Exploring Mass Effect's Expanded Lore
The Mass Effect universe is expansive, but what some may not realize is that the lore doesn’t stop with the games. Comics, novels, and even an animated movie all work in tandem to flesh out an incredibly intricate universe far beyond the rolled credits of the gaming series. With the Legendary Edition remaster on the way, there is much to be excited for with both newcomers to the franchise and loyal N7 fans, an excitement that can be further celebrated with the extended lore of the galaxy.
The Mass Effect games themselves are expanded upon to an impressive degree with the comics published by Dark Horse, filling in those blank spaces in between each release. With Mass Effect 2, fans watched in horror as their own Commander Shepard heroically sacrificed themselves for the safety of their crew. Following Shepard’s last breath, a span of two years passed before they were resurrected by Cerberus; a human terrorist organization that spirals in depravity with its aims of putting humanity first. But how did Shepard’s body, and life itself, become Cerberus’ concern? The very first comic in the Mass Effect extended universe is called Redemption and it follows Liara’s quest to recover Shepard and offer them a second lease on life for the sake of the galaxy. It’s here that fans first meet Feron, the drell that betrayed her only to help her in her journey, a debt she repays later in Mass Effect 2 with the Shadowbroker DLC.
Following the release of Redemption, eleven comics have been released to expand upon the massive universe that is Mass Effect. From exploring the mercenary roots of Jack Harper before he transformed into the Illusive Man and head of Cerberus with Evolution, to exploring smaller stories like Aria’s first run-in with the Collectors; there are so many tales untold that the comics expand on, making the bigger picture even grander.
Mass Effect: Foundation is arguably one of my personal favorites due to its ties with the third game’s Citadel DLC. Foundation is made up of 13 parts with three volumes, each tying into the DLC while also exploring the backstories of even more squadmates like Thane and a much younger Kaidan Alenko and the horrors he faced while being a student at Jump Zero. The first volume also offered an interesting character to learn more about: Rasa. Rasa is a mysterious agent of the Illusive Man, a character we meet (and fight) later in the Citadel DLC. With this as the focus point, the series follows the Cerberus operative’s task of exploring those events in the lives of Urdnot Wrex, Ashley Williams, Kaidan Alenko, and more to learn about what made them who they are when we meet them in the games.
There are also four novels in total exploring the trilogy, with three additional books exploring more of the Andromeda universe. In Mass Effect: Revelation, fans learn more about David Anderson and Kahlee Sanders’ developing relationship, something that was alluded to a few times throughout the games, and how the Alliance man came to loathe the turian spectre Saren, a character that acted as a villainous catalyst in Mass Effect 1.
From Revelation, the books further explore stories surrounding Cerberus, such as the biotic prodigy’s Gillian Grayson and their escape from the organization’s clutches, as well as Retribution and Deception that follow more tales about the Illusive Man’s growing influence.
With the Andromeda expanded media, the books themselves explain what happened to the arks as the various races made their disastrous way towards a new home, including what happened to the Quarians and learning more about Cora Harper and her past with Papa Ryder prior to deployment.
The games themselves are impressive with thorough worldbuilding and characters that feel like family. The expanded media takes what we love about the BioWare tale and tells it in a way where it feels real and fully realized.
Books and comics not your thing? There is also an animated movie called Paragon Lost that dives deep into what happened to a pre-Shepard James Vega and how he learned the hard way that the mission comes first - always - with his first run-in with the Collectors at the Reapers’ behest.
If you love Mass Effect or are looking to dive into this wonderful fandom, we can’t recommend the expanded lore of this franchise enough. With the original writing team penning these extended tales, the spirit of Mass Effect is vibrant, whole, and ever expanding as we look to the future of what’s next.
Want even more Mass Effect in your life? Perfect! I went really deep into exploring the trailer BioWare dropped at last year's Game Awards with a frame-by-frame breakdown of the tiny little details hidden in plain sight. You can check that out right here!