The definitive ranking of all 43 Dragon Age and Mass Effect companions
This article will play fast and loose with spoilers from throughout the Mass Effect series and the first two Dragon Age games, but won't spoil anything major from Dragon Age: Inquisition.
With the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition we've all been treated to another Bioware RPG full of colorful teammates to join your protagonist on his or her journey through the world. Between the Mass Effect and Dragon Age trilogies Bioware has created some of the most memorable characters in gaming history -- as well as some bumps in the road that we'd all like to forget.
After many hours of "research" spent playing the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games over and over and over again, we feel well qualified to offer our definitive rankings of the 43 different companions these six games have to offer. We've taken into account personality, personal story, voice acting, usefulness, and a variety of other factors to come up with this list, so hopefully nobody out there will feel the need to disagree with where we've put anyone.
Let's start at the bottom, with the very worst character the six games have to offer, and work our way up to the champion.
43. Anders, Dragon Age II. Anders is the worst. He's brooding, he's antagonistic, and his treatment in Dragon Age II ruins what was one of the better companions you could have in the Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening expansion. The idea behind Anders is that he's been taken over by the spirit of Justice and can't abide the treatment of the mages. The problem with this is that it automatically implies the mages are truly being oppressed, when the entire game is trying to present that question as more complicated than that. It really doesn't work at all.
Aside from the story issues, we're talking about a character who blows up a building full of innocent people and then has the temerity to tell you why it was the right decision. We're talking about a character whose approval rating goes DOWN if you don't sell another companion back into slavery. The only good thing about Anders is that you get to murder him. I personally said I left him alive in Dragon Age Keep purely so I could try and murder him again in Dragon Age: Inquisition. You suck, Anders.
42. EDI, Mass Effect 3. It's understandable that Bioware took one of the best characters in Mass Effect 2 and shoved them into a bigger role for 3 (though why not give Joker a hoverchair and have him as a full team member too while you're at it?). But there aren't really many good excuses for how ridiculous EDI's robot body is, and in the end the whole thing comes off as just being silly and weird.
41. Merrill, Dragon Age II. "Hello, I'm Merrill. I am an all-powerful mage but I don't know where my house is, haha! Also, I'm easily tricked by fade demons despite the fact that, again, I'm an all-powerful mage. I am dumb as rocks and you should never talk to me ever. Welp, see you later!"
40. Legion, Mass Effect 2. Legion is a cool character that Bioware decided to give you at the very end of the game. You can barely even talk to him before the final mission begins. It's like giving someone an ice cream sundae and then taking it away after two bites. You got hosed, Legion.
38 and 39. Morrigan & Liara, Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect. Both have the character problem of being completely naive about the outside world AND OH BY THE WAY they're also super-cunning geniuses who always come out one step ahead. Liara starts off as a sheltered archaeologist and by the end of the series is the leading information broker in the galaxy. Morrigan doesn't know what a handshake is but by Inquisition is suddenly the shadowy power behind the strongest kingdom in Thedas. It's baffling.
37. Fenris, Dragon Age II. It takes a really special character to make you think, "Look dude, I know you were raised as a slave but do you have to whine so much about it?" This guy literally sits in an abandoned house and drinks for six years. If I wanted to watch someone do that I'd put a camera on my dad.
36. James Vega, Mass Effect 3. Why you'd start off the final chapter of a game series by giving you a character you've never met before is kind of baffling. Vega is inoffensive but...why is he here? It doesn't make sense.
35. Ashley Williams, Mass Effect 1 and 3. You might think we don't like Ashley because she's racist or redundant with Vega in your party in ME3, but it's honestly just because we hate Tennyson. #TeamBrowning 4 ever!
34. Isabela, Dragon Age II. "OK guys, we need one more companion for our game. Who should we bring back?"
"What if we bring back Isabela? She was a strong female character that could fill a rogue role."
"Great! Now what should her personality be like?"
"Hmm... maybe we could give her a dark past? Something to make her memorable. Maybe she could have a dark secret or someth-"
"Wait...I've got a GREAT IDEA!"
"Perfect! Good job everyone."
33. Leliana, Dragon Age: Origins. Leliana is:
- A chantry sister who has been told by the Maker to help the Warden.
- A former spy hiding out from her past.
Either one of those is a pretty cool character. Unfortunately, Leliana is both and it doesn't mesh very well. The Maker plotline is dropped halfway through with surprisingly little fanfare and the former spy plot feels shoehorned in. She's an awkward mishmash of a character that could be a lot better.
We could also do without the singing.
32. Cole, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Weird floppy hat aside, Cole earns points for his supernatural nature and deadly assassin skills. He loses points for his whining.
31. Jacob Taylor, Mass Effect 2. Jacob is not actively annoying but man is he boooooooooooooooooooooriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing. Why would we want to go spill drinks with this guy? He makes us fall asleep.
30. Javik, Mass Effect 3. The DLC-only Javik is a pretty boring character too but he benefits from being a Prothean and from being the only regular teammate with access to the fun and powerful lift grenades.
29. Solas, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Basically Spock. Solas has some interesting mysterious touches to his character, and his dry wit can occasionally be funny, but he doesn't do a lot to stand out or be memorable.
28. Vivienne, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Vivienne suffers because if you feel like having a fancy wizard in your party, you're going to choose Dorian every single time. Also, her melee-focused magical specialization can be a bit tricky to use correctly, compared to the other more traditional magic-users on your team.
27. Kasumi Goto, Mass Effect 2. Kasumi is a fun character and has unique powers. Her loyalty mission is a lot of fun and isn't entirely just you shooting people (it's only mostly you shooting peeople). But after you complete her loyalty mission... that's it. You can't talk to her in detail like you can everyone else and her powers aren't quite good enough to keep her in your party. She's just there.
25 and 26. Sten & Oghren, Dragon Age: Origins. It's kind of weird that both of these characters are in the same game. They largely fill the same role: both are two-handed warriors that have gone through emotional trauma right before you come across them. They largely sit at your camp because two-handed warriors aren't great in Origins and they each have one joke (Sten is grumpy! Oghren's a drunk!). They're fine characters but they aren't all that memorable.
24. The Iron Bull, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Hilariously voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr., the Iron Bull is an interesting take on the Qunari that helps offer a new perspective on that race. He's a useful and powerful warrior but the character side of things doesn't quite come together as well as you might hope.
23. Cassandra, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Stern and serious to a fault, Cassandra's act can wear a bit thin at times in Inquisition, but you'll probably be willing to forgive her thanks to her powerful demon-slaying abilities. Working through her personal quests gives you a chance to see her let her guard down a bit eventually, which is a nice change.
22. Alistair, Dragon Age: Origins. Alistair is not a very good companion, but he's a good character. Alistair is one of the only companions you get across both series that is intentionally written as unlikable, at least at the start. Your warden can either change him for the better, giving him the confidence to rule his empire, or make fun of him and leave him a hopeless drunk. You can even have him killed, which can either be a tragic or hilarious surprise, depending on how you feel about him. Alistair is overall a pretty well-written and fun character to either support or doom.
21. Tali, Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3. Tali is a fun character for the first two Mass Effect games and is useful throughout the Mass Effect series. As one of two characters featured as a squadmate in all three games, Tali gets more time than most others and is largely a solid and useful addition to the team. By the third game she is a pretty mediocre character, though, and for some reason Bioware decided to make her a love interest in a way that stripped away a lot of her other more interesting characteristics.
But hey, if you want to know what her sweat would taste like, this guy's got you covered.
20. Jack, Mass Effect 2. A good friend of ours pursued the Jack romance path in his first Mass Effect 2 playthrough. It took a while, but he cracked through her rough exterior and found the broken person underneath. Gradually, he showed her that the world wasn't as ugly as she believed it to be and she was finally able to find happiness.
And then during the end-game suicide mission he picked the wrong person to hold up the biotic barrier and Jack got carried away by a swarm. Man, that's so funny.
19. Sebastian Vael, Dragon Age II. Bioware hides some of their better characters inside DLC, and Sebastian is an example of that trend. The wayward prince of Starkhaven is honestly a great companion mostly because he loathes the rest of your Dragon Age II companions. He has a clear goal that he needs Hawke's help with and he's not really interested in socializing. You can't even really romance him, which makes him unique and incredibly welcome after you've been hit on all game. He even threatens to burn Kirkwall to the ground at the end of the game and man did we want to help him.
18. Thane Krios, Mass Effect 2. Thane only gets knocked down because his loyalty mission is kind of lame and you get him later in Mass Effect 2, but overall he's pretty awesome. He's a biotic with a sniper rifle and he's deadlly with both. He's a fun counterpoint to Zevran from Dragon Age: both are assassins, but while Zevran has thrown himself into life, Thane has removed himself from life completely. He's purely a weapon. As his friend, Shepard can re-connect Thane with the world in his dying moments in Mass Effect 3. It's a fantastic character arc.
17. Kaidan Alenko, Mass Effect 1 and 3. Kaidian is sneakily one of the best Mass Effect characters but hardly anyone gave him a chance. Kaidan wasn't a great squadmate in Mass Effect and most players chose to leave him to die on Virmire. If you kept him around, though, you were surprised to find that Kaidan endws up being a great squadmate by Mass Effect 3 and had a surprisingly cool backstory. The best part about Kaidan is that he doesn't whine. He had a rough life but he's moved past it. You're a cool dude, Kaidan.
16. Miranda Lawson, Mass Effect 2. Miranda is one of the best companions you can get in Mass Effect 2, she has an interesting backstory, and her loyalty mission is excellent. What's best about Miranda, though, is that she doesn't particularly like Shepard for much of the game. In a game where everyone loves your character, it's kind of nice to have someone who won't give him the time of day.
15. Varric, Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition. In Dragon Age Bioware sets up a rigid hierarchy for dwarves and then give you dwarven companions who do not conform to that mold at all. Varric is your first companion in Dragon Age II besides your sibling and is thankfully one of the best. He doesn't have a whole lot of baggage and is generally affable and agreeable as long as you're not a jerk. His brother is a whole different story, though.
14. Zevran, Dragon Age: Origins. Everyone's favorite bisexual Spaniard elf is refreshing for how little he seems to care about everything that's going on. You meet him when he tries to kill you and once you beat him he shrugs and offers to fight for you. He doesn't seem to have much baggage and his depressing backstory (he was raised to be an assassin from an early age) is told with a chuckle. All he wants to do is hang out and stab people. Who doesn't, am I right?
13. Samara, Mass Effect 2. Samara is a well-respected Asari justicar and one of the most powerful biotic companions you get in the Mass Effect series. Her personal mission involves you helping her kill her own daughter, which is weird but ends up being very cool.
12. Wynne, Dragon Age: Origins. Maybe I'm crazy, but I liked Wynne a lot. She was the purest character you ran into and in a good playthrough acted as a surrogate mother to your warden. She even expressed concern about you bumping uglies with other characters and her dialogue with your other companions was generally pretty funny. She also ended up having a pretty interesting story: she was actually already dead and was being possessed by a benevolent spirit to help you.
Plus, the fact that some people didn't realize she was a companion and killed their only healer is hilarious.
11. Blackwall, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Blackwall has the best voice acting of anyone in Inquisition. He runs a bit too close to being a stereotypical "gruff loner" character to crack the top ten on this list, but the quality writing and voice work end up making the character an example of just how fun a "gruff loner" can be.
10. Grunt, Mass Effect 2. Krogans are just better than everyone else. Grunt is the purest expression of a Krogan so he should be the best, right? His glee while dreaming about murdering people and his gradual acceptance of Shepard as his krant are genuinely weird, like an alien species should be. Grunt also benefits from being an awesome squadmate you'll rarely leave on the ship (until you get Zaeed, at least).
9. Aveline, Dragon Age II. One of the few bright spots of Dragon Age 2, Aveline is the only DA2 character who seems to grow for the better by the end of the game. At the beginning, Aveline loses her husband is forced to sail across the sea to start a new life in Kirkwall. By the end, she's found a new love, has risen the ranks to a high-ranking position in Kirkwall's city guard, and she's found a cool new shield. She should have been the main character of DA2, honestly.
8. Zaeed, Mass Effect 2. It's almost unfair to include Zaeed on this list because he was basically designed to be awesome. He's a badass space bounty hunter with a giant scar on his face and with abilities that can take down armor, barriers, AND shields. It's pandering and it shouldn't work, but somehow we still end up loving him.
7. Dorian, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Dorian's a funny and powerful character who trades barbs with just about anyone you send along with him in Inquisition. He also adds a lot to the series' lore just by his presence, fleshing out details regarding the Tevinter Imperium and providing an outsider's perspective on the land of Ferelden. He also cares deeply about personal grooming, which counts for a lot in our book.
6. Wrex, Mass Effect. The big Krogan is actually surprisingly similar to Sten: giant oaf who has given up on his society after a personal tragedy. Three things make Wrex better:
- He's a more useful squadmate. Wrex uses an assault rifle and also has biotic powers, making him one of the best squadmates in Mass Effect. Sten uses a two-handed sword, which generally sucks in Dragon Age: Origins.
- Wrex's backstory is revealed later. Wrex is a wiseass when you first meet him; it's only later that you discover that he murdered his own father in a dispute. Sten is sitting in a cage after murdering an entire family when you first meet him. Finding out the backstory later makes Wrex more likeable early on and more sympathetic later in the game.
- Wrex gives you the first major emotional choice in the Mass Effect series. Wrex challenges you when you decide you want to destroy Saren's genophage cure at the climax of Mass Effect, giving you the choice of (hopefully) talking him down or having to kill him. If you haven't played before it's a distressing choice, mostly because Wrex has been so great throughout the game. Sten challenges you for leadership about halfway through Dragon Age if you've been putzing around. It comes off as random and poorly developed.
5. Shale, Dragon Age: Origins. A giant golem that hates pigeons, with a Harvey Fierstein voice. Sometimes you don't need to knock yourself out to make a memorable character -- though it doesn't hurt that Shale has one of the most engaging personal stories in the game. If you never got a chance to try out Shale via the DLC, you really missed out on something special.
4. Sera, Dragon Age: Inquisition. With an Occupy Orlais Street political philosophy, a taste for foul language and pranks, and a personal story which encourages the Inquisitor to truly become a champion of the little people, Sera is the breakout star among the companions in Inquisition. She's also responsible for many of the game's funniest moments -- make sure you bring her along when you visit the Empress!
3. Mordin, Mass Effect 2. Somehow Bioware managed to make a manic "wacky" alien character actually fun and non-irritating. Mordin Solus is a badass Salarian scientist who doesn't take any prisoners; he also has a lovely singing voice. Mordin was a fan favorite early on and his struggle with his work on the genophage was one of most genuinely thought-provoking moral quandaries in the series. The character's affability made for one of the few decisions in Mass Effect 3 that actually worked equally well from a story perspective no matter which option you chose.
2. Garrus, Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3. Garrus is the ultimate space bro. In Mass Effect you can either show him that law and order do make sense in an increasingly violent galaxy or you can get him to become a renegade like you. Garrus's appearance in Mass Effect 2 is probably the best surprise in the series, and by that point he's become less tech-savvy and more shoot-savvy, which makes him a better companion to have in your party. And in the 3rd game he's suddenly the top Turian in the galaxy, which is kind of weird -- but on the other hand you can shoot cans off the top of the Citadel with him, and it doesn't get much better than that. He'd probably have the top spot on this list if he wasn't so obsessed with calibrations.
1. Dog, Dragon Age: Origins. His approval of you starts at max and can't ever be lowered. You can name him whatever you want. He doesn't complain. He doesn't make you go on a sidequest to gain his loyalty. He rips people's throats out. He's so great you'll actively handicap yourself just to bring him along in your party, since by the mid-point of the game he's almost inexcusably under-powered thanks to his inability to use equipment. Dog is the best companion throughout all of Bioware's recent games, and perhaps in all of gaming history.
Good boy, Dog.
Please let us know how much you agree with our rankings in the comments.