No judgment, especially because all this data comes without any supporting info, but the basic Shepards are out in full force in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, according to player stats released by BioWare. There's no way to know how many players are on their first run or their fifteenth, so I'll ignore the lack of context and carry on with the psychoanalysis anyway.
Delivered via a very palatable infographic, we now know that the second major run of the Mass Effect trilogy produced a staggering number of vanilla playthroughs, with 40% of players bored and confused enough to choose the soldier class, a gun specialization role that can't use biotic or tech abilities, aka the most interesting abilities. No judgment! Almost two-thirds of players didn't want to be a space wizard and that's fine. Just an observation.
❗ SPOILERS AHEAD ❗You’ve all made tons of choices in #MassEffect Legendary Edition. How do yours match up against other commanders? pic.twitter.com/5Knk5o8Ib4July 27, 2021
Despite all the anti-Ashley sentiment gathering momentum over the years, 60% players maintained their stance as baby muppets and let her live over Kaidan. 94% went the path of ignorant bliss to make sure Wrex survived the mission on Virmire—because Wrex is so lovable or the playerbase is afraid of any actual consequences, I'm not sure. No judgment either way, of course. It's just that sometimes painful decisions lead to more interesting roleplay outcomes. Simply examining the geography!
93% of players are cartoonishly diplomatic cowards, aligned with the Rachni Queen despite their role as a space cop. 96% of players rejected a much-needed misery bath (they build character!) and cured the genophage and—hey, it's another overwhelming majority—96% pardoned Tali. There's no suffering in space, apparently. Once again, I must underline how little judgment I'm casting. I am but a humble scientist, observing and interpreting the cold, hard, tasteless facts.
Still, there's some progress to note here. Shepard gender choice isn't evenly split, but more players are choosing female Shepard than in the past, at least based on an infographic produced by BioWare following the release of Mass Effect 3 in 2012. 82% of players were saving the galaxy as a guy back then, but the trilogy remaster boasts an improved 32% playing as female Shepard. The more people that bear witness to Jennifer Hale's excellent performance, the better.
Most alarming is how Shepards err towards diplomacy on the whole, but a whopping 68% of players still punched the reporter. I find this kinda overwhelming knee jerk reaction to someone doing their job, even from a good chunk of the nice Shepards, pretty upsetting, if only because I'm a person that regularly asks people questions as part of the job. Do 68% of fussy toddlers want to punch me? But why?! I'm so nice and nonjudgmental.
OK, the jig's up. I'm a Mass Effect bully, but I suppose I get it. I have a difficult time resisting playing as the nice guy the first time around in most of my RPGs, and Legendary Edition surely brought in a lot of first-time players. The old fashioned Paragon/Renegade framework doesn't really help players make interesting decisions, either. Casting everything as good, bad, or obnoxiously centrist ain't the way for RPGs. The genre has learned a lot from Mass Effect's mistakes in the past decade, though. So while I poke fun, I'm also grateful for them.
Without Evil Shepard's cracked and glowing red scars or Paragon Shepard's goofy space gallantry, I'm not sure RPGs would've returned to subtlety in the years since. Here's hoping whatever's next for Mass Effect is more Disco Elysium than red-and-blue dialogue wheel. If not, the infographics are doomed.