Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Intergalactic Renegade (Pt. 4)

The beginning of the end.

The events that unfolded that day will have catastrophic repercussions for the continued existence of all life, and surprisingly Sordid Shepard wasn’t to blame. She might have influenced certain decisions but she did do the right thing when it mattered. Which is to say that she callously sacrificed hundreds of human lives to save hundreds of alien ones, which won’t appease various movements on the Citadel, but perhaps that is how best to describe them, as a movement from the bowels of the universe. Not quite as awful as Sordid Shepard but definitely close.

Not that anyone is as awful as her.

Even the various antagonists of the Mass Effect series aren’t as bad as her. They freely admit their genocidal desires and clearly decree that any who attempt to stop them will perish, whereas she is often regarded to be synonymous with unyielding hope. Only to consistently deliver anything but.

The final confrontation was one of those rare moments where everyone involved wasn’t maimed or murdered. Mostly because the option to let those in authority suffer for their continued ignorance never presented itself, as I’d happily conclude the main campaign in that way if I could. They couldn’t reject the truth then. Which is what they’ve done every single time it was mentioned to them, despite being presented with an abundance of evidence to support the claims made. But then I can’t blame them for not trusting someone who has willingly sacrificed hundreds of lives on multiple occasions. Even if, for the first time in her life, she was trying to do the right thing by warning them, they didn’t want to acknowledge that there was a species in the vastness of space that they’d not encountered nor heard of before.

But did you anticipate her disdain for all known forms of life?

Due to countless changes having been made to established mechanics (especially those concerning each character class and its proficiencies), transitioning to Mass Effect 2 won’t be as straightforward as it really should be. I have, however, considered the implications of those changes, and have decided to carry Sordid Shepard forward as a Vanguard. Despite leaning towards the Sentinel for its versatility. The revised combat mechanics will tear her apart in close quarters combat, but I’m hoping that her survivability will improve as she gains levels.

There’s less equipment in the sequel, too.

Sets of armour are now built from individual pieces while weapons can be upgraded. I actually prefer these mechanics as they remove much of the mindless busywork present in Mass Effect, but they do heighten the difficulty as you won’t be able to constantly acquire new equipment.

Mass Effect has proven to be a consistent challenge on Insanity difficulty, but one that I’ve steadily overcome by regularly acquiring better equipment. So I’m excited to see whether Mass Effect 2 will present an even greater challenge. I’m thinking that it will, as the character development mechanics are less likely to result in ridiculously overpowered squad members. But I’m good at ducking behind (and shooting from) cover. And I’ll need to periodically duck behind cover to push forward with her shotgun. I doubt that it’s going to end well for her, but that might encourage her to consider how people felt when she mercilessly shot them for no reason. Because people are going to repeatedly and mercilessly shoot her without any warning. But maybe that’ll be how she finds her eventual redemption from her wicked ways.

Have a nice week, all!


Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Intergalactic Renegade (Pt. 3)

Her redemption was nigh.

Numerous requests were made by the colonists of Zhu’s Hope and (unbeknownst to me) the majority of these awarded Paragon alignment. So Sordid Shepard briefly shifted towards the deeds of the righteous. For but a few moments she had begun to reconsider the heinous actions that led her here, and whether that would be how she would continue to conduct herself in the future. It wasn’t a difficult decision, though. She once again sank to the depths of depravity by exterminating the infected colonists, as no-one had presented a convenient alternative solution.

Those pacifying grenades were untested.

She wasn’t about the gamble with the lives of those involved with unknown chemicals, and would rather ensure their demise then blame the atrocities that she willingly committed on the colonists of Zhu’s Hope. They knew what they were doing. They knew the risks they were taking.

Even if the colonists were unwilling participants in an experiment conducted by an unethical corporation, that doesn’t change the fact that they defended the alien creature living in the depths of the colony. Not that they could’ve resisted its influence. Nor did they do anything but try to contribute to the growth of their community. Clearly making them the victims in this situation as they’d done nothing wrong, but such justifications fail to sway the actions of Sordid Shepard. As she carries a heavy burden on her shoulders. One that weighs as much as her conscience. Which is assuming that she even has a conscience, and that’s highly questionably given her actions. I’m fascinated by the consequences of these decisions, though. And how they’re going to alter the events of both Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.

That doesn’t sound good…

Of the things that I’d praise the Mass Effect series for, and there many, the events on Virmire have always stood out to me, as it was a very bold decision by the developers. Her actions there will have repercussions, but I chose not to fully embrace the senseless slaughter that could ensue. Mostly because I believe that this outcome affords the opportunity to experience unique dialogue in Mass Effect 2. Sordid Shepard may exist
to make irrational impulsive decisions, but I do enjoy hearing dialogue or witnessing events that I’ve not encountered before.

Even if it means exercising restraint.

With the main campaign of Mass Effect drawing to its natural conclusion, I’ve decided to revisit planets and complete any outstanding Assignments. I’ve also been speaking to squad members as I thought that each had their own personal Assignment. But it would seem that they don’t.

There is an Assignment for Tali, Garrus, and Wrex but the rest seemingly don’t have any specific interactions besides conversation. Liara regularly offers her input after major Missions. While Kaidan and Ashley provide little else besides exposition. Which is somewhat perplexing, as the three that you don’t really do anything for are the three romance options. Unless their romance counts as their personal Assignment. I know that each squad member in Mass Effect 2 has their own personal Assignment, which ensures their continued loyalty to you throughout various conflicts. I’m sure that I’ll be discussing those later. But, for now, as I’ve yet to finish Mass Effect, I’ve got to return to the Citadel and report to the council before recklessly throwing myself at the final confrontation. As Vanguards are known to do.

Have a nice week, all!


Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Intergalactic Renegade (Pt. 2)

It’s not the best choice.

It’s Shepard’s choice. And her choices usually result in the worst outcome in any given situation. Just ask the colonists of Asteroid X57. Not that you can, as they were barbarically slaughtered by the batarians. But she wasn’t going to let them instigate an uprising on a whim. Hence why, after the colonists had been sacrificed, she and her squad slaughtered the batarians for their actions. But then Sordid Shepard is known for making nothing but questionable decisions, such as agreeing to bring Ashley Williams aboard the Normandy after the introductory mission.

Or releasing the queen of a genocidal species.

That was, rather surprisingly, the Paragon dialogue choice. I’d have expected the opposite, but she did afford an entire species the chance to redeem themselves. Even if it was ill advised. But Sordid Shepard wouldn’t be where she is today if she made rational decisions based on logic.

Logic that suggests that they could be using her leniency against her. Or that this queen could be honest,
but future generations could deviate from the promises made. Which isn’t her fault. But also couldn’t happen were they extinct. There is, ironically, no better example of this than humans, as they’re not known to learn from the mistakes of their past. But are known to repeat heinous atrocities in pursuit of meaningless rewards. Which is exactly the kind of existential commentary that you expect when discussing the continued existence of a fictional alien queen. I rather liked her. Even if her children did try to eat my squad. But that’s why they were incinerated and why she is floating happily amongst the stars. I expect this decision to have significant repercussions, and that those repercussions won’t be pleasant for those involved. They’re probably going to try to eat my squad again. Or the population of an entire planet.

She has a point.

Sordid Shepard did have a fairly uneventful journey through the Artemis Tau cluster, though. She didn’t cause too many problems there. Mostly because she couldn’t. Had the opportunity to make things worse for those around her presented itself she would’ve taken it, as that has seemingly become her purpose in life. To ruin everything for everyone. But to also be surprisingly duplicitous as I sometimes mistake the best outcomes for the worst. Perfectly illustrating that she has no idea what she’s doing and neither do I. And that’s why these builds are so much fun.

They’re devastatingly unpredictable.

I’m not as experienced with Mass Effect as I am with Fallout: New Vegas or Fallout 3, meaning that Sordid Shepard is at a disadvantage as I can’t accurately predict what should happen. Making it more chaotic than previous Octogenarians. But probably making it more natural, too.

I can’t comfortably manipulate events and work towards my desired outcome. Which is as terrifying as it is exciting. I’m also slowly becoming accustomed to the heightened difficulty level, as I’ve now combed the universe and brought back an impressive haul of new equipment. Her survivability has definitely improved, too. Both because of that equipment and by investing in talents as she levels up. She can now confidently throw herself into close quarters combat and not be defeated lest her opponent has a sniper rifle, a rocket launcher, a nuclear warhead, or corrosive spit. Having completed the events on both Therum and Noveria,
I’m ready to visit Zhu’s Hope on Feros. I doubt anything untoward is happening there. Corporate leadership always puts the safety of their employees above all else, right?

Have a nice week, all!


Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Intergalactic Renegade (Pt. 1)

Living in constant fear.

Not of the repercussions of her generally distasteful actions, but of the dangers of the (aptly named) Insanity difficulty level. Which is why I should never let achievements dictate my chosen difficulty level. I had expected that it would be a considerable challenge, but I hadn’t considered how favouring Renegade dialogue choices could exponentially hasten her demise. And they easily could. Because many of those dialogue choices have significant repercussions, which don’t become fully apparent until they’ve changed the events of both Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.

And those changes are rarely pleasant.

However, due to the nuances of the Paragon and Renegade dialogue choices, it isn’t practical to solely favour Renegade, so she won’t be unequivocally iniquitous. Just despicable and cantankerous. Much to the chagrin of those that find themselves floating on a wayward asteroid.

Sordid Shepard is an honorary Octogenarian, and her build will approach the majority of the content in Mass Effect Legendary Edition with as much disdain for humanity as Murderous Mabel had in Fallout: New Vegas. I’ve wanted to revisit the Mass Effect series for some time, but I’ve always been unsure as to how (or when) I’d revisit it, so the release of Mass Effect Legendary Edition proved fortuitous. Conceiving the build (and its absurdities) was fairly simple, too. I’d (mostly) favoured Paragon dialogue choices when first experiencing the trilogy, so favouring Renegade dialogue choices in the remaster felt appropriate. The difficulty level became obvious when skimming through the achievements. And her character class, the high risk Vanguard, was the only choice that could satiate my clearly masochistic tendencies.

You might not feel the same way when you see how she handles it.

Because I don’t know how else to describe that choice. Vanguards are, however, incredibly powerful, but they either decimate the opposition or are decimated themselves. They can bolster their defences with Barrier and Shield Boost, but they’re still surprisingly susceptible to the deadly precision of snipers. They’re also reliant on their shotguns. Meaning that they’re usually forced into close quarters combat, which doesn’t always end well for them. Prior experience suggests that this is (mostly) due to increasing the difficulty level and that it won’t be as concerning soon.

That’s usually what happens.

Hence why the non-linear nature of Mass Effect will undoubtedly be crucial to my success. As I’ll be able to freely explore planets and gather new equipment as required, but also develop party members towards their preferred role in combat by completing various Assignments.

I’m enjoying the heightened difficulty level, though. It’s (ironically) encouraged me to be more aggressive in combat, and to utilise abilities (such as Warp and Overload) in creative ways to overcome difficult encounters. I’d never considered overheating weapons to be as decisive as it actually seems to be. I’ve been prioritising flexible party members (such as Kaidan and Wrex), too. As their abilities allow them to be effective in a wide range of situations, and that balances their inability to specialise. Sordid Shepard also exhibits remarkable flexibility. She can confidently switch between dealing ludicrous damage with her shotgun to supporting her squad by utilising abilities from afar. I’m just hoping that, either by levelling up or acquiring new equipment, she eventually gains substantial survivability to complement that flexibility.

Have a nice weekend, all!