Apr 08 2013

Four Unpopular Decisions I’ve Made in Role-Playing Games

Published by at 10:00 am under Lists,Video Games

wmplayer 2013-04-07 23-31-50-37

As many of you know, I’m very vocal about what I like and don’t like. I’m very honest about what I feel, but I don’t shove my preferences into other people’s throats. When I first discovered the existence of internet forums, I was excited about the whole idea of discussing my favorite video game with people from the around the world. One of my first posts was about the narrative I created involving Shepard’s love triangle with Liara and Miranda. For some odd reason, people started calling me names and accused me of ludicrous assumptions. People attacked me by saying that I was such a horrible person and I must be a ‘cheater’ in real life. If I am to follow that logic, I cheat on my romantic partners in video games therefore I am a douchebag in real life. Absurd, really. Granted, there are some choices I make in video games that reflect my values and beliefs but there’s also something called “creative storytelling.” You know, that sort of thing where you actually role-play.

Consequently, there are a lot of other choices I’ve made in video games that drew the ire of my other fellow gamers. I might have some sort of death wish, knowing I am compiling all of the things that will provoke gamers to throw digital tomatoes at me. However, I stopped being so sensitive about it and I decided to celebrate my non-conformist/odd way of thinking. Have you ever been at the receiving end of the question: “How could you do that??” and sick of all the personal criticism? If yes, feel free to share in the comments.

1. I spared Loghain (Dragon Age: Origins)

Teyrn_Loghain_and_Ser_Cauthrien

Ah, I can already hear the collective gasps of disbelief resonating in my head. Loghain was the man responsible for nearly eradicating Ferelden’s Grey Warden army, in addition to  King Cailan and Duncan’s death during the beginning of the game. He also sent Zevran, the assassin, to kill you so this guy really wanted you out of the picture. However, when it came down to the duel, it didn’t feel right for me to kill him. I played as a Human Noble male, and I guess I was more angry at Arl Howe than at Loghain. From my perspective, Arl Howe was a snake who wanted power. Loghain was different. Okay, he killed a lot of people but what was his end game? Did he want power? No, I saw a man who desperately wanted to protect Ferelden, but used the wrong methods to do so. I read the Dragon Age prequel “The Stolen Throne” by David Gaider, and it gave me substantial insight on Loghain’s character. It made me understand his paranoia towards the Orlesians, but he was not evil. After all, he is revered as the hero of River Dane and rightly so. Being a leader isn’t always about making decisions that look good on paper. What if, in another context, Ferelden was really in danger and sending all the troops would result in a complete massacre? Yes, it’ll be cruel to leave the others behind but sometimes a tough decision must be made for the good of all. It fell on Loghain and he had to make the call.

2. I saved the Dog (Fable 2)

fable2_1

Okay spoilers for this one! When you reach the end of Fable 2, you are given three choices by Theresa: Sacrifice, Love, or Wealth. Sacrifice entails all of the people who died in the Spire’s making will be brought back to life, but the Hero loses the chance of seeing their family ever again; Love: The Hero’s sister, dog, and family will be brought back to life, but their lives come at the cost of the countless innocents who died in building the Spire; or Wealth: The Hero will receive more gold than they could possibly imagine, to spend on whatever they want, but any they loved and all of the Spire’s prisoners will remain dead. When I told everyone that I chose ‘Love’ mainly because of my dog and sister, I received a lot of criticism for doing that. It was a selfish decision, but my dog was a great companion. Before Elizabeth from BioShock: Infinite, I had my canine buddy in Fable 2 with me for 90% of my journey until he took a bullet for me. It’s a selfish move, but all the other lives or money in the world would never equate to the lives of my character’s dog and sister.

3. I chose Synthesis (Mass Effect 3)

mass-effect-3-extended-cut-screenshot-08-miranda-synthesis

Okay, this has got to be the most criticized decision I’ve made in a video game. What’s strange is: I played through all the endings of Mass Effect 3 and I saw the pros and cons for each. I don’t think anything is objectively bad, it all depends on perspective and your own code of morality. Alright, I know everyone is saying that the implications of the Synthesis ending is horrible. I’ve heard people argue that they will commit suicide because their genetic code is rewritten. Husks and the like apparently has consciousness now or whatever. Okay, I see why people are saying that because they’ve really gone in-depth with it. However, in the epilogue slides… BioWare paints the universe after Synthesis as a Utopian society. People weren’t shown to be going mad because of the change in their genetic code among other things. When your squadmate hugs EDI, it didn’t look like organics bore a grudge on what happened. Yes, BioWare could have oversimplified it but if they showed Synthesis as simple as Utopia or the next step in evolution… that seems swell for me. I don’t want to analyze into it much. I’ll take it as it is. Plus, I’m personally an advocate for “innovation” so I’m not saying everyone will agree to it. I also think Control is as awesome as Synthesis. I do have a Destroy ending, just to have a canon where my Shepard will be with Miranda and that was my only basis of choosing that. I couldn’t kill the Geth and EDI, especially after how much they’ve evolved which is why I like Synthesis so much since it elevates synthetics and organics to a whole new level.

4. I let Kenny shoot Duck (Walking Dead)

Lee_Kenny_duck

I was actually surprised that a lot of people disagreed with my choice. I haven’t seen the statistics, but I’ve talked to a lot of my gamer friends and they chose to let Lee kill Duck. One of my friends told me: “But you were his friend!! How could you let him kill his own son?” I personally felt that it wasn’t my place to take the life of someone else’s child. Our parents are the ones responsible for bringing us into this world,  and I think if someone had to end the life of a child… it should be the parent. I mean, I think Kenny deserves to see and a be a part of the last moments of his son’s inevitable death. I remember in Dragon Age: Orgins, I opted to kill Connor but Isolde asked me if she could be the one to do it since she is the mother. That’s kind of how I saw Kenny and Duck’s situation. It may sound morbid, but I think even something as scary as death can be as intimate as being born into this world.





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20 responses so far

  • http://goseebananafish.tumblr.com/ sean

    You killed Connor?!

  • ComfortableMadness

    Synthesis? Yikes. No big deal. Everyone that died in the Reaper wars dies for nothing because you give the Reapers exactly what they wanted. No more 100% organic sentient life. Terrible choice. But to each his own I suppose.

    • Kameron

      Reapers wanted to prevent the annihalation of organic life. Even if it’s organic-synthetic life, you still let organic life continue to exist. Also, even though they were going about it in a douchebag way, the Reapers weren’t neccesarily evil. With Synthesis you prevent the end of organic or synthetic life and bring and end to war. Your goal was to stop the Reapers from harvesting all sentient life, which you accomplish and more. Seems like a good way to save the galaxy.

  • DaveyJ

    The only thing Synthesis means is that you like green :P

  • Aether McLoud

    No parent should ever have to shoot their own child. Making Kenny shoot his son is incredibly cruel.

  • http://goseebananafish.tumblr.com/ sean

    I choose Control so Shepard can park a reaper in Liara’s backyard to keep her safe. Shepard also directs husks to pick up her dry cleaning and bring in the groceries.

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    @sean

    Yeah, during my first playthrough… I didn’t have time for going out of my way haha I didn’t include it here, because I changed it in my next games. Nice, Control definitely has its perks!

    @Aether McLoud

    I don’t know, perhaps… it’s cause of my culture or what not?

    @ everyone else

    Okay, okay… I’m glad everyone is civil at least.

  • trashcanman

    DaveyJ, Bioware attoned for that poor, poor choice with the extended ending DLC. Bedlam, this is a great goddamn article designed to create a shitstorm of epic proportions. I’m genuinely impressed. Also, I’m a terrible cheater in video games (had a wife in each village in Fable), but I’m 35 and have never kissed a woman other than my wife. I don’t play video games as a substitute for living out my real life and I seriously wonder about the mental health of people who do. I play games to do things I’d never do or will never get to do. I thought that was kind of the point.

    1. I not only spared Loghain, but I LET HIM BANG MORRIGAN. I am still conflicted about this choice to this day. I beat the dude soundly, needed a tank after losing Alister, and was playing as a female character (a controversial choice of my own) so my choices after sparing him were to let him die fighting the archfiend or something and become a legendary hero and/or honor my trusted friend’s desperate plea to be impregnated by an asshole for reasons unknown. I wanted Loghain’s ass forgotten and wanted to honor Morrigan’s final request so I bit the bullet and let the son of a bitch have one night of happy time with my mage fully intending to make the rest of his existence hell after I saved the world with the king and queen as my personal minions.

    2. I respect that. I made the Spock choice and regretted it. If you can’t do right by your friends and family, then you can’t do right by anyone. Screw the greater good.

    3. I know it was shown as being perfect, but that’s nonsense. You took humanity and everything that makes life worth living and reduced it to homogeneity. Life would be utopian and “perfect” if the Borg assimilated the entire universe, but would that really make it a better place? You are history’s greatest monster and would totally commit genocide in real life.

    4. There was no good choice. Just multiple bad ones.

  • Harry

    While I haven’t played all of these, the ones I have I seem to find I chose the same more or less, albeit for different reasons. For example I let Loghain live simply because Ander was such a pain in the ass. Funny, but good god was he a whinny little girl.

    SPOILER for MASS EFFECT

    I shot Wrex. I loved the character, really enjoyed his company, but the bastard threatened me and went against me. So I shot him, and regretted the decision for the next 2 games. Ce la vie! My killing Wrex is also the reason I let Mordin live. I was ready to kill him when he goes off betraying and whatnot, but the last second I hesitated, and was happier for it.

  • http://goseebananafish.tumblr.com/ sean

    I haven’t played Walking Dead, did Kenny ask to be the one to kill his son? If he did, I would have let him. Reminds me of Aveline deciding to kill her husband in the Dragon Age 2 opening.

    I think the final ME3 choice is the least important decision in the series because we aren’t able to play in the world that is the outcome of that decision. Once you make that decision Shepard is time shifted back to the Normandy as if the decision was never made in the first place.

    What choices in RPG’s would you never make? I would never reveal the evidence in Tali’s loyalty mission in ME2 nor choose the geth over the quarians in ME3.

  • Alec

    Fun article. And yes, you are clearly a terrible, terrible person (kidding, of course).

    I initially chose the synthesis ending as well but almost immediately I felt I had to redo it and pick something else (destroy in my case). The game and godchild are clearly pushing you to pick synthesis as the happy ending and intend for you to feel that this is the paragon choice, so I can see why people would go for it…but none of it adds up in my book.

    Synthesis and control are basically what Saren and the Illusive Man respectively wanted, and after spending three games fighting against them it seemed silly to do what they would have. Humanity is about choice and evolving, and it seemed morally wrong for me to force synthesis on an entire galaxy that probably would never have chosen that for themselves if given the option. And the idea that synthesis as necessary for peace? Blah.

    Also, the god child basically tells you that if you pick destroy you’ll be killed (since you’re part synthetic) and yet that is the only ending that suggests you may live on. I choose (and I realize this is head canon and not game canon) that if the kid was lying about that then maybe he was wrong about the geth and EDI too.

    (Speaking of head canon, I’ve decided the Citadel DLC actually takes place five years following the war and is a reunion between friends. Given how little the war is actually mentioned during the dlc, it’s an easy fantasy to hold onto and it lets me have the ending I want.)

    As for Loghain you’re right that there’s more to him than what is obviously apparent…but I could never get past his treasonous behaviour and arrogance. His choices–however much he struggled with them–only weakened Feraldon. Plus, I figure he was Arl Howe’s boss so anything the Arl did is also on his head (which is better off unattached from the rest of him ;)

    But yes, these games give us all these choices to make for a reason. If everyone was just going to pick the same “right” one then why give us options at all? And to anyone who says your *roleplay* choice in game makes you a bad person in real life, I offer a sound “bah!” to all of them. Fell free to quote me on that.

    Cheers.

  • Zydoxis

    That’s alright, Benny. I’m pretty sure my wife will harbor some shred of resentment towards me for the rest of our lives after she watched me kill Tali in ME3…lol.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t have the option to make the Quarians and Geth coexist, and regardless of how much I loved Tali, I couldn’t bring myself to destroy the Geth after seeing the truth of the situation. Watching her dive off that cliff was one of the most powerful moments in gaming I will ever experience.

    And after sacrificing Tali to save the Geth, of course I could never go along with the Destruction ending, even if I wanted to, or it would have all been for nothing. In the end I went with Control and was pretty damn happy with my result…after the Extended Cut DLC, of course. ;)

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    @trashcanman

    Thanks! Much appreciated, as always. Omg, I think I did that too in one playthrough of Fable just for the heck of it! Quite an interesting run you did with that female character. Hmm, in mine I let my Cousland marry Anora. Things I do for world domination haha.

    Isn’t Destroy genocide too? I don’t know, I see the Geth and EDI as equals. They may not have organic parts, but I feel as if that’s life inside of them too. Anyway, maybe I’m just the type who will take it as it is hahaha

    Yeah, there really was no good decision. I just felt like if I had to die one way or the other. I want to be with my parents until the very last moment.

    @Harry

    You mean Alistair? Anders was in DA2, but both of them can be whiners. Anders is more annoying though, I had no problem killing him.

    Dude killing Wrex in ME3 is a sad scene to see too!!

    @sean

    You know, I don’t really remember anymore but I think it was the case where everyone was quiet and you had to suggest what to do. Not sure. Yeah, that’s how I saw it regardless… an intimate moment.

    Well, it’ll be hard to play it since they’ll have to create four different versions. Synthesis, Control, Destroy, and Refusal.

    I would never choose Morinth. Never. I would never dump Miranda. Never

    @Alec

    There was also a theory that the Citadel DLC was some sort of purgatory! It was a rough theory but some of it made sense. Yes, there’s no doubt that Loghain has to be accountable for his mistakes but I just have a soft spot for flawed characters like TIM.

    Yes, cheers to you to Alec and “bah” to all the haters!

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    @Zydoxis

    Yeah, if I didn’t have the peace option… I would choose Legion’s side over Tali. Control was pretty bad ass! I got chills watching the Renegade version of it hehe

  • J.A.B.

    i happen to agree with you about #3. synthesis is probably the best, and possibly greatest choice you can make between the three. destruction would have caused alot more harm than good, and the thought of nit only wiping out not one, but three species from the galaxy would have been too high a price to pay. i say three because at that point, the Geth had already begun helping the Quarians, not only with rebuilding, but with rebuilding their immune system. without the Geth, the Quarians would never had made it on Rannoch. it would have taken generations to build up that type of immunity to the outside world. they wouldn’t live beyond 100 years.
    control on the other-hand would have been a semi reasonable option, but having an organic mental state being able to control the reapers for millenia would eventually take its toll. having that much power, and time, could cause anyone to nuts. sure everyone lives, but the reapers would almost be the same, just following someones orders. they would rebuild, and fix everything up, but just as before with the leviathans, they could easily upgrade, reboot the intelligence, rebel again, and resuming the harvest all over again.if anything, that would have bought them some time. almost like a ceasefire, at some point, someone is going to fire the first shot again, and everything will resume.
    thus leaving synthesis, a choice where not only does everything live, but organics would attain the final step in the evolutionary chain, while the synthetics reach theirs as well. with everyone on the same level, and no real point in fighting one another. the age of war could finally end in the galaxy, and a new age of enlightenment can come to be. sentient reapers rebuilding entire cities, organics living an illness free life where the things of the imagination come to life. no war, no famine, just peace. but in the end, no matter what choice is made, the sad fact remains that Shepard had died giving up their own lives to either end a war with a violent ending, controlling a synthetic species from resuming the harvest (for now), or by bringing the galaxy to a unique and prosperous end. Shepard died in the end, its up to the player to see if the ends justify the means of their death.

  • http://goseebananafish.tumblr.com/ sean

    I chose Morinth once. I couldn’t resist the urge to see what changes to the game would occur with a new squad member. If I had known that she would spend most of her time pretending to be Samara and have no impact on ME3 then I wouldn’t have bothered. Too bad she didn’t appear in the Citadel DLC.

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    @J.A.B

    Yey, a like minded soul. I agree with a lot of things you said and it’s definitely sad seeing Shepard go, but it warms my heart to usher in the next stage of evolution for both organics and synthetics so that we could all be equals.

    @sean

    Yeah, that was disappointing how she just pretended to be Samara and had a terrible cameo in ME3.

  • Logan

    I’ve never played The Walking Dead, so I can’t really speak on that particular choice. However, I can give my two cents on the other ones!

    First up, Dragon Age. I spared Loghain as well. I never read the tie in, but like you I got the sense that Loghain wasn’t evil so much as misguided. I played a mostly good mage, so bringing in someone who knew how to command armies and plan battles made perfect sense. This was not a bad decision at all!

    The second “bad” decision is another one I made. I think we all want to believe we’d be selfless heroes and make the ultimate sacrifice, but when I’m playing an RPG I really try to take the roleplaying aspect seriously and immerse myself in the character (probably a relic of my old theater days). And when playing Fable 2, I just had to bring that dog and my family back. It also helps that I philosophically believe love is the greatest motivator. You are 1000% percent correct that he is one of the best companions in video game history.

    And finally, I’m afraid to say that I break away from your choices at this point. I chose Destroy. Now, I thought about Synthesis, but ultimately I rejected the idea that the ultimate evolutionary endgame was synthetic-organic hybrids. While I lamented the loss of EDI and the Geth, the cold-hearted strategist in me felt their sacrifice was no different than ordering those 5th Fleet soldiers to their deaths in ME1 or the sacrifices made by individuals like Mordin or Thane. It was, as Garrus put it, the ruthless calculus of war.

    Still great article. And know you’re not alone in going against the grain!

  • Adam

    I laugh at those who take Benny’s in-game decisions personally.

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