With March 21 around the corner, Bioware revealed more details about the next installment in their original sci-fi Action RPG, Mass Effect: Andromeda. The story and the characters have all been given trailers and there was an extensive gameplay trailer shown recently, but it seems that a mechanic that was around in the series last three games, the Paragon and Renegade moral choices, will not be returning for this installment.
For those who played the original trilogy following the space-faring adventures of Commander Shepard, the Paragon and Renegade system lead to some iconic moments. Based on how you acted or talked with various characters throughout your adventures, you would either obtain Paragon points for being idealistic and sympathetic, or Renegade points for being harsh but Pragmatic. Having enough points in one or the other gave you access to special responses to various characters in the games, allowing for dramatic consequences. Consequences like convincing a terrorist to release hostages or getting the bad guy to shoot himself in the head. They’ve been an endearing and central part of the series for this very reason.
But it seems that Bioware will not be bringing these ideas back for Mass Effect: Andromeda. Speaking in an interview with OXM, the game’s creative director Mac Walters explained the reason for this change, “[was] because they felt very Shepard– they were very tied to the Shepard character, so they didn’t really make sense if we weren’t going to have Shepard as our main protagonist.”
Walters then went on to explain that this approach would also help add nuance to the game’s choices. “What we have now is based more around agreeing and disagreeing,” he went on. “The reason I like that is because in the trilogy it’s like, ‘I’m gonna play Paragon,’ and then you know which way you’re moving the stick on every conversation. You don’t have to think about it because you’re just going to hit Paragon every time.” With these dialogue options removed, there’s no in-game reason to stick completely to one way of thinking or another, even if you disagree with the idea of the choices on a case by case basis. Since there’s no binary split, the player will have to pay attention more to what goes on in dialogue between various characters and then make a choice that fits whatever moral stance your version of the game’s hero, the Pathfinder, abides by. A clear callback to the more layered and mature storytelling that Bioware brought to gaming from their routes in RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale.