Mass Effect 2 Suicide Mission Choices: how to make sure everyone lives to get the best ending

Mass Effect 2 is quite unique in video games in that most of the game is about preparation. Rather than being outright heroic and saving the world piece-by-piece, ME2 is all about preparing for one big world-saving action: the Suicide Mission.

The Suicide Mission is the core of Mass Effect 2; every action you take throughout the game leads up to this moment, and in this ending, any member of the Normandy crew or your cast of combat squadmates can die during this mission. Exactly what happens is all down to the choices you’ve made throughout the game and in the mission itself.

Naturally, the events of the Suicide Mission will determine a great number of things in the next game - these are major choices with consequences in Mass Effect 3. In addition, keeping everyone alive will get you the ‘No One Left Behind’ trophy/achievement. 

On this page, we detail exactly how to prepare for and navigate the choices of ME2’s suicide mission so that you can get the best ending - that means making choices so that everybody lives - but keeping everyone alive isn't entirely simple... 

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Checklist before the Point of No Return - the Reaper IFF

The first thing to understand about Mass Effect 2’s Suicide Mission is that you should treat the Reaper IFF Mission as your point of no return. After completing that mission, the status quo changes and the clock is ticking if you want to save everybody’s life.

Before the Point of No Return, you should snake sure that you have done the following:

  • Secure the Loyalty of all squadmates by completing Loyalty Missions & resolving conflicts, as detailed in our Mass Effect 2 Loyalty Guide.
  • Purchased all of the Critical Normandy Ship Upgrades, which are suggested by various members of your crew:
    • Heavy Ship Armor (Jacob) - 15,000 Palladium cost
    • Multicore Shielding (Tali) - 15,000 Palladium cost
    • Thanix Cannon (Garrus) - 15,000 Platinum cost
  • Completed any other content you wish to before the post-game including side quest assignments, weapon upgrades, and non-critical ship upgrades.
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While you will have the opportunity to do other things such as side quests or extra missions after the Reaper IFF Mission, it is unwise to do so if your goal is the best ending. Once the mission is complete, a major story event plays out.

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Fate of the Normandy Crew - how to keep everyone alive

Once the Reaper IFF mission is completed, there will be a contrived reason to force the playable squad mates to leave the Normandy, and disaster strikes. After a brief sequence where you take control of a different character, almost the entire crew of the Normandy is abducted by the Collectors. This means the pressure is on to get to their base.

How many members of the crew can be saved is determined by how many missions you now go off and complete before initiating the Suicide Mission and heading through the Omega 4 Relay to rescue them. 

Basically, if you delay going through the Omega 4 Relay once the crew is kidnapped, members of the crew will die. The more missions you complete and the further you delay, the more members of the crew can die - including Chambers. 

However, you are able to tackle just one mission, and if you're following our ME2 mission order, it should be a specific one: Legion's loyalty mission. Here's what to do - as if you go wrong, you'll lose half the crew:

  1. As mentioned above, complete all loyalty missions at least before getting the Reaper IFF. You should also complete any and all side content you plan to finish before the post-game. 
  2. Go ahead and Acquire the Reaper IFF. As part of this, Legion will end up aboard the Normandy, deactivated.
  3. Without doing anything else, re-activate Legion. Talk to it until it gives you its Loyalty Mission, 'A House Divided'. You may have to talk to it multiple times to make this conversation trigger. Sometimes, leaving the floor of the Normandy it is on and going to a different floor and then returning can help to 'force' the conversation to happen. 
    • We can't stress this enough: do not open the Galaxy Map until Legion gives you its loyalty mission.
  4. Once Legion has asked you to help it with the Heretic Geth for its loyalty mission, go to the Galaxy Map. Start its loyalty mission immediately, without leaving the Galaxy Map.
  5. As soon as you return from Legion's loyalty mission & next use the galaxy map, the crew will be kidnapped.

What is absolutely key is that once the crew is kidnapped, you do not do any missions. However, after Reaper IFF, you can open the Galaxy Map once before this happens - so you should use this one Galaxy Map opening to do Legion's loyalty mission before the crew is kidnapped.

If you don’t do any missions after they#re abducted, the whole Normandy crew will survive. If you do a handful of missions, half of them will survive. Several missions will see them all killed except for Doctor Chakwas, who lives to bear witness to the terrible fate of the others.

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While saving the Normandy Crew is not required to get the ‘No One Left Behind’ achievement, it does have minor consequences in Mass Effect 3, as several people who can die here can appear briefly in that game.

Through the Omega 4 Relay

Once you activate the mission and head through the Omega 4 Relay, there’ll be a scene where you get to consumate your relationship with your choice of romanceable character, followed by a series of scenes where the Normandy, Joker, and EDI show what they can do. 

Several of these scenes are hidden ‘branching paths’, however, with what happens depending on what ship upgrades you have. If you lack upgrades, several squadmates can die:

  • If you don’t have Multicore Shielding: one out of Garrus, Grunt, Kasumi, Legion, Tali, Thane, or Zaeed will perish
  • If you don’t have Heavy Ship Armor: either Jack or Kasumi will die
  • If you don’t have the Thanix Cannon: one of Garrus, Grunt, Jack, or Samara/Morinth will die
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Suicide Mission Choices: Teams in the Collector Base to keep everyone alive

Once the Normandy has crash-landed, you’re forced to make some major choices about jobs for the mission. Shepard will split the team into groups, handing out various jobs to various squadmates. You’ll then have to do this a few more times during the mission.

Anyone is eligible for any job, but if you make the wrong choice, people will die.

There’s a number of different squadmates who are the ‘right’ choice for each role and will get through it with everyone in one piece, however. If for some reason you ignored our above advice and have come into the mission with some squad members that aren’t loyal, don’t use them - non-loyal squadmates will cause deaths if placed in key roles

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With that said, here’s the choices you should make throughout the Suicide Mission:

  • Tech Specialist for the Vents: Kasumi, Legion, or Tali. Make sure whoever you choose is loyal, or they will die.

  • 2nd Fire Team Leader: Garrus, Jacob, or Miranda. They must also be loyal, or they will get the tech specialist killed.

  • Biotic Specialist for a Shield: Jack or Samara/Morinth. They must be loyal, or they will get one of your squad mates killed.

  • Distraction Fire Team Leader: Garrus, Jacob, or Miranda again. As always, they should be loyal, or someone will die.

  • Normandy Crew Escort: Any Loyal Squadmate will get the job done, but we recommend you send Mordin, as he is at the most at-risk for the rest of the mission. Electing to not send an escort will get the crew killed.

  • Final Boss Squad: You’ll need to choose a squad for the final battle. You should take two Loyal squad mates that aren’t going to be as useful in holding the line defensively with the second team; squishier, less-tanky fighters. We recommend Mordin (if you didn’t send him to escort the crew), Jack, Kasumi, or Tali in particular. Any disloyal member in your squad for the final boss will die. The final boss involves fighting an enemy with armored weak points while dealing with waves of collector troops. While squad composition will help, it's not the hardest encounter, so try to make choices that'll keep people alive. 

  • Fate of the Base: As for if you decide to destroy or keep the Collector Base? Well, that choice plays out in Mass Effect 3. It can impact available endings to you in that game, but only under very specific circumstances. More detail can be found in our Choices & Consequences guide.

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How the Final Distraction Team Survival Rate works

When you leave behind the distraction team so Shepard can face down the final boss of Mass Effect 2, the game uses a pretty simple but invisible mathematical equation to figure out the overall skill of the squad you left behind. 

Each character in the game is assigned a value of how useful they are to the defensive effort. An average of those values is calculated, and this average defender score value determines how many characters die in that final stand.

The top tier of defenders is occupied by Garrus, Grunt, and Zaeed. If you have at least two of these in the defensive squad you leave behind and they are loyal, you should be able to get through the mission without anyone dying in this final defense. 

The weakest defenders are Jack, Kasumi, Mordin, and Tali - which is why we advise you send one with the crew and take the other two to the final boss - that way, only one of them is present to drag down the averaged defending score. 

If squadmates are to die here, any non-loyal character will die first. Beyond that, they will die in the following order: Mordin, Tali, Kasumi, Jack, Miranda, Jacob, Garrus, Samara/Morinth, Legion, Thane, Zaeed, and finally Grunt. 

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