How Mass Effect Stole Our Hearts: Characters

Please note: This article will likely contain spoilers of the previous three Mass Effect games. If you intend to play those games before playing Andromeda, I would recommend walking away.

Looking Back: The Characters of Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3

Character development is important for any story you watch, read, play, or even write. If you want a good story, you need good characters. That’s probably why BioWare has always done such a great job with their storylines in games. Going back to games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or even Jade Empire, BioWare has created fun and interesting characters from all walks of life, and the Mass Effect series is no different.

Amusingly enough, I actually feel like the one character that doesn’t really need, or in some ways deserve, to be talked about in this sense is probably your own character, Commander Shepard. Why? Mostly because YOU are the one developing him or her as you progress through the games. You get to decide if Shepard is the nicest, most honorable person in the galaxy… or the worst, most horrible piece of scum who ever lived. It’s difficult to talk about Shepard’s character development since it’s you making decisions throughout the game that determines how Shepard grows as a character. Beyond Shepard, though, Mass Effect is filled with a ton of characters that are fun and exciting, with a lot of depth and history.

For example, in ME1 we are introduced to the villain of that game, Saren Arterius, who has a long-standing disgust and distrust of humanity. If you read the book Mass Effect: Revelation, you’d get a chance to see how he interacts with humanity when he teams up with David Anderson, essentially your character’s mentor at the beginning of the first game. What I find most interesting about Saren, though, is that he turns out to be a bad guy not because he is evil, but rather because his actions were influenced in partly by indoctrination from the Reaper, Sovereign, and one part because he felt that the races of the galaxy stood no chance against the Reapers. As a result, he tried to work with them to minimize damage as much as possible (spoiler alert: Sovereign betrays him). While his actions were wrong, his intentions were noble. But I think that’s what made him such a compelling adversary in the first game.

On the subject of adversaries, the main antagonists of the games are fascinating. From Saren to the Illusive Man, and of course the Reapers themselves, BioWare has done an amazing job filling the galaxy with compelling bad guys. In fact, as Shepard, you actually work for one: the Illusive Man. He proves to be an interesting person in his own right, but his goals and intentions ultimately lead him down a similar path and fate as Saren. But while Saren was trying to help all the races of the galaxy, the Illusive Man’s goal was purely for the benefit of humanity.

Along the way, Commander Shepard teams up with a wide range of people from a variety of alien races, beliefs, and attitudes. This diversity is one of my personal favorite things about the games. Each character you have on your team brings their own ethical and moral codes. For example, there is  Garrus Vakarian, a turian who started as what was essentially a criminal investigator on the Citadel, then eventually teaming up with Shepard and becoming a tactical and military genius, all the while trying to keep his insecurities or lack of faith at bay. Shepard helps bring him purpose and eventually he finds his own way.

In addition to Garrus, we also have Liara T’Soni, whose changes are astounding compared to many of the other characters. In ME1 she is essentially a nerdy scientist who comes off as a naive teenaged girl, but in ME2 and ME3 she is pretty cutthroat in her new position as the Shadow Broker, which is the title she takes as the head of a massive underground intelligence network that spans the entire galaxy. Talk about an upgrade!

Then there are characters like Miranda or Jack from ME2. Both of whom start off as extremely serious individuals, although Jack’s personality was always extremely… explosive? That’s definitely the right word. But if you take the time to get to know either of them and actually help them work through their issues (sometimes with each other) then you find out each of them has a much softer, caring, and loyal side than their exteriors depict.

Plenty of other characters exist with amazing changes throughout, although if there was one consistency in the game it was my general annoyance and hatred for the Citadel Council. Sure, they mean well, but for crying out loud they always frustrated the living hell out of me. Whether it was in ME1 and brushing aside the existence of the Reapers, or even in ME2 when they ignored the threat of the Collectors (who were working for the Reapers, by the way!), they always found a way to make me mad out of their sheer stupidity. It’s because of this kind of thing I try to stay out of politics as much as I can.

Looking Forward: Characters of Andromeda

So what can we expect from Mass Effect: Andromeda? We don’t know a ton about each of the characters, but we do know who will be on your squad. As the player, you take the role of one of the two Ryder Twins–Scott or Sara Ryder. Depending on if you choose male or female, you will play as either one respectively. Along the way you team up with various characters including:

  • Cora Harper: the second-in-command of the human Pathfinder team. Interesting note here is that she shares the same name as the Illusive Man’s real name: Jack Harper. A relation, perhaps? That can’t be a coincidence.

  • Liam Kosta: a human combat and crisis-response specialist and apparently very idealistic person. He trained as an engineer and eventually became a policeman before volunteering for the Andromeda Initiative.

  • Peebee: an Asari with an awesomely adorable nickname who also kind of changes the norms from what we’ve seen of Asari in past games. Unlike Liara and Samara, Peebe is apparently bubbly and extremely independent. If you’ve played Dragon Age: Inquisition, she sounds a lot like Sara to me. She should be fun to interact with.

  • Vetra Nyx: a female turian! I am actually intrigued by this character as we hardly ever saw female turians in the original trilogy. Having lived on the streets and likely been a part of criminal gangs or mercenary groups, she is likely to be a badass and good person to watch your back.

  • Nakmor Drak: A krogan! Ok let’s be honest: Krogans are awesome! The galaxy’s muscle and all-around beasts, who also make for loyal friends and epic allies. Drak himself is an interesting departure from Wrex and Grunt, as Drak is really really old, having spent more than 1,400 years causing problems in the Milky Way, according to his profile.

  • Jaal: Last, but not least, Jaal is actually a member of one of the many races that is actually native to the Andromeda galaxy. Not much is known about him as of yet, but he has been described as a “resistance fighter” according to this trailer. I’m very curious to see how he interacts with the “invaders” from the Milky Way.

These are just the characters you get to take with you during your time playing Mass Effect: Andromeda. Who knows what other characters we get to see, interact with, fight, and more? All I know is that the more I research this, the more excited I am to play the game.

And that wraps up week two of the three-part series on Mass Effect’s past and future! Again, if you haven’t checked out part one, go do so now! You can find the article here on the blog! Next week I’ll dive into the combat mechanics of the original trilogy and how it has evolved, as well as look at what we’ve seen thus far for Andromeda.

What are your thoughts on the characters of Mass Effect? Who did you like best? Who did you romance? Were you paragon, renegade, or somewhere in between? Let us know!

Most of the information regarding the plot, characters, and gameplay can be found on the official Mass Effect website: