Mass Effect 3 Aiming for Mass Appeal

Central to my criticism of Dragon Age 2 was that it was a game made by people who didn’t seem like they wanted to be making big Western RPGs. Rather, it felt like they would have been more comfortable making God of War with a flimsy conversation system attached.

At the time, it was disappointing, but we were confident, especially because of some early reports, that Mass Effect 3 wouldn’t suffer the same fate. It’s their “most ambitious title to date”! How could that possibly be disappointing, especially if they’re working in more RPG elements.

Well, leave it to EA to wipe away some good feelings. Eurogamer gave us the potentially bad news, with John Riccitiello saying they are “are purposefully shifting it to address a larger market opportunity.”

If that doesn’t sound like bad news, I don’t know what does.

Here’s the full quote, for reference:

“One of the things that Ray Muzyuka and the team up in Edmonton have done is essentially step-by-step adjust the gameplay mechanics and some of the features that you’ll see at E3 to put this in a genre equivalent to shooter-meets-RPG,” he said, “and essentially address a much larger market opportunity than Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 began to approach.

“We’re huge believers in the IP and are purposefully shifting it to address a larger market opportunity.”

The challenge here is, what else can they take out? They’ve talked about having a more complex leveling system and a return of RPG elements, so this leads me to believe, unfortunately, that the aspects they’re targeting will be the exploration elements, turning the game into something like a branching linear space Call of Duty where you get to make choices, but you are led by the nose through every scenario. This seems like the sort of “innovation” new Bioware would throw at us.

Which would be a terrible shame, because the single reason I like Mass Effect better than Mass Effect 2 is the exploration. In Mass Effect, you actually lived the space opera dream, boldly going to places man had not gone before. Mass Effect 2 took this and made it into a mixture of intense third person shoots and a really boring grinding game. I could see Mass Effect 3 cutting out the boring grinding and the “inaccessible” piloting the Normandy sections and replace these with just hallways upon hallways of shooting.

I have a modicrum more faith in the Mass Effect team, because they’ve made some of my favorite games, but Dragon Age 2 has raised the speculative cockles in my heart. I’m especially concerned because of its recent delay, which might have been caused by EA’s desire to make the game more of a Call of Duty killer (a concept they are obsessed with over there).

I hope it’s not the case, but I’ve grown to doubt Bioware’s commitment to making good games instead of making marketable games.


  1. OPHumanShield

    Being a fan of both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, I’m torn with the way things have been going lately with Bioware’s targeting strategy.

    They’re like my favorite bands; on the one hand I love what they’re doing, and want them to make money so that they’ll keep doing it. On the other hand, part of their appeal is that they’re not mainstream enough to be sucked into producing the same mindless drivel that keeps appearing because it’s a ‘solid sell’. And with a company like EA involved, there’s no way they’ll be satisfied with a low-key-but-awesome niche product.

    Oh, and for some reason I hate the word cockles. It’s probably a Freudian thing.

  2. Cy

    I saw this coming. I really wanted to believe in Bioware. I wanted to just pretend that Dragon Age 2 never existed, that it was just a fluke. Everyone has a bad egg show up every once in a while. But this is the icing on the cake. If Mass Effect 3 is really going to lose everything that made the first game great then I’m officially done with Bioware. I can’t trust them anymore. I was able to put off Mass Effect 2’s slimming down a bit, but first DA 2, and now this? Fuck Bioware, you’re going to lose a loyal customer now. Thanks for proving that you’re no better than Activi$ion.