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Mass Effect 3: Citadel offers a galaxy of choices

Wednesday, 1 May 2013 14:23 GMT By Brenna Hillier

It’s the ultimate gift to long-patient fans, but Mass Effect 3 Citadel’s also the most technically ambitious module of BioWare’s much-praised divergent narrative system. Brenna Hillier reports.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel

Available now on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, for $15 or 1200 points.

The final piece of DLC for Mass Effect 3 – and Commander Shepard’s story.

Set before the final events of Mass Effect 3, it offers all new areas of the titular space station to explore; an action-packed mission sequence featuring the majority of the cast; multiple opportunities to reconnect with squadmates, including those who’ve been lost; and the chance to throw a massive party in Shepard’s pimpin’ apartment.

Get the soundtrack and throw your own space party.

Header image via fishbone76.

Some spoilers ahead but seriously, come on guys – Mass Effect 3 came out in March 2012.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel is the final piece of DLC the trilogy will receive, and although it takes place before the end of the third game, it’s probably the last Commander Shepard adventure many of us will ever play. It’s not just that it released a full year after Mass Effect 3, it’s that it quite deliberately sets out to give us what we wanted – a fan-service heavy chance for fans to farewell the valiant commander as she deserves.

BioWare ought to be and quite rightly is highly praised for serving up this last adventure, which sees the return of every possible cast member, and even brings back some who have passed beyond, in various respectful ways. It unites the whole crew of squadmates as we’ve never seen them before – one unit, fighting together – and later gives you the chance to see them at their silliest, drinking, dancing, and in more than one case, throwing up in the toilet.

Amidst all the praise and celebration, it’s easy to overlook the fact that in handing over this precious gift BioWare has been extremely clever. You don’t notice this as you play through Citadel, but it’s one of if not the most complex modules the series has produced to date. The sheer number of possibilities the story must allow for – who’s alive, who’s dead, who’s in bed with Shepard now, who was in bed with Shepard before, what DLC you’ve played, what decision you’ve made in each of the three games – is staggering, and unlike every other part of the game, you’re given free rein to pick whoever you want in your squad almost all the way through.

That means more dialogue than any section of comparable length has had to pack in before – and it’s all behind the scenes, where you’re unlikely to notice it. Unless you make a couple of wildly different playthroughs (or use save manipulators) your only hope of seeing much of this content is via YouTube, where you’ll uncover treasures that’ll make you realise there are stories upon stories in Mass Effect you never even knew existed.

“To give you a general sense of scale, the apartment party section in The Citadel contained roughly 25% as many plot states as all of KotOR, and had more plot states than any DLC we had ever done.”

“When measuring divergent story points, there are a number of metrics that we can use, but most applicable to the game would be a data construct called a plot state,” BioWare’s Mike Gamble and Dusty Everman told us in an email.

“Plot states are used to record and store various bits of information about your playthrough. Whether it’s if Wrex is alive, or if you’ve gone on a second date with Liara, plot states holds a wealth of information. Because of the sheer number and depth of these plot states, speaking generally about divergent story points is somewhat difficult. That said, to give you a general sense of scale, the apartment party section in The Citadel contained roughly 25% as many plot states as all of KotOR, and had more plot states than any DLC we had ever done.”

Let me repeat that for emphasis: the apartment party section. Not the whole DLC. How many is that? BioWare wouldn’t say, but it did tell us that the number of plot states for the trilogy as a whole is “easily in the thousands, especially when you consider the plot state complexity has been compounded subsequently for each game and DLC”.

Quite understandably, BioWare has never sat down and charted out the whole trilogy on one map. Possibly because it doesn’t have a big enough conference table.

“There is no singular map that holds all of the plot states. Instead, we use our writing and level design tools to manage them. That way, they can be easily manipulated by the designers, and our tools keep track of what each plot state does,” the developer said.

Dancing with Garrus? You. Are. On.

“Of course, there are still a few senior writers and designers who have a very good understanding of the system in its entirety.”

Can you imagine having all that information in your brain? You probably think you know the whole of Mass Effect pretty well, if you’re a fan. You probably know most of the unique and ambient dialogue options, either from experience or from browsing fan-made compendiums like the Mass Effect Wiki. But it’s almost guaranteed that there’s at least one little snippet you’ve never heard of or seen, that would delight or amuse you.

Let’s take a few examples from the beginning of Citadel, directly from BioWare:

  • At the start of the DLC, the squad mate who comes to your rescue before the car lot is your ME3 love interest (i.e. Liara, Ashley, Kaidan, Garrus, or Tali), or Liara otherwise (i.e. your love interest is Miranda, Jack, Thane, Jacob , Traynor, Cortez, or you don’t have a love interest).
  • If Wrex is alive, he takes out the merc shuttle. Otherwise, it’s James.
  • If Traynor is the love interest, Shepard can kiss her at the Normandy airlock to prove she’s the real Shepard.
  • If EDI is brought along as a squad mate when returning to the Normandy, there is humorous scene where her control and senses within the Normandy are disconnected.
  • If Jack is a love interest, one of her character moments is her giving Shepard a tattoo. Otherwise, she has adopted a varren.

This is, of course, just a tiny sampling; at almost any point in Citadel – or Mass Effect in general, really – when a character speaks, who it is and what they say is determined by something you’ve done. For example: part way through Citadel, Shepard and two squadmates are locked in a vault. The three characters exchange a few comments, and one character is plainly more nervous than the others. But on your second playthrough, depending on who you’ve brought with you, the nervous character may take the other role.

“We went with an order determined by who seemed most likely to be worried or had an anxious personality, and then, failing that, by who was funniest in each role. For example, Tali will always be the worried one if she’s present, and Wrex will never be the worried one,” BioWare explained.

Even just this one short exchange would need to be played dozen of times in order to hear everything on offer.

In this way, players are almost guaranteed to see and hear different dialogue with every combination of squadmates they bring along; even just this one short exchange would need to be played dozen of times in order to hear everything on offer.

Few gaming franchises have captured the attention Mass Effect has over its all too brief life to date (just look at the reaction to the original ending. When was the last time you got so upset about the abrupt goodbyes of your favourite characters that you started a petition and raised significant cash for charity?) and Citadel is the perfect bit of closure to that attention. BioWare is to be applauded for its commitment to giving fans the satisfying, bittersweet farewell they wanted. But it must also be commended for pushing consequential choice in gaming to such a level that most players don’t even know it’s there.

Every Mass Effect 3 players’ story is unique, built from the thousands of actions big and small made over the course of who knows how many tens of hours. When you explore the Citadel one last time, remember that you might be the only Shepard ever to walk that particular path.

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14 Comments

  1. SplatteredHouse

    I thought this came out a while ago. There was a whole load of noise about it, at least.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. theevilaires

    Its a shame I haven’t gotten past a hour of the 1st game and I’m missing out on a lot from this series. Where did I go so wrong to get backlogged like this :(

    #2 2 years ago
  3. TheBlackHole

    I love the series, but this DLC was a shit load of running back and forth, with some interesting character development at the end.

    Way overrated though.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. TheWulf

    It definitely wasn’t one of their best. It did feel a little fanfic-y, but it also had some pretty brilliant moments. It was fairly fantastic, then, but as DLC goes it was no Lair of the Shadow Broker. But I still enjoyed it.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. TheWulf

    @3: Yeah, that’s the conclusion I arrived at. It’s fun but ultimately it can be skipped. You’d actually be missing out on more story by skipping Leviathan.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Clupula

    While it has the least to add to the story, it was, by far, my favorite of the DLC add-ons, simply because it allowed me to do something you almost never do in ME3, and that’s have fun. It was great to see characters that definitely should have been in the game (I really think not letting you recruit even one of the ME2 characters was a huge mistake, since that game was probably the best in the trilogy) and it made the ending feel like there actually was closure before it.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. YoungZer0

    @4: Fanfic-y? Isn’t that what Mass Effect has become after the first one? Or why do you think was it suddenly possible to date Garrus in ME2?

    @6: Agreed. I felt cheated as I was dating Jack in ME2 and thought she was one of the better characters of the trilogy. She had a few scenes in ME3 but that was about it. Citadel added the little piece that was missing.

    IMO nothing can beat the ending of the Overlord DLC.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Joe_Gamer

    More damn ME news, not even new news either…Ultimate gift my ass, Bioware should NOT be “praised” for anything mass effect related. They have trodden upon a precious thing and have earned eternal enmity.

    Fan service Does not equal quality…

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Richenbaum

    Yeah it had some funny bits, but man the pacing was terrible. So much standing around and running around for very little reward. The casino heist part in particular. Oh my god was that long, slow, and boring.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Clupula

    @7 – Ah, yes, I was quite fond of the Lawnmower Man DLC in ME2. lol

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Clupula

    @7 – Jack was one of my favorite characters too. It quite bothered me that femShep and her couldn’t get together in ME2. If there ever was an ME character that was bisexual, it was Jack, yet I couldn’t date her unless I picked a male character.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Vice

    After ME3 I can’t bring myself back to these, once very beloved, series. Not even to see favorite characters like Garrus, Samara and Mordin once more.
    ME3 ruined the series for me THAT much. Thanks, BW.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. YoungZer0

    @11: Lawl. :D

    @12: Indeed it is odd, I could swear Jack mentioned that she had a threesome with a guy and another woman. Or something like that. But I’m pretty sure she gave off bi-vibes.

    Doesn’t matter, had sex.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Mjorh

    I haven’t played none of the DLCs , which one is better ?

    #14 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is sure to be one of the biggest RPGs of the year, due for release in May on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Delayed since its target release of 2015, CD Projekt Red’s latest game takes the series to a true open world environment, and charges the player with tracking […]

  • Battlefield Hardline beta date leaked – rumour

    According to an email sent to some YouTubers, the upcoming beta for Battlefield Hardline is scheduled for February 3. The date for the Battlefield Hardline beta is believed to be February 3. It comes from an email that’s been sent by Ronku to various YouTubers reminding them of the starting date, February 3. Ronku is […]

  • The history of The Witcher: beyond the Road With No Return

    We take a look at The Witcher franchise, from the original short stories to its blockbuster video games. The world was first introduced to Geralt through a set of short stories called The Witcher (English translation) written by author Andrzej Sapkowski. The first short story was published in the Polish fantasy and science fiction magazine […]

  • Bringing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to life

    In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt RED takes a whopping enormous map and fills it with stuff you actually want to see and do. Do you remember back before Oblivion came out there was a lot of chat about how much more lifelike and realistic the NPCs would be? Rather than just hanging […]

  • The big Witcher 3 questions answered: delays, playing as Ciri, and why enemies don’t scale

    Spending some time with The Witcher 3 level designer Miles Tost we were able to put some of our immediate questions to him after playing the game for over 4 hours. “That sense of improvement doesn’t happen if the monsters around you remain the same strength, there’s no sense of achievement.” Tost is a relaxed […]

  • The Witcher 3 sets a new generational standard for graphics

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the new standard in outrageously pretty. “The Witcher 3 is more than just eye-candy. Destiny, once the loveliest thing I had ever looked upon, has been outclassed.” The Witcher 3 is even better looking than the screenshots would have you believe, and until you see it in motion, running […]

  • The Witcher 3: hands-on with the RPG of the year

    Getting to know a bawdy hero; Geralt of Rivia’s third outing is accessible, untamed, and dripping with story. Warning: some spoilers are inevitable. “The Witcher 3 is horror and violence. It’s charming, witty and cheeky. Like Geralt, it knows what it wants and it’s going to grab it with both hands.” The Witcher 3: Wild […]

  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel gets Lady Hammerlock DLC tomorrow

    The Lady Hammerlock DLC for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel will be released on PS3 and Xbox 360 tomorrow, January 27. The new playable character comes with three skill trees and the action skill Cold As Ice. If you haven’t bought the season pass for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel you can download the DLC for $9.99, you lucky […]

  • A limited edition 20th Anniversary PS4 just sold for $128,000

    Sony has just auctioned one of its limited edition 20th Anniversary PS4 consoles for over $128,000. The model had the serial number 00001, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We appreciate all who participated in the auction and are surprised at the highest bid price, which was higher than our expectations,” said a rep for […]

  • Here’s Killer Instinct’s new Omen and Golem fighters in action

    Microsoft has revealed Killer Instinct Season 2′s fighter Omen in a new trailer. Stick around for the end of the video and you’ll also get a peek at another new fighter, Golem. Omen is a bonus character and as such isn’t available as part of the main season roster. He’s available for free to Ultra […]

  • Digital copies of Far Cry 4 are being deleted from Uplay

    Ubisoft appears to be deleting copies of Far Cry 4 bought through digital third-party retailers. According to the Ubisoft support forums, copies of the game acquired via G2Play and G2A are being removed from Uplay. Users had not been given any warning by publisher Ubisoft that the game will be removed, although it is now […]

  • Gearbox wants “badass” talent for the next Borderlands

    Borderlands 3 may not have been announced at PAX this weekend, but studio boss Randy Pitchford is currently recruiting for the next game in the series. We are recruiting for next Borderlands. This is the big one. Industry badass? E-mail me: heyrandy@gearboxsoftware.com pic.twitter.com/ZG9dLytX1B — Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) January 26, 2015 A recruitment push would suggest […]

  • Destiny: less grind, fairer economy in House of Wolves DLC

    Destiny developer Bungie has said it aims to lessen the grind in House of Wolves, and it won’t repeat mistakes it made with rewards in The Dark Below. Gear rewards will be fairer, according to lead designer Luke Smith in a Neogaf thread. For example, buying from a vendor should not invalidate gear rewarded for […]

  • Halo: The Master Chief Disaster

    Over two months since release and Xbox One’s big Christmas game is still a turkey, says Rich Stanton. “The game has now been available for two-and-a-half months, including the blockbuster Christmas season, and by any reasonable standard it doesn’t work.” Halo: The Master Chief Collection launched worldwide on November 11, 2014. Intended as something of […]

  • Homeworld Remastered Collection dated, first gameplay footage released

    Homeworld Remastered Collection has a release date, and as promised, the gameplay footage of Gearbox Software’s remake has been released along with the news that Homeworld Shipbreaker development continues. The video was shown during the Inside Gearbox Software panel earlier this morning at PAX South. Last year, Gearbox had said hoped to release the title […]

  • Clock Tower spiritual successor Night Cry has landed on Kickstarter

    The Kickstarter for Clock Tower spiritual successor, Project Scissors, recently announced as Night Cry, has launched. A teaser directed by The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu was released for the game earlier this month, and the full short film can be viewed below. Shimizu is also creative director on the project and Silent Hill creative and environment […]

  • Toukiden Kiwami mission trailer released, pre-order bonuses detailed

    Pre-order bonuses for Toukiden Kiwami have been announced for PlayStation 4 and Vita. Here’s the pre-order bonus list for each participating retailer: North America GameStop – Armor inspired by new slayers Reki and Soma’s costumes and classic armor from Toukiden‘s six original NPC slayers. Amazon – 2 exclusive pieces of armor: a set of Tenko […]

  • More Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Final Fantasy 15 info doled out by Tabata

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD director Hajime Tabata took part in a Reddit AMA yesterday, and answered a variety of questions pertaining to the game and Final Fantasy 15. According to Tabata, the first playthrough of the game will last around 40 hours, but “the real fun” starts from the second playthrough which contains new events. […]

  • This video gives you an idea of what Borderlands Online is like

    A video for Borderlands Online, the China-exclusive title from 2K, Shanda Games and Gearbox, has been released. Posted on MMO Culture, the video was released to announce the “technical test” which started today. Borderlands Online is an instance-based online shooter, and will probably never reach western shores. Still, you can have a look anyway.

  • Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is the MMO’s first expansion

    The first expansion for Guild Wars 2, Heart of Thorns, was announced today during PAX South, and ArenNet has posted a few content details for it on the official webiste. Heart of Thorns contains a reimagined progression with the new Mastery system, which provides new training opportunities for characters beyond level 80. Players will be […]

  • Turn-based action platformer Ronin has been polished up, nets a publisher

    Tomasz Waclawek has polished up his freeware title Ronin and will be releasing it through publisher Devolver Digital later this year. The turn-based action platformer stars a vengeful ninja who is determined to kill important memebers of a powerful corporation. Weapons at your disposal include razor wire and a katana, or you avoid combat by […]

  • Footage of cancelled Justice League brawler surfaces

    Footage of the cancelled Double Helix-developed Justice League brawler has surfaced online. The game was supposed to be a tie-in title for the also cancelled Justice League film directed by George Miller, according to leaked images and information from 2012. Jon Gwyn, the game’s artist and now Rockstar San Diego staffer, said at the time […]

  • Free Icona Vulcano DLC for DriveClub releases next week

    Sony has posted a video of the Icona Vulcano, which will be released as DLC next week for DriveClub. The video was posted on Facebook and we’ve embedded the video below courtesy of GamesHQMeida. It was announced earlier this week the Icona Vulcano would be released on the PS Store as a free download.

  • The Bard’s Tale 4 announced by inXile Entertainment at PAX South

    The Bard’s Tale 4 was announced today by inXile Entertainment CEO Brian Fargo during a panel at PAX South. inXile hinted around back in December that a sequel was in the works. Granted, The Bard’s Tale wasn’t mentioned. Still, everyone figured this was the game when Wasteland 2 project lead Chris Keenan stated the team […]

  • Here’s another Majora’s Mask 3DS vs N64 comparison video

    Last week, YouTube user Master0fHyrule uploaded a Majora’s Mask 3DS vs N64 comparison video, and we’ve embedded it for you below. The video shows 4.5 minutes of footage which appears before hitting the start button and the first meeting between Link and the Skull Kid. Another comparison video was released by another user back in […]

  • The Game Awards 2015 already in the planning stages

    The Game Awards 2015 are already in the planning stages, according to Geoff Keighley. The inaugural show took place on December 6, 2014. Keighley announced the 2015 show during his Storytime with Geoff Keighley panel at PAX South this weekend and through Twitter. He said more details will be announced in the spring. You can […]

  • Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered listed for January release

    It looks like Quantic Dream’s Indigo Prophecy is returning in remastered form next week, if an Amazon listing is any indication. According to the listing posted on NeoGAF, the uncut version of the game contains Steam DRM and will release January 29 at 12pm PST/3pm EST for a Linux, Mac and PC download. Titled Fahrenheit: […]

  • Indie Flash Sale kicks off on North American PS Store

    The North American end of the PlayStation Store is hosting a Flash Sale a beefy list of indie games and some films. The sales includes titles such as Resogun, Shadow Warrior, The Unfinished Swan, FEZ, Costume Quest 2, Joe Danger, Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons, and more for up to 80% off. The full […]

  • The Witcher 3 Twitch stream to show 15 minutes of new gameplay footage

    New The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt gameplay footage will be shown Monday, January 26 on GOG.com’s Twitch channel. Along with the footage, the developers will be answering questions from the community as well as providing commentary on the gameplay being shown. Live questions posted via Twitter chat will be answered by senior gameplay designer Damien […]

  • Borderlands 3 information teased for tomorrow’s Gearbox PAX South panel

    During PAX South this weekend, Gearbox Software is hosting a panel titled Inside Gearbox Software which will provide “the latest news and updates on Borderlands and upcoming Gearbox titles.” Yesterday during Gearbox’s panel called Question and Answer Time, CEO Rady Pitchford was asked “when or if” fans can expect Borderlands 3. “I’ll tell you what,” […]

  • Best Buy cancels multiple pre-order units of Limited Edition Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL

    Multiple sources reported overnight Best Buy has cancelled some pre-orders for the Limited Edition Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL. As of press time, it appears to only affect those who pre-ordered more than one system. Only one system was allotted per order, so the cancellation notices were sent out to comply with the restriction. Those […]

  • Rob Huebel is your KillCameraman in this CoD: Advanced Warfare video

    A live-action video for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Havoc has been released by Activision. Subtitled: Randall Higgins: KillCameraman gives you a look at the action from a different perspective. In the video, Higgins is played by comedic actor and writer Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital, Parks and Rec, The Mindy Project). The first DLC […]

  • Xbox App features included with Windows 10 January build outlined

    The January build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview includes a basic version of the Xbox App announced earlier this week. With the initial preview release, the team at Microsoft wanted to only include the basics such as high resolution monitor support along with keyboard and mouse input. Additional functionality will be released with each […]

  • Standalone version of DayZ has sold 3 million units

    The standalone version of DayZ sold 3 million units, Bohemia Interactive has announced. Release Just over a year ago on Steam Early Access, the milestone was hit yesterday. The standalone version was created by Dean Hall as a Arma 2 modification which has been updated 24 times since its initial release. In 2014, the development […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video shows gameplay clips, global hands-on events

    CD Projekt has released a video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, giving a glimpse of gameplay and noting that hands-on impressions of the game will be bombarding the Internet next week. We’ll have extensive coverage of The Witcher 3 on Monday Jan 26 at 3pm GMT. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is coming to […]

  • Microsoft looking into possible HoloLens support for PC, Xbox One

    Microsoft’s HoloLens may be a dedicated device, but the company is obviously looking into how it could be used with PC and Xbox One. Speaking with Polygon, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said should the stand-alone product become a success, “specific scenarios” on how it could be used with Xbox One are already being brainstormed. “We […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD video compares PSP graphics to PS4, Xbox One

    A video for Final Fantasy Type-0 comparing the upcoming console version of the game to the original PSP version has been released by Square Enix. While comparing PSP graphics to those of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One seems rather unfair, it’s worth a watch anyway. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD releases March 17 in North America […]

  • Payday 2′s The Bomb Heists and Dragan Character Pack released

    In case you forgot, The Bomb Heists and Dragan Character content packs for Payday 2 were released yesterday. The new heist pack is available for $6.99/€6.99/£4.99 and the Dragan character will run you $4.99/€4.99/£3.99 through Steam and other digital distribution sites. Here’s the details: The Bomb Heists A new contact, called the Butcher, brought to […]

  • Rockstar offers tips on scaling GTA Online creations to support 30 players

    Rockstar has posted a tutorial of sorts on how to edit your GTA Online’s creations to support up to 30 players. According to the developer, when selecting Load Creation, users will be able to access any previously published Jobs and edit them in any way they wish. Users can also increase the Maximum Players races […]

  • Video for Life is Strange shows you how to rewind time

    If you could rewind time, would you change the events of your day or leave things be? In Life is Strange, you will make this choice. In the developer diary below, Dontnot Entertainment touches upon the main character’s ability to rewind time. How Max’s ability works and originated is also discussed. The first episode of […]

  • Take a look at one of the historical battles in Total War: Attila

    The Creative Assembly has revealed historical battles for Total War: Attila and shown off one of them. In the latest episode of Rally Point, developer Creative Assembly takes a look at one of the nine historical battles that will be included in Total War: Attila when it launches next month. But before you see the […]