I spent the last month (EDIT: a month ago – but only just finished this) doing a complete play through of Mass Effect 1 to 3. All my previous completions of those games were with freshly rolled characters and default results that brings. I never really brought one character forward through all the versions – mainly because I’d upgrade my PC between releases and lose the save games. (BTW the whole series is on sale on Origin)
Lots of spoilers ahead.
I decided on rolling up an Engineer, which was somewhat painful in the first Mass Effect because you’re limited to light armor and pistols. I still overcame that burden by excessive use of tech powers; Overload, Incinerate, Cryo, and Neuro. I made the choice based on how it plays in ME3 and ME3’s multiplayer cooperative mode (which I hop on from time to time).
Mass Effect 1 decision points?
- Played a female – which was a first, my previous characters were all male.
- Romanced Liara – rawr… blue babe.
- Turn over evidence in Noveria that gets the big cheese in trouble – extortion is bad.
- Let the Rachni Queen live – I believe the default is that you kill it, but I don’t remember.
- Saved Wrex – default is that you kill him.
- Let the scientist in the Krogan cloning facility go – minor point.
- Assisted the second team on Virmire by taking out extra targets – seemed like the right thing to do, preserves the Salarian in charge, Kirrahe.
- Sacrificed Ashley – figured the default on the male playthrough is to sacrifice Kaiden.
- Saved the Council – default seemed to be letting the Council die.
- Put Anderson in the role of Ambassador – Udina is the default.
- Conrad Verner – three visits.
- Sparing the Asari that the Thorian was controlling.
I think that is it? I was quite the Paragon.
Impact on ME2?
- Still playing for team V.
- With the Shadow Broker DLC you get to hook up again after completing it. Without it, she sort of keeps her distance. Shadow Broker DLC also reveals that Liara is in trouble with the Shadow Broker because she acquired your remains and gave them to the Illusive Man, preventing the Shadow Broker from selling the remains to the Collectors.
- Get to do a minor mission for the covert investigator from Noveria, enjoy a drink later.
- Minor mention of the Rachni Queen talking through an Asari she saved.
- By keeping Wrex alive in ME1, he is around as the head of Clan Urdnot in ME2 (if he’s dead, Wreav is the leader you deal with).
- When picking up Grunt, you come across this Asari helping Okear with his Krogan experiments.
- Moridin makes reference to Kirrahe’s Hold the Line speech if you mention that you knew Kirrahe from the STG.
- Kaiden shows up on Horizen, but nothing more comes from it.
- Saving the Council doesn’t seem to do too much for you that I noticed. They sound a little more grateful, but since you don’t really interact with them in ME2 it doesn’t feel like a big deal.
- Anderson gets to put Udina in his place – which is nice, I hated Udina.
- Apparently he shows up in ME2, though I haven’t seen him.
- She shows up on Illium, representing the people from Feros vs. Exogeni.
There might be a few others I missed or forgot.
ME2 major decision points? Wow… ME2 had a big impact on ME3. First lets talk about the crew – a big part of ME2 is collecting the crew and making them happy (or not). Every crew member you preserve in the suicide mission shows up in ME3 in some form. And it is possible to preserve them all – I did… I’m that awesome. Appearances in ME3:
- Kaiden (or Ashley) – on and off crew member – join you for the initial mission, then ends up in the hospital until after you sort out Cerberus in the Citadel.
- Liara – crew member – joins you early as well – this kindled the love interest again, though I did have to tell Kaiden to back off again (had to do that in the first one too).
- Garrus – crew member – joins you early on.
- Grunt – cameo – shows up when you look for the missing scouts. If you lost him in ME2, the commander of the Krogan elite company dies while you get out. If you did save Grunt in ME2, he gives you time to get out of the Reaper/Rachni caves and manages to survive. This gets you more war asset points.
- Zaeed – cameo – shows up while dealing with an Ambassador that sold some information to Cerberus. He turns the chance of failing into automatic success. More war asset points.
- Kasumi – cameo – she shows up when you’re dealing with the indoctrinated Hanar. If you don’t have her, you have to choose between saving the Hanar people or a Salarian Spectre – either one gets you one war asset. If you have her, she deals with the virus while you help the Salarian Spectre getting you two war assets instead of just the one.
- Thane – cameo – he shows up at the hospital. If you talk to him, he mentions he’ll keep an eye on Kaiden but the real difference he makes is that he foils the attempt on the Salarian Ambassador’s life. If you don’t have him, you lose the Ambassador and miss out on some war assets.
- Jack – shows up in Grissom Academy where she makes the end result better in that you don’t lose students. Without her, the ending sequence where a student lags behind results in losing their lead student. With Jack there she kicks ass and saves the student. She later is added as a war asset.
- Miranda – cameo – she makes a couple of appearances before showing up in Horizen. I think her loyalty in ME2 ties to whether she lives or not in ME3. I remember losing her in my first play through of ME3.
- Jacob – cameo – shows up as a protector of some ex-Cerberus scientists. Saving them adds some war assets as they’re recruited into helping build the Crucible.
- Tali – crew member – she joins you when dealing with the Geth/Rannoch. There is a chance you can lose her if you don’t pick right. In fact, the whole thing between her and Legion is easier to deal with if they’ve both survived from ME2.
- Legion – temp crew member – he joins you when dealing with the Geth Dreadnought but doesn’t stick around long. One way or another you seem to lose him; either you have to destroy him to prevent him from updating the Geth or he has to destroy himself to properly update the Geth.
- Moridin – initial crew member – he joins you after Sur’kesh and helps with the Genophage cure, but it costs him his life.
- Samara – cameo – she appears when you’re visiting the Asari monestary with the Ardat-Yakshi; two of them being her remaining daughters. It doesn’t seem like she changes much other than almost killing herself because her code demands she kill her remaining daughter. (I don’t know what happens if you side with Morinth – maybe she visits her sisters?)
Decision points – yikes… there are a few! Mostly around whether the crew members are made loyal and whether they survive the last mission or not.
- Shadow Broker DLC – it’s assumed you bailed Liara out or someone did because she is the Shadow Broker whether you did the DLC or not. I believe you get a bonus upgrade from Feron if you have completed this DLC and you get more information about what happened.
- Arrival DLC – it’s assumed that you destroyed the relay and caused the destruction of the Batarian colony. People (Batarians are people too!) are none too happy about it and make a few appearances.
- Jack or Miranda – picking one can cause loyalty issues with the other. There is a ‘get both’ option… I mean for loyalty, if you’re Paragon enough (which I was /flex)
- Samara or Morinth – you have to pick one or the other. Morinth is thoroughly evil so Samara must destroy her. I seem to remember in my original play through I wasn’t able to resist Morinth and I don’t think I was presented with a choice. Maybe I was and I didn’t remember it. If you do pick Morinth, don’t romance her… you’ll die. Shepard is special, but not that special.
- Keep the research from Genophage cure attempts – getting a cure for the genophage takes priority over saving Eve so the more time Moridin has to spend on the genophage, the more he can’t spend fixing up Eve. This helps determine whether Eve survives or not. Other things also factor in, such as how you treat her.
- Prevent Moridin from killing his former pupil – I’m not sure this impacts anything other than getting more Paragon or Renegade points. Maybe you risk losing Moridin’s loyalty mission.
- Destroy Collector base or not – Another one I’m not sure about. Whether you destroy the base or not, the ‘Human-Reaper’ appears in the Cerberus station where the Illusive Man was hiding out.
- Upgrades to the Normandy – not your typical decisions, but failing to upgrade the armor, the shields and the weapons can result in losing up to three of the crew members… maybe more.
Most of ME2 ‘s impact on ME3 is around the crew members that survived which I commented on above. The crew from ME2 make some cameo appearances allowing you to gain multiple War Assets instead of having to pick one or the other.
I suspect several of the choices and interactions you make with Tali and Legion in ME2 help you gain both assets with Quarians and Geth.
Wrex being there instead of Wreav puts you in a position of getting more out of the Krogan and I believe it is a factor for letting Eve survive.
I didn’t notice much else that stood out.
A few things about the ending… all through the game blue is used to emphasize Paragon choices while red is used to show a Renegade choice. in the end choice, the blue choice (control the Reapers) is shadowed by the Illusive Man, someone who is decidedly bad – or extreme in his views on saving or bettering Humanity (including actually turning some into hybrid-husks) – but you could see how he could be viewed as a Paragon for Humanity… at least in his mind. On the red, Renegade, side you see Anderson – someone who has believed in you, back you up and fought against all odds to defeat the Reapers and preserve Humanity.
This seems contrary to the rest of the game and previous games but if you think about it some, it makes sense to color them that way. Why?
The Paragon path was always about compromise, preservation and taking the high road.
The Renegade path was about winning at all costs, being ruthless and focused on doing what needs to be done despite the cost.
In some ways both the Illusive Man and Anderson embody both of these ideals. Illusive Man’s desire to preserve Humanity is goodly, it’s just his means that are ruthless and uncompromising. Anderson is out to save humanity too and he’s willing to do what it takes, but not at the extreme costs. Of course, destroying synthetic life to save Humanity would be well within the choice he would make. The Illusive Man’s motives were preservation of Humanity and increasing their power to also set them up above the other races.
Back to the consequences of the Blue/Red choices.
The cost of the Red choice is all synthetic life. The Geth who may have become your allies. EDI who you may have encouraged to have a relationship with Joker. And most importantly, the Reapers. It’s destroying one at the cost of others. It also wasn’t a guaranteed solution because it would only be a matter of time before someone creates synthetic life and the cycle repeats. Obviously the Geth were an example of that. So you just delay the cycle.
The cost of the Blue choice is only that the Reapers still exist. Well, that and your own life as you know it, so it’s a choice of self-sacrifice and preservation of all, even the enemy. Despite having the Illusive Man painted all over it (he was all about controlling them), it is the ‘good’ choice. In this choice, through your controlling the Reapers you advance all civilizations and rebuild what was destroyed. You break the cycle.
Other choices available – depending on your assets and influence levels – are to not choose at all, in which case the Reapers cleanse this cycle and the unknown happens as the AI in the Citadel has to change how they do things because Shepard introduced an unexpected variable to the equation. You can choose to shoot the AI (in the form of a ghostly child) in which case you are killed and lose. You can also choose to join the beam and reform all synthetics and organics into hybrids so there is no need for the Reapers to destroy everyone.
You could argue the Green choice is the best, but then you’d be forcing your will on both synthetics and organics which isn’t so good. You can argue the Blue also takes away the choice of freedom from the Reapers, but their choice is clear if you don’t override them – harvest life.
Another thing I thought was neat about the dialogue at the end was where the AI tells you that the end of each cycle ends with the creation of a Reaper. There are A LOT of Reapers floating around so this would have been going on for a long time. Pretty epic in scope.
I have to admit this is one of the best sci-fi games out there.