Mass Effect: Pinnacle Station

Release date 2009-08-25
Developer BioWare
Publisher Microsoft Game Studios
Players 1
Videos 1
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Mass Effect

Mass Effect is a military science fiction media franchise created by Preston Watamaniuk, Drew Karpyshyn and Casey Hudson and owned by Electronic Arts. It is based on the third-person role-playing shooter video game series developed by BioWare (which EA acquired shortly after the release of the first game) and released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Windows, with the third installment also released on the Wii U. The fourth game was released on Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in March 2017.

The original trilogy largely revolves around a space navy soldier named Commander Shepard, whose mission is to save the galaxy from a race of powerful mechanical beings known as the Reapers and their agents, including the first game's antagonist Saren Arterius. The first game, released in 2007, sees Shepard investigating Saren, whom Shepard slowly comes to understand is operating under the guidance of Sovereign, a Reaper left behind in the Milky Way 50,000 years before, when the Reapers exterminated all sentient organic life determined to have met or exceeded a threshold of technological advancement in the galaxy as part of a recurrent cycle of genocide for an unknown purpose. Sovereign's purpose is to trigger the imminent return of the Reaper fleet hibernating in extra-galactic space, restarting the process of extermination. The second game takes place two years later and sees Shepard battling the Collectors, an alien race abducting entire human colonies in a scheme to aid the Reapers' return to the Milky Way. The final game of Shepard's trilogy centres on the war being waged against the Reapers. The fourth installment takes place in the Andromeda Galaxy and features a new cast of characters.

The original trilogy was all met with commercial success as well as universal acclaim. The series is highly regarded for its narrative, character development, voice acting, the universe, and emphasis on player choice affecting the experience.


The Mass Effect original trilogy takes place in a fictional version of the Milky Way towards the end of the 22nd century. In 2148, humanity discovered an alien outpost on Mars, and learn that Charon is actually an alien artifact known as a "mass relay" that enables faster-than-light travel to other mass relays located across the galaxy. Humanity comes into contact with numerous other space-faring alien species, some far more advanced than humans. Humanity's first encounter resulted in the First Contact War, but the Council, a ruling body for the galaxy, intervened to achieve peace and welcomed humanity. Among the main species humanity meets include: the Asari, a race of monogendered beings closely resembling blue-skinned human women; the Salarians, an amphibious species with considerable technological prowess; and the Turians, a heavily militaristic race of raptor-like humanoids who fought humanity in the First Contact War. The center of the Council's governing power is the Citadel, an artifact that, like the mass relays, were made by a race known as the Protheans believed to be the progenitor race for all species but long since disappeared. Over the next few decades, humanity is given access to new technology, allowing them to colonize new planets, and they are made part of the Citadel Security (C-Sec) forces, a highly regarded position that other species had been long waiting for and take resentment over. Numerous other inter-species conflicts remain active at the time of the first game, results of past wars and conflicts.

The first three games center on the character of Commander Shepard (whose gender and personality are determined by the player), a leading soldier in Earth's Systems Alliance space force, the Systems Alliance Navy. After an Earth colony discovers a new Prothean artifact, it is attacked by an unknown vessel, and the Council names Shepard its first human SPECTRE (SPECial Tactics and REconnaissance), an elite agent with associated authority, to investigate the incident. Shepard comes in contact with the artifact and has a vision of war and death across the galaxy. Following their vision, Shepard discovers that the strange craft is one of thousands of artificial lifeforms called Reapers, and learns that every fifty-thousand years, the Reapers scour through the Milky Way and eliminate all higher forms of life, leaving the younger species to advance and thrive until the next cycle as to prevent constant war and chaos, part of what the Protheans had left behind along with their artifacts. The appearance of the Reapers in this cycle is being manipulated by numerous forces, including a human-centrist terrorist organization known as Cerberus led by the Illusive Man who believe they can control the Reapers and use them for humanity's benefit. Shepard and their allies discover the Citadel is key to ending the Reapers' cycle and setting the fate of the galaxy.

The fourth game takes place in the Heleus Cluster of the Andromeda galaxy, 634 years after the events of its predecessor. In the midst of events of the first three games, the combined races of the Milky Way sent a number of ships to Andromeda to establish the Nexus, a space-borne operations base and a number of colonies to accept future colonists once contact is established. After over 600 years of travel in suspended animation, they arrive to find the Heleus Cluster in brutal conflict between two native races: the Kett, a barbaric race obsessed with assimilating the traits of other sentient species through a process known as "exaltation"; and the Angara, a humanoid species whose civilization has recently been targeted and nearly decimated by the Kett. The Heleus Cluster is also the location of a series of ruins predating an advanced, spacefaring race known as the Jardaan. The Jardaan made use of powerful terraforming technologies to colonize worlds in the Heleus Cluster, which was otherwise extremely hazardous and naturally unsustainable for life. They later fled from the Heleus Cluster three centuries before the arrival of the Milky Way races, when a protracted battle against an unknown enemy faction resulted in the usage of a weapon of mass destruction aboard a Jardaan space station. The weapon's activation unleashed a cataclysmic energy phenomenon known as the Scourge, which spread across the cluster and greatly damaged the Jardaan's terraforming systems. After the Jardaan left, the Angara, genetically engineered creations of the elder race, began to develop their own civilization before falling under attack by the encroaching Kett. With the Milky Way species' arrival, it becomes the responsibly of Pathfinder Ryder (who, like Shepard, is also customizable by the player) and their allies to shut down the malfunctioning terraforming systems, deal with the Kett and Angara attacks, and make planets habitable for colonization.


While various features of gameplay varied across the series, the Mass Effect games are action role-playing games. The player customizes their version of the game's main character (Shepard for the first three games, and Ryder for Mass Effect: Andromeda) based on physical appearance, background, and one of six character classes, each class centered around one or two specializations in combat, technology, or "biotic" (magic-like) skills. This establishes a skill tree that the player can advance through as their character gains experience levels through completing missions. Each game generally follows a main story pathway with points of branching narratives and multiple side missions, allowing the player to proceed through the game as they desire. Both story and optional mission most often involve using their ship to travel via the mass relay to remote star systems and explore planets to find target objectives.

When exploring planets, the player has the option to bring up to two of their crew members with them, who generally act autonomously but can be given specific orders by the player. In missions, the player can explore an area to find information, discover lootable objects with new gear or in-game currency, non-playable characters to talk to, and key mission items that are to be recovered. Frequently, the player will enter combat, which plays out as a third-person shooter, with the player and their allies using a combination of their weapons and combat, tech, and biotic powers along with tactic use of the environment to defeat opponents. There are five different types of weapons: assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, pistols, and in later games, heavy weapons (i.e. grenade launchers, rocket launchers, flamethrowers, or heavy machine guns). Due to these weapons being collapsible for easy storage, it is possible for a player to carry all five weapons at once and alternate between them depending on their position, enemy type, and situation. Melee weapons include fists, the butt of a gun, or in later games, a condensed holographic dagger called an Omni-blade.

Through story encounters and missions, the player meets a number of non-player characters and engages in dialogue trees with them to learn information and progress the story. This is presented through what BioWare called a Dialogue Wheel, with the player-character reply options shown as choices extending radially outward from a circle at the bottom of the screen. Most of these choices are simple questions and responses, but in some dialogues, they offer additional choices that either influence how the game plays out from there, or are as a result from those previous choices. In the first three games, these choices influenced the player-character's morality, putting them on the path of a Paragon or Renegade, indicated by color and positioning on the Dialogue Wheel. With the second and third game, it became possible to select these choices during the non-player's character dialog, resulting in an interruption of the action that could have even larger ramifications. The player's choices of Paragon or Renegade could change how some parts of the story progressed and could limit choices of allies they could gain later in the game or the ability to access powerful gear. Cinematic designer John Ebenger stated in 2020 that only about 8% of the players chose the Renegade route across the first three games, and jokingly lamented about the amount of effort they had put into some of the Renegade cinematics. In Andromeda, BioWare replaced the Paragon/Renegade distinctions, which were tied more to the Shepard character, to a new system based on four ideals of emotional, logical, casual, and professional attitudes.

Among notable side missions in the series include the various romancing options with the main character's crewmates: these included both hetero- and homosexual relationships since the player-character's gender was selectable, as well as intra-species options. Players could work to improve their relationship with these characters through dialogue options, providing them gifts, or completing various side missions specific to each character. Successfully romancing a character would typically lead to scenes leading up to a sexual encounter though otherwise not showing anything inappropriate for the game's rating. These options had created some controversy for the first game on release with mainstream reporters critical of the sexual content of the game.


Main series

Mass Effect (2007), the first game in the series, was originally created as an exclusive title for the Xbox 360 but was later ported to Microsoft Windows by Demiurge Studios, and to the PlayStation 3 by Edge of Reality. The game focuses on the protagonist, Commander Shepard, and their quest to stop the rogue Spectre Saren Arterius from leading an army of sentient machines, called the Geth, to conquer the galaxy. During pursuit of Saren, Shepard develops key relationships with other characters, primarily their squad team members, all while learning of a far greater threat in the form of the Reapers. Saren has been mentally enslaved by the Reaper vanguard Sovereign, and sent into Citadel Space to initiate the purge of all advanced organic life in the galaxy, a cycle repeated by the Reapers every 50,000 years.

Mass Effect 2, the second main game in the series, was released on January 26, 2010, in North America and January 29 in Europe. A great deal of secrecy surrounded the game prior to launch, with few details emerging other than Casey Hudson, Project Director for BioWare, stating that "players should keep their save files, because decisions made by the player in the first game will continue to have influences on their character in the sequel". The game takes place two years after the events of Mass Effect. Human colonies are being attacked, their colonists disappearing without a trace. The game's protagonist, Commander Shepard, is forced into an uneasy alliance with the pro-Human paramilitary organization, Cerberus, in an effort to discover the cause. Evidence emerges pointing to the "Collectors", an advanced, enigmatic race of insect-like humanoids. Adding to the threat is the revelation that the Collectors are working for the Reapers. Shepard sets out on a "suicide mission" to stop the Collectors, accompanied by a hand-picked team of soldiers, assassins, mercenaries, and specialists. Mass Effect 2 has received overwhelming critical and public praise since its release, for its characters, storyline, voice acting, and refined combat and gameplay with many critics calling it a major improvement over the original and an easy Game of the Year contender despite its January release. At Gamescom 2010, it was announced that a PlayStation 3 version would become available, which was released on January 18, 2011.

Mass Effect 3, the third installment in the Mass Effect trilogy, was released on March 6, 2012. Casey Hudson commented that Mass Effect 3 "will be easier [to develop] because we don't have to worry about continuity into the next one". However, decisions are routinely imported from the two previous titles to Mass Effect 3 in order to maintain continuity within the series. In the final chapter of the trilogy, the Reapers have returned in force, and have begun their purge of the galaxy, attacking Earth. During this attack Commander Shepard is on Earth and forced to flee. After fleeing Earth, Commander Shepard must hurry and rally the advanced races of the galaxy to make one final stand, not only to save Earth, but also to break a cycle that has continued for millions of years. The first official trailer was unveiled on December 11, 2010, during the Spike TV Video Game Awards.

Mass Effect: Andromeda, the first game in a new series, and the fourth major installment overall in the franchise, was revealed at E3 2015. It was released on March 21, 2017. The title utilizes EA DICE's Frostbite 3 engine and was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Andromeda is the first game in the series to feature an open world environment. Set during the 29th century, the player's character is either Sara or Scott Ryder, designated as a Pathfinder – an operative tasked with discovering new planets in the Andromeda Galaxy.


Mass Effect Galaxy (2009): This is a backstory set between the events of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 and exclusively on the iOS platform. The story is focused around two characters who appear as squad members in Mass Effect 2: Jacob Taylor and Miranda Lawson. When the passenger liner Arcturian Jade is attacked by Batarian raiders with Jacob on it, he takes on the task of defending the ship. After safely arriving at their destination on the Citadel, Jacob's former CO contacts him about an undercover Alliance operation in the Nemean Abyss to investigate the Batarians' increasingly aggressive activities.

Mass Effect Infiltrator (2012): A third-person shooter released on the Android, BlackBerry 10, iOS and Windows Phone 8 platforms. The story for Infiltrator involves Randall Ezno, a Cerberus agent, who discovers Cerberus's cruelty and goes rogue, killing Cerberus troopers and freeing prisoners from a hostile base. Players will "receive rewards" for collecting evidence of Cerberus' crimes. According to EA, "Every completed rescue and intelligence discovery in Infiltrator will increase a player's Galactic Readiness rating directly through the 'Galaxy at War' system in Mass Effect 3."

Mass Effect: Datapad (2012): A free app for iOS devices. Datapad allows players to check the status of the galaxy map in Mass Effect 3 and receive messages from characters. Datapad contains information about the characters, races, vehicles, weapons, and storyline of the Mass Effect universe, as well as mini-games that interact with the Mass Effect 3 'Galaxy at War' system. It has since been removed from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store.

APEX HQ is the official companion app for the Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer. Supported by iOS and Android devices, APEX HQ was released on March 15 in Canada, Ireland, Romania and Singapore, and worldwide on March 20, 2017. Through APEX HQ, players can view their progress in multiplayer, equip characters, assign skill points, manage Strike Teams, and access their friend list. The app cannot be used while signed into the game.

Other media


  • Mass Effect: New Earth (2016): A 4D holographic experience introduced at California's Great America amusement park in 2016.


Main trilogy tie-in novels published by Del Rey Books:

  • Mass Effect: Revelation (2007), by Drew Karpyshyn: The first novel based on Mass Effect, the plot is centred around then-Lieutenant David Anderson and tells the story of how he came to know Saren as well as the beginning of his relationship with Kahlee Sanders. It expands on the history of the Mass Effect universe and reveals in detail how Anderson failed to become the first human Spectre.
  • Mass Effect: Ascension (2008), by Drew Karpyshyn: The second novel based on Mass Effect, the plot centres around protagonist Paul Grayson, a member of Cerberus, who is in charge of raising a biotic girl named Gillian. It is set some two months after the ending events of the first game.
  • Mass Effect: Retribution (2010), by Drew Karpyshyn: On July 27, 2010, BioWare released the third Mass Effect novel, a sequel to Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect: Ascension.
  • Mass Effect: Deception (2012), by William C. Dietz: The fourth Mass Effect novel, it centres on Gillian Grayson. Response to the novel has been largely negative due to inconsistencies with lore and characterization, prompting fans to petition BioWare to disregard the novel as canon. In response, BioWare and Del Rey announced that a number of changes would be made in future editions.

Mass Effect: Andromeda tie-in novels published by Titan Books:

  • Mass Effect: Nexus Uprising (2017), by Jason M. Hough and K. C. Alexander: The novel is the first of three intended to weave directly into Mass Effect: Andromeda, taking place "concurrently with the adventure of the game itself".
  • Mass Effect: Initiation (2017) by N.K. Jemisin and Mac Walters: This is the second novel in the Mass Effect: Andromeda book trilogy.
  • Mass Effect: Annihilation (2018) by Catherynne M. Valente: This is the third and final novel in the Mass Effect: Andromeda book trilogy.

Mass Effect: Pick Your Path (2012) is an unofficial, popular interactive fiction novel written by Mike Kayatta that runs parallel to the events of Mass Effect 2. It follows the exploits of an unnamed Citadel merchant who chases Commander Shepard around the galaxy to gain an endorsement for his shop. Encouraged by The Illusive Man for unknown reasons, the merchant becomes haplessly entangled with the dangerous aftermath of Shepard's various adventures. The story, considered similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books, features the same choice-driven format of the games, allowing the reader to choose between "paragon" or "renegade" actions, drastically affect the ending, and even romance a selection of unique party members. The full story was published by The Escapist in March 2012.


All published by Dark Horse Comics:

  • Mass Effect: Redemption is a four-part comic book mini-series that was released between January and April 2010. The story, which revolves around Liara T'Soni, is set in the interim period between the prologue and main storyline of Mass Effect 2, and is related to the downloadable content "Lair of the Shadow Broker" that was released for the game.
  • Mass Effect: Incursion is an on-line comic (8 pages) that follows Aria T'Loak's encounter with the Collectors one week prior to the opening events of Mass Effect 2. The events of Incursion link into the events of the comic miniseries Mass Effect: Redemption. It was released June 21, 2010 through IGN.
  • Mass Effect: Inquisition is an on-line comic (8 pages) written by Mac Walters. Taking place after Mass Effect 2, the plot follows Captain Armando-Owen Bailey during his investigation of Executor Venari Pallin and corruption within C-Sec. It was released October 26, 2010 through USA Today.
  • Mass Effect: Evolution is a four-part comic book mini-series. The first issue was released in January 2011. The story focuses on the origin of the Illusive Man and is set during the First Contact War, shortly after the discovery of the Mass Relays.
  • Mass Effect: Conviction is a free short (10 page) single issue mini-comic written by Mac Walters. Taking place before Mass Effect 3, the plot follows Lieutenant James Vega during his stay on Omega before returning to Systems Alliance service. Released in September 2011 available through a digital distribution promotion exclusively at participating retailers.
  • Mass Effect: Invasion is a comic book series (4 issues) released between October 2011 and January 2012. It follows Aria T'Loak, the pirate queen of the space station Omega, as her station comes under attack from a new threat unleashed by Cerberus, the human survivalist organization.
  • Mass Effect: Homeworlds is a comic book series (4 issues) written by game lead writer Mac Walters released April 25, 2012. Each issue focuses on a main character from the Mass Effect series.
  • Mass Effect: Blasto: Eternity Is Forever is a 14-page single-issue written by Mac Walters released on November 7, 2012, through digital distribution. The main character is Blasto, the protagonist of several in-universe films, depicted as the galaxy's first Hanar Spectre.
  • Mass Effect: He Who Laughs Best is a short (10 page) single issue mini-comic written by Mac Walters released on May 4, 2013 for Free Comic Book Day 2013. It explains how Jeff "Joker" Moreau became the SSV Normandy's pilot prior to the events of Mass Effect.
  • Mass Effect: Foundation is a 13-issue comic series written by Mac Walters. The first issue was released on July 24, 2013. It features a story that runs parallel to the game trilogy and is designed to expand the universe as a whole.
  • Mass Effect: Discovery is a comic book series (4 issues) written by Jeremy Barlow released in 2017. Each issue focuses on the Andromeda Initiative from the Mass Effect series.


  • Mass Effect: On May 24, 2010, EA announced that Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. acquired the rights to a Mass Effect film, with the game's executive producer Casey Hudson, as well as Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuck from BioWare, serving as executive producers. Initially, Legendary planned to produce the film with Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, and Avi Arad, with a screenplay by Mark Protosevich. Protosevich and the producers have stated that the film will follow the plot of the original game. On October 24, 2012, Variety announced that Morgan Davis Foehl would be writing the screenplay.
  • Mass Effect: Paragon Lost (2012): On April 7, 2011, EA announced that anime distributor Funimation Entertainment and Japanese studio T.O Entertainment will produce an anime film adaptation based on the series. The film was released on December 28, 2012. It serves as the prequel to Mass Effect 3 and follows the early career of Alliance Marine James Vega as he leads an elite Special Forces squad into battle against The Collectors during the events of Mass Effect 2. Stationed at a colony in a remote star system, Vega and his soldiers must protect the civilians from a ruthless invasion by the Collectors, determined to capture the population for unknown purposes.

Mass Effect: Assignment (2012) is a fan film set in the same timeline as the Mass Effect game series, but following a group of original characters. The film follows the story of two N7 Soldiers, Meer and Hale, who are hunting down Defoe, a smuggler whose cargo is of great interest to a lot of parties. The film was produced by filmmaking duo Sneaky Zebra and marks the first fan film set in the Mass Effect universe. The film features the unique element of being interactive much like the games series allowing the viewer to choose the path of the plot to four possible endings. Three character-based teaser trailers were released in December via Machinma with the full short being released in February 2012.

Red Sand (2012) is a fan film that serves as a prequel to the Mass Effect series. It is set 35 years before the plot of the games and tells the story of the discovery of the ancient Prothean ruins of Mars. The film stars Mark Meer, voice of the male version of Commander Shepard in the games, as Colonel Jon Grissom. It was produced by the students and faculty of the Digital Video Program at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona.

Action figures

Two series of action figures were released by DC Direct and Big Fish Toys for Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. Series one included action figures of Commander Shepard, Grunt, Tali, and Thane. Series two included Garrus, Legion, Miranda, and Mordin. Each figure features game-accurate accessories and can be found in game and hobby shops and various online retailers. The figures tied to Mass Effect 3 include bonus downloadable content, which is exclusive and different for each character.

Board games

Risk: Mass Effect Galaxy at War Edition (2013) was announced by USAopoly and was released in Fall 2013.

Monopoly: Mass Effect (2015)

Art books

Two Mass Effect art books have been released: 2007's Art of Mass Effect, published by Prima Games and 2012's The Art of the Mass Effect Universe, published by Dark Horse Comics. The former book showcases the design sketches and concept art which was created for the original Mass Effect game, while the latter includes art, sketches and paintings for the entire trilogy, including several pieces originally published in the first book.


The Mass Effect series, particularly the second game, has received universal acclaim.Colin Moriarty stated that "the Mass Effect series is one of the defining video game franchises of [the seventh] generation".GamesRadar called Mass Effect the best new franchise of the (then seventh) generation, saying "The galaxy was so well-constructed that it felt like a decades-old franchise and represented a high-water mark for video games as a story-telling medium."IGN rated the Mass Effect trilogy the best Xbox 360 game(s) out of a list of 25, despite being multiplatform.

Mass Effect 2 is widely considered to be one of the greatest games of all time. It garnered numerous game of the year awards and is critically the most successful game in the series. It received over 70 perfect review scores.

While Mass Effect 3 also garnered critical acclaim, controversy surrounded its release due to the public's reaction and refusal to accept the game's (and the trilogy's) ending. This eventually led to BioWare releasing an "extended cut" patch to the ending of Mass Effect 3 which would expand upon, but not replace it.

The fourth installment, Mass Effect: Andromeda received mixed critical reception and was considered not up to par with the original trilogy.


Two weeks after the game was released, Mass Effect 2 shipped two million copies to retailers. The game sold over 500,000 copies in the month of release, despite being released at the end of the month. Before the release of the third game, the series sold a total of 7 million copies worldwide.

Mass Effect 3 sold over 800,000 copies in its first 24 hours, and its opening month sales were twice that of its predecessor's, selling over 900,000 copies on the Xbox 360 version, outselling the PlayStation 3 version 4 to 1 and bringing in over $200 million in revenue.Mass Effect 3 was the most commercially successful game of the series, selling over twice as many copies as Mass Effect 2 in their respective launch months and generating lifetime sales of over six million copies.

By July 5, 2014, the Mass Effect series had sold a total of 14 million units. By the end of March 2018, at least 2.5 million retail copies of Mass Effect: Andromeda had also been shipped for $110 million in revenue; additionally, $53 million in net sales from digital and special editions for Andromeda were generated in March but deferred to a later date, putting total lifetime shipments for the franchise at 16.5 million.

Mass Effect: Pinnacle Station IGN Review