Mass Effect has had its ups and downs in recent years, what with Andromeda being… less than an instant classic, let’s say. Regardless, the original Mass Effect trilogy is a classic series to play for any fan of sci-fi and RPGs, so it’s no surprise that people are still finding the time to play – or re-play – these pieces of gaming history.
Who wouldn’t want to re-live the experience of saving the galaxy with a crew of alien best friends? If you’re thinking about hopping onto the Mass Effect train for the first time, here are some things you absolutely need to know.
10 Buying from Vendors Isn’t Worth It
Save for the Medi-gel and grenade slot upgrades, or if you’re really into collecting all those little model ships in Mass Effect 3, none of the shop owners have anything worth spending your money on.
The original trilogy has a habit of showering the player in more loot than they know what to do with – ninety percent of which is going to be better than anything they sell on the Citadel. No matter what that voice recording of Commander Shepard says, it’s not their favorite place to shop.
9 Max Out the Charm/Intimidate Skill ASAP
This is original-Mass Effect-specific, but you need to invest at least one skill point into your chosen morality skill every time you level up until you max it out. You need it to pass speech checks, complete quests in the best ways, and even unlock special passive buffs.
Go out of your way to choose the mortality-specific responses and actions, to unlock how much you can upgrade faster. The quicker you max out this skill, the less time you’ll have to spend worrying about if it’s high enough to use for the next mission.
8 In General, Pick Paragon or Renegade ASAP
In the Mass Effect series, you aren’t rewarded for staying in the middle when it comes to the decisions you make. To get the most consistent game, the best passive buffs and extra interactions with characters stick one side of the Paragon/Renegade spectrum.
You need a certain percentage on the morality wheel to even be able to get the benefits either side provides, so it’s better to lean into one side with one Shepard and replay the series to lean the other way if you want the experience of both.
7 Do Everything in ME2
Yes, everything. Do all the loyalty missions, get all the resources, buy all the upgrades, just do it. If you want to get through the final quest – literally referred to as a “suicide mission” – unscathed, you have to do all of this, and more.
Finish all of your side quests – if you’re that kind of person – before you go into the final battle. Don’t even breathe in the direction of the ending until you’re sure you’ve got everything under control. Unless you’re willing to kiss your favorite companion goodbye, give yourself a checklist.
6 Play A Class with Biotics
Whether that’s an Adept, Vanguard, or Sentinel, play a class with biotics. They’re extremely powerful, and a few simple combos can clear entire rooms if you’re quick about it.
Sure, you get companions with biotic powers, but you have a limited control over their abilities. Besides, we all know how… interesting companion AI can get sometimes. It’s always better to be able to control the crowd yourself, so you can guide them right into line of fire.
5 The Combat is Clunky – But You’ll Get Used to It
Especially in the first game, the combat in Mass Effect can feel like an additional enemy all its own if you’re not prepared for it. Don’t give up, though! Once you get used to the controls, what all the buttons do, how to effectively use your squad, and how to maximize your use of the pause button, it’s a walk in the park.
The second two games streamline the combat a lot, so there isn’t as much to get used to, but it can still throw new players for a loop. Don’t panic. It’ll make sense in time.
4 All of the Vehicles Suck
Some people will say the vehicles get steadily better from the Mako on. Those people are lying.
Alright, maybe it’s a matter of personal preference. The Mako is almost universally loathed by Mass Effect veterans, and everything else handles like a dream by comparison. But taken out of that context, none of them are amazing. Far from it, in fact. Just be prepared to wrestle with wonky controls because this stupid car is made of tissue paper, and flips seven times because you ran over a small pebble.
3 Micromanage Your Inventory
Yes, the worst part of every RPG that throws weapons and armor at you like they’re getting paid for it is organizing it all. Unless you like organizing things, and in that case, this is the best part.
A good strategy is to hunker down after each huge mission and unload your inventory onto yourself and your squadmates to make sure none of them are lagging behind in firepower, defense, or upgrades. After that, your choices are selling the rest or turning it all into omni-gel – a useful resource in its own right. Tedious in the short-term, worth it in the long run.
2 There’s a Slow Start
With the exception of Mass Effect 2, in which explosions happen in the first two minutes, the other games have relatively slow starts. Don’t let it scare you off – the games ramp up the farther in you play. It’s standard BioWare operating procedure, and if you’re familiar with their pattern of letting you get immersed in the world before the gigantic plot events start happening, you’ll feel right at home.
If you’re not familiar, just know you’re going to be spending a significant chunk of time doing fetch quests on the Citadel before the interesting stuff happens. But the interesting stuff is worth waiting for. You can do it.
1 Get the Extended Cut DLC
This is Mass Effect 3 specific, but if you don’t already have the Extended Cut DLC, it is definitely worth downloading before you play the series through. The ending of the third game is legendarily bad – probably one of the most hated in video game history – and while this DLC doesn’t fix everything, it makes it a little more palatable.
It makes the ending worth experiencing, at the very least. Otherwise, you’d be better off turning off the game right before the final thirty-minutes and making up your own ending. And it is free, so you have no reason not to.