Sonntag, 16. April 2017

Mass Effect: Ranking the Squad Members

Artist: virak -


So over the last few weeks I played Mass Effect Andromeda. Like... lots of it.
55+ hours playtime and apparently 91% Completion according to the youngest save file with my first character should make it clear that I am having quite a good time with it.

Being a mix between Mass Effect 1 and Dragon Age Inquisition aka my two favourite Bioware Games it doesn't come as a surprise to me that that is the case and I have a hard time understanding why it is received so poorly by oh so many others.
However I am a reasonable guy, I can see and admit that it has some flaws: The character creation is a joke, jumping from planet to planet to solve almost every secondary quest  is exhausting and yes the fact that the actual Hero of the Story isn't you but rather the A.I. in your head is kinda strange.
Other things are down to preference: If you prefered Mass Effect as a Gears of War-ish Corridor-shooter with a more cinematic focus over exploration on vast maps than that is good for you but we won't agree on that matter anytime soon.
However there is one complaint I keep hearing and reading that is just some serious bullshit.
Said complaint is: "The new characters are all inferior to the old Crew."

Why is that bullshit you ask? Keep reading and you shall find out.
Originally I wanted to Review Mass Effect Andromeda and compare it to each of the older games but talking about the characters alone is quite enough work already. Yes I am lazy, deal with it. ;)

Before we start let's get to the Rules: I'll only talk about characters that were actually Squad Members at some point. Suvi, Joker, Dr. Chocolates (google it), etc. DO NOT COUNT.
I'll also exclude Kasumi, because I haven't bought her DLC thus she obviously never showed up in any of my playthroughs.

Sorry Kasumi but your Shepard is in another castle. Or somethin'.
Is that cool with everyone?
Alright since I don't hear any objections I'll just go ahead.


24 - Zaeed Massani

Zaeed is your typical battlehardened Veteran Soldier Guy. And that is pretty much it.
There really isn't much more to him and if there is I forgot it because it probably wasn't very interesting.

23 - Cora Harper

When I said that Andromeda's characters aren't generally "weaker" than the ones from the Milky Way Squad I was talking about the other five.
Cora sadly feels like a friendlier, less interesting clone of Ashley with none of that lovable bite. Her past as an Asari Huntress didn't do much for me either.
I really like her voice though and if more of her dialogues on the ship would be as cool as the ones she has on the Nomad she would definitly rank higher on the list.

22 - Javik

Being the last surviving Prothean aka the mysterious alien race everyone and their mother spoke in awe of during the first trilogy one would think having Javik around would be quite interesting. And one would be right for as long as he spouts exposition about his civilisation and it's eventual downfall.
The man himself sadly isn't really of much value as a character since his personally only consists of one trait: Arrogance.

21 - Jacob Taylor

He'd probably be a really nice guy to hang out with in real life but that is not what I am looking for in a Mass Effect Squadmember.
You could kinda compare him to Hawkeye in the first Avengers Movie as the guy who is kinda there but you don't really care.
And don't go on calling me a Hawkeye hater now, his Comic Counterpart is the realest of all the real MVP's but in the MCU he only works when written by the Russo Brothers so far.
Oh ahm yeah.. Jacob. He has a really cool loyalty Mission in Mass Effect 2. Otherwise he could easily find himself at the very bottom of the list.

20 - James Vega

At first glance Vega is your cliche Douchebag Gym Bro. More Muscles than needed, a bunch of tattoos and dogmarks around the neck.
At second glance he is your cliche Douchebag Gym Bro who is actually quite self aware, more open minded than you'd think and sometimes even funny.
Who would have guessed?

19 - Liara T'Soni

The one character I never had with me in Mass Effect 1.
While she never struck me as overly interesting she also never bored me completely either and if being the one who is actually responsible for retrieving Shepards body between Mass Effect 1 and 2 wasn't enough to give her a pass then know that she is also always a supportive friend to your character which I'll consider a plus in this instance.

18 - Miranda Lawson  

While my initial reaction to Space PinUp Miranda was to throw her and half of what Mass Effect 2 introduced to the Series, out of the airlock I got to admit that she grew on me over time.
As an integral part of Mass Effect 2's mainstory and from what I've seen actually an alright romance option she is by default better than everyone I mentioned so far. And she actually turns out to have a personality if you talk to her often enough.

17 - Peebee

For now she doesn't come off as an overly deep character but she sure is a delight. She will most certainly move from this position over the course of the next game/s but I can't possible say if she'll move up or down yet.
She could grow stale or she could develope and grow as a person. We shall see.

There really isn't more to say at the moment.

16 - Grunt

Other than both of the other Krogans, Grunt is a young one. A teenager so to speak. A teenager born from a testtube.
Though he proves again and again that he too is a "real Krogan" which is a really huge deal for his people.
Sadly Grunt drew a shorter straw in Mass Effect 3, preventing us from seeing him develope a bit more.

15 - Kaidan Alenko

The Guy was so boring in Mass Effect 1 he became a Meme. Well okay that isn't fair but there is a reason I almost never took him with me back then.
Fortunately it's like they switched him out for someone else in Mass Effect 3 as Kaidan is charming and even funny at times. And being one of the two members who doesn't just forget that Shepard worked for a terrorist organization for a while helps as well.

 14 - Liam Kosta

Liam is a (sometimes) likeable screw up who means well and does whatever a Spiderman can...uhm... well you get the idea.
He is the mastermind behind the Tempests Movie Night aka the best scene in Mass effect Andromeda and he also has the best loyalty Mission in my opinion.
We didn't get to see too many different layers of his personality yet but here is hoping that the next Game will deliver on that.

13 - Thane Krios

A really cool Assassine with a really cool Family story, and a really cool voice who is also slowly dying.

What's not to love?

12 - Vetra Nyx

Out of all the "strong female characters who looks out for their Sisters" of which there are three she is definitely the one thet benefits the most from it. It helps that her sister Sid is a really cool character by herself.
However Vetra is also very cool on her own.
She has great ingame conversations with almost everyone, especially Drack and her Introduction scene alone is pure gold.

11 - Samara

As if being somewhat of a warrior-monk wasn't cool enough already Samara also got two great personal storylines in both games she appears in.
Her credo she lives by and her calm personality add a very unique dynamic to the Team and having to kill her own daughter who is a murderer is just some really heartbreaking shit.

10 - Jack

If Punk Rock would be a character it would be her in Mass Effect 2. As fun as Punk Rock is though, it's not especially deep or complex and fails to capture my interest for longer periods.
Fortunately Jack grows as a person in Mass Effect 3 almost as much as her Hair grows.
Seriously that is some long hair for someone who was bald two years earlier.
Badass Teacher Jack is in any case awesome and vastly superior to Prison Break Jack.

9 - Edi

Edi is probably the character that goes through the most changes. Starting out as a rogue A.I. in Mass Effect 1 she is revamped in the follow up game as the Normandy SR2's "Soul" and in Mass Effect 3 she not only gets a body, which resulted in a disturbing amount of sexy fanart but also falls in love with a Human, namely Joker, the Ships Pilot.
The best part is: While an A.I. with your usual robotic A.I. tropes she is actually a layered and funny character that feels more human than some humans.

8 - Mordin Solus

The most badass Salarian to ever exist isn't only a fighter but also a genius doctor who... really likes to sing.
He also gets the best death scene in the entire series by a large margin and if you played the game "right" he even sings then.
I keep saying that Mass Effect 2 was the weakest game and I stand by it but Mordin is one of those reasons it's still a really good game.

7 - Nakmor Drack

Drack is one seriously old Geezer.
He lived through more Wars than anyone else and consists of quite a lot of prosthetics.
Of course being a Krogan he is still a force to be reckoned with. He loves the things Krogans love, namely fighting things, shooting things and killing things but at the same time he is a loving grandfather, a father figure for Ryder and he is also as clueless about the extranet as old people in our world are about the internet. Seriously read his e-mails. All of them.

6 - Tali'Zorah nar Rayya/ vas Neema/ vas Normandy

Tali is without a doubt the one Squadmember who benefits the most from being a mayor player in all the original three Games. While basically a likeable but unspectacular teenage girl character during the first game she develops a great personality and becomes a keyplayer in the faith of her entire race without any of it feeling rushed, stupid or out of place.

5 - Legion

After Mass Effect 1 we view the Geth as mindless Killer Robots as we have every reason too. And then this guy shows up out of nowhere, saves Shepards Life and shows the Player and the entire Galaxy what else Geth can be:
One of the most fascinating races in a Universe filled to the brim with fascinating races.
In a way that reminds me of the Arbiter in the Halo Series who turns from an enemy to one of the best Space Bro's in Videogame History.

4 - Jaal Ama Darav

The very best answer to everyone who says that Mass Effect Andromeda's characters are somewhat less deep or worse written than in the Original Trilogy.
Jaal is a complex, exotic, sympathetic Warrior with a smooth voice and a layered personality.
Out of all the Mass Effect characters he definitly had the best start as that guy is your Squads MVP from the moment he shows up and he also has chemistry with every other Companion in the game.

3 - Ashley Williams

Oh boy this will be a long one...
So, according to what seems like the Majority of Mass Effect Players Ashly is not only a racist and a bitch but also a traitor. An annoying military tomboy but also a brainless Jersey Shore bimbo.
An unnecessary... eh.. I think you get the idea by now.
All this tells me is that too many people have never taken the time to get to know her and that probably holds true for a lot of other characters.
Firstly in a Universe full of Krogans talking about eating Salarians, Turians thinking that everyone else is beneath them and so on and so forth I think it's kind of hypocritical to call Williams a racist because she voices concerns about having some rather randomly recruited Aliens serving under the first human Spectre in the most modern ship of the entire alliance fleet. But fair enough, she sure is a bit ignorant at the start of her journey. Growing up in a disgraced military family, having to work twice as hard as any other soldier in the alliance who not too long ago fought in a war against the Citadel races, losing everyone she knew on Eden Prime and then seeing first hand how the council on the citadel doesn't give much of a damn about it will do that to you.

However that is just were her journey starts and yet from the get go she has friendly dialogues and a  sisterly relationship with Tali (which leads to her sobbing in grief if the Quarian dies in ME3) and over time developes friendships with a lot of Aliens on both Normandies. Liara and Garrus at least even comment on it. Furthermore there would be her hatred for the Humanity-first-Terror-group Cerberus to the point were she doesn't join you during Mass Effect 2. While unfortunate, because I would have liked having her around as my Go to Romance option in that game, it fit her character quite well as she is no one who trusts people easily, especially not when you spend most of the first Games Exploration/Side quests fighting Cerberus.

Lastly when you actually take the time to to dig beaneath her hard shell, she is actually a deeply layered and nice girl who likes poetry, alcohol and cringeworthy pick up lines (though only when drunk enough). Ash is a flawed one which is something I happen to like in a character.
I've got a soft spot for her and she'll always be one of my favourites.

Since this has ended up being a long ass wall of text anyway I might as well add a random trivia:
In Mass Effect 1 Ashley was supposed to be bisexual, the scenes are even still in the game files.
While Kaidan was straight in the first game but became bisexual in Mass Effect 3 she stayed straight in order to balance the options for male and female Commanders shepards....I assume. A shame though as for a religious and by the books kind of character like her, having a bisexual orientation would have been another nice twist.

2 - Urdnot Wrex

Firs things first: If you played Mass Effect and Wrex died on Virmire you played the game wrong.
I don't even care if you played evil asshole shepard or goody-two-shoes Shepard as keeping this guy alive is the only acceptable outcome.
A bit like Tali, Wrex turns from a lone Wolf to a someone who has a keyrole in the faith of his entire race and like with Tali it doesn't feel forced. Unlike Tali however he already starts out as a complex character who can become on of shepards best friends even though he is only a fully fledged Squad Member during the first game.


G a r r u s   V a k a r i a n

I mean who else could it be?
Garrus turns from an idealistic Citadel Cop, to a crime fighting Avenger, to ultimate Space-Bro.
Vakarian is there in every game, has always been a fan favourite and goes through some great character development. No matter how you play the game, he is there by your side (unless he dies in which case you reload an older safe and make it better this time, damn it).
While naurally a good hearted character he remains loyal even when you are the kind of dirtbag who sacrifices the Krogans and shoots Mordin (you Monster!) as the ends justify the means for him.
Garrus is there by your side, be it as a your best Friend, or Lover and he has some of the greatest scenes in the entire Trilogy.

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