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Mass Effect 4 Needs To Fix The Renegade System | Screen Rant

Like many other RPGs, BioWare's Mass Effect trilogy features a morality system to help influence player decisions. Shepard can be influenced down two different pathways, Paragon or Renegade, depending on a player's gameplay decisions and dialogue options. Although the system is slightly more nuanced than the oftentimes black-and-white view of good and evil presented in similar games, Mass Effect's morality features are hardly perfect, and in particular its Renegade pathway leaves a lot to be desired. Mass Effect 4 should take the opportunity to reevaluate how the system works.

John Ebenger, a Cinematic Designer on Mass Effect, revealed in early 2020 that over 90% of Mass Effect players chose Paragon over Renegade during their playthroughs. While this could be indicative of the level of attachment many players tend to form toward the characters in Mass Effect, it could also communicate a flaw in how the Renegade pathway was designed. It seems as though a Renegade Shepard just isn't as rewarding to play as a Paragon Shepard, or that the justification and reasons behind picking a Renegade choice aren't compelling enough to persuade most players toward that side. In Mass Effect 3 in particular, many Renegade choices feel outright unjustifiable, such as being able to kill Mordin and Wrex to sabotage the genophage cure.

Related: Mass Effect's Saddest Character Deaths

Oftentimes, players who are going for a more jaded or ruthless interpretation of Commander Shepard don't even need to pick Renegade choices to stay true to their vision of the character. There are plenty of Paragon options that feel more like Renegade decisions, and especially in Mass Effect 3, Shepard grows so much as a genuine character as opposed to a blank-slate player insert that it feels as though their core personality remains mostly unchanged regardless of their morals. This was drastically shifted in Mass Effect: Andromeda, which rather than letting players determine Ryder's morality allowed them to influence their personality traits through dialogue instead.

For better or worse, though, it seems like the Mass Effect series won't be following in Andromeda's footsteps any time soon. Future DLC for Andromeda was abandoned after the game's highly-criticized launch, and the Mass Effect 4 trailer released in late 2020 strongly indicated that the franchise would be returning to the original trilogy instead. While this likely doesn't mean that Andromeda will be entirely forgotten, it does make it more probable that features from the first Mass Effect games will be returning instead. This could potentially mean the revival of the Paragon and Renegade system.

There are a few ways that BioWare could improve the Renegade pathway moving forward, especially if the company wants to encourage more Mass Effect players to branch out in terms of gameplay decisions. If Renegade playthroughs are more compelling, then fans may be encouraged to try multiple different playthroughs of Mass Effect 4. To start, Renegade choices need to be just as rewarding as Paragon decisions, one way or another. Going full Renegade in Mass Effect 3 can result in a galaxy that's substantially less prepared for the Reaper war than a Paragon Shepard's playthrough would have been. If the Geth are destroyed and the genophage isn't cured, for example, the galactic readiness rating will be relatively low.

Renegade options also shouldn't feel out of character for Shepard, or whoever the new Mass Effect 4 protagonist may be. Many players found it hard to justify killing Wrex when he and Shepard were close friends throughout the rest of the series, and the ruthless dialogue provided with Renegade often felt contradictory to some of Shepard's goofier moments as seen in areas like the Citadel DLC. By improving the Renegade side of Mass Effect's morality system, Mass Effect 4 can help encourage diversity in player decisions.

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