After the prologue and spending a little time on the Citadel recruiting an alien ally or two, Mass Effect 1–the first game in the new Mass Effect: Legendary Edition–becomes fairly open-ended. You can freely choose which order to take on three key story missions on different planets, with each providing a lead on Saren. Those planets are Noveria, Therum, and Feros. But which order should you choose?
Should You Start At Noveria, Therum, Or Feros?
While the missions can be taken in any order, there’s a natural gameplay and story progression to taking them on in a certain sequence. You can generally take on Therum or Feros first without major consequences, but going for Noveria first is not advisable. That’s partly because Noveria is more difficult than Feros or Therum, to the point where BioWare likely intended it to be the last of the three. The more central reason, though, is that there are certain story revelations on Noveria that will just make more sense and feel more dramatic if you already have Liara on your squad.
We recommend recruiting Liara T’Soni first. She’s the last person you can recruit to your squad, so having a full team makes this the natural first mission of the three. Having Liara on your squad gives you another set of skills for your team composition for subsequent main quests or sidequests, and it gives you more time to invest in romance with her if you so choose.
Alternatively, you can tackle Feros first. That planet is a human world in distress, so it could make sense that Shepard–as the first human Spectre–would feel inclined to respond to it more quickly. The only drawback is that you won’t have Liara, which means much less flexibility in your team composition.
After completing any two of these three missions, another will open up on Virmire. Though you are free to jump straight to this one as soon as it opens, we still recommend completing Noveria first, before investigating Virmire. Completing all four of these missions will prompt the next phase of the story.
Keep in mind; this is our advice on the ideal, first-time route for Mass Effect newcomers. If you’ve seen it all before and want to tinker with the game’s systems a bit, you can break this order and get some interesting interactions out of it. Completing Noveria before recruiting Liara leads to different dialogue outcomes. In fact, saving Liara for absolute last means that by the time you get to her, she’s convinced you’re a hallucination. It also has the side-effect of making romance with her much less likely, because there just isn’t enough time to develop that relationship before the end-game starts. For more odd or unusual character interactions, check out our roundup of other rare Mass Effect moments you can trigger, along with our full suite of Mass Effect guides. You can also read our Mass Effect: Legendary Edition review in progress.
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