Lee has an embarrassingly deep love of all things "Mass Effect." Her favorite is the original first game.
Reyes and Sloane are two crime bosses in the video game Mass Effect: Andromeda who Ryder can choose to either side with or betray while shaping the future of the planet Kadara . . . But if you're a Mass Effect fan, you probably already knew that.
After finishing the Kadara questline, it suddenly struck me that Reyes and Sloane are basically the same character and that there is no "right" choice for Kadara. Like most of the choices in BioWare games, the choice to put one of them on Kadara's throne is all about defining your personal Ryder.
How are Sloane and Reyes the same, you ask? I will tell you. Right this way . . .
Reyes and Sloane are Equally Evil
There are some differences between Reyes and Sloane. I'm not acting as if they are exactly the same. But as far as being a scumbag goes? Neither of them is better than the other. They both run organizations that murder, kidnap, and abuse the people of Kadara. The difference between the Outcasts and the Collective is that the Collective, like Reyes, is more sneaky about how evil they are, while the Outcasts, like Sloane, are more honest and out in the open.
So it all comes down to this: which do you value? Honesty or deception? At least if Sloane betrayed you, you'd see it coming a mile away. Reyes is sneaky and a liar.
The Madam Has the Cutest . . . Personality
The only difference between Reyes and Sloane is in personality.
When you meet Sloane, she is either civil or an asshole to you (depending on whether or not you are rude), but she is upfront and honest about distrusting you and the Initiative. At the same time, she orders her people not to harm the Pathfinder and allows you to roam around freely in what is basically her world.
Sloane isn't very smart, but she's smart enough to understand that the Initiative would be a bad enemy to have if there's now a Pathfinder (and an entire Pathfinder crew) to deal with.
Sloane is a violent, dumb tyrant but she values honesty. If you take logical responses instead of emotional ones, she has a better reaction and is less rude and disrespectful. This is because Sloane was screwed over by the political, smooth-talking assholes on the Nexus who call themselves leaders. She has no respect for people who attempt to charm her. At one point she will even flat out say that Ryder can't win her over with "diplomatic bullshit."
By comparison, Reyes is just as evil and violent as Sloane, but he manipulates people into accepting it with a charming and witty personality. Going back and looking at all his emails and quests after the events of Kadara are finished, it is very obvious that he manipulated Ryder from the moment he met them.
All his emails are him flattering you, which are sickeningly transparent in hindsight, and all his quests are just you taking out his enemies for him so that his transition to power will be smoother. By the time you get to the "duel," you have done all his dirty work, and he has charmed your pants off to make sure that you like him enough not to shoot him for his lies.
Hell, the game even straight-up tells you in the most blatant way that Reyes is a terrible person. There's actually a quest where you meet his ex-girlfriend, who goes on about how horrible he is. Reyes acts baffled by this and then acts hurt when Ryder (hilariously) agrees with the ex-girlfriend that Reyes is terrible.
So at the end of the day, Reyes and Sloane are equally horrible people. And yet, most fans are charmed by Reyes just because he's nice to them and kisses their butt. It worries me that people can be so easily manipulated, and what's more, this isn't even something new in the world of Mass Effect.
It's been done before.
Remember Samara and Morinth?
That's right. Back in Mass Effect 2, Samara and Morinth were basically the same character, and choosing between them was about defining Shepard as a character, not making a moral decision.
How were Samara and Morinth the same? They were both Renegades who were willing to do whatever it took to get what they wanted, even kill innocent people. Morinth killed thousands of innocents to secure and keep her freedom, while Samara killed thousands of innocents to chase and capture her daughter.
Samara even admits to murdering an entire village who Morinth had enslaved. If you really think about it, that is awful. Samara didn't have to murder those people. She could have knocked them out and left them alive, then continued to pursue Morinth. But no. She murdered them. The fact that she feels guilty about it and ruminates about it often changes nothing.
There are even several dialogue options where Shepard can call Samara out, pointing out that there's no real difference between her and Morinth and stating that Samara is actually a huge hypocrite.
There being no real difference between Samara and Morinth was obviously the writer's intent. The only difference between them was that Morinth would actually kill Shepard and Samara had a semi-romance and more content, which at the end of the day, was the only real reason most people recruited Samara over her daughter.
This is basically how it is with Sloane and Reyes.
I Felt Manipulated by the Writers
Because Reyes himself isn't the only one manipulating us.
I was playing again recently and I realized another reason I don't like Reyes is that he flirts a little too much with Ryder. While I do miss the way characters used to initiate flirting in old BioWare games, I still don't like it when the character makes me feel like the writer wants desperately for me to like them, and this was how it was with Reyes. Every time he winked, flirted, and suggested champagne, I felt like the writers were begging me to choose him over Sloane.
I also felt there was no way to properly resist his flirting, which is a fault of the writing. You could refuse the drink he offers you or insist that working with him isn't fun (to which he says something like "I'll bring you around one day"), but it still feels as if the game is begging us to like him.
On top of that, I dislike interacting with Reyes because he continues to flirt with Ryder long after my character has shown zero interest. It feels like being harassed (I say this jokingly but also irritably).
In the past, BioWare had a problem with male characters who continued pursing a female protagonist who had already shown disinterest or clearly said no, (see my Why I Hate Kaidan article for a prime example) so when I got into this game, I remember being worried that Liam was going to be another Kaidan.
Thankfully, Liam was written in such a way that he's not constantly in Sara's face flirting or interrogating her about her romantic interest, nor does he act possessive. Liam's affection for Sara is shown, not told. For example, if Peebee is romanced, she will call Liam out for always trying to protect Ryder during combat and sounds very suspicious that he actually has a crush on Ryder.
It's obvious Liam has a crush on Ryder, but he doesn't continuously shove it in her face, ignore her disinterest to keep flirting, nor does he act possessive (aka sexual harassment). I was very relieved when I was allowed to play Sara and just be Liam's friend.
But with Reyes, it feels like that old BioWare trope of the pushy male character who likes the protagonist, constantly flirts, and doesn't back off no matter what. I kind of hated interacting with him for this reason. Especially during that one scene where the bartender, Umi, tells the two of you to get a room. The dialogue between Reyes and Ryder is great in that scene if you're romancing Reyes, but if you're not, it's annoying that every interaction is framed as "flirting."
Basically, I wanted the option to roleplay a character who disliked Reyes. Instead, you are forced to like him. In fact, one failing in Andromeda is that Ryder isn't allowed to really dislike anyone, except for maybe Director Tann and that witch from Hell, Addison.
If Only We Could Kill Both
Even with all this being said, I admit, I actually hated Sloane more than Reyes on my first playthrough. Like most fans, I was taken by Reyes' charm and saw him as a friend to my Ryder, while Sloane, who completely lacked charm, had been nothing but an asshole to my character. But I think Reyes feeling like a friend is what made the lies and manipulation sting more.
During the quest to kill the Kett on Kadara, Sloane referred to my Ryder as an Initiative lap dog, even though Ryder was there doing a favor for her! I was annoyed enough by this that I let Sloane die when Reyes set her up to be assassinated.
At the same time, however, I wasn't that close to Reyes. I didn't like him much as a character and had no intention of romancing him, so when he sent a vid-call inviting Ryder out for drinks, I declined. My not taking it probably sealed his fate.
Because after I set Reyes as the leader of Kadara, I had Ryder tell him that they weren't friends. I took his lies and manipulations pretty hard because I was raised by a covert narcissist, who used gaslighting, lies, and emotional manipulation (pretending to love me, pretending to be kind), to control my thoughts about her, abuse me, and get what she wanted for thirty years of my life. Thirty years that were stolen.
So when I failed to get to know Reyes at the party, I assumed that he was pretty much just the same as my mother. I was furious, but I still hated Sloane more. He tried to shake Ryder's hand, but I told him they weren't friends and then had Ryder walk out. As she was leaving. . . Reyes called her a dick.
It was then that I realized Reyes was really no different than Sloane and that I had been blind to that the entire time because of his charm. I realized this because Reyes is actually the reverse of Sloane: his feelings are hurt by logical/hard responses while Sloane only respects logical/hard responses.
When Reyes called my character a "dick" and acted baffled that he could possibly be wrong for the terrible thing he did by lying (just like my narcissist mother), I reloaded the game and saved Sloane, then shot Reyes.
So at the end of the day, I made a choice that defined my Ryder based on my real-life experiences with the kind of people who will lie and manipulate someone in order to use them.
At this point in the story, my Ryder was sick of people trying to manipulate and use her, and Reyes was kind of the last straw. There's even an angara who tries to manipulate Ryder into helping him by flattering her. When Ryder calls him out, Jaal speaks up, telling the angara he doesn't have to manipulate Ryder to seek her help.
So if it hadn't been for so many other characters treating Ryder like crap and me just being fed up with it, who knows? I might have forgiven Reyes and not shot him.
The email Reyes sends you if you shoot him is almost hilarious in how it demonstrates his complete lack of self-awareness. In the email, Reyes plays himself up as some sort of victim while admonishing the Pathfinder for shooting him in the back . . . even though he'd been about to do the same thing to Sloane!
Reyes' acts as if he's an innocent victim and the Pathfinder is an evil asshole who betrayed him, when in reality, it was entirely the other way around. This is a classic trait of someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They insist that they are innocent and that other people are "evil" for being angry or upset by the terrible things they do.
But because I was looking at the game through the filter of my experiences, it took me a couple playthroughs to realize that Reyes is hurt and angry when you shoot him because he sincerely thought you were his friend.
In other words, Reyes likes Ryder.
And to be fair to people who choose Reyes (because, again, there's no real difference between him and Sloane morally), he does have one of the better romances in the game. All the poor people who choose Gil or Suvi . . . . And of course, Jaal, Peebee, Cora, and Liam aren't everyone's cup of tea.
So in the end, I guess I hate both Sloane and Reyes.
A lot of the bad things the Outcasts supposedly did were set up to look that way by Reyes so that you would choose to help him. Also, once you find the Collective's torture chambers, it's hard to see Reyes as anything but the evil mob boss he is. The number of fans who like Reyes more just because he's nice to them (myself included, ha) is sad.
I'm also saddened by all the fans who write Sloane off as a "thug" not worth saving. I'm honestly convinced that a lot of fans are just racist. Sloane isn't the only crimelord in Mass Effect, but she's the only black one, and as a result, she's the only one referred to as a "thug" and treated as if she's worthless and not worth saving.
Aria and Reyes do have their haters, but I have never seen anyone say they were worthless or "thugs," etc. Sometimes I wonder how fans would have reacted if Sloane Kelly had been replaced with a character like Zia. No, actually . . . I don't wonder. I know exactly how these racists would react.
Zia was white, young, and pretty, and thus more "sympathetic" to the fans, who are by majority young and white. Meanwhile, Sloane is old, black, and ugly, and on top of that, she's rude as hell if you take anything but hard, logical responses.
I feel like I can recognize Sloane's humanity because I'm black myself, and it's depressing that non-black fans cannot and will always pick Reyes.
And with that being said, I always feel bad about killing Zia. I wish we could kill both Reyes and Sloane and put Zia in charge.
Because for me (again) this has a lot to do with my personal bias. Because I was raised by an abuser who lied and manipulated me, I will always value honesty and truth over charm and lies. That's basically how you can sum up Sloane Kelly and Reyes: Sloane is the ugly truth, while Reyes is the pretty lie. Drack even says something to this effect if you ask him about the Charlatan while on Kadara.
I will admit, however, that betraying Reyes is kind of sad, largely because Reyes does honestly like Ryder. This was something it took me a couple playthroughs to realize because I was so biased against him thanks to my upbringing. But Reyes' feelings for Ryder were probably the only genuine thing about him, while Sloane straight-up hates Ryder just for being from the Initiative.
There's also the fact that Reyes is Evfra's human contact in the Resistance. If you want the exiles to realign with the Nexus and if you want to give the port back to the angara (thus strengthening your relationship with them), then you need Reyes on the throne, even if you don't like him.
Because, if I'm completely honest, as far as being Pathfinder goes, there really is no reason to pick Sloane. She is not a benefit to the Initiative or the angara whatsoever.
I guess the choice doesn't really matter, though, since EA/BioWare gave the finger to their fans and decided there will be no Mass Effect: Andromeda 2.