1 started life as a much more party-based game, based on the squad-focused UI.

Ed Ropple wrote:

I often wonder (and I've never gone and done any research on this) whether ME1 started life as a much more party-based game, based on the squad-focused UI.

I could totally believe it, especially in light of BioWare's history.

When I started ME2, I found it really jarring that the sequel to a game with squad-based (somewhat) tactical combat was presenting itself as a cover shooter.

True enough. It initially disappointed me that it took that route, but after finding out how to issue commands and influence Squad behavior, it turns out that ME2 is a better squad tactics shooter than ME1. Except for the more obtuse interface. I guess they figured third person shooters were more profitable than ground command real time squad tactics (remember, this was before XCOM: EU) games, so they marketed it as such and submerged squad commands deep into the game.

Hehe. All this Mass Effect talk has reignited my interest in the series. I've picked up my Engi playthrough where I left it the last time. So, for ME3, I've so far completed an Adept, Sentinel, Soldier, Infiltrator, and up to Rannoch on an Engi right now.

Whoa. My last Engi was a Medic in ME1. It was hilarious standing back and letting your squad take names, but the Engineer power profile in ME2 left me cold, even though it's technically stronger. What a difference!

The Engineer in ME3 is now a combination pet and powers class. She can be specced to be weapons-heavy with an emphasis on spawning drones and turrets to help out gunplay, or she can be specced as almost a pure caster, relying on tech bursts, cryo bursts, and fire explosions to get through the game. Geth and enemy Engineers are cake with Sabotage, and it's even useful against normal troops since it prevents them from using their guns. With Neural Shock evolution, Overload works well against everything - not just Geth! It's like having a Chain Lightning spell.

So the Engi in ME3 is essentially an Elemental Mage; whereas the Adept is literally a Force Mage (many powers have force components - expressed in Newtons, even). I dig it.

cube wrote:

This approach works for Bronze and most of Silver. It falls apart completely in Gold. For Gold and Platinum, avoiding damage in the first place is key, especially because of the shield and health gate timings being basically nothing. You can go from full health to dead in the blink of an eye, especially if you're against Reapers. Ravagers will end you if you're caught out of cover on gold and platinum.

There are certainly many classes who get downed quickly on Gold. But there are plenty of classes who are fine running around in the open on Gold. I've only played one Platinum match in which we ran around in the open the whole match, hunting down enemies.

By "running around" I mean just that, never in hard cover and rarely using soft cover. You would just position yourself so that enemies don't have good line of sight on you for long. No one uses hard cover, even on Platinum.

ccesarano posted this interesting take by Noah Gervais on the Mass Effect series as a whole. It's an interesting commentary; though I do not agree with many of his takes on the series. I am significantly more upbeat on ME in general, and ME3 in particular, though most of GWJ probably knows that by now. Hi! I'm LarryC. I like Mass Effect.

But his take on Samara crystallizes something that's been on the back of my mind for the entirety of ME2. Samara is an interesting character, but I chose to interact with her as little as possible. Not to put too fine a point on it, but her graphical portrayal turned me off quite profoundly. I'm not against sexualization. Bring on the fanservice! But in Samara's case, the fanservice actively detracts from her character. She's supposed to be a warrior monk. The bikini outfit and high heels are just a bit much for me. The skinny modelesque build exacerbates this issue.

Here's an image that depicts a warrior mage:

IMAGE(http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i99/rapchill/Eren.jpg)

I think Samara could use a rethink along these lines. Could use a bit more bulk, too. The Diablo 3 Barbarian looks like this:

IMAGE(http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs45/f/2009/095/d/f/Barbarian_by_Mr__Jack.jpg)

I don't think it's out of place for a thousand-year-old warrior monk who's dedicated herself to privation and battle to look similar - with the scars and the thick sinews and all. I also happen to have a pet peeve with boob armor, so ideally, I'd want Samara not to have that.

The N7 breastplate for Shepard is something I like. Room for comfort, but still plausible as projectile protection.

IMAGE(http://iheaven.us/gigsimg/1208200242mass%20effect%207.jpg)

I'm also partial to the Hahne Kedar concept for a warrior that uses rifles. Could be good on a Samara costume rethink:

IMAGE(http://i554.photobucket.com/albums/jj404/Michael_Ab/sheparmor1_zps27f909e5.jpg)

I'm not an artist, but I could easily prefer a vision of Samara having something solidly merc-ish like that with enhanced biotic interface amp thingies on her forearms reminiscent of fancy bracers or bucklers. Lose the high heels, of course. Essentially, less Victoria's Secret and more Aveline.

IMAGE(http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2011/015/3/2/aveline_wallpaper_by_thesnowtigress-d379ee7.jpg)

The more I read, play, and talk about the game with other gamers, the more I feel that while the second game in the series is not the weakest, the decision Bioware made in terms of the overall plot and the fallout from the decisions in the first game were profoundly unfortunate. Put simply, the Collectors were a foolish, ultimately destructive plot device, and Shepard being resurrected and allied with Cerberus, of all organizations, was singularly bad.

The "Seven Samurai" style of episodic content and characters was quite inspired. It remains one of the strongest storyboard decisions in the entire series. It is appropriate for the second game in the series to develop the galaxy, its contents, and its characters, and its milieu through this device. The focus on the underside of the galaxy was also the correct one, IMO, in order to contrast with the first game and to explore a hitherto undefined aspect of the Mass Effect Universe.

Nonetheless, allying with Cerberus perforce had unfortunate repercussions that took entire swathes and contortions in the third game to undo. Given that they were going to build up a shadow organization from scratch anyway, I think it might have been better for Shepard to have been resurrected through an Alliance black ops. A Not-Cerberus can maintain ties with the Council, allow Shepard to interact with a different galaxy depending on the ultimate decision in ME1, and still build up Cerberus as a shadowy foe that ultimately is defeated in the last game.

I think the Collectors were a good idea, though their malevolence and menace were ultimately undermined by Illusive Man acting like a frenemy.

I'll say that I thought the choice to destroy the Collector base or turn it over to TIM was binary and artificial. Destroying it was foolish, squandering the opportunity to analyze Reaper tech for weaknesses, but turning it over to a shady motherf*cker like TIM was at least as foolish. My Shep had her Spectre status reinstated and was on reasonably good terms with the Council: why not turn it over to them? Or EarthGov? It was one of the few times that I really chafed against the railroading that I knew, intellectually, was going on behind the scenes.

hbi2k wrote:

I'll say that I thought the choice to destroy the Collector base or turn it over to TIM was binary and artificial. Destroying it was foolish, squandering the opportunity to analyze Reaper tech for weaknesses, but turning it over to a shady motherf*cker like TIM was at least as foolish. My Shep had her Spectre status reinstated and was on reasonably good terms with the Council: why not turn it over to them? Or EarthGov? It was one of the few times that I really chafed against the railroading that I knew, intellectually, was going on behind the scenes.

For my part, I didn't actually chafe at that part; but a large part of that was because it was clear as day to me that the entire Cerberus angle was FUBAR. It struck me as a bad way to go, even when I was playing it - an "easy" way to cheat the player out of a radically different galaxy based on a Human or a Coalition Council.

I liked ME2 for a whole lot of things. It does do a lot of things very, very right - but the entire Cerberus and TIM thing always felt off.

The Collectors always seemed like a weak, made-up, kind of goofy antagonist. I thought it was inherent to them. But the more I reflect, the more I'm convinced that they're actually workable and plausible. The problem is this Cerberus thing - that made the Collectors an anti-human enemy, when the Reapers were never just an anti-human foe.

In hindsight, I think the Collectors could have assembled a more interesting palette of enemies if they weren't just human-centric. After all, they collect many specimens from many species. It's their thing. They could still be collecting humans for the Reaper plans, but if they were hitting the team with Drell, Hanar, Elcor, Volus, and other fringe species abominations, it sets the tone for later Brutes, Banshees, Cannibals, Husks, and Marauders in ME3 - and they could reuse the old enemies for more enemy variety in the third game while also saving assets.

At the conclusion of discovering the reality of the Collectors and the Collector plans - no boss fight, but a decision on what to do with the Collector Base. It is, after all, a Reaper artifact with a nascent dead Reaper in it. Turn it over, or blow it up? What happened to the Batarians was because of their study of the Leviathan of Dis. Is it wise to run a similar risk?

You seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that they weren't pulling it out of their asses as they went along.

Most of the things you're suggesting would have been improvements, but they would have needed to know where they were going.

Actually, I am working with the assumption that they were working as they went along. That was obvious as soon as you allied with with Cerberus (?!?) to bring down the Collectors (?!?!?) thereby providing ample justification for them not to show you much of Citadel space.

I don't think it requires much thinking or forethought not to screw the pooch as badly as they did with the Cerberus link. It's a bad call.