Why You Should Play Mass Effect as Renegade

Mass Effect Legendary Edition hasn't been out for a long time and just like before, players are still hesitant to play as the bad guy.

Situations where you'll throw someone out the window are just one of the many reasons why playing as a Renegade in Mass Effect is so interesting.

Although Bioware and Electronic Arts are yet to release exact figures, there's little reason to believe that the figure has gone any lower than the 92% that chose the Paragon path during the Mass Effect trilogy's original run, as revealed by John Ebenger, a former Mass Effect cinematic designer.

The reason why we're pointing this out is that it's surprising. Bioware put in just as much work to make the Renegade path fun and viable in Mass Effect. One could argue that it's more fun to play Mass Effect as a Renegade.

While we do believe that most people will probably never be too keen on a full Renegade path playthrough, we're hoping that we'll present just enough of a case to convince more players to try and see why it's worth trying to save the universe as the kind of guy who isn't afraid to punch a reporter straight in his face, more often than not.

How Does the Mass Effect Morality System Work?

There is a theory that a Renegade Shepard is an indoctrinated Shepard.

Now, before anything else, let's talk about the Mass Effect morality system.

In all three Mass Effect games, there are two different Moralities: Paragon and Renegade. In Mass Effect, when you perform actions that are altruistic, understanding, and compassionate in nature, you're awarded Paragon points. On the other hand, if you resort to violent, pushy, and commanding actions, you earn Renegade points.

These rewarded actions can be anything that you do in Mass Effect, including but not limited to pulling Interrupts (introduced in Mass Effect 2), choosing either Charm or Intimidate Persuasion options, as well as your overall dialogue choices.

Both Paragon and Renegade choices will be visible and marked via the Dialogue Wheel in Mass Effect so you don't end up making the wrong choice by mistake.

Why You Should Always Make a Choice

Dialogue options like this one won't appear unless you lean towards either the Paragon or Renegade path.

One mistake that I see a lot of players make in Mass Effect is that they are afraid to lean towards one way or another. A lot of players prefer to stay in the middle, which isn't necessarily wrong. However, by doing so, you miss out on what essentially is the definitive Mass Effect experience.

This is why we recommend that you always make a stand. It doesn't matter if you're going the way of the Paragon or Renegade. What is important is that you make a choice. This way, you'll rack up a lot of Paragon or Renegade points as soon as possible. Why? Because just how high your Paragon and Renegade points are will dictate how certain situations play out in any one of the Mass Effect games.

Throughout the entire Mass Effect trilogy, there'll be seemingly insignificant moments that might have a huge impact later on. This can range from anything such as turning away a potential ally, persuading a villain to see your side of an argument, or, in worse cases, an entire race being wiped out off of the face of the universe.

As already mentioned, an all-too-common mistake made by a lot of Mass Effect players is that they are afraid to lean towards one way or another.

The problem with this kind of playthrough is that Bioware designed Mass Effect so that there aren't enough points available throughout the trilogy to fill both spectrums. The result? Certain choices will be unavailable to players who don't lean towards more on either the Paragon path or the Renegade path.

This is what makes Mass Effect unique as a game. It's not just that you're taking control of a protagonist where your choices can have serious consequences or benefits. Rather, Mass Effect is a game where you literally decide what kind of hero you want your Shepard to be and how you want to see him evolve over the course of the entire trilogy.

Playing the Renegade Path in Mass Effect

Either they're afraid of you or your squadmates seem to resonate better with a Renegade Shepard.

Most Mass Effect players have this belief that the Renegade path (indicated by red or the bottom choices on the game's dialogue wheel) is for those who are ruthless. But, while a Renegade playthrough does see its fair share of ruthless scenarios throughout the three Mass Effect games, it's not necessarily just being a ruder and more sadistic version of Shepard.

In a nutshell, a Renegade Shepard is someone who does what is needed to get things done. The decisions made aren't necessarily for personal gain. It's not like Shepard suddenly becomes a Reaper and sides with the bad guys. No. Shepard still very much wants to send the Reapers back to their makers and save the universe.

With that said, the dialogue options for those with Renegade playthroughs definitely create some pretty interesting scenarios. More often than not, you'll see characters that you encounter squirm due to your Shepard's intimidating presence. Sure, Shepard is still probably not going to resort to killing someone that doesn't agree outright, but that doesn't mean the threat of talking to someone so imposing with a seemingly short temper isn't enough to scare the bejeesus out of somebody.

This is especially when you're playing through Mass Effect as a female Shepard. For some reason, a Renegade playthrough as a female Shepard seems more fitting.

Ultimately, playing as a Renegade in Mass Effect creates a vastly different experience than being a fence sitter or the Paragon path. The inverse is true as well. This is why, earlier, we recommend that you always lean towards one path or the other.

Of course, just because you're playing as a Renegade in Mass Effect, this doesn't mean that intimidation is always the solution. Just like in real life, it's always a case-to-case basis. Case in point, whenever someone's life is in jeopardy, it's always best to err on the side of caution and go with the more diplomatic dialogue choice.

Remember, you're only a Renegade - you're not a heartless human being.


At the end of the day, we can't really dictate how you want to play Mass Effect Legendary Edition. After all, this is your game. We can't really experience nor play it for you. Not to mention, Bioware designed Mass Effect for multiple playthroughs. Thus, once you're done with your Renegade playthrough, we recommend going back to the beginning to see how playing as a Paragon differs.

Do what you think feels right with how you want to play Mass Effect, regardless of whether that means being a ruthless savior of the universe or a champion of the people.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.
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