The Mass Effect franchise built a name for itself through its amazing focus on world building and in particular, its extensive array of complex and compelling characters. Many of whom are a part of the narrative from beginning to end. As a player, it becomes near impossible to not develop a deep attachment to the Normandy crew.
With the Legendary Edition of the trilogy being released next month, these attachments will be back in the forefront. However, with the amount of characters in the series it can be easy to lose some of them in the mix. When dipping back in, it’s important to make sure the squadmates you focus on are the best of the games have to offer. So, here are five characters that are integral to making that run-through the most fulfilling experience possible.
5. Kaidan Alenko
Kaidan is not one of the most loved squadmates on the Normandy roster. However, if one does actually give Kaidan a go, they’d realise just how great of an inclusion he is to the Normandy team. While most people usually let him die in the first game, his character development if he is given the chance to live is fantastically written and much better than the development Ashely is given. Idealist to the core, Kaidan is a great moral compass for paragon Shepard and is a great support in combat throughout the first game. While I like Ashely, I really do, her portrayal in the third game left a lot to be desired. However, Kaidan returns as a new and improved character addition to the series.
In the third game he is one of the strongest squamates in the team. Having overload, reave and cryo blast at his disposal makes him diverse, unique and effective in any fight. He is also tough as nails as well and rarely needs to be revived. He might not have the most abrasive personality, but it is his slight quips and dry sense of humour that make him relatable. A good balance to the many larger than life personalities of the other characters.
His choice in staying loyal to the alliance and his distrust towards Shepard makes for a fantastic dynamic throughout the third game and truly believable tension. A refreshing change to the unwavering trust seen in all of the other squadmates. Sure, he may not talk a lot, but we need that balance. Especially if he ever finds himself in the same room as my next squad member.
4. Mordin Solus
Arguably the best character to come out of the second Mass Effect game, Mordin is one of the most well developed squadmates within the trilogy. Not only that, but he provides a human side to the often robotic Salarian race.
He breaks down the stereotypes surrounding what it means to be a scientist Salarian and tries his hardest to singlehandedly redeems the whole race for their typically selfish and annoying nature. He is a great member to bring along to missions, with his motor mouth commentary a great source of entertainment on missions. His incinerate ability and submachine gun skills are also extremely effective in any fight, making him a great ally in a firefight. And while he may only be a squadmate for the second game, he plays a very big role in the third and final game.
From a narrative standpoint, his inclusion provides a further exploration into the consequences of the genophage. His insight and personal role in this story arc gives Shepard an insight into the reasoning behind the decision to sterilise the Krogan race. And for those who choose to cure the genophage in the third game, Mordin is given the opportunity to have one of the great redemption arcs in gaming history.
3. Tali Zorah Vas Normandy
Who would have thought the quiet Quarian Shepard stumbles across in the back streets of the citadel would become one of the sassiest squadmates of the Normandy family. Similar to Garrus, Tali is loyal to Shepard throughout all three games. This really gives her the chance to come into her own as a character. Her loyalty mission in the second game is extremely memorable as it provides a fantastic insight and focus into the Quarians and their tragic history. Not to mention that in combat her attack drone Chiktikka vas Paus is both awesome and cute. Paired with her shotgun, she makes her a formidable ally in close combat scenarios.
While her physical design lacks uniqueness in the first game, she gets a nice remodel for her second outing. One that really makes her stand out from the other Quarians. Along with Garrus, Tali is one of the only two characters that is a squadmate throughout all three games. She’s loyal to Shepard and is someone who gets a lot of narrative progression. She may seem like she’s a bit of an afterthought in the first game. A character that just falls through the cracks. But I promise you, by the time the second game is finished you’ll realise just how great she is. You’ll be absolutely loving the quirky tech genius.
Additionally, the role she plays in the battle between the Quarians and Geth in the third game is extremely powerful.
2. Garrus Vakarian
Shepard’s right hand man, Garrus has your back through thick and thin. He remains a steady presence throughout the entirety of the trilogy. His long range sniping provides great support and his ability to mow down waves of enemies with his assault rifle make him a great member to bring to any fight. Most importantly, his transformation from c-sec agent to vigilante to straight up badass is satisfying to watch and play through. He is also given some of the best dialogue in the game. And for those playing as Femshep I know the temptation to have a romance with Garrus is strong. However, if you manage to withhold from doing so, an amazing romance for Garrus happens on the third game that always make me smile.
His personal missions were some of the most satisfying and rewarding to play through. Whether it was shooting or saving Sidonis in Garrus’ Mass Effect 2 loyalty mission, or making the gut-wrenching decision to beat him at the shoot off in the citadel in the final game. A Mass Effect game without Garrus and his calibrations is one no fan will ever want to see. Lets face it, there’s no Shepard without Vakarian.
1. Liara T’Soni
In many cases, Liara acts as a deuteragonist with Shepard throughout the trilogy. I have to admit though: I originally did not like Liara at all. I would barely talk to her on the Normandy. Then during a recent playthrough I did, and Liara was put into the limelight. This ended up being a game changer. Taking her on the brunt of my missions, I realised just how useful her biotics are in a fight. Max out singularity and she becomes the best supporting squad mate. Additionally, if you pair this with throw, she truly is a force to be reckoned with.
Similar to Tali, Liara reinvents herself in the second game. She moves away from her timid scientist persona to adopt a hardened and confident one. This transformation really comes to a head during The Shadow Broker DLC. Firstly, the DLC itself is a masterpiece of action and narrative prowess. And with the Legendary Edition including all DLC in the copy, everyone will get to experience this amazing edition to the game. One that just furthers Liara’s importance as a character.
From a narrative perspective, she is integral to the ending of the Reaper invasion. Her deep knowledge of the Protheans leading the discovery of the plans for the crucible. Her dry sense of humour shines in later instalments. With her deep connection and relationship with Shepard leading to some of the most well executed and constructed conversations and moments of the trilogy.
The Mass Effect trilogy has some of the most memorable characters in all of gaming. With the Legendary Edition‘s release approaching, fans will be able to relive the franchise in all its glory. Which squadmates do you think are the best in the series? Let me know in the comments below.