Mass Effect: Andromeda Dialogue System Analyzed

GameInformer's editors decided to discuss the benefits and the pitfalls of Mass Effect: Andromeda's new dialogue system. Read on to find out whether or not the new system is any better than the old Paragon/Renegade one. An excerpt:

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 their history which can help you shape who you want them to be and how you want them perceived. Without that, Ryder feels more like an established character who doesn’t change all that drastically personality-wise outside of small iterations. For example, if I wanted to be a jerk to someone, the closest thing I can do is be a tad colder and act more formal. Even when I have the rare chance to have input on Ryder’s history, such as whether they were close to their father, no matter what dialogue option I choose, other characters respond by saying he was distant.

I think the original trilogy was so unique because it gave you the ability to make your Shepard. Commander Shepard is a character we all know, but our perception of Shepard is different from one player to the next. Ryder doesn’t yet have that same impact on me. It’s not to say that a binary morality system is better, but the current options also don’t feel distinct enough to me, failing to be as sophisticated as they seem on the surface.

However, one thing that works well for me so far, is that weighty decisions during certain side-quests and in the main storyline are morally gray, like choosing the fate of a prisoner who is accused of murder. One option doesn’t always necessarily feel noble or right over the other.