Mass Effect 2
I’m almost ready to start the endgame of Mass Effect 2. Finally. This game is long.
I decided that I’d explore all the content on hand – all missions available, all DLC, buy as much stuff as possible – but I’m ready to be done with it.
I think a big part of that is just that ME2 is so compartmentalized. Every mission is independent of every other mission, and can be taken in any order. On the one hand, this is great, allowing them to insert new content and for players to engage in that content however they want. On the other hand, it creates a situation where the galaxy doesn’t seem to reflect what I’ve done, and characters don’t really acknowledge past missions.
Sure, there are a lot of lines where characters have a passing reference to something they did before, but I’m thinking more of linear games where the sequence of events and the party composition are entirely controlled by the game. Where characters can say “I thought we’d be safe after clearing out that dungeon last week” because they know that, at this point of the game, you cleared out a dungeon last week.
Mostly, it gives the opportunity for more character arcs. I don’t really feel like Mass Effect 2 has character arcs. More like character lines – there’s a start point and an end point, with a loyalty mission connecting the two. Shepard doesn’t really have a great arc, either – his/her attitude can chance between two lines of the same conversation, if you go between Paragon and Renegade choices. Shepard’s main character arc is a literal arc, showing your progression in Paragon and Renegade points.
It’s still a good game, and I’m loving it, but there’s definitely still room for more structured, linear experiences in the RPG genre.
(I also managed to sequence-break once. I had an adventure in Project Overload, driving the Hammerhead around a base. Then, a few missions later, I landed on a planet and discovered the Hammerhead for the first time.)