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Mass Effect 3 : Power and Personal Choices

Author // DEDENYS Caplice Siobhan
Posted in // Gaming analysis

I’m going to start this article with a fact: I’ve played more Mass Effect 3 than I dare to admit. I love this game, and I especially love the multiplayer mode. For the people who don’t know about it, you’re cooperating with up to 3 other people to beat ten waves of enemies coming your way in closed maps, with objectives to do every 3 waves. It’s really cool to play, with a good level of difficulty and a pretty good intensity curve and everything, so I wasn’t really thinking about it, but I started to and… I found out something : This game has deprived me of my personal choice.

I’m not saying that I became a zombie playing it, lost my family, became violent or whatever. The outcome of my little “thinking session” has to do with the way you acquire new gear and characters in the game. There are, indeed, a lot of different characters and weapons to play with, some rarer than others, some more powerful, some with a really exotic gameplay. And to acquire these characters/gears, one needs to buy “packs”.

A pack is a bundle of 5 random items, which can be characters, weapons, consumables, or whatever. The more expensive the pack, the better the items of course. And I think you might begin to catch onto what I’m about to say. The way you buy your stuff will change the way you play.

Let me walk you through my mates and I’s experience. We started, like everybody else, without any gear and with very few characters. After several games, we started to buy some packs. And that’s when the magic happened. Thanks to the RNG, the only characters I got were from the Soldier class, and the only weapons I got were shotguns.

During the single-player campaign, I mostly played Infiltrator/sniper-rifle, a.k.a the polar opposite of what I got in the packs. You can clearly picture my disappointment, as I wasn’t going to be able to play in my favorite style, but I rolled with it. I started to play Soldier/Shotgun, because they were the only powerful ones I had, and I liked the feeling of empowerment. I looted more and more soldiers, more and more shotguns, and I continued playing that way. And now I have weapons of every type and powerful characters of every class, I keep playing soldiers with shotgun; I proudly claim they are the most viable way to play the game.

On the other hand, my mate got a lot of SMG, and now can’t play without one. And we continually argue on whether they are good or not. Truth is, neither SMG nor Shotguns are superior to each other. But the multiplayer taught us to play one way, and we eventually made it OUR way, confusing it with our personal preference.

When playing the campaign, every choice is available with the same level of power, so you can pick whatever you want, according to your own play style. In Multiplayer, the randomly generated system gives you options that are more prevalent or viable than others, so you pick them. And as you experiment with them, feeling the empowerment, your evolution in the game, you start to like them, and finally you can only see them as your own personal liking.

The most important part is that, even if it seems totally obvious when worded out, the player is not aware of these changes in his patterns. It’s comparable to a kind of Stockholm Syndrome: you can only realize it once you start to look back on your history with this game.

The really special part is that, even if I’m aware of it, I’m going to keep playing Shotgun Soldiers. Indeed, unlike the Stockholm syndrome, there’s no real negative part to this behavioral change. I’ve been taught to love this new playstyle, and I accepted this teaching, even if it was not totally conscious. As I kept playing the game, with the system of rewards (formal and informal) validating my “choices”, the little disdain I felt in the beginning quickly faded away, so I don’t have any problem with my playstyle now I that I’ve found everything out.

And now, as I’m playing, I can only wonder about how such a little element of a game system can create such a strong long-term impact on a player. For I know that, if I had had the possibility to just choose a particular weapon to buy, It probably wouldn’t have turned out this way.

by Jules Gassie

 

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DEDENYS Caplice Siobhan

English Teacher in Rubika. Started the blog with students hope they keep it alive !

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    18 août 2015 |

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    22 mai 2015 |

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