About ten minutes in your Mass Effect: Andromeda adventure, you’ll experience the game’s unique new approach to dialogue and relationship building.
In the original trilogy, guiding Shepard down a path of romance and lust was kind of part of what defined the franchise (at least for me), because it separated the game’s confronting and violent narrative from its lighthearted, free-flowing and personable character creation.
In Mass Effect Andromeda, however, the system is considerably different.
This time, it’s less a case of straight-up pursuing your love interest and getting laid, and more of establishing long-lasting, complicated relationships. Some characters will want one-night flings, sure, but others may be after genuinely committed, long-term relationships.
Andromeda has done away with the traditional Paragon (good) and Renegade (bad) options from the original trilogy, which were reflected in dialogue and action as choices that determined how your character was perceived by others in the game world.
Bioware wanted to do away with the binary system in Andromeda, because people were “kind of finding themselves picking and sticking to one side“. Once players found a side, they would stick to it, regardless of the meaning of taking that side.
So how does it actually work in Andromeda, and what do you need to do in order to romance your preferred partner?
Well, it’s a little more complicated than what we were used to in the original trilogy. As I mention in this preview, the reactions and directions of your character aren’t as obvious, but it’s clear the type of relationship you’ve built based on responses.
Characters I’ve been a little more emotional with have been more likely to open up with me (one character openly spoke with my Ryder about god and faith, for example). Others that I have been a little more robotic and direct with have only ever spoken to me about missions and objectives.
There are four main dialogue “tones”, which will ultimately shape how other characters respond to you. They are Emotional; Logical; Casual; and Professional.
With Emotional tone responses, I generally received a more lighthearted and sometimes flirty response back. It also opened the door to more personal responses, such as a character’s past and feelings.
Logical responses were direct, somewhat robotic, but effective. They rarely generated much of a response in terms of hostility or disagreement, and left open the door for more emotional responses.
Casual responses are just that: they’re neither here nor there, but often made Ryder seem a little unprepared or unwilling to face reality. I have found that a casual response could yield either really positive responses, or really negative ones.
Professional responses are effective for convincing others to get a specific job done quickly, or to get them on board for a tough assignment. Sometimes Ryder really needs to assert his dominance and power of others considering his position, and so this tonal response is important when dealing with important matters.
You can of course try to use a combination of all responses, but I found that this made it difficult to move down a specific path. Blending professional with emotional, for example, generally made it tough to open up more emotional lines of dialogue, perhaps because the character was intimidated by Ryder’s professional responses.
In terms of romancing a character, I’m confident that a combination of emotional and casual responses would get the job done, but each character responds to Ryder in different ways. Some respond more positively to Logical and Professional tones, and this may open the option for more emotional lines in suitable environments.
What I like about this change to the system so far is that, unlike the Paragon and Renegade system, it’s tough to establish a strong bond with someone, because you need to find a balance between different emotional tones, as well as know when the best time to use them is. My Ryder has been criticised for saying something casual in a situation that demanded a professional response.
It’s a far more complex system that seems less influential on characters and the world, but it’s easy to connect the dots and see how your responses actually shape the ways in which characters deal with you. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves over time and throughout the game.
Mass Effect: Andromeda launches March 24 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.