Opinion: Mass Effect 3′s Multiple Gameplay Modes Could Be Groundbreaking
Bioware must have been cursing their bad luck. For months now countless gamers – including myself – have been angrily expressing their concern that the third installment in the epic space-RPG series Mass Effect looked like being increasingly linear and action-orientated at the expense of RPG elements and storyline, and then a new bombshell was unintentionally dropped.
Over the weekend an accidental beta leak to Xbox Live users revealed an initial plan for three distinct campaign modes in Mass Effect 3: Action Mode, Story Mode and RPG Mode. The first emphasises combat and automatically selects responses in dialogue; the second allows for manual dialogue choices but de-emphasises combat; and the third emphasises both elements equally.
The shitstorm has been swift and predictable. Many see this as just the latest sign that Bioware, perhaps at the behest of publishing colossus EA, are dumbing-down their acclaimed and sophisticated series to appeal to FPS and third-person shooter enthusiasts. Hell, people who don’t even give a shit about the goddamn story – which is, as ME fans will know, perhaps the best thing about the franchise – can all but hurl that into the background while they set about blowing things up and cackling madly into their headsets. Oh, and yeah, they get multiplayer too, don’t they? Bastards.
But hold on for a second and actually think about the implications of this development, and it’s possible to feel distinctly optimistic about the whole enterprise. Sure, they’re looking to ensnare a wider audience, that’s clear, but they’re still looking to cater to Mass Effect purists with the RPG mode, and if they pull it off this could actually prove to be one of the most inspired moves in gaming history.
A game that appeals to no-nonsense shooter fans and hardcore RPG enthusiasts? It’s not a guaranteed thing by any means – we’ll have to judge by the end product – but in theory it’s an exciting idea. If Bioware can indeed broaden the appeal while keeping the integrity of the series intact for existing fans, they might just pull off that apparently impossible move of pleasing all of the people all of the time.
So, if it works out, those who love narrative and RPG elements can fill their boots in one mode while COD fanatics and GoW maniacs get stuck into another. And the implications for the future could be incredible too. How about a COD game offering a mode where RPG fans get to hold meaningful conversations with squadmates and enemies, and level-up abilities? Or a GoW spin-off with an optional campaign boasting a coherent storyline and characters who actually, y’know, emote?
I’ve seen the future, and the future is big-budget games catering for all-comers by offering different modes tailored to different tastes.