The Mass Effect 2 ending is the culmination of all your hard fought battles against the Reapers, and is heavily affected by the bonds you form with your crew, so naturally you want to get the best outcome you can. This is particularly relevant if you're working your way through the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, as the decisions you make during the endgame carry over to influence how things can pan out in the third instalment of the trilogy.
To achieve the best Mass Effect 2 ending there are a number of essential tasks you need to complete, and these need to be done in a specific order or you can potentially lock yourself into a suboptimal conclusion once the countdown clock starts ticking. No matter how you want things to turn out, we've got all the details covering every Mass Effect 2 ending.
How to get the best Mass Effect 2 ending
To earn the best Mass Effect 2 ending you need to put in plenty of groundwork first, as it's crucial that your squad is adequately prepared before you reach the Suicide Mission finale. Ensure that you complete the following steps:
- Buy all defensive and offensive upgrades.
- Before you start the Act 2 Reaper IFF mission, recruit all crew members except Legion and complete their loyalty missions.
- Recruit Legion in the Act 2 Reaper IFF mission, then complete their loyalty mission immediately.
- Resolve the confrontations between Jack and Miranda, and Tali and Legion, with the Paragon or Renegade option to retain all of their loyalties.
- Once the crew of the Normandy have been kidnapped and you've completed Legion's loyalty mission, immediately travel through the Omega 4 relay and don't touch any other missions.
- During the Act 3 Collector Base: Infiltration mission, choose Kasumi, Legion, or Tali as the Tech Specialist to open the doors, and Miranda, Garrus, or Jacob to lead the second squad.
- During the Act 3 Collector Base: The Long Walk mission, choose Jack or Samara/Morinth to create the biotic field, and Miranda, Garrus, or Jacob to lead the second squad. Select a non-soldier such as Mordin or Tali to escort the surviving crew back to the Normandy.
- When preparing your squad for the final battle, make sure you leave at least one strong defender such as Garrus, Grunt, or Zaeed behind to protect the remaining crew. If available, you should take a couple out of Jack, Kasumi, Mordin, and Tali with you in your squad, as they are weak defenders.
Should you destroy the Collector Base or use the radiation pulse instead
Once you reach the core and begin prepping it for destruction, you'll receive an incoming transmission from the Elusive Man with another proposal on how to proceed. He suggests using a timed radiation pulse instead, which will eliminate the Collectors but leave the base intact so it can be used by humanity against the Reapers. You then have to make a choice, which can have a knock-on effect for the Mass Effect 3 ending:
- Destroying the Collector Base is a Paragon action, which will add the Reaper Heart to your War Assets in Mass Effect 3 and works towards the Destroy ending for ME3.
- Saving the Collector Base is a Renegade action, which will add the Reaper Brain to your War Assets in Mass Effect 3 and slightly improves your chances of a better outcome with the Control ending for ME3.
Whichever decision you make, you'll go on to the final confrontation then escape in the Normandy, followed by a meeting with the Illusive Man. If you destroyed the Collector Base then the Illusive Man will be incensed and the star behind him will be blue, whereas if you saved the base then he'll praise your decision and the star will be red. A final scene on the Normandy comes next, and if all your crew survived then you'll get the best Mass Effect 2 ending with everyone greeting or acknowledging you as you walk through the ship. If any of the crew died during the Suicide Mission, then you'll instead see Shepard mourning over one or more caskets instead.
Once the credits have rolled, you have the option to start a fresh playthrough on New Game+ or go back and continue the game. Continuing the game allows you to finish any outstanding missions, and speak to your crew members to hear their opinions about the decision you made regarding the Collector Base. Starting a New Game+ will carry over your upgraded powers, along with your level, weapons, armor, and equipment, however your Paragon and Renegade bars will be emptied. This choice is not exclusive, so you can switch between New Game+ and continuing your previous playthrough at any point.
How to get the worst Mass Effect 2 ending
Of course, getting the best Mass Effect 2 ending is all well and good, but what if you just want to watch the world burn and get the worse ending instead? If that's the case, follow these steps:
- Don't buy any defensive or offensive upgrades.
- Don't recruit Zaeed, leave Grunt in the stasis pod, and recruit the bare minimum crew to initiate the Act 2 Collector Ship mission.
- Immediately follow that up with the Act 2 Reaper IFF mission, and don't recruit Legion when you find them.
- Once the crew of the Normandy have been kidnapped, complete four or more other missions before travelling through the Omega 4 relay. This will leave Doctor Chakwas as the only survivor.
- During the Act 3 Collector Base: Infiltration mission, choose disloyal or unskilled squad members to open the doors and lead the second squad.
- During the Act 3 Collector Base: The Long Walk mission, choose disloyal or unskilled squad members to create the biotic field and to lead the second squad. Don't escort the surviving crew back to the Normandy.
This time, after the final confrontation when you attempt to escape in the Normandy, Joker will try to catch you but fail and you'll fall to your death. Afterwards you'll see Joker meeting with the Illusive Man instead of Shepard, then Joker mourns over all the caskets of the dead crew, including Shepard's with an N7 insignia. Note that if Shepard dies, you naturally won't be able to continue the game afterwards.