Allied forces are assaulting the Reapers above Earth. Hammer must get a team of soldiers onto the Citadel in order to activate the Crucible. Coordinate with Anderson to get to the Citadel beam.
This mission is acquired immediately after Priority: Cerberus Headquarters.
The dialogue options to start or postpone the mission do not affect Renegade or Paragon scores.
As noted previously, this mission is part of the end-game sequence. By beginning Priority: Cerberus Headquarters, the player forfeits the freedom of the galaxy and can (from that point forward) not fly anywhere except Earth itself.
No side missions are available at this point, every system except Sol is unavailable on the galaxy map and no more war assets can be obtained. The effective military strength (EMS) modifier can still be increased by completing Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War activities. Having more EMS will result in Earth and your forces not taking as much damage over the course of the counter-attack.
In choosing your powers and equipment, consider prioritizing either a sniper rifle or some sort of spammable direct-damage ability. Remap your powers if necessary. During this mission, if you're not in a cutscene, there will be bullets flying at you, often from many directions, so you'll want to spend as much time in cover as possible, while still knocking down foes. The more standard FPS run-and-gun build will require as much shield regeneration and armor as possible. In that case, consider replacing your extant Bonus Power with Tali's Energy Drain or EDI's Defense Matrix: they refill your shields when used (EDI's will need to be "double-tapped", but you can do so almost instantly), thus providing a useful "panic button."
In choosing squadmates, there are two basic strategies. One is for you to provide crowd control and rely on your squadmates to capitalize on (that is, kill) any enemies you expose. The other is the reverse: they stun, you gun. In both situations, though, you should be doing a lot of micromanaging, issuing specific power requests and focus-fire commands. The latter will be especially important because the game's AI prefers not to return fire unless there is a gap in the enemy's firing patterns... which, in this mission, basically never happens. At the highest difficulty levels, squadmates do relatively little damage to enemies, so squadmates with good crowd control are advisable.
Your enemies in this final mission will be the full Reaper playbook, often with multiple Brutes and Banshees on the field.
You do get to choose a new squad before the final push, so feel free to experiment in the first half of the level.
- James has Carnage, which can kill a lot of enemies in one hit but recharges very slowly, especially if he has activated Fortification. You can try retrofitting him as a sniper by giving him the M-99 Saber, though this makes it all the more important that you switch him to his shotgun when necessary. James doesn't have a great shield-stripping ability but brings excellent durability and good weapon damage.
- Ashley has decent crowd control with Concussive Shot and Inferno Grenades, as well as a sniper rifle. She also has rapid fire from her assault rifle, but this exposes the fact that she's less durable than James. You'll want to emphasize sniper rifle bonuses in her build, so that she will tend to stay in cover. Disruptor Ammo upgraded for stun and for sharing with squad members will give your whole group some anti-shield and light crowd control.
- Kaidan will do you proud on this mission: his powers let him counter shields and armor, both of which this level is overflowing with, and he provides decent firepower if using his assault rifle. Consider re-speccing him with no Barrier and his cooldown-reduction costume.
- Liara lacks firepower and durability, and her some of her powers are devalued by shields. But Singularity and Stasis all but guarantee a dead enemy, especially to a player with good aim, and Warp with the expose evolution will help against the many armored opponents. Re-spec her Stasis with bubble to be able to grab even shielded enemies from behind cover. Also a biotic Shepard can combo with her Warp and other powers to create instant and frequent biotic explosions even against shielded and armored enemies.
- Garrus has similar weaknesses to Ashley, in that he either hits slowly or exposes himself to oncoming fire, but with a fully upgraded sniper rifle he can do substantial damage even on Insanity. Micromanaging his equipped weapon choice critical--either that or having a third member who can respond quickly while your sniper is reloading. Overload with the Chain and Neural Shock upgrades provides crowd-control and anti-shielding.
- EDI, like Kaidan, can smash both shields and armor, but lacks his firepower. Her Decoy can be deployed for crowd control, particularly with groups of small enemies. She can prime both fire explosions and tech bursts if the team has a generic detonator such as Concussive Shot or Carnage. If you bring her, make sure to max her Defense Matrix and keep it active - thus providing her with decent durability.
- Tali has decent crowd control and damage output via drones and shotgun, but their short range exposes her durability issues. If you bring her, make sure to max out her Energy Drain.
- Javik comes with decent firepower via his assault rifle. This is especially true if you've equipped him with that do-all wonder-gun, the Particle Rifle, but we're concentrating on players who need help with other weapons and set-ups. His Lift Grenades will provide substantial disruption of groups of lesser enemies, and he can prime multiple biotic explosions with Dark Channel. Because a single cast of Dark Channel will jump to a new enemy if the first one dies, a Shepard with the fast-recharging Throw will love Javik for priming a whole series of biotic explosions.
Finally, some words of warning: as this is the last mission, choose your armor set and mod loadouts carefully while still aboard the Normandy, before ordering the fleets to Earth. You will never get the opportunity to customize those things again, unlike weapons and squadmates that can be chosen at will later on.
Take Out AA Battery Edit
Hackett and Anderson will walk Shepard through the plan they've put together (which basically amounts to, "Ships shoot Reapers while ground forces try to reach the Conduit"), but like all battle plans, it's tossed out the airlock the moment the Normandy pops through the Relay. Instead of flying straight in, you'll need to stop and take out a Reaper AA Hades Cannon so that the ground forces of Hammer team can land. Prepare for the fight of your life; this first one is an endless stream of Cannibals, Marauders and two Brutes. Cortez will also be shot down here, which might lead to his death if you haven't taken the time to talk him through his personal problems.
Tip: You can use your medi-gel fairly freely during these sections because there will be a significant resupply of them coming in the middle of the mission.
The Hades Cannon will only make the fight harder, as every time it fires, it violently destabilizes your aim. It is best to stay in cover while it fires, and take aim while it is not. However, the shaking effect is in real time, which provides a workaround: if you pull up your power menu, the shaking effect will run its course while the game is paused, allowing you to aim unimpeded.
After you clear out your LZ, you'll get to advance up to the second story of what seems to be the remains of a house, where you fight off more hostiles. At the far end of the house are two M-920 Cains, one of which you should use to knock down the AA gun, and a medikit. Tip: Locate the second Cain first. It's pretty near the first one, but you don't want to be hunting around for it when the bad things come.
Once you've put that infernal Hades Cannon out of its misery, grab the second Cain and then retreat either back to the west side of the house or to the south side of its eastern half. You need room to use it on the oncoming horde, which includes a Banshee (which will be named "Morinth" if that character survived Mass Effect 2). DON'T move toward where the Banshee appears, as more enemies will rapidly spawn. Be aware that the Cain's radius is not as large as a Mass Effect 2 veteran might assume: you can miss, at which point you'll be nose-to-nose with an angry Ardat-Yakshi husk. Players unfamiliar with the Cain may wish to aim at the feet of the opposition so the projectile explodes even if they miss, rather than fly away uselessly.
When extraction arrives, you don't have to kill everything: just clear enough that you can safely run for the shuttle.
Meet with Anderson EditPriority: Rannoch, and if the Virmire Survivor died during Priority: The Citadel II or was not allowed back on the Normandy during its aftermath) to as many as seven (if the From Ashes DLC is installed and Javik was recruited).
Through the door on the street is the Communications Tech Officer. You may ask a Communications Tech officer to speak to Cortez and any previous squadmates from Mass Effect 2 (provided they are alive) via a vidcomm terminal in the building behind the Virmire Survivor's location. There is a datapad across from the street from the Communications Tech officer in between a few trucks. It reads about asking volunteers from the fire patrol. You can listen to interesting updates on the mission by a group of soldiers on the street. Head up a ramp to the left of the door (it blends into the rubble). You will run into Primarch Victus and Garrus (if alive). Head through the door to the walkway (one way so make sure you are ready to leave the area).
A cut scene occurs and then a turret-gun minigame which does not seem to involve much actual danger - enemies just keep coming until you've killed enough. On the other side you'll find Liara, 2 medkits and a radio conversation if you want to stop and listen. There is datapad just through the door to the right. Through the next door (one way) is Javik and the current leader of the krogan (Urdnot Wrex/Urdnot Wreav) giving 4 different speeches. If you sabotaged the genophage and Wrex was the krogan leader, Kirrahe or another STG officer if he is dead will be found at the same spot as the Urdnot Clan Leader, giving a speech to salarian ground forces instead. Through the final door you will find EDI, Tali, a medkit, and Anderson. If the geth destroyed the quarians at Rannoch, a Geth Prime will be present instead of Tali. If the quarians were victorious at Rannoch but Tali died in the Suicide Mission, Admiral Raan will take her place.
After you speak to Anderson and make a speech to your squad, you'll have a last chance to pick your squad and make adjustments. You'll be facing the same enemy types as before, just a higher percentage and density of the various boss types.
Approach the Conduit EditM35 Mako blow up; there you'll need to swing round its burning hulk and go to the right to reach the street. You'll see another Mako there, which will eventually be set upon by a Harvester. You can choose to kill the Harvester for +100 bonus XP, which is fairly easy if you bring squadmates with biotics like Warp, Dark Channel, etc. You can also ignore them; they'll eventually sort themselves out, and in the meanwhile there's a Banshee, a Ravager and other infantry gunning for you.
Afterwards, you'll receive a call from a fellow Hammer platoon that is pinned down by Reaper forces. The door leading to them is in the far left corner, and it leads to a parking garage where husks and two Brutes will set upon you. Focus on evasion and let your squadmates do the damage. Then find the ladder and climb it.
The ladder leads to an apartment where a Ravager, supported by other infantry, fires down into the street. Wipe them out to see the platoon advance, and then loot the apartment, which has a lot of ammo, and two medkits, one in the bathroom, and the other under a corpse outside the bathroom. You can also examine a computer in the apartment after the loot. Then try the door. It's got a surprise, but a Singularity will handle it.
Once you've made it through this business establishment, jump back out onto the street. You'll see a huge blown-out pit in the intersection with a concrete pillar slanting across it. Run for this pillar: it's the only cover around when the shooting starts. Then continue across the intersection to the business establishment on the opposite corner (evidently a restaurant of some sort). More enemies lurk there, but because you have two windows to attack through, it'll be easy to catch them in a crossfire.
Finally you get to head out into the back alley. You'll be drawn down a long corridor which is remarkably empty. ...At least, until two more Brutes come smashing out through the wall. Retreat and take them out, and then go through the hole they opened, as it leads to a door (where this room has a datapad you can examine, along with some thermal clips) and a cutscene. Try to relax as you watch it. You will need all the calm you can get.
Thanix Missiles Edit
You'll find yourself at Firebase London, a city intersection with concrete barriers strewn every which way; shops on every corner; a Thanix Missile truck (specifically an M-080) in front of you and another one in the center of the intersection; and, to (what we are arbitrarily calling) the north, your goal: a Reaper Destroyer, with the Conduit beyond. There is ammo scattered around liberally, and medigel in every shop except the northeast one; the southwest one, the one you start nearest to, has not only grenade refills but a M-560 Hydra heavy weapon. Get used to this zone, because the remainder of the game's fighting takes place here. Do NOT pick up the Hydra heavy weapon yet - you will need it later when you're facing two Banshees at once. Also note that if you pick it up now and drop it "to move it," it will have disappeared by the time you need it.
Finally a radio message from the female Marine comes in, telling you that you're about to get hit from the left. She's not lying: Marauders, Cannibals and two Banshees will descend from a raised barricade area down the west branch of the intersection. Those Banshees make a tempting target for your Hydra, but they arrive sequentially and it will be difficult to catch both of them at once. Also this STILL isn't hardest part of the battle - resist the temptation and leave the Hydra where it is. Whatever you do, be careful: no matter where you're hiding, you're vulnerable from the other three directions.
Once the zone is clear, EDI will announce that the missiles are ready to fire. Considering that there's a second truck of them just up the road, guess whether these ones hit. The Conduit is distorting their aim beyond even EDI's ability to correct. You're going to have to bait the Reaper into coming towards you, where the Conduit's distortion field is weaker.
The most important thing to keep in mind during this next portion of the level is that the Reaper will be firing its insta-kill beam at you. That beam cannot enter any of the shops, so hiding in them is a safe bet, especially the northern ones whose roofs will protect you from the angled beam. However, you'll be fighting enemies who are dangerous at close quarters, so seeking refuge can be suicidal for other reasons. If you decide to stay out in the open, be aware that the beam will strafe down the street in a reliably straight line, allowing you to roll out of its way as you did on Rannoch. A useful tactic is to pull up your Power Wheel every few seconds, whether or not you need to use a power, and turn your view to find the Reaper's beam. Know where it is, know where it's heading, and avoid it at all costs; it can cause you more Game Overs than every other thing in the rest of the level combined. Note that the beam will also instantly kill any enemies that walk into its path, as well.
When the Banshees come, its time to run for that Hydra and pick it up! Reducing the number of Banshees by even one will dramatically simplify this toughest battle.
Tip: Especially on Insanity level, if you have lots of crowd control abilities, your best bet may be to keep the Marauders and Cannibals stunned/in-stasis/etc, while simple running to stay away from the Banshees. Whenever one of your squadmates goes down, expend a Medigel immediately to revive them - this is the last time you will ever need Medigel, so no need to hoard, and the more squadmates are up the fewer Banshees and enemies will be focusing directly on you.
Once you handle all those bosses, two infantry squads led by Banshees will begin spawning. The music will also start up, as though suggesting that the fight may have gotten a bit intense. This flow of enemies seems to be infinite, so put more priority on surviving and less on fighting. Try to stay on the south side of the map as much as possible; the enemy all spawn to the north. Another good spot is the western branch of the intersection (where the first two Banshees came from); it gives you the high ground and puts you near the remaining Thanix truck. Once EDI gives you the option to fire, ignore any enemies and just run for the panel. Soldiers, Infiltrators and Vanguards may want to use Adrenaline Rush, Tactical Cloak or Biotic Charge respectively.
The Citadel Edit
It's now time to go for the Conduit, but Hammer is badly depleted and overwhelming enemy reinforcements are on the way. To make things worse, Harbinger itself descends upon the Conduit, unleashing its main weapons on the group.
Once the cutscene is over, you'll find yourself badly injured and alone. Continue on to the Conduit. The final combat will feel more like a minigame - you won't have your normal powers, guns, or squadmates available. You'll have to defend yourself against three Husks and, as the last killable enemy in the game, a single Marauder, but you'll be in slow motion whenever an enemy shows up, and Shepard's arm will not be steady, making lining up your shots harder than it seems. If you are having trouble, try walking backwards once the Husks spawn, and not zooming in. Aim center mass to soften them up, then switch to head shots if needed once they are close.
Note: In the Extended Cut, the final Marauder's shields are already depleted, making it much easier to kill.
Once at the Citadel, continue making your way forward; you'll be speaking with Anderson along the way until you reach a platform where he is standing. The final conversation between you and the Illusive Man begins here.
The Illusive Man Edit
There are several conversation branches with associated Reputation checks, but the conversation's outcome hinges solely on the final choice. In order to use the final Paragon/Renegade conversational options with the Illusive Man, you must have used Paragon/Renegade options on him at every other opportunity in the campaign, namely the meetings on Mars, Thessia and the Cerberus base. Be aware that some of these options only become available through using Investigate branches of the conversation, yet they must ALL be used to get the final conversation options with the Illusive Man. If the conversation option is unavailable then a Renegade interrupt is the only way to avoid a Critical Mission Failure.
- If you are able to choose the Paragon option, the Illusive Man will realize that he is indoctrinated, take Anderson's sidearm, and use it to commit suicide.
- The threaten option will offer you one Renegade interrupt; non-reputation dialogue will give you two. Not taking the final interrupt, whenever it happens, will result in a Critical Mission Failure. After you interrupt, the Illusive Man will have a few final words as Shepard opens up the Citadel and allow him to see that which he has always loved most: Earth.
Shepard will then open the arms of the Citadel, allowing the Crucible to dock. Sit back and prepare yourself to make a difficult decision.
Note: This section intentionally does not take into account changes made by the Extended Cut DLC. See the following section for a breakdown of Mass Effect 3's ending with Extended Cut installed.
The Catalyst approaches Shepard and explains the purpose of the Reapers, as well as the ways in which Shepard can utilize the Crucible to stop them; Destruction, Control, or Synthesis. The availability of choices and the severity of the collateral damage on the galaxy will be determined entirely by the player's Effective Military Strength.
- If EMS is between 0-1749, only the Destroy or Control option will be available (determined by whether or not the Collector Base was destroyed or preserved in Mass Effect 2). If the Collector Base was left intact, only the Control option is possible; if it was destroyed, only the Destroy ending will be available. Both options will result in massive physical damage to Earth, with Destroy killing everyone on Earth.
- If EMS is between 1750-2349, the choice between Destroy or Control options becomes available, but either choice will cause some substantial damage to the galaxy.
- If EMS is between 2350-2649, the Control option will cause no physical damage and the Destroy option will still massively damage the galaxy.
- If EMS is 2650+ the Destroy and Control options will no longer cause any physical harm to the galaxy.
- If EMS is 2800+ the Synthesis ending becomes available.
- If EMS is 4000+ and the Destroy option is chosen, Shepard is seen barely alive, gasping for breath (if Anderson is shot by the Illusive Man, the player needs 5000+ EMS to see this short scene).
The Destroy (red) option will result in the destruction of all synthetic life. The Crucible will fire a beam/pulse into the mass relay network, spreading the blast across the galaxy but destroying every relay in the process. The Citadel is also destroyed, breaking into pieces. Before choosing the Catalyst warns Shepard that it is possible new machines will be built in the future.
The Control (blue) option results in Shepard sacrificing corporeality to command the Reaper fleet. The Reapers will then leave Earth; presumably at the will of the Commander. Instead of firing a beam, only a pulse will be released from the Citadel. The pulse spreads throughout the mass relays network, causing them damage, but not as much as the other endings. No harm will be caused to the Citadel, which then seals itself.
In the Synthesis (green) ending, Shepard adds their energy to the Crucible's, thus creating a new, synthesized DNA. The Catalyst explains that this is the best option, since synthesis is the pinnacle of evolution, and will render the Reapers obsolete. The Crucible emits a green light/beam, altering all denizens of the galaxy on the genetic level. The mass relays are destroyed during the Crucible's use. The Citadel is also destroyed, breaking into pieces.
In every ending, the Crucible's blast causes the Normandy to crash land on an unknown planet. The survival of the Normandy's crew will rely solely on EMS:
- If EMS is substantially low (below ~2000), nobody exits the Normandy.
- If EMS is moderately high (above minimum, below maximum) and Destroy or Control are chosen, Joker and the player's most-favored crew mate will exit the ship.
- If Synthesis is chosen, Joker, EDI, and the player's most-favored crew member will exit the ship. Joker and EDI will embrace.
- If EMS is 4000+ then three crew members will exit in the Destroy and Control endings; Joker and two of the player's most-favored crew mates. 
After the credits, a scene will be shown in which an old Stargazer tells tales of "The Shepard" to a young child.
Aftermath - Extended Cut Edit
Note: This section details Mass Effect 3's ending with Extended Cut installed. Extended Cut changes the presentation of the ending by incorporating additional cutscenes and dialogue choices and lowering the EMS requirements for certain outcomes.
The Catalyst approaches Shepard and explains the purpose of the Reapers, their origins, and the ways in which Shepard can utilize the Crucible to stop them; Destruction, Control, or Synthesis. The availability of choices and the severity of the collateral damage on the galaxy will be determined entirely by the player's Effective Military Strength.
- If EMS is between 0-1749, only one option will be available depending on the player's choice at the end of Mass Effect 2: Control, if Shepard saved the Collector Base, and Destroy if Shepard did not. Both will result in massive physical damage to Earth, with Destroy killing almost everyone on Earth.
- If EMS is between 1750-2349, both Destroy or Control options are available, but either choice will cause some substantial damage to the galaxy.
- If EMS is between 2350-2649, the Control option will cause no physical damage but the Destroy option will still cause widespread damage.
- If EMS is 2650+ the Destroy and Control options will no longer cause any physical harm to the galaxy.
- If EMS is 2800+ the Synthesis ending becomes available.
- If EMS is 3100+ and the Destroy option is chosen, Shepard is seen barely alive, gasping for breath (if Anderson is shot by the Illusive Man, the player needs a higher EMS to see this short scene).
- If EMS is substantially low, choosing Destroy will result in massive physical damage throughout the galaxy, as well as the annihilation of most life. Hackett's narrative is different in this ending; his outlook on the galaxy's future is far more bleak.
The Control (blue) option results in Shepard sacrificing corporeality to command the Reaper fleet. The Reapers will then leave Earth at the will of the Commander. Instead of firing a beam, only a pulse will be released from the Citadel. The pulse spreads throughout the mass relay network, damaging them but leaving the Citadel intact. Shepard directs the Reapers to repair the mass relays and help rebuild the galaxy. Commander Shepard narrates this ending.
- Depending on the player's Paragon/Renegade score, Shepard's narrative changes in regards to their utilization of the Reapers.
In the Synthesis (green) ending, Shepard adds their energy to the Crucible's, thus creating a new, synthesized DNA. The Catalyst explains that this is the best option, since synthesis is the pinnacle of evolution, and will render the Reapers obsolete. The Crucible emits a green light/beam, altering all denizens of the galaxy on the genetic level; the dividing lines between synthetic and organic life are blurred. The Reapers rebuild the damaged relays of their own accord, as well as share the collective knowledge of countless lost civilizations. EDI narrates this ending.
Alternatively, Shepard can refuse to activate the Crucible. While speaking with the Catalyst, Shepard can reject deciding between the Destroy, Control, and Synthesis endings, insisting that a decision with such a massive impact on the galaxy and its people cannot be made, and that the war must end on Shepard's terms; or, Shepard can initially accept the Catalyst's options, but can then attempt to shoot the Catalyst instead. Both actions result in a Reaper victory and the continuation of the cycle of extinction. One of Liara's time capsules is then shown on an unknown world, and a recording of Liara explains that even though the people of her time failed in their struggle against the Reapers, those who find the capsule still have a chance to succeed.
Note: Choosing this ending will not unlock the Legend or Long Service Medal achievements.
In the Destroy, Control, and Synthesis endings, the Crucible's blast causes the Normandy to crash land on an unknown planet. The survival of the Normandy's crew will rely largely on EMS:
- If EMS is substantially low (below ~1750) and the Destroy ending is chosen, nobody exits the Normandy.
- If EMS is substantially low (below ~1750) and Control is chosen, Joker and two of the player's most-favored crew mates will exit a heavily damaged ship.
- If EMS is moderately high (above minimum, below maximum) and Destroy or Control are chosen, Joker and two of the player's most-favored crew mates will exit a heavily damaged ship.
- If EMS is 2800 or above, and Destroy or Control is chosen, Joker and two of the player's most-favored crew mates will exit a relatively undamaged ship.
- If Synthesis is chosen, Joker, EDI, and the player's most-favored crew member will exit the ship. Joker and EDI will embrace.
Various epilogue scenes will be shown, depicting the fates of noteworthy characters and races encountered throughout the journey. These scenes will depend on the choices made throughout the game, as well as the entire series. The surviving members of the Normandy's crew are then seen gathered near the memorial wall, honoring the memory of all those listed. The player's love interest (or Samantha if no love interest present: for example if Liara was killed by Harbinger's beam; likewise Miranda will not appear here even if she survives since she is not part of the crew) will place Commander Shepard's name plaque above Admiral Anderson's. Afterwards, depending on EMS rating, the Normandy will be shown on the unknown planet, either being repaired or taking off into space.
- If the Destroy option was chosen and the player has very high EMS, the plaque is shown, but not placed on the wall (love interest smiles and doesn't place it) and a scene showing Shepard breathing in a pile of rubble is shown as the last scene before the credits roll.
After the credits, a scene will be shown in which a Stargazer tells tales of "The Shepard" to a young child.
- The mission begins on the left bank of the Thames river - the river and downed bridges can be seen both from the dropoff point and a few other locations you can reach during early lulls in the fighting. The position of Big Ben shows which bank we're on, and it can be established that the mission starts at approximately the present-day location of the Embankment and Hungerford Bridge.
- ↑ http://www.ign.com/wikis/mass-effect-3/Endings IGN
- ↑ http://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/995487-mass-effect-3/faqs/63886 GameFAQs
- ↑ http://www.ign.com/wikis/mass-effect-3/Endings
- ↑ http://www.gamefront.com/mass-effect-3-endings-guide/
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