New Player Help for Mass Effect 3 features information revolving around the basics of the game and the mechanics for a better understanding of Mass Effect 3 gameplay.


Companions Guide



Beginner Guide




Classes Guide





Mass Effect 3 New Player Help


General Tips

The Main Menu


The Main Menu contains the following items the first time you play: New Game, Multiplayer, Downloadable Content, Extras. After you've started a game, this menu will also include the Resume and Load Game options. Resume loads your most recently saved game.

New Game

Choose from three options when starting a new game:

  1. New Game: Start fresh with a new character.
  2. Import ME2 Character: Import Commander Shepard from Mass Effect 2, maintaining your old character's level as well as the decisions you made that impact Mass Effect 3's story.
  3. Import ME3 Character: Unlocks after completing Mass Effect 3. This allows you to start a new game while keeping your Commander Shepard's class, level, weapons, and modifications intact.

Load Game

After starting a Mass Effect career, select Load Game to continue your game, replay from an earlier save point, or switch to another active carer. Careers are created each time you start a new game or import an old one. Within each career you will find:

  1. Restart Mission: Restart your current mission.
  2. Autosave: Resume your game from the latest checkpoint. Autosave is updated as you progress the game and cross checkpoints.
  3. Saves/Quick Saves: Numbered saves are created when you manually save the game.
  4. You can also resume your game by selecting Resume on the game's opening screen. This will load your most recently saved game.


Select Multiplayer to fight co-op missions with up to three friends.


The Extras menu contains the following:

  1. Accomplishments; View medals you've been awarded for accomplishing set goals.
  2. Options: Set gameplay, controls, graphics, sound, and online options.
  3. Credits: Watch the game's credits.
  4. Game Manual: Read the game manual.

Downloadable Content

Select (Downloadable Content) on the main menu to purchase new Mass Effect 3 content.


A New Game

This section covers what you need to know when starting a new game.

The Story So Far


With the discovery of a network of ancient cosmic relays in the 21st century, humanity was thrust into a universe teeming with alien life. At its heart lay the Citadel, the galactic capital for all space-faring races. It had once been inhabited by a species known as the Protheans, who mysteriously vanished 50,000 years ago, leaving behind warnings of a godlike race of machines that had destroyed them. This enemy had a name - the Reapers. And the warnings claimed that they would return again to harvest organic life in a never-ending cycle of destruction.

One soldier chose to heed those warnings. In 2183, Commander Shepard, captain of the Alliance warship Normandy, destroyed the vanguard of the next Reaper invasion in a fierce battle for the Citadel. But Shepard's victory was only temporary. A vast Reaper armada remained, patiently waiting in the void of dark space to launch their next attack.

Two years later, Shepard was mortally wounded on a routine mission. Cerberus, a pro-human terrorist organization, recovered and resurrected Shepard. led by the shadowy, Illusive Man, Cerberus recognized that the Reapers would soon threaten humanity. Enlisting Shepard's help, along with a colorful crew of scientists, soldiers, and outlaws, the Normandy launched a suicide mission beyond the fabled Omega 4 relay to once again confront the Reaper menace. Yet even this triumph was only a delaying action in a much bigger war - a war that was about to engulf the entire Milky Way....

ME3 Experience Type

There are three ways to play Mass Effect 3. You must select one of the following options when starting a new game, but you can also adjust combat difficulty and conversation mode in the options menu after starting a game.

  1. Action Mode: An experience that focuses on combat. Conversations play as cutscenes automatically.
  2. Role-Playing Mode: The core Mass Effect experience, with full narrative choice and challenging combat.
  3. Story Mode: An experience that focuses on the narrative. Combat helps tell the story but does not offer a significant challenge.

Character Creation

After selecting Commander Shepard's gender and the Role-Playing or Story experience types, you enter the Alliance Headquarters Active Duty Reactivation Protocl. Form her, you can choose between default options or customize the following:

  1. First Name
  2. Appearance
  3. Military Class
  4. Personal History
  5. Service History
  6. Combat Losses

Until you confirm your selections on the Review screen, you can return to the previous screens to change Shepard's characteristics. Choosing the Action experience type jumps you straight into the game, skipping these screens. By default, Shepard was born Earth, was the sole survivor of a failed mission years ago, and takes the default appearance.

Importing a ME2 Character

Importing Commander Shepard from Mass Effect 2 maintains your old character's level as well as the decisions you made that impact Mass Effect 3's story. If you have completed Mass Effect 2, your old career will be available to import after selecting (Import ME2 Character).


The Mission Computer


The Mission Computer is the in-game menu. To access the Mission Computer, press (ESCAPE) after gaining full control of Commander Shepard in the game. Select (Resume) on the bottom-right of the screen to exit the Mission Computer and return to the game.

Squad Screen

Select Squad on the Mission Computer to review the powers available to Commander Shepard and squadmates. As you level up and gain points, you can spend them here to upgrade your powers.

Journal Menu


Go to the Journal menu to view your progress, review your mission's objectives, and read codex entries about the Mass Effect universe.

Map Menu

The map is accessible on the Normandy or Citadel to help guide Shepard when not on a critical mission. This option will be greyed out in the Mission Computer when in areas where a map is not available. Press (V) to access the map while playing.

Options Menu

Customize your Mass Effect 3 experience in the Options menu.

  • Gameplay: Adjust difficulty, auto level-up, squadmate power use, autosave, hints, and action icons.
  • Narrative: Adjust conversation mode, subtitles, and other options.
  • Controls: Adjust and customize how you control the game.
  • Graphics: Adjust video settings.
  • Sound: Adjust music, sound effect, and dialogue settings.
  • Online: Adjust online options.

Other Menus

There are four other options available on the Mission Computer.

  • Save: Save your progress at your current position. This will be greyed out in areas where saving the game is not possible.
  • Load: Load a previously saved game.
  • Main Menu: Quit your current game and return to Mass Effect 3's main menu.
  • Manual: Read the game's manual.


Weapons, Mods, & Armor


  • Switch Weapons: Switch to the previous weapon held by pressing (X).
  • Weapon Selection Screen: Gain access to the weapon selection screen when starting a new mission, when picking up a new weapon, or when Shepard uses a workbench. Use this screen to customize the weapons that Shepard and the companions carry into battle.

Weapon Slots

Review the available weapon slots on the left side of the weapon selection screen. You can apply one weapon to each slot on the currently selected character's back. Squadmates can carry one weapon of each type. The slot number indicates how many weapons are available. Grayed-out slots indicate that you cannot equip additional weapons. Recently acquired weapons are marked "NEW".

Weapon Switching

Modify a character's loadout by cycling between Shepard and companions by clicking the arrows next to the portraits on the bottom-left of the string. Review the weapons available by clicking a slot and clicking through the inventory on the top-right of the screen. Assign a weapon to a slot by clicking (Accept).

Weapon Weight

Monitor the weight bar on the left side of the screen to see how much a character is carrying. Overburden Shepard or a companion, and the character's power cooldown rate slows down.

Weapon Stats

Click the (?) to the right of the weapon name to toggle between the weapon's stats and description. Use the orange markers on the stats bars to compare the selected weapon with the one currently equipped. The green bar shows the mod bonus.

Modding Weapons

Click (Modify) at the bottom of the weapon selection screen to mod weapons. Weapon mods can only be accessed via the selection screen when starting a mission or when accessing it from a workbench. it cannot be accessed when finding a new weapon.

Each weapon has two mod slots and five unique mods. Any mod can be placed in either slot. Each mod impacts the stats and gameplay of the weapon, so choose carefully. Check the green extensions on the stats bar to see how and how much the modification improves the weapon.

Armor Selection

Access the armor selection screen by using the weapon locker in Normandy's cargo bay or in Shepard's cabin. Use this screen to choose between unique armor sets or to build armor out of pieces found on missions. Customize Shepard's armor by combining up to five pieces of armor. Each piece has a specific effect that adds to Shepard's overall combat effectiveness.

This customized armor can be tinted or patterned. Unique armor sets cannot be tinted or patterned - check the orange markers on the armor stats bars for comparisons between selected and equipped armor pieces. This will help you craft a powerful custom set.

The Squad Screen


Select Squad on the Mission Computer to review the Powers available to Commander Shepard and his/her Companions. As you level up and gain points, you can spend them here to upgrade your powers.

Squadmate Powers


View the powers of the squadmates (Companions) currently active in your party by clicking the arrows next to their portraits on the bottom-left of the screen.

Navigating Powers

Select an unlocked power and click (Expand) to start spending points in the power's tree. Your points are tallied on the top-right of the screen.

Powers are available for upgrade are in blue. Grayed-out powers are locked until Shepard or the selected squadmate reaches a higher level. Click (Auto Level-Up) to have powers automatically upgraded for you. permanently set automatic power upgrades by adjusting the Auto Level-Up setting in the Options/Gameplay menu off the Mission Computer.

Purchasing & Evolving Powers


Upgrade a power by selecting the leftmost icon and clicking (Upgrade Power). Everything to the right of the leftmost icon (Rank 1) are upgrades and can also be evolved with the points tallied on the top-right of the screen. The Rank 2 upgrade costs two points, Rank 3 costs three, and so on. If you have enough points, you can evolve multiple upgrades at once.

Each upgrade must be evolved in order from left to right, but at Rank 4, the chain splits in two. From here, you can only choose one upgrade per rank, so review your options carefully before locking in a choice. Undo your changes at any point before leaving the Squad screen by clicking (Undo Upgrade). Returning to the Mission Computer by clicking (Back) twice locks in your choices.

Reputation Indicator

The bar on the left-hand side of the main Squad screen shows Shepard's reputation. When the reputation bar reaches certain thresholds, new dialogue options are unlocked. As you choose Renegade or Paragon actions in dialogue, the reputation bar grows You need not to stick to one or the other to earn reputation points. - a Paragon Shepard tends to be compassionate and heroic, and a Renegade Shepard tends toward calculated and ruthless behavior.


The Game Journal

Select the Journal on the Mission Computer to check your progress, review your mission summary, objectives, and to learn about the Mass Effect universe.

  • Mission Summary: Review your current objectives in the Mission Summary tab. Return to this screen when you have forgotten what to do next.
  • Codex Entries: Review the galactic codex to learn about the ME universe, its people, places, technology, and history. Primary codex entries are narrated. Secondary code entries are text-only.




The HUD, short for Heads-Up Display, is the collection of icons and status bars you see on the edges of the screen as you play the game. In Mass Effect 3, there are five HUDs to keep an eye on:

  1. Shield Bar
  2. Health Bar
  3. Power Cooldown Indicator
  4. Ammo Indicator
  5. Squadmate Status

Shield Bar

Monitor your shield level by checking the blue bar on the bottom of the screen. When this bar is full, shields prevent the brunt of an attack from affecting your health. As attacks are absorbed by your shield, it is reduced in strength. When the shield bar is depleted, incoming attacks affect your health bar instead.

Shields take several seconds to recharge and regenerate. Any damage taken during this recharge period stops the process. A shattered shield takes longer to regenerate than a partially depleted shield.

Health Bar

Health is represented by the red bar broken into five segments that are tucked underneath the blue shield bar on the bottom of the screen. When you are attacked while the shield bar is depleted, the rightmost red segment of the health bar starts turning gray. Only First Aid can regenerate a fully depleted bar of health. A health segment that is only partially reduced will regenerate on its own if you can get to cover and avoid further damage. YOU DIE IF YOU LOSE ALL FIVE HEALTH SEGMENTS!

Power Cooldown Indicator

Some Powers require energy to use. The time it takes before you can use a power again is called a cooldown. Cooldown periods vary, depending on power. When cooldown is in effect, two red semicircles appear on either side of the targeting reticle at the center of the screen. Cooldown time can be judged by the distance between the two semicircles. When these come together and merge, cooldown is complete, and you can use powers again.

Ammo Indicator

Weapons use heat-sink technology to enable rapid, devastating firepower. When a clip's worth of heat accumulates in the sink, it is ejected from the weapon. Running out of heat sinks is effectively the same as running out of ammo.

Keep track of your heat-sink inventory on the bottom-left of the screen. The bottom number indicates how many shots the current heat sink has left, and the top number shows you the total number of shots the entire inventory of heat sinks have left. When a weapon runs out of sinks, "No Ammo" will display just below the targeting reticle, and you'll have to find new cylinders for the weapon or switch to an already-loaded weapon.

Squadmate Status

There are two portraits of Shepard's current squadmates below the shield bar on the bottom of the screen. The icon beside each portrait shows the last power the squadmate used and its current cooldown status. A squadmate's portrait flashes red when they take damage, and if they become incapacitated, the portrait fades to grey.


Basic Controls


This section covers basic combat controls and is intended for players new to the Mass Effect series.


Move using the following keys:

  • (W): Forward
  • (A): Left
  • (S): Right
  • (D): Backward

Camera Control & Aiming

  • Move the mouse to look around
  • Hold the Right Mouse Button to accurately aim your weapon
  • To fire a weapon, press the Left Mouse Button. To reload, press (R).
  • Switching to the previous weapon held by pressing (X).
  • To bring up the Weapon Menu, press and hold (LEFT SHIFT). Use this interface, which appears at the bottom of the screen below the Power Menu, to choose a weapon from Shepard's inventory. The game pauses while the Weapon Menu is open.
  • To perform a basic melee attack, press (F) while standing close to an enemy. To perform a heavy melee attack, press and hold (F). Each character class has a unique heavy melee. To do a melee combo, press (F) repeatedly.
  • To run, press, and hold (SPACEBAR) while moving forward.
  • To dodge attacks and projectiles, or to get out of cover quickly, move and press (SPACEBAR).



Combat Tips

How to be Effective in Combat


Cerberus Defense

Cerberus uses mobile defenses. Find and destroy the portable generators that power their shield pylons and cover nodes.

Combat Rolls

Use combat rolls to get quickly in and out of cover


Headshots inflict superior damage on most targets.

Heavy Melee

Heavy Melee is an effective attack against unarmored or unshielded enemies.

Higher Ground

Watch out for opponents on higher ground! Elevated enemies can shoot you even in cover.

Barrier Engine

Reaper troops protect themselves by deploying generators called Barrier Engines. Target these first!

Suppress Shields

Keep firing and unleashing powers to prevent enemy shields from regenerating.

Squad Bonus

Squadmates do more damage when ordered to attack a specific target.

Squad Configuration

Choosing the right Companion to complement Shepard's strengths and weaknesses is key. Experiment with squad configurations.

How to Utilize Powers


Here are some helpful tips on how to understand your Powers and how to effectively use them in battle:

  • Armor Piercing: Use hard-hitting weapons against armored opponents. Incendiary and Armor-Piercing Ammo also help.
  • Barriers & Shields: Shields and barriers protect against health damage. Shields appear as blue, and barriers are purple.
  • Heal: Shepard's current health bar will be regenerated, but already-depleted segments can only be restored by using First Aid from the Power Wheel.
  • Passive Powers: The last two power upgrades in a tree are passive skills that improve combat, weight capacity, and Paragon & Renegade bonuses.
  • Revive: Use the First Aid power to resuscitate a fallen Companion from a distance. This consumes Medi-Gel. Move to your comrade to resuscitate them without using a Medi-Gel.
  • Strategy - Barriers & Shields: Use rapid-fire weapons (Assault Rifles) and Disruptor Ammo to bring down shields and barriers. Stop shields from regenerating by decimating them with Overload, Shield Drain, or Disruptor Ammo.
  • Strategy - Geth: Geth rely heavily on their shields and are therefore vulnerable to Overload, Shield Drain, Sabotage, and Disruptor Ammo.
  • Strategy - Cerberus: Target Cerberus generators with Overload or Sabotage to cripple their defenses. If you take a Cerberus' position, repair the shields to use them yourself.
  • Weight Capacity: Carrying too many Weapons will increase the cooldown of your powers, effectively slowing down how often you can use your Powers.
Power Combos

Power Combos require a source power and a detonator power. Source powers generally leave a lasting effect on an enemy (e.g. Pull, Cryo Blast, Reave). Detonator powers generally deal high damage or force (e.g. Carnage, Incinerate, Warp). Most powers can be a source, a detonator, or both, so explore the many combinations. Power Combos come in four types:

  • Biotic Combos: Trigger these by combining more than one biotic effect, such as lifting an enemy with Pull before striking them with Warp. Biotic Combos result in an explosion that blasts not just the target, but also the area around the target.
  • Electric Combos: Trigger these by combining an electrical effect with a detonator, such as electrocuting an enemy with Overload before striking them with Concussive Shot. Electric Combos result in bonus damage to shields and a chance to stun undefended enemies.
  • Flame Combos: Trigger these by combining a flame effect with a lethal detonator, such as igniting an enemy with Incinerate before finishing them off with Carnage. Flame Combos result in bonus damage to armor and a chance to light undefended enemies on fire.
  • Cryo Combos: Trigger these by combining a freeze effect with a lethal detonator, such as freezing an enemy with Cryo Ammo before finishing them off with a Biotic Charge. Cryo combos freeze undefended enemies and will chill the rest.

Utilizing Cover


Use cover objects to hold out against tough enemies. Using cover is essential when playing on harder difficulty levels. Accuracy is improved when leaning out of cover to fire. Heavy recoil is also reduced.

Taking Cover

There are three ways to enter cover:

  • Move against cover and press (SPACEBAR).
  • Roll forward into cover by pressing (SPACEBAR) while moving.
  • Storm/Run into cover by holding (SPACEBAR).

Zoom Fire

Pop out of cover to fire accurately by pressing and holding the Right Mouse Button to zoom and then pressing the Left Mouse Button to fire. While zoomed, a superior targeting reticle appears on-screen.

Peek Fire

Fire over cover without standing up by pressing the Left Mouse Button

Swat Turn

Move from one cover spot to adjacent cover on the left or right by holding (A) or (D) and pressing (SPACEBAR).

Ninety-Degree Cover Turn

Round a corner in cover by standing at the edge of a cover object and clicking the (Middle Mouse Button).


Vault over low cover by holding (W) and pressing (SPACEBAR). Alternatively, quick-vault by tapping (SPACEBAR) twice while approaching low cover. This can also be done while storming to hurdle over cover.

Cover Slip & Cover Kill

  • Cover Slip: Storm forward out of cover by holding (W) while standing at the edge of cover and then pressing and holding (SPACEBAR).
  • Cover Kill: Instantly kill enemies standing on the other side of a shared piece of low cover by moving across from them and pressing and holding (F).

Standing Melee

Attack enemies around the edges of cover by standing at the edge and pressing (F).

How to Counter Enemies


Listed below are tips on how to deal with the various Enemies you'll encounter in Mass Effect 3.

  • Atlas: The Atlas is a hulking death machine with powerful armor, shields, and weapons. Shatter and focus on the canopy to expose the pilot.
  • Banshee: Stop a Banshee when she becomes charged by damaging her while she uses biotic jumps to close in.
  • Brute: Don't let a Brute get close! Brutes are vicious opponents that can instantly kill you.
  • Cannibal: Cannibals form armored plating by reclaiming fallen Cannibals and Husks. Shooting these plates deals no damage to the Cannibal until they are blown off.
  • Centurion: Centurions deploy smoke screens to conceal their movement. See through this by equipping a sniper rifle with certain scope mods.
  • Engineer: Pick off engineers before they set up armored turrets or repair a damaged Atlas.
  • Geth Hunter: A cloaked Geth Hunter moves through the field virtually undetected, allowing them to flank with powerful plasma-shotguns. Take out their shields to disable their cloaking abillity.
  • Geth Prime: Geth Primes are command-and-control units that pulverize their enemies with pulse cannons, missile drones, and gun turrets.
  • Geth Pyro: Geth Pyros have flamethrowers that burn enemies at close range. Target their fuel tanks and use Overload and Sabotage.
  • Guardian: Guardian shields block powers, shots, and melee attacks. To kill a Guadian, stagger them with Throw or Concussive Shot, or use Pull to tear away their shields. Flanking them also works.
  • Marauder: Marauders buff Husks and Cannibals by giving them armored plating. Take out the Marauder first when they are out on the battlefield.
  • Nemesis: The Nemesis is a nimble opponent armed with a powerful sniper rifle. Take cover when you spot a red laser sight that's honing in on your position.
  • Phantom: Destroy a Phantom's sword to remove its melee abilities. Phantoms are agile combatants, so keep pressure on them.
  • Ravager: When a Ravager's sac breaks, Swarmers are released. Swarmers are weak, but a group of them can kill or keep your shields from regenerating.

How to Utilize ME3 Weapons


Here, you'll find useful combat tips on how to properly utilize the different Weapons in Mass Effect 3:

  • Armor Piercing: Use hard-hitting weapons against armored opponents. Incendiary and Armor-Piercing Ammo also help.
  • Barriers & Shields: Shields and barriers protect against health damage. Shields appear as blue, and barriers are purple.
  • Cover Piercing: The Widow, Black Widow, and Javelin weapons can fire through enemies and light cover. Mod other weapons, like the Mattock and Claymore to apply this devastating effect.
  • Firing from Cover: Weapons are more accurate when fired from cover.
  • Firing Ranges: Test out your weapons on the Citadel's firing range, located by the Spectre offices.
  • Overheating: Weapons have thermal clips to prevent overheating. Clips use a universal design, so retrieve compatible clips from combat areas and fallen enemies.
  • Reducing Recoil: Powerful weapons recoil and are difficult to aim. Fire from cover and apply certain mods to steady your hand.
  • Thermal Clips: Spent thermal clips are ejected to cool weapons. Run out of clips, and you can't fire.
  • Weapon Balance: It's good practice to equip one slow, heavy weapon, and one rapid-firing weapon to deal with different defenses.
  • Weapon Mods: Powerful weapons tend to have decreased thermal-clip capacities. Mod your weapon to improve its efficiency.
  • Weight Capacity: Carrying too many Weapons will increase the cooldown of your powers, effectively slowing down how often you can use your Powers.

Squad Commands


This section provides instructions on how to control your squadmates:


  • Point your targeting reticle and press (Q) or (E) to order a squadmate to a position.

Use Power

  • Point your targeting reticle and press (Q) or (E) to order a squadmate to attack the target with their respective default power. Any squadmate power mapped to hotkey (1) through (8) work the same way.

Rally Squad

  • Press (C) to rally squadmates to your current position.

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