In Mass Effect, leveling up requires experience points, which are gained from completing missions, assignments, and killing or destroying enemies. While it is hard to get a lot of experience on higher levels, getting experience is never that difficult.
Experience Gain Edit
The party gains experience (as a whole) by successfully completing missions / assignments, killing enemies or finding new Codex info. The experience gained is based on the level of the party. The higher the level, the more experience is awarded. The exact formula is:
- BASE: Levels 1-5 = 5; Levels 6 and higher = Level
- MODIFIER: This number ranges from 2.0 to 2.4 as per which Experience Achievements have been unlocked. Variations range from 0% to 20% total.
- AWARD TYPE: The action for which the experience was gained, ranging from codex entries to Assignments to Thresher Maw kills and so on, where BASE is a fixed value for this AWARD TYPE.
For example, codex entries have an exp. AWARD TYPE of x1. This means at Level 5 the party should get 10 experience points for finding new info (without bonuses). In the Citadel: Scan the Keepers assignment, every scanned keeper will give experience points. Here the exp. AWARD TYPE is also x1, meaning that at Level 6 (BASE 6) with a MODIFIER of 2.0, 12 points will be awarded.
This means that normally it does not matter when missions / assignments are completed. It doesn't make sense to solve assignments later to get more experience points, because there will be less experience points for all other things until then - both effects will cancel each other out.
Award Types Edit
- Codex, Decryption, Electronics, Element, Keeper Scan, League Medalion, Matriarch's Writings, Prothean Disc, Salvage Probe, Turian Insignia (NOTE: Collection Items surveyed from space grant a codex entry for the first collection of its type whereas groundside recoveries award 1 to 3 times BASE value)
- Batarian Rocket Soldier, Batarian Trooper, Biotic Cultist (1 shld), Defensive Turret (Chora's Den), Warehouse Worker, ERCS Guard, Geth Rocket Trooper, Geth Sapper, Geth Sniper, Geth Stalker, Geth Trooper, Husk, Mercenary (2 shld), Rachni Worker, Scientist, Mercenary Sniper, Thorian Creeper, Thug, Varren
Moderate x2.5: Biotic Terrorist (3 shld), Adv Mercenary (3 shld), Asari Clone, Asari Commando, Assassin, Advanced Assault Drone, Batarian Shock Trooper, Batarian War Beast, Cerberus Commando, Cerberus Anti-Tank, Research Technician, Cerberus Sniper, ERCS Guard (Sniper), Geth Destroyer, Geth Shock Trooper, Krogan, Krogan Bouncer, Krogan Warrior, Mercenary Anti-Tank, Mercenary Engineer, Pirate Sniper, Rachni Soldier, Test Subject
Advanced Quest x15: These quests usually offer only a one-time reward, though their objectives are more complex than the stages of a Basic Quest.
Maximizing Experience Edit
As the number of enemies is limited, there is no way to fight endless hordes of enemies, so every experience point is valuable. There are several methods of getting the most experience out of the game. Beginning with a less effective means:
By trying to reach the needed experience points for a certain level exactly, the points that are "wasted" can be minimized. Example: Let's say that the actual value is 1490 (level 5 - level 6 starts with 1500) and there are two possibilities - earning 100 (exp. base 20) now or earning 10 (exp. base 2) now. It's better to take the 10 points now.
- If the 100 points are taken now, experience will be 1590. Then the 10 points will become 12 points (because level is now 6), giving 1602 points at all.
- On the other hand, if the 10 points are taken now, experience will be 1500. The 100 points will become 120 points (because of level 6 instead of 5), making it 1620 points together.
Of course, this method is not very effective, because it will only affect one experience gain after each level, making the effect rather small unless effort is made to reach each level using the smallest gain available, getting as close to the exact "level up" value as possible. This method can be tedious but will also result in several thousand more experience by level 60. The effect is capped at the largest experience multiplier possible, roughly 15, times the largest experience modifier possible, 2.4, times the number of level gains, 59, for a total of roughly 8500 experience. In practice, however, the gains will never be this large because even with careful planning experience gains will rarely line up perfectly with level cutoffs. For the same reason losses will rarely be large without careful micro-management since situations where only a few points are needed to level but the next experience award is that largest possible are equally rare.
Becoming a Spectre will usually give you enough experience points to reach the next level, particularly on new characters. It's recommended to become a Spectre as late as possible, directly after reaching a level, so the points gained can be maximized. This may make no difference on a high level repeat playthrough, however.
The last (and most effective) way is simple: Don't fight inside the Mako. Experience awards while in the Mako, regardless of whether the Mako damaged the target or not, are severely penalized at 50% on Normal level and 60% (granting only 40% xp gain) on Hardcore and Insanity Combat Difficulty. Using damage-over-time effects like Warp, Sabotage, Chemical Rounds, Inferno Rounds and so forth, or pushing the target over a fatal drop, still incur a penalty if you are inside the Mako when the target dies. By leaving the Mako, it is possible to get much more experience points for fighting on planets. The important thing here seems to be the kill, so a good tactic (especially for bigger enemies) is to fight with the Mako's weapons until the enemy has only little health left - then leave the vehicle and kill it. This tactic works fine with Thresher Maws, for example. It is possible to overcome the experience limitation while in the Mako by editing the games DefaultGame.ini. Refer to the PC Tweaks section for more information.
There is a technique to gain more experience during the siege of the Citadel. When you first exit the elevator, or when you are walking on the exhaust plains just before the turrets, there is a corridor blocked by krogan and geth troops. Out of the far side a Geth Destroyer will come around the corner toward you; soon after you kill it another one will appear, then another. They stop coming when you reach the opposite corner. Another strategy is to leave one krogan alive and use AI Hacking on the Geth Destroyer as it comes around the corner. Unfortunately they will stop coming after a while (7 or 8 seems to be the limit) but saving and reloading the game will give you more Geth Destroyers to kill.
This "stream of spawns" also holds true in Bring Down the Sky for rocket drones launched from the top floor of the second torch station (the one with the mine field) on X57, as long as you leave at least 1-2 enemies alive on the ground floor.
Another opportunity for extra experience exists on Casbin during the mission UNC: Geth Incursions. After clearing the base on Casbin of the initial Geth Rocket Troopers and Geth Snipers, a Geth Dropship will fly in, dropping off wave after wave of Geth Troopers, until you choose to destroy the Dropship. If you destroy the Dropship first, you will miss out on the experience of up to 23 more geth before the Dropship flies off. You get no experience for destroying the Dropship.
Infinite Experience Glitch Edit
The following approaches exploit a glitch in the save system which allows the player to receive experience after loading a previously saved game file. There are several areas where saving and reloading that same game file resets the particular trigger intended to reward experience points.
Note: It is impossible to reach level 60 in a single playthrough without using one of these experience exploits.
- Found in the Prothean ruins located in Therum. After clearing the cavern of geth the player activates the mining laser and travels up an elevator the floor on which Liara is imprisoned. The player will receive experience points after stepping off of the elevator platform and onto the blue tile. Save immediately into a new slot, in case you need a prior load for backup purposes. It is critical to save before speaking with Liara. After the save is complete, proceed to the "Load" menu and select the file you just created. You will receive experience points again upon loading the game. This is also possible before doing the mining laser if you save on the ledge above before ever talking to Liara after you drop out of the elevator after it breaks down.
- Alternate: On the 360, The points are given right after firing the Laser (Code A,X,B,Y). After firing the Laser, wait for the point to show up above the sensor (bottom right of the screen). Then save while the points are on screen. The reload. Wash, rinse, repeat to your heart's contentment.
- A terminal inside the Feros freighter can be hacked after each save/load cycle.
- A crate in the tunnels on the Prothean skyway on Feros can be unlocked after each save/load cycle. This will also spawn random loot each time.
- Watch out - The game does not autosave at the beginning of the skyway, and even if you have killed all enemies on the Skyway, it's possible to wind up with a save game that will instantly go to a Critical Mission Failure on load if you save just before hacking this crate on PS3. The game does not explain the cause for the failure - but the symptom is an instant failure upon loading the savegame.
- A crate in the last room inside the Science Station on Chasca can be decrypted after each save/load cycle.
- The lock on the sewer door in the Virmire base can be decrypted after each save/load cycle.
- During the UNC: Major Kyle mission, you hack the door to the first compound. If you exit again before killing anyone you can hack the door again. Each hack is worth XP, and if you click the button fast enough, you can sometimes trigger two hacks in a row before entering the compound. This method does not require a save/load action.
Gaining Items Edit
Finally, it's important to bear in mind that your experience level affects the level of items gained from containers. Levelling up is strongly recommended before opening containers as you'll gain better equipment. For example, if you're playing an Engineer or rely on tech-savvy squadmates, it's often a good idea to leave Bring Down the Sky until later in the game when you have a higher level, as it will allow you to get high-powered omni-tools that are very difficult to find elsewhere. This effect works both ways, however, so any rank VII items desired should be focused on and acquired before the player character advances beyond the maximum level where they are available, approximately level 36 for vendors and 42 for basic drops. Many ammo, weapon, and armor upgrades change effects between levels VII and VIII or in some cases disappear entirely.
Starting with level seven, every sixth level you gain more advanced items from containers and enemies than you previously got.
This table is meant as a reference and mostly applies to normal drops, such as containers. Hard decryption containers and special enemies may give you items one level higher than average, and merchants may sell equipment two levels higher, for instance.
Level progression Edit
The following table illustrates the levelling scheme used in Mass Effect. The Incr column lists the incremental increase of required experience points. The experience points requirement are calculated based on the last level up – for example: levelling up from level 11 to level 12, requires 1,100xp. To level up from level 12 to level 13 will require 1,100xp + 100xp.
|Level||XP Required||Incr||Level||XP Required||Incr||Level||XP Required||Incr|
|Mass Effect Guides|
|Completion||Walkthrough • Morality • Experience • Systems • Mako • Codex|
|Achievements|| Completionist • Rich Achievement • Party Member Achievements |
Scholar Achievement • Weapon and Ability Achievements
|Classes||Adept • Engineer • Infiltrator • Sentinel • Soldier • Vanguard|
|Weapons||Assault Rifles • Pistols • Shotguns • Sniper Rifles|
|Other||PC Tweaks • Merchants|