Mass Effect Legendary Edition is not only a great opportunity for long-time fans of the series to relive the beloved Shepard trilogy in its best form yet, but it also offers a perfect opportunity for newcomers to become acquainted with the franchise. When creating your character, as well as choosing how they look (you can even import your old Shepard’s face), you also have to choose your character’s backstory including pre-service history, psychological profile, and military specialization.
The choices you make will change the Renegade and Paragon points your character starts the game with, unlocks exclusive assignments and content, and also decides which talents your character can unlock. Here’s a full guide to each choice that you’ll need to make when creating your custom Commander Shepard.
At the start of the game, you can either choose a default male or female Shepard or choose to create a “New ID”. Choosing either of the default options will result in your character being an Earthborn, a Sole Survivor, and a Soldier.
You have three choices when it comes to pre-service history, and each one unlocks a unique assignment in the game based on your chosen history. Additionally, your choice of pre-service history will affect your starting bonus Paragon and Renegade points based on the psychological profile that you pair it with (this is covered further down).
- Background: Both of your parents were in the Alliance military. Your childhood was spent on ships and stations as they transferred from posting to posting, never staying in one location for more than a few years. Following in your parents’ footsteps, you enlisted at the age of eighteen.
- Unlocks: “Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Things” Assignment — Only available if you have the Spacer background. This assignment unlocks in the Citadel after you have completed one of the core missions and allows you to speak with Shepard’s mother, Hannah Shepard.
- Background: You were born and raised on Mindoir, a small border colony in the Attican Traverse. When you were sixteen, slavers raided Mindoir, slaughtering your family and friends. You were saved by a passing Alliance patrol, and you enlisted with the military a few years later.
- Unlocks: “I Remember Me” Assignment — Only available if you have the Colonist background. This assignment becomes available on your return to the Citadel after completing a core mission and sees you helping out a fellow Mindoir survivor.
- Background: You were an orphan raised on the streets of the great megatropolises covering Earth. You escaped the life of petty crime and underworld gangs by enlisting with the Alliance military when you turned eighteen.
- Unlocks: “Old Friend” Assignment — Only available if you have an Earthborn background. This assignment becomes available one of the core missions and sees you meet up with a member of a gang you belonged to when you were younger.
There are three psychological profiles to choose from and these also affect your bonus Renegade or Paragon points that you start with. Each profile will also unlock special dialogue options during certain assignments.
- Background: During your service, a mission you were on went horribly wrong. Trapped in an extreme survival situation, you had to overcome physical torments and psychological stresses that would have broken most people. You survived while all those around you fell, and now you alone are left to tell the tale.
- Points: Sole Survivors start with both bonus Paragon and Renegade points.
- Unlocks: Additional conversation options during the “UNC: Dead Scientists” assignment.
- Background: Early in your military career you found yourself facing an overwhelming enemy force. You risked your own life to save your fellow soldiers and defeat the enemy despite the impossible odds. Your bravery and heroism have earned you medals and recognition from the Alliance fleet.
- Points: Sole Survivors start with Paragon points.
- Unlocks: Additional conversation options during the “UNC: Espionage Probe” assignment.
- Background: Throughout your own military career, you have held fast to one basic rule: get the job done. You’ve been called cold, calculating, and brutal. Your reputation for ruthless efficiency makes your fellow soldiers wary of you. But when failure is not an option, the military always goes to you first.
- Points: Sole Survivors start with Renegade points.
- Unlocks: Additional conversation options during the “UNC: Major Kyle” assignment.
Starting Paragon/Renegade Points Based on Your Decision
Paragon and Renegade points represent your character’s morality. You’ll naturally earn more points as you play, with the type and amount earned depending on the choices you make in conversations and regarding the plot. You can view your current Paragon/Renegade points in the Squad menu.
Just below are the Paragon and Renegade points you will start with based on the choices you make in character creation:
- Spacer/War Hero —20 Paragon points.
- Colonist/War Hero — 15 Paragon points.
- Earthborn/War Hero — 10 Paragon points.
- Spacer/Sole Survivor — 15 Paragon and 5 Renegade points.
- Colonist/Sole Survivor — 10 Paragon and 10 Renegade points.
- Earthborn/Sole Survivor — 5 Paragon and 15 Renegade points.
- Spacer/Ruthless — 10 Renegade points.
- Colonist/Ruthless — 15 Renegade points.
- Earthborn/Ruthless — 20 Renegade points.
There are six military specializations to choose between, essentially this is deciding what class your character will be in the game and affects which talents you can learn, as well as how proficient you are with each weapon type.
Overall, your choice of class will not affect the storyline but there are some small instances where additional conversational choices may be available depending on your chosen class. After the completion of the “UNC: Rogue VI” assignment, you will be able to choose between two different specializations based on your starting class.
Note: Some of the talents listed below must be unlocked by leveling another talent to a specific level.
- Description: Soldiers are combat specialists ideal for the front lines of a firefight. Soldiers have improved health, can specialize in the use of all weapon types, start with the ability to wear medium armor, and can train in the use of heavy armor.
- Talents: Pistols, Shotguns, Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Combat Armor, First Aid, Assault Training, and Fitness.
- Specializations: Commando or Shock Trooper.
- Description: Engineers are tech specialists. Using the holographic omni-tool, they can decrypt security systems, repair or modify technical equipment, disrupt enemy weapons or shields, and heal their squad. Engineers only wear light armor, and they specialize in pistols.
- Talents: Pistols, Basic Armor, Decryption, Hacking, Electronics, Damping, First Aid, and Medicine.
- Specializations: Medic or Operative.
- Description: Adepts are biotic specialists. Through upgradeable implants, they can use biotic powers to lift or throw objects, shield the squad, and disable or destroy enemies. Adepts can only wear light armor, and they specialize in pistols.
- Talents: Basic Armor, Pistols, Throw, Lift, Warp, Singularity, Barrier, and Stasis.
- Specializations: Bastion or Nemesis.
- Description: Infiltrators combine combat and tech abilities to specialize in killing or disabling enemies at long range. Infilitrators are trained to use omni-tools, focusing on decryption and offensive abilities rather than healing. They can specialize in pistols or sniper rifles and wear medium armor.
- Talents: Pistols, Sniper Rifles, Tactical Armor, Fitness, Electronics, Damping, Decryption, and First Aid.
- Specializations: Commando or Operative.
- Description: Sentinels combine biotic and tech abilities. Typically, they use biotic abilities and advanced healing skills to defend allies, though they can also disrupt opponents with biotic or tech attacks. They are more efficient at tech and biotics than other classes, but at the expense of combat. Sentinels can only wear light armor and receive no specialized weapon training.
- Talents: Throw, Life, Barrier, Statis, Decryption, Electronics, First Aid, and Medicine.
- Specializations: Bastion or Medic.
- Description: Vanguards are biotic warriors. They combine biotics and weapons to take down opponents and are especially deadly at short range. They specialize in pistols and shotguns and wear medium armor.
- Talents: Pistols, Shotguns, Assault Training, Tactical Armor, Throw, Lift, Warp, and Barrier.
- Specializations: Shock Trooper or Nemesis.
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