Mass Effect Legendary Edition is available now for players to enjoy, both newcomers to the Normandy and returning fans alike. But you don’t have to be a newcomer to make some pretty big mistakes, mistakes that could lead to beloved squadmates and character dying and very big missed story opportunities. For those looking for some very easy mistakes to make so you can avoid them, here are our top 10 Mass Effect Legendary Edition mistakes that you should avoid.
Choose your path EARLY
While I encourage everyone to play the way they want to play, there is a caveat that you should at least be aware of, something that I’ve noticed many players aren’t even aware of when the credits have rolled. When you go paragon, there are renegade choices you must hit, it’s tradition (punching the reporter, anyone?). Vice versa, as well, but you want to be careful not to lean too heavily into playing that middle ground. Why, you may be asking? Choices.
It’s important to mostly dedicate your time leaning one way or the other right off the bat, especially early on in the game. With each paragon action taken and dialogue option chosen, you’re earning points for “blue.” This is the same with renegade, noted as “red.” Both sides dictate how your Shepard reacts to certain situations and how others react to them.
Throughout the entire trilogy, there are pivotal moments that can have small consequences (such as an ally potentially turned away) but they can also have massive ones as well, up to and including wiping out entire races. The common mistake I see a lot of people make when talking about Mass Effect is players saying they “didn’t know” there were options to save so and so or options to make ‘X’ decision. The reason is that they are going with their gut on how to respond to certain situations, meaning that the paragon and renegade levels are too intertwined, so there aren’t enough points to lean in one particular direction. When either end of the spectrum isn’t filled out to a certain point, certain choices will be blacked out, making them inaccessible to the player. Some of the consequences to this are small: not being able to convince someone you are right, not being able to get information the easy way, etc. But some? Some consequences are massive: an entire species is now extinct, a beloved squadmate takes their own life, a monstrous discovery can no longer be corrected. Player agency can still be achieved, but be aware of the goal that you want for your Shepard. What kind of hero are they? How do they evolve over the course of the three games?
To put it simply, going paragon means you’re choosing the blue options (and the options on the right of the dialogue wheel at the top). These choices center around a more diplomatic approach. Kinder, less rash, more “by the books.” If you like being the “good guy,” this is the route for you. Not all paragon choices are sunshine and roses, but they are geared towards being more politically correct and more thought out. Sometimes, that’s a bane, because paragon options often make your work to save the galaxy a little harder; certain quests might take longer to complete.
For renegade, this option (indicated by red or bottom choices on the dialogue wheel) is for players that love to be ruthless. In Mass Effect 2, this option is my favorite. Punch anyone you want, throw bad guys out the window, threaten those that stand in your way. This type of Shepard does whatever needs to be done to get the mission accomplished, a real “the ends justify the means” type of character. In Mass Effect 3, however, those renegade options become something more ruthless than a lot of players may have expected. Characters that paragon-Shepard becomes close to suddenly don’t like the thought of being a part of their crew. It’s a very different experience, especially if you commit to the renegade options 100%. If you dedicate yourself to this path, be prepared: some of the renegade choices in Mass Effect 3 are rough.
At the end of the day, play how you want to play. This is your game experience and the Mass Effect trilogy is really geared towards running the story numerous times, not just the one playthrough. Play around with renegade one playthrough and paragon another. I would recommend starting with paragon just so you can see how truly meaningful some of these in-game relationships are, but really? Do you. Do what feels right. Kind-hearted hero or ruthless leader? You decide.
Charm and Intimidate
This tip pairs well with the above advice because it is very much in line with the same gameplay appeal and consequences. Charm is for Paragon players, Intimidate is for Renegade fans, but failure to invest in these Squad points will lock you out of certain dialogue choices that can mean life or death for characters, failure to make peace with certain groups, and a plethora of other consequences that can easily be avoidable.
Major spoiler warning ahead. Click on the black stripe to reveal a key example of this regarding Virmire in the first game: When you land on Virmire towards the tail-end of Mass Effect 1, there is a conflict you must resolve with the Krogan Wrex. When you first land, it’s discovered that Saren is working on a Genophage cure, a manufactured virus that attacks Krogan fertility, effectively keeping their population under control. Because this cure is 1) manufactured by a Very Not Good Dude and 2) driving the Krogan literally insane, there is a good reason to want to destroy what is found in the labs. Wrex, being Krogan, obviously isn’t a fan of this idea. You’re tasked with talking to him about it and if you don’t have high enough Charm or Intimidate, then you’re going to lose out on an additional dialogue option and you’ll be forced to shoot him down. This really sucks, because his inclusion in 2 and 3 is very important to the story, and he’s downright hilarious in the final game’s Citadel DLC.
Just invest in these early on in your playthrough. It’s tempting to load all those points into tech and biotic upgrades, but you’ll see a world of new possibilities with these unlocked dialogue options.
Do All Side Quests And Loyalty Missions
Often in games, side quests are not really necessary and feel more like pointless fetch missions than actual meaningful content. That is definitely not the case with Mass Effect, and the Legendary Edition is no exception. First, let’s talk about the side quests.
Even in Mass Effect 1, the side quests are ‘optional’ missions that players can take on. This can vary from getting a loot pickup to investigating a biotic cult. The thing with these, however, that many of the Mass Effect 1 side quests have a bigger impact on the subsequent games than many might think. Oftentimes, you’ll run into faces you’ve saved in 2 and 3, or at the very least hear from them. There are also a lot of sub-missions that provide additional context into species conflict and Cerberus’ growth. Each quest is a piece to the narrative puzzle, more so than many games out there that task players with optional exploration. With Mass Effect 1, you’re going to want to scan all of the planets, too, because there are quests directly tied to exploring previously unexplored areas.
While Mass Effect 1 did have ‘loyalty missions’ with characters like Garrus and Wrex, Mass Effect 2 took these in-depth missions to a whole other level. Not only are they fantastic for learning more about your squadmates, but they can actually mean life or death for your crew. Failure to do the loyalty missions will result in those characters dying, especially with the Suicide Mission at the end of the second game. Don’t miss out on some incredible moments in the final game just because you wanted to save some time. Trust me; they are worth it.
Wait To Play The Citadel DLC
Now that the DLC is included in the base game with the remaster, it’s really tempting to dive right in. This is especially true since much of the DLC is absolutely vital to the storyline. From learning about Reapers and their origins with Leviathan to taking on an entirely different adventure with Liara in 2 with Shadowbroker, there is a lot of additional content to enjoy. That being said, there is one DLC in particular that sticks out the most, and I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the best expansions in gaming history: Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC. From epic fights that you won’t see coming to an entirely new portion of the Citadel that opens up filled with arcades, bars, and sushi, there is a lot to look forward to with this particular experience. So trust me when I say to savor it and wait to do this last. Hear me out.
Personally, I always do this DLC right before the push on the Cerberus Headquarters. Once you start that mission, you’re on the path of no return towards the endgame. I like the idea that this is one last hurrah before the end, though another popular choice is actually doing it after beating the game. So either way, wait until the end. Why? Because if you don’t, you’re going to miss out on a lot. The Citadel DLC is 100% fan service. Characters poking fun of their own tropes, hilarious content unlike anything else in the trilogy, and drunk Krogan crying in showers because Hanar can’t wear sweaters. It’s great, but if you do it too early, you’re going to miss out on a lot of that banter. Doing it before side quests, loyalty missions, and the bulk of the game will result in many of your companions not being able to make it to this DLC’s festivities, especially the party that follows after the Big Fight. Fewer characters mean less banter, less fan service, and less hilarity. You want as many characters to return from all three games as possible, and the only way to do that is to exercise patience.
Upgrade The Normandy In Mass Effect 2
When playing through Mass Effect 2, there is a Research Terminal in the Tech Labs where Mordin resides. Here is where you will find various upgrades to invest in using materials found throughout the galaxy, including upgrades for your ship, your armor, your weapons, and your squad. You’ll also find unique upgrade options from talking to your crew, you’ll see this dialogue option as [UPGRADES]. There are a few upgrades that are beyond vital to making it to Mass Effect 3 with a 100% survival rate, but you can’t ensure everyone’s safety if you don’t put in the time.
Here’s what you need to know.
What you need:
Heavy Ship Armor for 15,000 Palladium, from Jacob
Multicore Shielding for 15,000 Palladium, from Tali
Thanix Cannon for 15,000 Platinum, from Garrus
What happens if you skip these upgrades:
No Multicore Shielding: Garrus, Legion, Kasumi, Grunt, Tali, Zaeed, or Thane will die
No Heavy Ship Armor: Kasumi or Jack will die
No Thanix Cannon: Samara (or Morinth), Garrus, Jack, or Grunt will die
If you don’t do any of the loyalty missions, those that are not loyal will not survive the final push. Invest, invest, invest!
Choose Your Suicide Mission Squad Wisely
The Suicide Mission, as you’ve probably guessed from the name, is an important story step in Mass Effect 2. Command Shepard spends all of their time throughout the game to prep for this mission, including the upgrades listed above. That’s only the first part. The second part requires some critical thinking because you’ll need to allocate roles to your squadmates before rushing the Collector Base. Failure to pick the right person will result in key characters dying. Mass Effect doesn’t play around with consequences. Luckily for you, I’ve played this game well over 30 times, so I’ve got your back.
A few things you need to be aware of before kicking off this step. There is a mission called Reaper IFF. Consider this your point of no return, which is a common saying in the Mass Effect community. While there is more content after this, this is a key turning point in the story, and anything important left undone, such as loyalty missions, will remain undone and have critical consequences. Before you start this step, make sure to do as much as possible. Those loyalty missions? Check. Those side quests and Dossier fulfillments? Check and check! The only exception to this is that you can do Legion’s loyalty mission called A House Divided. Doing this right after getting the all-clear to pursue the Reaper IFF will not negatively impact the success rate. However, waiting too long to retrieve the IFF will result in crew members dying, but not your squadmates.
Without spoiling too much, you’ll have a chance to save everyone on your ship, especially Kelly Chambers. However, doing so is tricky and is very time-sensitive. If you go straight to the Reaper IFF with having completed mission-critical quests, then the entire Normandy crew will leave to see another day. The longer you wait, the more people will die, including our beloved Doctor Chakwas.
Suicide Mission Team Selections
All crew members MUST have the loyalty missions completed. Italicized means that’s my primary choice when I play, but any of the characters shown will work.
Tech Specialist for the vents:
Tali, Legion, or Kasumi
2nd Fire Team Leader:
Miranda, Jacob, Garrus
Biotic Specialists for Shields:
Samara or Jack
Distraction Fire Team Leader:
Jacob, Garrus, Miranda
Normandy Crew Escort:
Any loyal crew member will work, but I personally enjoy sending Mordin since he is a doctor, and in my head cannon, he’s a good fit to help with trauma and shock.
Final Boss Squad:
You’ll want to make sure you have evened out abilities, such as tech and biotics, but really pick who you enjoy the most. Unlock the roles above; there are no lasting consequences on who you bring with you for the final fight as long as they are loyal.
Pay Attention To Game Cues
With a game as consequence-heavy as Mass Effect, it’s important to pay attention to the details hidden within character dialogue. From the first game until the very last, there are certain crew members you’ll need to have with you for various missions. Some are required, but other times, missions can take a whole new turn with more context provided by key characters. In Mass Effect 1, for example, there is a small side mission to try to retrieve the body of a soldier, a wife to a man you’ll meet in the Embassies in Mass Effect 1. If you don’t have Ashley in your party, your squadmates will say, “Wasn’t that a part of Ashley’s squad” and then proceed to say that she’ll probably want to talk to him. That’s a cue to do a swap out.
In Mass Effect 2 and beyond, some missions are made all the better depending on the crew of choice, but loyalty missions will hard-lock choices for you. This makes it easy not to accidentally do an important story part without the right party members. For Miranda’s loyalty mission, if you try to talk to her contact on the Citadel mission, they will just ignore you while they are on their phone. You won’t be able to start it without her, but other missions aren’t quite so clear-cut. These cues are also important for those aforementioned ship upgrades. If you’re talking to a character and they mention there is an area of improvement or they need certain food ingredients, listen to that. That’s BioWare nudging you into a certain direction, a direction that – worst-case scenario – could save someone’s life.
Be A Creep, Talk To Everyone
Part of the beauty of a BioWare game lies within the relationships built. I’ve played many games in my 34 years of life, but none have quite impacted me the way Mass Effect has. Just like in real life, any relationship requires work and effort. The same thing applies to the trilogy. After every mission, talk to every single person on your crew, including Joker. This will kickstart loyalty missions, get insight into how you’ve handled previous parts of the story, and unlock backstories and friendship with each member of your crew. For those pursuing romance, this is very applicable to that as well. You can’t start those feelings of love if you don’t know that person, and some of the crewmembers require a high level of trust before opening up to you. Talk to them, go through the dialogue wheel, even if you think you’ve already exhausted the options. Sometimes, not all of the time, that same dialogue choice will open up a new response.
And don’t take it personally that Garrus is always calibrating. Don’t hate; just calibrate.
Don’t Rush Through Cutscenes
Look, I get it. Sometimes, a character goes on and on, and it’s so tempting to hit that button that rushes through the conversation to get back to gameplay. You’re going to want to especially NOT do this in 2 and 3 because it’s there that there are the right and left QTE prompts to indicate a Paragon or Renegade choice. Rushing through the dialogue can actually skip those options, making you miss out on ranking up those much-needed points. Also, the dialogue wheel is just finicky, so rushing through can actually choose a response option that you might not necessarily have wanted to make.
Plus, the story is just good. Savor it.
There are so many more tips I’d love to give, including who to romance, who to side with, who to kill, yadda yadda yadda. However, these are the most common mistakes I hear players make, both those familiar with Mass Effect and those just coming in. Speaking yesterday with a friend who has played through the series 3 times said she had no idea you could make everyone survive the Suicide Mission, or make peace between two races that have been at war for centuries. This series involves a lot of attention to detail and a lot of heavy choices to make. Hopefully, this guide will aid you well in your Mass Effect Legendary Edition adventures.
Interested in learning more about Mass Effect Legendary Edition? Be sure to check out our dedicated hub here, including exclusive interviews with the team, gameplay, and our review-in-progress.
Now. You should go.