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The QueueMay 14, 2021 12:00 pm CT

The Queue: The mostly off-topic Queue

I usually try to stick to Blizzard-related questions, but it seems that I rather gave up today. So let’s talk about Mass Effect!


Q4tQ: I own Mass Effect 1 and 2. Should I play 1 first, or is 2 better?

Start with 1. The whole trilogy is a single narrative, and you’ll miss some pretty important long-term context if you skip Mass Effect 1. Also, as others in the comments mentioned, your choices carry from game to game, and some of them are significant.

The gameplay improves significantly in Mass Effect 2, when the classes are each given a unique defining ability. There are more characters, which makes both for more story and more gameplay options since you have a lot of variety as to who’s on your squad. But the narrative isn’t going to work. The returning characters are going to lose their emotional impact and you almost certainly be crying in the opening scene like I usually do. Really, if the experience isn’t emotionally crushing, what’s the point?

For all that it’s primarily a game where you shoot people — and you shoot a lot of peopleMass Effect is about the story. Jumping in at ME2 would be like starting a book at chapter 10. You don’t know who the characters are, you have no reason to care about them, and really why is anyone doing this? The story is going to fall flat, and then all you’re doing is playing a shooter set in space.

Also: just play the remaster. Really. It has improved controls, a modern UI, and no longer has an “accuracy” stat for weapons which is the “chance your bullets bother to go in the direction you shoot them” stat. Good luck playing a sniper in that situation. Mass Effect 1 is a 13 year old game  that couldn’t quite decide if it was a shooter or an RPG. The remaster is fixing some of that, and in a good way.

I know, I know, it’s expensive. It’s the cost of a brand new game for an old game. But if you’re interested in the series, it’s worth it. (For one, it includes all the DLC, which would cost you an extra $40 just for Mass Effect 2.) But it’s still a genuinely good series, and it’s much improved by playing it all in one go. (The much-derided ending even works! Sort of! Mostly!)

I know I’m biased, but I’d say it’s worth it, and it’s certainly going to be a better game experience.


Can you playalong with the original ME or will you be ostracized for not having the Legendary Edition?

I know I just said you should play the remastered version, but as far as the overall game goes, the original and the remaster aren’t going to be that different. In addition to updated graphics, gameplay is changing a fair amount, but the story and story structure will be the same, so there’s no reason you can’t join our Mass Effect playalong.


So like if Mass Effect 2 is a suicide mission, what happens if everyone dies? Do you get all new people in 3?

There are lots of ways for lots of people to die in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. You can also just decide not to recruit some companions in ME1, ME2, and ME3. There are fill-in characters in some story circumstances — if a particular plot-related scene has to happen, someone else will be there to do it.

But your squad will be smaller. If you manage to kill everyone off and don’t recruit anyone in ME3, you’ll have three squamates instead of seven — two are new and one wasn’t killable in past games.

Personally, I recommend not killing everyone, but it is an option, and the game is still playable — and beatable — even if you’ve taken significant losses in the past.


When do you think Patch 9.1 will go live?

I’m betting on late June. I am concerned that what we’re seeing on the PTR is very unfinished, and when Ion Hazzikostas talked to Preach a while back it sounded like design elements weren’t finalized yet. There’s very little of Korthia on the PTR, Tazavesh only just went up on the PTR, they haven’t done a ton of raid testing, and even the Torghast changes — which we have a lot of information on — seem like a work in progress. It feels like it needs more work.

And, heck, even late June would be relatively quick. The 9.1 PTR went up in mid-April, and for a major patch, we’re usually looking at three months on the test realms. That would mean mid-July. But I think Blizzard wants to get this patch out as much as we want this patch out, so I think it will be a bit sooner than that. That’s not to say it will be out soon, but soon(tm).


Has Fjarnskaggl been forgotten?

As with so many items from past expansions, Fjarnskaggl’s time has come and gone. It rests only in the grave of the Burning Legion now.


What is your favourite container type object to fill with fuel for hoarding?

Very practical question. But I would have to say no container, because hoarding gasoline really isn’t a good idea. Beyond the fact that it’s a serious fire hazard, it can go bad (sort of). The ethanol in it sucks up moisture in the air which isn’t good for engines. Gas can also evaporate and oxidize, both making it less effective. (I had trouble with my lawnmower when I tried to start it for the first time this year, and the mechanic blamed old gas.)

But, of course, some people are storing this highly flammable stuff in things like… trash bags. There are fire risks even when you store modest amounts of gasoline properly, and it certainly seems like risk-takers out there aren’t trying to store it properly.

Also: hoarding? Unless your definition of hoarding is around five gallons, it’s very likely to be against local fire codes. (Why? Because it’s a fire hazard that gets more dangerous the more of it you have.)

So maybe we should just… not do any of this, and thus not set our homes on fire. I like my home. It’s where I keep all my stuff. Most of which would burn to ash in a gasoline-fueled fire.

In case this was an actual question, I will just refer you to Exxon’s gasoline safety advice.


Have you ever been randomly struck by a sudden urge to go back and replay an old favorite game? If so, which one?

I did just replay this game called Mass Effect.

But in honesty, a lot. Replaying an old game is like rereading a favorite book. I’ve replayed Dragon Age and Mass Effect both quite a lot. I’ve played through the Bioshock series a couple of times, and the Dishonored series more than a couple of times, and I’ve actually been itching to replay both of them lately, but it hasn’t made it to the top of my to-do list. I replayed Horizon Zero Dawn a couple of months ago and I’ve been meaning to replay Outer Worlds alongside playing the new DLC.

There’s a constant stream of new games, but I often fall back into the familiar. Particularly when I’m not feeling great, replaying an old favorite is the video game equivalent of comfort food. Games can be really good stress relief, or at least a really good distraction from the problems of the world at large. They usually have clear rules and defined win conditions in a way real life doesn’t. It’s nice to be able to play a game — especially a game you’re already familiar with — and completely know how to do things. It’s a kind of certainty you never get in real life, and I think it’s a big part of the comfort factor in replaying a favorite.

There’s a win condition, you know how to get there, and all you have to do is enjoy the experience along the way. That’s pretty great.

And that’s all for now. I’ll see you on the other side of a brand new Mass Effect playthrough.

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