Vanguard class. Colonist. Sole Survivor. Paragon.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is out this week, and I’m positively giddy with excitement that I will reunite with some of my best friends in the galaxy in baby-bottom smooth HD. The primary appeal of Mass Effect (outside of its outstanding cast of characters) is that it’s a game meant to be played multiple times and multiple ways in order to see all of the narrative’s twists and turns. Though my love for the Mass Effect trilogy is as deep and vast as the galaxy itself, I make the same set of choices each time I play. Same class, same background, same romances, and not even the arrival of the Mass Effect Legendary Edition is enough to get me to change.
The choices I made and persist in making aren’t particularly controversial or deviant. My Shepard is a “good” paragon who never says or does anything unbecoming of a good soldier. (Though I will always choose the “bad” renegade interrupts that let me shoot the gas tank under the krogan during Mordin’s loyalty mission and the one that lets me push the Eclipse mercenary out of a window during Thane’s recruitment mission in ME2. They’re too fun to ignore for the sake of my paragon virtues.) My Shepard is always the Vanguard class with the colonist background and the sole survivor psychological profile. I don’t know why I’m particularly attached to these choices, although I can say with certainty that I chose the Vanguard class solely for the biotic charge ability because how could you not.
Save the Feros colony. Save the Rachni queen. Save Wrex. Leave Ashley Williams on Virmire.
I’d like to think most of my choices were made for their practical considerations in helping me obtain the best ending. In ME2, a fully loyal crew — facilitated by a maxed-out paragon score — will (mostly) ensure they all survive the suicide mission. I also save Maelon’s data because it ensures Eve, the krogan female, survives the testing required to cure the krogan genophage. I don’t change these choices because I am a good person, and to do anything else (like refuse to cure the genophage) would condemn me to the fiery pits of hell. What kind of monster doesn’t cure the genophage?
Romance Kaiden. Save the Destiny Ascension.
There are multiple smaller choices that I could make that have no bearing on any of the games’ ending, but I still refuse to deviate from my path. I will always save Conrad Verner from his own stupidity. I buy fish for my tank in ME2 then neglect to feed them, thus ensuring they always die. (OK, so maybe some of my choices are indeed deviant.) These choices mean nothing, they have no lasting consequences, and yet I am compelled to keep making them. I am not the least bit ashamed of it.
To be fair, I’ve tried to make different choices. I romanced Thane and added a little renegade chocolate to my paragon peanut butter. During that same deviant playthrough, I killed Samara because I found her daughter Morinth’s argument more compelling. Then, I ended up dying myself, convinced by Morinth that I could survive her sexy but deadly mind meld. (It’s Mass Effect lore, don’t ask.)
Romance Garrus. All loyal crew. Save the Collector Base. Save the Quarians and the Geth.
I didn’t enjoy the experience. Not because I didn’t like being evil. (I did) or because I thought Thane’s romance was less well written than Garrus’. (It’s not, in fact Thane’s romance is far more tragically romantic, which is personally more appealing.) It just didn’t feel like me. Mass Effect is like my morning coffee, I need it to be a certain way or my whole day is shot.
The Mass Effect series (yes, even you Andromeda) is very special to me. It’s the series I always choose as my answer for that “If you could wipe your memory of any game in order to experience it again” hypothetical question. Playing Mass Effect Legendary Edition with its shiny new upgrades and enhancements is the closest I’ll ever get to that hypothetical “mind wipe” scenario and, despite the wealth of options before me, I’m going to make my usual choices and be damn proud of them.
Cure the Genophage. Romance Garrus (again). Destroy.