Mass Effect 3 was a controversial game at the time of its launch, to say the very least, and sure enough, plenty of the criticism it received was well warranted. Hindsight is a powerful tool though, and looking back, there’s no denying that, even with its issues, Mass Effect 3 is a game worth experiencing. It’s been a decade since BioWare concluded its beloved space opera trilogy, and the game remains solid to this day. Here, we’re going to take a look back at Mass Effect 3 and talk about why it’s still worth playing.
NOTE: There are spoilers ahead for Mass Effect 3.
THE EXCELLENT OPENING
Chances are, if you were a Mass Effect fan, you were already very invested in Mass Effect 3 right from its early moments when you first played it- even if you weren’t though, you probably still got sucked in. The game has an incredible opening that sets the tone for the rest of the story excellently. Right off the bat, the Reapers invade and attack Earth, and the galaxy is immediately under assault on all fronts from this terrifying old enemy that we’ve been preparing to fight over the last two games. It’s an intense, high-octane, dramatic opening that instantly pulls you in.
Mass Effect’s biggest strength – or one of its biggest strengths, at least – has always been its excellent characters. After all, part of the reason why Andromeda disappointed so many people was because its characters just weren’t interesting. Thankfully, Mass Effect 3 had no such issues- not even in the slightest. With the likes of Mordin, Liara, Tali, Garrus, Legion, and many others, it brought back all of the most beloved characters from the previous two games, while also following in their footsteps by building up a solid cast of supporting characters around that main party. Sure, not every character in the game was on the same level – James Vega is rather forgettable, for instance – but on the whole, it was an incredible cast.
THE ILLUSIVE MAN
One character from Mass Effect 3’s impressive cast of characters that deserves special mention is the Illusive Man. First introduced in Mass Effect 2, he instantly left a massive imprint on everyone with his unmatched presence and charisma. Mass Effect 3 saw him returning as a much more active and direct threat, making him one of the story’s primary antagonists, and boy did he make things extremely difficult for the crew of Normandy on multiple occasions. There’s nothing quite like a powerful, magnetic villain, is there?
SEVERAL MAJOR ARCS GET SATISFYING CONCLUSIONS
We all know that Mass Effect 3 doesn’t exactly get associated with satisfying conclusions all too often, but even though the game’s ending was one of its bigger issues, it did stick the landing on the conclusions to several major narrative arcs throughout the rest of the experience. Think of the genophage, of the conflict between the krogans, salarians, and turians, and how all of that gets resolved. Think of the quarians and the geth and their endless war, and how that particular story comes to a close. Think about how appropriately momentous those arcs feel. Mass Effect 3 doesn’t satisfactorily end the trilogy on multiple fronts, but the narrative arcs that it does dedicate its time to, it concludes them with a bang.
Mass Effect 3 is quite an eventful game from start to finish, to say the least. There’s a lot that happens, narratively speaking, and given all the momentous stuff that goes on, it’s only fitting that a lot of those scenes and moments still stand out as absolutely unforgettable. Kai Leng and Thane fighting at the Citadel, Shephard trying to talk down the fleets of the quarians and the geth, Mordin sacrificing himself to finally end the genophage- and of course, all of those scenes could be different depending on the player’s past choices. Either way, Mass Effect 3 is brimming with countless memorable moments for fans of the series.
Each new Mass Effect game has made significant improvements over its predecessor where combat is concerned. As far as the Gears of War-inspired cover shooter style goes, Mass Effect 3 polished that to an absolute sheen. Combat in this game is excellent. There’s plenty of guns that feel meaningfully different from each other and all feel great to shoot, using the powers and abilities and mixing them with the shooting is a lot of fun, there’s plenty of enemy variety, with different enemy types posing unique challenges and forcing you to adapt on the fly. Without a doubt, combat in Mass Effect 3 is better than any of its predecessors.
BioWare released some solid DLCs for the Mass Effect games over the years, and while Mass Effect 2’s Lair of the Shadow Broker is still probably the best expansion the series has ever received, Mass Effect 3 also received some solid post-launch support. Omega was a solid trip back to the titular space station, which came hand-in-hand with the return of Aria T’Loak. From Ashes was a decent little episode, and added Javik as a squadmate (though at the time, it was a little ridiculous that a Prothean squadmate had been relegated to DLC). Then there was Leviathan, an incredible expansion that dove deep into the origins of the Reapers. Finally, there was the Citadel DLC, which might even rival Lair of the Shadow Broker as the series’ best ever expansion. Of course, the free Extended Cut update also made some noticeable improvements to the game’s ending- all in all, not bad as far as post-launch support is concerned.
Music is an important part of Mass Effect that often gets overlooked. Sure, the series’ soundtracks have generally been praised, but tend to get overshadows by the far greater praise that its stories, characters, lore, choice-based gameplay, and more receive. Let’s take a moment here, then, and appreciate how good Mass Effect 3’s soundtrack is. From the more melancholic moments of the game to the explosive and high-octane set pieces, the game’s music is always right there, hitting all the right notes.
IT STILL LOOKS GOOD
Mass Effect 3 is a decade old, so obviously it’s not going to blow you away with its visuals. It does, however, hold up pretty well. Most of the game still looks great, and it helps that the series’ typically strong art design is on full display here as well. Even if you go back and play the original release, it’s still likely to hold up great. Of course, playing the remaster is a better option- which brings us to our final point…
THE LEGENDARY EDITION REMASTER IS GREAT
The best thing about revisiting Mass Effect 3 is that there’s an easy way to do it with Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. It helps, of course, that it’s a solid remastered collection. Mass Effect 3 hasn’t been touched up nearly as much as the first game, sure, but it looks great, runs well, and though it’s lacking the multiplayer mode, it does package all of the game’s expansions into a single experience. Meanwhile, with some neat gameplay tweaks and changes here and there, it also polishes up the experience in small but noticeable ways.