Mass Effect 2 Mission Order: optimal DLC, dossier, loyalty quest sequence
Just like its predecessor, Mass Effect 2 has an open-ended story that lets you tackle its various objectives in a relatively open-ended manner - and that means some people are inevitably going to be struck wondering what the best mission order for ME2 might look like.
Just like our suggestions on the ME1 mission order, any list you’ll find from us or anyone else online is merely a suggestion - but there are definitely certain missions that work better than others in certain places within ME2’s story. On top of that, there’s also more DLC missions in this game than its predecessor, and slotting those into the story is… quite difficult, honestly.
On this page, we proffer our suggestion for the optimum sequence of story missions and events in Mass Effect 2. Simple!
Mass Effect 2 Mission Order: optimal order for recruitment, loyalty & DLC missions
The basic structure of Mass Effect 2 is pretty simple. It starts you off with a string of prologue missions where it’ll ferry you from event to event, including two story mission planets that have combat encounters and even an early mini boss battle of sorts. After that, you’ll get your ship - and this is where the game opens up.
From here on out, ME2 is broken into segments. You get your ship and a smattering of story ‘recruitment’ missions to build your team. After recruiting all the available team members, you will automatically go to the story planet of Horizon for a mandatory story interlude. After that, you’ll get more missions. After finishing five of those, you’ll have another mandatory story mission. From there, you can complete whatever you like to the end.
No missions are mandatory, but towards the end of the game taking on too many side missions & optional assignments after a time-sensitive story event can have a negative impact on the end of the game. This guide avoids that, but check out our Mass Effect 2 Suicide Mission & endings guide for more detailed information on how to avoid that.
Below is our suggested mission order. While we've built in a few breaks where we suggest you tackle side missions and scan planets for resources, we also recommend you do this as often as you like throughout the game to break things up. The only exception is once you get the Reaper IFF - before doing that, you should complete absolutely everything you need to.
Remember that the mission order presented on this page is just a suggestion; deviate from it as much as you like.
Act 1 Mission Order: Cerberus and Building a Team
- Prologue: Awakening & Freedom’s Progress: as mentioned above, for the first few hours of the game, things will play out in a linear fashion. Just complete all the missions until you get your ship.
- Return to the Citadel: while you have pressing matters to deal with on Omega, first direct the Normandy back to the Citadel. Here you can meet with Anderson, announce your return, potentially get your Spectre status back, shop at stores including for some Normandy side quest items, complete a few other side quests.
- Dossier: The Master Thief: while on the Citadel, you should also immediately recruit Kasumi, if you've got access to her DLC.
- Omega intro & side activities: once you've visited the Citadel, head to your originally suggested destination, Omega. Here you'll need to speak to Aria to learn more about the next few story missions, shop at stores, and generally get to know the area.
- Dossier: The Veteran: as soon as you land on Omega, you can and should also immediately recruit Zaeed,
- Dossier: The Professor: after speaking to Aria, you'll have all the info you need to undertake two different recruitment missions on Omega. Recruit the Professor first.
- Early DLC Adventures Firewalker & Crash Site: leave Omega and head out into space. There’s a few things you should do out here:
- Normandy Crash Site: this is a short and simple DLC quest that was originally a pre-order bonus. It’s got decent rewards, and some nice ME1 fanservice.
- Project Firewalker: this DLC will take you to several places and give you access to a vehicle that otherwise isn't used in the core ME2 story. It's worth getting this quest out of the way here, and early, as it has good rewards.
- Kasumi's Loyalty Mission - Stealing Memory: this is Kasumi's loyalty mission, and we're making it the first of these missions we do primarily because it has some great rewards and resources, including the best SMG Mass Effect 2 has to offer. If your choice of character class relies on the SMG, do this mission now. Otherwise, you can bump it back to after recruiting Archangel.
- Dossier: Archangel: also on Omega, you can complete a mission to recruit the mysterious crusading mercenary Archangel. You can actually do this before or after the next step, but since you're already at Omega, it's easy to do it right after the previous recruitment mission.
- Planet Scanning & Material Gathering break: a big part of ME2 is scanning planets and gathering materials. The amount of materials you have can impact ME3, as can the upgrades you've purchased for your ship. With Mordin in the science bay, you'll have your first unlocks available - so take some time to scan some planets and gather some resources. You're free to tackle any side missions you discover if you want, or you can save them for later.
- Recruit the Convict & Warlord: two more recruitment missions remain. You can do them in whichever way around you want. We recommend the Convict first, but it really doesn’t matter - make the decision based on which of the two will slot into your party best right now.
- Dossier: The Convict: your team currently lacks a dedicated Biotic - so to fill that mage-shaped hole in your ME2 squad, go recruit Jack next.
- Dossier: The Warlord: next, go and grab Grunt, Mass Effect 2's Krogan squad member. After completing the mission, he doesn't automatically join your party - go and get him on the lower floors of the Normandy if you want to have him join the crew properly.
- Horizon [automatic]: after all of the current batch of recruitment missions is complete, you'll be forced to tackle a mission on Horizon.
Act 2 Mission Order: Old Friends & Loyalties
- Dossier: Tali: she's been off your team for too long - is it really the Normandy without her aboard? Go get Tali. If Kal’Reegar survives, it’ll make Tali’s later loyalty mission easier.
- Visiting Illium: for a nice change of scenery, head to Illium, the next hub planet and home to another recruit. Catch up with Liara, but do not take her up on the offer to help her with the Shadow Broker after completing her short side quest. We'll save that for later. There's other side quests you can do on Illium also, plus new shops and so on.
- OPTIONAL // Lair of the Shadow Broker (Give Liara Intel): we don't really like this mission in this position, but you've got two choices - do it here to get significant rewards for the rest of the game, or save it for the post-game where it fits best for story. The choice is yours. If you do it here, Liara becomes an easy source of free upgrades and resources, with new ones added every time you complete a main story quest.
- Recruit the Assassin & The Justicar: Illium is home to two character recruitment quests - and like with Jack and Grunt, you should tackle these two back-to-back, but you can do so in any order you like.
- Dossier: The Assassin: complete this mission to recruit Thane. There’s a cool ME1 callback here if you did a certain side quest.
- Dossier: The Justicar: a straightforward quest with no major consequences down the line. It gets you Samara.
- Scanning, Materials & Upgrades break: while you can do side quests whenever you like, this is another ideal period to take a load off and do any side content, scanning planets, and purchasing any upgrades you can afford. Major story events are coming, so it’s good to be prepared.
- Visiting Tuchanka: you heard a lot about the Krogan homeworld of Tuchanka in the first Mass Effect, but now you can experience it. There’s all the normal hub world distractions here, plus a chance to reunite with a friend if they survived ME1.
- Mordin’s Loyalty Mission - Old Blood: while on Tuchanka, undertake Mordin’s loyalty quest. This is a quest whose repercussions will echo loudly in ME3, so consider your choices carefully.
- Grunt’s Loyalty Mission - Rite of Passage: While you’re on Tuchanka, also undertake Grunt’s loyalty mission. Be sure to bring another squadmate with a high damage output on this one, like Zaeed. You only have to survive the battle for 5 minutes, but if you successfully kill the beast you’ll get an even better reward.
- Collector Vessel [automatic]: like Horizon, this is a generally story-advancing mission that’ll trigger automatically after you’ve logged five missions post-Horizon. You’ll also be able to pick a weapon specialization here.
Act 3 Mission Order: Loyalties Secured
- Loyalty Mission mop-up, Part 1: at this stage, you’ll have a large slate of loyalty missions. The order you undertake them doesn’t matter too much, but we have some suggestions of groups in which you tackle them, saving some harder missions for later. First, focus on these loyalty missions in any order:
- Loyalty Mission mop-up, Part 2: these missions are next, but you need to be more careful - it’s possible to fail these loyalty missions entirely. If you do, the character remains in your party but remains disloyal, which can be a problem for the suicide mission:
- Thane’s Loyalty Mission - Sins of the Father: you must stay close to your target and get the information you ended at the end.
- Samara’s Loyalty Mission - The Ardat-Yakshi: you must successfully lure Morinth and not lose her in order to obtain loyalty.
- OPTIONAL // Tali’s Loyalty Mission - Treason: as well as being a mission you can fail, the outcome has major repercussions in ME3. You can do this mission here, or, if you want very unique dialogue, you can save it for after you recruit Legion. If you do this, you must do it at a very specific time later in the game.
- To get the best ending of this mission, both Kal’Reegar and Veetor must have survived the earlier Tali missions & be present.
- Loyalty Mission mop-up, Part 3: finally, these two loyalty missions aren’t possible to fail in the same way as the above, but they can go wrong based on a paragon or renegade points check. The check is based on a percentage of total points available to you at the time you play them rather than an arbitrary value, meaning you can successfully resolve them at any point - but by leaving it until later, you have a greater chance to have garnered what you need naturally.
- Jack’s Loyalty Mission - Subject Zero: after completing this simple mission, Jack and Miranda will have a fight. You must resolve it with a Paragon or Renegade dialogue option to keep both of them loyal; taking a side revokes one character’s loyalty.
- Zaeed’s Loyalty Mission - The Price of Revenge: at the end of the mission, you must make a choice between Zaeed’s wishes and innocent lives. Renegade Shepard can easily side with Zaeed and get his loyalty; Paragon Shepard must pass a difficult check to talk him down and keep him loyal.
- Project Overlord: this DLC is a multi-mission series and brings back the vehicle from the Firewalker DLC. It also has minor repercussions in ME3, depending on the coices you make.
- The Point of No Return: at this point, you should have one story mission on your plate - the Reaper IFF. Once you tackle this mission, it’s a rollercoaster ride to the end - so make sure you have all character loyalties, Normandy upgrades, have completed side missions, and done everything you want to do on hub planets. Treat starting the Reaper IFF Mission as ME2's point of no return.
ME2 Ending & Postgame
- Acquire Reaper IFF: complete this mission, and in it you’ll recruit one last character. If you decide to activate and recruit Legion, talk to it again without accessing the Galaxy Map to get its loyalty mission. If it doesn’t pop right away, change floors and come back as many times as it takes until it hands over the mission. When you get it, go straight to the Galaxy Map, open it only once, and go straight to Legion's mission, or Tali's loyalty mission if it's available.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: after acquiring the Reaper IFF, you can only trigger two specific missions without incurring negative consequences - Legion's Loyalty Mission and Tali's Loyalty Mission. If you take on ANY OTHER MISSION, some of Normandy's crew will die during the Suicide Mission. Do not travel to any other location other than those two missions, not even to scan planets.
- Tali’s Loyalty Mission - Treason: as well as being a mission you can fail, the outcome has major repercussions in ME3. If you didn't do this mission earlier, you can now do it here and take Legion along for the ride, resulting in some very unique dialogue. To get the best ending of this mission, both Kal’Reegar and Veetor must have survived the earlier Tali missions & be present.
- Legion’s Loyalty Mission - A House Divided: complete this loyalty mission. At the end, Tali and Legion will end up in conflict. As with Jack and Miranda, use the Paragon or Renegade dialogue option to end the argument without losing either’s loyalty.
- The Suicide Mission: after some story events that begin the next time you access the Galaxy Map, you’ll finally undertake the ME2 finale. Head through the Omega 4 Relay - and brush up on how to get the best ending with our ME2 Suicide Mission walkthrough. After the game is over, load up your completed game to tackle two DLC missions best experienced post-game.
- Lair of the Shadow Broker / Give Liara Intel: go back to Illium and finally talk to Liara about starting this mission. While this DLC mission will be on your galaxy map from early on and you'll have to actively avoid starting it on your earlier visit to Illium, it works best as a coda to ME2 in our opinion. It’s arguably the best mission in the game; enjoy it!
- Arrival: this DLC was the last released for ME2, and basically is a little mini prologue to Mass Effect 3. It actually becomes available any time after Horizon, but it totally fits best into the story if you do it here, at the very end of ME2. After it’s complete, save - and move on to ME3 - which we also have an ME3 mission order guide for, too!