The original Mass Effect series is designed as a trilogy, which allows the player to import their characters from any completed Mass Effect playthrough to subsequent games. This means that several decisions Commander Shepard makes in Mass Effect will carry over and have the potential to impact the story of Mass Effect 2, which in turn affects Mass Effect 3.
Note: Save files from the original trilogy cannot be imported into Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Mass Effect → Mass Effect (Existing Characters) Edit
Mass Effect ends after the completion of the storyline. Your game is saved and can be carried over to a New Game+. You can then explore the galaxy again. Shepard's level, talents, specialization and equipment all carry over, but Paragon / Renegade scales, weapon manufacture licenses, and medi-gel / grenade stock upgrades are reset, as are your Codex entries and assignments. Any combat, biotic or techachievements will be usable in any new career.
After you beat the game, you can start your character over by going to "Create New Character" and selecting the bottommost option (Select Existing ID). You then restart the story with all of your experience and items intact from the previous game. All items that were equipped on other characters are transferred to you, and you gain doubles of anything you had equipped. For your main character, all of your talent points remain spent as they were before. Your party members all begin at the same level as you, but with no talent points spent and only the basic weapons / armor, allowing you to rebuild them as you like.
It is possible to reach level 50 on your first playthrough, but you won't achieve it without completing a majority of the side assignments. Since you are capped at level 50 for your first time through the game, you cannot reach level 60 until the second playthrough with your original character. If you're looking to reach level 60, it isn't necessary to reach level 50 in your first completion. You can also start a completely new character if you'd like to try a new class, gender, background, etc, and you will no longer be level capped at 50, but there is not enough XP available in the game, even with DLC, to reach level 60 in a single go.
Mass Effect → Mass Effect 2 Edit
To import save games on the Xbox 360, the game must be played on the hard drive the saved game was completed on, since it is not possible to transfer the file that Mass Effect 2 imports using the Xbox 360's file management tools (although it is possible when transferring the entire contents of the drive using a transfer cable). As it is possible to transfer regular save files using the Xbox 360's file management tools, the player may choose to transfer a save file right before the final battle and complete it again in order to transfer the completed game file. This will need to be repeated for every playthrough the player wishes to import. Alternatively, run Mass Effect 2 on the old Xbox to import the character, then save the game and move the resulting save file to the new Xbox.
For Xbox 360 units without hard drives, such as the Arcade unit: Importing a Mass Effect save works for any and all devices and Xbox 360 SKUs. Game saves can be transferred to new Xbox 360s with the exception of the final Mass Effect autosave at the end of the game. So, if you are transferring game saves to a new 360, it will work, but you will have to replay the end of the game to recreate that final autosave. Only then will the Mass Effect Import Utility be able to detect that final save. The final autosave is invisible and not listed on any device. For Arcade units, it appears that the final autosave is written to the internal flash memory.
The same holds true if playing on the Xbox One via backwards compatibility. In order to transfer a Mass Effect save played on the Xbox One to a Mass Effect 2 save on the Xbox 360, make a save file just before the final battle and save it to the cloud drive. Load that onto the Xbox 360, play through the final battle to create the finale autosave to transfer to Mass Effect 2.
For the PC version, players can use the Mass Effect Configuration Tool to select the .MassEffectSave files they wish to import. However, there is a known issue with the Configuration Tool that may cause a fatal conflict with Mass Effect 2, preventing the game from launching and requiring a reinstall. Players who wish to avoid this possibility can instead manually import their Mass Effect 1 save files. These files can easily be transferred between computers, and even downloaded from the internet if the player wished they had taken different actions in the original game but do not wish to re-play it. The site Masseffectsaves.com is a useful resource for this.
Until the release of the Mass Effect Trilogy, the story of Mass Effect was retold in Mass Effect 2 through an interactive comic, Mass Effect: Genesis. This comic retells the story of Mass Effect while allowing the player to make several important plot decisions. The choices the player makes will then be imported into Mass Effect 2 as if they had been made in the original game. On PlayStation 3, Mass Effect: Genesis requires the Cerberus Pack, which is included in every new copy of the game. Xbox 360 and PC owners can purchase Genesis separately.
However, with the release of the Mass Effect Trilogy as well as a PSN downloadable version of Mass Effect, players can now import a Mass Effect Shepard into Mass Effect 2 to have a seamless play through of the trilogy.
Another way of getting the save game variables that you want is by using Gibbed's Mass Effect 2 Save Editor. This save game editor allows you to change variables and checks placed within your Mass Effect 2 save file, which contains data from your Mass Effect save file (if you imported one). Instructions for using this tool can be found in this forum post(Registration Required).
If a player beats Mass Effect multiple times on a single Shepard, either by saving and re-loading or by starting a new game plus, each "victory" will be a separate Shepard that the player may import to Mass Effect 2. The player need not worry that they are over-writing one of their Shepards, and may review all the major specifications and decisions of a Shepard before they choose to import the file to ensure it is the right file.
Character Transfer Edit
Character Stats and Levels
Due to several gameplay changes, your character's level and abilities will not transfer over to Mass Effect 2. However, the game will acknowledge your character's level and morality and adapt it in ways that map across to the new system as well. The higher the level of the imported character, the greater the bonuses granted upon importing.
- A portion of the character's Paragon/Renegade points (up to 190 each, which requires the bar(s) to be 50% full) are transferred over.
- Importing a level 1 through level 49 character will grant 1,000 XP (the player starts at level 2), 20,000 credits, and 2,500 of each resource.
- Importing a level 50 through level 59 character will grant 2,000 XP (the player starts at level 3), 30,000 credits, and 5,000 of each resource.
- Importing a level 60 character will grant 4,000 XP (the player starts at level 5), 50,000 credits, and 10,000 of each resource.
- Having the "Rich" achievement from Mass Effect will grant an additional 100,000 credits.
- The import bonuses will stack with the Mass Effect 2 completion starting bonuses (200,000 credits and 50,000 of each resource).
Character Personal Attributes
Shepard's first name, gender, background (Colonist, Earthborn, or Spacer), and career history (Sole Survivor, War Hero, or Ruthless) cannot be changed. The player, however, may alter the class of their new character, as well as Shepard's appearance. It is worth noting that if the player opts to change the latter, they must start from scratch to re-design their character's look -- one cannot, for example, simply change the hair color or nose of the previous character. However for the PC version, there is a long string of numbers and letters on the Squad screen for Shepard. The string will allow you to import a face created in a previous Mass Effect 2 game. This string will only be generated for new faces created; imported faces will not have a string. It should be noted that changing to the default Shepard or creating a new face, then reverting to an imported face can result in a string being displayed on the Squad screen, but this will always be inaccurate.
Shepard's romance interest from Mass Effect carries over to Mass Effect 2, as evidenced by a photo of said individual on Shepard's desk in the captain's quarters, and a slightly different scene when the two encounter each other again. However, there is no option to engage in any romantic repartee with the love interest, as they are not part of Shepard's squad. Despite this, Shepard is considered to still be in a relationship with that individual. Shepard may choose to pursue an additional love interest with someone from Mass Effect 2, though this will have consequences for Shepard's relationship with their Mass Effect love interest in Mass Effect 3.
It should be noted that Mass Effect romances can carry over to Mass Effect 2 without consummation, or even when the player is fairly certain they have rejected the character in question. Merely speaking with a potential love interest once is enough to trigger a romance if Paragon options are chosen. In some cases, even extensive Renegade dialogue choices do not prevent the formation of a romance. Thus, if a player wishes to avoid carrying over a love interest to Mass Effect 2, they must leave that character behind on Virmire, if possible. However, if a player wishes to play through Mass Effect 2 with that particular squad member surviving Virmire but wants to avoid carrying over a romance while still being able to talk to them in Mass Effect, then the player must select the appropriate dialogue choices that terminate the romance subplot when they are spoken to after the first plot world. (see Talk:Romance)
Note: It is possible to continue a romance with Liara in the Mass Effect 2 download content 'Lair of the Shadow Broker' if your Shepard romanced her in Mass Effect.
Major Plot Decisions Edit
- Sparing or killing Wrex during the Virmire: Wrex and the Genophage confrontation.
- If Wrex survived, he returns to Tuchanka and has united all the krogan under Clan Urdnot to combat the genophage and strengthen the krogan. If Wrex is killed (or if the player doesn't import), the more traditional Urdnot Wreav becomes the leader of Clan Urdnot, and little changes for the krogan.
- Deciding the fate of the Council during the battle with Sovereign, and the nomination of either Captain Anderson or Donnel Udina to the Council.
- If the Council is saved with either Anderson or Udina as a representative, Shepard is granted an audience with the Council and has the opportunity to be reinstated as a Spectre. If the Council was not saved, then Shepard will not be granted an audience with the Council, but Shepard will still be reinstated as a Spectre only if Anderson was made a Councilor. If the Council was not saved, aliens you meet on the Citadel will be somewhat bitter against humanity, and Avina will have a fascist streak, repeatedly notifying Shepard that certain inquiries have been forwarded to C-Sec, and to surrender if approached for arrest.
- Note: The nomination of Anderson or Udina to the Council is not included in the save file; rather, when importing a character from Mass Effect, the player must actually tell Miranda whether Anderson or Udina was nominated to the Council after their escape from the Cerberus facility. This is because of a design oversight, where the point of decision for the first Human councilor in the first game occurs after the gamesave for transfer is made.
- If the Council was saved in Mass Effect, the following text is displayed after the first cutscene showing a conversation between The Illusive Man and Miranda Lawson:
“One month after the devastating geth attack on the Citadel, the galactic community struggles to rebuild.
The Alliance fleet made a tremendous sacrifice to save the Citadel Council and earned humanity membership in this prestigious group. Now the Council is forced to respond to evidence that the Reapers -- enormous machines that eradicate all organic civilization every 50,000 years have returned. To quell the rumors, the Council has sent Commander Shepard and the Normandy to wipe out the last pockets of geth resistance. Officially, they blame the invasion on the geth and their leader, a rogue Spectre.
But for those who know the truth, the search for answers is just beginning.”
- If the Councilors are killed in Mass Effect, and replaced by a multi-racial group led by the humans, the following text is displayed:
“In 2183, the heart of the galactic community suffered a devastating attack.
The Citadel space station was invaded by a synthetic geth army attempting to open a portal for the Reapers: enormous machines that eradicate all organic civilization every 50,000 years. Commander Shepard led the defense, but the Citadel Council was lost.
Now, the new human-led Council attempts to quell rumors of the Reapers' return. Hoping to ease public concern, they've sent Commander Shepard and the starship Normandy to wipe out all remaining geth resistance.”
- If the Councilors are killed in Mass Effect, and replaced by an all-human Council, the following text is displayed:
“One month after the devastating geth attack on the Citadel, humanity seized political control of the galaxy.
Now the human-led Council is forced to respond to evidence that the Reapers -- enormous machines that eradicate all advanced civilizations every 50,000 years — have returned. To quell the rumors, the Council has sent Commander Shepard and the Normandy to wipe out the last pockets of geth resistance. Officially, they blame the invasion on the geth and their leader, a rogue Spectre.
But for those who know the truth, the search for answers is just beginning.”
Other Plot Decisions Edit
- Sparing or killing Fist on the Citadel.
- If Fist is spared, Shepard encounters him at Afterlife, where Fist angrily admonishes Shepard for ruining his life and making the effort of harassing him across the galaxy despite him being a small time criminal.
- Sparing or killing the colonists and Shiala on Feros.
- If sufficient numbers of colonists survived, or if Shepard persuaded Ethan Jeong to commit ExoGeni resources toward rebuilding the colony, Shepard encounters a representative of the colonists on Illium who need help extricating themselves from a medical contract. If Shiala was spared, she is the representative. (Note: Even if the Thorian enslaved colonists are killed but Shiala is spared, Shiala still references Shepard saving them.)
- Sparing or killing the Rachni Queen on Noveria.
- If the Rachni Queen is set free, she will send a message through an asari on the planet Illium conveying her gratitude, with further dialogue ensuing. There is a news report of small scout ships seemingly rachni in design that, when approached, quickly retreat.
- If the Rachni Queen is killed, Galactic News will instead report of data recovered from Peak 15 linking to cloning of rachni, but no rachni found.
- Aiding, ignoring or betraying Gianna Parasini on Noveria.
- If Shepard aided Gianna, she is found on Illium where she again requests help, and will buy Shepard the promised beer. If a male Shepard aids her, she will additionally give him a kiss.
- This assignment also appears with an imported save file where you got what you needed via another method that did not involve Gianna, though a male Shepard will not be able to receive a kiss.
- This assignment will not appear if no imported file is used, or if a file is imported where she was turned down during Mass Effect, causing her to be killed.
- Encouraging Garrus to be more paragon or renegade.
- If Paragon, Garrus will have attempted to rejoin C-Sec but lament that he could do little good there in the chaotic aftermath of the attack on the Citadel; during his loyalty mission, if Shepard questions his plan he will say that killing Sidonis is something he must do. If Renegade, Garrus will have trained to become a Spectre but will claim that it never worked out; during his loyalty mission, if Shepard questions the plan Garrus will be confused.
- Helping Tali with her personal pilgrimage assignment.
- When first encountering her on Freedom's Progress, mentioning the gift of the geth data can serve to prove Shepard's identity. This will also change the dialogue at the end of the encounter if that particular dialogue choice is selected.
- Aiding or ignoring Captain Kirrahe on Virmire.
- A dialogue option will open during which Mordin Solus will reference Kirrahe's "Hold the Line" speech during ship conversation if a Mass Effect save is imported. The dialogue will change slightly depending on whether or not Kirrahe survived the mission.
Assignment Decisions Edit
These result merely in e-mails to private terminal or news reports unless noted otherwise.
- If the assignment was completed in Mass Effect, an email will be received in Mass Effect 2, in which Dr. Michel says that she is happy that Shepard is alive and hopes the Commander can visit her on the Citadel.
- Shepard's advice to Rebekah Petrovsky regarding her baby in Citadel: Family Matter.
- Their conversation can be overheard in one of the shops on the Citadel, which differs depending on Shepard's advice. This conversation occurs in Mass Effect 2 without an imported save file.
- Shepard's interaction with Helena Blake in UNC: Hostile Takeover.
- If Blake survived in Mass Effect, Shepard will run into her at Afterlife on Omega. The dialogue will vary depending on how Shepard resolved the mission.
- Shepard's interaction with Corporal Toombs in UNC: Dead Scientists.
- If Shepard convinced Toombs to spare the Cerberus scientist, a news report will say that Cerberus is being investigated with help from testimony from both Toombs and Dr. Wayne. If Dr. Wayne dies, Toombs' accusations are dismissed due to a lack of evidence.
- While Shepard's actions in UNC: Geth Incursions have no effect on Mass Effect 2, hacking geth data files during the mission is necessary to trigger Tali's personal mission, which does have an effect on Mass Effect 2.
- If the entire string of Cerberus assignments (UNC: Missing Marines→UNC: Cerberus→UNC: Hades' Dogs) are completed, you can talk with Miranda about these activities, and will hear news reports about an investigation, which can involve additional testimony from UNC: Dead Scientists depending on how or whether you completed that assignment. Finishing every assignment will cause Garrus to question Shepard's choice to work with Cerberus, reminding Shepard about the experiments they had done.
- Shepard's decision in UNC: Hostage.
- If Burns is saved, Shepard will receive an email from him thanking Shepard for showing him he should help humanity. The news report will mention that L2s have recently received reparations, with Burns promising more help. If Burns dies, the report will state that attacks by biotic extremists have increased.
- Shepard's completion of UNC: Rogue VI.
- This allows for additional dialogue options with EDI and Miranda regarding AIs.
- A news report will reference the events on UNC: Besieged Base, but due to a bug in the first game, the file is flagged as stating that the Sirta Foundation never recovered from the attack and will likely be shutting down.
- Shepard's decision to aid Nassana Dantius in UNC: Asari Diplomacy.
- Nassana will recognize Shepard, and comment on the irony that Shepard has been "sent to kill her", referencing her sister's murder. During Shepard's conversation with Seryna, Shepard recognizes Nassana's name and that Nassana had Shepard kill her sister. Otherwise, Seryna will mention that Nassana had someone else do it.
- Saving the hostages or killing Balak during Bring Down the Sky (DLC).
- There will be different news reports depending on whether or not Shepard let Balak go to save the hostages. If Bring Down the Sky was not played, the news story indicates that the hostages died.
Mass Effect 2 → Mass Effect 2 (Existing Characters, New Characters) Edit