In this article we’ll explore the Mass Effect game series and describe all the titles in order of release.
Mass Effect (2007)
It’s hard to overstate how big of a sleeper hit Mass Effect was for BioWare back in 2007. One of the first original IP games for a studio that had been best known for games like Knights of the Old Republic, this sci-fi throwback was not only a fairly rare western RPG release, but also one that was released exclusively on the Xbox 360. The end result, though, was a major step forward for BioWare.
Mass Effect put players in the shoes of a customized Commander Shephard, the a special forces soldier for a futuristic Earth who was potentially in line to become the first human Spectre, a kind of galactic super-soldier/diplomat/spy.
The game saw Shephard racing around the galaxy to chase down a rogue Spectre as he gathered up a team of human and alien allies who all had their own unique personalities and special abilities.
Mass Effect Galaxy (2009)
2009’S Mass Effect Galaxy was a very different beast than the game that came before it. Not only was it a top-down shooter rather than an RPG, but it starred a non-customizable character named Jacob Taylor as he dealt with a major plot that took place between the first two games. Though not necessarily a huge hit, the game served as a great introduction for the game that would follow.
Mass Effect Galaxy is one of those games that’s probably only worth playing if you’re a major fan of the series. It does a fine job of introducing Jacob and Miranda as well as better expanding the role of Cerberus, but the game is so far outside the scope of the rest of the trilogy that it can be a bit of a chore to play.
Mass Effect 2 (2010)
How do you follow up one of the most beloved RPGs in recent memory? If you’re one of the developers of Mass Effect 2, the first step has to be to blow up everything that came before. Mass Effect 2 brought a reduced focus on the RPG elements of the first game while radically overhauling the gunplay and thrusting players into a morally-grey story with new companions.
Mass Effect 2 takes place sometime after Mass Effect Galaxy, putting players back in the shoes of a newly-resurrected Commander Shephard as he works with the shadowy organization Cerberus to take on a new threat. The game debuts a host of new companion characters and brings back some old favorites while radically pushing forward the narrative of the story in ways that many didn’t see coming.
Mass Effect 3 (2012)
After the universal praise of the second game, it seemed like Mass Effect 3 could do no wrong. In short order, though, it became one of the most controversial entries in the series. With a simplified inventory system and an ending that left some players unsatisfied, it still brought an end to the Shephard saga in a way that few saw coming.
Mass Effect 3 saw players take on the role of Shephard one more time as the Commander and their crew fought against an all-out Reaper invasion. This game brought back virtually every character ever seen in the Mass Effect games and allowed players a greater degree of freedom to explore.
The game also introduced Multiplayer to Mass Effect, creating an excellent team-based mode that many loved. Some didn’t care for lack of representation of Mass Effect 2 characters in the campaign or the endings, though, giving the game a very uneven reputation.
Mass Effect Trilogy (2012)
Trilogy is an interesting game that existed just to solve the problem of Mass Effect’s console exclusivity. Since the game could only be played on the Xbox 360, players who wanted to play later releases on the Playstation could not import their old saves.
Trilogy simply ported the game over to the Playstation in order to allow players a chance to play out the entire trilogy one a single console, bringing the full Mass Effect experience to those who were curious about the older games but who simply didn’t have the hardware they needed to play.
Mass Effect Infiltrator (2012)
The second of the mobile Mass Effect games, this iteration reimagined Mass Effect as a shooter. It was perhaps best known as a game that gave players a new War Asset and a higher Galactic Readiness score in Mass Effect 3. Still, the game itself managed to do a fine job of creating a Mass Effect experience on mobile devices.
Infiltrator saw players take on the role of a Cerberus agent as he escapes from a Cerberus facility and makes his way to the Alliance. The game eschews all of the choices and dialog of Mass Effect for a very streamlined mobile experience, but it should be said that the game was actually quite impressive for the time.
Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017)
Since the Shephard Trilogy had concluded, Bioware decided to move on to an entirely new galaxy for its next iteration of the Mass Effect franchise. The move was definitely one that didn’t sit well with everyone, as much of the appeal of the original games was the fact that players grew to know the characters. Andromeda was, unfortunately, a game that didn’t quite satisfy everyone but still had quite a lot to offer.
Players took on the role of one of the Ryder twins as they accompanied a mass migration of ships across the interstellar void to the Andromeda Galaxy.
Woken up during an emergency, the player character takes on the role of a Pathfinder, a kind of explorer/diplomat/leader of the fleet as he or she encounters new races and builds new alliances. The game was savaged upon release for its facial animations and sheer difference from the old games, but it’s gained a cult following in recent years due to its unique characters and its bigger focus on dialog and exploration.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition (2021)
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is a game that, like the Trilogy before it, exists largely to deal with technical issues. Since the original games were now two generations old, it became clear that they were eligible for a bit of a facelift.
Legendary Edition not only radically upgraded the looks of all three games, but it also changed much of the aging combat system of Mass Effect so that it was more in line with the games that took place later in the trilogy.
A fantastic way to experience the original games, the Legendary Edition also shipped with all of the DLC from all three main titles included as part of the games.