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When I left Earth, things were going... poorly. It doesn't seem like I have much time to rally the troops before the situation is completely hopeless. There's precedent in the series for giving you only a certain amount of time to complete objectives. For instance, delaying the completion of the main quest in Mass Effect 2 could potentially cost you squadmates.

Are there certain objectives that I must complete within a certain time period to avoid damaging events in the game or harming my ending?

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Possibly different enough in terms of search terms to keep, but very nearly a duplicate of my question over at… – Shinrai Mar 7 '12 at 4:54
The codex entry for Earth indicates that it'll take 10 Earth Years before the Reapers finish harvesting everybody... I think we've got time. – Raven Dreamer Mar 7 '12 at 6:12
up vote 21 down vote accepted


These come in a few forms, for example, once the mission Tuchanka: Bomb becomes available, you have until you've completed 3 more missions to finish it. After that point, you can no longer complete that mission, with all of the attendant consequences. Most other side missions will 'expire' eventually if you progress the critical path too far while neglecting them. Such expiration is the rule, not the exception.

In addition, many of the minor fetch-quests scattered about the Citadel can only be completed before certain major storyline events. In general, it's best to complete these as soon as they become available, as the NPC's involved in them can and will disappear without notice after a variety of triggers along the critical path.

From what I've seen, there are no explicitly 'urgent' missions like this along the main quest path, so, for the most part, if you do all side quests as they become available, you'll be fine. In a few cases, such as after Priority: Sur'Kesh, the critical path branches, and you must complete one of two missions before continuing. In this case, you'll generally have the option of completing both, so long as you do not continue on to the mission unlocked by completing the first of the two.

The notable 'exception' to all of this is that you should always check in on people in the Citadel, such as your wounded squadmate, as soon as possible. The window of time in which you can do so is often narrow, and your conversations with them (or lack thereof) will have serious implications as you continue with the games primary narrative.

There is one other notable consideration: If you delay certain storyline or DLC missions for too long, you may find that you don't have enough conversation opportunities with squadmates recruited after those events to unlock all of their bonus powers. This is especially easy to have happen with Tali and Javik. It may be worth doing Eden Prime and Rannoch as soon as they are available and you have completed any side missions which the completion of those will lock you out of.

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A simple rule that seems to work for not missing anything is to always do the current Priority mission last, because those seem to be the main points where other missions become unavailable. In particular, completing the Priority mission on a planet with multiple missions always results in those other missions becoming unavailable.

However, there are some missions that can be obtained before a Priority mission, but require you to visit a system that has not been unlocked yet. Those will of course still be available after the Priority mission, but this means that it's not always possible to clear out your Journal completely before doing a Priority mission.

In my experience, the main one to worry about is Priority: Tuchanka, as several seemingly not very urgent side missions will become unavailable due to a surprise event that is triggered by completing this mission.

In-game dialogue will warn you when you're about to lock in to the other main checkpoint near the end of the game, so it's a lot harder to miss that one by accident.

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