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by LordTrinen

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Mission Order Guide by LordTrinen

Updated: 05/09/2014
Highest Rated Guide

Mass Effect Trilogy Minimal Spoilers Walkthrough


Hello all. Some of you may be familiar with my Suggested Mission Order Guides which I have posted on the different Mass Effect boards. I have decided to create an updated, consolidated version and post it here.

This guide is designed to guide players, especially new players, through the Mass Effect Trilogy and hopefully give them the best first experience. Want to know what missions in ME1 have an impact on the other games? My guide will help. Want to know how to help everyone survive ME2? My guide will help. Want tips on getting the best version of all endings in ME3? My guide will help with that too.

This guide is intended to maximize story impact.

I have tried to make this guide as informative as possible while keeping spoilers to a minimum. Some spoilers were unavoidable but they will be minimal.

Please keep in mind that everything in this guide is a SUGGESTION. Feel free to follow it to the letter or deviate whenever you wish.

Enjoy and happy gaming!

Credits and Contributions

A big thank you goes to the following people.

pprincess -For tips and suggestions, particularly info about ME3 planet scanning, and general support in making this guide.

smeech8000 -For various suggestions made during earlier versions of this guide.

The Mass Effect Wiki and its contributors -For gathering so much data in one place and allowing me to confirm various gameplay details.

[1.01] Dialogue Wheel and Morality

The Mass Effect series employs a morality system. Shepard can be a morally upright Paragon or a ruthless, results-at-any-cost Renegade. Typically dialogue options in the upper half of the dialogue wheel are Paragon options and give you Paragon points. Dialogue options in the bottom half of the wheel are Renegade options. Dialogue options in the middle are the more neutral options. They either provide no morality points or a small amount of Paragon and/or Renegade points, depending on the situation.

Shepard has two talents labeled Charm and Intimidate. These two talents unlock additional dialogue options throughout the game and are needed to get the best outcome to a variety of missions. You get one free point in both Charm and Intimidate as part of the main story. You get additional points as you fill up your Paragon and Renegade bars. You can also invest points in them like any other talent when you level up.

It is possible to completely fill up these bars without investing a single point in them. This requires multiple playthroughs however. I advise you do invest some points for your first playthrough. I also advise that you pick one morality and stick to it as much as you can.

[1.02] Combat Classes

When you start a new game you can pick one of six different combat classes for Shepard. All the powers and talents Shepard can learn fall into one of three categories: Combat, Tech and Biotics.

Soldier - Pure Combat. This is a straight shooter class. It gets training in all weapon types and can wear any type of armor. It is very durable, especially after it learns Immunity, and pretty simple to master. A good class to use for your first playthrough.

Engineer - Pure Tech. Engineers are more of a support class. It focuses on disabling enemy shields and weapons and healing your squadmates. With all the synthetic enemies you'll be fighting Engineers can be very powerful but they are not designed for the frontlines.

Adept - Pure Biotics. Adepts are the mage class of the ME universe. They focus mainly on crowd control abilities. Powers like Warp and Throw can weaken enemy defenses and damage them while Singularity and Pull can render whole groups of enemies helpless. Not very durable frontline fighters so keep them in the rear.

Infiltrator - Combat and Tech. Infiltrators are the Sniper Rifle specialists. They can strip enemy defenses with their Tech powers and finish them off with powerful Sniper Rifle shots.

Vanguard - Combat and Biotics. Vanguards are the Shotgun specialists. They weaken enemies with biotics and then charge in to finish them off with a Shotgun

Sentinel - Tech and Biotics. Sentinels are the jack-of-all-trades class. They have a nice mix of Tech and Biotic talents and can hold their own with a pistol. They may not be as strong as other classes that focus on one type but they make up for it with versatility.

[1.03] Squadmates and Romances

Shepard can recruit six squadmates during the game. Like Shepard they all have their unique combat classes, using or mixing Combat, Tech and Biotics.

  • Ashley (Combat)
  • Kaiden (Tech/Biotics)
  • Garrus (Combat/Tech)
  • Wrex (Combat/Biotics)
  • Tali (Tech)
  • Liara (Biotics)

It is advised that you try to keep a fairly balanced team when on missions. Try to have a little Biotics and especially a little Tech thrown in there. The Tech skills Electronics and Decryption are used to unlock doors and crates and hack computer terminals. Doing these things gives you more money, experience, gear and sometimes reveals clues and unlocks new side missions.

Talk to your squadmates periodically aboard the Normandy. Not only will this provide additional lore, codex entries and experience but with Tali, Garrus and Wrex it unlocks their companion missions. It is advised you try to complete all of these. More details to follow in the guide.

Ashley, Kaiden and Liara don't have companion missions but depending on Shepard's gender he can romance one of them. Liara can be romanced by either gender. Males can romance Ashley and females can romance Kaiden. The Ashley/Kaiden romances start automatically. You can tell if they are active depending on how they end a conversation. If a romance is active Kaiden will end a conversation with I'd like that and Ashley will say Looking forward to it, skipper. Certain dialogue options through conversations with them will shut down the romance.

Liara will express interest in Shepard soon after being recruited and ask if you feel the same. Be warned that if you recruit Liara too late in the game you won't have enough chances to converse with her and trigger the romance. If you don't want to romance her just tell her that you want to be friends.

If the Liara romance and the Ashley/Kaiden romance are active at the same time, the next time you complete a main story planet they will both confront you and force to choose. Be warned that if you choose the neutral option it will default to Liara. Whichever partner you reject will be a bit upset but it won't prevent a friendship with them.

The final opportunity to shut down a romance is at the start of the Lockdown mission late in the game. Shepard's romantic partner will attempt to console an upset Shepard. Telling them to buzz off will end the romance. This can be handy if you don't want to end the game with an active romance. New romantic interests appear in the later games and if you don't want to cheat on your ME1 romance it is advisable you take this opportunity if you haven't shut things down already.

[1.04] Before You Begin...

Mass Effect has only two pieces of DLC, Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station.

Bring Down the Sky adds additional story to the game. Its final decision has an impact on the later games so I highly recommend you get it.

Pinnacle Station is completely optional. It adds a space station you can visit with a number of unique combat challenges. Completing all the challenges awards Shepard with his very own apartment. A terminal in the apartment can let you buy packages that give you a random piece of gear. It is pricey but you can get some rare equipment this way. It is up to you whether you download this or not.

[1.05] Important Missions

This section covers the main story missions and the important side missions. These have the biggest impact on future games. If you wish to do the bare minimum in a playthrough look no further than this section.

The Normandy - Mandatory. Get to know some people and learn a bit about the lore. Don't forget to spend your first skill points (I recommend in Charm or Intimidate).

Eden Prime - Use Charm or Intimidate to get some bonus stuff from the farmers and dock worker. Need at least 3 Charm or 3 Intimidate.

The Citadel - Don't go around accepting too many side missions yet. You won't have high enough Charm/Intimidate levels to properly finish them all yet. You can start Scan the Keepers and assist reporter Emily Wong but I wouldn't do much more than that. Be sure to recruit Garrus, Wrex and Tali. You'll want all of them.

UNC: Lost Module - Head to the Hercules cluster, Attican Beta system, planet Eletania. This uncharted world has a very useful glitch to max out your Paragon bar really quickly. I recommend using this glitch to fill up your Paragon bar so you can get extra points in Charm. If you are willing to use this glitch, do it early.

After you find the downed satellite you'll discover that a monkey has stolen the data module. There are four monkey colonies. The one you want is built around a mineshaft. The monkey in question is in one of the chambers in the back of the mine. As soon as you click on the correct monkey and it drops the data module, save your game. Then reload this save. You'll have the ability to click on this monkey again as often as you want. Do so to quickly max out your Paragon bar. Note that this glitch only works if you did not kill any monkeys before locating the correct one. You'll have to fight some geth on the way back out.

Therum - Visit this story planet first to recruit Liara, your final squadmate and potential romantic interest. This planet is also home to the Mining Laser Glitch which can give you infinite experience points. It is slow and tedious but it helps to reach the level cap or just boost you a few levels. Use this with the infinite Paragon points glitch to max out your Charm skill very early.

Activate the mining laser's control panel and enter the sequence (A), (X), (B), (Y) for the Xbox 360 version. The PS3 code is X, Square, Circle, Triangle. The PC code is Down, Right, Up, Down, Right. After the laser fires you will get some experience and the experience counter will appear on screen. As soon as the counter appears on your screen and before it disappears, save your game. Reload that save. You should get the experience reward again. Once again, save your game as soon as the counter appears and before it disappears. If you should pause the game before the counter appears the glitch will fail so be patient. The experience reward changes based on your level and will increase as you increase in level. Keep repeating until you reach your desired level.

Visit the Citadel/Uncharted Worlds - Now is a good time to visit the Citadel and various other Uncharted Worlds to do some shopping and various side missions. When shopping focus on buying licenses (especially Elkoss Combine), grenade and medi-gel capacity upgrades. Also look for Quarian armor for Tali since it is rare. The C-Sec requisitions officer sells Spectre grade weapons once you get the Rich achievement. I will list below the side missions I think are the most critical. Their impacts vary from big to small on the overall story. There are a lot more than what I have listed and I recommend you do all of them but if you just want to do a bare-bones run these are what I recommend.

UNC: Rogue VI - This mission on Earth's moon opens up after you reach level 20. Hackett will contact you to start it. Do this mission as soon as possible. It unlocks your specialization class.

Citadel: Doctor Michel - Save the good doctor from her blackmailer. Visit her clinic and you'll see her talking on the phone. If she isn't talk to her, leave the area (maybe the Citadel) and come back. Need 6 Charm or 3 Intimidate.

Citadel: Rita's Sister - Help Jenna get out of Chora's Den safely. Talk to Rita in Flux to get started. Need 7 Charm or 6 Intimidate.

Citadel: The Fan - You have three separate encounters with everyone's favorite idiot fanboy. He is in the Wards Market. Be friendly during your first two encounters and use Charm/Intimidate during the third. Need 2 Charm or 2 Intimidate.

Citadel: The Fourth Estate - You'll meet a reporter in C-Sec headquarters after leaving the elevator from the Normandy dock. Need 6 Charm or 5 Intimidate for all options during this interview. If you wish you can end the interview with a punch to the face.

UNC: Asari Writings - Try to find at least 10 Matriarch Writings while exploring the galaxy.

UNC: Asari Diplomacy - Talk to Nassana Dantius on the Citadel and complete her mission. She'll contact you on the Normandy to meet her after your first story planet. Or you can visit the Artemis Tau cluster, Macedon system, planet Sharjila first before speaking to her. You get a slightly more amusing reaction from Nassana if you do. Need 3 Charm or 4 Intimidate.

UNC: Missing Marines/Cerberus/Hades' Dogs - Talk to Admiral Kahoku in the Council Chambers to start this chain of missions. After you complete Missing Marines you'll be contacted by Kahoku sometime later on the Normandy. This leads to the remaining two missions. Missing Marines is in the Artemis Tau cluster, Sparta system, planet Edolus. Cerberus is in the Voyager Cluster, Yangtze system, planet Binthu. Hades' Dogs is in the Voyager cluster, Columbia system, planet Nepheron.

UNC: Geth Incursions - Travel to the Armstrong cluster and Hackett will contact you about a number of geth bases. Wipe out four bases and a fifth one will be revealed. The first four bases are on Maji in the Vamshi system, Casbin in the Hong system, Antibaar in the Tereshkova system and Rayingri in the Gagarin system. The final base is on Solcrum in the Grissom system. After all this is done you'll get some data about the geth. Talk to Tali and she will ask for a copy. Give it to her.

Garrus: Find Dr. Saleon - Talk to Garrus enough and he will ask for your help to find the doctor. Make sure Garrus is with you. The location is in the Kepler Verge in the Herschel system.

Wrex: Family Armor - Talk to Wrex enough and he will ask you to help him locate his family's old armor. You can actually find it before he mentions it and give it to him immediately. If he is present when you find it you will start and finish this mission in one go. The location is the Argos Rho cluster, Phoenix system, planet Tuntau.

Bring Down the Sky (DLC) - Need at least 4 Charm or 4 Intimidate to do everything. Be sure to locate all the missing engineers (there are three). If your level is high enough, using Charm/Intimidate with the Chief Engineer at the end will give you the best omni-tool in the game, Savant X. Note that this omni-tool is only available if the mission is completed at higher levels. If you want this omni-tool put this mission off until later.

Feros - Get as many grenade capacity upgrades as you can before starting this mission. Help the colonists restore water, power, get food and shut down the geth communicator before leaving. Be sure to talk to Gavin Hossel at the Exo-Geni camp. His data terminal is in the Exo-Geni building you are heading towards. Be sure to find it before leaving the building. A critical Charm/Intimidate opportunity with Jeong requires at least 12 Charm or 10 Intimidate.

Uncharted Worlds - A few new Uncharted Worlds become available to visit.

Noveria - Take Liara with you on this mission even if you don't normally use her. You need at least 6 Charm or 8 Intimidate to finish everything here. There is also a glitch to get infinite Renegade points on this world.

Uncharted Worlds - A few new Uncharted Worlds become available to visit.

Virmire - You need at least 8 Charm or 8 Intimidate to finish everything. There are some very critical decisions on this planet. Try to sabotage any geth facilities on your way to the main base.

The Citadel 2: Lockdown - Once you leave the Citadel you cannot come back. Buy everything you need and finish any remaining side missions. A couple of new missions are available at this point.

Ilos - Note that whatever party you pick here is the one you take to the final battle. Be sure to bring someone with biotics if Shepard doesn't have any. They help immensely. During the final stretch to the Conduit DO NOT STOP!!!! Ignore all enemies and just keep going. Be aware of the timer.

Endgame - The final Charm/Intimidate options here require 12 points apiece or just 9 points if you used Charm/Intimidate with this person on Virmire.

[1.06] Semi-Important Missions

This section covers the side missions that have small impacts on the later games. Mostly they impact cameo appearances, news reports and e-mails. Complete these for the money or experience and if you want to add a little extra flavor to the later games. Most of these side missions unlock after completing your first story planet such as Therum, Feros or Noveria. Complete them in any order and at your leisure. They are not listed here in any particular order.

Citadel: Reporter's Request - In the Wards near the entrance to Flux during your first Citadel visit you will meet reporter Emily Wong. The files she wants are in Fist's office. You can pick them up immediately after fighting Fist or return later. Using Charm/Intimidate gets you more credits.

Citadel: Asari Consort - Visit the Consort's Chambers. It is near the Hanar Emporium. Need 4 Charm or 4 Intimidate.

Citadel: Xeltan's Complaint - Connected to the Asari Consort mission. Do this BEFORE reporting back to the Consort after dealing with the General.

Citadel: Homecoming - After reporting to Udina with Tali you will meet Samesh Bhatia on your way out of the embassies. Need 3 Charm or 3 Intimidate. Having Ashley in your party provides additional dialogue.

Citadel: Scan the Keepers - After speaking to the Council in the Council Chambers for the first time speak to the Salarian who is near the Keeper. Hard to locate all the Keepers.

Citadel: Jahleed's Fears/Secrets - Speak to the Volus Jahleed in C-Sec headquarters. Need 7 Charm or 6 Intimidate. Best completed after Scan the Keepers.

Citadel: Snap Inspection - A Rear-Admiral is waiting for you on the Normandy docks after completing your first main story planet. Need 9 Charm or 9 Intimidate.

Citadel: Family Matter - Near Barla Von's office you will find a man and a woman arguing next to the Rapid Transit system. Need 3 Charm or 3 Intimidate.

Citadel: Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Things - Spacer background only. In the Wards Access corridor you'll find a man named Zabaleta. After speaking to him you'll need to use the communicator in the Normandy's conference room. Need 4 Charm or 5 Intimidate.

Citadel: Old Friends - Earthborn background only. You'll meet a man named Finch outside of Chora's Den. Need 8 Charm or 8 Intimidate.

Citadel: I Remember Me -Colonist background only. After stepping off the elevator in the C-Sec academy you'll be contacted about this mission. Return to the Normandy docks. Need 7 Charm or 7 Intimidate.

UNC: Hostile Takeover - Speak to Helena Blake near the Hanar Emporium. She'll give you the locations for two criminal bases to attack. The first is in the Gemini Sigma cluster, Han system, planet Mavigon. The second is in the Hades Gamma cluster, Dis system, planet Klensal. After you've cleared both these bases a third one unlocks. Head to the Horse Head Nebula, Fortuna system, planet Amaranthine. Need 10 Charm or 7 Intimidate.

UNC: Dead Scientists - Head to the Kepler Verge, Newton system, planet Ontarom. Upon entering the system you'll be contacted by Hackett. Need 10 Charm or 8 Intimidate. This mission has special dialogue if Shepard has the Sole Survivor psych profile. Some dialogue also changes if you've finished UNC: Hades' Dogs first.

UNC: Hostage - You might hear a news report about Chairman Burns while on the Citadel. You can also get this by heading straight for Hades Gamma, Farinata system. There will be a ship in the system called MSV Ontario. You need 6 Charm or 5 Intimidate. Be sure to save before starting this mission because it has a timer.

UNC: Besieged Base - To unlock this mission you need to fill up 80% of your Paragon bar. It rises to 90% if you've filled 80% of your Renegade bar first. Hackett will contact you when you access the galaxy map. Head to the Hades Gamma cluster, Cacus system, planet Chohe.

[1.07] Unimportant Missions

These missions have absolutely no impact on the later games. They can be done for money, experience or equipment but they are entirely optional. These are in no particular order.

Pinnacle Station (DLC) - This DLC is a collection of different combat challenges. If you don't find the normal battles in the game challenging enough try these.

These missions can function as an additional source of experience. Completing all the challenges plus the bonus challenge and you will be rewarded with a private apartment for Shepard. There is a terminal in the apartment where Shepard can buy a parcel which gives a random piece of rare gear.

Citadel: Presidium Prophet - Near the entrance to the Wards on the Presidium you'll see a hanar arguing with a turian C-Sec Officer. Helping the hanar requires 4 Charm or 7 Intimidate. Helping the turian requires 7 Charm or 4 Intimidate.

Citadel: Schells the Gambler - Need to at least start Citadel: Rita's Sister. Try to enter Flux to trigger this side mission. Either do what Schells wants or give his device to Doran.

Citadel: Signal Tracking - Start this by examining one of the gambling machines in the back of Flux. The next location is in the Wards Access Corridor (take Rapid Transit to Wards Access on the Presidium and take the elevator down). The next location is in Barla Von's office. The final location is in the back room of the hanar's Emporium.

The disarm code on the Xbox 360 is Y, X, Y, A, X, A, A.

The disarm code on the PS3 is Triangle, Square, Triangle, X, Square, X, X.

The disarm code on the PC is randomly generated.

The faster you disarm it the more money you'll make.

Citadel: Planting a Bug - Help Emily Wong in the Wards and she'll later turn up in the Council Chambers. Helping with her task gets you a small reward. If you want a larger reward, immediately after accepting the side mission talk to her again. Use Charm to convince her it is a bad idea or use Intimidate to trick her. Requires 4 Charm or 5 Intimidate.

Citadel: Our Own Worst Enemy - During the Lockdown late in the game you will find a group of protestors gathered in front of the entrance to Flux. Talk to their leader, Charles Saracino.

Citadel: Negotiator's Request - During the Lockdown late in the game talk to Elias Keeler in the entrance hall to Flux. Requires 8 Charm or 7 Intimidate.

Noveria: Espionage - An asari named Mallene Calis will approach you in the Mezzanine area. Refuse her offer for the biggest Paragon reward. If you help her you need 12 Charm or 9 Intimidate.

Noveria: Smuggling - Opold the hanar merchant will ask for your help to smuggle. Refuse, help him or sell the product directly to the buyer.

You can also tell Administrator Anoleis about the smuggling to get a quick garage pass. I recommend you DO NOT do this because you will miss out on a lot of rewards.

UNC: Prothean Data Disks - Find these as you are exploring the galaxy. You get experience and money.

UNC: Turian Insignias - Find these as you are exploring the galaxy. You get experience and money.

UNC: Valuable Minerals - Find these as you are exploring the galaxy. You get experience and money.

UNC: Locate Signs of Battle - Find these as you are exploring the galaxy. You get experience and money.

UNC: Colony of the Dead - Find a data log while on Feros in the upper level of the ExoGeni headquarters, near the PSI controls. Go to Maroon Sea cluster, Matano system, planet Chasca.

UNC: Listening Post Alpha/Listening Post Theta/Depot Sigma-23 - Need to complete Noveria first. For part one go to the Styx Theta cluster, Erebus system, planet Nepmos. Part two is in Styx Theta, Acheron, planet Altahe. The final part is in the Argos Rho cluster, Gorgon system. It is a ship rather than a planet.

UNC: Derelict Freighter - Must finish Feros first. In the Maroon Cluster, Caspian system you'll find a ship. Board it and deal with it.

UNC: Distress Call - You can find out about this mission by hacking a terminal on the Citadel or just going straight to the Argos Rho cluster, Hydra system, planet Metgos.

UNC: Espionage Probe - Head to the Voyager Cluster, Amazon system, planet Agebinium. You'll be contacted by Hackett as you approach. As a precaution I advise you have at least 300 units of omni-gel on standby before you attempt this side mission. Some dialogue changes if Shepard has the War Hero psych profile.

UNC: ExoGeni Facility - Decrypt a console in the cargo bay of the ExoGeni building on Feros to get this. Head to the Maroon Sea cluster, Vostok system, planet Nodacrux.

UNC: Lost Freighter - Scan and board the MSV Worthington in the Gemini Sigma cluster, Ming system.

UNC: Major Kyle - There are multiple ways to pick up this assignment but the most direct is to head to the Hawking Eta cluster, Century system, planet Presop. Hackett will contact you with details. This mission has some different dialogue if Shepard has the Ruthless psych profile. To peacefully complete this mission you need 7 Charm or 8 Intimidate.

UNC: Missing Survey Team - Head to the Hades Gamma cluster, Antaeus system, planet Trebin.

UNC: Privateers - In the Council Chambers talk to a man named Garoth to accept this mission. Head to the Horse Head Nebula, Strenuus system, near the planet Xawin for the MSV Majesty. Scan the ship and head to Xawin. Talk to Garoth to complete the mission.

UNC: The Negotiation - To unlock this mission you need to fill up 80% of your Renegade bar. It rises to 90% if you've filled 80% of your Paragon bar first. Hackett will contact you when you access the galaxy map. Head to the Hades Gamma cluster, Plutus system, planet Nonuel. Note that Darius takes a very different tone if Shepard is female.

And that concludes Mass Effect 1.

[2.01] Save Transfer

You can start fresh in ME2 or you can upload a completed ME1 save. I do not recommend starting fresh because you will miss out on so much. You get stuck with a lot of awful default decisions from ME1. Also if you upload an ME1 save you get bonus experience, money and mineral resources. If your ME1 Shepard was at least level 50 you start at level 3 in ME2 with some credits and resources. If you were level 60 you start at level 5 and get even more money and resources.

When you finish ME1 the game will create an autosave right after the final boss but before the final choice regarding Anderson and Udina. That is the save you can upload into ME2.

Pick whichever one you want from the list. When you do a few screens will pop up giving you additional details about the save such as what decisions you made. If it is not the save you want simply try again.

[2.02] Morality and Interrupts

The moralty system in ME2 has been overhauled. Though the Charm/Intimidate dialogue options remain their corresponding talents are gone. Whether or not you unlock a Charm/Intimidate dialogue option depends on how full your Paragon/Renegade bar is and how many of the available Paragon/Renegade points you've collected up until that point in the game.

It is a little confusing. Say you have a choice between a dialogue option that gives you some Paragon points, some Renegade points or no points. Picking the Paragon option helps you unlock Charm dialogue but hinders your ability to use Intimidate. Picking the Renegade option does the opposite. Picking the neutral option hurts both.

On the other hand, say you only have a choice between a neutral, no point option and a Renegade option. No Paragon points are available in this dialogue choice. Taking the Renegade choice helps unlock Intimidate dialogue but has no impact on Charm options. Taking the neutral option hurts Intimidate but has no effect on Charm.

It is highly recommended you really pick one morality and stick to it. You can mix and match to a degree but not too heavily.

In addition ME2 now has Interrupts during conversation. During certain conversations a prompt will appear on screen to trigger an Interrupt, either Paragon or Renegade. For Paragon you must press the left trigger. For Renegade it is the right trigger.

Sometimes a conversation will only have one Interrupt. Others will have two. A conversation may have a Paragon Interrupt at first but if you wait long enough a Renegade Interrupt will become available.

Interrupts award you morality points. The same rules apply to them as dialogue options.

It should be noted that most Interrupts are very helpful. They can make a tough battle very easy. For example, at one point Shepard is talking to a merc who is repairing a gunship. Later in this mission you will have to fight and destroy this gunship. There is a Renegade Interrupt that lets you kill the merc. Doing so will cause the gunship to be at half strength when it joins the battle. In instances like this it is recommended that you take these Interrupts, even if you are playing pure Paragon.

An additional change in ME2 is that Renegade decisions now cause scars to appear on Shepard's face, making him look more evil. If you want to play Renegade but don't want the scars then help Dr. Chakwas and get the Medbay upgrade from her. This will heal your scars and prevent them from returning.

[2.03] Enemy Protection

In ME1 enemies just had shields. Starting in ME2 enemies can have at least one of the following defenses in addition to their health bar. Certain powers are very effective at stripping these defenses and it is recommended you keep squadmates who can use them.

Shields - Shields are represented as a blue bar over an enemy's health bar. It is a very common defense. Overload is very effective at stripping shields along with Disruptor Ammo. Armor - Armor is represented by a yellow bar over an enemy's health bar. Incinerate and Inferno Ammo are the most effective at melting armor. Warp is effective too. Barriers - Biotic Barriers are represented by a pink/purplish bar over an enemy's health bar. Warp is the most effective power at destroying them.

[2.04] Combat Classes

ME2's combat system has been overhauled in comparison to ME1. Each class has one unique power that often becomes their most effective weapon.

In addition, in ME1 each class could use all weapons even if they couldn't get training in them. Now each class can only use a few weapons each. Each class can use Pistols and Heavy Weapons while the rest use some combination of Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Shotguns and SMGs. Later in the game you can receive training in an additional weapon type.

Soldier - Pure Combat. Soldiers can use Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Shotguns and Pistols. They have access to all Ammo Powers (except Bonus Powers) and their class power is Adrenaline Rush. When activated it slows down time, making it easier to line up shots, and increases damage. You also move faster so it can be used as a panic button ability, allowing you to quickly run to cover.

Engineer - Pure Tech. You don't fight as many geth as you did in the first game but you still fight a fair number of security mechs. Engineers have Overload and AI Hacking to deal with them. They have Incinerate for enemies with armor. Cryo Blast is effective against husks. Their class power is Combat Drone which conjures a small drone to distract the enemy. Drones can deal light damange and when upgraded can detonated when it expires for additional damage. Engineers use SMGs and Pistols. An Engineer's primary role is weakening enemies with powers and crowd control with Combat Drone.

Adept - Pure Biotics. Adepts use SMGs and Pistols and have access to almost every biotic power in the game. It is very easy to forget you even have a weapon. The true strength of the Adept lies in Biotic Explosions. Capture an enemy using Singularity (their class power) or Pull and then follow up with Warp or Throw. These combos will trigger explosions that badly damage any enemy in the blast radius. Most biotic powers aren't effective against shields so be sure to bring a squadmate who knows Overload or Disruptor Ammo.

Infiltrator - Combat and Tech. Infiltrators use Sniper Rifles, SMGs and Pistols. They specialize in using Sniper Rifles and their powers are designed around this. Each time an Infiltrator looks through a Sniper Rifle scope, for the first few seconds time is slowed down, making it easier to line up headshots. Their class power, Tactical Cloak, temporarily turns the Infiltrator invisible. This lets you sneak past enemies and find the perfect sniper perch or helps you escape if enemies get too close. Sniper Rifle damage is also increased while using Tactical Cloak.

Vanguard - Combat and Biotics. Vanguards use Shotguns, SMGs and Pistols. Their class power, Biotic Charge, heavily compliments the Shotgun. Charge makes you dash across the battlefield, ramming an enemy and putting you in perfect Shotgun range. This is a very intense and exciting class but also a dangerous one. Time your Charges carefully. It is easy to Charge an enemy and quickly find yourself surrounded.

Sentinel - Tech and Biotics. Sentinels use SMGs and Pistols and are still the jack-of-all-trades when it comes to powers. With Overload and Warp in their arsenal they can handle almost any enemy defense. Their class power is Tech Armor which greatly boosts your shields. When destroyed the armor detonates and knocks down any enemies in the vicinity. When upgraded Tech Armor can make the Sentinel almost invincible.

[2.05] Squadmates and Romances

There are ten recruitable squadmates in this game plus an additional two added by DLC. Most of the game revolves around recruiting them and preparing them for the final mission. Each squadmate has a Loyalty Mission and it is recommended you complete them all.

Be sure to talk to your squadmates after each mission. This helps unlock their Loyalty Missions and can earn you Paragon/Renegade points.

Your squadmates don't clearly fall into specific combat classes like they did in ME1. Try to maintain a balance in your team of combat, tech and biotic powers. Try to always have at least one person with Overload and one with Warp so you can handle most enemy defenses.

Shepard has three romantic options for each gender. They are:


  • Miranda
  • Jack
  • Tali


  • Jacob
  • Thane
  • Garrus

With the exception of Jacob you can't start a romance with any of these individuals until after completing their respective Loyalty Missions. If you romanced someone in ME1 then a picture of them will appear in your cabin. You can stay faithful to them or pursue a new romance. Starting a new romance turns the picture face down and can have potential consequences in ME3

There is also an unofficial romance option available to both genders. Shepard can flirt with Yeoman Kelly Chambers and eventually go on a small date with her. This does not count as official romance. It does not get you the Paramour achievement/trophy and does not interfere with your ME1 romance or prevent you from romancing anyone else in ME2.

It is recommended you date Kelly for two reasons. First, after the date she will offer to feed your fish so you won't have to after every mission. Second, dating her helps secure her appearance in ME3.

[2.06] Planet Scanning and Research Projects

The old inventory system from ME1 is gone and replaced with a more simplistic system. New weapons are found on missions and any squadmate can use them. You don't need to find multiple copies.

Weapon and armor upgrades apply to all gear. Some can be bought in stores and these are immediately applied. Others are found on missions and must be researched in your tech lab before they can be applied. Once you recruit Mordin your tech lab will be available.

Research projects require mineral resources. Platinum, Iridium, Palladium and Element Zero can all be found by scanning planets and firing probes to dig them up.

Before you begin scanning you need a few things:

  1. Probes and fuel. You need these to reach more star systems and to dig up the minerals. Stop and fuel depots to restock.
  2. The latest patches. Originally mineral scanning was an extremely slow and tedious process. Bioware released a patch that upgraded the system and make it much better.
  3. The Mineral Scanner upgrade from Miranda. As soon as you unlock your tech lab ask Miranda about Normandy upgrades. This upgrade will make scanning go even faster

When you are ready find a planet that says Rich under Scanner Results. These planets have the most resources and are the only ones worth mining. Focus on mining only the big spikes, preferably the ones that pass four or five bars on the scanner. The harder your controller vibrates, the better.

When you find a spike, try moving the reticule around a bit to find the sweet spot where the resource is thickest. If two resources are in the same spot try to get the most out of both of them.

The only exception to the above rules is when scanning for Element Zero. It is rare. Consult other guides to find out which planets have Eezo. It doesn't matter if the Scanner Results are Good or Moderate. Most Eezo spikes aren't very big so don't be concerned about the size. If you have to choose between a spike of Eezo and a spike of some other resources, always focus on the Eezo. There's plenty of the other resources out there.

[2.07] Before You Begin...

Make sure you have all the patches, to help with the mineral scanning if nothing else.

ME2 has more DLC than ME1. The following are the most critical:

  • Cerberus Network
  • Zaeed - The Price of Revenge
  • Kasumi - Stolen Memory
  • Firewalker
  • Overlord
  • Lair of the Shadow Broker
  • Arrival

Get these DLC above all else. Some are free, others are not. Get any DLC that is free as well. Some of the weapon/armor packs are very helpful. The appearance packs are useless.

Check my guide for the best time to play the DLC missions. In my opinion Lair of the Shadow Broker and Arrival should not be played until after the main game. Both help set the stage for ME3. Arrival should always be the LAST thing you do before starting ME3.

One thing I suggest you do is wait until after you've completed the main game to download these two DLC. Or download them and keep them on a separate storage device and don't plug it in until you are ready. That way you can get the starting messages for these DLC and do them right away. Getting the messages and then putting them off just feels awkward.

[2.08] PART 1 - Prologue to Horizon

Normandy SR-1 - Mandatory. Following this the character creation process will begin. Even if you've imported an ME1 save you can change Shepard's appearance and combat class.

Lazarus Project - Mandatory. You'll be introduced to the game's updated combat mechanics.

Freedom's Progress - Mandatory. At the conclusion you will make a decision regarding a quarian named Veetor. The Paragon option can potentially help you greatly in a much later mission. Something to consider.

Normandy SR-2 - Mandatory. You'll be introduced to your new ship and your new crew. Dr. Chakwas and Mess Sergeant Gardener on the Crew Deck and Ken and Gabby on the Engineering Deck all have little side missions for you.

Talk to Kelly Chambers, your new Yeoman, and make it a habit to talk to her after every mission. You'll have some opportunities to flirt with her (either gender). Do it enough and eventually you can go on a small date with her. This has two benefits. The first is that she will offer to feed your fish for you (assuming you've bought some). The second is that this date helps secure her appearance in ME3. Dating her does not grant the Paramour achievement and does not interfere with any active romances. Feel free to date her and romance anyone else you want.

Citadel - Visit the Citadel. Immediately upon arrival you can recruit Kasumi (DLC). Take a cab to the Presidium to meet Anderson and maybe get your Spectre status back. Visit the stores to get some upgrades. Use Charm/Intimidate to get a discount. There are a few other side missions you complete here as well. Meet your old reporter friend Miss Al-Jilani by the Dark Star Lounge. Either punch her (Renegade Interrupt) or use Charm/Intimidate. Also complete Dr. Chakwas and Gardener's side missions.

Omega - Visit Omega. Immediately upon arrival you can recruit Zaeed (DLC). Speak to Aria to learn where to find the Professor and Archangel. Visit the shops and use Charm/Intimidate to get discounts. You can complete Ken and Gabby's side mission here. Help the quarian deal with his debt to Harrot the Elcor in any way you see fit.

Recruit the Professor - Complete the mission to recruit Mordin.

Mineral Scanning/Side Missions - With Mordin on your team the Tech Lab is now open. You can research upgrades for your weapons, armor and the Normandy. Speak to your squadmates about upgrades to get some for the Normandy. All research projects require mineral resources to complete. You get these from scanning planets. Talk to Miranda to get the Mineral Scanner upgrade to make it easier. Focus only on planets that are Rich in mineral resources. Send probes down only for large deposits of minerals. Don't waste probes on the small ones.

Take this opportunity to do some planet scanning. You'll need plenty of resources for your upgrades. And if you have the patience, try to have at least 100,000 of each resource in your inventory before you begin the Suicide Mission. This will have an impact on ME3.

While scanning planets you may encounter some anomalies. These unlock side missions on uncharted worlds. None of these have an impact on the overall game or in ME3 so feel free to complete as many or as few of them as you wish. A few of these missions offer some upgrades while others just offer money and experience.

If you have the Firewalker and/or Crash Site DLCs this would be a good opportunity to do them. They're easy and offer good money and experience rewards.

Kasumi's Loyalty Mission - Any non-Soldier players will definitely want to complete this mission early on. Doing so unlocks the Locust, the best SMG in the game. Sometimes I even like to complete it before recruiting Mordin. The mission's final decision impacts some dialogue in ME3 but ultimately it does not matter which you choose.

Recruit Archangel - Complete the mission to recruit Garrus. During this mission you may find a datapad Aria would be very interested in. Give it to her after the mission is complete for a reward. Find and hack the big YMIR Mech before you go after Archangel. When you are finished speaking to the guy working on the gunship be sure to take the Renegade Interrupt to make things easier later.

Recruit the Convict - Complete this mission to recruit Jack.

Recruit the Warlord - After this mission is complete remember to head down to the cargo hold to officially recruit Grunt.

Horizon - Automatically triggers after you finish all the current dossiers.

[2.09] PART 2 - Post-Horizon to IFF

Normandy - Following Horizon your squadmates will start giving you their Loyalty Missions. Keep talking to all of them to unlock them. There is no time limit on any of them so it doesn't matter what order you finish them all in.

The next main story mission automatically begins after completing five missions of any time. It is highly recommended you stick to this guide and complete the following missions first.

Recruit Tali - Complete the mission to recruit Tali. Try to get the quarian Kal'Reegar out of this alive. Either use the Paragon Interrupt to convince him to stand down or destroy the Colossus as quickly as possible. This can help in a later mission.

Illium - Illium is a new hub with lots of new shops, missions and side missions. Speak to Liara for information regarding Samara and Thane. Offer to help Liara and complete her side mission. If you have Lair of the Shadow Broker downloaded you'll likely see a dialogue option to begin the mission. DO NOT PICK IT YET!!! I think this mission best fits after the Suicide Mission. Plus there have been reports of glitches if you pick this option before getting info about Samara and Thane.

Depending on your choices in ME1 you may meet some familiar faces from Noveria and Feros and a mysterious asari messenger. Speak to them and help them. For your Noveria friend be sure to pick the Charm/Intimidate options with the merchant before completing the mission or you may miss out on the store's discount.

In the bar you may find everyone's favorite idiot fanboy, Conrad Verner. Agree to help him and use Charm/Intimidate options at every opportunity. Be sure to talk to the asari bartender when you get the chance as well.

Recruit the Justicar - Complete this mission to recruit Samara.

Recruit the Assassin - Complete this mission to recruit Thane. You get some interesting dialogue during this mission if you've dealt with Nassana Dantius in ME1. During this mission you may find a datapad a salarian back in the Illium hub area is looking for. Recover it and return it for some extra experience and credits.

Tuchanka - Head to Tuchanka, the krogan homeworld, to complete Mordin and Grunt's Loyalty Missions. Before heading out speak to the merchant Ratch and complete his little minigame to get a discount at his store. It may be best to complete Mordin and Grunt's missions in one go without leaving the planet.

Mordin's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Mordin's loyalty. The final decision of this mission will play a major role in ME3.

Grunt's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Grunt's loyalty. For the battle against the thresher maw you simply need to survive five minutes against it. However the reward will be greater if you kill it. After the mission speak to the Lord High Researcher for a discount at his store.

Collector Vessel - Automatically starts after completing five missions after Horizon. During this mission you can receive some weapon training in Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles or Shotguns. If your class cannot use any of these weapons then picking one of these will unlock these weapons for use with that class. If a class can use a particular weapon they instead unlock a very powerful version of it. For example, an Infiltrator can use Sniper Rifles but not Assault Rifles or Shotguns. Picking AR or Shotguns unlocks the ability to use them. Picking Sniper Rifles unlocks the Widow, the game's most powerful Sniper Rifle.

Miranda's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Miranda's loyalty. In the last area where the final boss fight is check a crate near the exit. You will find a locket there than an asari in the Illium hub area is looking for.

Jacob's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Jacob's loyalty.

Garrus's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Garrus's loyalty.

Thane's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Thane's loyalty. Warning, this mission can be failed. If you don't have your Spectre status anymore, be sure to use all the Renegade Interrupts during the interrogation to get the information you need. When following your target do not lose sight of him for too long and be sure to keep Thane informed. Failing to do so will end the mission in failure.

Jack's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Jack's loyalty. After this mission is complete Miranda and Jack will get into a fight. Be sure to use Charm/Intimidate to end the fight peacefully. If you do not you will lose either Jack or Miranda's loyalty.

Samara's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Samara's loyalty. Warning, this mission can be failed. When you've lured Morinth out DO NOT pick the Family or Justicar dialogue options. If you use all three Charm/Intimidate options when you are alone with Morinth you will have a choice of either helping Samara kill Morinth or help Morinth kill Samara. In the former Samara will become loyal and in the latter Morinth will take Samara's place and be loyal.

Tali's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Tali's loyalty. Warning, this mission can be failed. The outcome of this mission will have a big impact on ME3. During the first part of the trial be sure to take the two Charm/Intimidate options. During the trial's second half at the conclusion of the mission you'll have several possible outcomes.

You can present the evidence, preventing Tali's exile but you'll lose her loyalty. You can refrain from presenting the evidence, resulting in Tali's exile but you'll secure her loyalty. Neither of these outcomes is preferable.

For the very best outcome to this mission you MUST pick the final Charm/Intimidate option or the Rally the Crowd option. Please note that Rally the Crowd will only work if Veetor was sent back with Tali while on Freedom's Progress and Kal'Reegar is alive.

Zaeed's Loyalty Mission - Complete this mission to earn Zaeed's loyalty. Warning, this mission can be failed. This mission has two routes, the Paragon route and the Renegade route. The Renegade route will always secure Zaeed's loyalty. If you take the Paragon route you must pass a very high Charm check to secure Zaeed's loyalty.

Overlord (DLC) - This mission has several parts and it will take time to complete. You will fight a lot of geth so plan your party accordingly. The mission's final decision will have an impact on ME3.

Segments of this mission are done driving the Hammerhead. You get this vehicle even if you haven't downloaded or played Firewalker. The Hammerhead's armor is very thin so keep moving and stick behind cover.

The final part of this DLC has Shepard fighting alone. Be prepared.