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An Ode To Mass Effect’s Frisbee Grenades

Playing through the original Mass Effect for the first time has surprised me in many ways, but perhaps the biggest shocker is how much I love its weird, occasionally useless, always hilarious, frisbee grenades.

For a game as straight-laced and dramatic as Mass Effect, there’s something pretty funny about how weird its grenades are. You can imagine my surprise when prompted to throw a grenade, I pressed the button and witnessed Shephard turning lightly to his side to toss out an exploding discus. He’s got pretty good form too. I’m not saying Shepard could compete professionally, but he’d definitely keep a dog happy. Well, as long as he’s using actual frisbees.

I guess the idea behind the Mark-14 grenades is that they’re lighter and able to throw easier, but I’m not sure you could really consider them to be much of a tactical advantage unless you’re particularly skilled at novelty sports. Maybe that’s a bit rich coming from someone who can barely throw a ball, but still, it’s a bizarre upgrade.

Although a lot of my enjoyment originally stemmed from the juxtaposition of this serious space drama that has such strange firepower, they’re actually a ton of fun to utilise in combat. They take some time to get used to, but being able to detonate them mid-flight adds another layer to their use. They stop being a novelty the more you upgrade them and end up being a really useful tool. Maybe the Alliance had the right idea.

So where the heck are they in the rest of the trilogy then? Scratch this being an ode to the grenades, it’s more of an obituary.

There’s a reason I didn’t remember these grenades -they don’t appear outside of the first game, which was the only one in the trilogy that I missed. Mass Effect 2 only features grenades through the DLC, whilst the third entry brought them back for multiplayer and in a limited capacity for the main campaign.

They might as well not have bothered though, as grenades in the sequel are as boring as they come. Sure, the Lift grenade is okay, but the rest are things like frag grenades and flashbangs. As someone who missed out on Mass Effect originally, I didn’t realise what I’d lost until it was too. Mass Effect’s combat only gets better the further you go into the trilogy, but it’s just not the same seeing Shepard lob a frag grenade instead of seeing it pirouette in the air.

It speaks to a bigger identity issue with the later Mass Effect games -they’re a bit more worried about being weird. Things like how laser-focused BioWare became on combat, the removal of the Mako, and the dumbing down of the RPG mechanics all speak to Mass Effect going a bit more mainstream and straying away from the more niche elements of the first game. All of that turned out fine in the end but there’s a small part of me that wishes that we saw more of Mass Effect’s weirdness. At the very least, I don’t see why the frisbee enthusiasts have to suffer.

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