Did the Walking Dead succeed where ME3 stumbled?

#1 Posted by golguin (3843 posts) -

That is the question. I have now seen a few people play through episode 4 and I was delighted to see how people struggled with their decisions and how quick they were to change their minds about Ben when they had just been cursing his stupidity and planning his future death. Even if episode 5 somehow turns out to be a weak episode I feel that the game delivered on making you care about your choices even if events didn't play out as differently as you might have thought they would. The point was how you felt in that moment.

ME3 has been talked to death on how people felt their choices in previous "episodes" would have made more of an impact in the end, but I think it's worth pointing out that people were more upset over how little their choices mattered compared to the Walking Dead and their similar set up.

Why is this? Are your choices better presented, the differences more impactful, or do you simply care more about the characters?

#2 Posted by Quarters (1632 posts) -

I don't know about that. I mean, Walking Dead's great and all, but it has even less effect than Mass Effect does when it comes to choices. So far(at least unitl Ep 5 comes out), it seems like the only actual long term choice that you've made so far is the very last one. Everything else has already worked itself out where either way see the same thing. Regardless, I had to think hard about my choices in both games. As much crap as people give the ending of ME3, I think that was a really difficult choice, heavily influenced by your experiences in the last three games. In the end, they both use the diamond technique, with Walking Dead probably being a little more on a leash.

#3 Posted by Ursus_Veritas (383 posts) -

I don't this is a question that can be really asked until Episode 5 has come out - as Quarters says, both Mass Effect and The Walking Dead (at least so far) have operated on a diamond system for choices, and we're going to have to wait a month or so before we see the closing of that diamond for TWD. 
 
Despite the controversy about the ending - and personally, I didn't mind it, even moreso with the Extended Cut material that I think absolutely should've been in the full game - I still feel like, overall, ME3 gave me a culmination of what I'd chosen and experienced throughout the series. Sure, if I go online and see the other outcomes and what could've happened, I'd see the fallacy of the choice system and ruin that feeling for me... so why would I do it? I don't want to know what happened in your Mass Effect story, or what happened in Bob down the road's Mass Effect story, but I sure as hell know what happened in mine, and I liked it. 
 
I'd like the same thing for TWD, but we just don't know about that yet - I imagine it will be a similar thing, where some people find out the choices and are disappointed/angry that they aren't as important as they thought they were (As much as I love the stat screen reflecting other plays decisions, I personally think both it and the trailers they put out highlighting choices of the most recent episode potentially do more harm than good in highlighting the linearity and fallacy of the choices you make in the grand scheme of things), but definitely nowhere near on the scale of what surrounded ME3.

#4 Posted by Nottle (1912 posts) -

@golguin: I think something to consider with the Mass Effect games is that they judge you on a arbitrary sense of morality. I don't think there has ever been a reason to be a renegade unless you want to play that way. Most missions can be done by being paragon, being renegade is you being an asshole. It doesn't put you in enough scenarios where things are that dire so the extreme choice never makes sense.

The Walking Dead on the other hand puts you in much more dire situations. Nothing pops up to say you've made the good or evil choice, rather your choices are seen by the characters around you and their feelings for you change. You have to make choices very quickly, and usually there is no "good" choice. You are just trying to survive.

#5 Posted by Phatmac (5721 posts) -

Mass Effect is another Bioware game with a morality meter and that is a style of game. Mass effect didn't invent it so I don't get why it's the poster boy for it. Also infamous is a bigger offender of this. Anyway, mass effect is too different from TWD so I can't really compare the two.

#6 Posted by Brodehouse (9588 posts) -

It's literally the exact same. It changes lines of dialogue. In Mass Effect occasionally it changes the character delivering the dialogue as well. Anyone who puts one down and promotes the other, is lying through their teeth.

The difference between them is entirely in how people approach it. No one asks "what changed for you?" in Walking Dead, they ask how each choice 'made them feel'. After ME3, absolutely no one said "how did you feel about the Tuchanka sequence, did Wrex, Wreav, or Eve or Mordin move your decision making at all?" They said "WHAT CHANGED, MY CHOICES MEAN NOTHING".

#7 Posted by project343 (2812 posts) -

@Nottle: Mass Effect's binary very much represent self-served efficiency vs. altruistic self-sacrifice the majority of the time. And to be quite honest, the majority of Walking Dead's decisions boil down into that same binary.

Do you kill this problematic person, or let them live? Do you steal something for yourself, or give it up? Do you kill this person to ensure your escape, or let them live? These are all Mass Effect-like binaries that exist within The Walking Dead--and they're some of the more meaningful decisions you make throughout the series.

#8 Posted by Nottle (1912 posts) -

@project343 said:

@Nottle: Mass Effect's binary very much represent self-served efficiency vs. altruistic self-sacrifice the majority of the time. And to be quite honest, the majority of Walking Dead's decisions boil down into that same binary.

Do you kill this problematic person, or let them live? Do you steal something for yourself, or give it up? Do you kill this person to ensure your escape, or let them live? These are all Mass Effect-like binaries that exist within The Walking Dead--and they're some of the more meaningful decisions you make throughout the series.

I don't feel like its that way in Mass Effect, being selfish jerk and being a nice guy usually get you the same place, and usually being a jerk isn't necessary given the situations your put in. If being a nice guy still gets someone to cooperate in Mass Effect whats the point of threatening them? Renegade is supposed to be the "get the job done no matter what the cost" but usually you get the job done regardless because your blue/ red meter is high enough to make the right choices. In Mass Effect things just seem so boring and obvious because I know the paragon choice is the top right, the renegade choice is bottom right and if there is a choice thats in color I should choose that because thats the fix everything choice.

In the Walking Dead your not dictated by some meter. You have a limited time to make choices and whether I think its the "right" thing to do is up to me. There isn't a "you've been a nice guy/ dick this entire game so you can pick the better choices. Your given moment to moment situations that you have to react to.

#9 Posted by bkbroiler (1606 posts) -

Yes, like some other people have said here (and I've heard Telltale people talk about), TWD game isn't about choosing the path the story takes - life isn't like that. It's just about handling what you can as a single person, and how other people react to the decisions you make and how you treat them. I think they've done a good job of that. At least, I'm satisfied.

#10 Posted by project343 (2812 posts) -

@Nottle: So what we're talking about is a problem of consequence and UI, not morality. If you take the game from a role-playing perspective, you're walking away with morality binary real close to The Walking Dead. And if you play through the game a second time--like Mass Effect--the glaring cutting of corners (which you should expect from any voice-over decision-heavy series) and that inherent lack of agency you have as a force within this world becomes real painfully obvious.

I think the real weakness of The Walking Dead is that the entire experience is dependent on those grave narrative situations and your reaction to them. Playing through a second time and seeing them unravel and seeing the limitations of their design so plainly completely disrupts the experience. It's not fun the second time through--like, at all.

#11 Posted by PSNgamesun (394 posts) -

Mass Effect series is the best this generation....fuck it brah

#12 Posted by phantomzxro (1565 posts) -

I agree that we have to wait for episode 5 to say anything close to that. I feel ME3 dropped the ball by finding a nice loophole to tie most of your choices to a pipeline that spit out three similar endings. Secondly a lot of characters fell to the way side which made choices in those characters less impactful.

This is why the end of walking dead will play a big part in seeing how this turns out. Mass effect went wrong by creating the hype of this huge payoff of all the choices you made in the end and it fell flat given that the endings seemed pretty canned or open ended( at first). The second problem is the smaller choices lost a lot of steam when characters fell from being relevant. I still think the smaller choices still shine as a success overall.

This is were walking dead has been hitting it out of the park. There has not been this big hype for some massive payoff at the end because of your choices. Walking has just been focusing on the smaller in the moment choices that come off very well just because every character has a voice and relevance to the story and your actions. The only thing that could mess this up is if the end goes the other way of what you have lined up in your story.

#13 Posted by Nottle (1912 posts) -

@project343 said:

@Nottle: So what we're talking about is a problem of consequence and UI, not morality. If you take the game from a role-playing perspective, you're walking away with morality binary real close to The Walking Dead. And if you play through the game a second time--like Mass Effect--the glaring cutting of corners (which you should expect from any voice-over decision-heavy series) and that inherent lack of agency you have as a force within this world becomes real painfully obvious.

I think the real weakness of The Walking Dead is that the entire experience is dependent on those grave narrative situations and your reaction to them. Playing through a second time and seeing them unravel and seeing the limitations of their design so plainly completely disrupts the experience. It's not fun the second time through--like, at all.

I still think it is a problem of both UI and "morality" in Mass Effect. Why do my previous decisions, made on another planet with no relation to the current situation impact current choices? Just because I've been a nice guy all game I now have the choice to pick the blue option and can stop Jack and Miranda from fighting. In the walking dead your only judged by other characters.

As I've mentioned in Mass Effect they don't put me in situations that i feel like call for me being a jerk. Both stories branch out in a diamond shape, eventually player runs down the same story beats, but in the walking dead things feel urgent and since the game doesn't tell me I'm doing something "bad" I'm ok if something goes wrong, thats just the way my story is progressing.

#14 Edited by TheHumanDove (2523 posts) -

They both suffer a similar problem of the illusion of choice in some regards. However The Walking Dead presents itself in a much better way I've found, where even when the outcome was the same, the path (action or dialogue) to that outcome was just as meaningful

#15 Posted by project343 (2812 posts) -

@Nottle said:

I still think it is a problem of both UI and "morality" in Mass Effect. Why do my previous decisions, made on another planet with no relation to the current situation impact current choices? Just because I've been a nice guy all game I now have the choice to pick the blue option and can stop Jack and Miranda from fighting. In the walking dead your only judged by other characters.

As I've mentioned in Mass Effect they don't put me in situations that i feel like call for me being a jerk. Both stories branch out in a diamond shape, eventually player runs down the same story beats, but in the walking dead things feel urgent and since the game doesn't tell me I'm doing something "bad" I'm ok if something goes wrong, thats just the way my story is progressing.

I hate the persuasion system that they 'adjusted' for Mass Effect 2 and 3. I'm on your side for that one. In the original Mass Effect, persuasion was two separate trees on the skill bar that you had to invest in ("Intimidation" and "Charm"). They simplified persuasion into the morality bar which, as you've stated, makes no sense. But I think the persuasion system should stand very separate from morality, as should the UI. If we're purely looking at the decisions, they're roughly the same experience. Mass Effect doesn't make you feel like ever being a jerk because of the poor execution on the consequence end of equation. There simply aren't enough consequences to being altruistic.

It all comes down to the fact that Mass Effect is streamlined to hell for larger markets. They want you to be very aware of the decisions that you make, and they also never want to funnel you into a corner for picking a particular decision. A lot of Bioware's previous work was significantly more nuanced (hell, Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 have some significantly more meaningful presentations (UI, consequence) of morality). But I still think the morality of the choice--and just the choice--is just as morally grey and binary as Walking Dead, even if the presentation of the morality is less than spectacular.

#16 Edited by ExplodeMode (852 posts) -

I think in ME choices seemed like they should have been changing the world you were playing in, but Walking Dead is built on choices that effect how you see other characters and how those characters see you - which, even if a lot of it is going on in your mind, still works.

It's easier to deal with something like Kenny not being as much of a dick in this scene as usual, you can just write that off to character quirks or the situation, or whatever. In ME some huge event like letting the Council die and then it not really ever mattering, it's not as easy to ignore.

#17 Posted by Dagbiker (6939 posts) -

@golguin: I never played ME3. Mostly because 4-3 months before release, when I was thinking about preording it, people started geting really pumped. And I felt that, too many times, I have psyched my self up for a game, only to be disapointed. So I waited, and tempered my expectations.

One of the best games I have played this year was Spec Ops. No spoilers, but one of the best things that game dose is make you feel like you are making choices, even when you aren't. This is something I think the Walking Dead dose this well too. Making you feel like you have choice.

Also, Making every decision have an emotional toll is just as good as making every decision have a game play toll, or likewise, payoff.

#18 Posted by Rafaelfc (1314 posts) -

maybe... let's see if it sticks the landing in the Final Chapter before we go screaming to high heaven how it blows ME3 out of the water.

#19 Edited by Red12b (9076 posts) -

My experience with the walking dead has been plagued with technical save issues so No,

they did not succeed, everything else is stellar but they fucked it up by the save structure being absolutely fucked, I have now come to accept that the version of the game I'm playing which has decisions that I didn't fucking choose is the one i'm going to finish, because i'm not starting over again, and I'm not going to fuck around with prep prop files or any of that other bullshit that still doesn't fix the problem

when your major thing is that your decisions carry over and you don't get that right, you haven't succeeded

#20 Posted by bkbroiler (1606 posts) -

@Red12b said:

My experience with the walking dead has been plagued with technical save issues so No,

they did not succeed, everything else is stellar but they fucked it up by the save structure being absolutely fucked, I have now come to accept that the version of the game I'm playing which has decisions that I didn't fucking choose is the one i'm going to finish, because i'm starting over again, and I'm not going to fuck around with prep prop files or any of that other bullshit that still doesn't fix the problem

when your major thing is that your decisions carry over and you don't get that right, you haven't succeeded

That really sucks. That's on PC, right? Technically this game is a mess. On Xbox you can't really even play the action scenes because it hitches between every cut while the game decides the outcome and what should come next. I really, really love the game despite that, though.

#21 Posted by MildMolasses (3213 posts) -

I don't think that player choice needs to come down to life or death scenarios. ME succeeded because choices you made carried through. They didn't all have to have a major impact on the universe. If anything, ME got far too ambitious creating such a wide array of variables due to how many characters and decisions they had to account for, that it was nearly impossible to wrap up in a way that would make people happy (and obviously it didn't). I think TWD does a better job of disguising it's limitations, but it is clearly directing you to a specific point that will happen regardless of your choices. It seems like you can either have a tight story that ultimately ignores the players choices (eg. By the end of episode 3, all of episode one has been rendered moot) or you can try to keep track of it all, and end of with a disjointed mess that nobody likes

#22 Posted by RE_Player1 (7549 posts) -

The Walking Dead stumbles because after every fucking episode my save gets corrupted. Haven't beat episode 4 because I don't feel like playing them all over again.

#23 Posted by Encephalon (1240 posts) -

We'l have to wait for Ep 5 to make that call.

But, given the fact that everyone seems to be talking about their TWD decisions in very different terms than they did for ME - I'm generally way more concerned with the emotional ramifications of my choices, rather than the concrete ones, and this seems to apply to lots of other people on this site, too - it at least seems clear that TWD has fostered a different set of expectations, or that it has engaged its audience differently than ME did.

#24 Posted by kishinfoulux (2255 posts) -

Are people still taking shots at ME3? We haven't gotten over this yet?

Anyways it's not like your choices in The Walking Dead really matter much so the point is moot.

#25 Edited by granderojo (1778 posts) -

No at least with Mass Effect III, my save wasn't made unreadable and unfixable after every patch or new piece of content was released.

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