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Mass Effect: Why The Asari Are So Selfish 

While the asari are the oldest race in Mass Effect, the foundation of their civilization is driven by influences outside of their control.

The asari are among the most advanced civilizations known in Mass Effect; however, their origins are mired in self-interest likely related to the age of their race. Hailing from the planet Thessia and with a lifespan in the thousands, the asari are the most prominent driving force in the milky way galaxy. They were the first race to achieve spaceflight, and together with the salarians, they formed the main governing body of Citadel space, the Citadel Council. The asari military, on the other hand, while lacking the brutishness of different races, were among the first to be chosen to be the arm of the council, the Spectres. Their navy is also one of the most powerful, with the Destiny Ascension, the flagship of the Citadel Fleet touted as having the combined firepower of the entirety of the asari fleet.

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However, the advantages of Mass Effect’s most technologically advanced race did not come naturally. At some point in the asari history, the Protheans guided their development, genetically altering their physiology so that they would flourish. Moreover, the Protheans left a beacon on Thessia that contained countless technological advancements that allowed the asari to become one of the most powerful races in the galaxy. This revelation is not known until Mass Effect 3, five years after the release of the first Mass Effect.

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While the asari of Mass Effect could be seen as incredibly selfish by stashing their technology, especially during the galactic Reaper War, it isn’t without adequate reasoning. The root of their reluctance to help during Mass Effect 3 lies in their lifespans. While perceived as a boon in the eyes of most races in the galactic community, it has ultimately passively stagnated their civilization. This stagnation is similar to how Mass Effect’s asari Justiciars are still a prevalent force in their homeworld and outlying colonies despite being an outdated faction.


The Self Interest of Mass Effect’s Asari Is Due To Their Life Span


Asari Race in Mass Effect

The asari lifespan affects their decisions in three ways: it contributes to their slow choices, fuels isolationism, and reluctance to share technology. The year Protheans came into contact with Mass Effect’s asari roughly dates approximately 50,000 years. While this is a long time to more short-lived races, for asari who live thousands of years, it’s roughly equivalent to 500 years to humans. While the Protheans are obscured by time, to the asari, their teachings are still relatively recent and made the foundation of their modern civilization.

This contributes to their slow choice to help during the sudden emergence of the Reapers in one of the franchise’s darker games, Mass Effect 3. As a result, of this sudden change, they fall back into time-tested decisions, opting to protect their homeworld because that’s what they’ve done for centuries, such as during the Rachni Wars. Moreover, the reluctance to share would force the asari to admit to hoarding technology, which would oust them as the most developed civilization in the eyes of other races.


The asari are one of the most technologically advanced civilizations in the Mass Effect franchise and also the most selfish. However, this is not entirely by conscious choice, as their planet was abundant with the rare element zero that contributed to their progress and the meddling of their history by Mass Effect’s Protheans. As a result, the asari live for thousands of years and sit as the pinnacle of galactic progress. While it’s impressive, it has adversely affected their adaptability and choices during sudden critical moments. Like most races in the Mass Effect universe, there is always more than meets the eye, especially regarding the oldest yet most naïve race in the galaxy, the asari.


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