Right, so. The game (my imaginary version of it, anyway) is called PARABELLUM. “What’s that all about?,” wondered the fanboys after the big reveal at Comic-Con 2014, or Pax Prime, or whenever it was revealed. There was much gnashing of teeth about the “CoD-ification” of the series, and all kinds of people were just utterly convinced that the transition to full-on shooter was going to be complete. Some people were overjoyed about the prospect. Some people wailed and rent their garments.
Ultimately, BioWare had to remind everyone that despite the awesome potential in the Frostbite3 engine, and the undeniably improved ability to BLOW SHIT UP renewing everyone’s commitment to creating satisfying scenarios in which players can and will BLOW SHIT UP, it was still a Mass Effect game. It was still shooting, traveling, talking to people, jogging all over the damn place, sometimes looting through crates like a hobo, and trying to have sex with aliens. And some people actually chilled out when they were reminded of that. Not many, it seemed at the time, but enough.
And one of the devs said on Twitter that anyone who was truly upset or gleeful would do well to go back to their Latin and Greek.
"Si vis pacem, para bellum," goes the expression. "If you would have peace, prepare for war." Sure, there is a famous type of 9mm ammunition called a "parabellum round," and sure, that name is taken from the same source, but it’s the underlying meaning that matters here.
And when we learned the game was in fact a sequel to the trilogy, that meaning suddenly made a lot of sense.
After the EA and BioWare logos, the text crawl starts up:
"It is a time without precedent. The threat of the Reapers, ancient artificial intelligences that harvested advanced civilizations at their peak, were defeated 120 years ago."
Oooh! straight sequel! I knew it!
And awww, most everyone from the trilogy who isn’t asari or krogan is dead. Womp womp. I bet Garrus died of complications of advanced awesomeness like 50 years ago.
"The war that decimated the galaxy’s mightiest navies came at a terrible cost, but for the first time, the civilizations and people of the galaxy can move forward, farther than anyone has in aeons, and see what lies out there, in the black…"
Ok, wow, they are just straight-up stealing from “Firefly” now… and I like it…
And now, there’s a ship, floating through space. Wow, space looks amazing here. Is this a loading screen?
Oh. Nope, it’s the background for my character selection screen. I get it. I have to decide whose ship this is, and presumably from there the game will tell me what they’re doing.
See, the idea here is that the beginning who-knows-how-many minutes will be like Dragon Age: Origins. Everything comes together at some point, and the story moves forward more or less the same after the first section. What’s different is what part the player-character plays in the story.
Early looks and reports made people nervous about the whole “but my choices need to matter!” issue, and so hours and hours of gameplay got released. It was actually only about 25 minutes of gameplay, but it was over and over again, with variations enough to impress people. A lot.
The long and short of it is, the first couple of hours of your game will take into account what you did with the end of the trilogy, AND start you off on one of several intro stories that all lead into the main plot.
This isn’t too far-fetched (he said, out of character for a minute), considering this is how Dragon Age: Origins worked, and now that we mention it, SW:TOR did this too, to a degree.
It’s almost as though BioWare have been refining and learning with each game released. Hmmm… Oh, and the way your choices from the last generation carry over to the new game? It works very much like Dragon Age: Keep (which at this moment in the real world is still in closed Beta, and no I am not part of it, damn it all). It’s called the Codex.
So. My Codex was lovingly tweaked with all my Shepard’s choices. I even put in his face code — can’t wait to see what that does. It was quite the 350-question walk down memory lane.
One cool feature of the Codex is that I was able to stake out my origin story for Parabellum within the app, as well. I selected the “Info Broker” origin, which led to choices of a salarian, human, or asari as my player character. Cool.
Humans are an option in all six origins, as a nod to the stats that say so damn many players seem to prefer being a human. Their loss.
You can be a Soldier as a human, turian, or asari; you can be a Mercenary as a human, turian, or krogan; you can be a Merchant as a human, quarian, or volus (!); you can be an Engineer as a human, quarian, or asari; and finally, there’s the Diplomat, which is human, asari, or krogan.
You can’t necessarily combine your favorite race and your favorite storyline, but you do still have character class choices within each option. It seems to be a way to make almost everyone happy, most of the time.
All this means that when I’m watching the spindly, spiky little ship cursing through the nebula, it’s a salarian info broker inside it.
This is going to be awesome.