Look beyond the starships, biotics and looming alien menaces, and it’s Mass Effect: Andromeda’s characters - the people (and aliens) with whom you fight, flirt and fu... umble - that will be its beating heart. The original trilogy was an escapist space opera famous for its scale, but its lifeblood was the same as that of any other great RPG: well-written, engaging characters. Who could forget Mordin’s merry songs of scientist Salarians, Tali and Legion’s debate over the soul of the Geth, or Garrus’s endless calibrations?
If you’d like to know everything we do about Mass Effect: Andromeda, click here for all the details.
Hopefully Mass Effect: Andromeda will bring us many more treasured moments and viral memes. In anticipation of the game’s release, we’ve compiled all the information that’s been released on the squadmates and secondary characters from whom they will come.
We’re kicking off with a look at the player-characters. Scott and Sara Ryder are twins in their mid-20s, and you’ll be able to play through the game as either. Whomever you don’t choose will still appear in the game as a central character in your crew (and no, you can’t romance them. Dude.)
As with Shepard in the original trilogy, you’ll be able to customise their appearances, their backgrounds, and their forenames, though if you keep the default, NPCs will occasionally refer to you as Scott or Sara instead of just ‘Ryder’. Your dad and twin always uses their default forename, to avoid the confusion of everyone being called Ryder.
We know you’ll inherit the title of Pathfinder from your dad, the illustrious galactic explorer and N7 marine Alec Ryder (more on him later). As Pathfinder, you’ll lead your crew in their mission to explore the Andromeda galaxy and find new planets to colonise, though of course, there’s no way it’ll stay so simple for long.
Otherwise, who Ryder ‘is’, is up to you. You can play as a hero, a hardass, or something in between, as Andromeda’s morality system will be somewhat more nuanced than in the past.
Mass Effect: Andromeda squadmates
These are the guys, girls and monogendered aliens who we know will be joining up with your crew. You’ll be able to bring them along on missions, they’ll have their own classes and skill trees, and they’ll have extensive interactions with Ryder - up to and, in some cases, including, romance.
Like the Ryders, Cora arrives in Andromeda aboard the human ark, Hyperion. As such, she’s one of the two squadmates available from the start of the game. We got our first real glimpses of her alongside Liam in the New Earth trailer, where we learned she'll be a romance option for Scott Ryder. More was revealed in the Pathfinder team briefing, which she also narrates.
Cora is your team's operations specialist in charge of ground missions, a human biotic, and one of your two starting squadmates. After a career in the Alliance military, she served with Talein's Daughters, an Asari commando unit, as part of a Council inter-species integration scheme. She is second-in-command of the human Pathfinder team and Alec Ryder's appointed successor, so it's a little odd that one of the Ryder kids gets the Pathfinder job instead of her. Clearly, that's an issue that'll have to be resolved at some point.
A Mass Effect: Andromeda marketing survey leaked on Reddit some time ago, which revealed that "Cora has the ability to deploy a biotic shield that protects everyone in the bubble while still allowing you and your squad to fire out of it." It has been accurate on several other points, and accurate Dragon Age: Inquisition details have leaked before in a similar manner, so even though it's old at this point, it's worth taking a bit seriously.
Anyway, the biotic sphere ability was exclusive to the Asari Justicar Adept in Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer (though your biotic specialists can also cast one during the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2), which suggests Cora’s class will be Adept. However, a profile on the Mass Effect website says her 'favourite' biotic ability is a biotic charge and her weapon is a shotgun, which sounds very Vanguard-like, as does this tweet by lead designer Ian Frazier.
One more thing: she shares a surname with the human supremacist, the Illusive Man, whose name was revealed to be Jack Harper. Very interesting, though Ian Frazier has poured water on Cerberus's involvement in the story.
Liam specialises in crisis response for the Pathfinder team. In the team briefing, we learn he studied engineering at university, but left to train as a policeman. He was "hand-picked" by Alec Ryder due to his multidisciplinary skills. He's also a Londoner, and thus has a British accent.
“Liam is the youthful, enthusiastic, and in some cases, the idealistic follower that you get,” creative director Mac Walters told Game Informer. He’s got high hopes for humanity’s future in Andromeda and will try to encourage the team in dire situations, but he’s also hot-headed and quick to react emotionally if things go south. Sounds to us like a great opportunity for a serious reality check on those youthful high spirits about halfway through the game.
Though cheerful, he takes his duties seriously and supports Ryder’s decisions. “He’s got Ryder’s back,” says Walters.
Our best clues to Liam's combat skills come from his profile on the Mass Effect website. He's said to be a close-range fighter who moves quickly with his jump jets, and favours 'overclocked dual omni-blades'. (Does this mean Ryder will be able to dual-wield too? Maybe.) His favourite ability is 'havoc strike', in which he leaps forward to stun enemies and prime them for combo detonations. In Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, havoc strike was exclusive to the Turian Havoc Soldier, which suggests Liam's class will be Soldier. Yet we also know he studied engineering, so we wouldn't completely rule out a tech class.
Peebee is an Asari, but if you think you know what to expect from previous experience, you’re probably wrong; she’ll have little in common with the po-faced Liara or Samara, or the femme fatale Morinth.
"She’s very bubbly; Liara was very serious," says Walters. "Peebee will buck the norm at any given time. She’s not about rules or culture or anything like that. She’s not even about teams or teamwork."
BioWare wanted to play with your perception of alien species, so your new Asari will be flighty and blunt rather than solemn and diplomatic. I guess that’s the nature of a colonisation mission; it attracts the misfits. Her name is actually a nickname, a contraction of her full name Pelessaria B'Sayle. She hails from Port Lerama, capital of the planet Hyetiana, a hub for Asari science and education.
Bored with the Milky Way, she came to Andromeda aboard the Nexus, but soon went roaming on her own; her profile on the Mass Effect site describes her as “pathologically independent”. She’s interested in the alien technology which you yourself will be investigating as you explore the Helius Cluster, and as such, your paths will cross "in the course of your adventures".
Peebee's profile says she is a gunslinger and a "biotic destabiliser" when it comes to combat, with her favourite weapon being a Sidewinder Outlaw pistol and her favourite power being "Invasion". As far as we're aware, that’s an all-new power for the Mass Effect series, so it seems Peebee will be a biotic class - Adept, perhaps - but with a few new tricks.
We finally got some details on Vetra, your female Turian squadmate, when her profile went up on the Mass Effect website. Born on the Turian homeworld of Palaven and having resided in "too many places to count", she sounds like a bit of a drifter, and at some point she drifted into the wrong crowd: she has survived the rough world of smugglers and mercenaries, sharpening her street smarts and adaptability along the way. Sounds like a good person to have with you when dealing with crooks.
Her experiences have also taught Vetra the value of having someone to watch her back - she'll likely be fiercely loyal once you prove yourself worthy of her trust. In combat, she favours her modified Cyclone assault rifle, and wears customised power armour which provides reinforced shields when activated. With no mention of biotics and plenty of talk of modded equipment, expect Vetra's class to be tech-focused - Engineer or possibly Infiltrator.
Vetra features briefly in the New Earth trailer, and appeared for the first time in a gameplay trailer from The Game Awards 2016, where she accompanied Sara Ryder and Drack (see below) on an away mission to the planet Kadara.
If you fancy hooking up with the savvy Turian, BioWare are keeping shtum on the question of whether she's a romance option: "You'll have to chat her up and see what happens", says Frazier. Danielle Rayne provides Vetra's voice - she appeared in Revenge, Hawaii Five-0 and the short fan film Portal: No Escape.
Also: she’s tall, and will have her own unique rig (like many alien races) to keep her that way.
Drack is a male Krogan who wears a badass spacesuit adorned with bones. He’s in that TGA trailer, getting off the Tempest with Ryder and Vetra, and can be seen slapping some aliens around in the New Earth trailer. "I don't need an army," says Scott Ryder. "I've got a Krogan."
Game Informer said “the Krogan” will have a loyalty mission. They don’t mention Drack by name, but that leaked marketing survey does, and hints at the reward for completing loyalty missions in Andromeda: “if you take the mission and help him track down the outlaws’ hideout to return the ship to its rightful owners, Drack’s loyalty toward you and your squad will increase and Drack will unlock a brand new skill tree.”
We’ve had no hint of what he’s like in battle - other than a badass - but we know Krogan biotics are very rare. With the exception of Urdnot Wrex, whose biotic powers earned him prestige and the title of ‘battlemaster’, most previously observed Krogans in the series have been aggressive soldier types who use shotguns, assault rifles, melee attacks and heavy armour.
Many Mass Effect fans like Krogans, but if you really like Krogans, Ian Frazier is being deliberately coy about what would be the most anatomically-challenging coupling in the series to date:
@sneakywtchthief We're being pretty hush-hush on who does and doesn't have a romance, so I can't say. But if we did, I'd call it Kromance.— Ian S. Frazier (@tibermoon) February 15, 2017
That’s five squadmates we know of so far unless your twin will also take to the field, which is possible. As some of our readers have already noted, these five are Milky Way species, but according to Eurogamer, BioWare have confirmed that at least one squadmate will come from the new galaxy. Pursuant to this, we present the Angara, as they appear in the New Earth trailer:
Shortly after that trailer, Funko, the makers of the cute big-headed figurines, unveiled their line of Andromeda Pop toys. One was clearly modeled after this purple, monocled Angaran, and is named 'Jaal'. Then Mike Gamble tweeted the following picture of Jaal with something that could be a sniper rifle:
Add to that the fact that Jaal will be a romance option, and it's looking pretty certain that he will be your sixth, and possibly final, squadmate. BioWare haven't come right out and said it, but everyone's assuming that's the case, and no one in the know is saying they're wrong.
More details are thin on the ground, but Frazier's tweet that he likes to take "Cora + [redacted]" when playing his "Vanguardiest Vanguard Who Ever Vanguarded" build is possibly a clue. Since we don't know of any other squadmates right now, 'redacted' is either Jaal or a seventh, unrevealed squadmate.
BioWare have said your squad will be fewer but more detailed, with more dialogue and richer personalities, than in previous entries. Mass Effect 2 had 12 squadmates, of whom two were added via DLC. Mass Effect 3 had seven, with the Prothean, Javik, arriving as DLC. It’s not inconceivable that six would be Andromeda’s total number, but there’s a chance we’ll get just one or two more - that leaked survey says "you will recruit seven distinct crew members to fight by your side". It's been quite accurate thus far, but is also a bit old: Eurogamer spoke with creative director Mac Walters in December last year, who revealed that a squadmate has been cut during development.
Walters says "it is possible" that he (Walters uses the masculine pronoun) will return, but with so little time remaining before launch, he might have to be added via DLC. Eurogamer's interviewer assumes that he was Salarian, and Walters seems to accept this suggestion, saying "part of" the decision to cut him was that "we have a Salarian on the crew".
Mass Effect: Andromeda secondary characters
Filling in the supporting cast, these are characters who are unlikely to join your squad on a permanent basis, if at all.
Meet your dad. Alec Ryder was one of the first humans to travel through a mass relay, and later completed the Alliance’s gruelling N7 training to confirm his status as one of humanity’s best soldiers. According to his assessment in the Pathfinder team briefing, he fought the Turians on Shanxi in the First Contact War, and served as a military attache to the Citadel in the 2160s.
A skilled scientist as well as a soldier, he became interested in artificial intelligence "as a means of human advancement" (an interesting choice of words). On a possibly related note (see 'SAM', below), if you’re wondering where your mum’s gone, apparently that will be addressed.
Alec begins the game as Pathfinder for the Andromeda Initiative’s human expedition - a role which you, as one of his kids, later inherit, so there’s a strong chance Alec won’t be around for long. As the human Pathfinder he works closely with Jien Garson, the Initiative’s founder; they appear side by side in the early trailers, some of which Alec also narrates. His voice actor is Clancy Brown, whom you may recognise from Starship Troopers, The Shawshank Redeption, and the Warcraft movie (but don’t hold that against him).
We know something goes wrong with the human ark, Hyperion, at the start of the game, so the obvious assumption is that Alec tags you in at that point. Perhaps he dies or simply disappears, to be rediscovered later. It appears you can customise his appearance, which is a bit of a waste if he gets blown up right at the start, never to return.
Meet your new pilot. Kallo Jath is a male Salarian and will fly the Tempest, your fast and stealthy new scout ship. He narrates the briefing that walks you through the Tempest and the Nomad (give it a watch if you haven’t already - the Tempest looks sweet) and we saw his face for the first time in the New Earth trailer.
Joker, your pilot from the original trilogy, never joined you on missions, so we’re making the assumption (and it is an assumption) that Kallo won’t either. We think we’re safe in this; there’s no reason to expect a pilot to be able to offer anything in a fight, and it seems a valuable capability to lose if something goes wrong. That said, Joker also had brittle bone disease, so he had all the more reason to stay out of trouble.
It’s perhaps slightly odd that a Salarian should pilot the human Pathfinder's ship when each species in the Andromeda initiative has its own. Perhaps there’s more to Kallo Jath and his assignment than meets the eye, but whatever: it’s nice to know we’ll have a Salarian to chat with on the bridge, even though there’s no conceivable way for Kallo to be as cool as Mordin Solus.
According to the Pathfinder team briefing, SAM stands for Simulated Adaptive Matrix. It's an AI designed by Alec Ryder himself, and sees and feels as the Pathfinder does via a neural link. The team briefing mentions the first such links were created by a Dr Elen Ryder - could this be your mother?
Thanks to these links, SAM will support you while you're on missions from its node in the ark. This support takes various forms, including "situational awareness, problem solving and even tactical enhancements." We see an example of this in the TGA trailer, when SAM briefs Sara Ryder on Sloane Kelly, but perhaps this talk of "tactical enhancements" means the AI will also play a role in the game's upgrade/equipment systems.
The immediate assumption was that SAM will be the Tempest’s equivalent of EDI, the Normandy’s AI from the original trilogy, to which Mass Effect producer Fabrice Condominas says:
"Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that SAM is ultimately not a living being; it’s more of an AI or robot. But it's way broader than EDI, the relationship is way different. SAM handles a number of things as well as your vessel. It is connected to you permanently and was connected to, and knew, your father, Alec. There's a very specific relationship there. It's more of a partner than EDI was. You're way closer emotionally to SAM."
Wild speculative theory based on the above: could SAM be a reanimation of Elen Ryder, presumably your mum?
The Kett Archon
The likeliest candidate yet for Andromeda's main villain, we got our best look at the Kett Archon in the New Earth trailer. He says simply "I am Archon" before demanding that the Pathfinder team "surrender or burn". This is followed by an attack.
Scott Ryder says "we've been outplayed. The Archon is a master of his game," just as we see footage of the Archon unleashing a blast of blue energy, so he clearly has powers of some kind, and we can surmise he's a skilled leader or manipulator who views you as a threat. Beyond that, we don't know much.
The Andromeda Initiative is Jien Garson’s brainchild; she is its founder and director. She’s a human, which tallies with Mass Effect’s depiction of humans as the most expansionist and ambitious of the Milky Way species. Garson appears in the Andromeda Initiative ‘orientation’ trailer, in which she explains that she will be overseeing the mission from the Nexus.
Garson is voiced by Sense8 actress Jamie Clayton, and unless this is a cameo, this together with her character’s status as director of the Initiative suggests a big role in the plot.
Featured in that TGA 2016 trailer, Sloane Kelly was head of security on the Nexus before getting kicked out sometime after it reached Andromeda. She then found her way to the planet Kadara of the Govorkam system, and rose to a position of power among the outlaws there; she can be seen bossing around Krogan and Turian subordinates, and is clearly a key actor in one of your quests.
Before joining the Andromeda Initiative, Kelly served in the Alliance with a “nearly spotless” record. Hotheaded and uncomfortable with authority, those few blemishes were a number of “altercations” with other officers.
That about covers everything we know so far. We’ll be updating this as soon as any more information is revealed about Mass Effect: Andromeda’s characters, so check back soon.