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In fairness, making the Reapers a Keystone Army would be a bit out of nowhere as well.
Those were just off the top of my head. But personally, I would prefer "based on their tactics, we're pretty sure that the biggest and strongest Reaper is the keystone of them all" to "let's see if this old blueprint does anything useful after we throw the entire galaxy's resources at it."
Keystone Army is an easy trope because it lets you have an awesome climactic fight. But there are other options. Maybe after winning the boss fight, Harbinger isn't dead, and you get to talk to him. He boasts that the Reapers will continue without him, we get lots of exposition about the nature of the cycle (and not the robot war thing, maybe something about harvesting technology and allowing for new species to grow), and then you have to either convince him to give up or just kill him and continue the war, betting that the tech you harvest from his corpse can turn the tide.
Still off the top of my head, still needs polishing, still better than what we got.
Actually, I'd argue that the Reapers are NOT as strong as ME 3 portrays based on how they're presented in ME 1. Their whole plan in Mass Effect 1 relies on the subterfuge in having all sentient life use the Citadel as a throne for the galaxy while its secretly 1) a Mass Relay into Dark Space and 2) a kill switch to all other Mass Relays.
They rely entirely on taking their enemy by surprise and shutting down all posibility of back up. They take out those on the citadel, shut down the Mass Relays, and then go system to system destroying what is there at their own pace. If they were capable of a full frontal assault on the galaxy and surviving, why use the subterfuge and stealth? Simple: They can't actually survive a full frontal assault on the galaxy.
To back this up, its worth noting that Soverign himself couldn't take the Citadel alone; its the powerhouse seat of the galaxy with almost everyone's forces there AND Shepard was trying to warn everyone about the incoming attack. He STILL needed the Geth Army to descimate everyone while he went for the Citadel tower and Saren closed the arms. If Soverign could survive such a plan, there'd be no point to Saren or the Geth. Since he needs them to defend, we can infer that Soverign isn't invincible.
Add in that we also reverse engineer the Thanix Cannon from Soverign and that those weapons see wide-spread use by the time the Reapers apparently decide fuck it and full frontal the galaxy, I think this really should not have been the curb-stomp it was. Maybe not an even fight, but certainly the Reapers ARE beatable by that point.
Again, the themes of this series are conquering the impossible, or at least the first two games. Shepard survives so much despite the odds. The ending of ME 1 hinges on defying what others keep itterating as an impossible task. ME 2 ramps it up with a Suicide Mission with 'EVERYONE WILL DIE' written on it... and you can keep everyone alive. If everyone works together, has trust and loyality in their commrades and their mission, then you can do anything.
It just feels really strange to go from ME 2's ending being all hopeful and uplifting looking over your suadmates and looking over Reaper schematics with that 'mmm yes, need more gun' look only to start up ME 3 with 'Oh god, we're all going to die. We can't win' and it stays that way.
Edited by InkDagger on Mar 12th 2019 at 10:57:01 AM
The Reapers do not rely entirely on their decapitation strategy, it's just plan A. They use it because they are machines and value efficiency. There doesn't need to be a reason beyond that. And Sovereign being unable to take the Citadel alone doesn't mean anything. It's one Reaper. The full fleet is thousands-strong.
No. They do. That is the catalyst (booo!) of Mass Effect 1's plot. Soverign is left to unleash the apocalypse but can't because the previous generation's survivors threw a wrench in it millions of years ago and he has absolutely no back up plan resulting in recruiting Saren and the Geth; things that he fundementally finds apalling and disgusting to deal with because they're so beneath him. This is all spelled out in the late-game plot twist. Soverign (and the Reapers by extension) having to improvise a new plan is exactly their downfall. They have one plan that they're REALLY good at and fail when that doesn't work for once.
Edited by InkDagger on Mar 12th 2019 at 11:52:18 AM
How are you defining failure? When the Citadel plan doesn't work they just move on to the next plans, as the sequels show.
"ME 1 was setup in a way the reapers didn't had to be the unkillable machine gods that 3 sold us and were fairly screwed without the citadel plan"
"No because the sequels shows otherwise"
Yeah, no. Aside from the fact that citing what the sequel was when talking about where the story could have went at the time of the first game is missing the point entirely, the "next plans" of the sequels aren't exactly great plans either. The collectors are essentially irrelevant fillers to their grand plot. Their action is unimportant enough that it's treated as a case of serial disparitions and nothing more, to the point even the Alliance can't be bothrered to put much effort into it. The baby reaper they're building is so pathetic you can take it out with man-sized weapons. If that's the reaper's replacement plan, then their replacement plan suck.
And their other grand plot is... simply just walking up to the galaxy from deep space. In three years tops. Which is already a massively questionnable thing since "three years away from the nearest space realys, tops" is much faster than the time sovereign spent working on hiw own plan to go with plan A and really doesn't feel like this should have been an option at all. And, also, not really a plan. it's just launching an all-out assault and hoping it works.
Edited by Yumil on Mar 13th 2019 at 9:22:21 AM
2 would have been better served as having you go on a reaper hunt but for the Normandy destruction be a closer for the first third of the game. Then it's about stopping collectors who are trying to sabotage said reaper hunt.
And then it turns out the collectors are building citadel mk 2 to summon the reapers.
Shifting the focus to Cerberus was the main flaw I think. Making it all about the humans.
As for the reapers themselves - they were supposed to be a mix. Sovereign gives his speech but how true is it? The codex talks about how actually a reaper is beatable- if you get in close and use multiple dreadnaughts.
Also the reapers should be stupid easy to kill when they land. Bioware just broke their own canon in favour of amazing cinematic and creating villain Sue's.
Now conventionally yes they are stronger - one analysis says they must have near 15000 sovereign class ships and maybe 200k destroyers. So with that math bioware ran into the problem of "were not making a strategy game.But we made the main enemies big ass ships..."
They were always intended to be scary and a threat. But in those stories you never kill cthulu - you stop him being summoned or you seal him away.
Basically they went down the wrong genre route and didn't play to the message their games had been going with. If that was intentional then it feels nearly spiteful. Or edgy. Like when prince of Persia went all Nu goth. And they gave him the same tattoos the lead designer.
I'm not seeing how any of that refutes the idea that ME1 set the Reapers up as a force beyond what the militaries of the Milky Way could handle.
x3 Yeah, their 'plan' in ME 3 is just all out war. Which really isn't a plan and could have totally been enacted earlier on during the 'hundred years over due for a reaping' part. Especially since I don't think Soverign could communicate with the main Reapers really so I'm surprised they didn't do it earlier?
Now, I think that they needed a plan during ME 3, but I'm not quite sure what it should have been. I might consider that maybe they invade and start attacking the Relay Network forcing allies to try and figure out where Reapers will strike next and/or try to find alternatives to the Relays. Possibly even get control of the network suddenly storm in on when Reapers think they have a system to themselves.
I think it could also have been interesting if we had then been able to open the Citadel Relay on the Reapers, thus using their own weapon against them to an extent and creating some nice synergy.
I understand why Cerberus was needed though. Its an RPG and Reapers aren't an enemy you can really engage through things like talking or learning more about them. Cerberus, in a structural sense and not judging on the execution, was meant to be a force the player could engage with better. Like how Saren was.
Edited by InkDagger on Mar 13th 2019 at 1:38:13 AM
it doesnt really. The last premise itself means that either ME 3 was intended to be a downer OR they wrote themselves into a corner with wanting a showdown with the whole reaper fleet...
And then realised they hyped these guys up so much that their writing team, still obsessed with Cerberus, couldn't come up with a satisfying win.
That or the story as written sounded good to the writers but failed in execution.
Without sovereign and the citadel, the reapers are now stranded in deep space with no easy way out of it, slumbering since their alarm clock didn't go off. That's still a bad situation, but that's not a desperate one that has to end in all-out warfare a la ME 3. as someones else pointed out, ME 1 set up a quest for knowledge, where you were supposed to search for more info about how to beat the reapers and actually prepare for the threat. Conventionnal warfare with the reapers might not cut it. Yeah, that's a thing back from ME 1.
But the difference is that this wasn't an unavoidable fate in ME 1. A well-prepared, specialized anti-reaper fleet showing up in their homespace while they're asleep, opening fire while screaming GOODBYE MOTHERFUCKER wasn't an out of question option back then.
Edited by Yumil on Mar 13th 2019 at 9:53:47 AM
Just the technology to find the Reapers in dark space would've been a bigger ass pull than the Crucible was. And it wouldn't have been a satisfying conclusion to the saga to actually pull that plan off, either. Where's the fun in executing a helpless enemy?
how exactly would have been finding the reapers in deep space be an asspull, really ? They are all sitting sleeping around a mass relay that is specifically connected to the citadel one. That's the entire plot of the 1.
There's plenty of in-universes basis to build upon to reach the point where you just open the relay in reverse and bam, you're here. or figure out where they are precisely are and find another way to get there. It's not an asspull if you spend an entire game looking for ways to pull it off.
It would actually be a pretty cool thing to do narratively : you turn the reaper's plan on them by using the citadel trap to sucker punch them.
And that statement about how satisfying it would have been is irrelevant, really, because what I described is the intended plan. The one that makes sense to formulate from the viewpoint in-universe that cares little about a satisfying ending and more about continuing to live. The job of the narrative is to have that plan go wrong enough for it to have room for drama and a satisfying resolution. that's literally storytelling 101.
The easiest solution would be that halfway through the massacre the reapers starts getting the clue, wake up, and turn the odds around, and then you have to do a strategical strike against their leader to weaken them rather than just opening fire at will. You could even fit in some dialogue between the two and try to argue with it now that you're in a relative position of power.
So you can have a big climactic showdown with harbinger and make it satisfying pretty easily.
The reaper race as a whole might be too much to handle in conventionnal warfare, but half of the reaper race ? Maybe not.
Alternatively, make it 2's ending, where you have to retreat back the second they wake up before they get the citadel (since we're probably using the thing to get there, so it's a massive bet to take), but some reapers manage to get through the relay before you can close it back. So you can have a climactic showdown around the citadel, a satisfying ending that still leaves room for a greater payoff in 3, and a third game that revolves around a more traditionnal confrontation with more stakes in it without being as hopeless without the crucible as 3 is because you still dealt them a massive, unrecoverable blow.
Edited by Yumil on Mar 13th 2019 at 10:33:11 AM
Finding the Reapers in dark space by simply searching is impossible. I don't even have the vocabulary to properly describe how difficult it would be to find some objects that are intentionally trying to avoid detection in such an inconceivably big volume of space. So that method is out. And they can't try to figure out where the Citadel links, because activating it would wake the Reapers. If they were to turn around and simply say that this new way to use it just doesn't do that, well, that's pretty much an ass pull.
Unless I'm forgetting a detail from 1, the act of activating the citadel relay is not specifically what wakes the reapers. Sovereign is supposed to be the one what wakes them up by using the relay to get there. Makes all the difference in the world.
Regardless of that, again, you don't need to find the actual reapers through manual scanning because you know where they are. You're making a big deal out of this, but you're searching the wrong thing.
The reapers are all gathered around a single mass relay. A mass relay that isn't trying to avoid detection. And you have the mass relay that connects to it around. A special mass relay that is made specifically to connect to that specific relay. You're trying to find the moths in the night when you could just be searching for the brightly lit lamp.
You could just create a technology that finds and calculates where the mass relay of the citadel sends you without actually activating it, and instantly know the location of the reapers.
Would that be a feat ? yeah. Stretching the established lore of the setting ? Maybe ? i don't remember if 1 takes a stance on how hard it would be to accomplish but I assume it'd be a feat or the rachni thing wouldn't have happened. Would it be something that would be coompletely out of question with enough ancient knowledge-gathering and some buildup around it ? I don't see why.
Edited by Yumil on Mar 13th 2019 at 11:04:15 AM
I think Sovereign was to send the Signal and then the Reapers activate the relay their side and come through. Regardless, we could use some handwaving.
Hell, use the Collectors - they're building a new relay as a contingency. Harbinger is awake but activating the others is taking time. So, you COULD keep most of ME 2 similar, except have TIM be a branch of the Alliance. He could still go off the deep end, the Council could still be faintly obstructive insisting you investigate other avenues or distract you with other Spectre tasks.
And then instead of the baby reaper, your final boss isn't the Collector general... it's ANOTHER REAPER (Harbinger)
- he comes through the half constructed relay but gets stuck - you can then do a form of the final battle etc etc.
Him defeated, you have plans and a location for the Reapers. Then 3 is about preparing for the invasion, gathering armies, maybe flashpoints where "Awokened" reapers are randomly warping into systems and you have to deal with them - not a whole invasion, but still an escalation point.
And then the last bit - war assets dictate if it's a Golden Star Trek ending with enough support yadda yadda. Or a Grim Dark "We tried" ending.
Hell, to beat the Reapers the Crucible could just be a way of uploading someone into the Reaper Hive Mind, to fight them consciousness to consciousness (So, turn capital ships into hard, but beatable mooks)
It's never stated in the game that the Reapers are all situated around an active mass relay in dark space. Even if they are, if it was an active mass relay that could be detected, that would defeat the purpose of the Reapers laying low in the first place. They wouldn't leave themselves vulnerable like that. And introducing the technology to find out where relays link without activating them would, again, be an ass pull because it's a linchpin of the Reapers' plan that the races of the Milky Way use the mass relay technology without really understanding it. After all, one of the reasons the ME3 ending we got was such a downer is that the relay network is destroyed and the series had never once intimated that people knew how to fix them.
It's quite possible for all the Reapers to be huddled around one mass relay in dark space and no one to ever notice. You could have an object the volume of a star system, but if it's not releasing energy it would be for all intents and purposes impossible to find. Space is big.
And backtracking the relay to the source has the advantage that it's based on existing tech in the series. Yes no one understands it, but the Protheans made a mini-relay, so it's possible to understand it. The main barrier is that it's illegal to mess with the relays. Remove that law and throw the entire galaxy at the problem, and they'd figure it out.
Edited by Discar on Mar 13th 2019 at 12:48:08 PM
The Reapers got delayed by Sovereign being defeated, so the Collectors started to work on the human Reaper to have some work already done. They were also delayed by the Alpha Relay blowing up, but not as much: Having to move from dark space took them almost 3 years, while having to move from the remains of the Bahak supernova to Harsha took them a few weeks.
Funny how the entire invasion could had been stopped by a timed destruction of the Alpha Relay: Blow it up as soon as the Reaper fleet arrives, and watch as they are engulfed in a supernova.
"It's never stated that" Yes, and it's also never stated that they're not. It is stated, however, that the entire plan of the reapers is to teleport en masse with that relay, so it's fairly logical to assume that they are parked in a fairly close psace around it because they have nothing better to do and according to their data, they risk nothing by doing that.
Protheans did made the conduit, as noted above, which is a mass realy that they somehow got to work.
Yes, the reapers's plan lies on people not understanding mass relays.
But they're not aware that someone in the galaxy managed to do it, and that those people are the reason sovereign is dead.
Someone managed to understand the relays once, and they don't know it. There's an existing, established flaw in the flawless plan of the reapers. If you call replicating that an ass pull, I'll tell you that I'll take that ass pull over the crucible seven times a day.
It's also worth mentionning that because sovereign took so long to get his plan going (which makes the fact tha t the reaper could just walk up to the galaxy in 3 years pretty dumb), this cycle is late for the reaping. We're past the point where we're a threat to them. It's not that irrationnal to think we could grasp enough of an understanding of mass relays to understand how the citadel one works. We also have the insight of the protheans before us. In many ways, this cycle has a lot of conditions going for it to actually understand mass relays. It wouldn't be an asspull to spend the game trying to search protheans ruins to catch to their knowledge, patch up what we can't find with actual discoveries, and so on, to finally understand those.
That's the beauty of the thing : mass effect 1 opens a ton of doors as to how deal with the reaper problem. In many ways, it's the only game that's concerned about writing a sequel. Since 2 wasn't interested in following on that, the end result is that everyone's fucked by the time 3 starts because they wasted the biggest advantage they had : a delayed deadline that could have taken years or decades to come.
Edited by Yumil on Mar 13th 2019 at 11:56:16 AM
I do think a lot of the narrative problem lays on the failure of ME-2 to not further the story. It suffers from the typical middle-story syndrome where too many questions are asked for the next installment to resolve. The atypical design of the baby Reaper contributes to that issue, as the big reveal requires Shepard telling us exactly what we are looking at. Most of the game avoids saying the Reapers are behind the Collectors, but we know they have to be otherwise literally nothing will progress. Since being a Spectre gives Shepard full autonomy, there is little difference between Shepard working under Ceberus financing versus the Alliance, making the final choice superfluous both in this game and the next.
One key flaw of ME-3 revolves around the ambiguous nature of the Crucible, even the best situation possible states that no one understands what it is supposed to do yet they keep building it (the design rather perfectly fits the Citadel, but they don't realize the Citadel is the key until the last minute possible). It might as well have Deus ex Machina written on the side. A more concrete theory of what they think it will do, actually seeing it under construction as well as maybe a mission protecting it from some rogue faction would do a lot to build investment in the intended outcome.
Didn't ME 2 further the plot, but it ended up getting scrapped/changed into what we got in ME 3?
Something to do with sun on the planet you recruit Tali?
Yeah, dark energy, and how it affects biotics one of the scrapped iterations of the ending.
Honestly, even if it hadn't been scrapped, it's as best building up towards justifying something like the crucible or the ending-o-tron so it doesn't come out of nowhere. It would've been better than nothing, but ME 2 still fails to advance the story in the sense that shepard is no closer from his goal of having a plan of dealing with the reapers. He didn't learned anything that could concretly help him, didn't made a signficant progress in even slowing down the reaper arrival. (Except in Arrival, at which point it's too late for that to matter.)
The original idea was dark energy. and the reapers were the original solution to preserve life as the universe was consumed by that energy.
Got scrapped in favour of the war movie feeling.
And yes the reapers being awake and mobile was a drama escalation out of 2 and was probably a complete corner to end up in.
2 narrowed the focus too much and then did "arrival". Which even took away the chance for the player to do an "I told you so." Hell I even wanted to say it to the asari councillor. Your planet is gone because you didn't follow through on my warning AND you concealed Intel until the last minute.
Suffice to say 3 had a lot of emotionally frustrating moments to go with the more fantastic stories it also included.
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