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Is Mass Effect: Andromeda’s New Dialogue System Better?

Elise Favis
 

This article was originally published on April 6. Spoiler warning: We discuss some minor plot points that occur during the first half of the game. Read at your own discretion. The original Mass Effect trilogy put us in the shoes of the revered Commander Shepard, giving us agency in making decisions for this hero through a binary morality system categorized as paragon and renegade. With Mass Effect: Andromeda, the newest installment in the series, BioWare introduces us to a new hero and a revamped dialogue system that is meant to be less restrictive and more open-ended.

  Is this new system effective? How does it change the Mass Effect experience this time around? Editors Joe Juba and Elise Favis discuss its ups and downs. Elise: I’ve been enjoying my time with Mass Effect: Andromeda so far, despite it being rough around the edges. I was intrigued to hear that BioWare was ditching paragon and renegade, thinking it could be an interesting step toward more realistic conversations with weighty decisions that are morally gray.

Unfortunately, my time with the game so far has left me feeling deceived by the dialogue options. Whether I choose to be professional, casual, logical, or emotional, I don’t feel like I have as much say in Ryder’s personality, who remains hopeful and optimistic regardless of my choices. What are your thoughts, Joe? Do you think BioWare did a good job with this new system? Joe: I do, generally.

I agree that those four types of responses don’t always feel completely distinct, but I think the line separating the professional/logical and casual/emotional responses is clear enough, amounting to more lighthearted responses versus more serious ones. I rarely even paid attention to how my responses were classified – I chose the dialogue I liked, and according to the stats the game tracks, I leaned heavily toward the professional/logical side. And I think that ultimately did a lot to shape my perception of Ryder as a committed representative of humanity who isn’t afraid of negative consequences in service to the greater good. Plus, I find the less defined options more believable and interesting than the simplified “good versus bad” that characterized the paragon and renegade choices in the original trilogy. E: I think BioWare made the right choice to ditch paragon and renegade, but this new system still has its flaws.

This is partly because, in the original trilogy, Shepard had a more extreme moral flexibility that Ryder doesn’t have. With Ryder, you are embodying a character that is a hopeful pioneer, and who already has an established backstory. With Shepard, you had a say in…

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