If you played Mass Effect 2 without playing Mass Effect 1 (like me), then you’ll be able to attest to the fact that certain moments in the game simply didn’t make sense. For me, and playing the second without playing the first came down to a matter of free time, reading story summaries and fan wikis didn’t account for every plot detail referenced throughout the sequel’s campaign.
Of course, I never once complained about the references to the original. It was my fault for skipping the first, and I fully welcomed BioWare‘s decision to reward players that completed Mass Effect in its proper order.
For Mass Effect 3, however, BioWare aims to eliminate this problem for brand new gamers. Nick Clifford, who’s responsible for Product Marketing on Mass Effect 3, spoke with IGN about handling new players with the third beat in this trilogy:
“In all honesty, we didn’t do a really good job of new player orientation…If you didn’t play the first game then 2 was pretty jarring for the first half hour…
…If I’m a new player and some guy walks up to me and is like ‘Ohhhh Shepard! Remember that one time?’ I would be like ‘No. I don’t remember that one time’…So we wanted to make sure that there aren’t those moments that the player is like, ‘Who is this? What’s going on? What are they talking about?'”
According to IGN, BioWare will accomplish that by including a “story so far narrative” in the game for those that play without previous Mass Effect save files; they don’t detail the feature much more beyond that.
I will say this: having played the sequel without playing the originally, I can’t possibly fathom jumping into the trilogy at its conclusion. So much happens between the first two games that starting off with the third doesn’t make much sense. If money and time are your enemies, then maybe I can see doing it. Otherwise? Play the games.