Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 is one of the best-loved role-playing games of all time. It earned an impressive 96 on Metacritic and a permanent spot in many gamers’ hearts. Its compelling story, tight gameplay, and vibrant characters gave it a truly unforgettable charm. A remastered version of ME2 is coming out in May with the release of Mass Effect Legendary Edition, letting a whole new generation of gamers solve the mystery of the Collectors as Commander Shepard. Shepard travels with two squad members at all times, teammates chose from their crew about the Normandy. Each of these twelve companions has its own strengths, stories, and personalities. There’s a wide variety of teammates to choose from, too, no matter your playstyle.
The player, as Shepard, recruits these companions in the first half of the game. Miranda and Jacob are present from the beginning, as are Kasumi and Zaeed (from add-on DLC), but the remaining eight must be added through their own recruitment missions. You can talk to them, affecting how they see Shepard as Commander and friend (or even lover, for a few select characters). This is how you learn more about them. In the second half of the game, each companion has a loyalty mission that secures their commitment to Shepard and makes you a real part of these characters’ lives. It also increases their likelihood of surviving the incredibly dangerous Suicide Mission at the end of the game. Here’s our ranking of the five most useful squadmates in the game, how to use them, and what makes them special.
Is she a friend? Or is she someone to be wary of? Miranda Lawson is the first companion you see, although not the first one you meet. She was responsible for bringing Shepard back from the dead as part of the Lazarus Project. She’s the main Cerberus contact on the Normandy and Shepard’s second-in-command, but her true allegiance is questionable at first. She initially doubts Shepard’s value to the mission, given the cost of reviving them–and a bit of jealousy, though you’ll see why. Over the course of the game, however, Shepard gains her trust and loyalty. She also opens up about what prompted her to seek Cerberus as an employer. There’s a great deal more to this Cerberus Officer than appears at first glance.
She’s available as a romance option to male Shepards.
Tactics: She is easily the best squadmate to have with you. Her powers can strip both shields and biotic defenses, and her passive bonus increases the health and weapon damage of the entire squad. Her loyalty power, Slam, also inflicts an impressive amount of damage. All classes of Shepards will find her a useful team member.
A krogan genetically engineered to be the best of his species, Grunt is the best warrior in the game. Despite his strength and formidable powers, his unusual origins–he was grown in a tank–cause him a great deal of internal conflict. He believes the tank gave him everything he has, meaning he had to fight for none of it, and so he believes he has not earned it. Shepard can help him get accepted into a proper krogan clan as part of a rite of passage, which he does have to fight to win. On acceptance, Grunt’s insecurities about being a true krogan are put to rest. Urdnot Grunt (yes, he’s accepted into the same clan as Wrex from the first game) then swears his fealty to Shepard’s cause.
He’s actually very young for a krogan, and naive to boot. Doesn’t look it, admittedly…
Tactics: While his inexperience with the world leads to some funny interactions, Grunt is truly unstoppable on the battlefield. Take him with you on high-risk missions, as he can take immense amounts of damage even on Insanity difficulty. Like all other Krogan Berserkers, he continually regenerates health. His incendiary ammo sets foes on fire. And in true krogan style, he also charges his enemies in close quarters, scattering them like ninepins.
Long gone is the eager young turian C-Sec officer Shepard met on the Citadel in Mass Effect 1. Garrus Vakarian eventually grows sick of the Citadel’s inaction regarding the Reapers and heads off to make a change on his own. When Shepard meets him in ME2, Garrus is the last of a crime-fighting group aboard the lawless Omega space station. His team and friends were betrayed by one of their own numbers, and he is cornered by enemies, which Shepard must help him fight off. He is disillusioned and world-weary after the ordeal he’s been through, and filled with no small amount of anger and guilt. Shepard can help him get over the events of the past, showing him a different way to move on (or providing some closure). He’s a familiar face from the first game, and he’ll always have your six.
He’s available as a romance option to female Shepards.
Tactics: Garrus is handy to have on the battlefield, using both sniper rifles and assault rifles with ease. While he’s not the most durable squadmate, he can temporarily disable enemies with concussive shots. He is capable of taking down foes at all ranges, using armor-piercing ammo to keep them down. His Overload ability can also strip shields, making him an excellent teammate to a biotics-focused Shepard or companions. (It’s also just nice to run around fighting bad guys with a friend. Just like old times.)
He may be an add-on teammate in the DLC The Price of Revenge, but that doesn’t make him any less powerful than the base game companions. Zaeed Massani has some of the highest damage in-game (just behind Shepard, with Miranda’s boost to squad damage). He’s one of the best mercenaries and bounty hunters in the galaxy, hired for the mission by Cerberus. Shepard can secure his loyalty to them by helping him “sort out” a situation at a refinery occupied by the Blue Suns–a powerful criminal group he used to be the leader of. This ends up being an attempt at revenge, however. He forces Paragon Shepards to make some harsh decisions should they want his support, as his methods are crude and violent. But one cannot claim they aren’t effective.
Tactics: Zaeed is more than just raw damage, though he provides that in spades. His inferno grenade shreds enemies’ armor and sets them on fire. He’s also the only squad member with the eminently useful Disruptor Ammo, which causes damage to shields and synthetic enemies and makes weapons overheat. A soldier Shepard will not find him too useful, but every other class will find him an invaluable squadmate.
Easily the best biotic in the game, Samara is an asari justicar. Justicars are members of an ancient monastic asari order with a rigid honor Code. This Code sees all decisions in black and white, binding her to a very strict framework she is compelled to follow–even if it causes destruction. She is recruited in the process of tracking down her murderous daughter Morinth, who she has been hunting for centuries. (This Morinth is another extremely powerful asari, who may be recruited instead of her mother, should Shepard wish to.) Helping her keep her Code peacefully is essential to recruit her. By assisting her in putting an end to Morinth, Shepard wins her loyalty for the mission against the Collectors. Samara is also willing to share some of the things she’s learned over the centuries and to tell Shepard more about the order she is part of.
Tactics: While Samara is proficient with weapons, it is her biotic powers that truly make her shine. She can pull defenseless enemies towards the squad and throw them off platforms and buildings. She can also reave once her loyalty mission is complete. This biotic ability drains the health of her enemies and restores her own. Adept Shepards may not find her as useful as other classes, however, and her abilities (aside from Reave) can only target unprotected enemies.