Revisiting Mass Effect: Sovereign Is STILL The Best Video Game Villain

Another N7 Day has come for Mass Effect fans, and while the game franchise’s latter two entries – Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda – have continued to divide fans since their respective releases, the first game remains a classic for many. While this is due in no small part to Mass Effect’s expansive world, detailed lore, and collection of unique and diverse characters, there’s a significant element that really gives the game its everlasting appeal: Sovereign, the game’s villain.

The original Mass Effect trilogy was a huge success for publisher Electronic Arts, selling over 14 million copies worldwide. Focused on Commander Shepard’s fight against ancient mechanical beings known as the Reapers, each game in the trilogy expanded the scope and threat level of the series, culminating in a galactic battle with the Reapers in Mass Effect 3. While that game’s lack of meaningful choices in its ending (a staple that the Mass Effect trilogy had built its credibility on up to that point), an ending that divided Mass Effect fans as to the quality of the entry as a whole, the first two Mass Effect games didn't suffer equivalent backlash.

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This is especially true of the original Mass Effect, which contained probably the purest, old school RPG elements of the series (Electronic Arts took over the franchise after the first game and simplified the mechanics for a broader gaming audience). It also had arguably the best writing of the trilogy from Drew Karpyshyn (who didn't work on Mass Effect 3), who managed to not only create a compelling setting and protagonist in Shepard, but also arguably the best video game villain of all-time in Sovereign.

Who Is Mass Effect’s Sovereign?

Mass Effect’s primary antagonist is arguably Saren Arterius, a Specter much like protagonist Shepard (which are elite agents handpicked by the Citadel Council to preserve stability throughout the galaxy) but the being pulling the strings is Sovereign. At the beginning of the game, it’s simply believed that Sovereign is an ancient ship by which Saren uses to traverse the galaxy and implement his evil agenda. However, things are not even remotely that simple.

Toward the end of the game, Sovereign reveals itself to Shepard to be a Reaper, an ancient and highly advanced being of both synthetic and organic material that seemingly functions as a starship vessel. Their exact origins are a complete mystery, but their purpose is clear: every 50,000 years or so, the Reapers return from dark space (where they hibernate) to wipe out all organic life and harvest their technology. They leave certain aspects of their technology behind, like the Citadel and mass relays (which are used for interstellar travel) to assure that any developing species will create technology that is compatible with their own come harvesting time.

Sovereign, however, remains behind after each of these cycles to study developing species and use the Citadel as a signal to call the other Reapers when the time is right for harvesting. The myth of the Reapers is known to humans and other Citadel species – like the Asari and Turians – thanks to relics left behind by another ancient species called the Protheans, who warn of the Reapers' return. Of course, nobody takes any of this seriously in the Mass Effect games, and with seemingly good reason. It would be like anyone in 2018 taking the idea of Ragnarok as a legitimate means of the world ending seriously.

Still, after his run-in with Sovereign – who, during the events of the first Mass Effect, uses Saren to try and enact the signal needed to call the other Reapers back to known space – Shepard certainly buys it and spends a lot of time trying to get the rest of the galaxy to believe that they’re coming. And the Reapers do return in full force in Mass Effect 3, but while they are certainly a worthy threat in the latter two Mass Effect games (especially Harbinger and the human antagonist the Illusive Man) they never even come close to matching Sovereign’s shocking introduction on the planet Virmire. In fact, it’s a brilliant moment in the game because it changes everything you as the player have come to expect from Mass Effect up to that point.

Page 2 of 2: Why Sovereign Is The Best & How Mass Effect Can Top Him

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