A new Mass Effect game is in development but there is currently no concrete release date. Whenever it comes out, fans are excited to once again travel the galaxy and meet memorable characters. Though squadmates are understandably some of the most iconic non-player characters in the series, the NPCs that are not squadmates help round out the experience and make the galaxy feel more alive.
These three-dimensional NPCs offer insights into the history of their respective alien races and depth that make players question everything they ever knew about the ME world as a whole.
A strong and fierce female Krogan, Eve knows her role in the cure of the genophage and is willing to sacrifice herself to the extreme testing by the Salarians for the good of her kind. Talking with her on the Normandy allows players to see the softer truth that Krogans are more than just fighting and killing machines and are a species worth saving.
Eve’s survival is crucial to the war effort. Without her, Clan Urdnot has trouble trusting Shepard which could result in the loss of the Krogan forces. For her to survive in ME3Maelon’s research must be saved in ME2, resulting in Renegade points, putting a pure Paragon player in a tough position.
Shepard aids Captain Kirrahein’s fight on Virmire against Saren and the Krogans he is breeding at the facilities. He is empathetic towards Krogans, which is unheard of among Salarians, and his crew who have both suffered devastating losses.
Not saving Kirrahe on Virmire is a bad choice. The temptation to do so may be strong, but having Kirrahe as an ally proves to be useful. He will aid Shepard on Sur’kesh in the fight to save Eve, find the cure for the genophage, save Thane’s life, and add some Salarian forces to the war effort. If players are choosing to tell Wrex / Wreav and Eve about the Daltass genophage sabotage, the Salarian forces that Kirrahe will bring will replace those that the player has lost.
Maya is a shy and clumsy Staff Analyst Alliance officer who seems to be on Shepard’s side after warning the Commander about someone who got ahold of her Specter codes, which convinces everyone that she is one of the good guys. She offers to assist Shepard and her squadron in their search for the guilty party.
However, she is a former Cerberus operative that works with Shepard’s clone, but the only person she is loyal to is herself. One of the hardest ME3 battles between Shepard, Maya, and the clone starts when the player is in a closed space and can be easily cornered, not to mention that the clone has the same powers as the real Shepard. Maya switches sides as she sees fit to come out on top. Even while in custody, Maya pretends to be innocent.
Admiral Shala’Raan vas Tonbay
During Tali’s trial, Shala’Raan is the only one openly on her side. She has known the Zorah family for 25 years, and though she is part of the Admiralty Board of the Quarians, she is forced to step aside as her bias could interfere. Fair, diligent, and wise, Shala’Raan offers wisdom in the most pressing of times but is still wary of Legion, not sure if she can trust the Geth.
The very outspoken Admiral will not hesitate to charge one of her own with treason if need be and is the voice of reason among the Quarians. Along with Tali, Shala’Raan is the driving force in acquiring the Quarian fleet, the largest a player can acquire and one of the best choices Shepard can make is ending the war between the Quarians and the Geth.
One of the biggest choices in ME1 is to spare or kill Wrex on Virmire. Not having Wrex as a buffer between the player and Wreav will cause unnecessary hardship. He hates Salarians and Turians specifically but generally dislikes anyone that isn’t Krogan. If Wrex is spared, players will only interact with Wreav in ME3.
Either way, he is mean and relentless. Wreav prefers to be intimidating while Wrex takes the diplomatic approach. Wreav is not a Krogan to be messed with, and it is clear that the Krogan race would be more likely to slide back into violence under his rule.
Innocent-looking Helena Blake is the leader of a criminal cartel but also wants the two leaders under her eliminated. The quest itself is difficult as it takes high-level skill to complete it properly, and the band of goons including Geth primes, snipers, and biotics will challenge even the most skilled of players.
After the deed is done, Helena happens to show up and announces her master plan: to deal in petty crime not worthy of a Spectre’s attention. If the player chooses to spare her, she becomes a social worker on Omega and claims to have put her criminal past behind her. The question is if Shepard can trust her, but unfortunately, this is never definitively answered.
A former follower of Matriarch Benenzia, Shiala is first seen in Zhu’s Hope as a green Asari possessed by the Thorian. A powerful biotic that is cloned, she makes a fierce enemy and keeps coming back stronger until the final node of the Thorian is destroyed.
Shiala goes back and forth between indoctrination and a normal Asari, and the distinction between the two can influence Shepard’s decision to spare her. The biggest question, if spared, is if she can be trusted. She tries to make amends by helping the colonists, but her end game is always in question and left unanswered.
The Illusive Man
One of the most complex characters in the series, the Illusive Man keeps the player on their toes. What he says he wants to do sounds good: fight the Reapers and stop them from eliminating the galaxy. However, the ways that he goes about promoting humaity’s position above all else are against the Alliance, thus making Cerberus a terrorist organization and a problem for Shepard.
Ruthless and always ten steps ahead, The Illusive Man offers an insight into the desperation one has when faced with aversion and the extreme measures they will take to preserve what they hold dear. His switch from destroying the Reapers to wanting to control them is frightening and ultimately brings his demise.
Without this Turian Specter, the ME world would not exist. Saren claims to want to save the galaxy by teaming up with Sovereign, but in reality, the Reaper has indoctrinated him and is using Saren to carry out his plan to destroy all organic life.
Shepard sees the struggle that Saren faces between what he wants and what Sovereign wants, which causes a dilemma between hating the Turian and feeling sorry for him. He is not the typical bad guy. Saren wants to save the galaxy by aligning with the Reapers, and in the end, knows he is too far gone to do it. If Shepard makes the right choices, Saren sacrifices himself before Sovereign can completely control him, allowing himself to go out as a martyr instead of a villain.
Childlike in appearance, this figure is the guiding force in ME3. Mistakenly thought to be the Citadel, The Catalyst reveals itself at the end of the game. Through the extended dialogue, the player learns that synthetics desire to evolve just like organics, but to do so, organics must be harvested to absorb their knowledge.
What began with Saren ends with The Catalyst. It is here that the bloody, beaten, and tired Shepard is forced to make the ultimate choice: destroy all synthetic life, merge with the Reapers, or do nothing. To some, this may be easy, but when the realization hits that destroying synthetic life also means the Geth players allied with, it is not so clear. Shepard could kill their friends for the good of the galaxy or they could merge with the reapers and risk indoctrination. No option is strictly good or bad.
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