Party members are arguably the main attraction for many BioWare fans. Mass Effect 2 is no exception, featuring 12 recruitable squad members counting DLC. That’s more than any other game in the series, but there were plenty of companions that never made it off the drawing board.
BioWare’s Mac Walters discussed this in a recent video on GameSpot’s YouTube channel. As the Lead Writer for Mass Effect 2, he talked about characters that never made it into the game and early drafts of fan favorites.
The video’s focus is an early design document where the writers hammered out their vision for the 12 party members. Or as Walters calls them, Mass Effect 2’s “Dirty Dozen.” As Walters explains, the team thought it was essential for players to care about their followers in Mass Effect 2. It is the only game in the series where the player can potentially get their whole squad killed, and BioWare wanted the player to feel it.
According to Walters, BioWare’s writers threw everything at the wall to see what stuck. One that didn’t stick was the “Crazy Quarian King.” A Quarian in their 30s or 40s, this character would approach Commander Shephard shortly after their arrival on the Quarian Migrant Fleet. They would then “whimsically” offer to join the team. The Quarian King, or Queen, since the character sheet doesn’t specify gender, was inspired by the Crazy Irishman from Braveheart. Like the Irishman, this Quarian would be motivated by avenging their dead friends and family. Also like the Irishman, it seems to have driven them mad, but the fun kind of mad. The three pitched dialogue lines spell it out perfectly: “Will I get to kill Geth?” “Yes, you get to kill Geth.” “Excellent!”
Other proposed but discarded Quarians include the “Quarian Rogue” and “Cordial Smuggler.” The description of the former gives off strong James Bond vibes. Meanwhile, the latter comes across as an alien version of Kasumi Goto from the Stolen Memory DLC. The doc itself describes him or her as a fusion of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.
Speaking of Kasumi, her character evolved from a human space pirate known as the “Space Jacker.” She and Shephard would race to steal an important item, with the Space Jacker ultimately allowing Shepherd to win. The pitch also suggested she could be trying to “steal the LEVIATHAN.” One assumes “LEVIATHAN” refers to the Derelict Reaper from Mass Effect 2. That would certainly be an ambitious prize if nothing else.
Walters also drew attention to number 16 on the list, “The Mad Bomber.” The document describes this character as “a demolition-savant who’s just crazy enough to join in on a suicide mission.” To recruit them, Shepard would have to break into secret facilities to steal the best bombs for the operation. The document compares their personality to Mel Gibson’s character in Lethal Weapon. The Mad Bomber never made it into the game. Still, Walters notes that BioWare incorporated elements of this character into party members Jack and Zaeed.
Walters points out that very few of these pitches were either wholly embraced or rejected. Instead, many merged, split, and redefined over time. Even returning characters like Garrus and Tali evolved as their roles in the story changed. The document also describes early versions of other Mass Effect 2 characters, such as Miranda, Thane, and Grunt. BioWare’s writers referred to the latter as “The Design-A-Krogan,” and his description implies Shephard would have had a much more significant role in influencing his development.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, though, and Walters only touches on a fraction of the proposed characters. He also notes that now that this video is out there, fans will likely start clamoring for some of these cut characters to show up in future Mass Effect games. Given some of the great but unused ideas the writers came up with, it is easy to understand why.
Mass Effect 2 is available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.