Dialogue in Mass Effect differs from BioWare's previous titles. Instead of the traditional dialogue choices, which show you every word of your response verbatim, you are presented with paraphrases of your available dialogue options on a "conversation wheel". For example, one choice may appear as "Don't try to study me," while the actual spoken line is "I'm not some artifact you can take back to your lab, doctor."
Original Trilogy Overview Edit
The conversation wheel was designed to be intuitive. The left side of the wheel is normally reserved for options that will continue the conversation in depth including Charm and Intimidate options (see below); occasionally an "Investigate" option is given in the middle, which allows Shepard to ask about multiple topics. The right side of the wheel is divided into three sections, and tend to move the conversation towards quicker completion. Paragon responses, generally more selfless or cooperative, are on the top segment, the middle segment presents a more neutral option, and Renegade responses, often more aggressive and hostile, are on the bottom segment.
Characters can also be influenced by the use of Charm or Intimidate. In the conversation wheel, Charm responses are blue while Intimidate responses are red. Use of those skills is affected by Commander Shepard's morality; if the Commander does not meet the Charm or Intimidate requirements, the options are greyed out. The harder a character is to persuade, the higher a level in the respective skills are needed.
Dialogue choices impact how others react to Shepard, the rewards for completing missions/assignments, possible discounts from merchants, Romance paths and, most importantly, the commander's morality. It is also possible to defuse tense situations without violence, or actually provoke it.
Mass Effect Edit
In Mass Effect, your ability to use Charm and Intimidate options in conversations is based on the Charm and Intimidate talents. Increasing these talents will allow you to meet more difficult Charm or Intimidate requirements, as well as providing additional benefits with vendors.
Charm is used in dialogue to persuade people with compliments, clever diplomacy, or a pleasant demeanor. Using Charm often encourages people to be more forthcoming or even willingly give extra rewards for assignments. In some cases, Charm can defuse tense situations and resolve them peacefully.
Paragon points increase the available ranks in Charm; you also get extra Charm points from becoming a Spectre. As you obtain more Charm points, additional dialogue options will become available and you can unlock the 'Store Discount' which gives lower prices when buying from merchants.
Players should note that in the course of working toward 75% Paragon, four of the 12 points you can assign to Charm can be obtained simply by playing the game. So, to effectively assign skill points, a player could assign only eight points for Charm and still max out their Charm skill once their character reaches 75% Paragon. Additionally, as skills carry over from each playthrough of the game, it's possible to max Charm without spending any skill points through multiple playthroughs. (Each time you become a Spectre, you'll get a free point, as well as each time you raise your Paragon bar to a certain level, since the Paragon bar resets for each playthrough.)
Intimidate is used in dialogue to browbeat people with coercion, insults or threats. Using Intimidate can frighten or threaten individuals into cooperating or handing over extra rewards for assignments.
Renegade points influence Intimidate and affect its advancement. You also get extra Intimidate points from becoming a Spectre. As you obtain more Intimidate points, additional dialogue options will become available. Maxing out this ability will also unlock 'Motivated Buyer', which increases the amount of credits merchants will pay you for your items.
Again, using Intimidate to resolve an apparently impossible situation can unlock the 'Charismatic' achievement.
Players should note that in the course of working toward 75% Renegade, four of the 12 points you can assign to Intimidate can be obtained simply by playing the game. So, to effectively assign skill points, a player could assign only eight points for Intimidate and still max out their Intimidate skill once their character reaches 75% Renegade. Additionally, as skills carry over from each playthrough of the game, it's possible to max Intimidate without spending any skill points through multiple playthroughs. (Each time you become a Spectre, you'll get a free point, as well as each time you raise your Renegade bar to a certain level, since the Renegade bar resets for each playthrough.)
Mass Effect 2 Edit
Due to the large amount of gameplay changes in Mass Effect 2, the reworked skill system no longer has Charm or Intimidate as individual skills. Your ability to Charm/Intimidate is now tied to your morality level, gauged by how high your Paragon and Renegade scores are, and can be increased through Commander Shepard's class passive power or certain armor pieces or suits. Whether or not you can use a particular Charm or Intimidate option is based on how many of the available Paragon or Renegade points you've earned up to that point in the game, rather than the raw values. This is why sometimes Charm or Intimidate options can be used with less of the meter filled in one play through, but the next play through the same options are grayed out, but more of the meter is filled.
Mass Effect 2 introduces interrupts, which allow Commander Shepard to make a direct action during scenes or other characters' dialogue, typically providing some sort of benefit to the situation at hand. Rather than being selected through the dialogue wheel, interrupts are triggered through button prompts when the Paragon or Renegade icon appears at the bottom of the screen. Unlike Charm and Intimidate options, interrupts do not have any Paragon or Renegade requirements and can be triggered by any character when the option becomes available. Paragon or Renegade points are usually given whenever an interrupt is used. Interrupts are entirely optional, and in most situations not using the interrupt is not considered a moral choice (i.e. not using a Paragon interrupt is usually not considered a Renegade action and vice versa).
Mass Effect 3 Edit
In Mass Effect 3, your persuasive ability ties into your Reputation meter. Rather than two completely separate meters for Paragon and Renegade, there is one meter with a blue Paragon bar and a red Renegade bar stacked together. Gaining Paragon or Renegade points will increase the size of the blue or red bar respectively, therefore increasing the total size of the Reputation meter. In addition to Paragon and Renegade points, you can also gain Reputation points from completing missions and conversations that increase the size of the Reputation meter while retaining the ratio of Paragon and Renegade points. Reputation can also be increased by evolving Commander Shepard's class passive power. Whether or not Charm and Intimidate options are available is based on the total size of the Reputation meter, rather than individual Paragon or Renegade totals, meaning that a pure-Paragon Shepard can still choose an Intimidate option if they have a high enough Reputation.
Interrupts also appear, largely identical to Mass Effect 2's interrupts. In addition to affecting events and awarding Paragon or Renegade points, some interrupts will award War Assets which contribute to the outcome of the final battle.
Mass Effect 3 also introduces arguments that Commander Shepard can overhear between two people with different views. The player can choose to have Shepard voice support for one of the sides by selecting the character they wish to agree with. Most arguments will impact War Assets, either providing a minor bonus or a minor reduction of the Asset's Military Strength rating depending on who Commander Shepard sides with. Siding with a character in an argument is entirely optional, and not voicing support for any side in an argument will not impact War Assets in any way.
Mass Effect: Andromeda Edit
The dialogue system has changed from the previous games in the original trilogy of Mass Effect. Current dialogue no longer has influence over future dialogue options with the abandonment of the Morality system.
The developers at Bioware felt that players were too often deciding to make a Paragon or Renegade choice for their character based on a predetermined personality, regardless of the context of the conversation.
The conversation wheel has been changed into a system where certain dialog choices Expand the conversation and certain dialog choices change the Tone of a conversation without expanding the conversation. There are several items to take into account:
- The dialogue wheel text displayed rarely says what Pathfinder Ryder will actually say.
- The dialog wheel text is meant to give a general description of the answer but the actual dialogue will often be much more complex.
- While guessing the conversation based on the dialog wheel text is usually safe, there will be occasions where the conversation will take an unexpected turn, or not be what was assumed at all. A reload of a previous save or checkpoint may be the only way to change a dialogue choice. Save often.
Conversation Choices Edit
Conversation choices expand the conversation topics that Pathfinder Ryder can explore. Each choice has an associated icon in the conversation wheel. These icons are not fixed to a location on the conversation wheel.
|Branching Arrows||Selecting this conversation choice will stop the current line of dialog and will move to a new conversation branch about a different subject or potentially a different part of the current subject. This choice moves conversations forward.|
|Question Mark||Selecting this conversation choice will provide extra information or potentially extra conversation sub menus before moving a conversation forward. This choice may or may not result in a few additional sub menus but won't lock Pathfinder Ryder out of the current branching dialogue paths.|
|Two People||Selecting this conversation choice develops friendships. This choice can open potential loyalty missions but doesn't lock Pathfinder Ryder out of romance choices.|
|Large Heart||Selecting this conversation choice is the flirtation option. Conversation choices along these lines deal with romance. This isn't an all or nothing conversation choice. Pathfinder Ryder has to flirt many times to develop a romance and the option to lock in a romance will be very clearly stated.|
Conversation Tone Choices Edit
Conversation tone choices change how Ryder responds during conversation. There is no Paragon "good" or Renegade "bad" choices as before but four dialogue choices that will help determine Ryder's ever changing psychological profile.
While there are four tone choices available, some dialogue wheel choices may not be available for all conversations.
Note: Conversation tone choices have no effect on gameplay unlike prior Mass Effect games where Paragon or Renegade choices affected gameplay. Tone choices affect how other NPCs view Pathfinder Ryder and how those NPCs interact with Pathfinder Ryder during conversations but not gameplay.
Interrupt System Edit
The interrupt system is included in Mass Effect: Andromeda but may not have the same black or white morality effect on the personality of Pathfinder Ryder. Interrupts are impulse actions that will likely affect the outcome of the current situation.
- Interrupts are always shown in the lower right corner of the screen as an orange exclamation point (!).
- The action description that Pathfinder Ryder can perform with the interrupt will be to the left of the icon.
- There is an orange bar that travels clockwise around the exclamation point as a timer to indicate how long Pathfinder Ryder has to make the decision to use the interrupt or not.
Known Dialogue Issues Edit
- In Mass Effect, there are certain NPCs (Non Player Characters) that upon trying to initiate a conversation with them, or choosing a certain dialog option, the game cannot start the conversation or action as part of the conversation. This issue has been addressed in patch 1.02.
- Skip Dialog and Select Answer are both mapped to the space-bar (PC), X button (X360), and Square Button (PS3) which can very easily result in choosing dialog options by accident.
- According to Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 Lead Animator Jonathan Cooper, the close over-the-shoulder camera style used for conversations was inspired primarily by Ricky Gervais's The Extras.