Mass Effect Assignments: how to start every side quest & assignment
While you’ll be doing a lot of running and gunning across the Galaxy, Mass Effect is still a traditional RPG in many ways. That naturally means a whole bunch of side quests - or Assignments, as they’re known officially in the game.
As with the various character classes, abilities and class specializations in Mass Effect 1, the assignments featured are pretty typical RPG tropes - various quests that offer up rewards like XP, items, gear, paragon or renegade alignment points, and of course new and unique storylines. Completing the majority of the game nets you the ‘Completionist’ trophy/achievement - so if you’re going for that, you’ll need to tidy up the majority of the assignments.
One advantage of the branching, multi-game narrative of Mass Effect is that several of these side quests and assignments can also feature choices that have consequences in Mass Effect 2 and 3 - if you do the quest.
On this page, we’ll list every side quest assignment in Mass Effect, plus where to start them and any other key information completionists will need to know - broken up by each of Mass Effect’s core locations:
- Citadel Assignments, part 1
- Normandy Squadmate Assignments
- Citadel Assignments, part 2
- Story Planet Assignments on Feros, Noveria & Virmire
- Citadel Assignments, part 3
- DLC Assignments
- Collectible assignments
- Uncharted World Assignments
These assignments are available from your very first visit to the Citadel very early in the game, though some assignments unlock gradually as more of the Citadel becomes available to you.
- Citadel: Asari Consort: visit the Consort’s Chambers on the Presidium and speak to Nelyna and then Sha’ira.
- Citadel: Doctor Michel: head to the Lower Wards Med Clinic again any time after taking down Fist in Chora’s Den as part of the main story.
- This quest evolves into a ‘second part’ called ‘Citadel: Doctor Michel is Safe’
- Citadel: Homecoming: once Tali has joined your party, speak to Samesh Bhatia near the embassy area commons area, not far from where there’s an Avina terminal.
- Citadel: Jahleed's Fears: once you set out to find evidence against Saren in the Citadel: Expose Saren quest, talk to Jahleed on the Citadel to start the quest. Jahleed can be found in the C-Sec offices in the Wards Access corridor area between the Presidium and Lower Wards.
- This quest leads to several follow-up quests as the storyline twists and turns, including Citadel: Jahleed's Secret, Citadel: Jahleed and Chorban, followed by one of a number of finales such as Citadel: Jahleed Returns Materials, Citadel: Jahleed Arrested, Citadel: Jahleed Set Free.
- Citadel: Presidium Prophet: after the council reject your claims about Eden Prime and the Citadel: Expose Saren main quest begins, find a C-Sec Officer and Hanar on the Presidium in the wide open area near the Citadel Tower.
- Citadel: Reporter's Request: as soon as you can access the Upper Wards (once you’re working to expose Saren), find Emily Wong near the stairway to Flux. Alternatively, picking up the OSD in Fist’s office in Chora’s Den also retroactively gives you the quest.
- Citadel: Rita's Sister: as soon as you’re able to visit Flux, chat to Rita about her sister after overhearing her conversation with her boss, Doran.
- This quest evolves into Citadel: Rita's Sister and Chellick and Citadel: Rita's Sister is Safe as you progress it.
- Citadel: Scan the Keepers: this assignment is dropped into your lap; after meeting the council, a Salarian is right in your path, fiddling with a keeper. A squadmate will even point them out. Chat to the Salarian, Chorban, to start the quest. If you’ve already started the Citadel: Jahleed’s Fears quest before this one, Chorban will move to the Lower Markets, where you can still get the quest from him. We’ve got a guide to the Keeper Locations to get you through this quest.
- Citadel: Schells the Gambler: once you finish the Citadel: Rita’s Sister assignment, return to Flux. You’ll see Schells, a Salarian, get kicked out of the club. Talk to him to start this assignment.
- Depending on choices you make, this assignment will change into either Citadel: Schells' Scanner Given Away or Citadel: Schells has his Data.
- Citadel: Signal Tracking: visit Flux Casino on the Lower Wards and examine a ‘Suspicious Gambling Machine’ in the upstairs corner to start this quest. We’ve got a guide on the signal tracking locations if you need help.
- Citadel: The Fan: you’ll find Conrad Verner standing in the Markets area of the Upper Wards. There are three stages to this assignment; you’ll need to visit Verner when you first gain access to the wards, then again after becoming a Spectre, and one last time after completing any of the three main story worlds.
- Citadel: Xeltan's Complaint: you can hear about this quest from the Elcor Xeltan in the Elcor embassy, but you’ll have to talk to General Septimus as part of Citadel: Asari Consort to get this quest.
- As it progresses, this quest changes name to Citadel: Xeltan Convinced.
- Missing Person / UNC: Privateers: get this assignment by speaking to Garoth in the Citadel Tower after your second meeting with the council. Alternatively, it can be received by hacking a computer terminal on Noveria. It will also automatically trigger if you find and scan the MSV Majesty in the Horse Head Nebula.
Once you’re back on the Normandy after your first Citadel Visit, you’ll have the chance to talk to your squadmates during down time aboard the ship. If you keep talking to them, three of your alien squad members will have requests for you.
What squadmates have to say changes each time you complete a main story mission; you may have to complete one or two story missions before they give you their request and the associated assignment.
- Garrus: Find Dr. Saleon: keep talking to Garrus and he’ll gradually reveal information about this C-Sec case gone wrong, which eventually gives you a location to head to.
- Tali and the Geth / Tali’s Pilgrimage: Tali will tell you about her pilgrimage, but this assignment only pops when you clear a Geth Base on Solcrum as part of UNC: Geth Incursions. There’s a terminal you can interact with in that planet’s Geth Stronghold, and you can then gift that data to Tali aboard Normandy.
- Wrex: Family Armor: keep talking to Wrex and talking about his past; he will ask you to retrieve his family armor, which was stolen. Alternatively, you can find the assignment goal on Tuntau in the Phoenix System of Argos Rho; finding the armor first gives you the quest, then you can turn it in by talking to Wrex. We recommend, for various reasons, that you do this quest before heading to Virmire.
These assignments will be available the next time you visit the Citadel after completing any one of the three ‘core’ story planet missions of Therum, Noveria, or Feros.
Three of the quests that unlock this point are a branch based on your pre-service history character background - each background gets one exclusive side quest. The other three are available to all.
- Citadel: I Remember Me: only available if your Shepard has the Colonist background. You’ll automatically get a call about this quest after arriving on the Citadel and using the elevator from the docking bay.
- Citadel: Old Friends: only available if your Shepard has the Earthborn background. Find Finch in Chora’s Den.
- Citadel: Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Things: only available if your Shepard has the Spacer background. Talk to Zabaleta in the Wards Access corridor area.
- Citadel: Family Matter: near the Presidium financial district and Barla Von’s office, there's two people audibly arguing. Insert yourself into their conversation.
- Citadel: Planting a Bug: you must have completed Citadel: Reporter’s Request for Emily Wong. If you have, find Wong in the Citadel Tower to get this continuation.
- Citadel: Snap Inspection: this will automatically occur as you step off the Normandy when it first arrives back at the Citadel.
- Citadel: The Fourth Estate: the reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani can be found at the bottom of the elevator from the docking bay; talk to her to take on this verbally-charged assignment.
Mass Effect’s handful of story-critical planets also have a few assignments of their own - though it’s only a few for each planet, and Therum actually has no side quests at all, being a much more straightforward affair. Here’s the quests you can expect on each planet:
- Noveria: Espionage: as you explore the port in Noveria, you’ll be approached by an Asari named Mallene Calis, giving you this side quest. If you agree to help her, the quest continues. If you refuse, it is marked as completed.
- Noveria: Smuggling: there’s a Hanar Merchant named Opold on Noveria, in the port area. Chat to it and it’ll ask for your help smuggling an item.
- Feros: Data Recovery: when you’re in the Mako heading from Zhu’s Hope to the ExoGeni facility, you can stop and head into ruins - speak to the scientists hiding within.
- Feros: Geth in the Tunnels: after speaking to Fai Dan as part of the main story and then dealing with some Geth, speak to him again. You can also get the quest by heading into the tunnels and blowing up the transmitter.
- Feros: Power Cells: once you’ve met Fai Dan in Zhu’s Hope, talk to May O’Connell, who hangs out near the area entrance.
- Feros: Varren Meat: once you’ve free reign to look around Zhu’s Hope, talk to Davin Reynolds.
- Feros: Water Restoration: find and talk to Macha Doyle inside the Zhu’s Hope colony.
- Virmire: Assisting Kirrahe's Team & Virmire: Wrex and the Genophage: both unmissable quests that will pop part-way into the Virmire mission - with the Wrex mission only happening if you recruited him. We’ve got a full guide to the choices on Virmire that helps explain the decisions you’re making here.
While you can go back and forth to the Citadel as much as you like, these assignments will be made available when the story takes you back to the Citadel and for a brief period you can’t leave there.
- Citadel: Our Own Worst Enemy: once Captain Anderson asks you to meet him in Flux but before you do go to join him, talk to Charles Saracino, who is leading a group of protestors.
- Citadel: Negotiator's Request: once Captain Anderson asks you to meet him in Flux, you’ll be able to talk to Mr. Keeler near the entrance to Flux to get this assignment.
The DLC for Mass Effect adds two new locations with associated story missions - Asteroid X57 and Pinnacle Station. Note that Pinnacle Station is only available in the original releases of the game, not the Legendary Edition remaster. Bring Down The Sky is available in both.
Bring Down the Sky / Asteroid X57 Assignments:
- X57: Bring Down the Sky: simply land on the asteroid; this is the main story mission.
- X57: Avoid the Blasting Caps: will be introduced to you over comms when you turn off the first fusion torch.
- X57: Missing Engineers: either find one of the engineers out on the Asteroid or speak to Simon Atwell later in the main quest.
Pinnacle Station Assignments:
- Pinnacle Station: Combat Missions: visit Pinnacle Station. Talk to Admiral Ahern, then Ochren.
- Pinnacle Station: Convoy: clear Admiral Ahren’s special scenario to get this quest.
- Pinnacle Station: Vidinos: beat the high score of a challenge to start this quest.
Each of these five assignments relate to various resources that can be found on the uncharted worlds you can land the Mako on through the galaxy as presented in Mass Effect. Each of these quests automatically begins the first time that you pick up one of these resources on any uncharted world.
Keep in mind that in most of these cases, there are more of these resources to be found than required to finish each quest. Aside from some cash and XP, there is no bonus to finding ‘extra’ resources.
- UNC: Prothean Data Discs
- UNC: Turian Insignias
- UNC: Valuable Minerals
- UNC: Locate Signs of Battle
- UNC: Asari Writings
These assignments make up the bulk of the side quests in the game - relatively random encounters you can have out in space while exploring the galaxy.
Most of these quests can be acquired in multiple ways - either through stumbling on the quest location while exploring a planet, through hacking computers and terminals, through overheard news reports and banter, or even through distress signals. Many of these quests have multiple names depending on how you first acquire them - so we bundle each quest together with its multiple monikers below.
- UNC: Asari Diplomacy / Mercenaries: after completing one story planet, talk to Nassana Dantius in the lounge area of the Citadel’s Presidium embassies area. Alternatively, the quest automatically begins if you assault a merc base on Sharjila in the Macedon system.
- UNC: Colony of the Dead / Investigate Samples: hack a terminal in the ExoGeni building on Feros - or go to Chasca in the Matano system and enter one of the planet’s research stations.
- UNC: Dead Scientists / Doctor at Risk: find a clue on a terminal on Noveria, or get it automatically when you first enter the Newton system.
- UNC: Derelict Freighter: any time after finishing the story mission on Feros, find this ship drifting in the Caspian System of the Maroon Sea Cluster, hidden in an asteroid belt.
- UNC: Distress Call / Unusual Readings: hack the computer in Udina’s office on the Citadel, or go to Metgos in the Argos Rho cluster’s Hydra system.
- UNC: Espionage Probe / Investigate Shipments: simply take the Normandy to the Voyager Cluster’s Amazon system.
- UNC: ExoGeni Facility / Investigate Facility: obtain the quest by unearthing a transmission while on Feros, or get the assignment by landing on Nodacrux in the Maroon Sea cluster.
- UNC: Geth Incursions / Geth Activities: acquired by hacking a Geth terminal on Feros or terminal on Virmire, but it’s more easily obtained by visiting the Armstrong Nebula, where it’ll be given to you on arrival.
- UNC: Hostage: you’ll get a message from Admiral Hackett the first time you enter the Farinata System of the Hades Gamma cluster.
- UNC: Hostile Takeover / A Person of Interest: either talk to Helena Blake in the Citadel Presidium Financial District after becoming a Spectre, or decrypt a terminal in C-Sec Academy.
- UNC: Major Kyle / Strange Transmission: unlocked by hacking various terminals on Feros, the Citadel, or Noveria. Alternatively, navigate to the Century system of the Hawking Eta cluster to get it automatically.
- UNC: Missing Marines / UNC: Cerberus / UNC: Hades' Dogs: after becoming a Spectre, speak to Admiral Kahoku in the Citadel Tower to get the Missing Marines assignment. Alternatively, take Normandy to Edolus in the Artemis Tau cluster to get the assignment that way. Once Missing Marines is completed, UNC: Cerberus triggers when you next use the galaxy map, and that quest leads directly to UNC: Hades’ Dogs.
- UNC: Listening Post Alpha / UNC: Listening Post Theta / UNC: Depot Sigma-23: after completing Noveria, go to the Styx Theta cluster. Enter the Erebus system to pick up a distress signal.
- UNC: Lost Freighter: locate the missing ship in the Gemini Sigma cluster’s Ming System.
- UNC: Lost Module: simply enter the Hercules system in the Attican Beta cluster to be given the assignment.
- UNC: Missing Survey Team: commonly overheard in Citadel elevators. Alternatively, just go to the planet Trebin in the Hades Gamma cluster’s Antaeus system.
- UNC: Privateers / Missing Person: talk to Garoth on the Citadel Tower after becoming a Spectre. Alternatively, find and scan the MSV Majesty in the Horse Head Nebula. It’s near the planet Xawin.
- UNC: Rogue VI: once you reach a certain level, Admiral Hackett will call you to give you this assignment the next time you travel to a new system. This assignment is how you unlock Shepard’s specialization class.
Finally, there are two assignments that are exclusive to different moralities. They only trigger if you've amassed a certain amount of Paragon or Renegade points, and are themed around what each morality axis is good at:
- UNC: Besieged Base: Admiral Hackett will contact you when you use the Galaxy Map once you qualify, which will require at least 80% of Paragon points.
- UNC: The Negotiation: Admiral Hackett will contact you when you use the Galaxy Map once you qualify, which will require at least 80% Renegade points.
Finished with ME1? We've got the same guide for the ME2 side quests if you enjoyed this - just click on through!