The Citadel is the hub of galactic civilization… at least, from the perspective of the Council Races. It was a hugely important area in the first game, home to many of the game’s assignments, several missions, half the recruitable characters as well as numerous merchants. In Mass Effect 2 its significance is greatly reduced, although it’s still the location of several assignments, the odd loyalty mission, the recruitment mission Dossier: The Master Thief and plenty of merchants.
You can travel to the Citadel as soon as you have the Normandy SR-2, acquired immediately after completing the mission on Freedom’s Progress, although aside from completing Dossier: The Master Thief there’s little reason to travel here until you’ve recruited the Professor and Archangel… not so much because these new squadmates will allow you to do much more on the Citadel, but because aside from the odd assignment, there’s not much to do here beside shopping, and you’re arguably better off spending your starting funds on new weapons at Omega, if at all.
Zakera Ward - Level 27
When you do decide to venture to the Citadel, you’ll find yourself on the Zakera Ward, where an advertisement to the right can be investigated to start - and finish - the Dossier: The Master Thief.
To actually reach the business end of Zakera Ward you’ll have to pass through a security checkpoint, which ultimately results in the mission Citadel: Captain Bailey starting. No need to make a big deal out of this, as it’s literally just clutter in your journal encouraging you to talk to Captain Bailey, who can be found in an office just beyond the security checkpoint. He’ll give you a rundown on how things have changed on the Citadel in the past two years before referring you to the Council, so while talking to him is mostly a matter of lore, it’s still useful.
Opposite the door leading to the security checkpoint you’ll find an Avina terminal, which will give you more (Council-approved) information on the Citadel.
North of Avina you’ll find a Rapid Transport terminal, which will take you to various other locations on the Citadel, although a great majority of the places you can explore are just a staircase away. To get your audience with the Council you’ll need to use a Rapid Transport console to travel to the Presidium, but before we get to that we’ll explore Zakera Ward level by level.
To the right (east) of Avina you’ll find two Krogan pondering about the native fauna they imagine to be dwelling in the Presidium’s lakes. Merely overhearing them will start the assignment Citadel: Krogan Sushi, which will be covered on the linked page.
On the southeastern end of Zakera Ward (L27) you’ll find the Citadel Souvenirs shop. Talk to the proprietress, Deleia Sanassi, and pass a Charm/Intimidate check to score a discount. The shop mostly sells decorative bric-a-brac for Shepard’s cabin, but we won’t fault you for adopting an iconic rodent or some fish.
|Citadel Souvenirs||Price (normal)||Price (discount)|
|Illium Skald Fish||500||416|
|Model - Normandy SR1||500||416|
|Model - Destiny Ascension||500||416|
|Model - Sovereign||500||416|
In the southwestern corner of Zakera Ward (L27) you’ll find the Zakera Cafe, one of the few shops in the came you can’t score a discount for. Just as well, as it merely sells two novels and some High Grade Provisions, the latter of which will allow you to complete the assignment Normandy: Special Ingredients.
|Zakera Cafe||Price (normal)|
Zakera Ward - Level 28
To reach Level 28, head up the stairs on the eastern end of Level 27. There are three points of interest on this level, starting with Rodam Expeditions near the stairs to the west, the Dark Star Lounge in the center of the level, and finally Khalisah al-Jilani along the eastern end of the level.
By far the most interesting place on Level 28, talk to Etarn Tiron and pass a Charm/Intimidate check to get a discount, then peruse the store’s wares. You can find numerous upgrades here, as well the M-29 Incisor Sniper Rifle and several new pieces of armor.
|Rodam Expeditions||Price (normal)||Price (discount)|
|Sniper Rifle Damage||60,000||50,000|
|Heavy Pistol Damage||60,000||50,000|
|Submachine Gun Damage||60,000||50,000|
|Off-Hand Ammo Pack||2,000||1,666|
|M-29 Incisor Sniper Rifle||8,000||6,666|
Dark Star Lounge
In the Dark Star Lounge you can purchase Serrice Ice Brandy from a console at the bar, which will complete the assignment Serrice Ice Brandy. You can also talk to a Presidium Groundskeeper, which will advance the assignment Citadel: Krogan Sushi. Other than that, you can have Shepard engage in what can generously be called “dancing” or get sloshed at the bar, if you want to wake up ignominiously on the bathroom floor.
Along the eastern end of Level 28 you’ll find Khalisah al-Jilani, a reporter who accosted you back in Mass Effect 1. She hasn’t improved her journalistic standards since then, although whether Shepard has gained or lost patience for tabloid journalism is entirely up to you. This is mostly just an opportunity to score Paragon/Renegade points.
Zakera Ward - Level 26
To reach Level 26, head down the stairs on the western end of Level 27. Opposite the stairs you’ll find a C-Sec Officer and a volus accosting a quarian named Lia’Vael, starting the assignment Citadel: Crime in Progress. Other than that, there are two shops on this level; Sirta Foundation and Serris Applications.
Talk to the proprietor, Marab, and pick the Paragon/Renegade option to score a discount.
|Saronis Applications||Price (normal)||Price (discount)|
Talk to the proprietress, Kian Louros, and pick the Paragon/Renegade option to score a discount.
|Sirta Foundation||Price (normal)||Price (discount)|
|Life Support Webbing||8,000||6,667|
Citadel: The Council
When you’re done exploring Zakera Ward, find any Rapid Transport terminal and use it to travel to the Presidium. If you saved the Council in Mass Effect 1, you’ll get a meeting with the Council, if not, not. The quest resolves either way and you’ll be able to chat with Anderson afterwards. The only real point of interest here is if you both saved the Council and advocated for Anderson at the end of Mass Effect 1, in which case you can get reinstated as a Spectre… which has almost no bearing whatsoever on the rest of the game.
Do what you will to complete this mission, after which you should be done exploring the Citadel for now. You can return here to do whatever shopping you need to do (especially after Horizon, when some new stock is added) and when you unlock certain loyalty missions (Eye for an Eye and Sins of the Father but otherwise, there’s little left of interest on the Citadel.