BioWare’s Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a beautiful return to a universe fans have missed. It bundles Mass Effect 1-3 and, despite the absence of the multiplayer mode, it’s well done. Shepard’s journey is a story worth playing through multiple times, even if we don’t change the choice we make. It’s that good. Mass Effect 3, during its original release and now the re-release, offered players a choice other narrative-heavy action RPGs should offer: How to approach the story mode.
Mass Effect 3 presents players with three choices for the campaign: Action, Story, and Roleplaying (RPG). The classic experience is in RPG mode, where the player chooses responses, customizes their character, and may adjust combat difficulty. Action strips away customization, placing you in the default Shepard and Fem-Shepard’s boots. Conversations run as cutscenes. In story mode, players may customize their character and choose their dialogue “without difficult combat.”
I don’t know how difficult it would be to implement this in other games, but we deserve it!
For those with little time, campaign modes are a blessing
I’ll start by saying I never have and will not choose anything besides RPG mode. While Mass Effect’s choices may not matter at the very end, they personalize most of the story. Admittedly, with less time, playing through one to three video games with so much ‘choice’ isn’t an option for many. Action mode is a remedy for the time-constrained. If it were available across all three titles, I’d feel confident recommending ‘FPS-only’ players to try the franchise!
Realistically, only video games with shooter elements at their core could pull off what Mass Effect 3 does. I say this because I imagine trying to offer the Dragon Age or Final Fantasy experience in two different formats on the same disc. So, there are limitations to the idea. Developers would need to look at it on a case-by-case basis. The merit? Multiple ways to play the same game is a win.
Some people would rather experience the story in a quick burst.
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Mass Effect 3 isn’t the only example
Dragon Quest is a roleplaying series, and Dragon Quest XI does something special: It offers a 2D and a 3D version of the game. The 2D version plays like a classic turn-based RPG with pixelated sprites representing the characters. While both adhere to a turn-based system, the 3D version allows us to move within a certain radius. Newcomers and those looking for nostalgia find things to love about the game. Better yet, we can switch between modes at save points.
In Dragon Quest XI’s case, an additional mode isn’t about shortening playtime. It’s about offering another experience. That is why I believe many games, as we advance, should consider these unique approaches.