For the most part, Mass Effect 2 is a linear RPG. However, the game does give you some freedom when it comes to mission order. Each act of the adventure has an abundance of quests to take on, and it doesn’t matter which you do first or which you save for later.
Yet, playing each mission in a specific order can improve a playthrough in various ways. For instance, if you complete quests in the optimal sequence, you lower the risk of losing characters by the end of the game. Plus, your narrative experience can be enhanced simply by doing certain missions at certain times. So, here is the order in which you should complete all of the main content.
Prologue: Joining Cerberus
During Mass Effect 2’s prologue, you have no control over which missions you play. The sequence of events includes an attack on the Normandy, Shepard joining Cerberus, and a visit to Freedom’s Progress.
The lack of freedom in the opening stages makes sense as the game slowly introduces you to its mechanics and sets up the story.
- Prologue: Save Joker
- Prologue: Awakening
- Freedom’s Progress
ACT 1: Putting Together Your Team
Things start to open up once the prologue ends as the Illusive Man gives you multiple recruitment missions to do at your leisure. You also have a few other quests to keep you busy.
Optimal Mission Order:
- Normandy Crash Site – A few characters suggest that your first objective should be to head to Omega to meet the Professor. Although, it seems more appropriate to visit the wreckage of the original Normandy to say one last goodbye before getting into the game.
- Dossier: The Veteran – Three of your future squadmates are on Omega, so that’s where you should head next. Zaeed is near the entrance to the space station, and you’re guaranteed to pass him upon entry. His dossier ‘quest’ is just a simple conversation. Thus, there’s no need to ignore the veteran merc.
- Dossier: The Professor – Picking up Mordin Solus early makes a lot of sense because, at that point, he’s the most valuable person to have on the team as he can help deal with the Collector seeker swarms. Logically, Shepard wouldn’t go for anyone else first besides Zaeed.
- Dossier: Archangel – Recruiting Archangel is the last vital thing to do on Omega in the early stages. Therefore, you may as well find the vigilante after you’ve got Mordin.
- Project Firewalker – This one can be done anytime before the Reaper IFF mission as it’s not that important.
- Dossier: The Thief – You’ll want to go to the Citadel at this point in the game. Like Zaeed, this mission is one conversation, which takes place right where you enter the station.
- Citadel: The Council – It can be argued that you should do this quest earlier. After all, Shepard is likely excited to see Anderson for the first time in a while. Yet, during the assignment, Anderson and the Council share their concerns about you working for Cerberus. The line of questioning surrounding Shepard’s new organization works better when you’ve actually done a few missions for them.
- Kasumi: Stealing Memory – It’s nice to complete this one soon after meeting Kasumi as the specifics and reasoning for the mission are fresh in your mind. Although, you can really do it anytime before the Reaper IFF
- Dossier: The Convict – It doesn’t matter what order you do the Jack and Grunt dossier missions as long as they’re completed after the other quests in this act.
- Dossier: The Warlord – See above.
- Horizon – This mission triggers after you recruit Mordin, Garrus, Jack, and Grunt.
ACT 2 – Part 1: Finishing Recruitment
After the Horizon quest, the Illusive Man points you toward three more people you should recruit. Plus, this is when loyalty missions start appearing, so make sure you’re regularly talking to your teammates.
For the first part of this act, you can only do five quests before triggering the next Collector assignment.
Optimal Mission Order:
- Dossier: Tali – Story-wise, it makes sense for you to recruit Tali straight away in act 2 because of Shepard’s pre-existing relationship with the Quarian. What’s more, she’s arguably the best Mass Effect companion ever.
- Dossier: The Justicar – Both the Justicar and Assassin dossier quests are initiated on Illium, so it’s good to get them done one after another. It doesn’t matter which mission you do first.
- Dossier: The Assassin – See above.
- Grunt: Rite of Passage – At this point, you’ve only got two quests left to complete before triggering the next Collector mission. Therefore, it’s a good opportunity to do the two Loyalty missions on Tuchanka (Grunt and Mordin).
- Mordin: Old Blood – See Above.
- Collector Ship – Once you’ve completed five missions after Horizon, this critical quest will automatically begin.
ACT 2 – Part 2: Gaining Loyalty
You have plenty of freedom in the wake of the Collector Ship investigation as the game doesn’t force you to start the next mission. In fact, you want to avoid initiating the Reaper IFF quest for quite some time.
Instead, the second part of act 2 is about getting almost all of the loyalty missions done. And these quests are crucial because they help you keep everyone alive during the Suicide Mission.
Optimal Mission Order:
- Miranda: The Prodigal – The order in which you do most loyalty missions isn’t important. However, besides Kasumi and Zaeed, Miranda or Jacob will likely ask for help first. Therefore it’s logical that Shepard wouldn’t leave the two Cerberus agents waiting too long.
- Jacob: The Gift of Greatness – See Above.
- Garrus: Eye for an Eye – Because of the close bond Shepard and Garrus share, the Commander would help the Turian before most others.
- Thane: Sins of the Father – As Thane’s search for his son takes place in the same area as the Garrus quest, aka the Citadel, you should do this right afterward.
- Samara: The Ardat-Yakshi – It doesn’t matter when you do Samara’s quest as long as it’s before the Reaper IFF.
- Tali: Treason – When Tali tells you about her trial, she’ll strongly encourage you to deal with it immediately. However, there’s no actual timer on the mission, and it’s better to save it until you’ve built up enough Paragon or Renegade points to get the quest’s best ending.
- Jack: Subject Zero – After Jack’s mission, you’ll need to break up a fight between her and Miranda. To keep the loyalty of them both, you need to have a high enough percentage of Paragon or Renegade points. Even though it’s based on percentage, it seems easier to keep them both happy in the later stage of the game. Also, you witness some of the awful things Cerberus has done during the quest, which from a narrative standpoint makes sense to do now that you’re late in the game.
- Overlord – This is another one that shows you more of the sick experiments Cerberus was doing. Once again it works better at this point just before Shepard’s relationship with the organization starts to deteriorate.
- Zaeed: The Price of Revenge – Zaeed’s mission will be available for a long time, and this is pretty much your last chance to do it. You don’t have to leave it this late, but as Paragon players need to pass a very high morality check to make Zaeed loyal, it’s best to save it until now.
Act 3: Endgame
Act 3 serves as the endgame, and it doesn’t allow much time for side content. So, make sure that you’ve done everything before starting these quests.
Optimal Mission Order:
- Reaper IFF – Completing this mission sets in motion the last stretch of the game.
- Legion: A House Divided – After acquiring Legion from the IFF quest, you’ll need to activate and talk to him multiple times to receive his loyalty mission. You may need to travel to a different part of the ship and come back to get him to talk to you again after the first conversation. For the best possible ending to the game, you’ll want to help Legion as soon as you can.
- Save The Ship – This short mission will start the next time you use the galaxy map after the Reaper IFF has finished installing.
- The Suicide Mission – If you want to save everyone on the Normandy crew, you’ll have to enter the Omega 4 relay almost immediately after the last quest. By using the relay, you’ll initiate the Suicide Mission.
- Lair Of The Shadow Broker – As it’s disconnected from the main story, you can do Lair of the Shadow Broker after the credits have rolled. Plus, if Legion survived the last quest, you get a rare chance to use him for what is arguably the best expansion in the series.
- Arrival – Arrival is a great way to end Mass Effect 2 as it works as a bridge between the second and third games.
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