I’m not usually one for replaying video games, especially not the ones that require serious commitment to finish the game “correctly”. That’s why I bothered to play through the Mass Effect games only once, despite them coming out when I had plenty of free time to play them.
Welcome! This column is part of a regular series in which we share what members of the Tom's Guide staff are playing and enjoying right now, with an eye towards helping you find great games that you may have missed. Don't miss our recent column on why you should play Crusader Kings 3 on the PC.
There are just too many games out there, and not enough free hours in my week, to warrant sitting down and replaying a long video game without a good reason. And yet, I’m currently several weeks into a playthrough of Mass Effect Legendary Edition.
The reason is, in part, because my girlfriend wants us to play more video games together. She’s also a huge Mass Effect fan, and had been talking about pre-ordering the Legendary Edition since the day it was announced. Fortunately I managed to convince her that paying full price on day one is kind of pointless when we both have copies of all three games anyway.
But one hefty price cut and a lucky PS5 restock later, and there was no putting it off. Off we went in the SSV Normandy, playing through the entire trilogy over the course of an indeterminate number of weekends. We finally got to Mass Effect 3 a few weeks ago, and judging from our progress so far, we’re going to be at it for some time.
We haven't been taking the game particularly slow; it's just that Mass Effect 3 is so darn big. We’ve spent countless hours in the game, and it doesn’t feel like we’ve progressed very far.
The enormous length of the game's DLC missions hasn’t helped. But we've also gotten bogged down in side quests for random civilians, exploring the galaxy and trying to maintain relationships with various crewmembers.
Right now we’re heading to Tuchanka, with the goal of helping Wrex (who thankfully survived Virmire) and Mordin cure the genophage. Naturally, we can’t be expected to defeat the Reapers without the mindless brutality, and numbers, of a fertile Krogan army.
Playing a video game with a partner has its ups and downs. My girlfriend remembers quite a lot about Mass Effect lore, and can help explain all the things I haven't picked up on. On the other hand, she’s really struggling with the fact I set the difficulty to Normal instead of Casual or Narrative.
It’s also easy to get frustrated at the way she blasts through an area without properly checking for loot. Or the fact that her aim isn't great. Then again, I'm far more likely to run straight into a firefight without taking cover, then slowly make my way into every corner, looking for spare credits.
(She may also be getting her own back after seething at my attempts to defeat the Divine Beasts in Breath of the Wild. I kept refusing to use Revali’s Gale to help defeat Vah Naboris. So it balances itself out.)
This playthrough has hammered home just how little I remember of the Mass Effect series. It didn’t help that I never bothered with the DLC before, so all those questlines are completely new to me.
Leviathan, in particular, has been fascinating, since it helps you understand the history of where the Reapers actually came from and why they do what they do. Let’s face it: Sovereign insisting that human brains can’t contemplate the purpose of the harvest might as well be the writers admitting they hadn’t thought that far ahead.
Plus, having already experienced the game's controversial ending once, the explanations come with an extra-large portion of dramatic irony.
I know I’m going to be playing Mass Effect 3 for at least a few more weeks. The fact that my girlfriend wants us to play it all together means there are only so many hours a week we can dedicate to the amazing adventures of Shepard. Still, I’m not entirely sure I want it to be over too quickly.
The longer we take to get through Mass Effect 3, the longer it will be before I start getting pestered to play through Mass Effect: Andromeda. And honestly, I think I’d rather have to play through all the Mako sections of Mass Effect 1, with the original controls intact.