Before Mass Effect 2, nothing was known about the Collectors' origins except that they dwelled beyond the Omega-4 mass relay. It would later be discovered by the crew of the Normandy SR-2 that the Collectors were in fact created by the Reapers 50,000 years ago when they harvested the legendary Prothean race. Just as the Reapers had recently turned humans into cybernetic Husks, so had they done to the Protheans and created an army of cyborg monsters indoctrinated to their will. Over the millenia, the Collectors had observed and studied the development of organic cultures remaining from the Prothean cycle. Based on a space station located near the galactic core, they would often venture forth from the Omega-4 relay to trade with different races, offering samples of their technology in exchange for unique genetic material. This would continue until near the end of the 50,000-year cycle when the Reapers' next invasion was postponed thanks to the actions of the Human Alliance officer, Commander Shepard, who had destroyed the Reaper vanguard Sovereign.
Recognizing Shepard as a threat to the Reapers and the potential the Commander's species possessed, the Collectors launched an attack against the SSV Normandy and destroyed it, supposedly killing the Commander in the process. The Collectors then began the premature harvesting of the human race by attacking their colonies out in the Terminus Systems. With each attack, the colony itself remained intact, but all citizens were abducted. For two years, entire colonies would be emptied of their inhabitants, their fates left uncertain. When Cerberus began investigating the abductions after ressurrecting Commander Shepard, it was discovered that the Collectors were originally Protheans that had been transformed by the Reapers; their bodies completely reconstructed with cybernetics and their race sustained through centuries of controlled cloning procedures. During Shepard's investigation, the Collectors' mission was made apparent: they intended to target every human world in the galaxy and harvest humanity before the Reapers' next invasion. When the Collector base was discovered, the Normandy crew witnessed first-hand exactly why the Reapers harvested organics: the humans the Collectors had abducted were being processed and broken down into raw genetic material and used to create a new Reaper, one with clear human features.
When the Normandy attacked the Collectors' base, they destroyed the Human-Reaper larva being created and were able to sabotage the base. Shepard's actions are determined by the player at this point and it is left up to the player to decide whether Shepard destroys the Collector base by overloading its power core, or reconfiguring the explosive mechanism into a radiation bomb that would leave the base's technology intact, but kill off the Collectors themselves. Cerberus' director, the illusive Man, recommends saving the base in order for Cerberus to use its tech to forward their goal of humanity's domination of the galaxy. Regardless of the choice the player makes, the Collectors are all exterminated.
While the Collectors all look identical, their exact capabilities can differ. Below is a complete list of the different Collector types.
- Drone - Common Collector foot soldiers armed with assault rifles. They can also form biotic barriers.
- Assassin - Protected by biotic barriers and armed with particle beam weapons.
- Guardian - Protected by biotic barriers and anti-ballistic shields. Their weapons are loaded with warp ammunition.
Seeker swarmsEditSeekers are swarming robotic insects deployed by the Collectors when they invaded the colonies of the Terminus Systems. These large mechanical flies would swarm over colonists and sting them, placing their victims into a state of paralysis which allowed the Collectors to move in and place the subjects in stasis pods without any struggle. When Commander Shepard and the Normandy crew tried to thwart a Collector attack on the human colony of Horizon, they utilized a countermeasure against the Seekers devised by Dr. Mordin Solus that made Shepard's team seem invisible to the swarms. This countermeasure was insufficient during the attack on the Collector base, but the swarms could be repelled by a powerful biotic field.
Collector GeneralEditThe Collector General appears very different to its minions, having no humanoid shape but a large, bulbous, multi-limbed body akin to an insect or a crab. It commands its Collector drones from afar, deep within its stronghold at the galactic core, and only makes its presence known to Shepard and the Normandy crew by possessing drones in the field. At any given time, the General will assume direct control over a drone, amplifying its battle prowess and communicating directly with its enemies as it attacks them with an onslaught of biotic blasts. The chitinous armour of the possessed drone is reinforced as well as its biotic barriers, and the drone also appears to glow like its body is burning from within. If the possessed drone is killed, its body will crumble into ash. The Collector General can only possess one soldier at a time, but is unhindered by distance and suffers no kind of feedback when its possessed body dies.
It is revealed at the end of Mass Effect 2 that the Collector General was merely a puppet itself, being possessed by the Reaper known as Harbinger who used it as a channel to manipulate Collector soldiers on the battlefield. With the destruction of the Collector base, Harbinger released the General and allowed it to experience its demise consciously.