The galaxy can be a massive, sometimes overwhelming place, and exploring it in Mass Effect 2 can be an overwhelming undertaking. Securing squadmate loyalty is a major focus of Mass Effect 2, particularly prior to the endgame Suicide Mission, where characters’ survival depends on the player’s choices. With 12 total squadmates, including DLC characters, players will need to make time and plan to complete 12 loyalty missions. Many loyalty missions rely on Shepard’s Paragon or Renegade score, which is based on the player’s moral choices during the game. It will be in a player’s best interest to save the loyalty missions that require demanding Paragon/Renegade checks until they near the end of the main story. With Mass Effect: Legendary Edition launching later this year, returning fans and newcomers alike may find themselves wondering when to complete the various main story and side missions for optimal results.
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While there is no single right way to explore and complete missions in Mass Effect 2, fans generally agree that there are some missions best saved for late-game to ensure the player has as many options and available outcomes as possible when it counts. Additionally, there are times in the game where a main mission will cut in and cannot be skipped or put off, or where a player will cross a point of no return. At these times, having a plan can position players for success. Here’s an optimal way to complete missions in Mass Effect 2.
Optimal Mission Order for Mass Effect 2
The optimal mission order for Mass Effect 2 ensures players can earn enough Paragon or Renegade points to access all possible Charm/Intimidate conversation options and outcomes and keep and maintain squad loyalty. Ultimately, the goal is to keep everyone alive during the Suicide Mission. It also ensures Shepard can gain access to key areas, like the Tech Lab aboard the Normandy, or find important weapons and upgrades.
Depending on Shepard’s class and the selected difficulty setting, different mission orders may produce more desirable outcomes. Generally, however, fans point to this structure as having the most advantages for the greatest number of play styles.
Players should remember to scan planets in the systems they visit for resources any time they enter a new location. In doing so, they may discover anomalies. These are optional side missions that award credits, resources, experience, and sometimes upgrades, but none have any effect on the main story or the outcome of Mass Effect 3. Players are free to complete these whenever and wherever they wish.
The Prologue is mandatory, and players will not have a choice about what to do or where to go until it has been completed and Shepard is aboard the Normandy SR-2.
- Prologue: Save Joker
- Prologue: Awakening (following character creation)
- Freedom’s Progress
- Normandy SR-2Meet the new Crew, get comfortable with the ship, and pick up side missions from Sergeant Gardener, Dr. Chakwas, and engineers Ken and Gabby.
There are two ways to approach the start of Act One. Players can either start on the Citadel or Omega. Both are hubs with good weapons, armor, and upgrades to purchase, and players can recruit squadmates, including the DLC characters, at each location. Ultimately, players will find there are more missions on Omega than the Citadel, but the order of these can be switched at any time.
- Dossier: The Veteran (Zaeed)Players will immediately find Zaeed upon leaving the Normandy SR-2 and finding out Aria wants to speak with them.
- Omega: Aria T’LoakPlayers can unlock an optional side mission, Omega: The Patriarch, by talking to Grizz. They can also find the Serrice Ice Brandy at the Afterlife bar for Dr. Chakwas. In the Market District, they will find the FBA Couplings at Kenn’s Salvage.
- Dossier: The Professor (Mordin)Unlocks the Tech Lab on the Normandy and allows players to begin making upgrades to weapons, armor, and the ship. Players should speak to every squadmate about Normandy Upgrades and make all Ship Upgrades prior to the run to the Collector base.
- Dossier: Archangel (Garrus)Make sure to bring the datapad info back to Aria for a reward.
- Investigate the Normandy Crash Site
- Project FirewalkerThere are 5 separate assignments to this mission. Players can start with Project Firewalker: Rosalie Lost here and choose whether to complete the rest now or later in the game.
- Dossier: The Thief (Kasumi)Players will find Kasumi immediately upon arrival at the Citadel. After this, they should head to the Presidium to meet with Anderson. They can find special ingredients for Sergeant Gardener and Serrice Ice Brandy for Dr. Chakwas at shops in the Wards.
- Kasumi: Stealing Memory
- Dossier: The Warlord (Grunt)
- Dossier: The Convict (Jack)
- Horizon Horizon is a mandatory mission that will trigger as soon as players complete the final dossier in this set. The four dossier missions (excluding Zaeed and Kasumi) are not optional.
Following the Horizon mission, players should begin speaking to their squadmates each time they disembark and then return to the Normandy. Yeoman Chambers will let Shepard know a specific squadmate wants to talk to them, which lets players know the loyalty mission has triggered. Players only get five missions between Horizon and the Collector Ship, so it is best to prioritize loyalty or recruitment missions. It’s important to note that smaller fetch quests, including planet scanning for resources and Liara’s quests on Illium, should not trigger the Collector Ship and are safe to complete. Investigating anomalies do count toward the five missions, however.
Players only need to complete two of the remaining dossier missions, so they can skip recruiting Tali, Samara, or Thane if they prefer.
- Dossier: Tali (Tali)Players should try to keep Kal’Reeger alive by convincing him to stand down.
- Dossier: The Justicar (Samara)Prior to this mission, players should make sure to find Liara and speak to her, as she has information about both Samara and Thane. Shepard can choose to help Liara with a few optional missions but should not choose the dialogue option to begin Lair of the Shadow Broker yet.
- Dossier: The Assassin (Thane)Bring the datapad found on this mission back to the frazzled salarian for a reward.
- Grunt: Rite of Passage
- Mordin: Old Blood
- Collector ShipThe Collector Ship is a mandatory mission that will trigger five missions, including anomaly investigation missions, following Horizon.
During Act Three, players should take their time to finish all loyalty missions and any side missions they want to do before the endgame. They should not start the Reaper IFF mission until they have completed everything else, as this starts a timer that only allows room for completion of Legion’s loyalty mission if players wish to save all members of the Normandy SR-2 crew. Players should save Lair of the Shadowbroker and Arrival until after the Suicide Mission for the most seamless transition to Mass Effect 3.
Players should note that it is possible to fail Thane’s, Samara’s, Tali’s, and Zaeed’s loyalty mission. They will need to follow their teammates’ instructions and sometimes will need to pass a demanding Paragon/Renegade check to succeed and secure loyalty.
- Miranda: The ProdigalWhile back on Illium, players can finish any smaller missions they may have missed, including Liara’s requests.
- Jacob: The Gift of Greatness
- Garrus: Eye for an Eye
- Thane: Sins of the Father
- Jack: Subject ZeroFollowing this mission, Jack and Miranda will fight. Shepard needs to use the Charm/Intimidate dialogue option to break up the fight. Choosing sides will result in the loss of loyalty from one of the two women.
- Samara: The Ardat-Yakshi
- Tali: Treason
- Zaeed: The Price of Revenge
- Overlord DLC
At this point, players need to be certain they have met the following conditions:
- All squadmates loyal
- Researched Normandy armor, weapons, and shields upgrades (from Jacob, Garrus, and Tali respectively)
- Completed all desired side missions
- Purchased all desired equipment
- Exhausted all dialogue options with squadmates
- Made all desired weapons/armor upgrades
They can then proceed to the endgame.
Once players retrieve the Reaper IFF, they can only access the Galaxy Map once before the Collectors attack the Normandy. Following this attack, if they complete other missions ahead of going through the Omega-4 relay, they will lose crew members.
- Reaper IFFFollowing this mission, players must decide what to do with Legion. They can either sell it or activate and recruit it. If they choose to recruit it, they will need to talk to it twice to unlock its loyalty mission.
- Legion: A House DividedFollowing this mission, Legion and Tali will fight. Shepard needs to use the Charm/Intimidate dialogue option to break up the argument. Choosing sides will result in the loss of loyalty from the unsupported squadmate.
- Collector AttackThis small mission is mandatory. Players will control Joker and will need to follow EDI’s instructions.
- The Suicide Mission (Stop The Collectors & Collector Base)
- Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC
- Arrival DLC
It’s important to note not every player will want to complete the main story of Mass Effect 2 the same way, and there is no wrong way to order missions. For example, if a player intends to romance Garrus Vakarian, they may enjoy the story more if they can start with Dossier: Archangel, even ahead of Dossier: The Professor. As another example, if players have a strong moral direction for their Shepard, once they hear about a dire situation, such as Thane’s son’s assassination attempt or Tali’s hearing, they may choose to complete those missions sooner, as their Shepard might choose to act fast despite possible ramifications. Ultimately, players can shift missions around to make the most sense for their story and desired outcomes.
Next: Mass Effect 2: How to Recruit Morinth
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition launches May 14 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with forward compatibility on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
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