Mass Effect endings represent the culmination of the decisions you make during the story, to a degree at least, and this has always been one of the underpinning tenets of the series. How you conduct yourself during the adventure and whether you lean towards the good (Paragon) or bad (Renegade) path will lead to towards certain outcomes, but when you reach the finale of the campaign you'll also be presented with some critical choices that directly affect how the story ends for this initial instalment. If you've started a playthrough of the whole Mass Effect Legendary Edition from the beginning then it pays to know what endings are available, and how the decisions you make for them continue to ripple through to the sequel.
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As we said before, the Paragon or Renegade groundwork you lay as you progress through the game will have an effect on the outcome to a degree. However, there is one big decision you need to make during the climatic Race Against Time: Final Battle mission regarding the fate of the Council, and what you do there will broadly dictate how the story is resolved. If you're ready to find out what the different Mass Effect endings are, then we've got the details on how to achieve them.
Mass Effect ending - Save the Council
If you choose to save the Council during the final battle then the Alliance Fleet will be commanded to focus on protecting the Destiny Ascension, where the Council is trapped. This effort will be successful, and despite suffering a number of casualties the Destiny Ascension is saved and the Council survives.
During the epilogue, Shepard will be thanked by the councillors of the various races, either publicly (Paragon) or privately (Renegade). Humanity secures a seat on the Council, which Shepard needs to vote to be filled by either Captain Anderson or Ambassador Udina. Although Anderson is more Paragon and Udina errs to Renegade, your choice makes little difference other than who you will briefly encounter as a Council representative in Mass Effect 2.
Mass Effect ending - Let the Council die / Concentrate on Sovereign
Note that both of these options have the same outcome, however Let the Council die gives Renegade points whereas Concentrate on Sovereign awards Paragon points.
Selecting either of these options during the final battle will focus the Alliance Fleet's assault on Sovereign, despite calls for assistance from the Destiny Ascension over comms channels. Ultimately this leads to the destruction of the Destiny Ascension by the geth forces, and the death of the Council members.
During the epilogue, Shepard will meet with Captain Anderson and Ambassador Udina, where Udina will outline plans for humanity to take over the Council. If you have a higher Paragon score then the new Council will still be made up of the various races but with a human leader, whereas a greater Renegade score will result in a completely human Council. Shepard is then asked to select either Anderson or Udina to serve on the Council, however your choice makes little difference and, as with the option save the council, only affect who you will encounter as a Council representative in Mass Effect 2. This ending leads to a greater resentment of humanity by the other races in the sequel.