The more you delve into the Mass Effect games, the less the story is just about Commander Shepard. Instead, you start to notice more and more of the personal lives and struggles of the non-player characters you meet along the way. A huge part of what makes Mass Effect such an addictive universe is the supporting cast, who get fleshed out in the many tie-in novels and comics.
Now that the the new Earth multiplayer DLC pack is out, it's a perfect time to take a look at the great unsung Mass Effect characters. Here are 10 Mass Effect characters who deserve more love. Minor spoilers ahead...
10. The entire cast of the Elcor Hamlet
The emotionless but lovable Elcor's sixteen-hour-long production of Hamlet is a running joke in the original Mass Effect, and we finally glimpse a performance in Mass Effect 2. I tried this with my brother over Thanksgiving, but we only got two pages into the script. Check out this clip for a taste of Hamlet being performed properly.
9. Victor Manswell
Viktor is never shown in the series. But this billionaire Earthling plays a major role in the development of human spaceflight, according to the reports from Cerberus Daily News Briefings. Prior to the discover of the mass effect relays, Manswell recruited 300 people to be cryogenically frozen for a trip to the Alpha Centauri system, in an attempt to establish the first extra-solar human colony.
8. Aria T'Loak
Aria only gets a handful of lines in the Mass Effect video games, but she still manages to stand out. This one-time exotic dancer moved her way through the ranks of the underworld, becoming owner of the Afterlife Club and eventual Pirate Queen of Omega. Aria works from the shadows in the game, books, and comics, easily wielding the most power of anyone who's not affiliated with the Alliance in the Mass Effect Universe. Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) provides the voice for Aria.
7. Khalisah al-Jilani
Who is the reporter that you love to hate? Khalisah al-Jilani! Who is the reporter that ambushes galactic heroes at any chance she gets? Khalisah al-Jilani! Depending on your feelings about belligerent reporters, you can command Shepard to be naughty or nice to Khalisah throughout the series. I was a jerk every time.
6. Kai Leng
Kai Leng, Mass Effect's Boba Fett, first appears in the novel Mass Effect: Retribution. Leng acts as the right hand man and in-house assassin for the Illusive Man and Cerberus. A cybernetically enhanced Kai appears in a few mini-boss battles in Mass Effect 3, easily showing himself to be the most dangerous human in the universe — posing a serious threat to any squad that Shepard assembles.
After starting out as a wild, anger fueled biotic powerhouse, Jack does a complete 180 — and becomes a caring but tough teacher at the Grissom Academy in Mass Effect 3. This possible love interest for Commander Shepard has enough back story and mystery to become an excellent heir to Shepard's spot in the Mass Effect franchise.
4. Jon Grissom
Grissom led a suicide mission through the Charon Relay, a mass effect relay found orbiting Pluto. Humanity didn't know where the relay leads, or what was on the other side — and for this act of bravery Grissom became one of mankind's greatest heroes. Grissom never appears in the video game series, but he is portrayed as a grizzled recluse in the novel Mass Effect: Revelation. Grissom is also the father of Kahlee Sanders, who we will visit later on in this list.
3. Jack Harper
Better known as the Illusive Man to most Mass Effect players, the human mercenary Jack Harper takes center stage in the Dark Horse series Mass Effect: Evolution, a series which details the First Contact War. In the comics, the younger version of Harper doesn't bear much emotional resemblance to his later self, coming off as a Han Solo-esque character.
Feron is a confidant of Liara T'Soni, who's sent to find and retrieve the body of Commander Shepard after the events of the original Mass Effect. Most of Feron's story is told in the Mass Effect: Redemption miniseries, produced by Dark Horse Comics. A burgeoning romance is often suggested between the duo, with Feron willfully imprisoned and tortured by the Shadow Broker, to save Liara T'Soni.
1. Kahlee Sanders
Kahlee Sanders is easily one of the most important characters in the Mass Effect Universe. This emissary from Earth meets Tali, Aria, Kai Leng, and Saren in her travels, while gaining the respect and ire of Salarians, Krogans, and Turians. Kahlee only appears during a short sequence in Mass Effect 3, but the bulk of her story is told in the novels Mass Effect: Revelation, Mass Effect: Ascension, and Mass Effect: Retribution. Sanders also develops a romantic relationship with Captain David Edward Anderson, making the duo the ultimate power couple in the Mass Effect Universe.
Honorable Mention 1: Yuri Gagarin
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin holds the distinction of being the first human in orbit in our reality, but this 1961 flight takes on a new meaning in the Mass Effect Universe. Gagarin's flight is seen by the Citadel Council as Earth's first baby steps, with a planet and a human outpost named for the cosmonaut.
Honorable Mention 2: The unnamed publisher of Fornax
Fornax is the go-to publication for getting to know the uh, intimate areas of alien species within the Mass Effect Universe. Congrats to Fornax for keeping print periodicals alive two centuries into the future.
The top image is of "The Team" lithograph created by Bioware/Treehouse. Images courtesy of Dark Horse Comics and Bioware. The image of Yuri Gagarin is by Sydsvenskan and within the public domain.If you are a Mass Effect fan looking to catch up in a hurry, check out this excellent galactic codex.