Tags

, , , , ,

Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Drack’s companion quest in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Ok, so I’m about to do Drack’s mission, but I did do some stuff already and I think I got some good stuff. 

So I did the “Dissent in the Ranks” bit until I found the gizmo I have to give to Suvi. Learned that there are lots of archons (sequels!) and that there are factions even within the kett on Helius. Saw Kett fighting each other!

Now….

First, bravo game for letting us see the bad guys have ideas and lives that don’t concern us. Usually, Kevin gonna Kevin, which means shooting US, and blindly following the baddie. When there is “dissent in baddieland” in games, it’s usually between a big baddie, and the big baddie’s number two, who wants to be number one and take over the Kevins. Or a number two with second thoughts, or SOMETHING. Dissent never gets down to the actual Kevins to the point where they are fighting each other all “yeah, hero, this doesn’t concern you.” Which is cool. And leads to…..

Interesting metaphor.

See, this means low level, Kevin Kett can think. It takes some sense of self, some sense of morality, some sense of emotion to say “I am with that faction,” or “I am with this faction.” Choosing sides isn’t just something you DO. We’ve been treating them as inhuman (more on that in a bit). AND the folks in the game have, too.

The “permission” to treat Kett as mindless Kevins, of course, was tied to the idea that there was no more “genetic material” of anything we recognized in them. Lexi concludes “They aren’t Angaran anymore.” Ok, fine. And the Initiative, and the player, took at that either a) a reason to shoot them or b) a comfort that when the game did make us slaughter them, well, it’s cool, cuz they’re, you know, kett, and kett are inhuman. But Lexi NEVER SAID “Well, they’re not Angaran, BUT they’re still something, and they think, and feel, and care just like we do.” She just said “They’re not like us anymore,” and we took that to mean “Mindless cannon fodder.”

Remember a while back when we were talking about the “They’re the ones shooting at US!” bit and we talked about people who, shall we say, are not on the same end of the political spectrum as we are? We talked about how we can look at someone who is being all white supremacist and wonder “How did he get like that? Can he be brought back?” much like Jaal did? Well, a rather upsetting extension of that, and one that is pervading our culture right here in the Milky Way right now, is this assumption of “Well, even if that person was like us at some point, they’re not now, and THEREFORE they are not thinking, rational, caring creatures worth any amount of time.” This goes both ways, I think.

And this game tricked us into making that assumption. At least it did for me. Indeed, when Lexi was all “They’re all different” my thought was that the game was being CHEAP. “What, you’re letting us off the hook? Now we don’t have to feel guilty for shooting them?” That was my reaction. The game MUST be making them different SO I DON’T FEEL BAD SHOOTING THEM. And, fuck you game, it DID make me feel better about shooting them knowing they weren’t Angaran. Didn’t think about what they actually were.

There’s some really good stuff in this game. Too bad I’ll spend the next week hunting beer ingredients and hitting rocks.

Feminina:

That’s some good discussion, because yeah, the kett having internal disagreements does make them more complicated and interesting as characters. Although I wonder if you’re not giving the game more credit than it really worked for, assuming it was actively trying to “make us feel OK” about killing kett. I mean, it didn’t take any similar steps to “make us feel OK” about killing Roekaar or outlaws, and we murder them by the score because they’re red dots on the map and killing them is our only option for advancement.

I do definitely appreciate that, just as the game gives us Sloane Kelly and her conflict with the Collective, and something of the Roekaar’s passionate speeches and motivation to complicate them as enemies, it also gives us this “not all kett are exactly the same” complication for this enemy.

But for me, I feel pretty much equally sorry to have to kill hundreds of dudes of whatever species/political persuasion (even before knowing anything about their internal dissensions, I always felt like kind of a bully pulling up to some random little kett camp, piling out of the Nomad, and slaughtering them all)…and at the same time, regardless of species or political persuasion, I’m equally willing to do it without a second thought when they’re the red dots on the map.

“Well, someone in that camp needs killing, better head on over.”

That’s the nasty, obedient, us/them psychology that every warleader takes advantage of. “Whatever those people are, they aren’t us, they’re the enemy. So it’s fine to kill them, and also, you HAVE to kill them because those are the orders.”

We have orders. And those people are not us. We might or might not feel kind of bad about it, but it’s not our call (even when we are nominally in charge, as the mighty hero).

And sure, occasionally we learn something about them that makes us think maybe they have a point, and maybe we’re not all that different after all (and as a player I appreciate these times because they make a more interesting story), but when we inevitably return to the open map and see them as the red dots, those people are the enemy of us, and they should die. They MUST die. We can be heroes killing them, because they must die!

This game, like basically every game, makes it easier for us (possible for us, even) by making the red dot enemies always shoot first and never stop shooting. I mean, I love me some game combat, but I would rapidly lose my appetite for it if every ‘battle’ was just wandering over and gunning down people who showed no interest in fighting me. No matter what they looked like or how little complexity they had as characters.

I will never play it, but I kind of respect GTA5’s unlikable PCs and highly sketchy moral sense, like the mission where you kidnap some guy and leave him on the railroad tracks, or basically just torture a guy who’s tied to a chair. There’s a weird honesty to it, making you face the same kinds of things you do all the time, but without the heroic overtones. “You pretend murder every single time you play, why not this?”

Well, you know, that’s CLEAN murder. The corpses all just disappear! And those people were all bad!

But mostly because I don’t want to play if I can’t pretend I’m the hero. BioWare nudges a little at the idea of “I am good, therefore they are bad, therefore I will kill them all,” but doesn’t really push it. It’s not that kind of game.

Not that it has to be! It takes all kinds, and honestly, sometimes I just want to engage in some heroic combat. Murder a few dozen dudes, collect some loot, set some things on fire, and feel I’m acting righteously in the process.

Is that so wrong?

Maybe don’t answer that.

Butch:

Could be an oversight, or a shortcut. The Roekkar, after all, aren’t really as developed as the Kett at all. They’re the secondary enemy all games give us. No doubt, if asked “So who’s the bad guy in MEA?” we’d all say “Why, it’s the kett!” I wasn’t even thinking of the Roekkar until you brought it up. They’re just the “enemies we’re gonna have when people get bored with shooting kett” enemies. All games have those.

Hey, we’re finally getting to the point where they write the MAIN enemies well. Don’t ask for too much.

Red dots on the map. Ah, games.

Funny you do that, though. I don’t pull over each time. Rarely do I pull over. Usually, I just boost right on through. They take a couple shots at me, sure, but that’s probably because they were playing mah jong and I knocked over their table when I just boosted through the middle of their camp. Understandable, really.

So you’re the monster here, not me. I leave the red dots alone unless I need to get rid of them.

True about missions… But I STILL kinda wait until I get shot at. Or I wait until there is do doubt that I HAVE to go through those things that will kill me. Even with the blue remnant dots, I keep holding out hope they WON’T shoot (And that happened once! So my hope is valid!). No need to kill Kevin unless Kevin needs killing.

T SHIRT!!!!

And there Well, there are sadistic games like that, running around gunning down civilians. Postal comes to mind. So they’re there, but we don’t like them.

Interesting thing about the “shoot first” bit there is that games, either intentionally or not, make YOU shooting first more graphic. Take TLOU or RotTR. There, if you shot a dude from cover, it wasn’t all that gory. But if you got all stealthy and shived him or strangled him with your bow, you got this gory death scene all close up and personal. Now, in each case, the dude you killed WOULD have shot, and everyone knows it, but you sort of had to confront your murderousness if you did something first. Now, I’m not sure that was intentional, per se, but maybe it’s in the subconscious of the developers, too.

And at the end, factions be damned, motivations be damned, we’re gonna have to kill the archon, we all know it. They can write the hell out of him, but, eventually, he will try to kill us and everyone we care about and that will be that. And cliches will abound and we’ll be cheesed about that, but you’re right: we don’t really want it to end any other way.

Except….TW2 again comes to mind…..

I won’t answer that…

But on “acting righteously” we had a difference: I returned to my very 20th century email terminal on the Tempest to not one but TWO furious emails regarding my choice re the AI. The Angarans were PISSED that I took it without giving it to them (they threatened to close the embassy), and even said “Don’t be so stupid next time!” (The game called me stupid! Never seen that.) and Kesh was EQUALLY annoyed saying I had gone crazy. Also, that the AI spaced two crates of supplies and messed with gravity in a room before they shackled it.

Hmm. I want to think this is a “They’re making me THINK I made a mistake but it isn’t and I’ll get to be all ‘told you so’ and they’ll be all ‘what a genius'” kind of deal, but I don’t know.

Feminina:

Dude, you weren’t even thinking about the Roekaar? With their legitimate suspicions of aliens? YOU’RE the monster!

But yeah, I usually also ignore the little camps, unless they’re related to some task I’m following. “Find all the devices” or whatever. And I also always did my best to hurry in and loot the remnant sites before the remnant turned red–it can be done! You have a reason to hope!

Interesting reactions to your decision with the AI. I don’t remember anyone really saying anything…maybe a “what a shame we couldn’t learn more about it,” but no one chastised me for shooting it. And, of course, no one eventually concluded that I was a genius, since it never did anything interesting. You must continue to keep me informed.

It’s true, the stealth deaths do tend to be more ‘personal’ and graphic, and you’re right, that’s interesting in light of the way that stealth kills require you to be the initiator of the violence. As you say, we all KNOW they’d try to kill us in a second if they saw us, but it’s nevertheless true that sneaking up and shivving or strangling a dude who is not actively trying to kill you at that very moment is morally more troubling than returning fire when a bunch of people start shooting at you.

Hm.

As for having to kill the archon in the end, no spoilers, but I actually got to the end, so there’s that. It does have one! I still have a bunch of tasks to complete, but I will almost certainly not bother with them. The motivation is just pretty much gone after the main story is over.

Butch:

But I don’t need the loot! I have so very much loot! It’s come to that!

Figured you’d finish. Glad to know it does end! Am I miles and miles and miles away?

I just played some, so I’m catching up! Did Drack’s mission (I love Drack. “The only thing that’s getting destroyed is you! And your crew! And your ship! And…well…a lot of things are getting destroyed today but they’re all YOURS!”) and he’s still pissed at me for the Salarian thing. I wonder what would’ve happened had I done this first.

That was fun, and a nice nod to the whole Angaran “Our past is so special” assumption. Drack’s honesty about the past kinda sucking (he’s right) was a nice counterpoint. And I finished it! And I went back and hacked into the kett thingy, so I have to go find the dissenters.

So here’s the plan: Do Cora’s mission, then to Eos to do PB’s, meet Gil’s sister, find the dissenters. Then Aya to do Jaal’s/talk to dudes about first conflict. Then the nexus to MOVE SHIT ONWARD!

This is going to take forever, isn’t it?

You know? You should go pack. Take a break. Ring in the new house with PLAYING AS CHLOE. Let me catch up. Please.

Feminina:

Oh, I didn’t NEED the remnant loot, I just wanted to make the icon turn blue on the map so I could know I’d been there and could ignore it in future. It’s not even about the loot!

Which is something I rarely say.

We do need to pack, it’s true.  But, you know, it’s no fun, so…later?

As for how far away the end is…depends. If you don’t stop to do every little sidequest the way I did, not impossibly far. Take care of the companion quests and you’re in pretty good shape.

Drack forgave me eventually, and I did pretty much the same things you did (though I did his quest before the salerian ark), so he should eventually come around. There wasn’t a specific quest involved or anything, he just softened over time. Don’t give up!

Butch:

Yeah, I’m not even stopping at the new quest marks. Fuck it. Done. I’m not even certain I’m going to get Kandara an outpost. Stuck at thirty something percent. Especially now that you’re done. We can’t get too off kilter, here.

I won’t give up on Drack, though. He wants to go drinking. That should fix it.

Ok, got onto the beat up Asari ark. Another dead pathfinder. Don’t be a pathfinder.

Feminina:

Pathfinders have a short life expectancy, that’s for sure. Turns out throwing yourself face first into danger may not be the best way to ensure a long, comfortable life! There was some interesting stuff in this quest…see what you think.

Oh, and on Drack’s quest, one thing I noticed and kind of loved, was that bit where you think you’re going to have to make a Meaningful Choice (go after the young krogan, or go after the seeds?), and then instead you turn to Drack and HE makes the decision.

YES! Dude! How many times have I wondered “why are you leaving this up to me, man? It’s YOUR life/culture/career/sacred artifact/moldy flag collection, you decide!”

Thank you, Drack, for actually taking control of a decision that impacts you much more personally than it does me. It was a nice touch, too, that this moment (not replicated in any of the other missions, that I recall) is specific to Drack, and to the much-ignored and ill treated krogan. Him taking that choice was kind of a nice thing for krogan in general, suggesting that maybe things ARE going to be better for them here, maybe they’re going to be able to manage their own future. I kind of wonder if it was a subtle nod to our having sided with the krogan on Elaaden, and if maybe he wouldn’t have done that if we hadn’t indicated that support for krogan independence, but I can’t be bothered to look it up. I’ll just imagine that it did.

Butch:

Oh thank GOD it worked that way, too! I was certain this was a “Pick one, the other dies” choice and I completely made him mad with the last one of those. I was certain that would be the moment he kills me.

That or the response when you have to say “You’re part of my crew” or “We watch each other’s backs” or something. It was like a “Should I stay or should I go?” moment. Nervous making.

How did you go on the part where he had the guy over the ledge?

Feminina:

I said we should keep the guy for appropriate legal punishment later. Because I want the krogan to be self-determining and respected, but I also want them to be part of civilized space, you know?

Drack grumped about it, but didn’t really argue. You?

Butch:

I stuck with the “Let Drack Decide” angle, and, well, that went how that went.

I ask because, in my version, the dude was all “You can’t do this” and, before he dropped him, Drack says “I can do whatever I want.” Which is a very pointed thing coming from a krogan.

Feminina:

Wow, that really is. Hm. Go krogan.

As I said, my Drack grumbled a bit but not that much, and then later we had a little confrontation/trial on the Nexus and Spender was exiled, and Drack gleefully said something like “no telling what terrible accident might befall him now,” and I just kind of shrugged…so no doubt the guy met a bad end somewhere. But the letter of the law was upheld! Victory!

And yeah, if he invited you to the bar to play “Giant Killer Monsters of Death” or whatever, you’re all good. Forgiveness will be yours.

Butch:

Oh, he’ll come around.

I should have let the guy live, because, frankly, it’s been so long that I forget what Spender did. That was MONTHS ago! I know whatever he did it was bad, and Drack hates him. That I know. The details? Uh….bad things? Maybe I could have asked “So….yeah….bad thing you did to the krogan…why don’t you tell me….your side?”

Feminina:

He was…uh…stealing supplies, I think? And selling them to outcasts? And blaming the krogan? Or something?

I remember there was also definitely something in there about how he was making Drack’s granddaughter Kesh look bad by claiming that she wasn’t using the stuff she requisitioned, or was wasting materials, or something.

And dude, you don’t mess with Kesh.

Butch:

You do NOT mess with Kesh.

By the way, the subplot of the dweeby Krogan letting it slip he was in love with Kesh was absolutely priceless. “I’m gonna rescue him, then I’m gonna kill him.”

Oh Drack, you so silly.

Feminina:

But in the end he didn’t kill him, because he was the one who could make use of the seed pods and stuff! So he demonstrated that krogan aren’t actually ruled solely by rage. Krogan rational thought 4evah!

Butch:

Drack is a very well written character.

I’m very curious to do PB’s quest, as, surprisingly, she was just as into carnage and frontier justice as Drack was. That…surprised me. But then, I don’t know that much about her past she makes great drones and is fun in zero G.

Feminina:

Well, Peebee doesn’t like to be tied down with a lot of rules and regulations. She’s an Indiana Jones style archaeologist, not one of your fuddy duddy “let’s carefully document our processes and make sure we have all the necessary permits in place and also be careful not to awaken an ancient evil” types.

Butch:

You can tell because she shows her midriff. Suvi should show her midriff.

Feminina:

Indiana Jones would have accomplished more if he’d shown his midriff.

Butch:

Lord knows all the accomplishments in my life I owe to showing my midriff.

Feminina:

Ladies and gentlemen, your derailment for the day.