Bioware’s Mass Effect is a game about making personal connections. It’s about meeting a huge cast of characters and forming your own bond with them; choosing who you want to be on your side and who bites the dust. Because every play through is so different – everyone has different favorites. This is FAR from a definitive list and is filled with all kind of bias against those I never gave much of a chance too. *Cough* Ashley *Cough*. I figured I’d go ahead and rate all the Mass Effect squad mates worst to best – let me know what yours is! Maybe on my next play through I can be convinced to give the spotlight to others.
21. Richard Jenkins (ME1) – Poor Jenkins. He didn’t listen to Shepard and bit the bullet right at the start of the first games initial mission. The clues were there in his earlier conversation with Dr. Chakwias when he came across like an overeager lapdog. Scrap that, screw Jenkins. He was a jerk.
20. Morinth (ME2) – Morinth is kind of thrust upon you during Samara’s Mass Effect 2 loyalty mission. She’s the daughter of Samara but bad blood between the two means you’re left hunting her down so she can’t kill more people with her killer sex drive. During this mission however you have the option of shifting sides, trading Samara for Morinth and bringing her into the Normandy. Sadly the way the game goes about this is lacklustre – having her behave like her daughter so as not to freak out your team-mates. This means Morinth never develops a proper presence in the game; instead mildly raising eyebrows across the Normandy. Perhaps a sign of how truly pointless she was – her fate in Mass Effect 3 typifies the definition of lazy. I would say you never get to see her again but she can turn up as a banshee at the end of the game – a fitting end to such a dull character.
19. Ashley Williams (ME1) – Dear god was Ashley annoying. Right from the moment you save her worthless ass on Eden Prime the game goes about rubbing her most annoying aspects in your face. From her xenophobic views of aliens through the way she always has a comment about your actions; Ashley doesn’t make it easy to love her. The fact that the first game gives you the chance to terminate her on Virmire means a good chunk of players never got to see her full character arc. By Mass Effect 3 things were a lot better though. Her more frustrating qualities toned down and a fully fleshed out back story giving her character some much-needed round edges. But really I always found it hard to like Ashley – she never really contributes anything fun to proceedings and while I’m sure she has her fans out there – I’m just not one of them. But hey, she dies in my games doing the good deed so good for her.
18. Zaheed Massani (ME2) – Zaheed is kind of forgettable in the bigger picture. He kind of gets hoisted in your direction and never does much to remain relevant in the memory. The big issue I suspect is that the game tries to keep him mysterious – skipping over the important development crucial to making sure he remained an asset. In terms of gameplay he adds a fair amount to the Mass Effect experience; but it’s hard to pick him over more engaging options in the roster.
17. Jacob Taylor (ME2) – Jacob’s OK. Well he’s there at least. The first squad member that’s added to your Mass Effect 2 roster doesn’t really leave that big an impression on proceedings when all said and done. His character is hugely forgettable and while the comics expanded his back story incredibly – during the game he’s basically just there to be your right hand Biotic. His loyalty mission is one of the more forgettable outings during Mass Effect 2. In all, did anyone really love Jacob?
16. James Vega (ME3) – Vega is one of those characters you enjoy talking too – but not much else. His intimidating looks hide a funny side that shines through when you talk to him. If his escapades with the female staff (and Cortez) of the Normandy don’t make you chuckle then you’ll probably not appreciate his bro-approach to proceedings. It’s a shame because his character hints at much deeper troubles – ones that we rarely get to see. It also didn’t help that he shows up in Mass Effect 3 – effectively handicapping him against all the other relationships you’ve already formed.
15. Kaiden Alenko (ME1) – The Ying to Ashley’s Yang – Kaiden has moments of incredible annoyance that make you regret saving him on Virmire (Don’t lie, you chose him over Ashley). His character development kind of stops mid-way through Mass Effect 2 and never picks up again; which is a shame because both his back story and the tales his off-screen adventures really colour him as a badass. Even in terms of his combat role he’s slightly forgettable. Being a Biotic-Tech should grant him great versatility but he never lives up to the billing. Ultimately he’s just there to be loyal and slightly less insufferable than Ashley – your mileage may vary however.
14. Jack (ME2) – Jack’s largely on board to be the bad ass female character and its a role she relishes in. Her hugely powerful Biotic abilities make her an enticing option for your team and her character goes through some memorable moments. From her distrusting everyone through to her heartfelt talk with Shepard during Mass Effect 3; she’s one of the characters that you can say genuinely undergoes a character arc. Sadly in the wider scheme she doesn’t have the impact of other characters – popping up in her moments but ultimately fading in the grand scheme of things.
13. EDI (ME2) – As an AI – EDI was awesome. She was sassy, witty and her attempts to humanize herself were enjoyable. The decision to grant her a body in the third game gives her extra dimensions that open up more intriguing options for her as a character. Sadly I never really got bowled over by this and while I found her blossoming romance with Joker to be fun – I wasn’t ever inclined to use her outside of sections where she was forced on my squad. But her story arc across the games is impressive.
12 Samara (ME2) – Infinitely more interesting than Morinth, Samara comes packing a number of useful additions to her abilities that makes her a strong candidate for more combat heavy missions. Her back story is also one of intrigue; offering gamers a chance to throw back the curtain on the illusive Asari Justicar and letting you see how they operate. Her story is one of sadness but ultimate dedication to her race; something that makes her incredibly interesting to follow throughout the latter two games. By the time she swears her loyalty to Shepard; gamers feel a sense of accomplishment.
11. Thane Krios (ME2) – Thane was pretty nifty to bring on missions while he was on board the Normandy. He was also a unique character – an assassin with a conscious that prayed for his victims. His interactions with Shepard were always intriguing as Thane came with a deeply twisted back story – but he was also a heart throb options for those who were barrelling down the FemShep play through. His complex back story was explored by Shepard in the second Mass Effect game. Touching and sentimental; it only comes to hurt more when Kai Leng rips him from gamers grasp. Admit it, you felt a lump in your throat when Shepard and Kolyat read him his final prayers.
1o. Miranda Lawson (ME2) – Miranda’s introduction might not rub fans up the right way – her loyalty to Cerberus and her cold approach to relations means it’s hard to get a scope on her. But as time passes her icy exterior thaws and you learn of the motivations that drive her forward. She’s deeply protective of her sister and does everything in her power to defend her – and it’s during these moments that her character fully shines through. Miranda is very much one of those characters that you’ll either grow to love or see with indifference throughout the final two games. But thanks to her balanced abilities, she’s always a good hand to bring on missions.
9. Javik (ME3) – Javik makes his appearance fairly late in the series, appearing in Mass Effect 3. But for those who take the time to scratch beneath the surface they’ll find a Prothean with a heap of personality. His bemusement and indifference towards everything makes him an ideal candidate for those who like to have a good laugh on their play through. For gameplay enthusiasts he’s a tough soldier that comes packing some dark biotics to boot. He’s the ideal candidate for missions where things get rough around the edges – and well worth slotting into any team.
8. Grunt (ME2) – Of the two Krogan you can bring along on your space adventures, Grunt is very much the lesser of two beings. This isn’t to say he’s completely useless however. The story of the genetically engineered super Krogan is an exciting one; as you get to play along with arguably the most adrenaline inducing moments in the series. Who didn’t cheer when he burst out of the Rachni nest in Mass Effect 3? Grunt is one of the more direct members of your ensemble and for that reason is hugely memorable. He largely falls down the list thanks to some one-dimensional tones that relegate his intrigue to smashing things.
7. Kasumi Goto (ME2) – Kasumi was always intriguing to have around and thanks to her varied skill set, made for one hell of a useless companion on missions. Because of her secretive nature, there’s much to learn and the onus is on the gamer to peel back these layers and uncover the truth beneath. Gamers who do are rewarded with a rich character that at times can be disarmingly fun to have chats with.
6. Mordin Solus (ME2) – Mordin arguably had some of the best dialogue options going out of all the squad mates. Every conversation with him was memorable, funny or just downright absurd and we loved every second of it. Whether he was giving Shepherd advice on sealing the deal with Garrus or Thane or babbling about his exploits in the past; you’d usually feel richer for the experience. At the end of the discussion though, it was his character arc around the Krogan Genophage that really cemented his status on this list. It’s the whole movement he makes from sternly defending his role in the creation of the Genophage through to the willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good that pulls at the heartstrings. Plus he wasn’t that bad a singer.
5. Legion (ME2) – For me Legion was one of the most unusual squad mates. His entire existence runs contrary to everything you’ve been told about the Geth up to the stage you find him – and when it becomes apparent he’s no threat to you it really hits home that not all Geth are that bad. Legion goes beyond this though, embarking on his own personal story arc that see’s him and Tali move from bitter enemies to mutual respect. On top of this, Legion gives one of the series more unique missions when you get to enter the Geth consensus and gain a much deeper understanding of how the mysterious race functions. On top of all this, In terms of his contribution to game play, Legion was a dab hand to keep around for combat – although it’s here that he’s at his arguably weakest. I always found Legion really interesting and brimming with personality.
4. Liara T’Soni (ME1) – Liara’s arc across the three games is arguably the most adventurous. She begins as a humble Prothean researcher but ends up toppling the Shadow Broker, kicking ass and managing to become a huge asset to Shepard and his crew. It’s her connection to Mass Effect 1’s Benezia which adds a personal touch to proceedings – showing her anguish at the dilemmas placed before her. In terms of gameplay it’s hard to look beyond Liara in terms of biotics – she’s hugely powerful and always comes in handy when it comes to picking out enemies in Mass Effect 2 and 3. Mass Effect 1 however, she’s a bit of a burden to drag along.
3. Urdnot Wrex (ME1) – The sad thing with Wrex is most gamers will have wandered into his untimely demise not realising what they were doing. Throughout Mass Effect 1 he was a constant shadow hanging over the squad, his hulking frame and quick to anger temperament made him something of a handful. But work through this and Wrex endears himself like few others in the game and manages to make Grunt look like a shallow imitator by comparison. Wrex and Shepard didn’t enjoy the most cordial of relations; but there was a huge amount of respect on the table between the two. There’s a lot to like about Wrex, which is why it always pained me when people said they took him out in the first Mass Effect. Honestly if you didn’t restart and try to save him; you may as well let the Reapers win.
2. Tali’Zorah (ME1) – Easily one of the most defined squad mates in all the Mass Effect games. Tali’s journey is one that the gamer is taken on throughout all the Mass Effect games. She’s bubbly, smart but hugely naive the galaxy. Her story is one that only gets grander and more intimate as the stories progress. Yet it’s her continued loyalty to Shepard that makes her a valuable member of the team – choosing to remain in the face of the suicide mission. On top of this Tali comes packed with a huge selection of comments and banter on offer to lighten the mood, yet her interactions with Legion lent the character a deep moral and ethical point of crisis. Put simply Tali was easily one of the more rounded and well thought out options made available to gamers.
1. Garrus Vakarian (ME1) – Honestly is there any other choice? Garrus and Shepard are Mass Effect in my eyes, you can’t experience it without the two being in close proximity. From the moment he leaves C-Sec in Mass Effect 1 – he follows Shepard believing him to be right. His one-liners are always on point, the emotional beats of his character arc are well paced and the romance/bromance that develops just always feels right. Plus he kicks ass in game play. Whenever it came to picking my squad it almost always came down to “Who’s tagging along with me and Garrus this time?”. Maybe its bias but I personally never got bored with how well written he was, nor how well-rounded his antics were. Plus he calibrated the Normandy so well. What’s to hate?