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At the start of Mass Effect 2Shepard and their crew are attacked by the Collectors, an insectoid alien race known to kidnap entire human colonies without setting off a single distress al. Some time ahead of the mission on Horizon, Shepard will receive a message from Admiral Hackett at their Private Terminal, asking them to visit the site, erect a memorial somewhere near the wreckage, and recover any trace of 20 missing crew members to bring their families closure. To do this, Shepard must find and collect the 20 dog tags scattered around the debris.
So, after raiding a handful of planets for minerals and other resources I hop on over to a nearby system and land on a snowy, claustrophobic planet adorned with the splintered wreckage of my former home.
Their final moments in life, or so they thought, were spent trying to save their crew, hurling them into escape pods without a single care for their own safety. This brings me back to Normandy's wreckage, with this entire sequence punctuated by a lack of music and a melancholic sense of place that draws you in, encouraging exploration of a broken husk that, in some ways, still feels very much alive.
Small flashbacks help establish the mood, reminding Shepard of the times she spent aboard this top-the-line ship before its sudden destruction.
Back ineager adventurers would have been thrown back into the past, still suffering from emotional whiplash as their legendary ship is now little more than piles of scrap for looters to pilfer through. Shepard never really has time to find her footing, or to grow accustomed to a universe that has changed dramatically during her long absence.
BioWare expects you to run forward and never look back, but the reality would and should be far more complicated. Despite the trauma attached to it, the Normandy wreckage is a reminder of what used to be, a comforting symbol of success that was ripped out from under us. The Mako acts as a central point, jutting out from the ice as a reminder of the planetary exploration this game leaves behind in favour of more focused, curated storytelling.
Flashbacks continue surfacing as I explore, reminding me of the mess hall, medical bay, and deceased space racist Ashley Williams. To be honest her cropping up ruined the mood, but I ignored her and kept on moving. Things reach a crescendo as I approach the galaxy map and find a datapad belonging to Navigator Pressly.
Having perished alongside the Normandy, Pressly was a man who often had doubts about Shepard working with aliens, believing that humanity should work for itself and nothing else. However, the datapad shines a new light on things. This iteration of the Normandy is lost forever, as is much of its crew, so all I can do is take this tangled mess of dog tags with me and offer grieving families some form of closure. A teaser trailer shows off Doom Eternal's 6.
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