Thu
Mar 22 2012 2:00pm

Gaming Roundup: Hell Returns May 15. Unless You’re A Mass Effect Fan

So, we’re a bit late to the table with this, but as we’re sure many of you now know, Blizzard’s latest installment in the Diablo series, Diablo 3, is set to release on May 15. Gamers will return to the quiet , frequently victimized town of Tristram to investigate a fallen star that has woken the dead, thus beginning your fight to turn back the demonic hordes invading Sanctuary once more. Conveniently enough, the release is timed for a date just a few weeks before flu season ends. Not that we’re implying anything.

Now that we’ve had time to finish Mass Effect 3, we can’t say we disagree with the large amount of fans who are raising a huge stink over the game’s ending. But we still can’t be entirely comfortable with petitioning a company to change their creative output. If Bioware wants to release an otherwise A+ SF epic with a shitty, nonsensical, and poorly-plotted final 10 minutes, that’s their prerogative. The company’s released yet another statement today promising outraged gamers they’ll detail their plans to provide a more satisfying ending through DLC in April. (Read: So stop spamming our Facebook page with hatemail.) Until then, we’ll be over here nursing our wounds with the help of an emergency induction port.

In other gaming news this week, we look in on an Elder Scrolls MMO, the latest Baldur’s Gate news, mobile WoW, Guild Wars 2,  and more.

  • You knew this was coming. The creators of Skyrim, Oblivion, and Morrowind plan to return gamers to the continent of Tamriel once more — MMO-style. Watch for an official announcement in May.
  • According to reports, Blizzard is actively looking for ways to effectively port World of Warcraft to the iPhone so that neckbeards everywhere might finally be able to leave their rooms on a Friday night.
  • One last bit of MMO news — Guild Wars 2 will be available for pre-order on April 10. Pre-ordering gives customers automatic access to pre-release beta play periods.
  • Turns out that mysterious countdown on the Baldur’s Gate website a few weeks ago was counting down to the announcement of enhanced editions of Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2. But wait — there’s more. Gamespy reports that Baldur’s Gate 3 is the developer’s “long-term goal.”
  • Remember your mute travels through Rapture? No longer the case. Bioshock Infinite gives us a protagonist with a tongue. And how.
  • Valve denies (in rather subdued fashion) rumors that a “Steam Box” console is close to being announced or completed.
  • And finally, Shack News brings us a field report from the Smithsonian’s “Art of Video Games” exhibit.

If there are games you’d like us to cover or blogs you think we should be following for more news, please let us know: @tdelucci or @pritpaulbains.

12 comments
Richard Abba
1. Nalwin
Relating to mass effect 3.

I agree completely with this post over at Rock Paper Shotgun...

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/03/19/whats-right-with-mass-effect-3s-ending/

On the subject of Diablo 3, my clicking finger goes into overdrive May 15th, can't wait!
Theresa DeLucci
2. theresa_delucci
That was a nice defense, but I still can't say the endings were anything less than a big failure of storytelling. I think I might write my own post about it to keep a spoiler-free zone for people who haven't played/finished yet. Wrex joining a pop band is awesome imagery though.

Seriously, the games were so perfect until those last ten minutes. It was a bigger letdown for me than the finales of Lost and BSG, which had wildly uneven last seasons.

I don't know how much Pritpaul will post once Diablo 3 releases. I fully expect to lose all contact with him after 5/15.
Richard Abba
3. Nalwin
I agree to an extent. Definately the weakest part of the storytelling of Mass Effect 3 is the ending, it just didnt ruin it for me. To me the story ended multiple times, when I resolved this conflict or that character's arc, each time drawing closer to the final showdown. Each ending wrapping up the loose ends.

It was the last ending of many endings, it could have been better but it was suitably epic for me.
Pritpaul Bains
4. Kickpuncher
@1 The lamentations of a million mice will rise with the wind, then swiftly fall silent on May 15. A friend of mine broke 2 mice playing Diablo. "A friend".

What I find interesting is what D3's release means for Torchlight 2. Kind of a death knell, in some ways, I think. That was always intended to be Torchlight 2's big coup - that it would be out before Diablo III and would be far cheaper while providing the same kind of experience. That goes out the window now.
Evan Langlinais
5. Skwid
I think the big issue, Nalwin, is that the ending seemed, to many of us, to actually undo all the work you did in those "previous endings." I'll ROT-13 to be clear:
Dhnevnaf ergnxvat Enaabpu? Fbeel, abcr, gurl'er fghpx va Fby flfgrz. Vg jvyy gnxr gurz praghevrf gb trg onpx, vs gurl pna.
Fcraq gur ynfg gjb tnzrf erpbapvyvat gur Trgu naq gur Dhnevnaf? Ubcr lbh qvqa'g pubbfr gur Qrfgebl raqvat, orpnhfr abj gur Trgu ner shpxrq. Nyfb, lbh whfg xvyyrq bar bs lbhe orfg sevraqf orfg fubg ng ybir.
Fher ubcr Jerk vfa'g *ernyyl* gur xrl gb n crnprshy Xebtna Eraanvffnapr, orpnhfr ur'f fghpx ba Rnegu, gbb, nybat jvgu fbzr ynetr cbegvba bs gur Xebtna znyr cbchyngvba.

And all of that's aside from the other logical issues with the ending; these are just inevitable consequences that should be immediately obvious to anybody contemplating this sequence of events.

I am definitely not in the "Happy Ending" crowd, but I would very much like to have some options where not as many of the things I've worked for in this game get instantly undone, for no apparent reason.
Mouette
6. Mouette
*eyebrow* Didn't a Skyrim dev give an interview last year to the effect that while they'd like to do multiplayer, they didn't want to devote the development resources to make it as good as they'd want it to be? That would have been during Skyrim production though, guess they have the time on their hands now :P
BCsmith
7. BCsmith
Now that Bioware pretty much KILLED WOW with a 1-2 combination of dragon age AND mass effect (and thanks to that stupid ending, themselves as well), it seems wierd that blizzard would fall back on a series that ONLY blizzard fanboys and lingering WOWtards would get excited about.

*sigh*

Come on. We have come way too far from that old dungeon-crawling mess to get excited about about just that. At this point, Diablo 3 won't even make so much as a small dent in something like say, SKYRIM.

So I leave with a message for Blizzard: This is not 2005. This is 2012. we expect more from RPG's now. And we as a gaming audience have become alot smarter and more savvier than you think we are. Ditch this Diablo crap and get with the times.
Pritpaul Bains
8. Kickpuncher
@7 Skyrim hardly qualifies as a deep, complex game. The open world environment is commendable, as are the pretty graphics in an "Oooh, shiny things!" way, but the gameplay itself is shallow, the game devolves into repetitive tasks occasionally loosely related to the main storyline, and the lack of proper play balance make the last 40% of the game a walk in the park.

Did any of that make it less fun? No. And that's all anyone should be asking of D3. Is it fun? The answer to that, whether just to fans of the franchise or otherwise, is yes. And that's the bottom line.

It's a franchise that knows what it's about: loot, fucking up demons, and more loot. It does it's job, and people get what they want. I highly doubt fictional dwindling sales are high on the list of Blizzard's concerns.
BCsmith
9. BCsmith
@8 ah..that may be, but I still can't help but feel that this is Blizzard trying to out-skyrim Skyrim (or in this case, trying to capture thier glory days). WOW, as good as it once was, now just looks like a saterday morning cartoon compared to SKYRIM. And lord knows what happened with thier STARCRAFT series (not that anyone really cares now).
Pritpaul Bains
10. Kickpuncher
@9 I won't disagree with your assessment of WoW - I never really got into it for reasons similar to what you entail.

Starcraft 2 did pretty well upon release, though it certainly had nowhere near the same impact of the original SC.

I do agree that Blizzard has a tendency to play it safe and stick with slightly tweaked, established gameplay and pre-existing franchises. It's working for them so far but I hope to see signs of something new, a different style, direction, in the next year or two.
treebee72 _
11. treebee72
@9 & 10 Blizzard shot themselves in the foot with splitting SC2 into three games. That move pissed off a lot of people & lost them a chunk of sales.
Pritpaul Bains
12. Kickpuncher
@11 Fair point. The expansion/DLC movement is turning into a dangerous one for cost-conscious gamers.

The initial wave of DLCs and expansions served as a legitimate way to advance games and plots in a substantial manner. However, the movement is only a stone's throw away from trending toward holding back actual content that detracts from a game being complete and forcing customers to pay for features that should've been in the game to begin with. *cough* Day 1 DLCs *cough* post-ending DLCs for "real" endings *cough*.

This is worrisome.

Edit: Not to single out Mass Effect here. Just the most recent example that comes to mind.

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