Today is the launch of the new Mass Effect game, Andromeda. As a huge fan of the original Mass Effect trilogy, this game is a day one purchase for me that I’m excited to sink the next few weeks of my life into.
But it’s those first three Mass Effect games — the original trilogy — that made me fall in love with this series. The first games follow Commander Shepard, and I have an extreme fondness for that character and story. They’ll stick with me forever.
Andromeda brings a whole new cast and tale — a new time period in this galaxy we already know and love. Because of all these new elements being introduced (including open world exploration), I’m not sure what I’ll make of this game. I’ll also reserve judgment on the characters who join my hero, as your companions in BioWare games are so vital to the story — you need that feeling of adventuring with friends. But I’m curious, cautiously optimistic, and certainly excited at the prospect of a new adventure in this galaxy, however it pans out.
What I do know is that if you love the original trilogy with Commander Shepard, it’s totally worth playing again. I’m currently working my way through the series and am in the middle of the second game. (Oh, Thane Krios, I missed you so much!) Whether or not we fall in love with Andromeda, Shepard’s story will live on to make those original Mass Effect games some of the most beloved by gamers. Here are a just a few reasons to relive them. =)
Create Your Commander
In the trilogy, you play as Commander Shepard, a member of the Alliance Military who becomes a Spectre for the galactic government. As such, you’re essentially a special agent who lives outside the “rules.” But despite this path for your character and your given last name, you get to build your Shepard the way you like: Choose your gender, appearance, character class, and backstory to create your own, unique hero.
I love creating characters in RPGs anyway, but there’s something special about Shepard. All of the customization options really make me feel connected to her. (Or him. But mine’s always a her.) Being able to go back and try out a different character class and backstory subtly affects my experience each time, making it totally worth the replay.
Pave Your Own Heroic Path
Commander Shepard is a hero, no matter what. She faces overwhelming odds in her mission to save the galaxy. (No spoilers!) But what makes the hero’s journey so interesting is that you get to make decisions that affect the way the world looks by the end of the trilogy. You can even save entire alien races from extinction — or play a hand in their destruction. Things get intense, but the point is, you get to play heroics however you want. There are only a few decisions I’ll never change in future playthroughs, but I’ve already experimented with different approaches and found the results varied and exciting every time.
Play Nice… or Not
Though smaller scale than the sweeping moral decisions I just mentioned, you’ll get even more opportunities to shape your Shepard’s personality. Not just the decisions you make, but also the dialogue choices you select and the way you approach others affect this. You can choose to be a Paragon (the “nice guy” hero, designated on in-game choices by a blue color) or a Renegade (the “tough guy” hero, designated on in-game choices by a red color) — or something in between.
I like to mix the two or go for middle options, creating a “Paragade” Shepard who acts tough but has a good heart. Each time I play, she’s a little different mix of the two — I even did a playthrough where she started off full-on Renegade but softened to become a Paragon by Mass Effect 3 — and it’s interesting to see how that changes the story and Shepard’s relationships.
Make Friends with Aliens
My favorite aspect of Mass Effect is that not only does it include unique alien races, but these aliens become your friends in the series. This is not one of those sci-fi stories about scary aliens from another planet who fight you to the death. Instead, you work alongside other races, developing friendships with them and even pursuing romances, if you choose. I love the feeling of camaraderie with these strangers who you get to know despite the fact that they look different and come from very different backgrounds.
The way this really plays into the series’ replay value is that you can bring two characters with you on any given mission. Typically, I find myself gravitating towards the same characters over and over during each playthrough — but I like choosing different options on my next go. For instance, I used to roll with Garrus and Tali a lot; this time around, I had Kaidan and Wrex with me in Mass Effect 1. Each has unique dialogue during some missions that makes the replay even more fun.
Fall in Love
Speaking of romances, my favorite part of any BioWare game is probably the romance factor. You can pursue intimate relationships with various characters in Mass Effect — but it’s not always straightforward. For example, if you romance Kaidan Alenko, the human biotic lieutenant, in Mass Effect 1, you’ll have to decide in the second and third games whether to stay loyal to him or pursue other, new relationships that become available. There are consequences. I love the way these relationships ground the story and make you care even more about the characters than you did before. Plus, it’s a fun bit of role-playing to choose who you’re into and see if you can win them over! I like trying out different romances to see how they play out, so I’d say it’s one of the biggest boons of replaying the series.
Have you played the original Mass Effect trilogy… and if you have, have you ever gone back to it? I’m also curious to know who’s playing Andromeda and what everyone thinks of it!