BioWare recently revealed certain stats about the players of Mass Effect Legendary Edition and what choices they made while playing the game. It turns out gamers have big hearts after all, because most of the choices that BioWare showed that involve making kind or compassionate decisions versus cold or ruthless choices will see players heavily selecting the former over the latter.
Mass Effect is a series all about player choices, and offering players the chance to shape the galaxy around them, for good or for ill. The number of potential options is broad, but you might not know that if you looked at the amount of players who made the same or similar choices while playing the game. For a number of potential choices, the ratios are hilariously skewed in favor of one decision or another.
The most skewed of those decisions are the ones that involve the option to either protect Shepard's friends and companions or to turn against them or commit an offense to them. It seems gamers — or at least Mass Effect gamers — will, when given the choice, go for the "nice" choice before anything else.
We're counting on you, Cmdr. Shepard
As an example, one of the most momentous choices in the first Mass Effect game is whether to spare or kill the rachni queen, the last remaining progenitor of a race that once nearly wiped out galactic civilization. The queen is completely at Shepard's mercy and, even though she makes a case for why she should live, accepts that Shepard would be justified in killing her. It's a hard choice, right? Well, apparently not, as 93% of players chose to let the queen go. While there is a chance many Mass Effect veterans spared her because they knew she'd be a valuable ally later in the game, that doesn't seem sufficient explanation for that kind of unanimity. Perhaps, when it comes down to it, gamers are just not going to commit genocide even when given the justification.
For a more personal example, Tali's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 is one of the most heartbreaking in the game, as she is on the verge of being exiled by the Quarian people and may never see her home again. Players who follow all the steps of her loyalty mission have the option of using either a Paragon or Renegade choice to talk the Quarian Admiralty Board out of persecuting Tali, or even the neutral option of rallying the crowd. Any of these choices will accomplish the job and earn Tali's loyalty. However, you do have the option of allowing Tali to be exiled — but, according to BioWare, only 4% of players could bring themselves to let that happen.
Similarly skewed stats include: 94% of players kept Wrex alive during the Virmire mission in Mass Effect, 96% of players chose to cure the genophage rather than sabotage it in Mass Effect 3, and 80% of players made peace between the Quarians and the Geth when given the option. That's a consensus even the geth would be proud of, and there's no way it happened by accident.
You have to allow about 1-2% for players who have probably already completed their first playthrough and are going back to see what the "alternative" options are. It's not an uncommon thing, as the writing in the best RPGs offers players variety and wildly differing paths. Given the number of potential choices, it wouldn't be an unfair assumption that at least that percentage of players went back on a second playthrough to do all their second-favorite options (I did).
Saving as many as possible
There are other stats that are missing from this layout that would be very informative: For example, how many people chose Morinth over Samara in the latter's loyalty mission? Also, how many people didn't take the paragon interrupt to hug Tali during her loyalty mission? Judging by the exile statistics, probably very few gamers could bring themselves to turn away from Tali in her time of need. There is one stat where it seems gamers prefer violence to niceties: When being questioned by Khalish Al-Jilani, the annoying reporter who confronts Shepard on the Citadel in all three games, 68% of players chose to punch her in the face rather than calmly answer her questions.
Given that some of these outcomes aren't exactly easy to achieve, it's amazing to see how many gamers were in consensus on those decisions. It's very easy to lose Wrex if you don't say the correct thing, but so few gamers did that I can only conclude they made certain they wouldn't. You don't get to that high of a percentage by accident.
The only one of these choices that's not hugely skewed in favor of one option is the choice of who to save on Virmire, Ashley Williams or Kaidan Alenko. 60% chose Ashley, while 40% chose Kaidan. Some less momentous choices were also listed — well, less momentous when it comes to the story — and those were more balanced. For example, while the choice of Shepard's class was more evenly distributed than others on the list, there was still a disproportionate amount of players who chose either the Soldier or Vanguard class. When asked to choose a military history for Shepard, 43% chose War Hero, while 44% chose Survivor, leaving 13% to choose Ruthless.
And, of course, this list leaves off the most important choice by far: Who was romanced by the most players? I want to see that pie graph, and if the biggest slice doesn't go to Garrus, I call shenanigans on this whole thing.
Never be better than Cmdr. Shepard
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
The best darn hero simulator there ever was
If you've ever wanted to feel what it's like to save a whole galaxy from the ultimate evil, then the Mass Effect series is the best game for you. This series shows you a diverse and colorful galaxy and tasks you with protecting it — and gives you a reason to want to.
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