The first-ever Mass Effect "only" had a total of six playable companions that you could recruit and add to your squad. In this article you'll learn more about who they are and how you can recruit them in our Mass Effects companions guide.
Kaidan Alenko is one of the first two companions to join your Mass Effect squad by default.
Story-wise, Kaidan is a biotic implanted with L2 implants that reportedly caused severe neurological damage to everyone who receives it. However, Kaidan is one of the few who were fortunate enough to not get the said effects. Instead, all Kaidan gets is a severe migraine now and then.
In terms of gameplay, Kaidan works best as a medic. Because of this Medicine talent, Kaidan can deploy Medi-Gel much more often, making it easier to survive dogfights. Although Kaidan is also quite useful at disabling and suppressing enemies, as well as absorbing all shots fired because of his access to both Tech and Biotic talents, he's a distant second to Liara T'Soni (described below).
Ashley Williams is the other of the two companions who join your squad by default in Mass Effect, with the other being Kaidan Alenko.
Of the two, Ashley sees far more utility because she can train with all four weapon types available in the game, including sniper rifles. She also has the advantage of unlocking the Immunity ability via the Fitness talent, which, combined with heavy armor, guarantees that Ashley can stay alive the longest of all your squad members.
We recommend maxing out Immunity as soon as possible and putting a point or two in First Aid. The rest you'll want to put in your preferred weapon talent.
Just keep in mind that Ashley has no Electronics or Decryption talent. This means that you'll need to have Shepard learn those or bring over another squad member that can compensate for her lack of technical skills. She also has no way of incapacitating enemies in Mass Effect other than killing them outright.
Garrus Vakarin is a former C-Sec officer who left his position to bring his fellow Turian and Spectre, Sarren, to justice.
Garrus will join your squad either after encountering him in the Wards at the Med Clinic while investigating Sarren, or Garren may come to you directly at a later time if you decide to recruit Wrex first. You may also refuse Garrus' request to join you as a companion and finish the game without ever letting him tag along.
Of course, there's little to no reason why you shouldn't bring Garrus anyway.
Garrus is widely considered one of the most beloved and useful companions in Mass Effect. The former, because of how he remains loyal to Shepard throughout the entire trilogy. The latter, because of his unique combination of Tech talents and proficiency with Assault Rifles, as well as Sniper Rifles. On top of this, because of his Turian Agent class talent, he has the potential to become the best sniper on the team.
The only downside to being able to suppress enemy tech and biotic abilities, as well as hack objects is that Garrus is quite soft.
If you plan on using Garrus as part of your squad, make sure to play to his strengths and let him do his damage from afar.
Players literally first bump into Urdnot Wrex after he warns one of Fist's bouncers in Chora's Den or picks a fight against one of the C-Sec officers inside their officers on the Citadel.
Wrex joins your squad as a temporary member and you accompany him as he kills Fist after the Shadow Broker puts a hit out on him. Afterward, Wrex becomes available as a permanent squad member. Although it is possible to not recruit him in the first Mass Effect game and complete the journey without him in your squad.
As a Krogan Battlemaster, Wrex's biggest strength is his resiliency. He is the only member of your squad that literally won't fall when tackling other Krogans. At the same time, his proficiency in biotics lets him make hard targets easier to take down. Meanwhile, his penchant for using shotguns makes him one hell of a powerhouse that can literally take out entire squads of enemies on his lonesome.
The only problem with Wrex is his lack of tech skills. Pair him with Garrus though and you've got two squad members that can literally do the dirty work for you.
Tali'Zorah nar Rayya
Tali joins your squad as a way to repay you for saving her life from her pursuers as she held evidence proving Saren's crimes, resulting in the revocation of his Spectre status.
As the tech specialist of your squad in Mass Effect, Tali has access to the Overload, Sabotage, Damping, and AI Hacking tech talents. When geared right, Tali can constantly spam her abilities, making her the perfect weapon when fighting against the Geth. However, similar to Garrus, it's best that you keep her in the backlines and focus on training her pistol, as her lack of armor makes her susceptible to taking a lot of damage when up close.
Liara is an archeologist who's been studying Prothean ruins and technology for half a century. She can be recruited after rescuing her on the mining planet Therum where she finds herself stuck after hiding inside a Prothean ruin following an attack from Geth forces.
The most powerful Bionic in your squad in the first Mass Effect game if not the entire trilogy, Liara T'Soni is the best companion for softening up groups of enemies. She has full access to all biotic talents, including but not limited to, Singularity and Stasis.
We recommend putting up as many points as fast as possible on Singularity and Asari Scientist followed by Lift and Warp. Lift, in particular, will come in particularly handy when fighting against tough enemies. The rest is completely up to you.
What's the Best Squad in Mass Effect?
Unlike in the latter Mass Effect games, in the first title, the gap between the best squad composition and the everything else is wide.
The best squad in Mass Effect is the combination of any build you can think of on Shepard with Wrex and Garrus. Coincidentally, these two are the most beloved companions in Mass Effect. In battle, you'll love them even more.
Wrex takes care of all of your close-up needs. Meanwhile, Garrus is a beast with his sniper rifle. Both are also competent with assault rifles and can deal a ton of damage regardless of the weapon that they are using. Also, in terms of abilities and talents, Wrex has access to Wrap and Throw while Garrus can use Overload and Damping.
With everything covered, pairing Garrus and Wrex together lets you experiment with any build on Shepard.