Mass Effect Wiki
Mass Effect Wiki
Disambiguous This article is about the first video game of the series. For the mass-altering field, see Mass Effect Field.
Mass Effect
Mass Effect

Mass Effect is a science-fiction role-playing action game developed by BioWare for the Xbox 360 and later ported to the PC and the PlayStation 3. It is the first installment of the Mass Effect trilogy.

For the walkthrough, see Mass Effect Guide.
For content cut from the final version of the game, see Mass Effect Cut Content.


Mass Effect was released on November 20, 2007 in North America, November 22, 2007 in Australia and New Zealand, and on November 23, 2007 in Europe. It was also released as a Limited Collector's Edition, containing bonus materials including an art book and the Galactic Codex: Essentials Edition 2183 booklet, which gives background on the Mass Effect universe.

The game was later re-released by BioWare and Demiurge Studios for the PC, and the PC-DVD version was released in Summer 2008. By Summer 2008 there were also versions of the game translated into Spanish, French and Italian. A Japanese-language version was in development for the Xbox 360 only. Mass Effect is available via Xbox's Games on Demand. A Platinum Hits version of Mass Effect for Xbox 360 was also released, and included a bonus disc containing the game's soundtrack, the Bring Down the Sky DLC pack, trailers for the game, and pictures and themes for Xbox Live profiles.

Mass Effect is also included in the Mass Effect Trilogy, a boxed set containing all three Mass Effect games. The Trilogy was released on November 6, 2012 for Xbox 360 and PC.[1] A PlayStation 3 version of the Trilogy, which brings Mass Effect to that console for the first time, was released on December 4, 2012 worldwide and December 7, 2012 in Europe. A standalone digital version of Mass Effect was also made available via the PlayStation Store, and was released on the same day as the PlayStation 3 version of the Trilogy.[2][3]

In 2021, a comprehensive remaster of all three games in the original Mass Effect trilogy was released, dubbed Mass Effect Legendary Edition. This featured many changes to Mass Effect and its sequels Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3, including major overhauls to graphical quality and gameplay. Legendary Edition consolidated not only the three games, but almost all of their original downloadable and other content, with a few exceptions.


Players: 1
Resolution: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3: HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p // PC: unrestricted screen resolution
Publisher: Xbox 360: Microsoft Game Studios // PC and PlayStation 3: Electronic Arts
Developer: BioWare Corp®
Format: 1x DVD (Xbox 360 and PC), 1x Blu-ray (PlayStation 3), Digital Download (PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3),
Rating: "M" for Mature (NA). Age "12" (UK). 18+ (PEGI). 16 (USK)

PC version[]

The PC version of the original Mass Effect was developed by BioWare and Demiurge Studios, and published by Electronic Arts in 2008.

System requirements[]

Component Minimum Recommended
OS Windows XP / Windows Vista
Processor 2.4Ghz Intel or 2.0Ghz AMD 2.6Ghz Intel or 2.4Ghz AMD
Memory 1GB (Windows XP) / 2GB (Windows Vista) 2GB
Graphic Card Nvidia GeForce 6 series (6800GT or better) /
ATI 1300XT or better
Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX or higher /
ATI X1800 XL series or higher
Disk Space 12GB
Sound Card DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card and drivers 5.1 sound card recommended


  • For the best results, make sure you have the latest drivers for your video and audio cards. ATI X1550, X1600 Pro and HD2400 are below minimum system requirements.

Changes from the Xbox 360 version[]

The main differences between the PC and Xbox 360 versions are tweaks to the combat GUI and the inventory system. The Power Wheel is replaced in the PC version by a tactical HUD (similar to the PC version of Dragon Age) that allows for more precise squad commands and the ability to hotkey tech and biotic talents. The often-criticised inventory system from the 360 version is also overhauled to be more user-friendly. Other differences include minor adjustments to the Mako's handling, an increase in speed to the Normandy's lift, and a minor graphical upgrade and a change to the hacking minigame (used when decrypting doors or containers).

There are no extra assignments or new characters in the PC version and the story is unchanged. However, it does allow the PC release of Bring Down the Sky to be downloaded for free.

Known bugs[]

  • After you reach 550 MB of pagefile (see the Task Manager in Windows) the game may crash or lead to loop graphic sequences. You will need to reboot your system or manually clean the pagefile. This bug is caused by nVidia graphic cards and Realtek audio card. One solution is to run the game in window mode and disable music and speech.
  • On Therum in the PC version, after Bring Down the Sky or the 1.02 Update is installed, certain areas of the terrain become solid black, regardless of terrain type. There are 2 known ways to fix the problem: Run the game launcher, select configure, (or run MassEffectConfig.exe) and select Repair > Delete Local Shader Cache Files. The second way to fix this problem is to delete both of the cache files ("My Documents\BioWare\Mass Effect\Published\CookedPC\LocalShaderCache-PC-D3D-SM3.upk" and "<game installation folder>\BioGame\CookedPC\\LocalShaderCache-PC-D3D-SM3.upk"). Vista users will need to run the application in Windows XP SP2 compatibility.
  • Quickly pressing the Enter key in confirmation prompts can sometimes leave a window stuck on the screen ("Convert this item into omnigel?"). The game no longer responds to keyboard or mouse input. However, it's still possible to autosave and auto-reload through the console or rebounded keys.

DRM controversy[]

The PC version of Mass Effect was originally intended to use SecuROM, including a periodic 10-day re-validation, meaning the game would cease to work after ten days without 'checking in' online. After criticism, this aspect of the DRM was removed from the PC version on 9th May 2008. The PC version can be authenticated five times. However, later copies of Mass Effect did not contain any internet authenticating activation mechanisms, allowing it to be installed limitlessly. In March 2009 Mass Effect was released on the Steam platform without the SecuROM copy protection due to the copy protection built into Steam.

PlayStation 3 version[]

The PS3 version was developed with the assistance of Edge of Reality and published by Electronic Arts in December of 2012. It is largely identical to the 360 version, utilizing the same inventory system and security bypass minigame, although Bring Down the Sky is included in the game. Bioware has stated that due to issues with the source material, Pinnacle Station will not be coming to the PS3 version.


The galaxy is trapped in an endless cycle of extinction. Every 50,000 years, an ancient machine race invades the galaxy. With ruthless efficiency, the machines wipe out all advanced organic civilization. They leave behind only the scattered ruins of technology, destroying all evidence of their own existence.

Few believe this ancient legend. You, however, know it to be true. The fight to stop this extinction event has become the most important mission in the galaxy.

It is your mission. As Commander Shepard of the SSV Normandy, you will take your elite recon squad across a galaxy in turmoil, in a desperate race to stop the return of an enemy without mercy. To stop this enemy, you must act without remorse, without hesitation, and outside the limits of the law. Your only imperative is to preserve the safety of civilized life in the galaxy - at any cost. You must become the tip of the spear of humanity, for you alone know the full extent of what is at stake if you should fail.

— Official Plot Summary

The world of Mass Effect[]

The game is set in the year 2183 CE, 35 years after humans discovered the ruins of an ancient spacefaring race called the Protheans on Mars. With the technology from these ruins, humanity learned the secrets of mass effect physics and element zero, unlocking faster-than-light travel. Humans also discovered the mass relay network that threaded the galaxy, permitting instantaneous passage across thousands of light-years. Humanity began its journey among the stars, encountering various alien races and establishing itself on the galactic stage.

A Race Against Time[]

Main article: Mass Effect Guide

The player takes on the role of Commander Shepard onboard the SSV Normandy. A routine mission to recover a Prothean beacon on Eden Prime goes awry when the Commander is attacked by geth forces led by a rogue turian Spectre named Saren Arterius, who are also after the beacon. When the Commander locates the beacon it activates, imparting strange visions of synthetics slaughtering organics in Shepard's mind before becoming inactive. It turns out that Saren is trying to find the Conduit, a mysterious device that will lead to the return of the Reapers, an ancient machine race believed to be behind the Protheans' demise. Shepard becomes the first human Spectre and is given command of the Normandy with orders to hunt down Saren. Now it is no longer just about bringing one man to justice, but also to save a galaxy from extinction.


Squad members[]

Main article: Squad
See also: Squad Members Guide

Shepard is able to recruit up to six companions to assist in the mission to stop Saren:

Other characters[]

Many other characters are introduced that will become important in Shepard's struggle against the return of the Reapers.


Commander Shepard and the team visit a wide variety of locations in Mass Effect, including:

1Requires Downloadable Content


For a list of gameplay differences between the original version of Mass Effect and the Legendary Edition remaster, see Mass Effect Legendary Edition/Changes from the Original Mass Effect Trilogy.


Main article: Combat

Mass Effect is a third-person shooter where the player's means of offense are a range of weapons and talents. Weapon and talent proficiency is in turn determined by the player's selection of one of six classes: Soldier, Infiltrator, Vanguard, Adept, Engineer, and Sentinel. Some classes are specialized in one field of combat, while others feature a mix of abilities. For example, Soldiers can become skilled with all four weapon types (Assault Rifles, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, and Pistols), but lack biotic and tech abilities; in contrast, the Adept class excels at using biotics, but can only make effective use of Pistols. Class also affects which types of Armor the player can utilize.


See also: Experience Guide

As players progress, they can earn experience points by defeating enemies and completing missions, assignments, and mini-games. When enough experience is accumulated, the player as well as all NPC squad members are promoted to the next level and rewarded with points to spend on unlocking and improving talents. The level cap is locked at 50 until the game is completed for the first time, after which it is elevated to 60. Achieving the level cap requires multiple playthroughs, but higher levels grant access to more powerful weapons and armor, as well as increased health.


Main article: Dialogue

Dialogue in Mass Effect differs from BioWare's previous titles. Instead of the traditional dialogue choices, which show you every word of your response verbatim, you are presented with paraphrases of your available dialogue options on a "conversation wheel". For example, one choice may appear as "Don't try to study me," while the actual spoken line is "I'm not some artifact you can take back to your lab, doctor." Dialogue choices impact how others react to Shepard, the rewards for completing missions/assignments, possible discounts from merchants, romance paths and, most importantly, the Commander's morality. It is also possible to defuse tense situations without violence, or actually provoke it.


Main article: Morality

Morality is measured in Mass Effect games by "Paragon" and "Renegade" points. Unlike many contemporary role-playing games that represent morality as a single sliding scale of good and evil, Mass Effect keeps track of the Paragon and Renegade points on separate scales. A good action will not make up for an evil one; therefore, being nice occasionally will not stop people from fearing a killer or remove the reputation of an unsympathetic heel, but nor will the occasional brutal action significantly damage the reputation of an otherwise upstanding soldier. This also means there is no gameplay-driven motivation for avoiding a particular type of action. The player's morality rating can affect the availability of certain decisions in dialogue and assignments.

Travel and exploration[]

See also: Planet Index, Mako Guide

Players travel between mission and assignment areas by utilizing the Galaxy Map aboard the SSV Normandy. The map has four layers: the galactic view, a model of entire galaxy which shows various star clusters; the cluster view, which shows the available star systems within a particular cluster; the system view, which shows planets, moons, other astronomical objects, starships, and space stations; and the local view, which provides details on the object the player has selected and the option to land or board, if available. Exploration can yield new missions, assignments, equipment, or collectible items and resources.

On some worlds, the SSV Normandy will dock at a major settlement and the player can explore the area on foot. Most worlds are only recently colonized or even uncharted, however, and the player is deployed on these aboard the M35 Mako, a controllable all-terrain vehicle. The Mako is not only a convenient means of transport across large areas, but it possesses heavy shields and firepower to take down enemies in combat situations.

Save File Transfer[]

Main article: Save File Transfer

Mass Effect was designed to allow save files to be transferred to subsequent installments of the trilogy. This means that decisions made by the player in the first game can go on to impact Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.


Main article: Mass Effect Original Soundtrack

The Mass Effect Original Soundtrack was released on November 20, 2007. It was composed by Jack Wall and Sam Hulick with additional music by Richard Jacques and David Kates. The score blends 80's electronic music with modern orchestral scoring, and was inspired by such films as Blade Runner and Dune.

Downloadable content[]

Main article: Downloadable Content

Two downloadable content packs were released for Mass Effect.

  • Bring Down the Sky adds a mission to stop an asteroid from colliding with a human colony world and introduces the batarian race.
  • Pinnacle Station features a series of combat challenges to test Commander Shepard's skill.

Bring Down the Sky was included with Mass Effect Legendary Edition but Pinnacle Station was not.

Related media[]

The series is also expanded in tie-in novels, the first of which was Mass Effect: Revelation, a prequel story to Mass Effect. Multiple comic series have also been released. In addition, aside from the sequel games Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 that completed the "trilogy" encompassing the story of Commander Shepard, two spin-off games for mobile platforms have been released: Mass Effect Galaxy and Mass Effect: Infiltrator. In 2017, Mass Effect: Andromeda was released, the first major game that takes place outside the setting of the original trilogy of games, and introducing Pathfinder Ryder as the new protagonist of the game's story.


Ex-Marvel CEO Avi Arad obtained the rights to create a film adaptation of the game. It was reported in 2010 that the movie was in the early stages of development and will be produced by Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. with Casey Hudson, Ray Muzyka, and Greg Zeschuck of BioWare serving as executive producers.


The current Mass Effect patch version for the PC is 1.02.

See also[]


  • The opening crawl text at the beginning of the game is a reference to the similar opening crawl text of the movie Top Gun.[4]
  • According to The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3, the original game was first developed under the working title SFX. About a year and a half after the initial IP pitch on September 15, 2003, the team debated several names like Space Age, Element Zero, Threshold, Epsilon Effect, Star Citadel, Fractured Helix, and Oculon, but could never agree on any of them. Project lead Casey Hudson pitched in the name Rainbow (as in the vein of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six) before the series' title was suggested by BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk[5][6].
    • The Mass Effect name arose out of the initial idea of the mass relays being time travel devices and the concept of one individual being able to change the course of history.
  • BioWare produced six other covers for Mass Effect which were not used as the final cover of the game for various reasons.[7]
  • When conceptualizing the game (and its trilogy), it was intended to be cinematic in nature. Presenting Shepard in a uniform manner was a by-product of this.[8]
  • Multiplayer was planned for the game, but it was scrapped.[9]
  • Running on the Citadel and other places out of combat is an illusion. According to Cinematic Designer John Ebenger, the movement speed does not actually change from walking to running, only the camera's field of view (FOV) is adjusted to give players the feeling of faster movement.[10]
  • "Load Limit Reached", a note in BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins, contains an easter egg reference to Mass Effect.
  • It has been joked that the entire Mass Effect setting is in one of the shaper storms of BioWare's Anthem.[11]
  • According to Mass Effect Legendary Edition gameplay statistics as of July 27, 2021, squadmate popularity is ranked as thus, from most to least: Garrus, Tali, Liara, Wrex, Ashley, Kaidan.[12]