Sci-Fi September: Top 5 Mass Effect Squad Mates

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Posted September 30, 2014 by Ryan Campbell in Video Games

What makes a great Mass Effect squad mate? Is it style? Cool looks? Great character? Or does it come down to how racy their sex scene was? As I went to compile this list I thought it would be easy, then I started realizing everyone I left off and just how in love I am with everyone that stepped foot on the Normandy. They were my family for three games and the achievement Bioware reached by making me care so much for all of them is something I’m not sure I’ll ever see replicated in gaming. I’m ashamed to admit how much I would have paid for the Citadel DLC which pretty much ended with me crying into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s like a teenage girl after an awful break up. Even James Vega who is the butt of many Mass Effect jokes has his sincere moments where the experiences of lost him and Shepard share create a bond not easily broken.

Mass Effect 2 on its release was treated with some criticism because majority of your squad mates from the first game were not going to be accompanying you in the game. Instead you got all of these other people that some were very cold towards (looking at you Jacob). But sure enough as the game went on we grew to love these characters to the point we were analyze every possible end game situation just to keep them alive. On my first play through of Mass Effect 2 Grunt was lost on the Collector Base, it was an awful moment as I literally said aloud “not Grunt!!!” I’ve never started another play through so fast in my life, I had to save him!

So despite my better judgment I will attempt to narrow the field down to the five best squad mates to ever stand shoulder to shoulder with the great Shepard.

I know it’s been a while but just in case SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!

First some honorable mentions (every one not on this list?). I wanted so badly to put Legion and Tali on this list but as I thought about it and what makes their characters so great is the overall story of their species. The battle between the Geth and the Quarians provides one of the universes excellent sub plots that develop over the games. Legion is an amazing character as the cold calculating sentient being who has managed to break away from the collective. As we explore his character we see the deep thought and choices that go into being a Geth and as Shepard we begin to question if the Geth have evolved beyond being just synthetic, plus he has N7 armor. For Tali I always saw her as the wide eyed child who wanted to see the universe and stumbled her way on to the Normandy. I always saw her as a little sister I had to protect and care for and because of that could never convince myself to have a romance with her on a play through. She’s too pure and innocent to see and deal with the things she has and Shepard has taken it upon himself to shield her from the dangers of the universe. By the end she’s all grown up and we have to learn to see her as more as she becomes an important person in the Flotilla. Both great characters but the 5 on the list were just a little bit better.

5. Wrex

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“Shepard”, you read that in Wrex’s voice didn’t you? What makes Mass Effect squad mates stories so great and is an overall theme of my list, is the growth we saw from these characters over the course of three games. Wrex has arguably the biggest evolution of any character in the series, he starts as an angry Krogan lashing out and only out for revenge that by the end he is an important leader for the Krogan and has set his need for vengeance and war aside to ensure the survival and cure of his species. He very much represents the angry young man who grows to become a compassionate leader. That is if you let him live, he’s spot on the list is secured for being the first time it really hit us how big the decisions we would make in this series would be. Before Kaiden or Ashley, before the Collector Base there was Wrex. After discovering Saren had generated a cure for the genophage that cause Krogan to go mad and be controlled Wrex wanted the cure. As Shepard you had to make a choice, kill the raging Wrex to preserve the mission or hold out hope you can soothe the beast. If you chose to save him you eventually talk him down and Wrex goes on to mature into one of the most influential leaders in the entire Krogan race. He brings tribes together and spearheads the movement to cure the genophage and restore their species. By the time that mist is in the air in Mass Effect 3 and the genophage is cured you truly are happy (sometimes in tears) for Wrex and his species.

4.Jack

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Jack has one of the more interesting and intriguing stories of all the squad mates. Jack can easily just skate by, chilling in the bowels of the Normandy wallowing in anger and self pity. Who wants to be around that? So you largely avoid her except when you have to deal with her and the story goes on, but if you choose to take the challenge of getting to know her, even eventually caring for her an amazing story of loss, anger, sadness and redemption comes through. In Mass Effect 2 when you are exploring the research station where she grew up you finally get a picture of the awful things she went through as a child and suddenly all the tattoos and tough exterior make sense and you see her striped down to the lonely sad girl underneath. At this moment you begin to care and you invest in her, maybe even fall in love with her. On one of my renegade play throughs in which I romanced her she told me we could run away together and become pirates. At that moment I remember thinking “yes, I want nothing more than the two of us to kick ass all over the Galaxy”. Romancing Jack took a lot of work, almost every break in the game you had to go talk to her and tip toe around the land mines of wrong dialogue choices that have her completely shutting down and shutting you out, but that couldn’t have been more accurate to her character. She is already unwilling to trust anyone let alone “Boy Scout” Shepard who is going to swoop in and save her, it’s a real testament to her character that she is such a tough nut to crack. In Mass Effect 3 we see her grow (in both character and hair) into this strong leader that has used her past to invest in those who are like her. Her teaching young biotics at Grissom Academy shows she has come full circle and now cares more than she ever thought she could. It’s a beautiful story.

3. Mordin

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Ahhh Mordin that crazy crazy Salarian. There is a common thread weaving through Mass Effect of redemption and maybe no one in the universe personifies that more than Mordin Solus. One of the leading men behind the genophage, Mordin wears the burden as a weight that he carries with him everywhere somehow making him stronger and yet weaker at the same time. His constant babbling about it is as if every moment of his day he is trying to justify to himself that it was the right call and he does a good job of it. In Mass Effect 2 when we storm the science facility on Tuchanka Mordin is defending his decision to not create the genophage. I remember completely buying his reasoning and being somewhat upset that even Shepard’s renegade response seemed to criticize the decision. Even when he tried to convince me to save the research data despite the despicable way it was obtained I believed him. It annoyed me there wasn’t a way to save the data and stay paragon. All I wanted to do was hug the guy and say thank you. Mordin had convinced me this was a thing that needed to be done. It wasn’t pretty but he chose to sell his soul and get his hands dirty so others didn’t have to. As we see though in Mass Effect 3 the decision has become too much to bear as Mordin makes the ultimate sacrifice to cure the genophage all the while still convincing himself it was the “right thing to do at the time”. I don’t know if there is anyone whose chats I enjoyed more than Mordins’, it’s as if I would sit Indian style with my hands under my chin like a child whenever he spoke. Not to mention his oddly dark comedic timing showed he was so much more than the monster that created the genophage. Farewell Mordin you were a great, awful man.

  1. Liara

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Liara, sweet sweet Liara, I never stood a chance against those freckles. Of the many romances over many play-throughs in Mass Effect I always thought of Liara as THE one. The work Bioware did with her character and making us care about her in so many ways is something every other developer should study. By the end she had become one of the strongest, smartest, and most powerful people in the galaxy and yet she still seemed so innocent. Her character is so sweet yet so sexy and still so ruthless. By the end I would have burned down half the galaxy just to save her and it saddened me to know I may never see her again. Her beginning as the scared scientist trapping herself in a kinetic field to her eventual adoption of the title of Shadow Broker mirrors the modest beginning to great leader development of many of Mass Effects key characters but Liara never lost the sense of the wide eyed dreamer she was at the beginning. In Mass Effect 3 she will not stop poking and probing Javik for info on the Protheans, despite the war going on and everything she has been through this opportunity to answer her lifelong questions about this extinct race has her salivating for information. I remember in Mass Effect 3 there was a scene when I went into her office and she was upset with me, she was mad that I had done something with Jessica Chobot, the reporter in the Normandy basement. The thing is I don’t remember doing anything with her! It was awful, I tried to patch things up and immediately kicked her off my ship but I had hurt Liara. I wanted to jump into the game and tell Liara nothing happened. A video game character made me feel that way. Liara’s heart for Shepard and her strength as a character puts her near the top of my list.

  1. Garrus

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It had to be Garrus. If Shepard has one main bro who has been there since the very begining its Garrus. Garrus’s story alone would make an excellent spin off as he is the son of a high ranking Turian Leader and was a legendary soldier in his own right. He forsakes everything to go work for Citadel security and peruse his dream of being a spectre. After seeing the red tape and politics that went on at Cit Sec he decided to take matters into his own hands and become the vigilante Archangel. Garrus is the rock that keeps Shepard on point; he always knows what to say when Shepard needs it whether it is a word of encouragement, some joking banter, a funny story or a good kick in the rear end. I would walk through Hell for Garrus and their final scene atop the citadel before the attack on the Cerberus base had me in tears. These two brothers at arms understand each other in a way you only can if you’ve faced death side by side. His strength in the battlefield as a squad mate in unparalleled he filled every gap Shepard left and there were not many missions he didn’t accompany me on. Garrus is in a very small group of people that remained in Shepard’s squad throughout all three games and it’s that connection and time spent swapping stories in elevators that has endeared him to us. His side dialogue when just walking around was terrific. His stories of Turians training for war and his escapades with a certain female soldier are all memorable moments we will never forget. And how can we talk about Garrus without mentioning his extreme devotion to the Normandy’s essential weapon calibrations. At the end of the series I wanted nothing more than for Garrus to be happy so when I opened that door and found him and Tali sharing a moment I was filled with sheer delight for my buddy. Thank you Garrus it’s you that gives my Shepard wings to soar.

So what’s your list look like? I’m willing to bet it’s different than mine. What squad-mates left a lasting mark on you? Let us know in the comments or on the We The Nerdy Facebook Fan Page and be sure to check out all our coverage for Sci-Fi September.


About the Author

Ryan Campbell

Avid gamer from Cincinnati Ohio. Also love Star Wars and Wrestling. Big basketball fan and dabble in really every other nerd thing out there. I would rather have a Gundam then Superpowers, so there is that.