Renegade Shepard as Evil?

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nutter

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#1  Edited By nutter

Listening to the most recent Beastcast, Alex described Renegade Shepard in Mass Effect as sometimes “mustache-twirlingly evil.”

Anyone else here sort of take umbrage with this? I started with Mark Meer paragon, but found Renegade Jennifer Hale to be my true protagonist. With all the shit going on in Shepard’s head, having to save the world (repeatedly), dying, suicide missions, etc., I thought Shepard being a little Jack Bauer made sense and was well-justified.

If I played as paragon Meer, I doubt I’d have enjoyed the game nearly as much. Hale’s renegade persona added a lot of flavor to a sometimes sterile game, I thought. Also, her and Garrus got along great!

So, was renegade Shepard too evil? Was Renegade Meer’s performance somehow super evil?

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liquiddragon

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I think he was trying to get at the fact that ME's choices are usually very black and white. More often than not, it's a "good" choice vs "bad" choice scenario. Very rarely do they succeed or even try to give players a rorschach's test of options.

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BoOzak

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Sometimes the renegade choice can be needlessly dickish (like kicking some guy of a cliff or something to that effect) but most of the time it felt justified. I played renegade Meer and his performance in general (paragon or renegade) is a little goofy but in an endearing way. (to me)

The idea of choices being black and white can be a bit subjective though, like in the Outer Worlds I feel like the game is trying really hard to tell me how bad corporations are and it feels like siding with them is the black/bad choice but some say it's more grey and both side have issues.

Regardless I tend to go for the most entertaining choice which tends to be renegade although I feel like some games punish you for doing so. (Arkane's games can be pretty shitty in this regard) This is a bit of tangent but it always bothers me when people lable things "the good ending" or "the bad ending" a bad ending to me is one that isnt entertaining. I've seen many good endings that I think suck.

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nutter

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#4  Edited By nutter

@liquiddragon: @boozak:

I agree that Mass Effect is too black and white and rewards binary choices by giving you cool renegade or paragon actions. I think you may have received stat boosts, like in KOTOR, too.

I like a little grey in my games, which is why I dug the “you gotta crack a few eggs” approach of saving the universe as a renegade character.

I also just thought it fit with the story well. Saren had a point, he knew what was coming, even if he didn’t go about it quite right. The council are a bunch of politicians and dicks. So hanging-up on them and going all Jack Bauer (sometimes Vic Mackey) felt appropriate to me.

Yeah, punching that guy in the face at the beginning of ME1 was a bit much. And you didn’t NEED to throw that guard out the window in ME3(?). But I felt it largely fit and spoke to the urgency of the main thread.

I was also thinking about Outer Worlds, more the GB crew’s response to it than my own experience so far. I found it odd that none of them seemed to consider the folks relying on the corporations. Now, in the first area, I sided with the space hippies, but it was a choice I struggled with as 1) I prefer the space hippies but 2) you’re fucking A LOT more people if you help them.

It struck me as odd that the negative consequences of helping the space hippies was lost on the crew until they saw it.

Also, I’m interested to hear more takes out Outer Worlds as time goes by. The anti-hyper-capitalism themes seem to be accented by marxism pretty blatantly. Maybe it’s just me, but they’re a stress of the people over the self, law over man (well, this is actually common between capitalistic democracies and socialism), law replacing a god. These are all traditionally associated with marxism over capitalism, taking the worst of both worlds to create their corporate nightmares. Maybe I’m alone here, maybe it changes later in the game, but I find that super interesting. I can’t fathom that was an accident, as it feels super on the nose (if not really talked about much).

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Rahf

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Ryan Davis had a great take on renegade vs. paragon. It does touch on good and evil, but really what you're choosing between is egotism or altruism. Do you take the selfish choice and maybe have some satisfaction or expediency, or do you choose what's morally right?

It's not a perfect analogy, but it made me appreciate and understand the system better.

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nutter

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@rahf: Fits well with “gotta crack a few eggs” as a renegade outlook. Any time I’m on the same page with Ryan, I’ll take it!

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mavs

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#7  Edited By mavs

The only impactful renegade choice I remember from Alex's playthrough was when he set a krogan on fire who screamed horrifically as he burned to death. So I'm sure that colored his opinion. Also I think a bunch of the renegade prompts (that Alex didn't take) imply that renegade Shepard won't help people who paragon Shepard will, which will seem pointlessly evil if you take the paragon option every time.

Actually, can't you execute those construction workers who locked themselves in a room? There are times in ME2 where they almost let you go straight Revan.

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nutter

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@mavs: Man, now I want to replay Mass Effect...I seem to recall a lot of the renegade stuff involve less straight-up villainous stuff and more “well, I’ll help you only because it furthers my goals” sort of things.

There’s no nuking of Nuketown, from what I remember. Space spider genocide....they’re space spiders, fuck ‘em...I think even Krogan reproductive fuckery involved some level of justification (peace, warring factions, etc.).

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hermes

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#9  Edited By hermes

While I don't entirely agree with Alex, I do feel Renegade can get a little too evil at times, that is why I never committed to it. Maybe evil is not the right word, because most of the times it feels more of a douchebag than mustache twirling evil, like your response to everything is to shout "cry me a river" in a sarcastic voice... "Thanks for telling me about your sad story. I am not sorry for your daughter, though, she was a bastard and deserved to die".

The other issue with Mass Effect 1 and 2, is that to get maximum efficiency in your playthrough, you have to go full paragon or full renegade. Most of the best outcomes in situations and conversations are only available to people that have a fully messiah paragon or a fully dipshit renegade. If you choose to roleplay and choose whatever you think is an appropriate response, you are risking losing loyalty or not being able to resolve some conflicts. So you have to choose your whole character at the very beginning, alongside the decision of Hale or Meer.

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nutter

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#10  Edited By nutter

@hermes: Yep. Huge issue in these types of games. We need more Obsidian in this world.

Or, bonuses and loyalties need to be granular-ized to allow you to choose more interesting choices without foregoing buffs or bonuses (that might be helpful at higher difficulties.) At least build the bonuses vs. freedom to choose a dynamic path into the story, I guess...

I bet, in part, paragon vs. renegade is a good mechanic to ensure as many folks as possible go down one of two paths...it’d make QA easier...

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Alias

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Having just played it I feel like Detroit: Become Human was a lot like this at all. At times there's a very clear good and bad path and not enough blurring of the lines as perhaps there should be.

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Rahf

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@nutter said:

@mavs: Man, now I want to replay Mass Effect...I seem to recall a lot of the renegade stuff involve less straight-up villainous stuff and more “well, I’ll help you only because it furthers my goals” sort of things.

There’s no nuking of Nuketown, from what I remember. Space spider genocide....they’re space spiders, fuck ‘em...I think even Krogan reproductive fuckery involved some level of justification (peace, warring factions, etc.).

Can't speak for Mass Effect. But both ME2 and ME3 skew more towards the selfish/egotist philosophy than straight villainy.

Remember that selfishness and egotism are often synonymous with evil and villainy. Executing the workers saves you time, ostensibly, and nobody will know about it.

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OurSin_360

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There are definitely a few choices that would be considered just straight "evil" but I remember most of them just being assholish

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redwing42

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The renegade path concerning the genophage in ME3 is absolutely evil. Maybe one of the worst of a handful of things I've ever had a choice about in a video game.

Most of the renegade stuff is more Jack Bauer than Hans Gruber.

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nutter

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@redwing42: At the same time, the ramifications of the renegade genophage choice is the scene I most fondly remember from ME3.

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TheChris

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In ME3 the renegade options are generally downright malicious. In the first two games they tend to be more Dirty Harry esque, very action hero-ish. Quite a few fun one-liners are generally relegated to Renegade Shepard.

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#17  Edited By TheChris

There are a few examples from ME2, where there are quite a few funny ones like "Turns out police work isn't so hard, you just have to leave the station".

Loading Video...

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BladeOfCreation

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Most renegade options in Mass Effect aren't too dramatic, but some are pretty big asshole moves. Probably about half of them would result in a court-martial, or at least an official inquiry. At least a couple constitute straight up war crimes.

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Efesell

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The problem with Renegade is that it has to cast a very wide net. From simple pragmatism, to war crimes, to shitty space cop, action movie one liners. All valid and potentially interesting character options but very troublesome when everything is just attached to a single bar.

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MezZa

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#20  Edited By MezZa

If I remember right some of the renegade choices Alex saw were some really dick moves, so his opinion may only span the extent of the renegades he saw. I havent seen every renegade action either, but some of them go beyond just trying to get a mission done at any cost which is what I feel renegade Shepard kind or revolves around.

The problem is you dont know if the trigger you're hitting is a selfish choice or a psychotic choice. You dont know if you're ruthlessly efficient, an ass, a cocky rogue vigilante, or sadistic with a given push of the button until you try.

Plus, the whole facial scars and red eyes thing just looks stupid in a cartoonishly bad way.

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Alias

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#21  Edited By Alias

@mezza said:

Plus, the whole facial scars and red eyes thing just looks stupid in a cartoonishly bad way.

Wait what? How am I just learning about that? I just found an image of it and it looks TERRIBLE. It's like some sort of Terminator Shepard hybrid.

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Stephen_Von_Cloud

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There is definitely evil stuff you can do as Renegade Shepard.

But it is the binary duality some get at I think that makes it feel rote. The best RPG developers at dodging that and providing much more nuanced and interesting choices is CD Projekt with Witcher 2 and 3.

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TheRealTurk

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I remember that I tended to find the Renegade conversation options skewed more toward outright asshole/evil, while the Renegade interrupts were more on the level of expediency/being a badass. I very much chose mostly Paragon conversation options but also used a lot of Renegade interrupts.

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nutter

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@therealturk: You could do that?

I’m trying to remember, were the LT/RT paragon/renegade actions introduced in ME2 or ME3? I thought you had to be aligned one way or the other to use them...maybe that was only in one of the games....?

It’s been a while...

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BladeOfCreation

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#25  Edited By BladeOfCreation

@nutter: It was in ME2. One of the ongoing audience requests during Mass Alex 2 was that Alex use every prompt that came up, regardless of the fact he was playing most paragon, because the prompts didn't sway the meter enough if the actual dialogue options you always choose are paragon.

Some of the prompts were just silly, and arguably neutral. In the Archangel mission, Garrus has Shep look through his sniper scope to see the enemy advance on their location. A renegade prompt pops up, and if you hit it, Shep blows the head off of the mech in his sights. It makes no sense, because it's not a renegade act to shoot at an enemy, and in this case it's not even a living person!

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Efesell

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@bladeofcreation: I don't 100% remember the scene but it's probably a Renegade prompt because taking the shot when you are meant to be scouting something out is pretty impulsive and reckless as opposed to being calm and collected soldier man.

It's nice that some of them can be a little bit subtle.

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BladeOfCreation

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#27  Edited By BladeOfCreation

@efesell: That makes sense. "Renegade" has one hell of a broad meaning when that's one option, and another time you get the prompt, you're punching a dude out of a skyscraper window. Don't get me wrong, the guy is a Blue Sun and has surely committed many evil acts...buuuut, in that scene Shep gets the drop on him and he is effectively a prisoner at that time. Good thing Shep isn't working for an actual military at the time!

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TheRealTurk

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@nutter: They were added in ME2. It's been awhile for me too, but I seem to remember you could be locked out of certain conversation options if you didn't have a high enough paragon/renegade score but the interrupts were always available.

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north6

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Renegade Shep is great. I take umbrage.

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north6

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Geth do not intentionally infiltrate.

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