It feels like forever since I’ve played a Mass Effect game and got to experience all those moments that made the franchise so special.
As someone who has played all these games more times than I can count, I truthfully thought the last playthrough was my “last ride” through the trilogy before I sold my Xbox 360.
I’ve never been more happy to be wrong.
On November 7th 2020, Bioware finally announced their intentions to release Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.
And now that we are only three months away, I figured now would be a great time to go over some of my favorite Mass Effect moments.
I’ll be breaking each game down individually in separate pieces because there are so many moments to go over.
From main story missions to side quests to downloadable content, Mass Effect was not short on memorable moments. I am more of a Mass Effect 2 fan than I am the original but this doesn’t mean I can’t find moments worth reliving once the Legendary Edition comes out.
There will be a major spoiler warning for these games due to the nature of this series of articles.
So let’s hop in the Mako and embrace those clunky controls once more as we look back at 2007’s Mass Effect.
Mass Effect’s prologue contains arguably the most pivotal moment of the entire series.
You begin on the Normandy as part of the crew of Captain Anderson’s (played wonderfully by Keith David) ship. From there you’ll meet the likes of Turian Spectre Nihlus, squad mate Kaiden Alenko and your pilot Joker.
This leads directly to the opening mission where you find out a science team has found a Prothean beacon. The Protheans are an ancient race of an extinct alien civilization who will play into the larger narrative as the series goes on.
During this mission you meet squad mate and potential love interest Ashley William as well as antagonist Saren.
The beacon itself is a giant pole like structure you’ll find on a platform. Shepard’s mission will become very clear after you make contact with it.
Save the galaxy and stop whatever threat is coming.
It’s an absolutely strong way to start not only the game but also the series. It draws you in based on the mystery and intrigue of the frightening visual sequence you see after touching the beacon.
It also kills off Nihlus and sets up Shepard to become a galactic 007 known as a Spectre. There’s a lot to unpack overall but the fact that they consider this a prologue should give you an idea of the scope of the game’s narrative.
Finding Liara T’Soni
If you’re like me, Liara is the canonical love interest for Shepard. As someone who has played through this series too many times to count, I can confirm I have romanced all kinds of men, women and aliens from all sides of the galaxy.
But Liara always felt different from a story perspective. She has always been considered as one of the best characters in the game and her three-game story arc really backs that up. It also seems likely her role will be expanded upon with her showing up in the Mass Effect 4 trailer.
Truthfully, this is less about the actual mission and more about meeting Liara for the first time. She is an all-time favorite character and this is one of my defining Mass Effect moments.
Liara is an Asari archeologist who studies Protheans and is found on the planet of Therum. She is a strong biotic and quickly became a pivotal squad mate for me.
A key part of these games has always been the characters and the connections you feel. Garrus is also a primary go-to squad mate but his introduction offered much less fan fare. You kind of just run into him on the Citadel.
From there you get to learn about her and her culture after recruiting her to the team. Aside from Tali’Zorah nar Rayya, there are few other squad mates who offer this much depth and back story in the first game.
Hold the Line
Whenever you ask a Mass Effect fan about “hold the line” I’m sure they will smile and immediately think about this epic moment.
In the later stages of the game you’ll embark on a mission to a planet called Virmire where you find out a Salarian team has information on Saren.
It is here where you meet Captain Kirrahe who will inform you that Saren has plans to cure a disease known as the genophage. This disease was a biological weapon used against Krogans to infect them and depending on how Saren plans to cure it, could be devastating to the galaxy’s fate.
This mission gives you the opportunity to not only kill a squad mate (Wrex) but also team up with the Salarians to stop Saren.
I think I might have killed Wrex once in all of my play throughs because I built too close of a bond with him. This, however, would not be the most difficult decision you’d have to make on Virmire. More on that soon.
Ironically enough, the “hold the line” moment is not action based. There are no shoot outs, no major decisions and it’s even something you do.
Instead it’s Kirrahe giving his men a pep talk to end all pep talks as they face potential doom. It’s an excellent character moment and one that could potentially come back into play in Mass Effect 3 if you play your cards right.
But it won’t be just Kirrahe and his Salarians who will need to hold the line. Shepard will send either Kaiden or Ashley to assist his team with the assault.
This leads directly into…
Chances are, if you don’t know much about Mass Effect, you’ve at least heard of this moment.
Simply put, you’re about to blow up a whole lot of stuff on Virmire but before you do, you get word that either Kaiden or Ashley is pinned down and needs help. Who is under attack is dependent on who you sent with Kirrahe.
You go to help the squad mate in trouble and when you’re about half way there, you receive distressing news.
The bomb site is being attacked and the squad mate left to arm the bomb is going to make sure the bomb goes off.
You need to save one of the squad mates but not both. Who will it be? Kaiden or Ashley.
Full disclosure, Kaiden has NEVER survived in this scenario. I’ve always found his character boring and never used him after getting other squad mates like Garrus or Wrex or Liara.
But what makes this moment so unforgettable is how it shows Mass Effect is not afraid to force your hand. There are huge trilogy-wide implications with this choice as whoever dies is never coming back.
There are legit moments of dialogue I’ve never experienced because I hate Kaiden so much. How awful is that?
Perhaps he will finally survive the assault on Virmire once the Legendary Edition arrives. If he does, it’ll probably only be on either my male or female play through, not both.
Still, the impact of this decision, the consequence and the fact that it is all up to you makes this moment one you will never forget.
And potentially regret if you pick the wrong squad mate.
Attacking the Citadel
After coming face to face with the reapers – the nightmarish visual you saw after touching the beacon – you soon discover the Citadel is a giant mass effect relay.
After returning to the Citadel, you find Saren is attempting to give control of the Citadel to the reapers.
The invasion then begins.
Most players would probably agree the build up to the final fight with Saren is better than the actual fight. You are tasked with reaching the council chambers where Saren is while scaling the side of the of the tower.
Depending on the abilities of your squad you can send enemies flying through zero-g or just gun them down. The choice is your’s and it’s awesome as it incentivizes you to mix it up with your powers and squad mates.
It’s an awesome moment and one Mass Effect has attempted to replicate with varying degrees of success. The only time I can think of them coming close would be Mass Effect 2’s final mission or Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC.
Overall, everything about this works. The ambiance, the music, the combat, the dialogue. It’s all so perfect.
The scene where you step onto the side of the tower and see the scale of things is absolutely amazing. It’s one I cannot wait to see upgraded with new textures, better draw distance and of course higher frame rates. This is a big reason why an updated version of this game is very much needed. It was the animations and inventory system that made me consider Mass Effect my least favorite of the trilogy.
This game is still absolutely worth playing and a necessity if you plan on going through the trilogy. Don’t just do the Genesis mini game and play Mass Effect 2 would be my highest recommendation.
But that is it for Mass Effect. Those are five of my favorite moments with plenty more I left out. I never talked about the Rachni decision or the battle with the Thorian.
As for the mako missions? I’ll let you guys experience that little treasure yourself without spoiling anything.
What are some of your favorite moments? I’ll be covering my favorite Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 moments in future stories.
Who knows maybe I’ll be able to find a few from Andromeda?