Mass Effect 3 Companions Guide: Who, What, Where, and How

Whereas the first Mass Effect introduced you to the reapers and Mass Effect 2 had you going on a suicide mission, the last game of the trilogy, Mass Effect 3, placed the fate of the entire universe in your hands as you led the charge against the incoming Reaper invasion. So it sure helps to have the best of the best backing you up on all of your missions.

Mass Effect Companions Guide
Unfortunately, the cast of playable characters in Mass Effect 3 is small compared to Mass Effect 2.

Below is our Mass Effect 3 companions guide, where you'll find the eight characters that you can recruit in the game, as well as where you can find them and how you can get them to join your squad.

Ashley Williams

Mass Effect Companions Guide
Ashley Williams probably would have received a lot of flack had the original Mass Effect been released today because of her blatant racism.

Provided that you didn't leave Ashley Williams to die in the first Mass Effect during the Virmire mission, Ashley Williams will return in Mass Effect 3. You can recruit Ashley to join your team during Act II during the Priority: Mars mission.

As an Alliance Officer with a unique power in Marksman, Ashley's weapon damage potential is second only to Garrus. We recommend maxing out her Marksman and evolving it to improve her fire rate and duration. As for her weapon, Ashley is best utilized when she has an assault rifle with a high magazine count like the N7 Typhoon.

Ashley can also combo her Inferno Grade with Concussive Shot. However, her Disruptor Ammo should not be underestimated as well. Unlike in Mass Effect 2, Disruptor Ammo now works against both barriers and shields.

Kaidan Alenko

Mass Effect Companions Guide
We learn in Mass Effect 3 that Kaidan had no choice but to become who he is today.

If Kaidan survived the Virmire mission in the first Mass Effect game, you'll be able to recruit him during the Priority: Mars mission in Act II, just like Ashley.

Unlike Ashley, who is geared towards providing additional firepower, Kaidan is a more versatile option. He has access to Overload to take care of shields and barriers with Cryo Blast to weaken armors and disable unprotected enemies. At the same time, because he is an Alliance Officer, he naturally benefits from a boost to his tech and biotics power.

You can also play around with Kaidan and turn him into a tank with access to both Reave and Barrier damage protection buffs. Although this limits his biotics damage output, Kaidan can at least use assault rifles, which means that he's always relevant damage-wise.

James Vega

Mass Effect Companions Guide
James Vega is the de-facto meat shield of your squad in Mass Effect 3.

James Vega is available to recruit right during the prologue, making him the first character to join your squad in Mass Effect 3.

With Grunt and Urdnot Wrex both unavailable in Mass Effect 3, James' role is to displace both and act as the team's point man. He is near-unrivaled in that department thanks to his Fortification power, with his Arms Master class granting him a huge bonus to health and shields that makes him hard to take down even in higher difficulties.

Perhaps the biggest bonus of having James on your squad is the Squad Bonus evolution that makes the entire squad tougher with James around.

The only problem with James is that he doesn't really bring that much to the table in terms of firepower or personality.

Liara T’Soni

Mass Effect Companions Guide
It's amazing to think that Liara became the Shadow Broker at some point during the trilogy.

Similar to James, Liara is available to recruit during the prologue of Mass Effect 3. Unfortunately, that is exactly where their similarities end.

In terms of gameplay, Liara is the exact opposite of James. She's a biotic powerhouse with little going her way in terms of defensive options. Thankfully, her offensive abilities via Stasis, Singularity, as well as Warp Ammo, are more than enough to offset her vulnerability.

On top of this all, Liara is the only squad member in Mass Effect 3 that can use Warp, which is even better now than it was in Mass Effect 3.

Perhaps the biggest asset of Liara is how quickly she can cast her abilities one after the other. You don't necessarily have to pair her with another biotic, although that would help. She's perfectly capable of creating combos without help. So long as you can keep her safe, Liara can take care of all your troubles for you.

Tali’Zorah vas Normandy

Mass Effect Companions Guide
Tali is one of the few characters in Mass Effect 3 that's available across all three games.

Provided that Tali survived the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2, she'll return in Mass Effect 3. You can recruit her to join your war efforts in Act II of the game.

Unlike in the first two Mass Effect games, Tali's utility in Mass Effect 3 now extends to even non-synthetic enemies. Make no mistake. She'll still far more effective against synthetics, with Energy Drain and Sabotage. However, she can use a Combat Drone and Defense Drone now, which have fairly fast recharge speeds, allowing her to deal her fair share of damage against all kinds of enemies.

Unfortunately, Tali is best utilized if you can take the time to learn how her kit works. In particular, Tali's main use in Mass Effect 3 lies in knowing how and when to chain Energy Drain and Sabotage, along with Overload. Otherwise, you'll end up wasting your time trying to turn her into something she is not.

Garrus Varkarian

Mass Effect Companions Guide
Garrus cements himself as arguably the best companion in the trilogy during Mass Effect 3.

Everyone's favorite Turian returns in Mass Effect 3 if he survived the events of Mass Effect 2.

Similar to his role in the first two Mass Effect games, Garrus remains unchanged in Mass Effect 3. He's still a long-range powerhouse with a suite of tech powers that lets him take care of enemies with shields and barriers. He also has a lot of utility with the Armor-Piercing Ammo, especially since some of your squadmates tend to fire at enemies even when they are undercover.

Pairing Overload with Concussive Shot is also great for crowd control, especially since you can spam this combo quite often. Meanwhile, you can evolve Proximity Mine to help make harder targets easier to take down.

The only issue we see with Garrus is that it's tempting to try and get all his abilities. This runs the risk of spreading him too thin, which is not ideal when Garrus already suffers from not being able to use his powers as much as other squadmates.


Mass Effect Companions Guide
EDI's damage potential in Mass Effect 3 is very high if used right.

You can recruit EDI, Normandy's resident AI, in her physical form right after your mission on the Turian homeworld ends. However, you'll need to make sure that you recruit her before leaving.

EDI's utility in Mass Effect 3 comes from the very simple fact that she's the only one with Incinerate in the game. Because of this and her Unshackled AI class power, EDI has the highest raw damage potential out of all recruitable squad members. This is especially when you get squad bonuses, weapon mods, her default costume, as well as if and when you evolve her Defense Matrix power.

Even when EDI can't one-hit enemies, her other abilities still come in handy as she can make tougher enemies more vulnerable to damage. If paired with other Sabotage-wielding party members and cryo attacks, EDI's damage potential increases even further. But, even on her own, EDI can effectively strip shields and barriers from enemies with ease, opening them up to take more damage from the rest of the squad.

We recommend focusing more on making EDI's abilities recharge faster as opposed to maximizing her damage potential, especially in higher difficulties.


Mass Effect Companions Guide
Javik delivers one of the most memorable quotes in Mass Effect 3.

Javik is the only squad member in Mass Effect 3 available exclusively as a DLC character via the "From Ashes" DLC, which makes his recruitment mission, "Priority: Eden Prime", available.

Similar to Liara, Javic is a biotic specialist. However, he doesn't lean too hard towards using his biotic powers. Instead, he makes up for it with his durability and firepower, essentially making him the biotic Garrus of sorts. The evolution of his Vengeful Ancient class also improves the entire party's Shield Recharge speed by as much as 20%.

Javik's combo is fairly simple: Pull, Slam, Lift Grenade and repeat. With his black armor equipped, Javik deals the most damage across a wide area of all squad members using his Lift Grenades.

Although Javik is not particularly effective against shielded enemies, he can always shoot them down if needed.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.
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