I never played any of the games of Mass Effect series. Now I have Mass Effect 2, due to a promotion by Origin, in my library.

Is it possible to understand the storyline of the franchise without playing Mass Effect 1?

4 Answers 4


If you mean to ask: Do I need to play Mass Effect 1 to enjoy or understand Mass Effect 2?

Although the entire franchise is enjoyable - No. You do not "need" to play ME1 to understand or otherwise enjoy ME2.

Mass Effect 2 has a preface that brings players "up to speed" so they have all the pertinent information to fully understand what has happened and what is happening. It also allows players to make choices regarding events in Mass Effect 1 so that you're not stuck in a different story than someone who played Mass Effect 1.

Enjoy your ME2, as is.

  • 2
    Seems like a calculated move to me to motivate people into buying everything else. ME2 is often lauded as the best part of the series, so this may be great marketing. I for one, would be happy if EA finally releases a ME complete edition with all the games and all the DLC instead of that silly trilogy bundle, which lacks the DLC from 2 and 3.
    – Dulkan
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 8:12
  • The DLC was not significant to point of story, just more of a "keep the hamster on the wheel" type stuff. Going without it doesn't devalue gameplay in any way. Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 23:37
  • Can't agree here. Zayeed, Kasumi and Overlord aren't necessary but are quite nice DLCs with their own stories. Arrival is alright, but has significant storyline points leading into ME3 and Lair of the Shadow Broker is in my opinion the most essential DLC of the ME series. A ME2 playthrough without is not complete.
    – Dulkan
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 7:29
  • "Nice to have" and Essential to understand" aren't synonymous, particularly for what is basically SW: KOTOR in design and not terribly far off in execution. That's just my opinion. We'll see if they can redeem the series in ME: Andromeda. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 7:50
  • Also, if your free ME2 comes with DLC, there's a little comic strip-style intro module that you can do at the beginning of each ME2 play that will let you follow the story & make choices that will affect your ME2 and ME3 story lines. I didn't discover the series until ME2, & I never had the time to go back and do ME1, b/c I was so busy trying different story lines & different character types in ME2. For me that DLC was worth the $5 or whatnot. (Of course there are other ways of changing your game settings file, which is kinda fun to fiddle with, but I found going thru the DLC more enjoyable.) Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 18:05

Although one doesn't need to have played any of the games before to fully understand the plot or enjoy the game, I would definitely recommend it. Specially being the trilogy at such a low price nowadays to get a better grasp of the game. And not only in terms of story* but also in gameplay and design.

The franchise suffered few changes from the first game to the last one and depending on personal tastes the whole experience can change in the different iterations.

*Each sequel had a different main writer affecting the way the plot is told, how it unfolds and what weight other sub-stories have.


If you really want to enjoy the Mass Effect series to its fullest potential, you should play all three parts in order, importing your savegame after each one.

  • Each part introduces characters, places and concepts which the later parts assume you already know about. To be fair, there is an ingame encyclopedia which you can read and some of the dialogs with key characters from the first part have some "I have amnesia, can you remind me who you are again?" options, but these infodumps are still a poor substitute for the real connection you will make with these characters during playing the first part.
  • You will make minor and major decisions in each part which will affect the story quite a lot in later parts. There are some major characters in ME1 who will live or die depending on the decisions you make and who will still appear in both the 2nd and 3rd part (or not). However, the decisions you make have almost no consequences for the actual gameplay content outside of cutscenes.

But it might be worth noting that the first part is a bit less polished in regards to graphics, aesthetics and gameplay than the other two. If you play the first one and dislike it because of that, you might want to quit it, read a synopsis of the story, and continue with part 2.


The Answer is Yes and No. I have played Mass Effect 2 before the first part and here am gonna narrate my opinion on this.

Yes - You can understand the story of Mass effect 2 even if you skip playing the first part in the series. You will stumble initially but you will come around if you don't take the storyline very seriously. Over 75+ hours of awesome gameplay awaits you.

No - You wil never get the full essence of Mass effect series without getting a strong grip in the story. Especially in Mass effect 2 you will often come across NPC's which will recognize as a victory hero who defeated Saren and Geth (from Mass effect 1) and you will go like who the heck is Saren and Geth. Sometimes it will annoy you (as it did to me) a lot in fact because i take storyline pretty seriously. Besides storyline of Mass effect 2 have strong roots in ME1(Reapers and their puppets). Also you will meet many characters in ME2 which have deep connection to the protoganist in ME1 and you really don't want to miss the history between characters. And the last thing is ME1 is equally kickass as ME2.

My advice: Start with ME1 to live the awesomeness of Mass effect :)

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