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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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  • Spotify now available on PS3 and PS4, lets you play music in the background

    Spotify has arrived on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The Spotify app is now available in 42 countries on PSN. The app was part of last week’s firmware update and can be found under PlayStation Music. Anyone can download it, as it doesn’t require PlayStation Plus. You can use your PSN account to subscribe to […]

  • Let’s talk Battlefield Hardline weapon balance

    The weapon balance in Battlefield Hardline is causing a controversy among the players. Are some weapons too powerful, or are other not powerful enough? Westie has been playing Battlefield Hardline since it the day it came out and he has some opinions about the state of weapon balance as it stands right now. Westie also […]

  • UK Charts: Bloodborne enters at No. 2, Battlefield Hardline defends No. 1 spot

    Battlefield Hardline has defended the No. 1 spot in the UK Charts against Bloodborne’s impressive numbers. The UK Charts for the week ending March 28 show Battlefield Hardline continuing to hold the top spot despite dropping 43% in sales. Bloodborne achieved the No. 2 spot and came only 22,500 copies short of becoming number 1. […]

  • Halo 5: Guardians release date and new trailers released

    Halo 5 is coming in October. Are you ready? Halo 5: Guardians has been slapped with a release date of October 27. Microsoft and 343 Industries also released a new trailer to mark the news; check it out below. “The Master Chief. Spartan Locke. Who is the hunter and who is the hunted?” Microsoft said […]

  • Denial wins Call of Duty Championship 2015

    In a weekend where favourites crashed out and non-US teams took a beating, Denial stepped up to take the title and $400,000 prize Denial have beaten Revenge to win the Call of Duty Championship 2015, claiming a $400,000 prize. Taking place in downtown Los Angeles, 32 of the best teams in the world battled it […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Ascendance DLC- check out new maps and the grapple ability

    Advanced Warfare’s Ascendance DLC is looking pretty sweet in these two new videos. The Call of Duty Championships this weekend have given our very own Arekkz a chance to check out the new Ascendance DLC coming this month. Take a look at all four new maps as well as the cool new grapple ability (which […]

  • Advanced Warfare’s Exo Zombies gets a “mini boss” with Ascendance DLC

    Zombies mode gets an exo-kick up the ass with Advanced Warfare’s second DLC drop, Ascendance. When Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s Ascendance DLC drops this week, players will be going up against some tougher challenges in Exo Zombies mode. “It’s all zombies, all of the time,” says High Moon Studios Matt Tieger, head of the […]

  • GTA Online user videos show out of character Lester, important Police Business

    You know, Lester isn’t as soft as he lets on, at least in these two GTA Online videos he’s not. The first one below is from YouTube user 10Phoenix01 Gamer, showing Lester kick a guy’s ass. It’s apparently punishment for running over the player – at least that’s the way it appears. A second video […]

  • Guild Wars 2 devs explain how the Map Bonus system, precursor crafting work in Heart of Thorns

    ArenaNet has posted information on the Guild Wars 2 website explaining how crafting mastery, and crafting a legendary weapon, will work in the Heart of Thorns expansion. There’s also information on the new Map Bonuses system, which will make acquiring crafting materials a more “directed activity” and streamlined experience. The new system will also add […]

  • Fly around your creations in Cities: Skylines with the Flight Cimulator mod

    Cities: Skylines players can now fly over their creations thanks to the Flight Cimulator mod. Created by Ulysius and available through the Steam Workshop, the mod allows the user to simulate flight through simple controls. According to the mod notes, it is still a work in progress as Ulysius plans to add building collisions , […]

  • The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul arrive on PlayStation Vue

    Sony has announced the addition of AMC to its PlayStation Vue service, which soft launched in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia earlier this month. Those who use the service can now get their Better Call Saul and The Walking Dead fix, and also watch the Sundance channel, WEtv and IFC. AMC and WEtv are […]

  • Play the first level of Super Mario 64 in your browser

    Thanks to Roystan Ross and the Unity engine, you can play the first level of Super Mario 64 in your browser. This little nugget came to my attention yesterday, and unfortunately it became lost on my worksheet. Better late than never, I suppose. Anyway, the level is free-to-play and if you don’t wish to play […]

  • Steam’s Discovery Update has helped increase revenue for smaller titles

    Valve has said its Discovery Queue has increased product page views across Steam by 30% since the company launched the Discovery Update. According to Valve, 75% of those views come from the Discovery Queue, and 16% of product views can be attributed to the Discovery Queue. Even Steam Tags clicks have increased. The system is […]

  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection April update includes “more ranked playlists”

    The next content update for Halo: The Master Chief Collection will “address a variety of issues across the game,” according to 343 Industries, including specific improvements to ranking. New quit and betrayal penalties are also in the works as the development team prepares to roll out ranks to additional playlists. According to 343, the latest […]

  • Get Spec Ops: The Line for free through 2K Games sale on Humble Store

    A 2K Games sale is going on this weekend on the Humble Store with up to 83% off on select titles. Games on sale include Evolve, Bioshock, Civilization and other franchises. Plus, Spec Ops: The Line can be yours for free with the purchase of any -2K title on sale. To see the full list […]

  • Dota 2 The International 2015 tickets are sold out

    Tickets to Dota 2 The International 2015 are now sold out, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. The tickets went on sale in two phases starting March 27. Phase one sold out in six minutes, and phase two sold out in four minutes. Each round of sales offered the same quantity of General Admission tickets priced at […]

  • Here’s what’s expected in Battlefield 4′s Weapon Crate DLC – video

    A new Battlefield 4 drop is on the horizon, and to give you an idea of what to expect, we have a video for you below featuring information on the Weapon Crate DLC. According to Battlefield expert Westie, players can expect five new weapons along with the return of the Gun Master game mode. The […]

  • Pillars of Eternity issues to be addressed in patch 1.03, expected next week

    Obsidian Entertainment plans to release a Pillars of Eternity patch next week to combat issues users have reported. Until the patch is released, the developers have posted workarounds for some of the most common issues. The issues reported span framerate drops, inability to launch the game unless in administrator mode, crashes on 32-bit machines, animal […]

  • Mortal Kombat X videos show Erron Black gameplay, Ermac fatalities, more

    Erron Black, the gunslinger which was outed for Mortal Kombat X in the achievements listing last week, was featured in the latest livestream from NetherRelam Studios yesterday evening. Along with gameplay, fatalities and variations for Black, the developer also provided a look at gameplay for: Ermac vs Mileena; Ermac’s brutality and fatality moves; Lui Kang […]

  • The Legend of Zelda Wii U: 2015 release not a “priority”, skipping E3

    The Legend of Zelda franchise producer Eiji Aonuma is featured in the latest video update on the status of The Legend of Zelda for Wii U, stating a 2015 release is no longer a “number one priority” for the team. While Aonuma never specifically says the game has been delayed into 2016, the announcement confirms […]

  • Destiny gameplay designer exits for Bethesda

    Destiny’s senior gameplay designer Josh Hamrick announced on Twitter overnight he would be leaving the company in a week’s time for Bethesda. Hamrick joined Bungie in 2009 after working two years at Midway Austin, where he created multiplayer maps, modified single-player levels, and other designer functions. He was in charge of fixing bug in code […]

  • What to expect from the Call of Duty Championship this weekend

    Just settling down to the Call of Duty Championship this weekend? Here’s a rundown of today’s matches and what else to expect over the next three days. The Call of Duty Championship is taking place in LA this weekend until Sunday, with 32 four-player teams battling it out for a prize pot of $1 million. […]

  • MLB 15 The Show video highlights improved graphics, updated grass patterns

    Sony has released a video for MLB 15 The Show which provides a look at graphical improvements made to the game. Along with the visual upgrade over MLB 14 The Show, the game contains new minor league stadiums, dynamic sun generated in real-time, and upgraded grass patterns which reflect each stadium’s unique look. MLB 15 […]

  • Valve to offer HTC Vive Developer Edition free to qualified developers

    Valve has said it will offer the HTC Vive Developer Edition for free to qualified developers in an effort to buoy projects before the tech launches commercially. Surgeon Simulator developer Bossa Studios and The Room studio Fireproof Games are just some of the developers which already have a free Vive in-hand. According to Valve’s Doug […]

  • DriveClub gameplay video features MotorStorm’s off-road buggies

    Some gameplay footage of MotorStorm’s off-road buggies in DriveClub has surfaced. Pictures of the buggies were shown on the Japanese PlayStation Blog earlier this month, which considering the game was developed by Evolution Studios – which developed MotorStorm – this isn’t too much of a surprise. The buggies were first spotted by Videogamer, which pulled […]

  • Mortal Kombat X live-action TV spot features the track Chop Suey

    The TV sport for Mortal Kombat X has been released, and not only does it contain a “spontaneous fight circle” taking over an entire city, but it features the System of a Down track Chop Suey. Mortal Kombat X will be released on PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One April 14. The […]

  • Bloodborne Forbidden Woods progression bug caused by multiplayer summon

    A progression bug in Bloodborne is in the works, according to Sony and From Software. The issue occurs when players activate a multiplayer session in the Forbidden Woods using the Sinister Resonant Bell or Small Resonant Bell. It also appears the Lunarium Key won’t appear because of the multiplayer bug, and without the key you […]

  • Yo-Kai Watch game franchise has sold over 7 million copies

    The Yo-Kai Watch IP has sold over 7 million copies, according to developer Level-5. The figure included both physical and digital download sales. Yo-Kai Watch 3 will be unveiled during Level-5 Vision 2015 next month. The first title is in the works for the west but is still without a release window. Thanks, Gematsu.

  • Bloodborne trademark returned to Sony after accidentally losing it

    In case you were worried or anything, Sony has once again obtained the Bloodborne trademark. Earlier this week it was revealed that Sony mistakenly abandoned the Bloodborne trademark along with four others registered with US Patent and Trademark Office: Guns Up!, Kill Strain; How Games Were Made to Sound, and No Heroes Allows: No Puzzles […]

  • GTA 5 PC official trailer coming next week, 15 new screenshots released

    New PC screenshots of GTA 5 have been released along with word of a new trailer coming on Monday. The screens below are from the PC version and you can view them in 4K glory over on Rockstar Newswire. The PC version of GTA 5 releases on April 14.

  • PSN real-time server status page launching in Europe soon

    PlayStation users in Europe will soon have its own a PSN Service Status Indicator. It was released earlier this month in North America. The indicator makes it easier to check whether PlayStation services are down or running as planned. This includes account management, PlayStation Now, the store, social services, etc. Sony told Eurogamer the service […]

  • Exclusivity contract prevents Bioware from revealing Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC release on PS4

    Bioware is unable to discuss when the Jaws of Hakkon DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition will arrive on platforms other than PC and Xbox One. According to various tweets from executive producer Mark Darrah, due to the exclusivity contract between EA and Microsoft, the studio is unable to announce a release date for PlayStation 3 […]

  • LEGO Batman 3 demo, Namco Museum, more added to North American eShop

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a demo for LEGO Batman 3, Namco Museum on Wii U Virtual Console, and various sales. Below is the full update. Nintendo eShop Dot Arcade – Wii U LEGO Ninjago – 3Ds LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Demo – Wii U Harvest Moon: The […]

  • Square Enix’s Easter Surprise bundle contains five mystery PC games

    Square Enix offering another mystery bundle to customers in the UK, which comes with five mystery PC games for £3.99. As before, customers will be unaware of the games they are purchasing in the mystery bundle, but the bundle contains triple-A titles worth £40 combined. One of Square’s previous mystery bundles contained Tomb Raider, Just […]

  • From Software’s PSone game Shadow Tower coming to PSN

    Shadow Tower, the first-person action-RPG developed for the original PlayStation by From Software, will be released on PlayStation Network. In the 1998 title, players took on the role of a mercenary who has returned home to the Holy Land of Zeptar to find the place has been sucked into the Underworld. He must use the […]

  • PlayStation TV gets price cut in the UK, now £44.99

    PlayStation TV has received a price cut in the UK. After several retailers started offering the console for less than the RRP of £84.99, users on DealSpwn began to wonder whether this is an official price cut, and not just regular deals or stock clearance. Sony later confirmed the new price of £44.99. “Starting from […]