The original Mass Effect trilogy included a rather black-and-white morality system in which you were either a paragon of moral integrity or a loose-canon renegade who cared only about getting the job done. While there was a sliding scale and players could indeed be as morally grey as they wanted to, the effects of your Paragon or Renegade score were felt only if you were mostly one or the other, not somewhere in between.
Mac Walters, the creative director for Mass Effect: Andromeda explained to Xbox Magazine (and picked up by GamesRadar) why the team decided to cut the morality system. Walters said that the old system “felt very Shepard” and “didn’t really make sense if we weren’t going to have Shepard as our protagonist” which is a fair point but also one that doesn’t make sense. Having a morality system isn’t something exclusive to Mass Effect or to Shepard, though the Paragon and Renegade identities maybe could be seen as exclusive to Commander Shepard.
According to Walters, the new system is “based more around agreeing and disagreeing” with your companions, sort of like the Dragon Age system. “With agree and disagree it changes by the circumstance and it changes by the character you’re talking to.” Which is exactly the Dragon Age like/dislike system, and changing it to agree/disagree makes it almost a copy of Inquisition.
Walters also mentioned that Andromeda will be seeing choices for tone of voice, which is new. “I think that gets back to that more traditional role-playing sort of feeling which is less about ‘Do I want to be good or bad,’ and more about ‘How do I want to express myself?'” How exactly this whole system will work, we have yet to see, but Walters mentioned that “we’ll talk a little more in the future.”
Walters argued that in the original trilogy players would choose an option based on its Paragon or Renegade score and not actually focus on what they were saying. I’d disagree since that is now how I played Mass Effect, but I can’t say the same for everyone. What I find most amusing is that somehow Walters expects players to pay more attention with agree/disagree than with paragon/renegade but. If you play games like I play games, you agree with each one of your companions when you talk to them, when they’re in front of you, and then do whatever the hell you want when they aren’t around. Making you the world’s biggest sociopath.
But hey, at least they aren’t shelving the companion opinion dynamic entirely.
Mass Effect: Andromeda releases in North America March 21st, and on the 23rd globally.