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Related: Is there a "Canonical" Commander Shepard?

I've recently discovered that there is a lot of Mass Effect material outside the Trilogy of games. I'm curious as to how these stories relate to events that are affected by decisions the player is allowed to make in the Trilogy? If one wishes to play out a Trilogy story that is consistent with the other published works, are they still free to make whatever choices they wish? Or, are there certain decision points where the player might violate the continuity that is outside the video games?

If there are choices that must be made to stay true to out-of-game continuity, what are they?

(NOTE: I'm aware there are some ways in which some games could end in Commander Shepard's death. These would be obvious exclusions to this query.)

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The only 'canonical' points in the plot are events that will happen no matter what actions you take, so the simple answer to this is 'whichever decisions you want'. Make your own canon. –  GnomeSlice Jan 15 '13 at 21:52
    
Re-wrote question to remove any reference to the word "canon", except that which is included in the related question. Whether we want to call it "canon" or not, it's indisputably possible that player-made decisions could conflict with elements included in non-videogame Mass Effect narratives. I want to know whether or not such conflicts may exist, and how to avoid them in gameplay. Sure, it's possible the books/comics/movies completely side-step addressing anything the player may have done. But Shepard does make some choices with pretty far-reaching impacts, so it would be very difficult. –  Iszi Jan 16 '13 at 17:25
    
Asking how to make every choice in one game conform to a specific model is asking too much. You are asking about an entire series. –  user9983 Jan 16 '13 at 18:15
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@OrigamiRobot That's the first argument against this question (and not an entirely unreasonable one) I've heard that isn't centered around the debate over whether or not there is any "canon". Thanks. –  Iszi Jan 16 '13 at 18:18
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closed as not a real question by StrixVaria, Fluttershy, KatieK, Frank, OrigamiRobot Jan 16 '13 at 18:14

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1 Answer

Bioware has long stated that there is no canon in Mass Effect - this was mentioned in many interviews after the original game was released. One such quote by Casey Hudson says:

"We have a rule in our franchise that there is no canon."

However, based on the information available in the games through default choices made if you start a new character in Mass Effect 2 or 3, we can assume the following as the default story:

Mass Effect 1

Ashley or Kaidan isn't included in this list, see Mass Effect 2 for why.

  • You recruit Garrus and Wrex
  • Wrex is killed on Virmire
  • The Asari Shiala is killed by the Thorian on Feros
  • The colony on Feros is not saved
  • The Rachni Queen is killed
  • The Council is killed, with the ship the Destiny Ascension, during the attack on the Citadel
  • Udina is appointed Counsellor

Mass Effect 2

Interestingly, during character creation in Mass Effect 2 you get the choice as to whether Ashley died or Kaidan, all in all this event is not that important to the story as it is more about squad build up.

  • Tali is exiled from the Migrant Fleet
  • Grunt, Legion, and Samara are never recruited
  • Samara is killed by Morinth trying to escape from Ilium
  • Suicide Mission Survivors: Mordin, Jacob, Garrus, Tali, Miranda, Joker and Dr Chakwas
  • Suicide Mission Deaths: Jack, Thane, and the rest of the SR-1 crew
  • The Collector Base is destroyed

The DLC is not considered completed by Shepard, but the events still occurred. This means that the Batarian System is destroyed, and Liara is the Shadow Broker.

Mass Effect 3

This section is largely open to debate and subjective opinion, however since there are a lower amount of choices to make in the third game, and many of the key choices leading up to the final choices in this game have already been made (ie: Wrex being dead already, Jack being dead already, etc) you will not be encountering these characters in the final game.

  • Shepard runs around the galaxy for a bit
  • Quarians survive
  • Geth don't (Legion is already dead remember)
  • Genophage is not cured and thus Mordin survives
  • The RED ending, with Shepard surviving (for future Mass Effect releases, obviously)
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I started ME3 from the default save and I was able to get Mordin to cure the Genophage and favor the Geth not Quarians –  Prinny Brocka Jan 15 '13 at 21:34
    
@BenBrocka not saying you couldn't have, but why would you let the bloodthirsty Wreav have an army, when quite clearly he's looking for war? I didn't say you can't, it just wouldn't make much sense to... I'll clear it up a bit –  kalina Jan 15 '13 at 21:37
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Well this is just it - "There is no canon" - according to the executive producer of Mass Effect, Casey Hudson. With that in mind, nobody can give you a list of canonical choices to make, because there is no such thing as canon in terms of the Mass Effect story. –  kalina Jan 16 '13 at 9:37
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Iszi - "one would have to have read a fair amount of the other material to properly answer this" - have you? I find this incredibly condescending. The fact is, the related material (books, comics) have never really commented on choices from the games, in fact in most cases they've avoided it completely, opting to cover the backstory instead. For example, Evolution covers the First Contact War, Revelation covers the lead up to Mass Effect 1, Incursion introduces the collectors before Mass Effect 2, Redemption covers finding Shepards' body... –  kalina Jan 16 '13 at 18:07
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Deception completely contradicts parts of the Mass Effect story you can't even choose a result from, and has been called out by Bioware as such and Invasion covers the invasion of the Omega station. Oh and yes I did read the books, being a Mass Effect fan from the start, and no - I don't treat them as anything other than some light backstory that is loosely related to the Mass Effect universe. –  kalina Jan 16 '13 at 18:13
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