Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is out this week, and in the run up to it launch, we’ve been asking ourselves some really important questions about the franchise. Questions like, which is the best interrupt? Was the ending really that bad? (No, no it wasn’t) And, of course, who is the best squadmate?
So you know what we did? We went ahead and ranked them. All 26 of them – not including Nyreen and Aria, as they don’t bloody count. And when I say 26, I of course have included Andromeda’s squadmates - you know, just so we can dunk on that game a little more. We kid, we kid. Andromeda isn’t actually that bad. However, we did that because we wanted to include Peebee. No other reason. That’s it. Without further ado, then, here’s all 26 of Mass Effect’s squadmates, ranked! In order, from the absolute worst to the absolute best!
26. James Vega
There is no doubt about it, James Vega is the worst Mass Effect squadmate, by a country mile. He’s your classic military-build, steroid junkie, meathead/jarhead, which to be honest, wouldn’t be so much of an issue, except that’s all his character is. That’s all he has going for him. He’s one-dimensionally awful. “Hey Shepherd, can we talk? I wanna be N7.” Bore off, James, nobody likes you! You’re dull as dishwater! After Mass Effect 3, though, the person we feel sorriest for is James voice actor Freddie Prinze Junior. Cole Ortiz, you deserved better than that… Again!
25. Liam Kosta
To put it plainly: Liam Kosta from Mass Effect Andromeda is just bloody annoying. And not in a lovely British, apples and pears kind of way. In an actual, “Oh my god, why won’t this idiot shut up?!” kind of way. It’s not just his East London, cheeky chappy vibe that annoys us, it’s the fact that A.) all this son of a bitch does is moan and criticise the other members of your crew; B.) he has a clear issue with taking orders; and C.) he’s perhaps the most reckless Mass Effect character we know… and yes, we’re good friends with Jack! Credit where credit is due, though, his loyalty mission in Andromeda was actually pretty great, and simultaneously quite funny. Still, the guy is a dick… and what the fuck is up with that couch?!
24. Kaidan Alenko
There is nothing inherently wrong with Kaidan Alenko, there just isn’t anything right about him. He’s the kind of guy that walks up to you at a party to tell you about his antique stamp collection. Truth is, he’s just kind of boring. And let’s be honest here, the fact that mid-way through Mass Effect 1, when it comes to choosing between saving well-known space racist Ashley Williams and the king of boring himself, Mr. Kaidan Alenko; the fact we didn’t hesitate in saving Ashley speaks volumes. Yes, we’d rather be locked up in a metal cylinder flying through space with a space racist than with Mr. Boring, it’s true. Maybe we’ll change that for the Legendary Edition? Oh, who are we kidding? Of course we won’t! Sorry, Kaidan!
23. Jacob Taylor
Speaking of boring, have you met Mass Effect 2’s Kaidan Alenko? No? His name is none other than Jacob Taylor – which as far as names go, is pretty boring too. What’s worse than a boring military jock with daddy issues? Well, the fact he was a good guy and then went to join the bad guys. He’s Cerberus scum. The fact that he’s not bottom of the list comes down to the fact that A.) his Lord of the Flies loyalty mission was quite good; and B.) he’s actually a flawed character in that he actually wants to do good. It’s just a shame he’s as bland and insipid as they come, while being an incredible hypocrite. He tries to do good, he’s just incredibly misguided… Also, hilariously, if you romanced him in Mass Effect 2 as FemShep, in the six months between Mass Effect 2 and 3 he becomes a gun for hire, meets someone else, knocks them up, then has the audacity to say “Come on Shepard! Did you want me to wait forever?” Ha! What an asshole!
22. Zaeed Massani
If it was the end of the world, and you needed to go on a suicide mission with a tightly knit group of badasses, I’m telling you now, Zaeed Massani would be the last person on my list. Zaeed is a bounty hunter, a mercenary; why the hell did anyone think he’d be a good pick for a squad to save the galaxy? Well, because someone paid him a load of cash and his loyalty can be bought. Still, not sure I’d want to save the world with someone who co-founded the Blue Suns! That’s the thing about Zaeed, though, he’s a nutcase, and while it can be entertaining to have someone so vengeful and forged in hate as part of your squad, it’s definitely not a wise choice if you want to save the galaxy! It’s not like there’s another side to him either: Zaeed is a ruthless son of a bitch and that’s it, and honestly, he’s a little much at times. Settle down, mate, go put another shrimp on the barbie (sorry to any Australians, I couldn’t resist).
21. Jaal Ama Darav
Yes, that’s right, folks! We are clearly now heading into the Mass Effect Andromeda portion of the rundown, where it becomes painfully obvious why Andromeda was destined to suck compared to the rest of the trilogy. Remember, folks, it’s not where you go, it’s who you’re with! Okay, I joke about Andromeda sucking, but there’s a half truth in there, to be honest. Andromeda’s squadmates when compared to those you could recruit in the original trilogy were… lacking, to say the least. Take Jaal Ama Darav for example, part of the newly discovered Angaran you find in the Andromeda galaxy - he’s basically a shit version of Javik. Sorry! The truth hurts sometimes! I know! For a newly discovered race, though, the Angarans weren’t exactly that alluring. They were quite primitive, lived in small environments, and heck, they eat paste to survive. Paste! That’s it! They can’t even process candy without it burning! The same can be said for Jaal himself actually – well, not the candy bit. I mean, Jaal was an okay character, he was sweet and charming, a little soppy at times, a touch weird, and a family fish – sorry, we mean family man – but that was it. There was nothing else to him. No mysterious side. He wasn’t really a badass. He was just a… fish-lion man. And not even a cool one like Prince Sidon from Zelda or The Shape of Water’s infamous big fish man.
20. Cora Harper
Mass Effect Andromeda’s Cora Harper is the perfect example of someone being better on paper than in real-life. On paper she sounds like some second-in-command ultimate badass, who was a former asari Huntress in another life, but in reality, she’s more of a spoilt, military brat. Okay, that’s a tad strong, we get it: you were trained to take over and become the pathfinder in the event of Alec Ryder’s death, only to simply lose it to some annoying offspring of his; she probably has a right to be a little bratty. Miss Goody Two Shoes Harper, though, actually deals with that quite admirably, and if you should get to know her and romance her, she’s actually a really sweet character. That said, there are nineteen better characters than her. That’s the crux of the matter.
19. Vetra Nyx
The problem with Vetra Nyx in Mass Effect Andromeda was always going to be: “but they’re no match for Garrus,” you know, being a turian and a bit of a jack of all trades. Or, as she puts it, the “Initiative wrangler, provisioner, gunner and everything in between”. Vetra was always destined to get an unfair rap because of those connections. The truth is, Vetra was actually a pretty cool character, and effectively becomes the big sister of the Pathfinder’s ship in Andromeda; one who has a big heart and is incredibly relatable. She was probably one of Andromeda’s more likeable and consistent characters, but the problem is, she’s almost too close to Garrus to stand apart and be her own character. It feels like the dev team said: “Oh yeah, people love Garrus! Let’s try and make a new Garrus!” and then ultimately failed. Sorry, Vetra, it’s true.
As far as character evolutions go, you can argue that EDI’s in Mass Effect is perhaps the most dramatic. Watching EDI evolve from the dry and always-to-the-point AI, to a fully-formed character with emotions and humour was an absolute joy to behold in the original trilogy. Sure, it helps that everyone’s favourite Cylon, Tricia Helfer, brings her to life with her fantastic delivery and wit, but credit goes to BioWare’s writers on this one, so much so that they managed to evolve a stoic, mechanical-by-nature AI into the trilogy’s comic relief in just a few games. It shouldn’t be underestimated just how hard that is to do! And all of that is before you even take into account the dynamic EDI shares with Normandy pilot, Joker, whose chemistry is just a fascinating watch from start to finish. Awwwww, isn’t love between a robot and man just adorable?!
17. Nakmor Drack
There is no doubt about it, Nakmor Drack is a badass. I mean, most krogan are, but Drack is a badass in an old grandfatherly way. The battled and embittered war veteran has seen it all, and even at the grand old age of a billion, he loves a good scrap. Best of all, Nakmor Drack loves a one-liner as much as he loves a ruck, and he’s good value for both of those on your journey throughout Andromeda. From the moment Drack uttered the line “Just point me to your ship and try to keep up!” he’s had a place in our hearts. There’s something about the grumpy grandpa routine that just fits Drack and Andromeda perfectly, and you’re more than grateful to have him at your side as you zip from planet to planet. He’s so goddamn protective, as well, you just don’t want to disappoint him! As Drack so eloquently puts it: “I hate you all. Let me be old and cranky in peace already.” You got it, pops!
From the moment you meet Javik in Mass Effect 3, the guy is an absolute legend! For starters, we’re talking to a frickin’ Prothean here, folks! That alone is amazing! But on top of that, getting an insight into the much alluded-to race in the third act of the trilogy was an absolute pleasure. BioWare even somehow managed to not only make him an utter badass, someone you’d want to go to war with, but they also made him relatively funny, with some cracking one-liners here and there. He’s noble, reflective, has some really cool abilities and the way he speaks about everyone else – AKA the “primitives” – is so blunt, it’s actually hilarious. We’ll always remember the whole: “Prometheans did not “date” primitives. We conquered them, enslaved them… We sometimes ate them, but we did not date them.” Sorry, what now? Haha, oh Javik, you’re such a character! Please don't eat me.
Morinth is a big reason why Mass Effect is so beloved among many fans. Not the character herself, although she is cool as heck – more on that in a second – but the existence of her and her storyline is the perfect example of BioWare’s commitment to the franchise, its attention to detail. In fact, most people won’t know who Morinth actually is, as there’s a good chance if you were a Paragon you chose to kill her to help her mother, Samara. You can though, if you feel inclined, choose to kill Samara and have Morinth assist you on your path to enlightenment. Simple, right? Well, not really, because what ensues is a web of lies! Morinth effectively becomes Samara in your squad, with Shepard and Morinth only really knowing the truth. What that means is Morinth dupes the rest of your squad into thinking she’s Samara, all while dropping the false pretence when you’re alone on the ship. Heck, even some of your squad members get suspicious of the mannerism changes! It’s classic BioWare, and brilliantly written!
The truth is, while it is fun and interesting to see what happens if you take Morinth on as a squad mate – the sneaking around, the duplicity – the truth of the matter is that it does feel a bit wrong. You know, the treachery and all that! You’re meant to be leading a tight knit squad, not being a scumbag. Plus, Samara herself is just an absolute legend. She’s the badass asari huntress that we wanted Cora to be in Andromeda. When Samara talks, you listen. When she walks, you take note. The fact that she spent 400 years chasing down her daughter to kill her because she wronged her species, well, that just shows you A.) how intense she is; B.) the honour with which she operates; C.) how dedicated she is to her cause; and D.) how much of a badass she actually is. If there’s anyone you want to go on a suicide mission with, it’s got to be her, surely? No question.
13. Ashley Williams
Say what you want about everyone’s favourite space racist, but Ashley Williams is a pretty fantastic squad member in the Mass Effect universe. And no, we don’t mean because of her L’Oreal makeover from unsuspecting Pink Ranger in Mass Effect 1, to wannabe supermodel in Mass Effect 3. As far as loyalty goes, Ashley Williams’ can’t be matched. She was with you on Eden Prime and she was there as you went toe-to-toe with the Reapers at the end of Mass Effect 3… well, unless you got her killed along the way that is. You fool! Ashley Williams, fierce loyalty aside, is one of the few staples of Mass Effect and an incredibly deep, complex character. It’s easy to take a few lines out of context and call her a space racist, but what’s not easy is to look below the surface, at the decorated soldier who has a penchant for poetry, tends to speak her mind, all while being a little closed off. She’s private, keeps to herself, she makes mistakes, she says dumb shit, she’s massively flawed, but perhaps the most poignant thing is, she’s likely the most accurate portrayal of a human being in the whole franchise. Think about that one!
12. Miranda Lawson
Speaking of human beings, Miranda Lawson is as far away from being an accurate portrayal of a human being as humanly possible. She is calculated, psychotic, ruthless, and an emotionless lapdog. Which is why we love her. Well, not that specifically, but the fact that beneath all that, she’s just like the rest of us. Wracked with doubt, haunted by her past - she is us every day when we step out of our houses to face life, putting on a brave face despite what you have going on. She is the personification of the will to succeed, at all costs. The flip-flop from detestable scumbag to loveable squadmate is an absolute joy to watch, and her loyalty mission is perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching in the entire franchise. It’s beautiful. Just as is her transformation. BioWare has a way of writing complex characters that you love to hate to start with, and by the end of it all, would give up your life to save them. That’s Miranda in a nutshell.
11. Urdnot Wrex
Urdnot Wrex, what a legend, eh? He was effectively the passenger in the first real Mass Effect moment that many of us found ourselves in. You know, the Virmire beach encounter! Or, well, massacre, depending on how you fared. Do you shoot him? Talk him down? Does the fiercely loyal Ashley take him down? The possibilities are endless! Well, not endless, but very different! If you do manage to not get him killed, Wrex turns out to be another of Shepard’s fiercely loyal flock and an absolute delight throughout. Watching this stubborn, battle-hardened ass slowly come around to liking and respecting you based on your decisions, and how you act in the field, that’s what Mass Effect is all about. This witty, hyper-aggressive krogan is an absolute joy to have with you in the original Mass Effect and beyond, as he threatens his way across the galaxy dropping one-liners with wild abandon. He’s like the uncle you have who’s equal parts terrifying and hilarious at the same time. Loves a good headbutt too, but then again, who doesn’t?
10. Kasumi Goto
There’s just something about Kasumi in Mass Effect 2 that we absolutely adore! I mean, we’ve always wanted to befriend a super thief, or in the words of Shepard, the “best thief in the galaxy” and on top of that, she’s a superstar hacker who can, and I quote, “hack unfamiliar technology better than anyone else.” What’s not to love? Throw in some quick-witted one-liners, some fancy parkour, an intriguing sense of mystery, and her ultra-cool cloaking technology, and Kasumi actually turns out to be a really surprising character. She’s pretty savage and brutally honest at times, as well, which we absolutely love! Her tenacity while searching for her lost love is not only admirable, it’s also pretty damn inspiring. She’s not only got a really cool loyalty mission, too, that has Shepard getting their heist on, but she was also one of the few to see through Morinth’s ruse. That’s the kind of keen eye you want on the team! Plus, she effectively turns into Robin Hood later into the trilogy and her interjections in the Citadel DLC are absolutely fantastic! Anyway, come back later, I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about.
We have a lot of love for the foul-mouthed, tattoo-laden, biotic super psycho, Jack, in Mass Effect 2, not just because she does not give a fuck about anything, but because she answers the age-old question: “Who hurt you?!” Well, we find out, eventually, if you carry out her loyalty mission, that is. The best part about Jack is that not only do you get to rescue Subject Zero in Mass Effect 2, from those Cerberus scumbags and watch her tear through the space prison, but over the rest of the trilogy you actually get to see her grow from wild animal, into a valuable member of society. It’s a touching journey that sends out a brilliant message: if Jack can come back from the brink, so can you! The fact that Jack ends up looking out for potential at-risk teens at the Grissom Academy – a place that will be near and dear to Mass Effect fans who have read the books, as well – is just the icing on the cake. Yes, we’re that nerdy and love Mass Effect that much that we consumed every piece of media on it. And you know what? We’re totally okay with it.
8. Liara T'Soni
I’m fairly sure, that in the history of Mass Effect, no character has gone through so much of a transformation as Liara has. I mean, it’s not even close. Even the aforementioned Jack’s transformation is nothing compared to Liara’s! Ms. T’Soni, in the space of a few games and a bit of DLC, goes from timid scholar who clearly has lived an extremely sheltered life, to becoming the ultimate pirate queen, who is one of the most powerful people in the galaxy. It’s actually quite a staggering change that beggars’ belief, but we’re here for it. Why? Because of why she makes this dramatic change: for us! For Commander bloody Shepard! The change from bumbling idiot – of sorts – to powerful space overlord is fantastic cinema. You just love to see it! And it couldn’t have happened to a sweeter blue alien chick.
There’s no other way to put this: Legion is just chuffin’ brilliant. We love him! In fact, we love everything about him, from the way he talks, to the N7 armour he dons, the way his solitary illuminated eye moves when he’s talking and thinking, the way it pulses and contracts, to the way he carries himself. And no word of a lie here, he’s probably unintentionally one of the funniest characters in Mass Effect. Every time he says Shepard-Commander, it melts our cold icy hearts a little, too! Still, a dab hand with a sniper rifle, Legion tackles everything with flawless logic, and with the erstwhile Geth on board, you’ve actually got the power of the hive mind. Can’t complain there! Plus, how can you disagree with anyone who says: “We do not comprehend the organic fascination with self-poisoning, auditory damage, and sexually transmitted disease." So wise! So wise!
We’ve had grumpy grandpa krogan, Drack; battle-hardened warrior legend and cranky uncle, Wrex; and with Grunt, we complete the trifecta by adding the petulant teen krogan, which would otherwise be annoying, if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s a tank-bred behemoth of a krogan. A “pure” krogan as Grunt likes to say! He’s right, you should be in awe! Grunt is just an excellent crewmate in Mass Effect 2 and beyond, from the initial interaction when you open his pod, right until the end, Grunt is the gift that keeps on giving. His enthusiasm for battle, his hyper-aggression, he’s brusque, and his frequent masked-in-innocence comments are always a highlight - he’s just a really fun and wild character to have along for the ride. And he’s genuinely funny. The fact that he’s involved in the best exchange in the Citadel DLC with Wrex and Shepard cements the fact that he’s a genuine hoot! I mean, he got so pissed up once that he fell out a building window, partied on a krogan memorial, set fire to a C-Sec car, which he then proceeded to steal, while on fire; and only got caught because he was hungry and wanted some noodles! What a legend! Shepaaaaaaaaaaaard.
5. Pelessaria B'Sayle
I’ll be honest, as a Mass Effect fan, it took me a while before I really started enjoying Andromeda – which is a story for another day! But one of the early hooks for us, and one of the few reasons we persevered, was Peebee. The lovable, cheeky asari, who would have been at home in any other Mass Effect game, such is the quality and depth of her character. Like all the best Mass Effect characters, she’s incredibly witty, oozes charm, her banter with the other crewmates you take along on missions is fantastic – especially hers and Drack’s – she’s sassy, extremely clever, adventurous, a massive flight risk which becomes an ongoing joke, she’s courageous, and slightly bloody unhinged. There’s no doubt about it, she’s an absolute peach of a companion, and up there with the best of the best!
4. Tali'Zorah nar Rayya (vas Neema/vas Normandy)
It’s pretty much a known Mass Effect fact that there is no sweeter character in the whole Mass Effect universe than Tali’Zorah vas Neema nar Rayya… or vas Normandy. Definitely not Von though, which means weak bladder in quarian. Thanks for that, Tali. That’s the thing with Tali, though, she may be sweet and genuine, and it’s frickin’ adorable when she gets flustered, but what isn’t talked about enough in relation to Tali is her expert use of sarcasm. She’s not tall in stature, she’s actually incredibly vulnerable thanks to the physiology of the quarians and the suit she wears, but holy hell, can she take down anyone with her legendary wit! She’s feisty for a little one too, and isn’t afraid to stick two fingers up at anyone looking to screw over the little man or gain a dishonest buck. Her insight and sass are just an absolute must-have on your off-ship party, it really is, and her general demeanour and character is one you can swear by throughout the entire trilogy. And let’s be honest here… drunk Tali is hilarious!
3. Mordin Solus
Mordin Solus is one callous son of a bitch. In fact, there is no-one in the entire game who is as callous as our main man Mordin, a salarian scientist who answers only to logic and the advancement of civilisations. He’s basically a mad scientist. But you know what? He’s our mad scientist! Whether he’s talking in circles, answering his own questions or callously deciding the fate of an entire species, you always know what you get when it comes to Mordin. Getting to know Mordin is getting to know the burdens he lives with, getting to know that he’s not just needlessly callous, and he lives with regret. Like all of us. Whatever Mordin does is for the greater good, but sometimes that brings with it a rather large toll on our reptile-like friend. Seeing the other side of Mordin, his spiritual side, his affectionate side, becoming his friend – seeing him sing Gilbert and Sullivan – this is what makes Mordin such an unbelievable character.
2. Garrus Vakarian
I know, I know. Robbed, robbed, blah blah, fix, fix! Whatever - you’re wrong. Don’t get us wrong, we absolutely adore Garrus – it’s why he’s number two in this ranking, duh – but Garrus is the kind of guy you’d grab a beer with and shoot cans with. The kind of guy you’d shoot the shit with, have a chuckle with, be the best of mates with, but is he badass enough to stand next to you as you take the fight to a galaxy-ending threat? YES! Of course he is! It’s why he’s number two! The guy is an absolute superstar! He’s funny, you can count on him when times get tough... Heck, he’s even been through some dark times – especially around the beginning of Mass Effect 2 – that he’s edgy enough, loyal enough, and more importantly, funny enough, to be your right-hand man on your journey across the galaxy! Garrus is a Mass Effect staple that I’m afraid to say, BioWare will be chasing after for decades trying to recapture his essence. I do wonder whether he’ll finally finish those calibrations in the Legendary Edition though…
1. Thane Krios
Before any of you say that Garrus was robbed, you’ve never been more wrong in your life. Thane Krios, the legendary drell assassin is dying, and do you know what he’s doing as his last noble act? Oh, that’s easy, he’s joining up with Shepard to save the galaxy from the Reapers. What a nice guy! How many other Mass Effect characters can say that? None, that’s the answer. Everyone is doing it to live, to survive, and so on. Thane is doing it to atone. To give his death some kind of meaning. If that’s not incredibly noble and inspiring, I don’t know what is. Not only does Thane have the best introduction of the entire series, dropping out of a vent and kicking some serious ass, but he’s also one of the most selfless characters – which is a weird thing to say about an assassin. But that’s the thing with the drells, they really don’t get a choice.
Thanks to the pact between the drell and the hanar, the drell are duty bound to do the dirty work for the hanar, as thanks to saving their race, which is a bit weird if you ask us. Anyway! I digress! Just because Thane’s this elusive assassin – often described as the best in the galaxy – doesn’t mean he’s one-dimensional either. Hell no! Thane is deep. Deeper than all the other Mass Effect characters put together. The man has more levels than bloody Candy Crush! Thane Krios is the perfect Mass Effect squadmate then: he’s honourable, a bit spiritual, he’s a badass, he’s mysterious, his backstory is intriguing; heck, he can even recall memories like they just happened yesterday, which is an ultra-cool ability to have, but more importantly, he can actually hold a meaningful conversation. What more could you ask for? Nothing! That’s why he’s the best! Here's to you, Thane. You absolute legend.
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