KINKER KORNER: Ranking The Mass Effect And Dragon Age Companions #50-30

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Bioware are a fantastic game developer with several outstanding franchises to their name. They’ve gained a reputation as the kings/queens of building emotional and lasting relationships with diverse and unique cast of supporting characters who join you on your epic journeys. Mass Effect and Dragon Age are the two franchises that I have finished every game in so I can’t fully and fairly include characters from Baldur’s Gate or Knights Of The Old Republic as much as I’d like to get round to it some day. There are some characters I know more about than others so it’s not a comprehensive biography of each character, it’s an opinion piece about my experience through these journeys. So, on with the show.

50: Loghain Mac Tir: Dragon Age

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I’ve played Dragon Age Origins a few times and only ever recruited Loghain once so that may be why he’s so low. He’s essentially an antagonist in the game who can be executed or given a chance to redeem himself. He becomes the villain by lying about the Grey Warden’s involvement in the death of King Cailan during the battle of Ostagar, proclaiming them to be traitors. The butterfly effect of letting him join the Grey Wardens always put me off as it would negatively affect a character that will be coming up later. His banter whilst in the group is enjoyable but he’s so low because of my lack of time with him. Unfair? Perhaps….bothered? Na.

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49: Ashley Williams: Mass Effect

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Ashley was either a huge part of your journey through the trilogy or a minuscule one as she or Kaiden Alenko had to be sacrificed on Vermire when the nuke went off in the first game. In my first run I chose to save Ashley, I’m not entirely sure why as I never liked her much. Perhaps the confusion and panic of the moment coupled with the fact I hadn’t gotten to know Kaiden very well at that point clouded my thinking. Nonetheless my first journey showed the development of an extremely narrow minded soldier with some…..let’s say controversial views on every other race. I’d stop short at saying she’s racist but this is space….can’t we all get along. Spacist maybe?. Anyway,  sorry Ash. Oh and when I met her again in Mass Effect 3 I couldn’t believe it was her, porn star make up and black hair, someone at Bioware clearly wasn’t into her as she was.

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48: Carver Hawke: Dragon Age

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In Dragons Age 2 you play Hawke, you can change your appearance, race, skills etc but as they say…..you can’t choose your family. Depending on which race you choose either your brother Carver or your sister Beth will die in the prologue. In my first run it was Carver who survived and what a giant pain in the arse he turned out to be. I tried, I really tried with him but man he just refused to be anything other than a prick. I would have loved the sibling relationship to work but nope. Act 2 sees Carver either dying or joining the Grey Wardens based on your actions and for me he joined the wardens. That meant he disappeared until a small cameo near the end of the game…..good riddance.

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47: James Vega: Mass Effect

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One for the ladies or anyone  who prefers the company men. Big, buff, ripped James Vega is about as big a stereotype of the meathead marine as it’s possible to get. He would have completed his cliche bingo card if he spouted right wing rhetoric but thankfully he was a decent guy. I didn’t hate Vega, far from it but man was he boring. I really had no interest in learning more about him. When the most excitement you get from him is a wee soft sparring session then something is wrong. He’s a loyal, strong soldier with good intentions but he’s far too bland and so gets this spot. ….Starting to feel sorry for him now, he’s a decent fella.

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46: Sebastian Vael: Dragon Age

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Seb is a DLC character from Dragon Age 2 that just does not fit in with the group you have assembled. He can’t seem to click with anyone in your squad and spends most of his time exacerbated by you and all of your companions. He’s a chantry brother who is vying to be Prince of Starkhaven and sure let’s you know that. Pompous, distant and unable to budge or meet you halfway on any subject. When I first met him I was so excited as he had a Scottish voice actor in Alec Newman but my hopes for a personality to match my hype went unrealised quickly.

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45: Kaiden Alenko: Mass Effect

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The other half of the Ashley/Kaiden dilemma from Mass Effect 1. Having originally chosen Ashley to survive in my first run it was subsequently clear from online hatred that I had made the right choice as it was seemingly universally  the case that Kaiden was a boring twat. I bought into that as well and when he first boarded my ship I had preconceived notions and expected the worst. To be fair he didn’t help himself initially with lots of moaning and sulking around the ship not engaging much. In the years following the release of the final game in the trilogy Kaiden has gained a surprisingly large fan base as he became a lot more interesting but for me it was a little too late.

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44: Velanna: Dragon Age

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One of only two Dalish elven companions in the series, Velanna appears in the excellent expansion to the first game “Awakening”. When you meet her she is abrasive and looking for a fight having already murdered people she thought was responsible for her families’ murder. Turns out they were taken by darkspawn so really she just killed a bunch of folk who weren’t involved at all…. That’s why you get the option to kill her or recruit her. She openly hates humans and isn’t shy about it, she is understandably sullen most of the time but she’s a strangely compelling character to have around the keep.

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43: Fenris: Dragon Age

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Essentially a human Hawthorne Heights album, Fenris spends nearly all of Dragon Age 2 giving existential ramblings and drinking in his Hightown house. Look, he has reason to be miserable due to having spent his entire life as someone’s slave. His companion quest where you hunt down his former master is excellent and cathartic so that let’s you get a little closer to him and understand his feelings but he’s just a little too emo on an almost constant basis.

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42: Aveline Vallen: Dragon Age

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It seems that Aveline is a hugely popular character within the Dragon Age fanbase……count me in the minority then because although she has her moments I found her to be needlessly confrontational, unappreciative and self centred. Her companion quest is admittedly a lot of fun and shows her vulnerable side and it’s especially fun if you bring Isabella along with you. The most fun you get out of Aveline is her ongoing banter with Isabella, with the latter ripping into her uptight nature and the former constantly commenting on her promiscuity. All in all though I found her to be thoroughly unlikable for the most part.

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41: Wynne: Dragon Age

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The mother hen of the first game and some people may not have even recruited her as it’s entirely possible to have to fight her to the death early on based on decisions made in the circle of magi in Ferelden. She has humorous dialogue with your party on your adventures and she even looks out for you if you start a romantic relationship with another member of the squad. Some may think she should keep her nose out of your bloody business but I found it endearing that she cared. She’s relatively guarded regarding her story but if you get close enough to her and she explains what’s’ going on with her it’s an M. Night Shyamalan twist…..only it doesn’t make you want to punch the telly. She’s just so low because she was pretty meh, just kind of…..there. Not unlikable though so don’t take it personally Wynne.

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40: Solas: Dragon Age

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This may come as a shock….I get the feeling that most people think Solas is great but I found him to be a sanctimonious bore with a holier than thou, know it all attitude. The good thing about him is that you can learn a hell of a lot from him which is why he isn’t lower as he at least serves his purpose in that way. I’m told if you play as an elven female then you can romance him and it’s a far better experience but that’s not how I played it so I ended up with a passive aggressive arsehole that looks super creepy. His expertise on the fade and his interesting disdain for Dalish elves  provide some interest but not enough to make me actually like him. His Rutger Hauer ramblings about how he’s seen more than you can imagine get old quick.

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39: Samara: Mass Effect

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Samara is a very strong personality that goes about her business in an efficient and often ruthless manner. Those strong convictions can even lead to her murdering her daughter (it happened in my run though) to save more innocents. Samara becoming a Justicar shows us a glimpse at a life we rarely hear about in the Mass Effect universe and she’s open about her race’s history. She’s a very interesting character but another one that I just didn’t spent an awful lot of time with during my journey so wasn’t as connected to her as others on the list. Still a good character though with great biotic powers.

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38: Zaeed Massani: Mass Effect

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Poor Zaeed suffers here because he’s a dlc character and I never had him the first two times I played the game. He would no doubt be higher if I had a closer and more storied history with him but my limited time with him as a squad mate hampers him on the list. That said he’s a lot of fun and was clearly created to be a badarse. A bounty hunter in a beef with The Blue Sons, he joins you through a request from Cerberus on the condition that you help him wrestle control of an energy refinery from The Blue Sons. I would have liked more lore from him instead of just simple revenge and pew pew kill everyone stuff but he’s still a lot of fun to be around. Not the deepest of characters though and he could have been which makes it all the more frustrating.

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37: Bethany Hawke: Dragon Age

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By far the more pleasant and amiable of the Hawke twins and great to take along in the legacy dlc quest.  Her agreeable and friendly personality does sacrifice a certain amount of interesting traits as she’s just a little bit bland at times. Her anti Templar views sat well with me as that’s how I played the game. In act 2 if you don’t take her to the deep roads with you she is arrested and taken to the Circle Of Magi where she surprisingly settles and rises to become a senior member. If you do take her without Anders in your party she will die from the taint (snigger) virus. If Anders is there he will save her and she’ll be recruited to the Grey Wardens where she ends up miserable. It’s fun how seemingly meaningless choices you make have seismic consequences down the line.

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36: Justice: Dragon Age

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Part of the excellent Dragon Age Origins expansion “Awakening” Justice is discovered when your squad are looking for missing Grey Wardens. You stumble across a dead Warden named Kristoff and are taken into the fade. If you choose to help Justice whilst in there he will leave the fade with you and inhabit Kristoff’s body. He is the literal fade spirit of Justice and of course always feels the need to do the right thing. His personal quest is emotional as it sees you visit Kristoff’s widow and explain the situation. She obviously freaks out leaving you wondering how to resolve it. Justice is an unusual and alien character within the Dragon Age lore and having a zombie in your squad is never a bad thing.

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35: Liara T’soni: Mass Effect

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The beautiful Asari archaeologist has quite the character arc if she makes it through your playthrough. You meet her as an introverted and awkward researcher who is dedicated deeply to her profession and she ends up as the new shadow broker of the galaxy (at least in my run). It’s a little out of nowhere and annoyed a lot of people who found it wholly uncharacteristic and I can see that and even feel it a little myself but open further reflection it’s not so crazy. As I said she was already a dealer of history and secrets, she was fiercely dedicated to her craft and clearly very determined and ambitious. Helping her to gain that powerful position and staying allies with her was a fun part of her arc and developed her character immensely.

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34: EDI: Mass Effect

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Enhanced Defence Intelligence…….an A.I that turns into a sexy HAL 9000 essentially. A needless transition some may say but Bioware wanted to make her a companion for the third game and that would have been difficult to do in her state as the blue sphere she presented as in the second game. Created by the evil Cerberus company to act as your ship’s intelligence in the second game. She would occasionally quip and attempt jokes (HUMANS ON THEIR KNEES!) but I don’t think anybody could have seen her creating a humanoid body and becoming a squadmate for the sequel. She is an interesting friend in 3 because she’s trying to understand feelings and human like reactions and emotions. She asks you to help her on numerous occasions as her and your longtime pilot Joker are developing feelings for each other…..live and let live I say.

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33: Cassandra Pentaghast: Dragon Age

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From a family of royals and holding the position of Seeker of the Chantry and the right hand of the divine, Cassandra is first introduced in Dragon Age 2 as she interrogates the narrator Varric. She knows he is close to Hawke and hopes to get as much information as she can believing that they be causing more harm than good. It isn’t until the third game “Inquisition” that she becomes a companion and I couldn’t shake the fact that for the entirety of my time knowing her until then she had been aggressively interrogating my boy Varric so I struggled to connect with her. Her abrasive and stern personality didn’t help on that front either. Then slowly but surely she started to peel away more and more layers until she became a really interesting character with a softer side to her cold and hard exterior. Her love of Varric’s throwaway romance novels is hilarious, as is Varric’s teasing reaction to it.

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32: Vivienne: Dragon Age

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Patronising, pompous, superiority complex, secretive and frustrating……so why am I so attracted to her personality? Why do I want to know more and more about her? Is there something under that cool, measured demeanor that we’re not seeing? Turns out that there is and her story is incredibly tragic. The Orlesian mage tries to concoct a potion to help her loved one who is seriously ill but despite your help you watch him pass away and Vivienne’s guard is broken for that one moment showing just how strong she is and helping you understand she has to keep up appearances in her role as personal enchanter to Empress Celene.

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31: Legion: Mass Effect

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Legion is the result of the consciousness of 1,183 Geth units with the rare objective of conversing and learning about organic species. The Geth are a reviled race due to fear of their intentions. Originally created as A.I by the Quarians to do labour for them, they gained sentience and challenged their masters as they saw it as slavery. The Quarians tried to shut them all down but the Geth resisted and won the resulting war. This sent the Quarians into disarray and they are a shambles now, basically living in scattered, nomadic  settlements. Legion’s arrival on the ship is met with fear and anger by most of your squad and it takes a lot of time for them to trust him. If he survives Mass Effect 2 the sequel forces you into a horrendously difficult decision involving him and his entire race which is incredibly emotional. It’s the typical “what is life? what is a soul?” existential cyborg question. Cliched in a way but I couldn’t care less. Loved my robot buddy.

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30: Cole: Dragon Age

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The spirit of….Tom Petty? Actually it’s pretty difficult to describe Cole as he can’t give you much information. He doesn’t even know if he’s real and his journey is about finding who or what he is. You can help him on that mission and it’s another existential crisis character by Bioware and it’s very well done. Cole is essentially the spirit of compassion  inhabiting a human’s body so it’s like a different take on the Justice character. He helps console people or put them out of their misery and then slips away leaving them with no memory of their interaction. He is also a skilled assassin that wants to do good and help people.  His childlike curiosity and troubles within the real world are endearing but there is a distance that can be troublesome in the day to day conversations with him as he will speak though people who are near him or he has come into contact with. Being able to help him become more spirit or more human is an excellent way of directly influencing his character and involves you heavily in his……life?

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Well there we go Kinkermaniacs that’s part 1 done and I just KNOW that some people will have issues with this list haha. The beauty of opinions people, all about opinions so let me know where these characters would be on your lists. Until next time folks, be good to each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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