Years later I'm still annoyed at how Mass Effect did Wrex dirty

Mass Effect Wrex
(Image credit: BioWare)

Note: Spoilers for Wrex in the Mass Effect trilogy, if you haven't played it by now.

I haven't bought Mass Effect: Legendary Edition yet. I might not buy it at all. Occasionally I get the urge to revisit the trilogy, but I never do it because what happened, happened. I played each game in the trilogy exactly once. If I go back and play them again, then what happened originally will be overwritten. 

The events of the trilogy and the choices I made while playing form my own personal Mass Effect canon. And I don't want to undo that canon and those memories by playing it again. I punched that reporter. I let Ashley die. I didn't lose anyone in the suicide mission except Zaeed (I was fine with that). I chose the Synthesis ending. For me, that's just what happened.

Through the entire trilogy I stuck with all the decisions I made, big or small. I never went back and reloaded a save so I could make a different choice. I wanted my experience to be one long, unbroken story. No take-backs, no do-overs. If I made a mistake or a bad choice, I'd just live with it. It made the series feel more real and gave my choices a bigger impact.

Except once. In the first Mass Effect, I had to break my only rule, and even all these years later I'm still pretty damn annoyed about it.

The gruff krogan Urdnot Wrex quickly became my favorite character in Mass Effect. Sure, we didn't always see eye to eye (or nose to snout) and argued about things from time to time. Wrex is a tough guy, and my Shepard is even tougher. And at one point, on Virmire, Wrex and I got into a huge argument. The kind where words don't carry enough weight so guns are drawn and pointed at one another.

(Image credit: BioWare)

But it never felt like a situation where someone would get shot. Not at all. Pulling space-guns and pointing them at your pals is just what futuristic hardcases do. The moment was tense and heated but I had a lot of respect for Wrex. I'd never, ever want to shoot him.

And I didn't shoot him! I tried to defuse the situation and walk back the conflict. "We can work this out," I told him. And I believed it.

And then Ashley fucking shot him. Ashley shot Wrex! He was dead, just like that. I could. Not. Believe it.

It was entirely unfair. There was a dialogue option to shoot him myself, which I wasn't going to do. There was an option to signal Ashley to shoot Wrex, which I also wasn't going to do. So, I figured any other option shown to me would not result in anyone shooting Wrex. It just made sense. If two buttons say "Murder the best alien in the universe" and the rest of the buttons don't, you have to assume that choosing one of the other buttons means the best alien in the universe won't get murdered.

But that's not what happened. Thanks to awful telegraphing, I picked an option that indicated I didn't want Wrex to get shot, and he immediately got shot. And died. Thanks, terrible videogame dialogue options. It's the one time in the entire trilogy I went back to a previous save to change something. I just couldn't let that terrible event exist.

ABOVE: The various "Wrex dies" scenarios on YouTube.

Wrex's surprising and unfair death pissed me off in the first Mass Effect, but Mass Effect 2 just made me sad. Wrex couldn't even join my crew. Instead he was the leader of Clan Urdnot, basically just standing around doing I don't know what. Administrative work? Important stuff, I'm sure. Instead of climbing on my ship and being my big faithful deep-voiced pal and following me into battle, I could only visit him on his planet.

And I always suspected Wrex couldn't join the crew in Mass Effect 2 simply because he was a killable character in the first Mass Effect. If some players killed him (monsters!) and some players didn't, it makes sense to keep him off the Normandy altogether in the next game. It's probably just easier that way.

In Mass Effect 3, Wrex was still around and there are missions involving him, but he could only become a temporary crew member in some paid DLC. Even Kaidan and the murderous Ashley, both killable in Mass Effect, could join your crew in Mass Effect 3 if they were still alive. But not Wrex.

Sure, there was a krogan replacement for Wrex, good old Grunt, who I can't say I didn't like. But it just wasn't the same. It was as if in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, they'd stuck Chewbacca on his home planet and had a substitute Chewie named Lewie hanging around with Han Solo for the rest of the trilogy.

In one game BioWare tricked me into getting my favorite character killed, and in the next two games I barely got to have any space adventures with him. And if it wasn't obvious, I'm still plenty salty about it.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.