The big news of the week so far happens to be the semi-bombshell that EA and Disney signed an exclusive deal for Star Wars games yesterday, meaning that EA’s various developing arms will have sole access to the enormous Star Wars universe. While there is some skepticism rightly reserved for allowing the floundering EA to tackle a property that so many love and hold dear, especially after some huge missteps, I think it’s OK to have a little hope here.
When you break it down, what other publishing Goliath in the industry has the number of varied, talented developers in their portfolio that EA does? I can see an argument for Activision, but that’s the only one that even comes close to rivaling the kind of talent of DICE, Bioware, Maxis, Popcap, Criterion and Visceral. So we have reason to feel two ways about this. But for now, let’s dream a little.
So here’s this week’s Pixel Count. Hit up the poll and tell us your thoughts in the comments!
As excellent as Mass Effect 2’s Lair of the Shadow Broker was, BioWare might have shot themselves in the foot when it comes to post-release DLC. While it would be unrealistic to expect that every piece of Mass Effect DLC would be up to the same standards, it kind of laid the implication that any quests given to the player outside of the main game would advance the story, or at least fill in some background information.
To BioWare’s credit, Mass Effect 3: Leviathan did dredge up a more fleshed-out history of the Reapers, but the newest effort for Mass Effect 3 DLC, Omega, doesn’t add anything new to the story, or change your perception of the established characters you’ll be interacting with.
Shepard is contacted by Aria T’Loak, the Pirate Queen of the space station Omega, to help her take her throne back from Cerberus, who threw her out before the main campaign of Mass Effect 3. Because of Aria’s dislike of your squadmates, you’re going in without any familiar faces from the Normandy. I’ve never bought into the character of Aria as much as BioWare seems to want me to, and being saddled with her for a couple hours just demonstrates how one dimensional she is. While the end of the Omega campaign has her softening a bit, for most of the time she grunts and threatens her way through dialogue sections, being so predictable that a new character, Nyreen the female turian, calls her on it. It doesn’t help that the voice actress behind Aria, Carrie-Anne Moss, sounds like she’s collecting a paycheck for most of her lines, only occasionally dipping into having any emotion besides bored anger. Continue reading Mass Effect 3: Omega is a Non-Essential Side-Story
It’s been more than half a year and I’m still plugging away at the multiplayer mode for Mass Effect 3. While the mode was a little basic to start off with, the various classes and maps that have been added to the game since release has kept its longevity going, and the new pack for Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer, Retaliation, brings a whole new enemy faction into the mix.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the news on Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer mode, Retaliation reintroduces the Collector faction from Mass Effect 2, but this time around they pack an even bigger punch. Collector captains are the brand new foes and in addition to being tougher than the regular Collector trooper, they can also release Seeker Swarms which block your power usage, something that can be downright terrifying when you’re facing down a couple Scions or a Praetorian.
New player classes have also been bundled with Retaliation, including a turian Havoc (a jetpack-using close combat class) and a volus Adept and Engineer. Yes, those little balls of asthma are now playable, and they’re just as hialrious as you expect. Watching a volus roll around and blast Collectors is quite the sight, especially considering they can’t take cover and just sort of stand behind most obstacles (which works because of their short stature). Cerberus and geth also get new types added to their lineup in the form of the whip-using Dragoon and the grenade-launching Bomber, respectively.
BioWare could have let Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer languish, but they’ve shown a surprising amount of dedication to it. They even put up a whole new web portal for stat tracking, including the brand new N7 challenges. Even though this is the last pack for multiplayer, new classes will continue to be added. While there are still server problems and synchronized kills from the large enemies continue to be frustratingly random and Vanguard-inhibiting, this new feature for the Mass Effect series is still going strong, and is a large part of why it’s staying high in my personal top ten for this year.
Is anyone else still playing ME3 multiplayer? What do you think of Retaliation? Anyone going to hop back in now?
It’s almost like EA is goading us on purpose now. The recently announced Mass Effect Trilogy collection sounds pretty neat and looks even cooler (what with the unified designs on the disc labels) but it will only include the DLC that came free with the various Online Passes associated with the game, and you’ll have to pay for the other bits.
I’ve never heard of a collection of any work where parts of it were purposely left out and you had to buy them separately. Hell, George Lucas kept adding stuff when nobody wanted it. For those curious, here’s a breakdown of what you will get with the package in terms of DLC:
On PC, Mass Effect will include Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station on disk. For Mass Effect 2, Cerberus Network will be included which features Zaeed – The Price of Revenge, The Firewalker Pack, Cerberus Assault Gear, Arc Projector heavy weapon, and Normandy Crash site mission. For Mass Effect 3, Online Pass will be included granting players access to co-op multiplayer.
On Xbox 360, Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station are not included with Mass Effect, however they are available as stand-alone downloads through Xbox LIVE. For Mass Effect 2, Cerberus Network will be included and Online Pass will be included for Mass Effect 3.
Information on PlayStation 3 DLC will be available soon.
Not bundling Mass Effect 2 with Overlord and Lair of the Shadow Broker is baffling, because those two add-ons were fantastic, and in the case of Lair, essential to the series’ story. Arrival I can take or leave, but regardless, I think that all the DLC should be bundled in.
What do you guys think about this? Should EA throw in the DLC or am I just making too much of a fuss about this? I get that EA is a business, but this just seems like an unnecessary cash-grab.
After all of the free multiplayer DLC and the Extended Cut, Mass Effect 3 is finally delving into story-expanding DLC and the first offering, Leviathan, details Shepard and company’s hunt for a mythical Reaper-killer.
If you’re really deep into the back-story of Mass Effect, then you might remember the ‘Leviathan of Dis’, a Reaper corpse discovered on a barren planet that was stolen by the isolationist batarian Hegemony (which later lead to their downfall through indoctrination, which dead Reapers still project). Turns out the Leviathan of Dis was referring to a creature that killed the Reaper, and if something organic is strong enough to take one down, then Shepard wants it as a War Asset.
Leviathan is a really story-heavy DLC, so don’t be surprised if the combat sections are kind of ho-hum. I’ll get into the story details in a bit (including spoilers) but I’ll run over the gameplay you’ll be doing throughout the DLC first. The new area on the Citadel promised by the DLC’s promotional materials is the lab of one Dr. Bryson which contains clues to the whereabouts of Leviathan as well as other experiments such as a live Husk head that you can take back to your cabin if you talk to James enough on one of your trips to the lab.
You’ll be using the clues in Bryson’s lab to pinpoint locations on the galaxy map that lead you closer to Leviathan; the more clues you use correctly, the more exact the destination becomes. It’s kind of fun the first time in a loose CSI way, but on the second and third trips back to the lab it becomes a bit more rote. It’s kind of like a point-and-click adventure game and, while it is different from what you do in ME3 proper, it’s repeated enough times over the DLC to become a bit stale.
Combat is likewise a bit samey, even if the final battle on a storm-tossed ship is pretty visually striking. A lot of what you’ll be doing is carried over from the multiplayer DLC, like escorting repair drones and carrying packages to certain destinations. Your squadmates actually interact with you during the DLC, which is a nice change from Mass Effect 2 where they were silent the entire time. Even if the gameplay isn’t that great, what about the story of Leviathan? Continue reading Mass Effect 3 Leviathan DLC Dives Deep into Lore
When the current generation of gaming started, I think we all had a set of expectations. We expected to see new forms of gameplay. We expected bigger games, bigger stories, grander ideas. We all hoped for stunning HD graphics, beautiful renderings of worlds we could barely imagine. I don’t think any of us anticipated Day 1 DLC.
A hotly contested topic in the world of gaming, Day 1 DLC has had more than its share of negative association. Developers have used this in all kinds of ways, ranging from the downright cruel to the sometimes puzzling. Opinions about this practice seem to fall all over the map, even here at GamerSushi. However, Bioware recently addressed the idea of Day 1 DLC at GDC.
Here’s a quote from Fernando Melo, director of online development at BioWare:
“Contrary to what you might hear on the internet, fans do want more content. They tend to say, ‘I want it now.’ The problem with day one content and the challenge around it is that the right answer for now is different for every player. There is no single right time, there is no single now. It’s subjective, and it’s unique to every player.”
The idea is that players want their content when they want it. Some want it the day the game is released, and others won’t want it until they’ve finished or are about to finish the game. Seeing as how most players don’t finish video games (a shocking 42% of players finished Mass Effect 3, which practically warrants its own post), this is a good incentive to keep players coming back for more.
Personally, Day 1 DLC only bothers me in certain instances. For the most part, I know that Day 1 DLC tends to be what developers do when they have shipped a disc, and then would like to include even more content that they can work on between the game going gold and the release date. It’s when developers include this content on the disc that I’m really annoyed.
What about you guys? How do you feel about Day 1 DLC? Go!
Just when you thought we left this debate behind, we drag it back kicking and screaming for one more go.
In what may go down as one of the most divisive topics in video game history, the ending of Mass Effect 3 has earned equal amounts ire and praise, and the Extended Cut DLC only served to add more fuel to that fire. Some people claimed it salvaged the tarnished legacy of the series, while others said that it all the EC did was spell out what was implied anyways.
We’ve given our thoughts on the ending, but this recent breakdown by Film Crit Hulk over at Badass Digest is too good not to pass along. If you’re still harboring ill-will about the ending of ME3, be warned: by the end of his article you might be more than a little upset.
I guess that because the author is behind a character he feels free to say what many of us held back for politness, or fear of the consequences, or whatever, but Film Crit Hulk says everything I’ve been thinking about the ME3 ending since March. I especially loved his tear-down of the video he imbedded, and his reasoning that Mass Effect 3 didn’t fail as a story, but rather didn’t deliver the indulgence we expect out of video games.
So what do you guys think of Film Crit Hulk’s rant? Does he make points that you agree with? Disagree? Is caps lock really cruise control for cool? Go!
We’ve gotten a hefty share of free (and excellent) multiplayer DLC for Mass Effect 3, but outside of the Extended Cut, the single-player add-ons have been a little lacking. There have been rumors floating around for a while about single-player DLC and at EA’s Summer Showcase, BioWare officially announced the Leviathan DLC for Mass Effect 3.
Taking place during the mid-game, Leviathan features Shepard and crew hunting for an ancient construct that is said to be a Reaper killer. Obviously Shepard and co. would like to have that in their back pocket, so you get to take the Normandy on a Lair of the Shadow Broker-sized adventure to recover Leviathan and use it in the war against the Reapers.
The DLC will add in new areas on the Citadel and a couple new weapons, the AT-12 Raider Shotgun and the M-55 Argus Assault Rifle (both of which were previously only available as pre-order bonuses). Leviathan has no firm release date other than “summer”, but when it drops it will be 10 dollars, or 800 Microsoft FunBux.
Despite the misgivings about Mass Effect 3’s endgame, the combat is engaging enough that I wouldn’t mind embarking on a new aventure with my bro Garrus. BioWare is said to be tuning Leviathan to address concerns that Mass Effect 3’s combat was too easy, so we’ll see whether or not I bring my Insanity Shepard into the fray. What about you guys? Are you going to take the Plunge when Mass Effect 3’s Leviathan DLC drops later this summer?
BioWare also revealed that they are increasing the frequency of their content drops, adding in a bunch of new stuff between now and the Free to Play launch. New companions, such as an HK-51 assassin droid, warzones and space combat mission are expected.
To clarify, The Old Republic will still have a subscription option in addition to the Free to Play method, and paid customers will earn “Cartel Coins” based on how long they’ve been paying, or if they bought the collector’s edition, things of that nature. Cartel Coins can be used to purchase exclusive vanity items, such as Darth Nihilus’ mask and a party Jawa pet.
Considering that almost every month since The Old Republic’s release has seen at least a couple articles about how much trouble that game is in, I’m not surprised that a Free to Play option is coming in before the game’s first anniversary. Will it get people to actually try the game? I’m certain that the price tag is right for some, but the lack of a viable end-game will cause the numbers to drop off again.
That’s just what I think though. Is Free to Play just what the doctor ordered for this struggling MMO? Will you actually play the game when it goes free?
Once Valve officially released Source Filmmaker to the public, it was only a matter of time before some fans would do some truly great things with it — after the slew of derivative “x movie in Team Fortress 2” videos, of course. Well, it seems we finally have a worthy machinima entry, straight from the fan community.
Sort of. Although James McVinnie is a Team Fortress 2 fan, he also happens to be a cinematic designer at Bioware. Which probably explains why his new short, Practical Problems, is so well done. In addition to spending 130 hours in both Hammer and Source Filmmaker to get the job done, James also worked with his friend Zach to do some motion capture work via 2 Kinects.
So, yeah. The results are rather entertaining, and quite faithful to the spirit of Valve’s own work with Team Fortress 2.
After a couple months of silence, BioWare has finally dropped the release date for the Extended Cut DLC for Mass Effect 3, and in a pleasant surprise it will be coming out next Tuesday.
So, what does the Extended Cut DLC contain? You can check out the Mass Effect website to get the whole lowdown, but here’s what you need to know about the DLC.
The Extended Cut expands on the endings of Mass Effect 3 through additional scenes and epilogue sequences. It provides more of the answers and closure that players have been asking for. It gives a sense of what the future holds as a result of the decisions made throughout the series. And it shows greater detail in the successes or failures based on how players achieved their endings.
So, just to clarify, the Extended Cut does not change the current endings, but just fleshes them out, which is something that they could benefit from. The Extended Cut is a whopping 1.9GB as well, making it the largest chunk of downloadable content for the Mass Effect series to date. The best part is the price tag, which is zero dollars and zero cents.
Next Tuesday will determine whether or not the Extended Cut actually changes things for better or worse, but what do you guys think? Are we in for another wave of disappointment? Will we have to re-retake Mass Effect? What do you want to see in the Extended Cut, bearing in mind that it just builds upon the established endings? Go!
It seems that Bioware is in hardcore recovery mode these days. As much as I am still in love with this studio, it’s hard to deny that they haven’t made some missteps as of late — and have taken their share of lumps as a result. From the puzzling changes of Dragon Age 2 to the controversial end of Mass Effect 3, this once untouchable RPG producer is now back against the ropes in terms of their relationship with fans.
So it looks like the next step for them is to stop and take stock of Dragon Age and what it means to fans of the franchise. Bioware is going to take a few months to ask a number of questions about where they would like to see the series go — what places they’d like to see in Ferelden and beyond, what races they want to know more about and what kinds of things they’ve been dying to explore.
While this just appears as normal community management from Bioware’s perspective, it also seems like a bit of damage control after the reactions that the company has gotten over its last couple of titles. Although Dragon Age: Origins saw much critical acclaim, Dragon Age 2 is generally regarded as a step backwards in terms of the franchise’s scope, setting and themes. I know I’m just speculating here, but it really looks to me like Bioware is floundering a bit in terms of the direction it wants to take Dragon Age in the future. Obviously, what they’re doing here isn’t amounting to gameplay or story promises — but I do prefer artists to have a much more clear vision than they’re putting on display here.
What do you guys think? Does it look like Bioware is struggling here to reconnect with its fans? Or are they just doing their due diligence to make Dragon Age 3 as good as it can possibly be? Go!
In a move to placate fans after the uproar about the ending, BioWare has announced that it will be releasing a free “Extended Cut” DLC for Mass Effect 3 this summer. No specific date beyond the season has been announced, but the DLC will offer additional scenes that the developer hopes will help clarify the end of Shepard’s journey.
The Extended Cut DLC will not change the ending to the game but rather will contain “additional cinematics and epilogue scenes” which will be tacked on to the existing ending, according to a post on the BioWare Blog. The author of this post for BioWare was very cut and dry about the motivations behind the Extended Cut DLC as well:
So there you have it. Are we proud of the game we made and the team that made it? Hell yes. Are we going to change the ending of the game? No. Do we appreciate the passion and listen to the feedback delivered to us by our fans? Very much so and we are responding.
This DLC has apparently been re-prioritized by the staff at BioWare to help address the problems people have with the ending of the game. Will this satisfy the “Retake Mass Effect” people? What do you guys think about the Extended Cut? Is BioWare making the right move?
Not because of the ending of Mass Effect 3, which apparently is the worst atrocity to hit humankind since whatever that Kony dude (allegedly) did.
I’m upset because gaming sucks today.
Not actual gaming. When you put the game in the console (barring a RROD or a YLOD) and it’s just you, the controller (unless you are playing Kinect) and the game, it’s awesome. All is right with the world. Immersion into a foreign world, excitement, adventure…a gamer craves these things.
Well, here it is people. The point where I begin my slow descent into quitting video games. I’ve moaned about the entitled attitudes of gamers before, but this absolutely takes the cake. Mass Effect 3 hasn’t even been out a damned week and there’s already a petition to get BioWare to change the ending of the game.
I haven’t beat the game yet (I’m holding out until my Galactic Readiness is 100% in every sector) but I have heard some grumblings about the less than satisfactory way the Mass Effect trilogy wraps up. Sure, not every trilogy has a perfect ending, but demanding that the developers change their vision is a new one.
So far I’m really enjoying Mass Effect 3, even if I have problems with it. The game doesn’t exactly put its best foot forward but the further you get into the game the better it gets and some of the missions are really fun. True, some of the side missions are pretty boring “horde” scenarios but it’s not that big a deal.
I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers which is why I’m linking to the Kotaku post instead of the actual poll on BioWare’s social site. I looked at the poll and almost spoiled myself, so I’m mad at these Gandalfs for more than one reason. I mean, how would BioWare change the ending? It wouldn’t be in a free patch, that’s for sure. What do you guys think about this? Do you have a (spoiler-free) opinion on the ending?
I was on the fence about posting an article about the whole Mass Effect 3: From Ashes brouhaha, but an article I read over on Forbes’ website changed my mind. The article is called “Why the Exploitation of Gamers is Our Own Damn Fault” and in it author Paul Tassi examines the recent trend in DLC which, instead of being an expansion pack model, seems more like content cut from the complete game and dolled out piecemeal after launch.
While he makes a couple of statements I don’t particularly agree with, he is right in saying that we’re to blame for current DLC. As he points out, everything that’s happening with post-launch content is an economic experiment. As much as we complain about being “exploited” people are still buying products, so once again money is trumping our outcry.
The title of the article is more than a little sensationalist, but the message underneath it is sound. EA only cares about money and they’re testing us to see how far they can go. For every person who buys From Ashes on day one, that’s another chink in the armor of the old-school method of selling games.
I think pinning the blame on BioWare is unfair, but there you have it. Two different opinions regarding this whole debacle. Personally, I don’t see what the big fuss is about From Ashes. It’s extra content for people who have paid an extra 30 dollars to get the Collector’s Edition of Mass Effect 3, and it’s available for people who didn’t, or couldn’t given the rarity of the CE, pick one up.
So what do you guys think about From Ashes? Who’s right, Paul Tassi or Total Biscut? Are you boycotting Mass Effect 3, or is this whole thing being blown out of proportion?
I’ve got a bit of a thing against video game trailers. Do I get hyped over them? Sure. Do I love watching announcements of titles that I’ve been dying to see just a glimpse of? Totally guilty. But all the same, I sometimes find it hard to forgive the game industry for the way it treats trailers, the video game press for how it feeds into the mania and all of us gamers for how we do the same.
The fact of the matter is, trailers are mostly the product of PR and marketing departments. Often time, they’re created by people in the company that had little to do with the game itself, or worse yet, by an outside firm altogether. Yes, we’re all looking at you now, Bioware. The goal of these trailer makers isn’t necessarily making the most accurate representation of the game – it’s generating hype and moving copies.
This is why we see all kinds of game trailers that really don’t reflect the game that we see while holding our controllers, and it really bugs me these days. But I know I’m not the only person that notices that kind of thing. Over at Ars Technica, writer Kyle Orland breaks down the number of ways that game trailers make for terrible gameplay experiences. It’s a really nice look at the ways that game trailers differ from the games we play, and should hopefully point readers to measuring their responses a bit more in the future.
Personally, this is why I try to refrain as much as possible from posting every single trailer that comes out, especially pre-rendered ones. What do you guys think of this topic? Let’s talk about trailers.
The final chapter in BioWare’s sci-fi trilogy Mass Effect will be releasing on March 6, but fans will have an opportunity to try out the various features of the game on February 14 when the demo launches.
The single-player portion of the demo will contain a couple snippets from Mass Effect 3, one taking place early in the game during the initial Reaper assault on Earth and the second will occur on an unspecified alien homeworld where Shepard travels to gain the support of the populace. All three of Mass Effect’s different single-player modifiers, Story, Action and Role-Playing, will be available and Xbox 360 users will be able to take advantage of the Kinect integration. The demo will have all classes available and you can customize and level up Shepard. Progress in the demo does not carry over to the main game, however.
The multiplayer component of the demo will be available to all on February 17, but owners of Battlefield 3 (with an activated Online Pass) will put their boots on the ground day one. A microsite will be up on February 7 where you can check and see if your EA account is eligible for early access, but as long as your account contains an active Battlefield 3 Online Pass, you’ll be good to go. There will also be an early access program for people who have not purchased BF3 or activated a Pass, so no worries there.
The multiplayer demo will contain two levels, Slum and Noveria, but beyond that BioWare isn’t saying. I’m happy for an opportunity to try out the multiplayer, even if I’ve already pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition (although it should be Reaper’s Edition in my opinion).
Are you guys excited for the Mass Effect 3 demo? What are your thoughts on the early access for multiplayer? Oh, one more thing: PC players will need to get the demo through Origin, EA’s much-maligned digital store.
The day that we’ve all been waiting for has finally come to pass: after much hemming and hawing and three pre-rendered trailers, BioWare has seen fit to announce the release date for their highly anticipated Star Wars MMO. The Old Republic (TOR) will be brought into being on December 20, 2011 in North America and the 22 in Europe. People who have pre-ordered the game will also be given early access, but there’s no specific time-table for that yet.
In addition to the launch day, BioWare also dropped The Old Republic’s pricing structure. Every copy of the game will come with a 30 day subscription built in, but anything past that will be subjected to the typical MMO monthly fee. The breakdown goes thusly:
1 Month Subcription: $14.99 (£8.99/€12.99)
3 Month Subscription: $13.99 per month (one-time charge of $41.97/£25.17/€35.97)
6 Month Subscription: $12.99 per month (one-time charge of $77.94/£46.14/€65.94)
So there it is, folks, laid bare for all to see. I’m kind of surprised that TOR is going with a traditional pricing scheme when every other MMO (even World of Warcraft to an extent) is going free to play. Indeed, there’s one MMO I’m looking forward to possibly more that TOR and that’s Firefall which is going to be supported by microtransactions.
I’ll still give TOR a shot anyways, just because I’ve been waiting so long for it, but the subscription might be a deal breaker in the long run. What do you guys think about this news? Excited for TOR? What are your thoughts on the pricing structure?
Forgive the sensationalist headlines folks, but this is something I’ve been seeing more and more of recently. After Mass Effect 2 toned down the series’ RPG mechanics and tuned up the shooting aspect, there’s been a small but vocal minority complaining that BioWare is abandoning its fans in favor of the dudebro Gears of War audience.
While Mass Effect 2 was way less RPG than its predecessor, it still retained the story and dialogue-focused elements that made the first one such a success. My least favorite parts of the original Mass Effect were the clunky hidden dice-roll combat and the obtuse stat and inventory systems. I loved the story and seeing the ways my Shepard could interact with everyone and I considered the RPG aspects to be a necessary concession to way that the game needed be built. I never considered those mechanics to be an integral part of the Mass Effect experience and I was perfectly fine with the changes they made to 2.
Apparently I am alone is this opinion because a recent article I read on FMV Magazine demonstrates how strongly people feel about this. The writer of the article makes the argument that Mass Effect’s gameplay shouldn’t be made to appeal to a wider player-base, that its inherent RPGness are what makes it a great game. If I’m reading the article correctly, the writer believes that Mass Effect can’t have a great story if its gameplay apes that of Gears of War or other third-person shooters.
Wait, what? I’m sure that I’m reading this wrong, because that makes no damn sense to me. Because the game is now a third-person shooter with RPG-lite elements, it will be all explosions and fist-bumping? Making the argument that story has to be sacrificed because the controls are being tuned to deliver a more shootery experience doesn’t click with me.
I could be wrong in my interpretation of the author’s statements, but that’s how it reads to me. What do you guys think? Will Mass Effect 3’s adherence to more twitch-based gameplay ruin the story (somehow)? Can you sacrifice RPG mechanics and still have a character-driven plot?