I know this is a fairly spineless claim to make in retrospect, especially considering how Mass Effect 3 ended, but I've thought for a while that the Reapers were the weakest part of the ME fiction, while the intergalactic politics and race relations were actually pretty airtight. That said, does anyone think a really interesting story could've been squeezed out of the ME universe without the presence of the Reapers?
I was discussing this yesterday with my brother, after we finished commiserating about the ending, and we couldn't come to an agreement. I thought it could be potentially really interesting if Mass Effect was just about, like, all these aliens with centuries-long grudges getting into a galactic war with each other. He claimed that such a story would be:
(1) impossible to resolve without an ultimate cosmic enemy to pull everyone together,
(2) impossible to convey with Mass Effect's gameplay loop and
(3) not that the market really wants anyway.
I thought all these reasons were narrow-minded and silly, citing actual real fucking wars that happened in the real world, and how those happened without the intervention of robot space gods, or even something slightly less hokey like a cabal of war profiteers manipulating galactic events for their own benefit.
I also brought up Matsuno games like Tactics Ogre, FF Tactics or FFXII, which take their narrative and thematic cues more from historical fiction than anime or comic books or genre fiction, though those games have their share of gods or sealed demon lords or whatever.
Anyway, it's been on my mind since I finished ME3. I've been beating the "games would be better if they told smaller stories" drum for awhile, and it occurred to me that the ME universe is rich enough to support a story sans Reapers.