Which Mass Effect Game to Play First

If you haven’t experienced the Mass Effect franchise, you’re missing out on one of the most captivating, action-packed science fiction franchises in recent years.

Developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts, Mass Effect chronicles the intergalactic adventures of Commander Shepard. This memorable character explores uncharted worlds, faces off against dangerous alien races, and deals with undying entities that add a cosmic horror tone to the game.

If you are here, it means that you are interested in the franchise and about to become one of us, but you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry; I’m here to help.

Choosing a Mass Effect Game

Mass Effect has four different games, and I could list any of them as one of the best space games ever made. Andromeda is much more modern and has better gameplay overall. It had a rough start, but it is good enough.

Either way, with so many games and spin-offs, it makes sense not to know where to start. It might get a bit confusing and overwhelming. After all, a numbered game doesn’t mean much in the video gaming industry.

Final Fantasy 7 is one of the best JRPGs of all time, and it doesn’t require you to have played any other game of the franchise.

However, this is not the case with Mass Effect at all. Although you can start from any game, you will miss a lot of the world-building and tension-building that make the series great.

Even Andromeda, which is a bit disconnected from the other games, seems to assume that players know about the world of Mass Effect.

The first game in the franchise, titled Mass Effect, was initially released for PC and Xbox 360 on November 20, 2007. There’s no doubt in my mind that you should not skip any Mass Effect game — except maybe for Andromeda, but we’ll get there.

Don’t worry, though. We have a good alternative worth your money. Although it has not aged as well as the other Mass Effect games, the first Mass Effect still is the one you should play first. That way, you experience the franchise as it’s meant to be. 

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

Commander Shepard’s debut was super well received. Mass Effect became an instant hit for its unique blend of third-person shooting and RPG elements, drawing comparisons to well-known franchises such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and other Bioware games.

It is, to this date, considered one of the best games ever made by many people — including myself. Mass Effect sold over 3 million copies as of February 2008. In fact, it continues to sell and gain more fans around the world.

The series was originally planned as a trilogy, with the third game concluding Shepard’s story. The narrative of Commander Shepard progresses in games one through three, which is why I find it essential to start from the first game.

Your save file literally carries over with all your decisions and achievements, making you see your impact in the galaxy after finishing the first game. If you’re interested in playing only one title and don’t care about the story at all, go ahead and play the latest release first.

Andromeda does have decent gameplay and better graphics, even though it has its problems. However, if you are excited to play through an immersive sci-fi RPG from start to finish, it is best to start with the first one. That way, you see the consequences of your actions impacting the other games.

As for the best way to do it, I recommend Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. It has a remastered compilation of the three first games with gameplay improvements and all DLC Bioware has made for them. It makes it feel almost like the franchise is a single, massive RPG separated into three incredibly long chapters. 

Since the entire trilogy is compiled in a single title, your avatar and decisions will easily carry over to the next game. That way, you won’t have to be like us back in the day, waiting three years with an old save file so we could see how our game would affect Mass Effect 2.

Why is Mass Effect so Good?

The Mass Effect franchise has been successful because the games offer deep storytelling, compelling and well-developed characters, intriguing storylines, extremely final acts, and challenging gameplay.

Getting immersed in this highly complex, intricate, well-written galaxy is very easy. Not many games have accomplished this level of success on their first go-around.

The game was so hyped and so well received that some wild comparisons were made. Some outlets considered Mass Effect a Science Fiction work that is on the same level as Star Wars and Star Trek.

We now know that it isn’t true, Mass Effect slowly lost its appeal due to time without new released and Andromeda existing, but they had a reason to do that back then.

When Mass Effect came out, it was not very common to affect so many different aspects of a game throughout a playthrough.

For instance, your teammates and essential NPCs can die, triggering various events that build on one another, making even more unexpected events happen.

Enemies can become friends, friends can betray you, you might have to help some bad guys, and so much more can happen in a context you create with your choices.

Your playthrough might be similar to someone else’s when you play Mass Effect. Yet, it’s nearly impossible for two people to experience the exact same things throughout these games.

Much like Telltale games and games like Detroit Become Human, Mass Effect has so many different dialogue options and consequences to your actions that it could be a novel game.

However, on top of all that, it also has great action. It really is an evolution of all Bioware used to do back in its cRPG days. There’s a nice power fantasy behind the psychic-like biotic powers in Mass Effect, but your commander Shepard can also be a techie, an overly competent soldier, or a mix of the three.

Welcome Aboard

I hope you’ll be as pleased with Mass Effect as I was when I first played it. But remember, the first game has some issues, and the Legendary Edition improves many things, so make sure to get that version if possible.

Besides, it might get to a point where you feel like the first game is dragging, and it can also be an indicator of the game’s age, but I promise you that you’ll feel like everything was worth it.

The story progresses in amazing ways and it’s a super rewarding experience to see how you affected the galaxy in the next game.

That said, if you just want to shoot laser guns and don’t care for the story at all, you can always try to start from Andromeda, but please don’t.

Become one of us. Play from the first game, get highly addicted to the game’s lore and mysteries and be equally disappointed when it finally ends. You will love it — or at least I certainly hope so.