Achieving different Mass Effect endings, based on the choices you undertake during your adventure, has always been one of the things that makes this series stand out. Although an element of this depends on if you pursued a mainly good (Paragon) or bad (Renegade) path, the finale of the campaign also includes some key decisions that directly affect how your storyline concludes. If you're running through the Mass Effect Legendary Edition from the start then it's helpful to know what endings can be worked towards, particularly as the resolution will carry over to the sequel so has a longer trajectory.
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 that broadly dictates 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.
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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.