Mass Effect Wiki
Mass Effect Wiki
Disambiguous This article is about the first Mass Effect game. For a walkthrough of Mass Effect 2, see Mass Effect 2 Guide. For a walkthrough of Mass Effect 3, see Mass Effect 3 Guide. For a walkthrough of Mass Effect: Andromeda, see Mass Effect: Andromeda Guide.

This page contains a full walkthrough for the main missions of the Mass Effect storyline. This page does not cover optional side quests or assignments, including Bring Down the Sky or Pinnacle Station, the two Downloadable Content packs released for the original game. For a comprehensive introduction to the mechanics of the actual fighting the player must engage in on most missions, see the combat page.

Legendary Edition: If you are playing Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Bring Down the Sky is included with it by default, but Pinnacle Station is not. Legendary Edition also features many changes to the original Mass Effect, including improvements to graphical quality and changes to many combat mechanics.


For a summary of when various NPC allies become available to join Shepard's crew and an overview of their capabilities, see Squad Members Guide.


During the prologue you will create your player character, attend a briefing on the Normandy, and undertake your first mission on Eden Prime.

Prologue: Find the Beacon

Chapter 1: Citadel[]

Chapter 1 begins when Shepard sets foot on the Citadel for the first time. You will recruit most of your squad, learn about the Council and galactic politics. You must expose Saren Arterius's treachery before you can return to the Normandy.

Citadel: Expose Saren

Many assignments will become available on the Citadel and can be completed to develop side-plots and gain rewards; walkthroughs for each individual assignment are available. Also while on the Citadel you will encounter merchants who will sell you useful items and buy your old ones. You can consult the Merchants Guide for a complete list of game locations.

Main Plot Progression[]

Help complete your squadmate-related assignments

All missions feature substantial "outdoor" sections in which you will drive the Mako, as well as sections where you will engage in combat on foot; follow the links in this sentence for detailed information.

You will also be given the opportunity to perform various galaxy-wide assignments. These are all optional but can be useful for the additional items and experience they provide. Assignments will be offered to you directly, but you can also find them yourself simply by exploring planets that you find via the Galaxy Map on the Normandy.

In between missions and assignments you may wish to walk around the Normandy and converse with your crew. This will not only reveal interesting information, it will occasionally produce opportunities for new assignments and will allow you the option of pursuing a romance if you visit frequently enough.

Note: Once you reach level 20, the next time you access the Galaxy Map you will receive the UNC: Rogue VI assignment on Luna. It is recommended that you proceed there immediately, as this assignment unlocks your specialization class.

Progression: Chapters 2-4 can be completed in any order you choose to advance the main plot. Chapter 5 will become available once you complete any two of the original three chapters. This also unlocks the broad Race Against Time plot mission in the Journal, which is completed at the end of the game.

Chapter 2: Finding Liara[]

In Chapter 2 you will have the opportunity to recruit a new squadmate, if you can get past the geth. This mission, while substantial, is slightly shorter than Noveria and Feros.

Find Liara T'Soni

Chapter 3: Noveria[]

On Noveria you will search for Saren's associate, Matriarch Benezia, facing geth and a powerful biotic boss.

Noveria: Geth Interest
Noveria: Matriarch Benezia

Chapter 4: Feros[]

The Zhu's Hope colony and the Exogeni facility have been overrun by geth and krogan. Why is Saren interested in this tiny outpost?

Feros: Geth Attack
Feros: The Thorian

Chapter 5: Virmire[]

On Virmire you must thwart Saren's plans and make a fateful decision; you will also converse with an ancient enemy.

Virmire: Saren's Plan
Virmire: Assault


Chapter 6: Lockdown[]

Reap cultivated bonds with the crew

When you have completed all missions from previous chapters you know that you need to head to Ilos. However, the next time you use the Galaxy Map, Joker will give you a message and you're returned to the Citadel.

The Council, with Ambassador Udina, have unfortunately decided that you don't really need to go geth hunting or determine what the Conduit is after all. They think that the Reapers are a lie created by Saren, to distract them from his true goal of attacking the Citadel. They have decided, in fact, to ground both you and the Normandy. If you've been following a romance path, you'll then have a short scene with your love interest before duty calls: Captain Anderson has a plan and asks you to meet him in Flux.

This is your last chance to complete any assignments on the Citadel, up until you return to the Normandy after telling Captain Anderson you are ready for his assistance. There are only two new assignments on the Wards: Citadel: Our Own Worst Enemy and Citadel: Negotiator's Request, both of which are very brief. This is also your last opportunity to allow either Garrus Vakarian or Urdnot Wrex to join your team if you didn't before. Once you're ready to leave, speak with Captain Anderson. He will offer to help you steal the Normandy and—hopefully—get to Ilos in time to stop Saren.

Captain Anderson has two plans to override the lockdown on the Normandy, both at great personal risk. He can either break into a C-Sec-secured area, or hack Udina's computer. You can choose for him, or give him the choice: Anderson will select the ambassador's computer if you let him choose. Then return to the Normandy to wait: different choices show different cutscenes, but either way the Normandy escapes the Citadel.

After you've taken to the skies, you're again free to choose your destination, and Ilos will now be available. You can no longer return to the Citadel, since you are now a known fugitive and mutineer.

Chapter 7: Ilos[]

On Ilos you must pursue Saren as he races to find the Conduit. Warning: Once you head to Ilos and try to land there the game will proceed in locked progression: you will no longer be able to use the Galaxy Map, walk around the Normandy, or complete assignments. If you have been pursuing a relationship with someone, a conversation with them will occur in the captain's cabin that may lead to a romantic cutscene.

Ilos: Find the Conduit
Ilos: Trench Run

Chapter 8: Endgame[]

You have found the Conduit and must now stop Saren once and for all!

Race Against Time: Final Battle


Finally, the matter of the Council remains. If you chose to abandon the Council, a human chairman will preside over a newly formed Council (a wholly human Council, if you were a Renegade) with a choice between Udina or Anderson as chairman. If you chose to save the Council, humans will be invited to join the Council, again with a choice between Udina or Anderson as representative. Alternatively, you can disclaim interest in politics and politicians.

Level Caps and Repeat Careers[]

See also: Save File Transfer

Mass Effect ends after the completion of the storyline. Your character is saved and can be carried over to Mass Effect 2, receiving bonuses on starting level and credits; decisions you have made, both major and minor, will also be remembered and will affect events in future games.

A new game must be started to continue playing after the final act, though you are allowed to carry over your character for a "new career" for the same Shepard. You can then explore the galaxy again, plus you'll have all the plot worlds available again as well. The main character's level, talents, specialization and equipment all carry over, but Paragon/Renegade scales, equipment licenses, and your medi-gel and grenade stock upgrades are reset, as are your Codex entries and assignments. Any combat, biotic or tech achievements will be usable in any new career.

After you beat the game, you can start your character over by going to "Create New Character" and selecting the bottom most option (Select Existing ID). You then restart the story with all of your experience and items intact from the previous game. All items that were equipped on your squad are transferred to you, and you gain doubles of anything you equipped. For your main character, all of your talent points remain spent as they were before. Your squadmates all begin at the same level as you, but with no talent points spent and only the basic default weapons and armor, allowing you to rebuild them as you like.

It is possible to reach level 50 on your first playthrough, but you won't achieve it without completing a majority of the side assignments. Since you are capped at level 50 for your first time through the game, you cannot reach level 60 until the second playthrough with your original character. If you're looking to reach level 60, it isn't necessary to reach level 50 in your first completion. You can also start a completely new character if you'd like to try a new class, gender, background, etc., and you will no longer be level capped at 50, but there is not enough XP available in the game, even with DLC, to reach level 60 in a single go.

Legendary Edition: In Mass Effect Legendary Edition there is no level cap on a first playthrough and experience scaling is improved in various ways to make reaching level 60 considerably easier. There is also an option to scale character levels to the 1-30 scale used in the subsequent games in the trilogy. This does not affect total talent points awarded.

See Also[]