20 of the very best Dragon Age companions ranked

By ·January 23, 2017 12:06 pm

If you have ever played a BioWare game, you will know that they put a great emphasis on creating complex, interesting and well-rounded characters. In our best Mass Effect squadmates list we have already ranked Commander Shepard’s most memorable Normandy friends. But the Dragon Age series, that can be considered Mass Effect‘s younger, Tolkien-obsessed sibling, also offers a plethora of unique and unforgettable companions that our player characters go on countless adventures with. From the swamps of Ferelden to the shining towers of Val Royeaux, if you have played this series you will know that our characters’ friends aren’t just a bunch of pretty faces (that too, though) – they are complex and intricately made characters that can offer more than it might seem from the first glance. And that is why we love them.

For this list I have chosen twenty of the most memorable companions from the Dragon Age series, be they comrades of the Warden, Hawke or the Inquisitor. It is one man’s opinion, so feel free to disagree with me in the comments below. I have, however, excluded temporary companions, such as Hawke’s siblings, as they are only playable for very small portions of the games. With no more to add, let’s roll on the list!


I thought it was fitting to begin the list with everyone’s favourite mabari war hound/killing machine/adorable fluff ball. This companion is encountered by the Warden in the first game, either in Ostagar, or, if you’re a human noble, in the origin quest of the game. The only companion who is unquestionably loyal, Dog (or whatever name you give him; mine was Barkspawn) stays with our Warden until the very end and doesn’t have a knack for betrayal like the other friends might. Just gotta love him for that.


Next up, we have a big rock that hates pigeons and loves jewels. Formerly a dwarven female warrior from a noble house, Shale was made into a golem after volunteering to do so herself. The Warden finds it in the village of Honnleath, where people fear and shun the frozen statue of the golem. Luckily, upon bringing it back to life, the Warden finds that Shale is rather friendly, albeit a little abrupt, and its skills in battle are a great addition to the party. The Warden later helps it find lost memories about its life before being a golem and earns its unquestionable loyalty.


Cole from Inquisition is like that weird kid in high school who would always sit alone at the back of the class, listen to shoegaze and be the only one to sign up for psychology modules. And that is why I love him. That, and the fact he’s actually a spirit trapped in the body of a powerful Hedge mage, and also an ex-demon. Cole’s quest where the Inquisitor helps him find himself and accept his nature is profoundly touching, and gives him a new hat. And Cole loves his giant hats.


He may be a rude, uneducated drunkard, but he’s OUR rude, uneducated drunkard. A red-haired dwarf with a sad past and a huge heart, Oghren and his berserker abilities were a valuable asset to the Warden’s team ever since he/she met him. Besides, it was really easy to gain his loyalty – all you really had to do was give him booze. Oghren loved his booze, and we all had to watch him pass out in the camp numerous times. Despite that, Oghren loved the Warden and the Warden loved him, and their friendship brought many darkspawn to their knees.


The local Orlesian fashionista, Vivienne would make even Beyoncé jealous. But thinking that she’s only all fancy costumes and classy balls would be a huge mistake. Vivienne is a powerful enchanter that joins the Inquisition after a party held in Val Royeaux and claims that the order is the only one that is willing to stand against the chaos of the world. She soon proves to be an invaluable companion that doesn’t hesitate to cast fireballs at any enemy, and she’s never “truly out of her element”.


Who is Blackwall? Well, that is a loaded question. One answer to it is that Blackwall is a Grey Warden that joins the Inquisition looking to find duty in the wake of Divine Justinia V’s death. Another answer to it is, well, he’s not that at all. He is actually a man called Thom Rainier, a former captain in the Orlesian army that orchestrated a terrible massacre and is now impersonating Blackwall the Grey Warden. It was a lot to take in for everyone back then, and Thom’s fate is different depending from player to player. For some he was badass enough to be allowed back into the Inquisition, but some decided to look past that and exile him. Can’t blame you for either choice.


If anything came close to a mother figure in Origins, it was Wynne. First encountered by the Warden in the Circle Tower, Wynne soon joins the cause of saving the world from the Blight, and demonstrates her abilites as a powerful healer. It is a rather fitting position in the party, as Wynne was always the one to provide wisdom and emotional support to the Warden and his/her friends, and was ever the voice of reason in the group. As every party member, she has a mystery, and in this case we found out that Wynne had been living on borrowed time after being resurrected by a spirit. That’s just how committed she was to helping the Warden.


“Sera was never an agreeable girl – her tongue tells tales of rebellion”, a bard sang at a local tavern in Skyhold, and a rebellious girl she was. Expertly skilled with a bow, Sera has saved the Inquisitor’s life countless times in battle. But outside of the battlefield, I will always remember Sera as a prankster, a playful girl that, while born an elf, doesn’t see herself as being particularly “elfy”. She is also a romance option for a female Inquisitor, and if you should choose to start a relationship with her, there will be many cookies for you.


A little uptight, favoring duty over many other things, but constantly protective of the ones she cares for, Aveline is hard not to include in this list. Ever since the player met her on the run from the darkspawn and witnessed the death of her husband, Hawke and Aveline shared an interesting friendship. Even being the Captain of the City Guard in Kirkwall, Aveline still found time to be there for Hawke when he/she needed it, and being the only ‘tank’ character in the game she was needed A LOT. I’m always thankful for her.


How many elves can pull off being tiny and adorable while also being blood mages? Probably just one, and that’s our Merrill. First encountered briefly in Origins in the Dalish elf origin quest, she becomes a full-fledged companion in the second game, which means we find out about her dark past as a blood mage, her beef with the leader of her clan, and the mysterious Eluvian, a magical mirror that Merrill is obsessed with fixing. Besides that, she might come across as rather clumsy and absent-minded, but her heart is always in the right place.


Next up is our favourite mercenary that joins the Inquisition along with his little group of sellswords. The Iron Bull is impeccable in the battlefield, and in bed too, it seems. Available for both male and female Inquisitors, Iron Bull’s romance is one of the most unique in the game and features one of the most hilarious cutscenes ever made. Or, if you’re not into him, you can always sit down with him with a pint of ale and listen to his war stories told with his unique sense of humour. Your choice.


If you get into a fight with Cassandra Pentaghast, chances are you’ll lose. Be it a physical or a verbal fight. Cassandra is a strong, hard woman, and a crucial part of the Inquisition. Cassandra is first seen in the second game as the Seeker, looking for answers about Hawke by questioning Varric, and the two develop a very interesting relationship in Inquisition indeed. Who knew that Cassandra is secretly a fan of Varric’s stories, especially when she acts all cold and hard around him? Apparently there’s a fangirl waiting to get out inside of her.


I have always compared Zevran with Puss In Boots from Shrek, and I shall forever hold onto my theory that he was at least partially inspired by the sword-swinging cat. Consider this: hired as an assassin by the bad guys of the story, met by our heroes on the road where he becomes overpowered and talks his way out of it by joining their cause. Oh, and he has a Spanish accent. And did I mention he loves boots? The signs are all there, and I remain convinced, and that is why this rogue is so high on this list.


Speaking of rogues, Isabela has always been roguish in every way. First met by Hawke in a local tavern of Kirkwall, she comes across as mischievous, raunchy, and treacherous, but later we find out that she can also be loving and giving if the circumstances allow it. An ex-pirate captain, she has a great knowledge of all things illegal, which is why she is a valuable asset to Hawke’s group… until she steals the Tome of Koslun, that is. But if her loyalty is high, she will eventually return and help Hawke fight the Qunari dominion over Kirkwall. Oh, and you can have a threesome with her in Dragon Age: Origins, too. Just a side thought.


With his over-sized sword, white hair falling over his eyes, abandoned mansion with lots of empty wine bottles and brooding demeanor, Fenris could easily be an anime character. Maybe that is why he’s not hard to love. Being an ex-slave of the Tevinter Imperium, Fenris hates, hates, hates mages, which creates tension in the group between him and Anders, as well as the other mages. Then, of course, it’s up to Hawke to ease that tension and bring Fenris and Anders together, and to increase the overall trust. If they succeed, well, that’s up to you to decide, dear player.


Dorian is many things: a mage, an Altus, an enchanter, a possessor of fabulous moustache. Ever since the Inquisitor meets him in Redcliffe, he comes across as a man that enjoys flirting for fun and dropping witty, sarcastic remarks on everything. And, if you are a male inquisitor, you can start a romance with him too. But Dorian has deeper, much more important reasons for being in the Inquisition, which are to prevent the moral decay of the Tevinter people – this complexity of character earns him a high spot on my list.


I remember falling in love with Leliana ever since she sang her sad song to the me and my party one dark and cold night in the woods near Orzammar. Reflective of her personality, her beautiful but sad voice filled the grove and gave us hope that there might be a brighter tomorrow after all. She continued to fight for that brighter tomorrow all the way through Origins and into Inquisition, where she became the spymaster and collected useful information for the group. Her devout nature meant that she would talk about the Maker a lot, but it also meant that by the end of Inquisition, she may even become the new Divine Victoria. If played right, it might be one of the coolest pieces of character development ever.


If you need a good story, a laugh, or perhaps a crossbow bolt between your eyes, Varric is the man. First met by Hawke in Kirkwall, it was clear that he is not much like most dwarves, being a dweller of the surface. In the second game, Varric still had unfinished business with his brother Bartrand, and once that was concluded, him and Hawke became inseparable buddies. Even when Cassandra arrived to question him, Varric didn’t spill all the beans to her. Joining the Inquisition later, he becomes the heart of the organisation, organising games of Wicked Grace and keeping the spirits up for the battles ahead. Being the only companion to be playable in more than one game, Varric truly stands out as an unforgettable part of the Dragon Age universe.


Who can ever forget the witch of the wilds? At first we all thought she was going to turn our Wardens into toads, but then we realised that despite her sarcastic and indifferent nature, she is indeed actually willing to fight for a good cause and has a heart somewhere deep inside her. Being turned into a legend in large part due to her mother being a powerful witch, Morrigan found herself to be trapped in her mom’s shadow and compared to her. The Warden eventually helps her to get out of that shadow and gains Morrigan’s faithful allegiance. She returns again in Inquisition as an advisor to the Empress Celene, a rather interesting turn in her character development, but quite a logical one when one considers her path in Origins. Being one of the most iconic companions, Morrigan easily earns the second spot.


It is even easier, however, to give the first spot to this one. Everyone’s favourite Donkey-from-Shrek resembling, awkward and humorous Grey Warden with a heart of gold, Alistair is certainly the most memorable character from the franchise. While appearing a bit cocky upon the first encounter, he soon proves that he is as sweet as he is funny, and becomes the Warden’s lifelong friend, or even lover. Throughout the first game Alistair has provided us with countless unforgettable lines, such as “Have you ever licked a lamppost in winter?”, “Watch as I thrash our enemies with the mighty power of floral arrangements!” and “Swooping is bad”. That what he was there for, as he himself has said: to deliver unpleasant news and witty one liners. He was also, there, however, to unite Ferelden as its king, which he may or may not end up doing, depending on the player’s choices. Your choices also later decide whether he appears in the next two games. But let’s be real here – how many people actually didn’t make him king? Quite a few, I imagine.

And that about concludes my list of best Dragon Age companions. I’m sure you will disagree with a lot of it, so feel free to leave a comment and let us know what your favourites are, and here’s to hoping BioWare will drop some announcements about a new game soon!

MORE: Mass Effect: We rank 20 of Commander Shepard’s team members from worst to best

Image credit: BioWare

Written by Vytautas Jokubaitis

Features Writer

Vytas is a graduate in English Philology and the Spanish language from Lithuania, currently doing his masters in England.

His hobbies include watching TV and movies, gaming and reading. He is also interested in all the things that make stories work, such as tropes and other devices.

His specialty subjects include A Song of Ice and Fire and other fantasy, Star Wars, and any other Sci-Fi stuff.

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