Mass Effect 3 – My Wishlist

So, the epic conclusion to the Mass Effect trilogy is coming. I’ve been a big fan of the series since I first played ME1. It was a bit tedious at times, and the combat could have been better, but I enjoyed the epicness and storyline. By that time, ME2 was already out, and I bought it and played it too. I found it darker, more focused, and less epic, but having improved gameplay overall. I’m hoping ME3 will be the happy medium between the RPG-heavy, epic ME1 and the shooter-heavy, focused ME2. Without further ado, my Mass Effect 3 wishlist.

5. More Love for FemShep

Commander Shepard is the Hero of the Citadel and savior of the galaxy. Commander Shepard is a badass Spectre who headbutts krogan and uses guns that would break normal people’s arms. Commander Shepard can outgun, outrun, and outdrink anything in the galaxy. Commander Shepard wouldn’t stay dead. Commander Shepard is a galactic role model and celebrity. And Commander Shepard is a woman.

I and many others think of the hero this way. Maybe it’s Jennifer Hale’s voice acting. Maybe it’s the fact that there are very few truly badass women in videogames. Maybe it’s just to be different. Maybe it’s just some kind of weird fetish. Whatever the case, there are a lot of fans of FemShep. I must confess, I thought that Shepard should be male at first. Then I actually played as a female, and now I can’t imagine Shepard as anything but a her. And yet, the Distaff Counterpart doesn’t get any marketing attention at all. We don’t see her in any of the official trailers. We don’t see her in any of the pre-release screenshots. We don’t see her on the cover, on the box or the manual. Fortunately, this is changing, with official announcements that she will appear in the trailer and on the Collector’s Edition box. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. I would actually like to see a double-sided cover, with female on one side and male on the other. That being said, I buy most of my games on Steam, so a selectable icon will have to do.

4. Drop The Mining and Research Mechanics

This was possibly the most convoluted and annoying part of ME2. Upgrades had to be discovered by scanning or observing things, and if you missed it, you missed it. Except for the upgrades you had to buy, of course. All the upgrades were tied together with a Linux-like dependency structure, too. Want to upgrade shotgun damage? Too bad, you have to upgrade the ammo capacity first. Add a tedious mineral-scanning “mining” mechanic to this, and you get a disaster of a gameplay element.

I didn’t want the inventory ripped out for ME2, maybe it’s not fair to get rid of this mechanic completely. But it needs to be streamlined if it is kept. Maybe do something like this. Research projects allow you to get items for free, but it’s completely optional. Most of the items can simply be bought. Research is unlocked naturally through tech trees or automatically as you progress through the game. As for funding the research, I don’t really want the mineral scanning back, but it wouldn’t be too bad if it was fully optional. Money to research would defeat the purpose. Of course, the mining mechanic wouldn’t be missed were it to be eliminated.

3. Better Squad Customization

In Mass Effect 1, you could customize your squad to your heart’s content. You could give them all matching armour (take note of that, armour, not outfits), all four weapons of your choosing, and choose from a wide variety of skills even within classes. After all, you’re the boss. Mass Effect 2 took that away. While the leveling system was tighter, more focused and more streamlined, the lack of choice in outfits was disappointing, especially considering the default ones. I liked being able to customize my Shep, but why couldn’t my whole squad have matching N7 armour? It didn’t help that some of the outfits, such as Miranda’s infamous whore cat suit, were totally unsuitable for actual combat. And of course, there’s the whole breath mask fiasco…

The leveling and powers I’m not too concerned about. I actually liked the way ME2 handled it. And let’s face it, having all four weapons was kind of stupid anyway. It’s the outfits that get me, especially after the first game where everyone wore armour, and you could give them whatever would fit. I understand this is more work for the modelers and basically precludes unique bodies. Still, however, I would like to have more customizability. Being able to change the colour scheme shouldn’t be too hard to do, and would allow a team that looks like a pro group of elites instead of a ragtag band of misfits. Maybe give each person a few sets of clothing- at least one of these should be proper armour with a helmet. It’s not perfect, but it would be better than what we have now. Perhaps give them a choice of weapons classes, the kicker being that they can’t carry all of them at once (shotgun, SMG and pistol or just sniper and pistol, for example). This also kind of ties in with the next item on my list…

2. Bring Back The Inventory

Looting items and doling them out was a critical part of the first game. Yes, it was unrealistic, and yes, it was tedious and clumsy. The selection of guns seemed fantastic, until you found out that all the guns were basically the same. The selection of armour was similar. Upgrades were great, if you could find them. Of course, there was the infamous item-limit and the illogical omni-gel. It wasn’t a nightmare, but it was pretty bad. That doesn’t mean it should be ripped out entirely, like in Mass Effect 2.

Bring back the loot, bring back the inventory! Killing things is oh so much more satisfying when you get free stuff out of it. I’ve already discussed the armour situation above, and it ties in here. Drop the leveled system, that was just awful. But leave a decent variety of items around. Gun upgrades are confirmed, and they seem to actually change physical appearances. I’m definitely excited for that. More guns would be nice, took. You can never have enough dakka, and ME2 was severely lacking in this regard. The variety of weapons was a step forward, but there were few in each category and few overall. It’s hard to describe the feeling of satisfaction with the inventory, but something just feels missing without it.

1. Better PC Support

I’m a PC gamer, always have been and always will be. Mass Effect 1 and 2 were originally XBOX 360 games, ported to the PC. ME1 was a fairly good job. It had a nice revised interface, decent controls, a good deal of options, and even new minigames. The sequel, eh, not so good. The default controls are actually backwards from ME1, and configurability is limited. There were few options graphics-wise, and the menus were not very well adapted. I found myself ignoring the codex, because it is incredibly clunky. Hopefully, ME3 will be better in this regard, as it will be produced for XBOX 360, PS3 and PC all at the same time.

First, graphics options. Let me set more than resolution and a generic “detail level”, please. I have an expensive videocard that can do anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, and I want to be able to set that in-game. Controls are the next thing, but probably more important. Don’t assign sprint, use and crouch-behind-cover to the same button. This isn’t a gamepad, I have a ton of keys to work with. If you think this is optimal, set it as the default but let us separate the functions. Take a gander at the control customization for CoD4- there are several functions just for crouch, including hold-for-crouch, toggle crouch, stance down and stance up. Yes, it’s a bit confusing, but I would rather have confusing and flexible than easy but rigid. Although I don’t use it, native gamepad support would be nice, too. Also, hotkeys for squad, inventory and codex screens. The tactical menu isn’t too bad, but the rest needs work. Circular menus look neat and are great for gamepads, not too bad for a mouse but seemed awkward in ME2. It’s not too bad, though- the worst is the codex. It’s unresponsive, awkward, and annoying. The ME1 codex audio could be muted, this should be back in ME3. Don’t take this the wrong way- ME2 was plenty playable, but ME1 was just a lot better when it came to being optimized for PC.

Those are my top five, but what are your Mass Effect 3 wishes? Fulfilled or not, I’m sure Mass Effect 3 will be some degree of awesome, and I’m looking forward to the release of it and the other third games that will be coming out soon. Not that I’ll be able to afford any of them, damn it.

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