Mass Effect

From Before I Play
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General Advice

  • Check the options before starting the game, there are some useful settings such as allowing your allies to automatically use all their abilities as opposed to only defensive ones.
  • Save often as game-stopping bugs are not super uncommon. The Quicksave function on the PC version is very useful, but be mindful that trying to Quicksave while sprinting can cause the game to crash.
  • You find more loot than you'll know what to do with, so the only things really worth buying from stores are permanent Grenade/Medi-gel upgrades, better armor, and the powerful Spectre gear which first becomes available once you have 1 million credits on your person. Sell or make omnigel out of your extra items regularly to avoid getting completely swamped in junk.
  • Talk to your squadmates on the Normandy regularly for their personal quests, character development and potential romances.
  • Between the three main destinations you have available after leaving the Citadel, it's generally recommended to head for Liara's Dig Site first to unlock your last party member.
  • Generic explorable planets usually have more things to be found than your map lets on, though most are just collectable minerals. Exploring planets can get monotonous (and frustrating in the case of particularly mountainous ones) so don't feel obligated to comb through everything. Even if you're the completionist type, looking up maps will save a great deal of time.
  • Some planetary systems on the Galaxy Map have visible asteroid belts in them which sometimes contain one or two scannable asteroids, detectable by their glinting or by hovering over them.

Character Creation & Abilities

  • Any class can beat the game quite easily. Adepts have the most powerful abilities, Soldiers have the best weapon variety, Infiltrators are very flexible snipers, and Vanguards have a strong mix of both close-range firepower and biotic skill. Sentinels and Engineers lean more on the support side of things, somewhat less effective in direct combat but still perfectly viable.
  • You can switch classes between games when importing a character, so you won't be locked to your choice for the entire trilogy.
  • Both Electronics and Decryption are used to unlock objects, so you'll generally want to have each on someone in your party.
  • The Medi-Gel healing bonus provided by the First Aid skill is cumulative between all your party members who have points in it.
  • Higher Paragon or Renegade scores unlock more Charm or Intimidate skills respectively, meaning you'll want to focus on one or the other if you want to have access to as many dialogue choices as possible.
  • Aim for the various milestones when allocating Talent points, such as new skill unlocks and higher ranks of your abilities. The first point in each talent tends to give a fairly potent boost as well.
  • Once you reach level 20 and travel to any star system, you'll unlock an assignment in the Local Cluster called "UNC: Rogue VI". Completing this assignment unlocks a Specialization which provides unique bonuses for your chosen class.

Combat

  • Biotic abilities are very strong in ME1. Even the toughest of fights are often easily cleared with good use of Singularity, Lift and Throw.
  • Your allies are not very smart in combat, especially when it comes to line of sight, but they can generally handle themselves and micromanaging them is rarely necessary. Just make sure to use everyone's abilities if they're needed and not on cooldown.
  • If you're not sure which ammo to use, Anti-Personnel/Shredder Rounds and Armor Piercing/Tungsten rounds which deal extra damage to organics and synthetics respectively are always very effective. Mind that they stop dropping at high levels so don't sell your VII versions. Incendiary/Inferno Rounds are never a bad choice either as they provide steady damage and also disable health regeneration.
  • Enemies killed while driving the Mako vehicle yield 50% of their normal experience points. If you want to game the system a bit, it's possible to first weaken powerful enemies like Thresher Maws with the Mako and finish them off on foot.
  • Speaking of Thresher Maws, the best way to deal with one is to try and get into medium range where it won't either instagib you in melee nor submerge since you're too far away. Then just drive back and fort avoiding the slow acid spits while firing at it. If it does submerge, hold still to avoid being rammed when it resurfaces.

Achievements

  • Certain achievements award permanent bonuses for all created characters. For example killing 150 enemies with a given weapon type allows new characters to start with skill in that weapon, even if their class couldn't normally train in it.
  • The "Ally" achievements require completing 45-50 Assignments (sidequests) with each given party member. Many of these are available very early in the Citadel, so if you're an achievement hunter you'll want to make sure not to do too many of them without the appropriate people in your party.
  • All achievements like "use skill X 75 times" or "kill 150 enemies with X weapon" have to be done by Shepard.
  • The achievements that require finishing the game on Hardcore and Insanity allow you to change difficulty freely up until the end of Eden Prime.