Aside from some tabletop Dungeons & Dragons, Mass Effect was the first role-playing game I ever picked up. I have to admit that I was a bit of a skeptic when it came to playing an RPG as a video game at first, but the universe and the characters of Mass Effect totally swayed me. Commander Shepard's fight against the Reapers with his diverse crew became one of the games I looked forward to replaying over and over again.
Anyone who is a fan of the series knows that despite the many epic moments the games have given us, there have been... less than pleasing moments as well. One-liners that Shepard delivers are face-palm worthy, choices that you as the player make have ended up becoming futile, and don't get me started on Mass Effect: Andromeda. But perhaps the most disappointing aspects of the Mass Effects series are the questions that have been left unanswered by the story and the subsequent plot holes that stem from that issue.
All games have flaws. That should be a cemented fact in the history of gaming. But some games have more mistakes and mysteries in them than others. The Mass Effect games are just the kind of games that seem to attract more errors and confusing moments than most other games. (Well, what do you expect when you're dealing with a massive game that relies heavily on player choice and divisive story moments.) Read on if you want to scratch your head with the rest of us at the unresolved mysteries and plot holes that Mass Effect has given us.
25 What Is Under That Helmet?
I know, I know, this isn't the biggest mystery in the Mass Effect series. But come on! If you're a fan of Mass Effect, then at some point in your life, you've got to have wondered what is underneath a Quarian's mask.
BioWare has only given gamers the merest of hints of what lies beneath that opaque screen. Thanks to the Quarians' weak immune system, they always have to wear that helmet, so we may never get a good enough look at their facial features.
24 No Fuss, No Muss
The beginning to Mass Effect 2 was a shocker. Commander Shepard gets mortally wounded, sucked out into the vacuum of space, and then actually stopped living. I seriously thought I had just played a dream sequence or something like that.
But, as it turns out, Shepard actually perished, and he/she had to be brought back to life by Cerberus' Lazarus Project. And Cerberus succeeded in resurrecting Shepard! But if that's the case, why was nothing else ever done with Lazarus technology?
23 To Destroy The Collector Base Or Not
A huge decision Commander Shepard has to make at the end of Mass Effect 2 is whether or not to blow up the Collector Base. Since the Collectors are kind of a big bad in the game, I couldn't figure out why I would ever leave the Base intact.
Some crew members were telling me that it could contain useful data to be studied. But yeah, like I really want freaking Cerberus with Reaper technology. Turns out though, no matter what you do, Cerberus ends up salvaging the Human Reaper from the wreckage. Hooray for player agency!
22 Blatant Nepotism
I suppose my first impression of Alec Ryder, the human Pathfinder for the Andromeda Initiative, was that he was a capable leader. That idea of him was shattered in a few minutes when he perished and gave the position of Pathfinder to his offspring instead of to someone (like Cora) who was groomed for the position.
Any semblance of intelligence and integrity that I assumed Alec Ryder had was destroyed after that decision. So began my first incredulity-filled moment while playing Mass Effect: Andromeda.
21 What Did You Do With The Rachni Queen?
Choices that have the illusion of making an impact are the worst. Sadly, that's often how these RPGs work.
Take the decision Shepard had to make when he met the Rachni Queen.
Her species were known for being destructive, so it was a gamble when you had to decide to douse her in acid or let her go. If you let her go, Reapers get her and use her to breed themselves an army of Ravagers. If you got rid of her, Reapers use... other technology to breed an army of Ravagers. Wait, what? How?!
20 The Return Of The Leviathans
Commander Shepard was able to meet Leviathans, the creators of the Reapers. These large beings had gone into hiding after the Reapers whupped them into submission (even though they still sound like proud mother-flubbers despite cowering in caves).
Presuming you destroyed the Reapers at the end of Mass Effect 3, one mystery we may never know is what the Leviathans do after that. No longer fearful of the Reaper threat, would they come out of hiding and claim dominance over the other alien races in the galaxy?
19 My Name Is Legion, For We Are Many
The Geth are a race of artificially intelligent beings that rose up against their masters, the Quarians, and basically exiled them from their home world. They are a huge problem, and known villains.
However, in Mass Effect 2, Shepard welcomes an autonomous collection of Geth in the form of a new crew member called Legion. Legion is cool and all, don't get me wrong, but it's surprising how quickly Legion was accepted into the group. Shepard should know more than most how dangerous the Geth could be.
18 Should You Really Be Messing With That?
Everyone in the universe believed that the Citadel was the creation of the Protheans, one of the first alien races to ever roam the galaxy. The Citadel turned out to be a creation of the Reapers, one of their tools to bring about the destruction of sentient beings in the galaxy.
So when the Crucible was discovered, purportedly a Prothean superweapon against the Reapers, I wondered why everyone was so quick to rely on it. The last "Prothean" structure people trusted turned out to be a devastating weapon against them.
17 The Changing Role Of Krogan Women
Mass Effect: Andromeda clashed with lore we had previously learned about Krogan women. In the original trilogy of games, Krogan women were kept separate from Krogan men.
The genophage that had sterilized most Krogan females was partially responsible, but the Krogan culture had clearly fostered this practice. And yet, in Andromeda, we see female Krogan everywhere. The Andromeda Initiative still came from the same galaxy, right?
16 Who Is The Benefactor?
Personally, I enjoyed Mass Effect: Andromeda. I have a deep-seated fondness for hilarious glitches. Unfortunately for the series, I'm in the minority, which means we might not be seeing a sequel to the game. That means any question left unanswered might remain unanswered.
One of the most befuddling would be the identity of the mysterious benefactor who funded the Andromeda Initiative. There is a whole side mission dedicated to learning about this figure's existence, but alas, no resolution.
15 Shepard's Chances Of Survival
In the majority of Mass Effect 3's endings, Shepard perishes in a different colored explosion. (More on that later.) However, it is possible to have Shepard survive the ending if you select the "Destroy" option and if your Effective Military Strength is high enough.
One of the ways you level up your EMS in the game is if you engage in multiplayer. Ugh. Just... ugh. How in the world does engaging in multiplayer increase the likelihood of Commander Shepard surviving an explosion? Did multiplayer make his/her skin tougher?
14 The Reaper Conundrum
The Reapers were made by Leviathans in order to counterbalance inevitable conflicts that arise between organics and synthetics. The Reapers then took this to the extreme when they decided to cyclically purge the galaxy of all sentient life after organics become advanced enough to create artificial intelligence.
So let me get this straight. The Reapers, synthetics themselves, eradicate all life in order to prevent synthetics from fighting with organics. Are you sensing the irony here, too?
13 Where's The Consistency?
Commander Shepard isn't the only person who acts inconsistently from important decision to important decision. His crew is all about being hypocrites as well!
When Shepard has to decide whether or not to destroy the Collector Base at the end of Mass Effect 2, a few crew members try to convince him not to destroy it. However, in the subsequent Mass Effect 3, those same crew members get all uppity that you let the base remain in existence. There's just no pleasing some people.
12 A One-Time Quick Fix
When Scott or Sara Ryder (depending on which sibling you chose to play) first lands on the perilous Habitat 7 in Mass Effect: Andromeda, their helmet's face-plate gets cracked. Using the handy-dandy omni-tool, young Ryder is able to seal the breach.
However, when his or her helmet cracks again, the magic sealing power of the omni-tool is not used. Instead, Ryder Sr. has to give up his own helmet to his child and meets his end. If the omni-tool could fix the first crack, why not make it so it could fix another?
11 Where Are The Quarians?
Conveniently for the re-introduction of alien races in Mass Effect: Andromeda, every race travels into their new galaxy on their own Ark. The humans have their own Ark, the Salarians have their own Ark, the Asari have their own Ark, and so on and so forth.
At the end of the game, Pathfinder Ryder finds out that the Quarian Ark was waylaid and is now missing. If Andromeda doesn't get a sequel, we'll never find out what happened to the Quarians.
10 Liar Liar, Reaper On Fire
The first Reaper Commander Shepard comes into contact with is the one known as Sovereign. When they have a discussion (more like a monologue), Sovereign tells Shepard that the Reapers have been around for ages and that they have no creators.
Now that is a bold-faced lie. Either Sovereign is intentionally lying about being created by the Leviathans or BioWare had not settled on the Reapers being synthetically created. Either way, it's a plot hole!
9 A Chance Meeting
The Illusive Man, David Anderson (Shepard's mentor), and Commander Shepard all meet upon the Citadel for a tense showdown. The Illusive Man reveals his newfound Reaper abilities, and Anderson gets shot in the gut thanks to them.
However, if you forget for a moment how wonderfully stressful that moment was, you have to wonder how they all managed to find each other on the damaged Citadel. Chaos was reigning on the Citadel. The odds of the three of them meeting up are astronomical.
8 Always Time For A Side Mission
The stakes are high in Mass Effect. Sentient life is at risk, and only Commander Shepard has the guts and grit to stop that from happening.
But if that's the case, why aren't story missions time sensitive?
Hey now, I'm not complaining. I like picking and choosing when and where to go on side missions as much as the next person. But you have to admit, incidental plot holes become apparent when Shepard takes time out of his world-saving schedule to complete some mundane chores.
7 Functioning Without SAM
In Andromeda, we get to meet an AI who's not an all-around ending machine. SAM is the personalized AI that helps all Pathfinders trying to get a foothold in the Andromeda galaxy.
Thankfully, SAM knows how to interface with Remnant technology.
The Remnant are a race of ancient alien beings who used to reside in Andromeda. Later on though, Ryder is somehow able to "interface" with Remnant tech all on her/his own. How is that possible? Will it ever get explained?
6 Who Ended Jien Garson?
The most infuriating side mission I completed in Mass Effect: Andromeda was trying to solve Jien Garson's passing. Garson was the head of the Initiative, and she was slain in her room by some unknown person for an unknown reason.
And that's all you really know about it even after completing the mission!
You can guess that Garson was targeted by someone relating to the Benefactor who funded the Andromeda Initiative and that she found out something dark about him/her, but that's it.
5 Space Mining
Nothing like some good ole planet scanning and mining to take the edge off of a tough mission involving saving the world. Not only is Commander Shepard taking time off to mine materials on different planets a bit of a plot hole, but the way mining from space functions is also a bit mystifying.
Scanning from space is understandable, but how did we get from scanning to actually mining? And of course, Andromeda continued this particular tradition.
4 Only the Human Reaper Will Do
The Illusive Man takes the core from the Human Reaper that Shepard found at the Collector Base and studies it to no end. He ends up becoming Indoctrinated by the Reapers for his trouble, but we were all expecting that. What other future could a man obsessed with controlling Reapers have?
But if he desperately wanted to study Reapers, why did he only settle for the core of the Human Reaper? There was a full Reaper on the planet Rannoch that the Illusive Man could have gotten his hands on.
3 The Jardaan Are Long Gone
The Jardaan are basically the Protheans of Mass Effect: Andromeda. They're an ancient race of aliens who helped make other aliens and are now long gone. (Sounds familiar, right?)
The Jardaan are responsible for creating the Angara, the new race of aliens that we get to meet in the game. This is all very fascinating, but I have to lament the fact that we don't get any more answers as to who the Jardaan are. We learn that they existed, but that's about it.
2 The Saren-Sovereign Connection
Saren Arterius, the antagonist of the first Mass Effect, was clearly Indoctrinated by the Reaper Sovereign. At times, Sovereign spoke through Saren. Their connection to each other ran so deep that when Saren got demolished, Sovereign got hurt as well.
So how come no other Indoctrinated being functions the same way?
The Illusive Man was Indoctrinated, but when he perished, the Reaper that got to him was not affected at all by his passing.
1 Look At The Pretty Colors
The biggest mystery of the Mass Effect universe is what the darned ending to the third game was all about. The frustration of feeling like your choice had little to no impact was bad enough, but once you throw Indoctrination Theory into the mix, things get even more confusing.
The last thing I needed after completing this epic science-fiction game was a little spectral boy philosophizing in my face about choice and then having my choice seem utterly meaningless. Was that on purpose?