This article contains spoilers for the Mass Effect franchise. If you have yet to play it, tread carefully!
There’s no denying it: Mass Effect is my favorite game franchise of all time. I’ve played the game a ton of times, making different choices along the way. I have played as both renegade and paragon, and sometimes as a snarky but well-meaning blend of both. I’ve made every major decision at least once, and I have played as both male and female Shepard at least once.
However, now that I’ve played the game through so many times, I’ve come to find that there are a few things that, having done them once, I will never do again. These have become my House Rules for Mass Effect.
- Killing Wrex. It is not to be done. I did it once, and the alternate non-Wrexy universe that unfolded behind the decision is bleak and ridiculous, and the Krogan are just not okay without him. Plus, his brother Wreav is a giant asshole. I hate that guy. Never killing Wrex again.
- Bringing Diana Allers on board the Normandy. Nope. Never again. Never ever. What a cosmic waste of space. Plus, if you’re trying to run stealthy space operations, having a camera-person on board broadcasting the details of what you’re doing is just counterproductive. A Shepard that brings her on board is a Shepard making a stupid mistake.
- Playing as Male!Shepard. It’s my opinion that Jennifer Hale did a far, far better job giving Shepard a voice than Mark Meer did. Her performance is nuanced and skillful; you can hear the weight of hard decisions in her voice as you make them. She puts emotions into Shepard’s voice that Mark Meer just did not manage to the same degree. Both did a great job, but Jennifer Hale is the clear superstar here.
- Romancing Jacob. He’s basically impossible to take seriously. The priiiiiiiiiiiize… just no. His romance storyline is for comedic YouTube watching, not for actually suffering through in your game. Not to mention that the romance is basically trashcanned in Mass Effect 3 and thus has no real payoff anyway.
- Shooting Mordin. The scenes that result from making this renegade choice in Mass Effect 3 are the most painful thing I have ever had to watch in a game series and I am never doing it again.
- Leaving Barla Von at the top of the Armax Arsenal leaderboard. I can’t do it! I have to have the high score! I will spend HOURS on the Citadel racking up points against the AI just to ensure that Shepard breaks the scoreboard and Barla Von sits sadly in second place. I just can’t leave it alone.
There you have them. My major House Rules for Mass Effect. There are so many options in this series for gameplay that your playthroughs can be noticeably different every time you go through it. The characters are rich, complex, and innately lovable (you may not like someone your first playthrough, but after a few? You love them all. There’s no denying it). I’ve played it countless times already, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. It’s a fantastic universe to come back to, even if you take breaks to play in Tamriel or Thedas along the way.