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The Problem of Reapers in Mass Effect Universe

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So Mass Effect Andromeda is coming out soon, and it got me back into the Mass Effect mood, a universe which i deeply love, but mostly not because of
the games but the lore. Each subsequent entry in the franchise had more and more problems, for me. And, admittedly, i dont have high hopes for Andromeda - the whole premise makes little to zero sense.

However, as I was thinking about Mass Effect 3, it just hit me how the premise of a Reaper War being told in one game is incredibly silly and amost requires a deus ex machina to be resolved in the end. Reapers are too powerful of an enemy to be defeated that fast. Rachni Wars and Krogan rebellions, conflicts with vastly inferior enemies, have lasted for centuries.

Reapers, the galactic boogeyman, with numbers shy of 20,000 Capital ships (plus destroyers plus collectors plus husks plus indoctrination), have been taken down in less than a year and by a single Space Jesus individual. Leviathan of Dis, being a billion years old,

This is a huge problem of scale in Mass Effect. But the sad truth, is there could be no other resolution unless the whole trilogy be restructured, because how would one defeat them in such a short time frame.

Thing which bothers me most, The Reapers for me have always been one of the most interesting and mysterious super-bad guys with goals and ambitions far beyond out understanding, and the last game reduced them to just really good spaceships... meh.

If I were to offer a few quick fixes, is making Mass Effect 3 take a longer time frame and be an incredibly extensive game which actually shows the horrors of war with the Reapers (say 5 years time span, so after say Tuchanka there is a message on screen "2 years later") and create better weaponry against the Reapers. Actually show that since the battle of the citadel, the galactic armies have weaponry which does not require to sacrifice a fleet to defeat one capital ship.

What do you think guys? And do you have any ideas how the Reapers could have been fixed or made to make sense?

Rant Over.

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The main problem was Casey Hudson and Mac Walters. With those two there was no good ideas for the overarching plot. There were a number of things that led to the silliness of the Reaper War lasting only three months; ME2 not even trying to a natural progression of the trilogy in terms of what ME1 promised at its end or in plot advancement, the Reapers being made stupid so they never attempt to seize the Citadel or even utilize the Citadel in the way they've done for every cycle before.

In terms of weapons there were the Thanix Cannons developed by the turians. But we only ever see those being used by the SR-2 (if you upgrade) and Cerberus on Omega.

And if you go by the Andromeda Initiative 'briefings' they worked out a solution to the whole 'static build-up' issue, but were never thought to be used on any regular ships outside of that stupid project. Which could've meant that they would've been able to get past that 37-50 ly sphere around every Mass Relay.

What ME3 should have been about was what ME2 should have been about; galaxy exploration and tomb raiding old Prothean sites. Trying to dig up any sort of information they might have had regarding the Reapers and possible counter-technology. It could've been during one of these spelunking missions where the crucible blueprints were found. That way time could've been given to answering what it does and how it does it instead of having the stupid, stupid SA just shrug its shoulders and go, "I don't know."

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Well Andromeda Initiative briefings and ODSY drives, are a retcon. So back when the game was released they were nonexistent. To be fair, entire Adromeda is a retcon and a copout because Mass Effect 3 is a mess.

Thing is, how long can you explore the Prothean ruins? At some point you gotta bring the fight to the Reapers. And if the premise is that there is this force of nature which just swipes through the galaxy, cleansing it of most signs of life, leaving just enough for future civilization to discover and build their technology around mass effect technology. No matter, how they try to do it, The Galaxy wouldnt be able to defeat the Reapers.

Protheans, a technologically more advanced race, took 700 years with the Citadel and Mass Effect relay in the hands of the reapers to lose. Shepard and Co just achieve the impossible. Deus Ex is necessary but its stupid.

Even in numbers, say the galaxy has 100 dreadnoughts, 200 max( all the treaties and such). Reapers have 20,000. Its nonsense.

*sign*

This franchise brings so much pain into my life.

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The way I see it ME3 should not have been about the Reaper War. Reapers even entering the galaxy should be a 'rock falls, everyone dies' situation. The Reaper War should have been pushed back a game so that an entire entry could be able preparing the galaxy, finding out what the Protheans knew, convincing the governments of the threat (maybe with footage of the Derelict Reaper from ME2 if anyone actually thought about using for more than a solution to a small-scale short-term problem), find ways to counter-act indoctrination,etc.

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Should there even be a Reaper War at all?

Sending a small team spear-headed by Normandy into the Dark Space to trick the Reapers to stay dormant through a virus or some thing-a-magic would have been interesting. Would have kept their mystery up, they lovercraftian dreaming gods theme and had a bitter sweet ending where Shepard kinda won... but not really as Reapers have no beginning nor end.

Maybe a space fight with Harbinger would have been sweet, but i am digressing.

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I disagree to the first point: Many People, Nations etc. seemed undefeatable, until they were defeated and that was, many times, suprisingly "easy".
Do not underrestimate the psyhcological warfare... to think the enemy is undefeatable is a battle already half lost.
But 2000 dreadnaughts again 20.000 reapers... yeah no question.
According to the law, the thannix cannon was build into every ship, even the fucking little smalls hooters (like x wings), which made the meme happen "canon to destroy the reapers buildt in (as you could see them on the model), button to use it; due next thursday".

I would have liked, that the sabotage by the protheans, which came farther than noone eve rbefore, would be more efficient.
They stopped the signal... now we have an enormous weakened reaper or we find a way to override the master control of the reapers over the relays (we know the citadel is the key for that), so they can not use it or at least nto immediately (set a new pasword Wink ).

There was so many ways we could have used it... also nowhere is explained where they get their energy from.... how recharging? The reapers MUST have a weak spot, every system has one, that is a law. That they don't point us to it, should be natural.

But a 3 month war? dear lord... did they not read 1 history book? like jsut 1?

Eruanne

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This is a big reason why I think using a trilogy isn't the best longterm gameplan for some games. One of the biggest mistakes may have been them trying to fit their story into a trilogy.

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I would've made it so Sovereign wasn't destroyed at the Battle of the Citadel.That set the idea that they could be defeated when the point is that they're an insurmountable enemy.

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Well, first of all, in the beginning, the official number of Reapers was.... 150 Sovereign warships. That's it. Not 20 000. So they would definiately be dangerous... but that force can be defeated in one game, but only when game is:

- long enough to tell the story;
- brutal enough to show the struggle;
- well-written enough to present all the depth of the conflict;
- consistent enough to feel believable;

ME3 had none of those.

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Ill be honest, i dunno where the official number of 150 sovereign class ships came from.
I however said 20,000 because if the the reapers been around at least a billion years(leviathan of dis) and there is USUALLY a Reaper per cycle, and a cycle takes roughly 50,000 years, it should mean that there were 20,000 reapers produced overall plus minus i dunno 5,000 super max. Thatd be believable, there being 150 sovereigns in the context of lore is not.

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Maybe most cycles don't actually produce a Reaper. Maybe the Milky Way produces shitty civilizations for the most part and Reaper quality control is super strict.

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And we have to consider that many cycles put up a hell of a fight. I cannot imagine the Prometheans waged hundreds of years of galaxy-spanning war on Reapers without taking of couple thousands of them down.

Most cycles would have been easier than the Promethean one, hell, the "current" or "last" sure was, but all it takes is for 1 major race to take off 1 reaper and suddenly, the number of Reapers doesn't grow.

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Nono guys, you just don't understand: you are simply not able to comprehend the genius of the ending.

Jokin aside: Don't forget that many resisted rather sucessful and at least killed 1 reaper.
Also the cinematic at the end of ME2 really didn't gave away the appearance of 20.000 reaper, the 150 seems rather approriate.
And also: How many cicles did it take the reapers to be capable of reproducing?
That was in no way the original plan...

And int he first cicles the losses should have benr ather high, since they were few and had no routine in what they were doing.

Eruanne

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Just to throw my two cents in. I think the Reapers worked in 1 and 2, I really do. But it felt like they suddenly wanted the Reapers to be the Borg in 3. Which is wrong for two reasons; one, they weren't the Borg in 1 and 2. And Two: The very problem the Borg have to begin with, narratively (I've talked extensively about how the Borg were so strong in so many ways that they were a huge writer's obstacle, since after only a few short stories writing it so they don't just win started to become silly).


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Weren't they Borg-like since the beginning, what with the civ harvesting and the mind control?

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Harvesting and assimilating wasn't confirmed until Suicide Mission (unless you count husks).

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No, I don't think the Reapers were ever the Borg, figuratively or narratively.

The Borg, from a narrative perspective, are the unstoppable force. The thing so vast and beyond you that you can never truly stop it, all you can do is survive it.

The Reapers, by contrast, were trying to portray themselves as this, but even as early as ME1 it became clear this was either vainglorious self-worship or a deliberate attempt at subterfuge (I personally think the latter).


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If I were to write around the hole Bioware dug themselves into in ME3, I'd add dissent amongst the Reapers.
To which extent are they 'core programming' and to which are they races from which they are constructed?
I mean, I'd argue that we saw some evidence of this and droid effect in Sovereign/Harbringer differences.

Having a group of Reapers with their own intentions (say, Promethean one who acts out of his race's need to rule and subjugate, another who's "racial bias" results in different solution of the Leviathan's prime instruction etc.).

Then have some direct connection between Shepard and Reaper Network (long-term exposure, the beacon, reaprr-tech used in his revival,...) so he can get missions from respective factions of Reapers and have this whole dynamic of who do you trust more, other races, Reaper faction A, Reaper faction B?

And Crucible can just be some kind of transmitter blocking Harbringer from accessing Reaper Network momentarily, since he is, I think, the Original Reaper.

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Karbin wrote:Harvesting and assimilating wasn't confirmed until Suicide Mission (unless you count husks).

We knew they harvested the civ's technology (which the Borg also do) since ME1, ME2 only confirmed they also harvested in a more literal sense.

Lorerunner wrote:

No, I don't think the Reapers were ever the Borg, figuratively or narratively.

The Borg, from a narrative perspective, are the unstoppable force. The thing so vast and beyond you that you can never truly stop it, all you can do is survive it.

The Reapers, by contrast, were trying to portray themselves as this, but even as early as ME1 it became clear this was either vainglorious self-worship or a deliberate attempt at subterfuge (I personally think the latter).

Since the beginning the Reapers were a force that had wiped out all civilization in the galaxy many times over while leaving virtually no trace of their invasions. I can't think of many ways to establish something as stronger or more unstoppable than that <_<  Do you mean it became clear they weren't so strong because Shepard managed to destroy Sovereign?

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Luslanz wrote:
Since the beginning the Reapers were a force that had wiped out all civilization in the galaxy many times over while leaving virtually no trace of their invasions. I can't think of many ways to establish something as stronger or more unstoppable than that <_<  Do you mean it became clear they weren't so strong because Shepard managed to destroy Sovereign?

Why since the beginning? who says that?
we only the the momental status, noone says it was the first million years or so...

Eruanne

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