Ash 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 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 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.
Reyes pretended to like Ryder and pretended to be her friend, and if you romanced him, he even pretended to love you! And all so he could use you to gain power in Kadara. 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 amazes and terrifies 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.
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 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 Sided with Sloane
I admit, I actually hated Sloane more than Reyes. 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 her 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. In hindsight, this "date" was just another attempt of his to manipulate Ryder to his side. 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 realized that Reyes was pretty much just the same, 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. When he called my character a "dick" and acted baffled that he could possibly be wrong for the terrible thing he did (just like my narcissist mother), that was the moment he showed his true face.
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' email 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.
I Don't Regret Choosing Sloane
So in the end, I still hate Sloane, but in my eyes she will always be the lesser of two evils.
I don't know how to go about explaining what it's like to have your reality completely altered for years by someone you loved and trusted and who is only out to use you. As I said, gaslighting is a form of mind control and it's evil, especially when done to a vulnerable child. For an explanation about how disturbing mind manipulation is, look up videos about "induced helplessness" or "learned helplessness." Said videos will clearly explain how abusive and dehumanizing it is to lie and manipulate people.
And because I endured this form of abuse for years, any person who lies and shapes someone's reality to get what they want will always be absolutely evil to me, hands down. These sorts of people have no respect for others and just see them as tools, and such behavior against another is a deep violation of their freewill and personhood. It's almost like Reyes was a romanceable version of the Illusive Man from the original trilogy, yet people love him. It blows my mind.
If only we'd been allowed to actually kill Reyes. He's not the kind of character I want to see again, but it could be interesting . . . if we ever got a Mass Effect: Andromeda 2.