Mass Effect Month: Day 4 – Morality

We’re back with our month-long Mass Effect challenge! For previous days, click here.

Mass Effect Month, Day 4: Do you play as paragon or renegade?

I actually really didn’t like the binary morality system in Mass Effect. I mean, I didn’t hate it, because you could mix and match your decisions, but in order to unlock the best toys it did seem like you needed to pick one side or another.

As far as binary morality systems go, though, Mass Effect’s is great. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of the one from Dragon Age II, which was really interesting because you could have a full “rivalry” with someone, and yet they would still respect you, which I thought was a fantastic take on the complexity of interpersonal relationships.

…how did I wind up talking about Dragon Age??

Anyway, in Mass Effect there is the opportunity to not always be “good” or “bad.” I never found myself feeling pressured to act one way or another, because, well…

Image result for paragon mass effect

Is anyone really surprised that I tend toward “let’s see if we can work it out for everyone?”

Yes, I tend toward paragon, but I do have my moments of taking the middle of the road, and sometimes you really do just want to punch a reporter in the face.

Image result for shepard punches reporter gif

And the Mass Effect series gives you that option to really role-play, not taking away “paragon” or “renegade” points for choosing to walk on the other side of the line briefly, and also providing enough opportunities that you can stray from your path and still be able to max out whatever side you’re trying to fill.

Oh, I should note that I played as a paragon, except for the ending, in which I took the red/renegade/get the job done option.

Image result for destroy mass relay

Also, renegade doesn’t mean “bad,” even if Shepard’s renegade options became increasingly rude as the series progressed.

Having said all that, I really like how Mass Effect: Andromeda built on the morality system, utilizing the “tone of voice” that Dragon Age: Inquisition introduced. I especially like that you can turn off the markers if you want to go back to that old-school feel of not really knowing what type of tone your character is going to take with the NPC, which I jumped all over the moment I realized that was an option. But I digress (again)…

But what about you? Is your canon run paragon or renegade, or a mixture of both? Did you like the morality system? How does it compare to the one in Andromeda? Let me know in the comments!

I should go,
~ Athena

What’s next? You can like, subscribe, and support if you like what you’ve seen!
– Support us on Patreon 
become a revered Aegis of AmbiGaming, and access extra content!
– Say hello on FacebookTwitter, and even Google+!
– Check out our Let’s Plays if you’re really adventurous!


  1. Oh, that reporter. I was so surprised when my renegade option made me punch her out in the first one. Then in 2 she came back to demand an on-air apology, so I agreed, went to the interview and apologized, then when she started asking jerk questions again I punched her right out again. I don’t why I find that so hilarious.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I always play paragon, even when I start a game determined to play with the renegade choices, I just can’t help myself. Its kind of funny because in other games, like the Elder Scrolls series, I have no problem being evil but when it comes to Mass Effect and Dragon Age, I’m always the moral person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, me too. My favorite playthrough was starting as renegade (tough street kid Shepard), and then eventually turning to paragon Shepard as she accepts the role of “humanity’s savior” that is thrust on her.

      I haven’t gotten in to Elder Scrolls really, but that’s an interesting observation!! Does morality matter as much in that game?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Morality isn’t portrayed in the same way in the Elder Scrolls games. If you’re caught killing someone or stealing, then you could end up in prison or dead. However there isn’t a long lasting effect if you decide to go down the evil route. I guess its more what your conscience can put up with compared to what NPCs can.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I play Paragon most of the time, but I take a few Renegade and neutral dialogue options here and there to avoid Paragon Shepard’s more sanctimonious moments. I also think that the control/destroy choice on the heretic station was designed poorly; where you have to change your mind at the last second to keep on the right side of the dumb invisible paragon/renegade dialogue locks (since Shepard’s paragon dialogue favours ‘destroy’ but ‘rewrite’ rewards you blue points, and vice versa).

    I find quite a few of the big moral choices to be contrived and I think it’s one of the problems with the series in general (starting with ME1’s first piece of DLC), where the story tries to create moral dilemmas where none really exist. I think the most egregious example is the one at the end of Samara’s loyalty mission.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think a lot of morality in games is contrived, because of the nature of games. That’s one of the problems with binary morality systems, and something I liked that they changed in games like Dragon Age: Inquisition and even Mass Effect: Andromeda. It’s not about morality, it’s about the relationships and how you handle situations, which is a little more of what real life is life.

      Yeah, the “choice” at the end of Samara’s mission was very contrived…


  4. I really appreciate that the binary choice is not just good vs. evil, it’s between ideologies. Ideologies where one is tacitly implied to be more ‘right’ than the other most of the time, yes, but I do still like the nuance there.

    I’ve played through with both moralities, but Paragon is my preference. I like putting myself in games, and that’s a bit closer to how I’d handle it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely. When it comes to morality and ethics, it’s more interesting when it’s shades of grey, rather than black and white.

      Yeah, my favorite playthrough is when I started off as a “renegade” and then gradually became a “paragon” (mostly) as Shepard came to terms with having to be the galaxy’s hero. Added a nice little arc…

      Aw, hero Aether 🙂 I tease, of course, but yeah, I’m with you. Paragon is more in line with how I’d handle (or hope to handle) those situations.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. back in the days of mass effect, and even earlier with KOTOR, I always played the good guys and tried to make everything work out for everyone. I was such an angel! I did curiously try out some renegade options and quickly reload to not affect my ratings.

    Lately though I see games tend to present the renegade options as less eveil and more of a grey area which I really like. As a result, I tend to be a bit more forceful in my choices but still do bad things for a just cause.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s fun being a hero, isn’t it? And it’s even more fun to be bad when you know it’s not actually going to hurt anyone… 😉

      I do appreciate the shades of grey approach that we’re seeing more of. After all, renegade in Mass Effect was supposed to just be “getting the job done,” not “jerk.” I’ve noticed the same thing myself – I tend to be a little more okay with going “renegade” if for a good cause, even if it’s a little more forceful or brusque than I usually would be.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wanted to yell “Take that, fake news!!” during the reporter punch in my game, haha. I stuck mostly to Paragon options though. I like being a good person in games, usually. If I do another playthrough of the trilogy I might make Shepard a space jerk 😈

    To be honest, I didn’t really notice the morality system in Andromeda. If it was that tone thing, sarcastic (casual) Ryder for the win!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hahaha nice! Me, too, but some of those Renegade options just felt so good… Like the one with Kai Leng…… Let me know how your space jerk playthrough goes 😉

      It was more subtle, more like the one implemented in Inquisition (and Origins, to a certain extent), where it was less YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON and more of… a butterfly effect, I suppose?

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s