Just as they did with Mass Effect 2, Bioware has released an interesting set of statistics that they tracked during peoples play time of Mass Effect 3. Now I love this sort of thing since I wasted my time getting an Anthropology degree and data like this is interesting as hell. Sadly its incomplete as we don’t know anything about the people who the data is gathered from other than its probably everyone who didn’t pirate the game. And while it’s fun and interesting to mull over the data gathered as a lowly plebe like myself to me it spells disaster in the long run. EA is not a company known for going the extra mile unless it will allow them to bleed some more money out of people. All they are going to see from this data is wasted time and effort creating content that people didn’t see and will use this as a reason to create cheaper, more content light games. And just what will this cheap, cash-in, content-free game look like? Dragon Age 2!
But enough about that digital tragedy, I’ve gone down the Bioware mocking trail before and chances are I’ll go there again when they decide to actually show something about Dragon Age 3. But this data isn’t a failure on Biowares part, at least not quite. I suppose you could argue that they should have made more interesting characters or some small changes here and there. No this time I place the blame squarely on all of you and your lazy, unimaginative choices. Do you people understand what a role playing game is! Clearly not because you aren’t roleplaying PROPERLY if you are taking the most default path possible!
Seriously, Soldier is above and beyond the most popular class with second place, Infiltrator / Sniper, a whopping twenty five percent lower! And why? Because soldier is the easiest class to play and the most over powered? Probably. Well really just easiest because with a little brains you could be overpowered as hell playing the two LEAST popular classes, Adept and Engineer which came in at 8.1 and 5.1 percent respectively. The thing is, Mass Effect isn’t an RPG to most people, it’s a cover shooter that inconveniences you with dialogue. Might be jumping to conclusions with that one because sadly they didn’t track, or merely didn’t release, information on how many people utilized the mode that did the story for you. And speaking of story…
Overall some good news and bad news. Bad news first, sixty four percent of you didn’t get to meet Wrex in ME3. I know the default story in 3 if you didn’t import a save had Wrex flagged as dead, making him more or less a reward for people who played all 3 games. And that’s a damn shame. I know Mass Effect 1 wasn’t great gameplay wise but it still did a great job on creating the universe used in the other 2 games. Wrex was a great character and was half the reason Tuchanka played out so well. On that topic I’m proud of you, only 3.8 percent of you killed Mordin. Although on the other hand you should have played through as evil just to see as much of the game as you could. Although thanks to the ending it really doesn’t matter, nothing matters……
Liara is tragically the most popular squad member but not by much. Once she became protected by plot armor she became significantly lamer and more Mary Sue than I was comfortable with. LEAST popular is not surprisingly Kaiden, who also had a 17 percent survival rate and a comically low popularity score of 1.5. I credit his unpopularity with 2 things, 1 he’s voiced by Raphael Sbarge, a fine voice actor indeed, who many of you may remember as the voice of Carth Onasi from KotOR, aka the boring whiny guy which is also pretty much how Kaiden turned out. And 2, Kaiden is bland and boring especially compared to space dinosaurs with guns, womanoid creatures with gigantic bosoms of the blue and robot variety, and a multi-eyed monster with a superiority complex and defeatist slant. The other victim of being boring is Jacob and arguably Vega who managed an 82 percent survival rate that I’m going to go ahead and attribute to playing 3 on the default settings. Which is probably also to blame for 82 percent of you playing as male Shepard, also a shame! Nothing against Mark Meer whose delivery made for some great moments, but Jennifer Hale overall did a better job in my opinion for her ability to pull off both the paragon and renegade lines in a believable way.
Like I mentioned before, the problem with these stats is in the lowest numbers. The renegade/evil options were remarkably unpopular, as were characters like Kaiden, female shepard, and most of the classes. The people calling the shots on what gets made in games are going to look at these stats and demand more cost effective material. And while I understand that it’s hard to justify content that not everyone is going to see, it does make for a better game. The better answer would be for them to simply re-evaluate what wasn’t popular and try to make things better, but then I’m reminded that this is Bioware, and when something in a Bioware game doesn’t work out they cut it and never go near it again. Just look at how much gear changed from Mass Effect 1 to 2, same goes for how gear was handled in Dragon Age. Or look at the travel mini-game difference from KotOR 1 and their second game Jade Empire. One was a turret arcade game and the other was a shoot-em-up. Most of these were in fact unpopular and often clunky and inefficient but their method of improvement was usually scrap the system entirely and make something so simple it’s superfluous.
So here’s my prediction for the next Mass Effect game based off this data. It will feature a Male space Soldier who is mostly good but occasionally a renegade when it’s cool enough along with a default cardboard squad mate or two, and a female of either an unusual color or a robot who has a remarkably sized chest. RPG elements will be reduced further and there will be more focus on multiplayer. Here’s what I think it’ll look like:
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Kimo is a contemptuous old coot. With experience in video games dating back to 1988 and a schizophrenic range of games he boasts an impressive range of knowledge of gamings best, and worst. Dwelling in the desolate wastes of the American Midwest he brings to Z1Gaming a perspective that looks for positive qualities in even the worst games.