Mass Effect 2: How to get Legion as a squad mate
As you progress through Mass Effect 2 and put together its 'dirty dozen' squad of wildly different members of your crew, you might notice that one character remains unavailable to recruit right through the game until very deep into it. For those of you playing the game for the first time, we've not been surprised to see some of you asking... how do you get Legion as a squad mate?
The answer is pretty simple, but it does feed into a bunch of other elements of Mass Effect 2. If you're chasing the best ending where everybody lives through the suicide mission, for instance, you'll have a very limited opportunity to recruit Legion and complete its loyalty mission, as it all falls quite close to the point of no return in ME2 - or even after it, depending on how you look at it.
We'll explain all that below, detailing how to get Legion while keeping it as spoiler-free as possible.
How to get Legion in Mass Effect 2
So, if you're just getting deep into Mass Effect 2, have every other squad mate recruited, and are just worrying about not having Legion yet: don't worry. The important thing for you to know is that it's impossible to miss the opportunity to recruit Legion in ME2. If that's your only worry, you can close this tab now and carry on playing.
That doesn't mean that it's guaranteed you recruit Legion, however. Legion doesn't have a traditional recruitment mission like the rest of the cast. Instead, you get the opportunity to have it join your crew on a very late-game mission, 'Acquire Reaper IFF'. However, this mission is also an important one to postpone as much as possible, because triggering and completing the Reaper IFF mission where you meet Legion sets off an in-game timer that means you have a limited amount of time to complete the game if you want all of your friends to survive. This is why we push this mission right to the back of our suggested ME2 mission order.
You'll meet Legion during the Acquire Reaper IFF Mission, and when you finish the mission, you'll have Legion back on the Normandy - but not as a squad mate. As with Grunt, you'll be able to choose if you want to allow Legion to join your crew, or if you don't trust it enough. In the case of Legion, if you decide not to free it, you'll instead send it to Cerberus and get a bunch of cash in return. However, this means you don't get it as a squadmate.
Because of the silent ticking clock set off in the background by completing the Acquire Reaper IFF Mission, if you want the optimum ending of Mass Effect 2, you'll need to immediately acquire Legion's Loyalty Mission by talking to it (multiple times, if necessary), and then immediately taking part in that mission. If you complete more than one mission after the Reaper IFF, you'll find yourself in a situation where some friendly faces won't make it through alive. We explain this in full, spoilerific detail in our ME2 endings and suicide mission guide.
All of this is slightly strange, because it means that if you go for the best possible ending of ME2, you'll essentially only be able to use Legion for two missions - its own loyalty mission, and the grand finale. Legion also isn't a squad mate in ME3, though decisions made around its recruitment & loyalty will have consequences in Mass Effect 3, as Legion will show up as friend or as foe - regardless of if you kept it on the Normandy (friend) or sold it to Cerberus (foe).
This is frustrating because Legion has great dialogue throughout every other mission of the game - and in some instances, such as on Tali's loyalty mission or when you first visit the Citadel, triggers especially unique dialogue options and responses from others. But these can only be seen if you completely throw any optimum game out of the window and embrace a bit of death and destruction - which might be something to consider for new game plus! It's also strange since Legion formed a major part of the intrigue around Mass Effect 2's announcement - but it's ultimately barely in the game.