It feels like every month we're learning of a different game being flipped into some form of TV show or movie. From animated takes, to live-action adaptations, gaming has never had a bigger spotlight on it than it does right now. In light of the recent Final Fantasy live-action news and years of talks about an alleged Mass Effect vision, here's why we don't need the beloved BioWare RPG series to leave the scope of gaming.
As someone who has a whopping 30 playthroughs of the original Mass Effect trilogy and every collectible you can imagine, believe me when I say I always want more Mass Effect. That being said, looking at the patterns of previous adaptations and what it looks like the coming years will be like, I just don't think Mass Effect has any shot at survival. Why, you may ask? Let's break it down.
Though many complained about Mass Effect 3's ending, the trilogy as a whole was ripe with choices. I myself have played through the trilogy numerous times, as mentioned, and never once have I had a playthrough be exactly like another. Some even were shockingly different, resulting in the deaths of big characters and an entire world shift on how the galaxy saw my Commander Shepard. Pair that with the numerous love interests, philosophical takes the player could choose from, and the different missions that players could opt out of, the Mass Effect universe is far too varied to make it onto the big (or small) screen.
But it's not just the choices in-game that would make this move doomed to fail, it's the very nature of the fanbase. Take a look at any Mass Effect forum such as Twitter and Tumblr and you'll see that not only are their varying opinions, but a specific kind of vitriol that comes with certain inclinations. For example, there seems to be a widespread hatred for one character in particular: Kaidan.
Kaidan Alenko, a dedicated Alliance man, started out the trilogy as a very by-the-books character. It was because of that nature that many just did not vibe with him well during his introduction, leading many to choose the option that ends in his death. Because of that, so much of the fanbase missed out on his growth during Mass Effect 3. That growth was also largely hidden unless Shepard romanced him as a love interest, further narrowing down the window of Kaidan Appreciation.
He's not the only character that people had strong feelings about either, but it's not just about who you choose to snuggle up to at the end of the game that seems to be a cause of contention. The entire series was based on a grey morality scale. Are you the dashing hero, or are you the renegade 'the ends justify the means' type? That renegade took a decidingly sinister turn in the final game as well, further widening that divide of player choice and consequence, which ultimately makes one person's Mass Effect experience totally different than someone else's.
So with a game as fundamentally diverse narratively as Mass Effect, how would that translate into a bigger medium such as a television show or movie? Not well, to be honest.
If there were to be any shot at success, it would need to be a prolonged series; there's simply too much material and backstory conflict to sift through in one movie. That, or it would need to be a completely independent tale set in the universe, yet separate from the core story, such as what we've witnessed in the comics and with the anime Paragon Lost.
Even then, the Mass Effect universe was built upon centuries of conflict, war, and misconceptions, still cramming that into a movie format would be a bad idea. A series has unlimited potential. Long-standing seasons, longer episodes, a pivot in direction following fan feedback - there's more freedom in a television series that film doesn't offer. With a game franchise such as this that has such a passionate following and such a tailored experience, giving some of that power to the fans by way of a TV spot would be the optimal chance for any sort of success.
A small chance, but a chance nonetheless.
At the end of the day, there are a plethora of game adaptations in the works now with so many more underway. With years of Mass Effect movie rumors, it's my hope that with the delicate state of the franchise as a whole, following the mass disapproval of Mass Effect Andromeda, that Hollywood sees the immense risk and care involved and opts into something with a more linear story to tell.