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Mass Effect series: which do you think is the best entry? [SPOILERS!]

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this post will be full of SPOILERS so Im letting yall know up front bc I dont want to have just a wall of blacked out text. I think this is an interesting topic bc most gamers will say mass effect 2 was the best while I think mass effect 1 is the best and its not even close. in fact mass effect 2 is the weakest to me even with the bad ending to the series in the third game.


let me start off why im not fond of number two all that much and why I love number 1. (by the way just bc its my least favorite does not mean I think it is a terrible game just overrated). one reason is way too many side characters and sine missions, with not enough main missions, if my memory serves me correct there was only like 3 or 4 main missions. the collectors were very weak compared to the geth of mass effect 1. No cool villain. I still say Saren is one of the coolest bad guys ever, he had many shades of grey and he truly believed what he was doing was right. his final boss fight was heads and shoulders above the collectors boss fight. Plus by game 2 you realize even though you made all these choices in number 1 they really dont effect the game all that much if at all. In my mind nothing tops becoming a specter in mass effect 1, just a really cool moment in gaming. but by game 2 you realize being a specter basically means nothing at all. Mass Effect 1 had Wrex need I say more. while the other 2 games could have him they basically did nothing with him. Number one was also the hardest of the three, the games got easier and easier as they went. the only thing I did not like about the first game was the inventory system and way too many pick ups.

I plan on adding more later but this will start a good conversation. what do yall think??

     
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I recently finished the trilogy for the first time and it ended up being one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had! Laughing I haven’t been so engrossed and addicted to a game in a long time and I was tempted to open a new thread to discuss it but figured that I was too late to the party and to the ending controversy which I actually liked and find myself in the super minority Tongue

Anyway this is a tricky question for me because I liked all three in their own way. I really liked 1, but since it was my first RPG experience I felt a little bit overwhelmed at times. I loved the story but all the side quests that I felt were pointless and all the inventory items that I had to deal with made me feel overwhelmed, but overall it was a great and new experience for me. However in 2, even though the story wasn’t that good and I HATED the resurrection bit at the beginning, I felt the gameplay was better, the sidequest all mattered in the context of the story (I wanted all my crew to survive) and I loved the the Suicide Mission, probably the best mission of all the trilogy. I also loved 3 and seeing how all my choices had consequences, but I guess I would rank it a little bit lower than the others. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mindset when I played 1, but right now, since it’s so fresh in my mind and had so much fun I would go with 2.

     
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see I found most of the side characters to be boring especially the dlc ones. the only side characters I truly like were garrus, mordin and thane. I thought the suicide mission was weak for the reason you liked it lol. they call it a suicide mission yet all your companions can come back alive. and like I said by 2 you know your choices dont matter, for instance I saved the council in the first game, so they saw one reaper up close and personal. yet in number 2 they still act like you are crazy. I will give you the combat was a little better but the game became sooo much easier and was basically a shooter with rpg elements. Plus so much more could have been done with the illusive man, and that trend continues in number 3, a waste of martin sheens talent. for me it goes

mass effect 1- 9.8
mass effect 2- 7.5
mass effect 3- 8.5

series not an avg- 9

     
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It entirely depends on what elements of the games you look at.

I completely agree that storywise the first game is by far the best, no doubt about that.
BUT it also had several quite severe problems when it came to the combat, weapons and character development parts.

First of all the different classes were severely unbalanced, take for example the boss fight with Saren. Chose the wrong class like Soldier and it was borderline impossible to defeat him at least on high difficulty, chose the right class like Biotec Adept and it was so easy that it hardly counts as a boss fight, all you had to do was keep hitting him with Stasis and you couldn’t loose.

The inventory and the weapon system quickly became an absolute logistic nightmare, and you could easily end up spending 50% of the whole time playing the game managing your weapons and figuring out what to sell and what to keep, not to mention making sure that your current party was all equipped with the right weapons, armour, upgrades and bullets. It had some extensive asset reuse where you kept running into the same bunkers and buildings again and again and again ..., only with very few variations. The character development was very primitive with only few real options, and I could continue.

In every aspect except the story the first was imo by far the worst in the series.

If we look at no. 2 then storywise it wasn’t as such bad, and there were many aspect of the story that I did like, but I agree that there simply was too few of the mission related to the main story. Something like 90% of the missions was either recruitment missions or companion missions with nothing or very little to do with the main story, and that is not the right balance. Also deliberately setting out to recruit a specific character, compared to how the companions in the first game were people that we more or less randomly bumped into, simply doesn’t work as well. So storywise I would say that it was the weakest in the series.

In every other aspect it was however a great improvement over the first game.
The whole weapon, armour and inventory part was significantly simplified and greatly improved, perhaps even simplified a little too much. The combat worked much much better and the different classes was much better balanced without any classes having significant advantages compared to the others, while at the same time still having very different combat styles. For example playing a Vanguard really embodied the whole High Risk / High Reward play-style better than any of the other games in the series, and playing a Sniper Infiltrator really made you fell like a sniper with both the advantages and disadvantages you get from this.

It did have the very annoying planet-scanning-reasoures system, but apart from that it was imo an improvement over the first game in every other aspect than the story.

Then we have the third game .. If we ignore the ending, which probably deserves it very own discussion .. then it was imo storywise a big improvement over the second game, though perhaps not quite up to the standard of the first.

As for the combat and the weapons system, then they build on and further improved it from the 2nd. The weapon system was made a bit more complicated without turning it into a logistic nightmare, and it featured some of the best opponents in the game in the form of Brutes and Banshees. It had some great boss fights and especially the final mission on Earth was extremely difficult but also very rewarding when you finally got it right.

If anything they probably took the class abilities a bit too far, with too much emphasis on biotic explosions etc. For example where the Vanguard was High Risk / High Reward in the 2nd game they now became more of a High Pace / No Risk class, where as long as you kept zapping around you where practically invulnerable, and the only purpose of companions where to sweep up whoever you had missed on your rampage, while desperately trying to catch up with you. The different class specialities simply became too strong, and the fact the the opponents was also stronger wasn’t enough to balance it out, making the majority of the fights a little bit too easy.

Overall I would say that the 3rd is the overall best and most rounded game without any major flaws (ignoring the ending), the 2nd has the best combat system but the weakest story, and the 1st has the best story but also the worst combat system and both the most flaws and the most annoying flaws. So I would personally rate them in reverse order with 3 as the best, 2 as the second best and 1 as the third best - but I can totally understand why many think of the first as the best.

     

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Ah, you see I love Mass Effect 2 precisely because of the side characters and their loyalty missions. I thought that was such a clever way to structure missions that the game stopped feeling like an action game and more like a fun episodic science fiction series. Really good character development.

It was so good that you could have a character that may have the personality of a wooden plank like Jacob and give him life as you explored his weird backstory through his loyalty mission.

I recently played a phenomenal Japanese RPG that uses the same trick - Lost Dimension! If you want to talk about bad story - holy cow, Lost Dimension’s plot is threadbare. However, Lost Dimension’s “camaraderie” missions along with its Danganronpa-inspired traitor hunting objectives gives its cast of generic Anime tropes something you can get a little attached to.

I’d take ME2’s sum of parts over ME3’s whole.

     
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Jdawg445 - 09 November 2015 10:26 PM

I thought the suicide mission was weak for the reason you liked it lol.

Well, if you didn’t do the side missions, did none of the improvements on the Normandy, and made all the wrong choices during the suicide mission, you could end up beating the game but getting EVERYONE (including Shepard!) killed in the process, with only Joker left to tell the tale.
Sounds like a solid suicide mission to me. Cool

Having said that, I always got everybody out alive. Because my Shepard is awesome. Tongue


I also agree with Izno about the different elements being good/bad/better/worse in different games, and it entirely depends on what you personally look for in a game.

The first game had overall the most solid story structure, but it lacked any sense of urgency, and some of the side missions and planetory explorations got tedious (mainly because they constantly reused their assets so you got the same spaceship, the same mine and the same two bunkers each time, and also because driving around in the Mako was clunky as hell). They also bombarded you with armor, weapons and ammo, making the handling of your inventory clunky as well.

The second game got rid of all the rough edges, and maybe streamlined a bit too much (so it felt the least like an RPG out of the three), and while the story wasn’t as strong as the first one, at least they added the much-needed sense of urgency by giving several obligatory “this needs to be done NOW” missions. We still had all the time in the world to explore, but at least it felt like you were racing against the clock (something I felt severely lacking in the first game).

Then the third game went overboard with the urgency (giving you several obligatory missions before you get any amount of freedom), even though I get that the story required it. But they got the consequences of our previous choices right, and really only fumbled the ending story-wise.
Plus I loved getting Javik’s “Dark Channel” power - in combination with Warp, it makes for a fun game of “enemy biotic explosion whack-a-mole”. Tongue
The person that decided that multiplayer play should be mandatory and affect your single player campaign needs to be kneecapped, though. I edited the game files to double all the war assets just to circumvent the multiplayer campaign, out of principle (and spite).


Personally, I often like the character interaction in a game best, so I care very much about the companions we travel with, and overall this is probably the main reason why I prefer one game over another (well, in this series at least).
As far as characters go in the first game: Garrus and Wrex were awesome, Tali was decent/good, Ashley average, and to me personally, Kaidan and Liara were weak. I liked Joker and Anderson as side-characters as well, and Saren made a good villain (Benezia not so much).
In the second game: Garrus, Mordin, Thane, Grunt and especially Tali were awesome (Wrex beats Grunt, though), Legion and Jack were good, Samara, Zaeed, Miranda and Kasumi were average and Jacob was weak. The Illusive Man was interesting. The dialogue writing imo was a lot better in this game, though, and I loved a lot of the squad banter (Joker & EDI make for a good combo). Everything about the squad just felt badass in this game. I only missed the Admiral Hackett calls.
The third game mostly built on the awesomeness of the second one character-wise, with Garrus and Tali by far being the best characters, and an interesting addition of EDI and Javik as well as an improvement on Liara. James Vega was as bland as Jacob was in the second game, though, and they botched The Illusive Man’s potential. They also gave us a very weak villain with Kai Leng.


All the above elements combined to me makes the second game the best of the series. I even consider it one of the very best games ever made (so I very much disagree with JDawg’s “overrated” statement Tongue). Plus it also had the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC which is probably the best piece of DLC ever (and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like DLC in general).
My second-favourite is the third game, and my least-favourite the first. And I use “least-favourite” because I can’t possibly call the game bad - it got 4.5/5 in my book (while the second and third got a 5/5 - although the third would probably get a 4.75 if I used quarter-marks).

     

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Favorite is the first, they introduce the great world and all the species. You actually have some exploration to do and leveling up the character actually feels like an RPG It has some rough edges because the side stuff gets repetitive and the inventory is a bit troublesome.

In the Mass Effect 2 they corrected those rough edges by taking out most of what made it an RPG and turned it into a corridor-shooter with choice involved. No exploration, character development extremely stream-lined. What was good is that didn’t get in front what was a very good hook that was recruiting people for the suicide mission. Story saved it for me.

The third was the worst for me, mostly because I really didn’t like the ending. The rest was mostly like 2.

     
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TimovieMan - 10 November 2015 05:19 AM

Having said that, I always got everybody out alive. Because my Shepard is awesome. Tongue

Ohh .. I lost Jack on my first try, which was kind of heartbreaking, as she together with Tali was my favourite companion. Don’t quite remember what I did wrong, as I had played all the side mission and fully upgraded the ship, but I kind of like playing at least my first playthrough blind, so I had no idea of what you had to do to avoid it, how the whole who-survives-system worked or even that there were a who-survives-system. A first I thought it was unavoidable and hardcoded that she was meant to die, and it wasn’t until my 2nd playthrough that I checked a walkthrough to learn how it all worked.

Plus it also had the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC which is probably the best piece of DLC ever (and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like DLC in general).

Yeah the Shadow Broker was a pretty cool DLC, but I also quite liked the Leviathan DLC for ME3. Made my first playthrough in all three games without any DLC, but then later bought some of the DLC for both ME2 and 3.

The person that decided that multiplayer play should be mandatory and affect your single player campaign needs to be kneecapped, though.

It does?????
I didn’t know that, and I never played any multiplayer! Still it is not like you actually need more war-assets.

Edit:

wilco - 10 November 2015 06:48 AM

... and leveling up the character actually feels like an RPG ...

Really?
I actually thought that the whole levelling up systems, was much more RPG like in the 2nd and 3rd. In the 1st there was pretty much only one way to level up each class and one way to play it, whereas both 2 and 3 allowed for far more specialisations and diversity in how you wanted to play that class.

     

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Iznogood - 10 November 2015 06:57 AM

It does?????
I didn’t know that, and I never played any multiplayer! Still it is not like you actually need more war-assets.

You do need more war-assets if your ME2-save isn’t optimal and you don’t have any of the ME3 DLC (or if you make plenty of wrong choices along the way).
All the war assets you acquire in the game only count for 50% of their worth. You need to play multiplayer campaigns to get that percentage up (and you basically need to play every single day to get it maxed out since it drops a little each day).
Don’t have enough war assets at the end of the game? You only get the “Destroy” ending, earth is pretty much destroyed and everyone in your squad dies.
The better your war assets, the more ending options you get, the better the state of earth is, and the better the chances are for the Normandy crew to survive the crash. You needed 4000 EMS to get the best endings, with only an absolute maximum of 7515 attainable without DLC, so you HAD to play multiplayer when the game was new.
They lowered the total amount of assets needed to get the better endings with the Extended Endings Cut (to 3100 EMS).


I just immediately went “F#&% this!” when I got the game, and looked for a core file editor so I could double all the war assets in the game, so the multiplayer campaign couldn’t have ANY effect on my single player game whatsoever.

Maybe I didn’t need to, and I acquired enough war assets anyway, but I just didn’t want to take the risk (and I sure as hell didn’t want to play any multiplayer).

     

Now playing: Blade Runner (post-CPT) | The Witcher: Enhance Edition (on hold) | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (on hold) | Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)
Recently finished: Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3.5/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5 | Return of the Obra Dinn (CPT) - 4/5 | Beavis and Butt-Head in Virtual Stupidity - 3.5/5 | League of Light: The Game (CCPT) - 3/5 | realMyst: Masterpiece Edition - 2.5/5 | Contradiction - 3/5 | Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - 2/5 | The Last Express - 3.5/5 | South Park: The Fractured But Whole - 4/5 | Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (replay, CPT) - 5/5

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great discussion, awww the war assets that is one of my biggest gripes with the series, basically saying all your decisions really dont matter all that much story wise, just in assets. I thought the games went to the well one too many times with the whole does this species live or die. Like every alien species were basically at war with each other. geth vs quarians, you can decide rather or not the spiders live or die in the first game (which I thought would have a huge impact when I first played the game but in the 2nd game they get like one line of dialogue.) than of course you had krogan vs salarians. they kept going this story route over and over, and do you know whats funny to me; the krogans vs salarian story line was the best written story line in the whole game with the most interesting characters and discussions. I can really see it from both sides the krogans deserve the right to live but they are death dealing machines, especially in the first game. This should have been the main storyline far more interesting than the reavers. one of my problems with bioware is they are too black and white, either good or bad, the krogan vs salarian is the first time they stepped into the grey area and they did it wonderfully.

as far as the suicide mission you are correct sir, but the game made it so clear on the choices you needed to make that is next to impossible to have everyone die lol, im just saying I purposefully let some of my crew die bc it made a better story and plus I wanted to see what would happen in number 3 that way, and guess what nothing. its hardly mentioned that they are dead other than throw away lines and their name on a plaque


on the gameplay front, I thought in number 1 the gameplay and choices were easily the best part, each class had strength and weakness, I was a solider my first time and the game was hard but so much fun. in part 2 and three combined I might have died 5 times, you could be any class, bc the game became so easy it was ridiculous, it was basically a shooting gallery.

     
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also tim im pulling this part out of your post bc it shows really just how many side characters are in number 2.
In the second game: Garrus, Mordin, Thane, Grunt and especially Tali were awesome (Wrex beats Grunt, though), Legion and Jack were good, Samara, Zaeed, Miranda and Kasumi were average and Jacob was weak. The Illusive Man was interesting.

I guess its down to taste, legion boring to me, jack stereotypical im an outsider loner misunderstood character(can anybody reach her yes Shepard can lol) boring to me. Zaeed should have not even made dlc and left on cutting room floor. grunt was ok but wrex was head and shoulders above him, no need for grunt. Mordin prob the best new character by far, thane a close second, and garrus is the man. My pt is look at the list at least 13 characters, I think we can both agree some of them should have been cut out and more time spent on the reavers and main mission. I do agree with you on one thing though, like I said early the devs and writers totally screwed the pooch on the illusive man, he had soooooo much potential, what a let down. his story arc let me down worse than the ending did lol.

     
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Jdawg445 - 10 November 2015 10:00 AM

as far as the suicide mission you are correct sir, but the game made it so clear on the choices you needed to make that is next to impossible to have everyone die lol

Everyone yes, but unless you have some of the extra DLC characters like Kasumi or Zaeed, it is almost impossible to avoid at least one death unless you know exactly how it works. Take either Grunt, Garrus or Jacob with you on the last part, and at least one of of your crew members will die because their total defence value isn’t strong enough to Hold The Line.

Jdawg445 - 10 November 2015 10:00 AM

I was a solider my first time and the game was hard but so much fun. in part 2 and three combined I might have died 5 times, you could be any class, bc the game became so easy it was ridiculous, it was basically a shooting gallery.

Soldier was imo by far the weakest class in the first game, I lost track on how many times I died as a soldier, but as a Biotic I think I only died once or perhaps twice even though I had raised the difficulty to Veteran, and some of the fights was ridiculously easy, which is why I think that the first game was so extremely unbalanced between the classes.

Which one had the highest overall difficulty?
I’m not really sure, but the 3rd game definitely had the toughest though fights imo.

TimovieMan - 10 November 2015 08:18 AM

They lowered the total amount of assets needed to get the better endings with the Extended Endings Cut (to 3100 EMS).

Ahh, that explains it. I never played it with the original ending, but only the Extended Ending.

     

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Iznogood - 10 November 2015 06:57 AM

Really?
I actually thought that the whole levelling up systems, was much more RPG like in the 2nd and 3rd. In the 1st there was pretty much only one way to level up each class and one way to play it, whereas both 2 and 3 allowed for far more specialisations and diversity in how you wanted to play that class.

I probably need to refresh my memory, I believed that in 2 (and 3) leveling up didn’t include much choice in where to spend the points and skills.

Also, my Mass Effect 3 opinions are probably outdated now because I only played at release date so I never saw the changes to the endings and the new DLC.

     
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Jdawg445 - 10 November 2015 10:00 AM


on the gameplay front, I thought in number 1 the gameplay and choices were easily the best part, each class had strength and weakness, I was a solider my first time and the game was hard but so much fun. in part 2 and three combined I might have died 5 times, you could be any class, bc the game became so easy it was ridiculous, it was basically a shooting gallery.

I agree that it became way too easy…

Jdawg445 - 10 November 2015 10:15 AM

like I said early the devs and writers totally screwed the pooch on the illusive man, he had soooooo much potential, what a let down. his story arc let me down worse than the ending did lol.

Also true, but for the whole series… I still liked it a lot but thought it was full of unfulfilled promises. They seem to be taking some time correcting some stuff for Andromeda.

     
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I guess since I’m not a huge fan of RPGs and the whole leveling up and specialization it makes sense that I had a better time with 2 and 3. But yeah it definitely comes down to personal preference, and like thejobloshow said, since ME2 focused so much on characters, their loyalty missions and backstories, there was definitely something about it that grabbed me. I know many people were disappointed in how all their decisions came down to war assets but for me, it was the first time I experienced something like this and it was mind blowing. All those variables wow I cannot imagine how they dealt with that in Bioware. I just loved seeing how things carried from the 1st game, like saving the Rachni Queen, or how I was able to achieve peace between Quarians and Geth with a very precise course of actions from 2 and 3.

It also helped that I didn’t played the game until now, so I was able to get all DLC and Extended Cut, which like TimovieMan says it lowered the required war assets to unlock all the endings to 3100, so it was easy to accomplish without playing multiplayer Smile Even though it was a fantastic experience I agree that it had some missed potential and many problems in the story. I’m so looking forward to Andromeda now. Cool

     
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danigar - 10 November 2015 05:10 PM

I guess since I’m not a huge fan of RPGs and the whole leveling up and specialization it makes sense that I had a better time with 2 and 3. But yeah it definitely comes down to personal preference, and like thejobloshow said, since ME2 focused so much on characters, their loyalty missions and backstories, there was definitely something about it that grabbed me. I know many people were disappointed in how all their decisions came down to war assets but for me, it was the first time I experienced something like this and it was mind blowing. All those variables wow I cannot imagine how they dealt with that in Bioware. I just loved seeing how things carried from the 1st game, like saving the Rachni Queen, or how I was able to achieve peace between Quarians and Geth with a very precise course of actions from 2 and 3.

It also helped that I didn’t played the game until now, so I was able to get all DLC and Extended Cut, which like TimovieMan says it lowered the required war assets to unlock all the endings to 3100, so it was easy to accomplish without playing multiplayer Smile Even though it was a fantastic experience I agree that it had some missed potential and many problems in the story. I’m so looking forward to Andromeda now. Cool

Im so happy you loved the series I know it seems like im trashing it but im really not its a 9 outta 10 for me but it could have been one of the greatest trilogies of all time instead of just really good.

I love using the rachni queen as an example, in the story context this could have been great, you had half your team telling you to save her, you had the others telling you that she is dangerous and not to trust her. this would have been the perfect place for bioware to be creative and let saving her be the wrong choice bc she turns on you in game three, of course they dont do that bc everything has to be black and white, good or evil. the part where you are praising bioware for their war assets to me is the worse part of the games, bc it really doesnt take into account of story decisions on the universe but just the points of it. for example save the queen gain 800 assets, destroy her lose 800 assets; its all too mechanical for my liking. the decisions you make should not just devolve into points.

The other problem I have with 2 is the kiddie nature of some things, mass effect 2 turns into the game fable (which I hate with a passion). if you are good your scars heal, if you are bad your character turns into a devil with horns and red eyes. it is so childish to me.

     

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