3 types of companions we want to see in Mass Effect Andromeda
The latest Mass Effect: Andromeda details have left us hungry for more, and we're speculating on what elements of the gameplay might change and what will stay classically BioWare. The companion system, for instance, is one of the most distinctive elements in BioWare’s games, and people have strong opinions on who is their favorite and why (we know, we’ve done a few articles on it ourselves).
Since we only have a few companion details for Andromeda right now, it's a good time to really take a step back and examine what really defines the perfect BioWare companion experience. How can it be replicated without being repetitive? What really makes the best companion? After careful consideration, here are three things we want in Mass Effect: Andromeda’s companions.
#1 Characters that Change & Grow
Examples: Garrus, Miranda, and Jack
If you’re going to spend most of your time with these companions, it’s important that they are fully fleshed-out characters who evolve over the course of the game. If the dialogue choices really do matter, then we should be able to see the effects our choices and influences on the companions. Good storytelling has the power to elevate characters beyond their fictional status. When we see our choices resulting in character changes, it makes us that more invested as players. It’s why the ending of Mass Effect 3 is still often hotly debated (and why the Citadel DLC is so popular). Why would we care so much about the ending if it didn’t involve well-defined companions that we had grown to love?
In the case of Garrus, his character development played out over three separate Mass Effect games. It’s probably no surprise then that Garrus is consistently ranked as one of the top companions in the franchise, and while some of it is due to his utility, most of it has to do with his character. He’s well written throughout, starting off as someone who views Shepherd cautiously but ultimately grows to respect and even love (if you’re playing as female Shepherd).
Miranda remains an incredibly compelling character throughout the Mass Effect series, as you’re sometimes left guessing where her loyalties really lie. Her views of Shepherd and the Illusive Man shift depending on your actions, adding weight to the choices you make. She also is one of the few characters who doesn’t constantly praise Shepherd, which is an interesting dynamic.
As for Jack, she has an extremely compelling loyalty mission that elaborates and complicates her tragic background, and if you romance her as male Shepherd she really starts to show her vulnerable side. She isn’t just a one-note badass chick. She’s able to show that she has more depth to her given the chance, and her appearance in Mass Effect 3 is a wonderful payoff to that development.
#2 Characters that add to the immersion
Examples: Tali, Samara, and Liara
What’s the point of playing a sci-fi game if you’re just surrounding yourself with other humans? One of the best parts of Mass Effect is interacting with all the alien races and having them fight alongside you. Why make room for a human in your party if there are so many compelling aliens?
Take Tali, for instance. As a Quarian, Tali is one of the standout alien companions due to the tragic history of her people. We can’t even see her face for the longest time because of the mask she has to wear in order to stay alive. As we learn more about Tali, we learn more about the Quarian people and their place in the universe. Having her in your party works as a constant reminder of the big world beyond your immediate surroundings.
Liara, though often given the backburner in favor of Garrus when it's time to rank favorite companions, has an interesting background as an Asari archeologist who has spent her life studying ancient Prothean technology. Though she isn’t as immediately flashy as someone like Tali and Samara, her quiet wisdom builds throughout the game as she provides invaluable insight into some of the more puzzling aspects of the story. Endearingly awkward, she is also a love interest for both Female and Male Shepherd, and more chances to explore inter-species relationships is always a huge plus in Mass Effect.
#3 Companions with a compelling utility set
Examples: Wrex, Mordin, and Garrus (again)
While character development and story are really important in the best companions, what’s the point of having a compelling character if they are absolutely useless in a combat group? Some of the best companions add to the immersion of a sci-fi adventure while also being extremely useful. Take Wrex for example. The Krogans are a renowned warrior race, and Wrex is no different. What makes him absolutely vital in a party are those same warrior instincts; he’s a great tank, allowing Shepherd to pick off the most dangerous enemies from the back lines.
As another great addition to a party, Mordin’s expertise is in tech powers. While Wrex attacks head first, Mordin focuses on crowd control abilities like Cryo Blast, freezing enemies in place so you can pick them off. Once Mordin reaches full loyalty, he unlocks his powerful Neural Shock ability which can chain paralyze enemies for the duration of the fight once leveled up high enough. Companions with useful high level abilities like that are worth making room for in your party.
We've already discussed that Garrus is one of the most universally loved and widely used companions in Mass Effect, and most of that has to do with his story and some of the key scenes that trigger when you level up his loyalty (that Citadel shooting scene comes to mind). However, another reason is that his kit is perfectly balanced. His powerful ranged damage means he’s good at sniping enemies from afar while staying alive to heal you with his equally good biotic skills. It allows the flexibility of having someone else in your party that you want to gain loyalty with, because you’re not sacrificing gun power for the healing. With his excellent character development and uniquely balanced skills, it’s hard to imagine a fight without him.
There’s a lot yet to be revealed about Mass Effect Andromeda, but hopefully BioWare has taken note of some of the things that really worked with companions in earlier games and is able to create a whole new cast of chracters for us to love.