It is no secret that the Mass Effect games hold a special place in my heart.
Some consider it one of the greatest science fiction games to ever be released. While that is totally up for speculation, it is a stone cold fact that the Mass Effect series is one that will age well and remain a testament in the roleplaying and science fiction industry. Its size and scale, enough lore to rival that of many other franchises like Star Wars or Star Trek, characters that will tear at your heartstrings, and a fight against all odds to rally behind make it an epic that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Questionable ending aside.
One of the cornerstones of the series is its morality system. The big question that you need to ask yourself, are you Paragon or Renegade?
Both have their own appeal, but over time the Renegade route can be a heartbreaking one. Some of the decisions will leave you in need of a good soul cleanse afterwards. While all of them have their legitimate and logical basis, they are can be cold, heartless, and, at times, just plain out rude.
I’ve compiled a list of five Renegade moments that were hard for me to do. What’s on your list?
Safe to say, spoilers abound. You were warned.
Let’s get started.
Letting the Council Die
No one likes dealing with the Council. Their anti-human agenda mixed with long and annoying hologram calls give us more than enough reasons to dislike them. Saving the galaxy countless times, and saving their collective asses just as many times, just isn’t enough for them. Instead they constantly bother Shepard about disregarding their ‘code of conduct’. Aside from the sheer fun of hanging up on them every single time, their questionable morality is the only thing that might make your hand hover over that Renegade option.
During the Battle of the Citadel, Shepard is able to use the Conduit to find a backdoor into the Citadel and finally confront Saren before he can release the rest of the Reapers. Shepard stops Saren and is finally able to get back in touch with the Normandy.
You learn that the Normandy has regrouped with the entire Alliance fleet and is ready to come to the aid of the Destiny Ascension, which has the Council aboard. All you have to do is open the Citadel’s arms to let them in.
Shepard is left with the choice to either have the Alliance save the Council, or to have them save their strength to take down Sovereign.
If Shepard saves the Council, the people of the galaxy are more trusting of them and humanity as a whole. Humans will have earned a seat on the Council as a reward, and humanity will finally start to have a real name in the galaxy.
But this time, we’re Renegade. You focus on Sovereign, leaving the Ascension to it’s demise. As a result the Alliance seizes control of Citadel space and the other races distrust humanity even more.
This… this one is just fucked up.
Project Overlord is a DLC for Mass Effect 2, and it’s not one for the faint of heart.
Originally it was a research project funded by Cerberus to find a way to control the geth.
It… didn’t go as planned. David Archer, chief scientist Dr. Gavin Archer’s brother, volunteered for the experiment to meld his mind to a VI.
Or so we thought.
It turns out that David was actually autistic and a mathematical genius, a true savant. His amazing mathematical skills allowed him to better communicate with the geth. Without his understanding the project was doomed to fail, and the Illusive Man was already threatening to shut it down.
David was a breakthrough, and his brother forced him into the VI against his will.
The VI overwhelmed David, basically turning him into a living computer virus, which then proceeded to take over the facility and used the live geth that had been acquired for the project to kill the staff of numerous Cerberus stations.
The VI tried to escape the facility by using communication dish, which Shepard prevents. Had the VI managed to escape, it would have been pure havoc on the populace of anyone with communicating technology.
The VI needed to be stopped, one way or another.
After deactivating the rogue VI, Shepard’s decision about who should handle the care of David Archer determines if Project Overlord will continue or be decommissioned. More importantly if David will be freed and removed from the station… or stay in the care of his brother who forced him into the mess in the first place and the project continue.
Upholding the Code
First things first, never play this mission in the dark with surround sound/a noise canceling headset.
When Shepard is sent to a secret asari base which turns out to be a monastery for Ardat-Yakshi, of course there was going to be some really fucked up shit happening. Shepard is sent to investigate what happened there, in particular what happened to the elite asari commandos that haven’t been heard from since they landed.
Turns out the Reapers attacked the monastery, and had begun turning the Ardat-Yakshi into banshees, possibly the most terror-inducing bitches the Reapers had ever come up with.
Things get complicated when you run into Samara, a former crew member and friend. You learn that her last two daughters, Falere and Rila, are residents of the monastery. And, according to Samara’s code, they need to be saved or, should the monastery be too far destroyed from the attack, killed in order to prevent any Ardat-Yakshi from roaming free.
After a touching sacrifice by Rila – who already was suffering from Reaper indoctrination – in order to escape, they destroy the banshees and the monastery.
With the monastery destroyed, Samara knows what her code entails.
But this time, she can’t do it.
Renegade Shep just watches as their friend puts her pistol to her head and takes her own life, rather than that of her last daughter.
At that point, you need to figure out what to do with Falere. You can leaver her there, leftovers to be picked up by the Reapers, or you can kill her yourself.
Either way, pretty bad way to go.
Does This Unit Have a Soul?
High above Rannoch, the once home planet of the quarians, both the quarians and the geth are at war once again. Shepard fights to stop the war. The first step? Freeing the geth from the control of a code programmed into them by the Reapers. After an eye-opening mission inside the geth consensus you manage to do just that.
Now that the geth are free from Reaper control, they halt their attacks, expecting their opponents to do the same. We are all on the same side, aren’t we?
No, instead a hot-headed quarian admiral calls the order to finish the geth once and for all while they are helplessly floating in space.
Legion, your former crew member from the second game, begs you to allow it to upload the Reaper Code to the geth. With the code, the geth would be able to defend themselves. But defending themselves would mean they would destroy the quarian fleet in their defense.
It’s either the geth or the quarians.
In a happy Paragon game, you can get them all to get along. The quarians would stop their attack, so would the geth, and you would have two powerful war assets. In a screwed up game (not enough charisma or paragon/renegade) you allow the geth to defend themselves, the quarians are killed, and Tali kills herself in grief.
But this isn’t about the Paragon route.
Instead you refuse the geth the chance to defend themselves. Legion begs, pleads, but in the end it’s not enough. The geth platform will charge Shepard, then begin launching the code without permission only to be stabbed in the back, literally, by Tali.
Then you shoot him in the face a few times for good measure.
This is truly sad when you see the alternative. Should the Reaper code been uploaded, yes, Legion would be sacrificing himself, but in return all geth would have free will.
All geth would have had souls.
Preventing the Cure
In my last article I mentioned this very scene, but that was taking it from the Paragon route.
Of course, the Renegade option is so much worse.
When the road to cure the krogan genophage begins to near its end, the salarian government offers Shepard an alternative.
It’s them, or us.
You are given the chance to prevent the cure, or, rather, to sit by and sabotage happen. The Shroud had been sabotaged years before and the salarians just want you to prevent Mordin from fixing it.
You get plenty of chance to warn Mordin of the salarian plans, but Mordin is the very model of a scientist salarian. He’ll realize that it’s not just a temperature malfunction, he’ll know it’s been tampered with.
Mordin stands his ground, even with Shepard’s pistol pointed at him. He’ll make his way to the elevator, only to be shot in the back by Shepard. When the elevator takes him to the control room he crawls on the floor, desperate to get to the control panel. But he’ll never make it, instead succumbing to his wounds just feet away.
“It had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.”
There were so many Renegade moments to choose from, but I picked the ones that stood out the most to me. Feel free to share yours.
Man, Shepard can be a dick sometimes.