I don’t know if you know, but there’s a little game that just came out called Mass Effect 3. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Whether you’re one of those people that loath the ending or take out the RP elements entirely, I think one thing that everyone can agree on is that Bioware can make some damn good characters. The fact that they can keep an audience on for a trilogy of somewhat complex sci-fi space warfare games with said audience growing with each installment proves that (it sure as hell isn’t because of EA trying to make it a CoD rip-off). Unfortunately, despite my burning passion for this game I can’t play my shiny collector’s edition until July. So, I’m stuck here reminiscing about the past until I can recruit Garrus—I mean, until I can save the universe from the reapers.
Upon looking back, I’m surprised at just how many characters manage to stick in my mind, even when they’re not all that terribly important to the main plot. So, that’s what this article is: a celebration of the unsung characters of Mass Effect. As the title states, this is a list purely for the side characters. Not secondary characters. The way I differentiated between the two is as follows: if they are involved in the main quest in any way what-so-ever, then they can’t be on the list. This means no Captain Kirrahe. No Gianna Parasini. And no Lorik Qui’in or Nhilis, the two of which are my favorite characters in Mass Effect so that was rather painful to say. No, readers, we’re digging down deep and picking out the hidden treasures of this first installment. This is entirely my opinion, so if you totally disagree with me or have someone you think I should have put instead, drop us a line in the comments.
So, without further ado, let’s begin the top five side-characters of Mass Effect. Why top five? Because I had to cut myself off somewhere.
First off, I want to give an honorable mention to the Elcors of this game. None of them made the list, unfortunately, but these adorable, monotone mammoth-like aliens always have something to add to a conversation. They may not hold a seat on the counsel, but they hold a special place in my heart. Keep on truckin’, big guys.
5: That Hanar Preacher in the Presidium
Ha! Bet you thought you’d never see this guy again! I told you I was picking out
side-characters and damn it, you can’t get much more ‘side’ than this space jellyfish. He shows up at the very beginning of the game right outside the exit of the ward access in an offshoot mission that you don’t even have to do. He’s causing a problem for one of the C-Sec [Citadel Security. See: Police] officers because he doesn’t have a permit to be preaching. Now, he’s probably been there for a while, being ridiculed by the other passerby’s on the Citadel and has most certainly been kept a sharp eye on by the officer, but he keeps on with what he’s doing. Whether your Shepard allowed him to stay there and preach or sent him on his merry way, there’s something to be said for that Hanar’s perseverance.
If you remember anything about Flux, you remember this Volus’ voice wafting through the air with one thing on his mind: “We have some Quasar machines in the back, if you’re interested.” Although this self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades seems only interested in getting Shepard to gamble their money away, he’s actually very considerate of his customers and employees alike. The first quest in which you meet him, he’s helping you find one of his past employees, a girl named Jenna. She’s taken up a job at another club, the sketchier Chora’s Den, and although he’s not overtly anxious he still worries about her well being (of course, it probably helps that she was his best employee).
The second time, Shepard may or may not be implementing a cheating device in his Quasar machines. What I find interesting about this quest is that if you give Doran the cheating device, he doesn’t even go after the guy that made it even though he knows exactly who it is. Rather, he just expresses his disappointment. Either Doran is seriously trusting or there’s more to him than meets the eye. I’d place my bets on the latter. Besides that, Doran’s an excellent dancer. What can I say? I like a guy that knows how to boogie.
3: Emily Wong
Emily is one of the few side characters that manages to make her way back into the series during both Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 (though I can only trust the wiki for anything concerning the third one) and with her peppy, can-do attitude it’s easy to see why. With so much of the universe seeming corrupt, Emily is a pillar of honesty and a pure desire to make just one thing in the universe better. A pure desire that sometimes blinds her to a smarter way to go about her job.
Shepard first meets her in the Citadel as she tries to get a big break covering a story concerning corruption in the Citadel and Saren (the big bad of ME1). She asks Shepard to give her any information they can and at this point Shepard can choose to give her a OSD (‘Optical Storage Device’: think jump drive) from the skeezy club owner, Fist, who just either got beat down or shot in the face. You would think that holding onto this information would be somewhat dangerous for an unarmed reporter. Especially considering all the gangs on the Citadel. But, she doesn’t really seem to grasp that sometimes there are repercussions to actions. Nope. She’s just pleased as punch with her little find.
Helping her this one time apparently forms a bond between the two of you because later on she asks another favor of the space marine. This time she wants you to plant a bug in the traffic control center in C-Sec so she can expose unfair working conditions. Now the morality in this can be called into question, of course, but this ambiguity of motives (does she really want to improve life on the Citadel or does she just want a promotion) just makes her more interesting. I was more than elated to hear from her again in ME2, but you’ll have to see if she makes my ‘Top 5 Side Characters of Mass Effect 2’ list to hear about that. Or, you know, just play the game.
2: Rear Admiral Kahoku
Of all the quests in this game, I think Kahoku’s hit me the hardest. Shepard first runs into Kahoku in the Citadel Towers trying to gain audience with the Council so he can find out what happened to his platoon of marines. Upon discovering that they were all lured to their doom, Kahoku goes out on his own to seek revenge and closure. This ends poorly for him. Especially so since he was going against Cerberus, a richly funded, high-tech space terrorism—depending on the sector, this is debatable however—group.
The wiki states that Kahoku “fought with distinction against the batarians, earning the loyalty and respect of his men” and it’s clear by how Kahoku acts concerning his marines that he felt the same. They were his family: a clear parallel to Shepard’s own military family. I know that if my team happened to get abducted or tricked by another faction that I would go after them with no hesitation. However, while Shepard has the backing of several other people, Kahoku only has Shepard (if you choose to help). He is a man on a mission and he is forced to suffer alone as the Council refuses to even hear him out. He is the most tragic character in Mass Effect and seeing him go will never get any easier for me.
1: Stingy Turian Shop Employee
If there’s one character that my brother and I always talk about it’s this jaded sales associate on the Citadel. Don’t try looking for him in a quest: he’s not in one. He’s just a part of the ambient dialogue in the market sector along with his counterpart, ‘human guy that just wants a refund’. Amidst all of the serious plot going on, it’s nice to have little moments of humor that take no brain power to comprehend.
Despite the general consensus that these characters are awesome, there’s no good video on YouTube that goes those through their entire exchange. This was the best I could find, unfortunately.
And thus, we come to a close on some of the characters that you may have forgotten. If that’s the case, I hope I reminded you how awesome they were and that it sparks an urge for another play through or even an interest in picking up the game. Tune in next time when I look through Mass Effect 2 for another sack of hidden treasures.