While there are an awful lot While there are an awful lot of missable achievements in this game - and a difficulty trophy, to boot! - you shouldn’t let that scare you. Mass Effect 1 is actually a pretty easy game to 100%, with most of the missable trophies more being a matter of intentionally going out and grinding for them instead of some obscure thing you can honestly miss out on. If you go out of your way to complete every assignment and explore the galaxy, many of the semi-missable trophies (Archivist, Medal of Exploration I, Medal of Exploration II, Medal of Exploration III, Principled, Colonial Savior) should occur naturally. If you swap your squadmates out when you unlock their trophies, you should get all of those, too (Soldier Ally, Sentinel Ally, Krogan Ally, Turian Ally, Quarian Ally, Asari Ally).
The missable trophies you’ll actually have to work at include all the ability trophies: Lift Mastery, Throw Mastery, Warp Mastery, Singularity Mastery, Barrier Mastery, Stasis Mastery, Damping Specialist, AI Hacking Specialist, Electronics Specialist, Sabotage Specialist, First Aid Specialist, Neural Shock Specialist. We use “work at” incredibly generously, here, as you’ll probably naturally unlock many of these just by using whatever abilities are natively available to the Shepard you create and the squadmates you bring along with you. To this end, the Soldier class (and by extension, Ashley) are rather stunted, as their class abilities are weapon-related, and have no achievements tied to their usage in the Legendary Edition. The best way to earn the ability achievements is to go out of your way to grind them out, not only because it’s more controllable to just have them on Shepard, but because unlock these achievements unlocks the related ability as a bonus talent for subsequent playthroughs. There’s also the matter of the difficulty-related trophy, Insanity I, which actually doesn’t count towards the platinum for Mass Effect 1 Legendary Edition, instead being stored on a quaternary “Mass Effect: Legendary Edition” trophy list that records achievements across all three games. Insanity I is arguably best done on New Game+, but strictly speaking, you don’t need to play it at all to get that sweet platinum for Mass Effect 1.
Speaking of partial playthroughs and New Game+, you’re arguably best off just starting the game with throwaway characters (an Adept and Engineer, specifically) and grinding out ability uses with them. At the very least, you could consider running an Adepth long enough to unlock Lift Mastery, which will earn you Lift as a bonus talent, which is arguably the best bonus talent to start your full playthrough with (assuming you don’t already get it from whatever class you choose - otherwise grinding out Electronics Specialist or Barrier Mastery are fine alternatives.)
Once you complete a playthrough, you’ll be able to start a new playthrough and import your previous character, retaining all gear (weapons, armor, mods, etc.), levels, talent point distribution (only for Shepard - squadmates will scale to your level, but you’ll have to reassign talent points) and money. You will not retain any Paragon or Renegade points (but you will retain any bonus ranks you earned for Charm or Intimidate, if you accrued any), codex progress (hence, progress towards Archivist), licenses, and all quest and world state progress will be reset. If you made a decision you regretted on a previous playthrough… well, just do another playthrough and get your ducks in a row on a subsequent playthrough. Because of how Damage Protection and enemy scaling works, we strongly suggest attempting Insanity difficulty on a second playthrough, as it’ll be much, much easier
Taking all that in, we suggest some partial playthroughs, followed by a full playthrough (with a new protagonist using a bonus talent unlocked from one of the partial playthroughs) on any difficulty save Insanity. In the Legendary Edition you can attempt Insanity right from the start (you had to unlock difficulties sequentially in the original game), so if you are so inclined, you can just make your first playthrough the Insanity playthrough. If you took it easy on yourself on the first playthrough, a quick Insanity playthrough can follow your first playthrough.
Step 1 - Partial Playthroughs (Biotic and Tech Abilities Grinding)
If you want to start out with the best possible Shepard and as an added boon would like to avoid focusing on ability grinding on your first full playthrough, we recommend engaging in two partial playthroughs. Don’t waste time on the character creator, just make a generic Adept and generic Engineer and you’re good to go.
There are a dozen achievements in Mass Effect 1 Legendary edition dedicated to the use of biotic and tech abilities; use said ability 25 times (or 50, if you’re being a sassy standout, First Aid Specialist) and you’ll pop these achievements. When you unlock the achievement, you’ll also unlock the related ability as a bonus talent, one of which you can assign to Shepard on subsequent playthroughs.There are some complexities with this that are worth discussing, and largely what’s true for one of these ability usage trophies is true for the entire group.
First you’ll need access to the abilities; either Shepard will possess some of them natively, or, if you’re a Soldier, you’ll have to rely entirely on your squadmates. You’ll make progress towards these achievements by commanding squad members to use them, but it’s arguably quicker and easier to just have Shepard do the heavy lifting. If you play an Engineer, you’ll be able to unlock Damping Specialist, AI Hacking Specialist, Electronics Specialist, Sabotage Specialist and Neural Shock Specialist while an Adept Shepard can get you Lift Mastery, Throw Mastery, Warp Mastery, Singularity Mastery, Barrier Mastery and Stasis Mastery. First Aid Specialist is available to all classes, and isn’t a serious consideration at this point.
While an Adept or Engineer Shepard will have access to these abilities, many still have to be unlocked by investing talent points in various talent trees. For example, the Engineer has to invest seven talent points into Decryption to unlock Hacking. There’s no way around it, you’ll have to level up a few times… which is fine, because valid targets are limited during the prologue mission. Invest as few points as possible during the prologue and use the easy-to-reach starter talents (Sabotage and Overload for the Engineer, Throw, Warp and Barrier for the Adept) and store up your talent points for the later talents so you can make a hard save, invest the points into the talent trees whose abilities you want to grind out, then reload once the achievement pops and invest elsewhere.
You can probably unlock most - if not all - of the initial talents during the prologue mission on Eden Prime, just use your abilities exclusively and target everything that moves - Drones, Geth, Gas Bag, they all count. It’s important to note that incrementing your usage counters (which you won’t actively be privy to) is a bit odd - for your usage to count, it has to have an effect, meaning it has to target or do damage to something. That something doesn’t need to be hostile, or even an acting agent, however, it just needs to be able to take damage. This means you can target crates, or later on, even the Mako (a vehicle you’ll use to deploy onto planets after you complete the first mission on the Citadel) and mindlessly make progress towards these achievements. You’ll find some crates at the train station on Eden Prime, on some cargo lifts crawling with Geth; dispose of the Geth, don’t use the Train Controls at the end of the lifts (if you travel to a timed sequence where you have to disarm bombs, you’ve gone too far) and just target some crates until you get whatever achievements you can. If you’re in doubt about what counts as a valid crate whose abuse increments your ability usage as opposed to crates which are just scenery, save your game and shoot them repeatedly - if they break, they’re valid, if not, not. You should see them taking damage as you use abilities and/or fire upon them.
After that, the next best opportunity to increment your usage skills is during your first visit to the Citadel, specifically after some story events where you find yourself having to engage in some hostilities with a bar-owner named Fist. He’s got plenty of guards, and better yet, some destructible crates in his establishment, which you can likely use to grind out whatever remaining achievements you have… save for AI Hacking. The story events between the end of Eden Prime and your assault on Chora’s Den should have leveled you up a few times, making it possible for you to invest the talent points necessary to unlock the more advance abilities (Hacking, Damping and Neural Shock for the Engineer, Lift, Singularity and Stasis for the Adept).
Hacking and Neural Shock are really the only standout among the usage achievements, as their abilities can’t be farmed quite as easily. Hacking can only be used on synthetic enemies, and you must successfully take control of an enemy with it for the usage counter to increment - no crates this time. Likewise Neural Shock (Medicine) only affects organic enemies. The latter isn’t much of a problem, you just need to find regenerating enemies (these will be scarce on Casual difficulty, and the norm on Hardcore), assign your squadmates to go somewhere out of sight, and just use Neural Shock repeatedly on the same enemy. As long as your Neural Shock doesn’t kill your target outright, you should be able to farm a single opponent for this, or at least make significant progress on your usage counter. Hacking is trickier, as it’s not a one-and-done direct damage ability - you’ll probably need to find 25 different enemies to use this on to unlock the AI Hacking Specialist achievement, which can be a chore. Worse yet, many enemies will be immune until you unlock higher ranks of AI Hacking - even Geth Shock Troopers can’t be affected until you have Advanced AI Hacking. The required minimum talent investment (which will take a while to unlock), and the unlikeliness that an enemy can be targeted more than once, makes this something of a chore to grind out. You might just have to advance the story further to find the required Geth to unlock this - you’ll find plenty on Therum, but you can also save this for your first full playthrough and just have Tali do the heavy lifting for you.
Finally, we have First Aid Specialist, which just requires you to heal yourself with Medi-gel 50 times throughout all playthroughs. Every class gets this, but unlike other abilities, your usage of this is limited by how much Medi-Gel you have. That said, the solution is simple: just heal every time you take damage. On easier difficulties, this isn’t a handicap, as you probably will rarely need the healing (you can keep a few Medi-gels in reserve, if you’re squeamish), and enemies will regularly drop Medi-gel as you defeat them. Just as long as you ensure you’re rarely at max Medi-gel and you spam this ability when you are, you should unlock it before long… especially if you do this while grinding out other achievements during the partial playthroughs.
Step 2 - First Playthrough (non-Insanity Difficulty)
When you’re done grinding out the usage talents on partial playthroughs (or whatever talents you want to unlock as bonus talents, depending on how much you care to grind via partial playthroughs) it’s time to start your first full playthrough. If you play on Insanity, your life will be much more difficult, but you won’t need to deal with a second playthrough. We suggest not playing on Insanity on the first playthrough, as you’ll have a much easier time playing through the game and grinding out other trophies, unencumbered with concerns of sheer combat efficacy.
In this step you’ll unlock most of the remaining trophies, as it should be your goal to complete all the missions and most - if not all - of the assignments.
During this phase you’ll unlock Distinguished Service Medal, Spectre Inductee, Search and Rescue, Medal of Heroism, Honorarium of Corporate Service, Council Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal and Medal of Honor for completing the game’s missions (main story quests). They can’t be missed and will occur naturally as you play through the story, so you don’t need to worry about them.
Somewhat more involved are the assignments (side quests), which you’ll find scattered throughout the galaxy. You don’t have to complete them all, but you will have to complete a majority of them for Completionist. Assignments also tie into [Medal of Exploration I](/mass-effect-1-legendary-edition/achievements/8612, Medal of Exploration II and Medal of Exploration III, which are rewarded for landing on one, four and eight uncharted planets, respectively. You’ll often have to land on uncharted planets to complete assignments, or to start them, so if you pick up any assignments you find and explore the galaxy, these achievements should unlock as you play.
As you explore, keep an eye on your minimap for “!” icons, which indicate a mission-or-assignment sensitive object, location or character. Interact with all of them and clear out assignments as you go - you don’t need to complete anywhere near all of them for the achievements, but you should be aware of one thing: the point of no return. There are four core missions after you’re done with your first visit to the Citadel: Therum, Feros, Noveria and Virmire, listed in the order we suggest completing them. Once you’ve completed all four of these missions you’ll be funneled down the path to the endgame, which doesn’t completely prevent you from finishing outstanding assignments, but it will limit your access to the Citadel… which coincidentally is where many assignments occur. For that reason, we strongly suggest you only complete the first three core missions (Therum, Feros, Noveria), then deal with every assignment in your journal, take care of any and all possible exploration, and only after that’s all done should you finish Virmire.
A list of all the assignments in the game follows:
|UNC: Asari Writings|
|UNC: Locate Signs of Battle|
|UNC: Prothean Data Discs|
|UNC: Turian Insignias|
|UNC: Valuable Materials|
|Bring Down the Sky Assignments|
|X57: Avoid the Blasting Caps|
|X57: Missing Engineers|
|X57: Bring Down the Sky|
Also assignment-related, but distinct, are the squadmate achievements: Soldier, Sentinel Ally, Krogan Ally, Turian Ally, Quarian Ally and Asari Ally, each of which requires you to complete five “missions” which each squadmate in your active team. By “missions”, the game really means “assignments and/or missions”, so this is actually not that lofty of a goal.
An easy way to grind this out - aside from just rotating your party until all these achievmeents pop - is to just ignore all assignments until you’re done with your first mission on the Citadel, after which go and complete the mission on Therum to recruit Liara. Now you should have all the possible squadmates in the game, and the Citadel should be crawling with assignments. Most of these are incredibly easy, requiring no combat (depending on how you complete them, anyways). Make a hard save, exit the Normandy onto the Citadel, pick the squadmembers whose achievements you need, and complete assignments until their achievements pop. Reload, pick a different squad, do it again. Repeat until they’re all unlocked, then play through the rest of the game with whatever squadmates you choose.
There are two Paragon/Renegade related trophies which you should get during your playthrough: Principled and Charismatic. There’s a good deal of Paragon/Renegade points in the game naturally, and if you just focus on one or the other, Principled should come naturally. If you want to go Paragon, stick to the upper right options whenever possible, and pick the Charm (blue) responses, while Renegades should pick the lower right option whenever possible and pick the Intimidate (red) responses. For the simple explanation, you will need to fill most of either the Paragon or Renegade bars for Principled, while for Charismatic you’ll need to have eight ranks in either Charm or Intimidate (there are a few checks that will unlock this achievement, but the minimum requirement for any of these options is eight ranks).
There are a few caveats, however. First, you’ll earn more Paragon/Renegade points if you can pass Charm/Intimidate checks, which requires investment into the Charm/Intimidate talent trees. You’ll gain up to four points of both Charm and Intimidate for free each playthrough - three points as your Paragon/Renegade meters fill, and one point after you become a Spectre. This is not enough to unlock many Charm/Intimidate checks throughout the game, and you’ll need eight ranks in ether Charm or Intimidate to unlock an option that’ll earn you the Charismatic achievement. If you for some reason don’t want to “waste” talent points into Charm/Intimidate, you can max them both out for free just by playing through the game several times and maxing out your Paragon/Renegade bars… an option that was a bit more appealing back in the original version of the game, when you had to play through the game multiple times to unlock all the difficulty modes. In the Legendary Edition, this is just unneccessary power-gaming.
Something that makes all this much easier are the existence of two infinite Paragon/Renegade exploits; there’s a Paragon-only exploit you can take advantage of to max out your Paragon meter on Eletania, and another exploit you can use to max out both your Paragon and Renegade meters on Noveria. The Eletania exploit has no requirements save restraint, while the Noveria exploit requires you to be able to access a Charm 5/Intimidate 5 dialog option.
Archivist is actually highly missable, as you need to “find all primary Alien: Council Races, Extinct Races and Non-Council Races codex entries” in a single playthrough. Your codex is wiped clean if you start a new playthrough (with a new Shepard or New Game+ with an old Shepard). Most of these aren’t a problem, as you can pick them up by talking to various characters on the Citadel, but a few - like the codex entries gained from Nihlus and from Ashley early on - are. On the plus side, there aren’t very many of these codex entries, and most of them can be obtain very early in the game (before you leave the Citadel for the first time), so while missing it sucks, it’s not a massive, game-spanning timesink.
A list of all the codexes you need and where you can find them follows:
|Aliens: Council Races - Asari||Citadel, you should get this codex during your first meeting with the Council.|
|Aliens: Council Races - Salarians||Citadel, you should get this codex during your first meeting with the Council.|
|Aliens: Council Races - Turians||Prologue, on the Normandy, during your very first conversation with Joker and Kaiden regarding Nihlus.|
|Aliens: Extinct Races - Protheans||Prologue, on the Normandy, in the Comms rooms. While talking to Nihlus, exhaust his dialog options.|
|Aliens: Extinct Races - Rachni||Citadel, any time before Ilos. Use an Avina terminal near the krogan statue (Presidium) and exhaust her dialog options.|
|Aliens: Non-Council Races - Batarians||Citadel, after you become a Spectre and gain control of the Normandy, talk to Captain Anderson and exhaust his dialog options.|
|Aliens: Non-Council Races - Elcor||Citadel, any time before Ilos. Talk to the elcor in the Embassies area and exhaust its dialog options.|
|Aliens: Non-Council Races - Geth||Prologue, on Eden Prime, during your first conversation with Ashley, exhaust her dialog options.|
|Aliens: Non-Council Races - Hanar||Citadel, any time before Ilos. Talk to the hanar shopkeeper (Delan) in the Emporium and Bank area and exhaust its dialog options.|
|Aliens: Non-Council Races - Keepers||Citadel, any time before Ilos. Use an Avina terminal near the Citadel Tower (Presidium) and exhaust her dialog options.|
|Aliens: Non-Council Races - Krogan||Citadel, during your first visit, head to Chora’s Den and witness a scene involving Wrex.|
|Aliens: Non-Council Races - Quarians||Citadel, after talking to Harkin in Chora’s Den, head to the Med Clinic and talk to Garrus after fighting off some thugs. He’ll tell you about a quarian, earning you this codex entry.|
|Aliens: Non-Council Races - Volus||Citadel, any time before Ilos. Talk to the volus in the Embassies area and exhaust its dialog options.|
Bring Down the Sky
Last and least, you’ll need to complete Bring Down the Sky for the aptly named achievement Colonial Savior. This is an optional assignment you can take on at any time after you acquire the Normandy. How you complete it doesn’t matter - just that you do, in fact, finish it.
Step 3 - Second Playthrough (Insanity Difficulty)
Assuming you took care of everything on your previous playthrough, your second playthrough should be dedicated to an Insanity mode run. Make sure you change the difficulty while you’re still on the Normandy before Eden Prime (or better yet, when you import your Shepard into a second playthrough) and you should be good to go. If you’re playing on PlayStation, you really don’t even need this run, as you (hopefully) already obtained a platinum from the previous step. If you’re playing on another platform or if you just want the Insanity I achievement from the quaternary Mass Effect Legendary Edition trophy list, however, a second playthrough is the best time to tackle Insanity.
While in the Legendary Edition of the game you can choose Insanity from the outset (unlike the original, where you needed to complete a playthrough on one of the three base difficulties - Casual, Normal or Veteran - to unlock Hardcore, then complete a Hardcore run to unlock Insanity), it’s much easier to play through on Insanity difficulty on a second run with a higher-level Shepard. There are a few reasons for this; first, you can simply skip a lot of stuff on the second playthrough, as all you really care about is beating the game, not scouring every planet and completing every assignment. Second, while enemies scale to Shepard’s level, much of your relative power comes from gear, and this does not scale with your level. You’ll generally start seeing some models of the best gear start appearing when Shepard’s level is in the early-to-mid 20s (Legendary Edition scaling), and while you might not get the highest-tier versions at this point, even a Colossus IX suit of armor is generally far superior to alternatives.
Some of the stats provided by this late-game equipment make the Insanity run much, much easier than even a start-from-scratch playthrough on Veteran difficulty. Damage Protection (provided by armor) reduces damage by a massive amount (generally in the range of 65-79% for Colossus Armor) while the cooldown bonuses provided by Savant Omni-Tools and Biotic Amps and by Medical Exoskeleton mods allows you to use abilities much quicker. Simply put, the potency of late-game gear is more than a match for enemy level and difficulty scaling. That’s not to say Insanity is all sunshine and roses - Husks and enemies that are fond of melee attacks (especially Krogan Warlords/Battlemasters) can potentially down Shepard in 2-3 hits, so some caution is needed.
Arguably the best build for Insanity is an Infiltrator with the Lift bonus talent, as they’ll have access to Colossus X Medium Armor (71 Damage Protection), most of the Engineer debuffs (Overload to boost damage and take down enemy shields, Sabotage to overheat enemy weapons, Damping to force enemy abilities to cooldown), while the aforementioned Lift is perhaps the best debilitative ability in the game, useful for thwarting charging Geth Destroyer and Krogan Warlords, and leaving enemies (including bosses!) helpless for extended periods of time. They might not have access to the heaviest armor or all the weapon types, but Sniper Rifles provide plenty of damage output in a pinch, and they’ll gain access to the Fitness tree, which will give them Immunity - the most potent defensive buff in the game. The Infiltrator is basically the best combination of DPS, tank, support and control you can get on one character… something of a “jack of all trades” that just so happens to be good to great at most of those roles.