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Mass Effect: Andromeda lets you wear Shepard's armor — but not everybody likes it

The N7 rank isn’t something you just “put on”

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Much of the early plot in Mass Effect: Andromeda centers around Ryder’s attempt to earn the respect of the other members of the expedition. Some conversations move the needle one way or another in gameplay-defining ways, and some are just there for color.

Over the weekend, fans found a very poignant interaction that should ring true for veterans everywhere.

The following contains spoilers for Mass Effect: Andromeda.

The Andromeda expedition is a civilian-led expedition, but there are veterans that are part of the team. The original Pathfinder, Ryder’s father, is a military man that rose to the rank of “N7.” But what does that actually mean?

Polygon’s lore guide touches on the N7 rank in great detail but, in short, the N7 rank is conferred on those who have completed the Interplanetary Combatives Training (ICT) program a number of times, completing a series of small-unit exercises not unlike the U.S. Army’s Ranger School. The rank of N7 is used to designate ICT graduates who then go on to complete a combat tour with distinction.

The original Mass Effect’s legendary Commander Shepard was an N7, and so was your character’s father, Alec Ryder.

But you? You’re not an N7. Not by a long shot. At least one veteran named August Bradley takes the time to let you know how much it pisses him off if you choose to wear the rank without earning it.

As best as players can tell, there are no serious consequences to wearing the armor. Nothing akin to the infamous slight of wearing Indoril armor in front of an Ordinator in The Elder Scroll 3: Morrowind, at least. But the thinly veiled contempt Bradley has for the new Pathfinder is enough to give anyone pause, and perhaps look elsewhere to boost their biotic capabilities.

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