Inducing Substance: a Shepard's guide. (A playthrough of the Mass Effect series.)

Xzarloxara

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After some thought and some approval after consulting @Antimatter, I decided I would now use my save editor to add credits for the purpose of buying all the types of weapons available for purchase in the game. My main reason for this slight breach of rules was that I didn't feel that any of the individual weapon types were significantly better than the others, at least not enough that making all of them 'free' gave me an edge I should not have. Besides... There are a ton of them and most of them are quite expensive (I mean, 250k for one mediocre sniper rifle?! Come on!)... With the shortage of credits in this game, I couldn't possibly afford them all in one play, let alone the upgrades... (Speaking of which, when will I be able to upgrade weapons above level 5? I know this is possible due to the achievement.)

After leaving the Citadel, I decided to go visit the Quarians first, now that I could, because I wanted Tali back on the team. Tali did join me, but I learned that the idiot Quarians had started a war with the Geth! Good thing Tali herself voted against this, as otherwise I would have lost respect for her. To hopefully secure Tali's status as a squadmate I boarded a Geth Dreadnaught in hopes of shutting down a signal being broadcast by the Reapers to control the Geth. When I got there I found that the Reapers had been using Legion as a conduit for their signal. After freeing Legion, it shut down the dreadnaught's shields as a gesture of goodwill... Unfortunately, the Quarians are morons and decided this was a good time to attack the ship... while I was still on it!!! Legion got me out of there in just in time, but I was really mad at the idiot Quarian admiral who ordered the attack. I normally try to avoid renegade actions, but I had absolutely no regrets about punching him in the gut! As I saw it, he jeopardized both the retreat of the Quarians and a possible alliance with the Geth, not to mention my life... Jerk... Legion is on my ship now, but it doesn't look like he will be a squadmate this time, which is disappointing to me considering how little time I spent with him on my team previously and how much I like him. Oh well...

I should also note that I am not really liking Javik much. He is a great squadmate, but his attitude leaves much to be desired. He doesn't really seem to like anyone, and even told me to throw my pal Legion out the airlock... multiple times...

Checking my messages, it looks like I will have to lock in a romance partner for this game very soon... Garrus and Liara are both great, so it will be a difficult choice...

Sorry about the lack of screenshots lately... I have been kind of caught up in game events and forgotten to take them...
 

Xzarloxara

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Ok, I think it is time for a quick follower participation segment. I want you guys to guess who I picked: Liara or Garrus. You probably don't have too much time before my next update, unless I decide to withhold this info until I get enough guesses. Yeah, maybe I will do that. May be nice to know your reasons for your guess, but I don't think it's mandatory. I thought this would be a fun idea. I hope you like it too.
 

Antimatter

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I played through the ME trilogy only once with a FemShep. She romanced Liara in ME1, Garrus in ME2, and when everyone met again in ME3, I thought that a lot had changed during the ME2 events, both for Liara and the main character. Thus, she stayed with Garrus, and Liara became her best friend. I would say that Liara is still one of the most well-written NPCs-close friends for the player in gaming (you will see it closer to the end of ME3), along with Panam from Cyberpunk 2077. My vote goes to Garrus as a romantic partner (even with his constant calibrations, yeah).
 

Urdnot_Wrex

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My guess is that you decided to romance Javik after all, because you finally recognized his superiority and couldn't possible imagine being with anyone else!

Voting as in who I'd pick, definitely Garrus. He was more like a brother in ME1, but after meeting him again on Omega I was completely smitten and never looked back. He has those awkward dialogues in ME2, sure, but he's just... I don't have words to describe it. You go into hell, you know he'll be right there watching your back.

Liara is an interesting person, kind, intelligent, a bit shy and naive in the beginning but undergoes quite a change over the 3 games, and yes, she's a great friend, but somehow she didn't click with me as romance partner.
 

Xzarloxara

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Maybe an odd decision, given how dire the situation seems with the Quarians, but I decided to return to the Citadel for shore leave (hopefully this wasn't a mistake). As it turns out, this shore leave wasn't all that restful. Naturally, I got into a big mess involving a bunch of mercs trying to kill me. Happens everywhere I go.

It started with a phony invite that lured Joker and me to a sushi restaurant. Shortly after we got there, some alliance clerk named Brooks came over ant told us that someone was out to get me, and shortly after that a bunch of mercenaries came in and started shooting the place looking for me. I wound up falling through a fish tank and having to navigate to a car port with just a pistol and my biotics and no armor or medigel. When I got there I was surprised to see my pal Wrex drop in to save me from the remaining mercenaries. After that my crew and I, and Brooks, had to infiltrate a casino without arousing suspicion. This turned out to be something of a dead end, except we learned that someone was trying to steal my identity. After this, we traced this mystery person to some secret archives on the citadel where they revealed themselves to be... me. A clone of me made by Cerberus during the Lazarus Project. This clone was a lot like me, only very much like an evil twin. The clone got away, but my entire team, Wrex included, chased her through the archives until Brooks revealed she was an ex-Cerberus agent who was working for the clone. They thought they had trapped us in some kind of vault in the archives, but they forgot about Liara's drone, Glyph, who was able to rescue us. Next we had to get aboard the Normandy and kill the clone before she and Brooks were able to get away with stealing my identity. It was a fierce fight, but I came out on top and the clone wound up dying, while Brooks was taken into custody. Crazy way to spend a shore leave, but Wrex seemed to really enjoy it.

After that I spent some time having a REAL shore leave on the citadel. Fighting in a simulated arena and winning prizes, including a new, more powerful set of armor, and chatting with my crew a bit.

I must admit that this DLC was very well written, with more brilliant lines than I could keep track of. It was a lot of fun too.

The entire crew (and Brooks) after they simultaneously gunned down some mercs.
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Why does this remind me of something?
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Approaching the Normandy.
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Xzarloxara

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Not many updates lately, because I have been spending my time on shore leave, fighting in the Armax Arena. Now that I am more or less done with this I am returning to the work of saving the galaxy from the Reapers. I also spoke to Miranda a couple more times. She hasn't said much about what is going on with her or her sister yet, but she did mention feeling bad about wanting to put a control chip in me while she was working on the Lazarus Project.

Based on a lead given to my by Specialist Traynor, I decided to investigate a base of scientists who had defected from Cerberus. By the time I got there, they were already under attack by Cerberus. I arrived and chased off the first wave of troops and found Jacob was with the scientists! There was yet another familiar face there too: Dr. Gavin Archer from Project Overlord. Even though he had seemed to have turned over a new leaf and been trying to make up for his actions, Shep still wasn't happy to see him. After some more fighting I was able to evacuate everyone from the facility.

View of the scientists' base.
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By the way, I wound up choosing Garrus. Liara seemed quite upset when I spoke to her on the Normandy again... I hope she gets over it...
 
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Xzarloxara

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My next mission was to fix a fuel reactor that had been disabled by Reaper forces. It was a very short mission, without much that stood out.

After this, I went to Noveria to capture a Cerberus fighter base. Once again, the mission was fairly short and uneventful.

Then I responded to a distress signal passed to me by the Asari leadership via Liara. This brought us to an Ardat-Yakshi monastery. It looked abandoned at first, but then we heard the creepy screams of banshees, (which I was supposed to be meeting for the first time apparently). Investigating further, we found Samara, who had come to check on her daughters. One of her daughters was ok, but the other had been taken by the Reapers deeper into the facility for transformation into a banshee. Fighting our way through the Reaper forces, we found the other daughter, but were too late to save her. She fought off the Reaper's control long enough to detonate a bomb that was there; destroying the remaining banshees in the facility. Back on the surface, Samara's goofy code demanded that she kill her own daughter because she was now an unrestrained Ardat-Yakshi. Samara didn't want to do this so she was about to kill herself instead when I stopped her. Her daughter agreed to stay and try to rebuild the monastery, which apparently satisfied the goofy code. After this, Samara agreed to join my fight against the Reapers.

Banshees aren't as hard for me anymore now that I am a higher level and have more weapons and experience dealing with them, but I am still glad when I have more room to deal with them...

Snow and stars on the outside of the monastery.
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Xzarloxara

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It was now time to start dealing with this foolish war the Quarians started. I started out by trying to save Admiral Koris, but to do this I first had to fight through Geth forces to disable a jamming tower. Once I did that, I had to persuade the Admiral that he actually was more important to rescue than his civilians; which I did. Next I went to disable a Geth fighter squadron with Legion's help. To do this I had to virtually interface with the Geth consensus, which was quite an interesting experience. Legion gave me a virtual gun to shoot at Reaper coding and I had to use it to unlock Legion's access to important Geth data nodes, so legion could shut down the Geth fighters. Once I we did this, Legion revealed he had additional motivation for helping out: he wanted to save the Geth by persuading them to join my cause. He was successful in this effort and a bunch of Geth Primes joined up with me.

Rannoch, the Quarian/Geth homeworld.
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The Geth jamming tower.
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Inside the Geth consensus.
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Shooting at a Geth data node to purge the Reaper code from it.
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The Geth memory of my meeting with Legion.
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Xzarloxara

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It was now time to assault the Reaper base on Rannoch and end the Reaper control over the Geth. Fighting our way through the Geth in the base was fairly easy, and I eventually made it up top where I could use a special weapon made for me by Admiral Xen: A laser gun that was capable of painting a target for a precise strike from the Normandy's weapon systems. I saw a red light, the apparent source of the Reaper control over the Geth, and painted it, and when the Normandy came in for its strike, the red light revealed itself to be an actual Reaper. After fleeing to a transport that Legion procured for us, we got some distance from the Reaper and ordered the Quarians to commence an orbital strike on the Reaper. The Reaper's armor was too tough, but a lucky shot revealed a weak spot: its main gun barrel. EDI linked the entire Quarian fleet to my laser gun targetter and I painted the Reaper for several strikes while dodging its deadly beam as it slowly stepped closer to me until it was practically right on top of me. I painted it one last time and it finally collapsed under the fire. Dying, the Reaper gave me the same tired old bravado I had been getting from them ever since I spoke to Sovereign in ME1. I gave it back some bravado of my own as it finally died.

Rannoch landscape.
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Targeting the Reaper for an orbital strike.
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Orbital strike hits.
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The last shot at the Reaper.
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Now that the Reaper was dead, I was faced with a choice: Legion wanted to upgrade the Geth with the Reaper code it still had while it was hooked into the Geth dreadnaught, giving the Geth the power to destroy the Quarians. Tali wanted the Quarians to finish off the Geth once and for all. I allowed the upgrade but the dumb Quarian Admiral who fired on me while I was in the Geth dreadnaught wanted to continue attacking the Geth (which would have caused the Quarians to be destroyed when the upgraded Geth retaliated). I was thankfully able to persuade the dumb admiral to stand down, which finally resulted in peace between the Quarians and the Geth at long last. There was a price however, in order to complete the uploading of the code, Legion had to give his life to finalize the upgrade. Before he died, Tali and legion made one final expression of their friendship for each other. It was a bittersweet moment, and I will miss my pal, Legion. The Geth honored Legion's wishes and aided the Quarians in re-settling Rannoch. I also now had both fleets to aid in fighting the Reapers.

Legion's last words. Tali has just told Legion that he has a soul.
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Xzarloxara

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Returning to the Normandy after Rannoch, I got a message from the Asari councilor to meet on the citadel. I went to meet her and she told me that there was some kind of artifact on Thessia that could help find the Catalyst. With nothing else to do, I went to Thessia to recover this artifact.

Arriving on Thessia, I could see things were not going well there. The Asari were losing quickly, and were barely able to help with getting me to the temple that had the artifact. The temple was full of ancient artifacts of the Asari goddess, and many of these depictions of this goddess resembled Protheans. Go figure...We found that hidden in the temple was another Prothean beacon which the Asari had been using secretly to advance their society. We were about to get the info on the Catalyst we needed when that jerk Kai Leng showed up with a Gunship and stole the info from us. The mission ended in failure.

Back on the Normandy, we decided it was time to take the fight to Cerberus, and Traynor had tracked Leng's ship to the colony of Horizon, where there were rumors of a place called Sanctuary which was free from the war. I was very suspicious of this place since I first heard about it, and now it was time to investigate.

But first I went on a small mission to save a communication array from being taken over by Cerberus. It was a rather short and uneventful mission.

Reapers on Thessia.
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Xzarloxara

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I next went to Horizon and Sanctuary. The place was quiet at first but it had both Cerberus and Reaper forces running around. Miranda was there too, and it turned out this place was just a giant lab run by Cerberus, more specifically, Miranda's father. where they killed masses of refugees, all just to research indoctrination and controlling reapers. Horrific! Fighting our way through the place we eventually reached Miranda and her father, who was holding Miranda's sister hostage. I was able to talk him down, but Miranda killed him anyway as soon as he gave her an opening, which I am ok with after he ran all those horrible experiments. Miranda told me that Kai Leng had been at the facility to retrieve some data and left after a skirmish with her, but not before Miranda was able to place a tracking device on him that led me right to Cerberus HQ.

Before I went to Cerberus HQ, though, I had one bit of business remaining. I had to throw a party on the Citadel! It was a ton of fun and my crew and I enjoyed it very much.
 

Xzarloxara

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I finished the game, but am not entirely sure how to put the last moments of it into words...The ending was much less than I had hoped it would be. I chose the Synthesis option in the end, as it felt like the best for all involved, but somehow it didn't feel quite right. I also forgot to take any screenshots of the ending, unfortunately. To be a little honest, the ending left me feeling a extremely ambivalent about the series and I am not sure I want to finish this thread, even though I should do so while I still remember, I guess. It was a fun game with a lot of great moments, but that ending certainly lived up to its reputation as not being very good, to say the least.
 

Xzarloxara

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Since I am starting another run of the Mass Effect series I decided to post an image of my latest Shepard. He is an engineer, and still just starting out in ME1. So far he has only done most of the Citadel quests and rescued Liara. I kinda doubt I will post in detail about this run, like I did previously, but maybe I will share some screenshots every once in a while and possibly write more about the ending to ME3, since I used a mod to change it this time.
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