The Mass Effect series offers a great vehicle to look at player agency vs telling a linear narrative, especially when it comes to the romance options.
With all the uproar about that ending, it is easy to forget some of the things that Bioware provided in its trilogy that made it a charming experience for many gamers. Regardless of what narrative constraints emerged, the illusion of choice in available decisions, we were still provided a protagonist for which many gamers chose to develop a unique inner life for. Something that made each gamer's Shepard their own. Outside of the default Sheps, no two gamers' Shepard have been the same, whether it was in appearance or motivation towards and interaction with surrounding characters or events of the unfolding story. Regardless of that story's ultimate ending, many will remember fondly the loves and laughs they had with their Shepard. It is perhaps worth noting that had Cmdr Shepard been exclusively a default protagonist like Nathan Drake, Lara Croft or Solid Snake to name but a few, and the gamer did not have so much of an intimate sense of playing "their" own story, would the ending, though disappointing, have caused as much furore? I suspect not.
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