Episode 435: Five Difficult But Useless Choices You Make in Mass Effect


To answer your question, yes. I’m still playing all the games in the Mass Effect Legendary Edition. I got it in my dumb head to try play the game over and over since I don’t have any new games as of now and I want to try getting my Commander Shepard try different things in BioWare’s epic sci-fi adventure. This is a trilogy of games which warrants multiple playthroughs to experience everything they have to offer. What you have your Commander Shepard (or my FemShep in my case) decide alters what happens in the game you’re currently playing as well as in later installments.

Some of your choices could lead to the untimely death of a squadmate, gaining a team member’s loyalty, change how other alien races view the human race and even how future quests can be tackled. Even right at the start, when you’re just creating your Shepard avatar, picking if the main character will be a male or female (FemSheps are the best), determines who you can romance throughout all three games! There are so many choices and some of them can may cause you to pause and think about which option to choose.

Sometimes, however, the choices you are given is pretty moot and you shouldn’t have put so much thought into them. They may seem important when they present themselves and maybe even the folks at BioWare imagined they would have important significance later down the line but just didn’t come to fruition. As I’m going through the game for a second time, I’ve definitely observed some options which made me wrack my head on what FemShep should pick and then ultimately realize how insignificant it plays in the grand scheme of things.

So, let’s go check on five of those seemingly difficult choices you have to make throughout Mass Effect that ultimately doesn’t matter!

#1 Support the Terra Firma party?

Glad to see racism is alive and well in the 22nd centu… wait.

During Mass Effect 1, Commander Shepard can explore the Citadel, the gigantic space station that’s become the seat of galactic power and where all races, alien or otherwise, can congregate. During one of these outings, Shepard can run across a political rally held by a human only group known as Terra Firma. The group main tenant is for humanity to resist and avoid any alien influences and even shore up militarily against other races. The leader of the rally tries to get Commander Shepard’s support for Terra Firma’s beliefs and you can either agree or disagree. Either way, the leader respects Shepard’s decision and goes back to the rally.

You would think the Terra Firma party would play a bigger role in future Mass Effect games and maybe supporting or declining to support them would determine if they gain more political clout or cause the alien races to distrust the human Alliance afterwards. Nothing really happens whether you support the group or not. You basically get either a couple of Paragon or Renegade points based on your choice (guess which is the Paragon option) during your run in Mass Effect 1. You can also hear a news bulletin in Mass Effect 2 if the party’s leader gets more support from the human government or if he’s arrested for tax evasion. Nothing really galaxy shattering either way so it doesn’t matter if you’re an alien apologist or critical against other races.

#2 How should Anderson help “steal” the Normandy?

Mutiny’s totally fine!

Just before the climax of Mass Effect 1, your ship, the Normandy, is ordered grounded along with Commander Shepard and the crew. Commander Shepard needs the Normandy, the only ship in the Alliance with a stealth system which will allow them to get to Ilos, which is where Saren, the big bad of the game, is headed. Captain Anderson, Shepard’s superior, volunteers to do something crazy to help. Either he breaks into the Citadel’s control center, which is risky as security will shoot him on sight, or he can simply break into Councilor Udina’s office and hack into the computer there to send a fake order to free the Normandy.

Either option does allow Commander Shepard to escape with the Normandy and fly to Ilos. The really odd thing is there are no repercussions for either option, even though it’s supposed to be a straight out mutiny! If you have Anderson break into the control center, he does get shot but he’s fine when you see him again during the ending. If he sneaks into Udina’s office, he is caught but he gets to punch the human Councilor in the mush but no formal charges are filed against him, even for the assault! So, once again, it’s really weird why the option was given in the first place.

#3 Who should be the very first Human on the Galactic Council?

Once you get to Mass Effect 3, it’s retcon time!

During the final events of Mass Effect 1, Saren and the Reaper Sovereign attack the Citadel and Commander Shepard has to make a couple of big choices. There’s if the current Galactic Council has to be sacrificed in order to ensure the Alliance will be at full strength to destroy Sovereign and, as humanity is in a better position of power by the end, who should be the first human Council member. The first one does impact some rather significant changes in future games. The third does not.

If the current Council is sacrificed, most of the alien races on the Citadel are more wary of the human Alliance as well as Shepard. Some dialog in Mass Effect 2, such as Jacob’s decision to leave the Alliance, is also written in to highlight this. It’s also mentioned in Mass Effect 3 by the new Galactic Council, which is why they’re not so trusting of Shepard. So, while minimal, saving or sacrificing the Council does have some impact.

However, it doesn’t matter if you install either Captain Anderson or Councilor Udina to the Council. The only real difference is if Shepard is reinstated as a Spectre in Mass Effect 2. Sadly, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Spectre or not as there are only very few instances when it even comes up! Additionally, even if you did choose to elevate Captain Anderson to the post, he gives it to Udina by the time Mass Effect 2 rolls around! So what was the point of all that?

#4 Should you keep or destroy the Collector base?

The ending of Mass Effect 2 is a harrowing mission. You and your squad storm the Collector base in a suicide mission and a lot of the decisions you make will determine the fate of your crew. Some squad members may die if you pick the wrong specialist or secondary squad member. The rest of the Normandy crew can perish if you dilly dally or if you choose to leave them behind.

At the very end of it all, you come face to face with a human shaped Reaper and, after taking it down, you’re given the choice to either destroy the Collector base or saving it so the Illusive Man, the leader of Cerberus, a xenophobic organization with goals for humanity to be the alpha race in the galaxy, can study its contents. It ultimately doesn’t matter because, when Mass Effect 3 roll around, Shepard has cut ties with Cerberus.

What’s worse, even if you do destroy the Collector base, it’s revealed in Mass Effect 3 Cerberus and the Illusive Man still gets their hands on the human shaped Reaper! The only difference is the planet seen behind the Illusive Man at the end of Mass Effect 2, what part of the abomination is left intact in Mass Effect 3 and a few conversation bits. If you destroyed the Collector base, the planet behind the Illusive Man is blue and the human shaped Reaper’s heart has been salvaged largely intact, giving you 100 War Assets. If you destroyed the base, the planet behind the Illusive Man is red for some reason and, in Mass Effect 3, Shepard recovers the Reaper Brain, giving him 110 War Assets.

I guess 10 War Assets can make or break what happens at the end of Mass Effect 3… but it really shouldn’t. If you do all of the story missions and just a little planet probing, you should have enough to get the option for all 3 possible endings. In fact, just doing the Citadel DLC is worth 70 War Assets! Basically, throwing a party nets you more than the extra stuff you’d get from Cerberus studying all of that Reaper tech! Plainly put, 10 War Assets is just a drop in the bucket! So, once again, it looked like BioWare had big plans for the game’s final choice and how it would impact the future but just failed to deliver on the promise.

#5 Should you hit or miss?

Most fans will probably agree this is the most difficult choice in all of the Mass Effect games.

There’s no doubt that Garrus Vakarian, the former C-Sec officer turned Omega vigilante, is the best squadmate in all of Mass Effect. There’s just something about this turian which makes him super cool. If you play as a male Shepard, he instantly becomes one of your best bros. If you have a FemShep, Garrus becomes a really viable romance option, despite being a totally different race. Everyone loves Garrus, which makes it difficult to pick if I should shoot the bottle, showing my superior sniping skill over the turian, or intentionally miss, sparing his feelings and giving him a chance to gloat.

I myself decided to miss the bottle as it only seems like the right thing to do. However, at the same time, I didn’t think it was right for me to take it easy on Garrus as he is an excellent marksman. At the same time, though, he’s been through a lot and it was nice to see him finally best Shepard at something. I’m currently at my 2nd playthrough and, even though I already intentionally missed during my 1st playthrough, I just couldn’t bring myself to shoot the bottle down, especially now that my FemShep and Garrus were a couple. I let him have this one once again.

Besides, I owe it to him since he will give me the best scene in all of Mass Effect…

He’s the only one who can make FemShep actually dance well!

BONUS: How you treat Conrad Verner in Mass Effect 1

You might as well treat Conrad Verner like garbage when you first meet him. He doesn’t have a good memory anyway. Then again, so does Shepard!

Throughout the first Mass Effect game, you’ll run across a man named Conrad Verner. As you’ve become the galaxy’s first human Spectre, he’s now Shepard’s biggest fan! After several conversations with him, Conrad becomes a little deranged, even suggesting he’s promoted to Spectre status so he can fight along side Shepard! It’s here you have to decide to either let him down easy or scare the living daylights out of him! No matter what you do, however, when you meet up with Conrad in Mass Effect 2, he’ll accuse Shepard of pointing a gun at his face!

This is because of a glitch in the first Mass Effect game that will always note down Shepard chose the Renegade option. If you do choose the Paragon route, the Renegade option is also tagged and, apparently, the latter takes priority! The funny thing is BioWare didn’t bother correcting the glitch when they released the Legendary Edition!

So you might as well treat him like dirt in Mass Effect 1. He’s going to think that either way!


What other trivial but difficult choices are there in the Mass Effect games? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!


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