Happy N7Day, Commanders. This is what Mass Effect has taught me.

*This post contains spoilers for the Mass Effect Trilogy*

I cannot remember the exact day I picked up a copy of the first Mass Effect game, but it was well past its launch date. Funny thing, at the time, I had only played Bioware’s Jade Empire and Dragon Age. I wasn’t interested in playing a science fiction game. It was a genre that didn’t grab me even though I did enjoy Star Wars and Star Trek when I watched them in my childhood. I always enjoyed fantasy more than I did science fiction. If I had a choice, I would choose Flight of Dragons or The Last Unicorn over Alien or ET (though I love the hell out of Last Starfighter). It wasn’t until a friend of mine pushed me to buy the first game. He said if anything, I would enjoy the narrative.

So I picked up a copy and I became a Earthborn, Sole Survivor, Commander Shepard who excelled in the Soldier class. I was confused at first. Who was Nihlus? Joker? Anderson? What was the Alliance? Why are these things called geth rushing me? There was a lot to process in a very short amount of time. I understood mages and dragons, not Turians and Spectres. I was familiar with the culture of Jade Empire merely because it was a culture that is part of what I grew up with. Science fiction was very foreign to me.

I continued my journey as Shepard and it wasn’t until Virmire that I felt my first emotional connection to these characters. The dreaded decision you have to make between saving Kaidan OR Ashley really hit me. I thought I messed up or I missed something along the way and this was my punishment. But no. You could only save one of them. Along the journey, I found myself becoming attached to these characters. I never cared much for DLC, but I purchased all the narrative add ons for ME2 and ME3. I wanted to see more of Shepard and my crew. Every character was developed well. They each had a story, they each had their reasons for being who they are, even the villains. Your morals were challenged and your emotions were tested. I’m not much of a crier when it comes to fictional characters, but I will remember Mordin’s story arc for the rest of my life. I didn’t care much for him when I first met him in ME2, but slowly, I grew to care for him and his quirkiness. In ME3, I cried my heart out. I couldn’t play the game for a good 20 minutes because I was so distraught over the loss of this character, but at the same time, I couldn’t have imagined a more noble ending for him.

It is entirely the characters who made this trilogy for me. The worlds are beautiful, the levels are amazing and the galaxy that the Mass Effect team has created is beyond inspiring. Hell, I felt goosebumps when Shepard was reunited with the Normandy. I love these characters with all my heart. They felt real. Their hardships, their successes, their love, their rage… these characters were perfect because they were not perfect. They made mistakes, they suffered consequences and they felt the impacts of war and their decisions. It is in this that makes me believe that Mass Effect is one of the most best games out there and it will hold up for many years.

Though the trilogy may be over, and we say goodbye to Commander Shepard, I am confident that Bioware will produce yet another string of worlds that we will fall in love with. So I cannot wait for Andromeda.

Last year, I was tasked with creating a video that full encompasses how I, and hopefully others, feel about Mass Effect. It was difficult to describe. But I began the script with “Mass Effect isn’t just a game” and my feelings took over from there.

Thank you, Bioware and thank you to the Mass Effect team for putting in so much energy, time, effort and sleepless nights into these games. Your hard work will never go unnoticed. I adore you all.

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