One of the reasons why Mass Effect 3’s critics are so down on the ending is because they wanted to see more of what happened to their favourite characters. Although BioWare is probably weary of hearing that, they should take heart in the fact that gamers love their characters so much that they go crazy when they don’t get enough of them (in fact, maybe the critics should keep that in mind too). Over the years BioWare has certainly created some great characters: scary, funny, badass, tragic. Here are my personal favs. For simplicity’s sake I stuck with recruitable characters, otherwise this list would be longer.
Morrigan (Dragon Age: Origins)
“Love is a weakness. Love is a cancer that grows inside and makes one do foolish things. Love is death. The love you dream of is something that would be more important to one than anything, even life. I know no such love.”
I’ve talked before about how I love the fact that the Dragon Age games will not let you have your moral cake and eat it too, and Morrigan is a great example of this. The above quote tells you what you need to know about her. She’s a witch who is utterly self-serving. She might grow to like you (she’s a romancable character), but when it comes to choosing between you and her, it’s no contest. No matter how much a noble player tries to straighten her out, she will not be deflected from her agenda, which has “Totally Sinister and May Show Up in a Sequel” stamped all over it. Morrigan is also very witty and does some great bickering with the party members, particularly Alistair and Leliana. Being scantily dressed and voiced by Claudia Black only increases her appeal.
Minsc (Baldur’s Gate/Baldur’s Gate II)
BioWare first appeared on the RPG scene with this classic game, and right away they showed a penchant for interesting characters that actually evolved. Just look at the development of Imoen, for example. Most of us fell in love with the antics of Minsc, a strangely-accented and probably insane ranger. Minsc carried around a hamster named “Boo,” which Minsc claimed was actually an all-powerful space hamster in disguise. Players of Mass Effect 3 may have found the Space Hamster aboard the Normandy, a nod to Baldur’s Gate. Speaking of which, I hope the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC replaces the ending with one where the Space Hamster grows to the size of Cthulhu and swallows the Reapers whole, making it the best ending of any videogame ever.
Of the all of the races of Mass Effect, the Salarians come across as the most bureaucratic. And spineless. The fact that one of the members of the “Won’t Believe in the Reapers Until They Come Up and Bite Us in the Ass” Galactic Council is a Salarian certainly doesn’t help that impression.
Mordin is a Salarian, but is as awesome as they come. His mind and mouth move very quickly. He’s also an established killer both on a small and large scale, having engineered the Genophage. Sometimes he can come across as extremely conceited and cold, but he is noble and his unfiltered and practical view of the world can be pretty funny too. Then of course, there’s the singing…
Wild Flower (Jade Empire)
If horror movies and videogames have taught us anything, it’s that little girls will f***ing end you. To all appearances, Wild Flower is a harmless little girl. Actually, she’s a corpse possessed by two demons, which are fighting for control of her. One demon wishes to use her physical presence for good, while the other… doesn’t. The demonic forms appear when she’s attacked, and which one eventually gains control of her is determined by the player’s moral choices.
Mix the innocence of Imoen with the unfiltered thought processes of Mordin and you get Merrill. Merrill is basically well intentioned, but her curiosity and occasional utter cluelessness can get her into trouble. She’s adorable in the way that a kitten that shreds your bedroom is adorable.
Two confessions to make here. First, I made a few dumb choices in Mass Effect 1 and got stuck with that twerp Kaiden. So I missed Ashley on my first go around with the series. Second, while searching for quotes, I came across the eloquent commentator Funkcase on BioWare’s forums. Funkcase sums up Ashley’s appeal perfectly, better than I ever could (edits by me):
People see her as a regular human. Some say this is boring, but I disagree. Ash being normal in a game like Mass Effect and feeling truly human is unique itself, and that is a big accomplishment for BioWare. This makes her very interesting to me.
She finds it hard to trust aliens, but yet she hates Cerberus and Terra Firma for their extremism and racism, making her a very complex character.
She is religious, but she ain’t a zealot. I think she uses her faith so she can keep a level head, not have to worry about death (she is a marine, death is around her all the time) and for the hope that she may see her father again one day.
She can recite poetry. I find this very attractive; she’s a tough woman… she is also an intelligent woman.
She has some mean comebacks and just some great dialogue throughout. And she sticks to her guns.
She ain’t a typical woman we get in a game, who is basically eye candy for the player, she looks like a normal person, a real female soldier.
She’s close to her family, and we learn a lot about them from her, this again adds a lot of depth to the character.
This all and much more, makes her the deepest character in ME (IMO) and one of the finest characters I have experienced in a game.
This might seem a strange choice. Aveline’s a female fighter, big deal. What makes her remarkable for me is a lot like what Funkcase found in Ashley Williams. Aveline feels normal to me, at least as normal as a female fighter in a world with dragons can. She’s not built to show off the breast physics like so many female videogame characters, yet she’s still reasonably attractive. She’s good at her job, but it stresses her. She has romantic interests, but isn’t defined by them. She’s not perfect, but that is what makes her so believable and relatable for me.
Some complained that Dragon Age 2 felt less epic than the first one. I agree that there should have been more place to explore, but I liked the game’s focus on the struggles of a family and its friends, as opposed to the typical RPG save-all-creation story.
Everybody loves a badass. Wrex is cold, cynical and eager to kick ass. And that’s when he’s interacting with his friends. The story of Wrex and the Krogan race is tragic and unfair, but Wrex doesn’t want your pity. He just shoulders the hardship and moves on to the next fight. Despite the warrior-race nature of Wrex, I love that he’s not a berserker; just all business, a true professional killer. He smiles less than Batman, but if you help him out in Mass Effect 3, he finally melts a little.
HK 47 just might be the best BioWare character ever, maybe even the best Star Wars character ever. An assassin droid built by the Sith Lord Revan, HK 47 takes great delight in his work. He has a barely restrained hatred of living creatures, which he refers to as “meatbags.” That contempt probably extends to you, his master, but he’s also unfailingly polite. If he does murder you, at least he will do it courteously.
Baldur’s Gate, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age, KOTOR… Okay fans, let’s hear it: what are you favourite BioWare characters?