The Virmire Survivor: Ashley and Kaidan in Mass Effect

The cover of the edited volume.
The recently published volume 100 Greatest Video Game Characters includes my contribution about two major characters from the original Mass Effect trilogy - Ashley Williams and Kaidan Alenko. These two squadmates have been the ultimate reminder of player choices for over five years based on a crucial decision during the Virmire mission in the first Mass Effect. At this point, the protagonist Commander Shepard has to choose which one of these two subordinates, friends and also potential love interests sacrifices their life to save the other one and to fulfill the mission. While the so-called Virmire Survivor is sidetracked for the majority of Mass Effect 2, except for a brief reunion half-way through the game, they return as a rival figure (but also a romanceable character) in Mass Effect 3. Here they become a poster hero for the human military after Shepard's incarceration for their crimes against Batarians in the Mass Effect 2 DLC Arrival. Even though Ashley and Kaidan belong to the least popular squadmates according to the official statistics unveiled by BioWare at PAX East 2013, they have still received a relatively large amount of screen time. The treatment of their story arcs shows a dedication to showing the consequences of player choices unlike the retconning of Leliana's possible death in the Dragon Age series by the same developer.