November 7th has been adopted as N7 Day by fans of the Mass Effect video game series. N7 is the vocational code applied to protagonist, Commander Shepard, in the original trilogy. It signifies that they have reached the highest level in the special forces training programme.
Every year on November 7th fans and voice actors from the series wish each other a Happy N7 Day. Really, it’s just an opportunity to celebrate the games that have meant so much to so many.
Personally I got into Mass Effect via recommendations from friends after I became totally and utterly hooked on Dragon Age, which is a fantasy series of games made by the same developers.
For me Mass Effect was a struggle at first. I’ve always been more interested in dragons and magic than aliens and spaceships, and the first Mass Effect game is a little clunky in terms of gameplay mechanics. But, like Dragon Age, what makes Mass Effect stand out from other games is the characters and storytelling.
Mass Effect isn’t just about saving the galaxy, it’s about relationships both on a personal level and on a wider scale. Like a lot of sci-fi franchises Shepard finds themself as the face and voice of humanity when dealing with other species. Diplomacy, or lack thereof, is as key as fighting skills.
That’s what makes these games so fun. Within the confines of the story you can customise not only what your character looks like but how they act too. You get additional options depending on the morality of your character, and the decisions you make determine how other characters act around you. You can also pick who (if any) of your companions you want to form a romantic relationship with.
As the games progressed more same sex relationship options became available. By the time Mass Effect 3 came out there were gay, lesbian, and bisexual romance options. Mass Effect: Andromeda is the most recent game that takes place in the same universe as, but is unrelated to, Shepard’s story. This game includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, polyamorous and asexual romance options.
They’re not perfect, of course, but Bioware makes a real effort to make their games as diverse as possible and each new game gets better in that regard.
When I finally got my head around the game mechanics I was hooked. I’ve completed all three of the original trilogy games multiple times, experimenting with different playable characters and romance options to see what happens. And despite knowing how the series ends I still can’t get to the end of Mass Effect 3 without turning into a sobbing wreck.
Andromeda was still full of bugs when it was released, and these have since been patched. Although I have finished it, it was only the once, but I definitely want to go back and play it again.
These games have heart, and that’s what makes them so good.
So, if you’re a Mass Effect fan I hope you’re having a great N7 Day. If you’re not a gamer, or if you are but haven’t played Mass Effect yet, I highly recommend it.