To interact with an object or character, approach and press [ E ].
To take cover from enemy fire behind an object, move forward [ W ] and push against it. Shepard will lock into "cover mode" with back to the object. You can slide to the edges of the object using [ A ] and [ D ].
Near the edge of an object, it is possible to fire your weapon and use combat abilities. Shepard will appear to "lean out" to fire around the corner. If you are crouched behind a low cover object, you will "pop up" and fire over it. To leave cover, press [ S ] to back away from the object.
Irregularly-shaped objects may not allow you to move into cover mode behind them. Flat surfaces offer the most reliable cover.
Press [ Left Control ] to toggle into and out of crouch mode. While crouching, your weapons fire is more accurate, but you move slowly.
Press and hold [ Shift ] while using the movement keys to "storm" (sprint) for a short distance. While moving in storm mode, you will become fatigued - a bar appears in the lower left of the screen to show your level of fatigue. If you leave storm mode, fatigue will bleed away. If you run until fatigue bar fills, you will be forced to return to normal movement speed, and you will not be able storm again until all fatigue has bled away.
[ Left Click ] or press [ Left Mouse Button ] to fire your weapon. Weapons have unlimited ammunition, but generate heat when fired. Your weapon's heat level is displayed in the lower left of the screen. Fire in short bursts to avoid overheating. If your weapon overheats, it will not be able to fire again until the heat dissipates fully.
The Sabotage Power makes weapons more likely to overheat. Some enemies can use Sabotage against you!
When and enemy gets too close, pressing [ Left Mouse Button ] will initiate a pistol whip or rifle butt melee attack. This will cause some injury, and may force enemies back or knock them down, giving you a chance to shoot them.
Press [ Right Mouse Button ] to toggle in and out of target in zoom mode. While zoomed in, your weapons fire will be more accurate. Sniper Rifles are very difficult to use if not zoomed in.
Press [ F ] to use your squad's First Aid Power. First Aid heals everyone in the squad, but consumes 1 medi-gel per use, and has a cooldown period before it can be re-used.
Training in the First Aid Talent improves the amount of health restored per use, and the Medicine Talent reduces the cooldown time between uses. The combined skills of ALL squad members with these Talents will benefit your squad.
Press [ R ] to throw a grenade. You can carry a limited number, so use them carefully. Grenades "stick" where they impact and can be remote-detonated by pressing [ R ] a second time. This makes them useful as traps.
Press and hold [ Spacebar ] to pause the game and open the Tactics HUD. Along three sides of the Tactics HUD overlay are tabs with icons representing the actions your squad can take.
Clicking the weapon icons changes the firearms used by each squad member; there are also hotkeys available. Pistols [ F1 ] and Shotguns [ F2 ] are handy at short range. Assault Rifles [ F3 ] excel at medium range. Sniper Rifles [ F4 ] dominate at long range. You can also cycle through Shepard's weapons outside the Tactics HUD by using [ ] ].
Each character can equip all four weapon types, but not all characters are TRAINED to use each weapon. If you order a squad member to use a weapon they are not trained in, their accuracy and damage will suffer.
Clicking on Power icons orders the use of a combat Power. Powers range from Kaidan's biotic abilities, to Ashley's combat techniques, to Tali's engineering skills. Moving the mouse cursor over a Power's icon will describe its effects.
At the top of the two squad member's menus are four additional buttons that allow you to issue squad commands to them. These commands can also be issued outside the Tactics HUD by using hotkeys.
Move (hotkey [ Up Arrow ]) - Move to the location under your targeting reticule.
Hold Position (hotkey [ Right Arrow]) - Hold current position.
Attack (hotkey [ Left Arrow ]) - Attack the enemy under your targeting reticle.
Rally (hotkey [ Down Arrow ]) - Return to Shepard's side.
At the top of the Tactics HUD are Shepard's Power hotkey Quick Slots. As Shepard levels up, you gain new combat Powers. To add new Power to your Quick Slots, click and drag any Power icon from Shepard's tab to a Quick Slot.
You cannot utilize your squad member's powers using the Quick Slots in Mass Effect, but you can drag-and-drop them into quick slots in Mass Effect 2 the same way you do your own.
As the squad gains experience, they advance in level. All members of the squad level up together. At each level, characters gain Talent Points. Press [ U ] to access the Squad Menu. Here you can spend Talent Points to improve the squad's abilities. Remember to level up ALL your squad members!
On the right side of the screen, you will see a list of Talents available to the currently selected character, with rows of "blocks" that tint green to indicate their current level of skill. Below the list is a number indicating the amount of Talent Points available to spend. To spend points, mouse over the Talent and click on it.
Moving your mouse over a Talent will highlight it and display its description. While your mouse is over a Talent, it will highlight, and display a description of it. By moving the mouse over the individual blocks that represent Talent levels, you can see the effect of each point of improvement. Blocks with icons in them unlock combat Powers or additional Talents.
If you don't want to select your Talents by point, click the [ Auto Level Up ] button to automatically spend points on Talents appropriate to the character's class. If you are not satisfied with any changes, click the [ Undo Talent Points ] button to revert all changes. Note: once you exit the Squad Menu, you can no longer Undo.
On Shepard's page of the Squad Menu, you will see two meters on either side of the character portrait. These track Shepard's Paragon and Renegade reputations. If you act as a force for the betterment of all, you gain Paragon reputation. If you accomplish goals by any means necessary, you gain Renegade reputation.
Shepard's maximum level of persuasion skills is initially limited, but improves as you gain levels and cultivate a reputation.
Equipment can be bought from stores, looted from containers, or taken from defeated enemies. Equipment from enemies will be automatically added to your inventory, there is no need to stop and search corpses.
Press [ I ] to access Equipment Screen, which consists of several "boxes" next to an image of the currently selected character.
Above Resources is the main Inventory box. The top row of icons allows you to switch between different types of equipment: Assault Rifles, Biotic Amps, Armor, etc. Below is scrolling text list of your equipment within currently selected type. Items which are shaded grey cannot be used by the currently selected character.
At the top left is a box showing the stats of your currently Equipped Item of the active type. At the top right is a second box showing the stats of the currently Selected Item in the Inventory box, allowing at-a-glance comparison. To equip the selected item, double click its name in the Inventory box, or use the Equip button at the bottom.
Your Equipped Item in the top left will display one or more light blue squares. These are Upgrade Slots. Upgrades enhance equipment capabilities in various ways. Click on an Upgrade Slot to switch the Inventory box to display Upgrades that can be equipped in the current piece of equipment. Click the icons at the top of the Inventory box to switch between Upgrades Slots on the item.
Unneeded equipment can be sold for credits at a vendor, or reduced to omni-gel using a button at the bottom of the Inventory box.
All characters possess shields called "kinetic barriers" that absorb a limited amount of damage. In order to harm an enemy, you must first blast through their shields. If shields are damaged, take cover and avoid further damage to give them a chance to regenerate. The Shield Boost power immediately recharges shields.
Some weapon mods do extra damage to shields, or allow shots partially bypass them to and strike the character within.
Armor protects characters from all damage that breaks through shields, reducing it by a fixed percentage. Each suit of armor also gives a level of resistance to biotic and tech power attacks. Heavier armor tends to provide greater protection against all attacks, but requires additional training and slows the character slightly.
Armor can have intrinsic special abilities. Some types will heal the wearer at a slow but constant rate. Other can protect the squad from conditions of extreme heat, cold, pressure, etc. on uncharted worlds. You can also gain these abilities by installing appropriate mods in any set of armor.
When you are in a habitable area, you can equip or un-equip your squad members' helmets on the Equipment Screen [ I ]. Removing helmets is purely cosmetic; it does not reduce protection from damage.
If any character in the squad possesses the Decryption Talent, you gain the ability to override locks on doors and equipment containers. If any character has the Electronics Talent, you gain the ability to repair or salvage broken equipment. If there are multiple characters in the squad with the appropriate Talent, the highest skill is used.
To use Decryption or Electronics, approach an object and press [ E ] to interact with it. A pop-up box will tell you what options are available, based on your level of skill and difficulty of the lock / repair. If your skill is not high enough to even attempt the task, you will be told so. If you skill is barely enough, you may bypass the mechanism by expending omni-gel. If your skill is sufficient, you have the option of playing a mini-game to unlock / repair the object without expending omni-gel.
In the mini-game, you control a probe that begins at the bottom of the screen. It can be moved using basic movement commands:
Forward: [ W ]
Left: (Clockwise): [ A ]
Right: (Counterclockwise): [ D ]
Back: [ S ]
In the center of the screen is a countdown timer that indicates how much time you have to successfully complete the game. You must get the probe to the center before the timer runs out. This is complicated by concentric rings of obstacles representing countermeasures and "broken bits". Some obstacles revolve around the center, others are stationary. If your probe hits an obstacle, it will be knocked back to its starting position at the bottom.
If you fail to complete the mini-game in the time allowed, you still have the option to complete the decryption / repair by expending omni-gel.
To view a map of your current location, press [ M ]. If you are within a structure, this displays a layout of the rooms. If you are on a planet surface, it displays a topographical map, with heights colored white and low-lying areas deep blue.
On the left-hand side of the screen is a key defining the various icons you may see on the map. Not all points of interest on uncharted worlds will be marked on the map initially. You will need to explore to find hidden locations.
On some maps you can zoom in and out by using the scroll bar on the right hand side. To pan across the map, hold down the [ Left Mouse Button ] on the map and drag using the mouse.
Click the [ Right Mouse Button ] to place a beacon on the map. This will appear on your radar, allowing you to easily navigate to distant locations.
At the Planet / Ship level, you will see an image of the location on the left, and a text description on the right. If there is something of interest in the area, an action button appears at the bottom of the text description.
The [ Survey ] button indicates there are anomalies in the area than can be investigated using Normandy's sensors. The [ Land ] button indicates you can explore the planetary surface. The [ Board ] button is similar, but used to indicate you can explore the interior of a space-borne object, such as ship or station.
Some Star Systems include hidden objects. These can be found by looking for flashing points of light and hovering the crosshairs over them. When the crosshairs are over a hidden object, click [ Left Mouse Button ] to "scan" and reveal object. Hidden objects are frequently -- but not always -- in asteroid belts.
To speak to characters, approach them and press [ E ]. Most will open the dialogue wheel conversation interface; some will simply respond with a comment.
To select Shepard's responses, move the mouse over the option that best suits your personality and click the [ Left Mouse Button ]. Friendly or diplomatic options are placed on the top "spokes" of conversation wheel, while angry or rude options are placed on the bottom. The spoke directly to the right is a default response that is not particularly friendly or hostile. You will never miss any content by choosing the default options, allowing you to safely skim through a conversation.
The spoke directly to the left is used for "investigate" options. Investigate options provide additional background, but are never required to advance the plot. If there are many investigation options, choosing the "investigate" spoke opens a sub-menu of questions. To return to the main topic, select the "Return" option on the right-hand spoke.
Only Shepard may gain the persuasion Talents of Charm and Intimidate. When persuasion skills are used in conversations, they are placed on the left-hand side of the conversation wheel, and distinguished by color. Charm options appear blue, and Intimidate options red. If you lack the level of Talent required to access persuasive option, it will be greyed out and un-selectable.
Your squad members have their own opinions on the sights of the galaxy. If you hear them make "thoughtful" noises as you walk through an area, try talking to them.
Basic movement controls for the Mako are the same as walking:
Forward: [ W ]
Turn Left: [ A ]
Turn Right: [ D ]
Reverse: [ S ]
Press [ Spacebar ] to trigger Mako's thrusters, allowing it to jump over obstacles and enemy missiles. The thrusters propel Mako upwards relative to the ground. If parked on a 45-degree slope, the Mako will be propelled off to one side, not straight up.
Moving the mouse changes the facing of Mako's turret and guns, but NOT the direction Mako moves in. If the turret is not facing towards the front of the vehicle, you will not be able to see where are you driving.
Press the [ E ] key to exit and enter Mako. Exit the Mako to fight on foot or enter buildings and facilities.
Use [ Left Mouse Button ] to fire the Mako's anti-personnel machine gun. Holding down the button allows constant fire, but the weapon can overheat. Use [ Right Mouse Button ] to fire a single shot from the anti-vehicle cannon.
While the camera can look nearly straight up down, the turret-mounted weapons have a maximum depression and elevation. It is not possible to hit very close or very high targets.
Zoom in to view distant object using [ Shift ]. There are three zoom settings to cycle through.
Like squad members, the Mako has shields that regenerate over time. If the shields are worn out, hits will cause hull damage that must be repaired.
Press the [ F ] key to repair the Mako's hull by expending omni-gel. The Electronics Talent increases the amount repaired. The Mako cannot move during repairs, so be sure you're in a safe location!
All squad members have lockers in the Normandy's cargo hold. These allow you to change their equipment. To change a squad member's equipment, approach their locker and press [ E ] to open Equipment Screen.
When shopping from vendors across the galaxy, you will find that some offer licenses for specific manufacturers. For example, you may purchase a license to manufacture Elkoss Combine equipment from a volus vendor. This would add equipment manufactured by Elkoss to the Requisition Officer's store inventory.