Introduction & Advice
First of all, let me start off by saying that this walkthrough was written from the perspective of a fresh level 1 character on normal difficulty. If you're using a higher level Shepard from a previous session, playing on Hardcore or Insane difficulty, or visiting the Mass Effect galaxy in a different order, then some encounters may be slightly different. I've played the game through three times prior to writing this walkthrough, so hopefully I can cover multiple angles in the event that you're approaching a situation after a different set of events.

When you first create your character, pay attention to the pre-service history and psychological profile choices. A "Spacer" receives a bonus to Paragon points in the game, an "Earthborn" receives a bonus to Renegade points in the game, and a "Colonist" receives a small bonus to each spectrum when applicable. Likewise, a "War Hero" receives a bonus to Paragon points, a "Ruthless" character receives a bonus to Renegade points, and a "Sole Survivor" receives a small bonus to each spectrum. Which of these choices you should pick depends on what type of character you want to play.

You really shouldn't think of Paragon as "good" and Renegade as "evil", as Commander Shepard is ultimately out to save the galaxy regardless of which spectrum he or she favors. Instead, think of a Paragon character as compassionate and law-abiding, whereas a Renegade character cares little for how the job is done as long as it does, in fact, get done. As a rule of thumb, Paragon choices during dialogue will almost always be in white text in the upper right corner or blue Charm text in the upper left corner of the radial menu. Likewise, Renegade choices will almost always be in white text in the lower right corner or red Intimidate text in the lower left corner of the radial menu. Regardless of which route you choose for your version of Commander Shepard, stick with it. There are achievements and other bonuses to be gained as you build your Paragon or Renegade meter, so staying neutral won't help you in any conceivable way.

The base class you choose for Commander Shepard determines which talents he or she will have access to. If you want to be able to use all weapons to their fullest potential, be a Soldier. If, instead, you want to give the game's tech abilities a whirl, choose Engineer. And, should you want to experience what the game's mass effect powers are all about, choose Adept. The other three classes are essentially a mix of two of the previous three classes, in the event that you want access to a broader range of talents. Check out our classes section for more specific information about each one's advantages and disadvantages.

Regardless of which weapon talents your version of Commander Shepard has access to, keep in mind that you can actually use untrained weapons as well. You won't be able to zoom in with them and you won't have access to the abilities associated with their talent tree, but they can still be quite effective. The shotgun is especially devastating, even if you're using it untrained. I actually found that it was far easier to take out enemies using a Shotgun and the proper ammunition upgrade with my Adept than relying on my Pistol talent and the Marksman ability. The Assault Rifle also works well, even if you can't zoom with it. From my experience, the only weapon that really requires the appropriate talent to use effectively is the Sniper Rifle.

Mass Effect's storyline is almost entirely linear, though you are able to choose which order to explore the first four plot-centric planets. I've set this walkthrough up in the order that I think works best, but you're certainly welcome to swap the order around if you want. Exploring the side planets and frigates isn't a requirement to finish the game, but I do recommend at least completing a good number of side quests if only to build your characters, acquire more loot, and to earn extra achievements. For example, the squad member achievements cannot be unlocked simply by finishing the main quest. You must tackle a large number of side quests (with the same squad member, obviously) in order to obtain them.

As you make your way around the galaxy, keep in mind that the game scales all enemies, loot, and experience rewards to your current level. Apparently the idea is that such a leveling scheme keeps the game challenging regardless if you land on a planet at level 10 or level 40. It makes things a little more convenient as you're free to explore without any worry that you'll run into something devastating to your party, but it also spoils any real sense of adventure and danger. However you perceive the system, just keep it in the back of your mind that you can travel to the farthest reaches of the galaxy in any order without any worries.

One final note worth mentioning is that quite a few of the game's codex entries have multiple methods of retrieval. For example, you may be able to gain a general codex entry about the Citadel or turian race by talking to any number of different NPCs. Therefore, for the purposes of this walkthrough, I'll be listing the codex entries that are gained if you follow a similar chronological order. If there are any major exceptions or obvious ways to gain such codex entries out of the order I'm following, then I'll do my best to make note of them.

And with that, let's get started...




The Citadel


Liara's Dig Site












Uncharted Planets/Ships