5. Reaper IFF – Mass Effect 2
It was a close call between exploring a Collector ship and investigating a derelict Reaper ship in Mass Effect 2, but whilst the former reveals the Illusive Man’s true intentions- it doesn’t have Legion. One of the coolest characters in the whole series, Legion gets a properly bad ass introduction as he snipes a few Geth husks from creeping up behind you. Other than introducing everyone’s favorite synthetic, the mission also effectively shows off the series’ creepy side, with the twisted and infected-looking ship full of husks and corpse piles (good song title). After taking down a horde of techno-zombies, the Reaper ship falls apart as it’s swallowed by the orbiting planet’s gravity and Shepard and co. make their escape. It’s a whirlwind of a level, full of intrigue and action, and definitely one of the best Mass Effect 2 has to offer. And again- Legion.
4. Priority: Tuchanka – Mass Effect 3
Ah yes, the infamous mission on the the almost-desolated planet of Tuchanka. What makes this mission memorable isn’t just the unfortunate ending with Mordin (well, depends on your paragon or renegade choice), but it’s the first time in the game you have to fight waves of enemies while a reaper is blasting its death ray at your every move. Once the reaper has been taken down by allied forces, and a giant space worm, it’s time to release the cure to the genophage. This is probably the first of many heart-breaking moments in the game; as we watch Mordin sacrifice himself in order to save the Krogan race. While we certainly miss Mordin humming in our medical unit on the Normandy, we’re sure he’s testing seashells on some warm beach somewhere.
3. Archangel – Mass Effect 3
Alone on a space ship full of strangers with only Joker and Chakwas as the only source of comfort, Shepard dreams of her crew long past while she picks up her new recruits. Imagine that though, being woken up two years after being killed. All your friends and loved ones have moved on without you. Those you finally do have contact with can’t tell you how your friends are doing or even where in the galaxy they are. Shepard is incredibly alone in the beginning, and that’s what makes Archangel’s dossier that much more rewarding. Shepard learns that a vigilante, determined on cleaning up justice on the streets (*ahem* Batman), has made a nest in Omega. Her mission is to dig him out of fire and get him on the Normandy just to throw him back into fire. She’s feeling mistrustful of her new squad mates and yearns for the people she trusted to watch her back. Now imagine her excitement when another new stranger, codename Archangel, turns out to be one of her best friends in disguise. And he’s even happy to see her (I’m looking at you, Liara.) The first time Archangel removes his helmet and reveals himself to be none other than Batgarrus, I mean Garrus, is one of the most exciting parts of the franchise. BioWare understands players’ attachments to their characters. It truly feels like a reunion between two close friends, you, the player, and your Widow-loving, sniper-shooting, model of a Turian, Garrus. And even though his face is shot up with a rocket, he still throws his life in with yours and helps you destroy the collectors and subsequently take back Earth. Here’s to you, Garrus.
Arguably the best mission in the original Mass Effect, Bioware pulls all the stops with this primary story mission. Sent to investigate a choppy signal on the planet Virmire, Shepard and his team are met with plenty of Geth resistance upon hitting the ground, After fighting through a handful of Geth rocket squads, you’re introduced to the Salarian recon team that’s been stranded on the planet. Turns out, Saren has managed to whip up a cure for the Krogan genophage, and plans on using it to create a Krogan army for his and the Reapers’ bidding. This mission packs plenty of action as you and the Salarian team set to nuke the facility, but also introduces players to the costs of war and the fragility of relationships. Wrex, your Krogan teammate, is understandably upset over the idea of destroying the genophage cure, and if you’re not careful, his temper could wind up costing him his life. At the mission’s finale, you’re forced to decide between saving one of the two human members of your crew, as well as take on Saren for the first time in a straight-up fight. It’s a hell of a ride, and is a great narrative moment for the beginning of the end of the first game.