[[caption-width-right:335:[[TropeOverdosed The amount of tropes is certainly massive.]]]]

->''In the year 2148, explorers on Mars discovered the remains of an ancient spacefaring civilization.\\
In the decades that followed, these mysterious artifacts revealed startling new technologies, enabling travel to the furthest stars.\\
The basis for this incredible technology was a force that controlled the very fabric of space and time.''\\
''They called it the greatest discovery in human history.''\\
''The civilizations of the galaxy call it...''\\
'''[[TitleDrop MASS EFFECT]]'''

''Mass Effect'' is a SpaceOpera multimedia franchise, originating as an [=RPG/=][[ThirdPersonShooter third person shooter]]. It was developed by Creator/{{BioWare}}, which also developed ''Franchise/StarWars: [[VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic Knights of the Old Republic]]'', ''[[VideoGame/BaldursGate Baldur's Gate]]'', ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'', and ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights''.

The series takes place in the near future. Mars turned out to have an outpost of the franchise's {{Precursors}}, the "Protheans," which yielded up advanced technology, including "[[AppliedPhlebotinum element zero]]," a substance that can be used to alter the mass of anything near it. By utilizing this "[[TitleDrop mass effect]]," mankind was able to develop fancy new technologies like personal DeflectorShields, FasterThanLightTravel and ArtificialGravity. Amongst the stars, humans found themselves to be just one sentient species amongst an entire panoply of civilization: the [[OneGenderRace mono-gendered]] [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe asari]], the amphibian-descended [[AwesomenessByAnalysis salarians]], the [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy militant]] [[BirdPeople turians]], the [[HeavilyArmoredMook hard-to-hurt]] [[TurtlePower krogan]], and more.

There have been four main titles in the series:

# ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' was released for the Xbox 360 in November 2007 and PC in May[=/=]June 2008. The UsefulNotes/PlayStation3 version was released in late 2012 as part of the ''Mass Effect Trilogy'', and as a standalone digital download for the UsefulNotes/PlayStationNetwork. Taking place in 2183, it introduces the main character, System Alliance officer Lt.Cmdr. Shepard, and the beginning of that character's journey to become the first human Spectre, an elite soldier given full support of [[TheFederation the Citadel races]] to operate carte blanche in their interest. Shepard's first mission is to track down a rogue Spectre, Saren, and unravel his connection to the mysterious Reapers, alien {{Eldritch Abomination}}s known only as the ones who wiped out the [[{{Precursors}} Protheans]] 50,000 years ago. Shepard is aided by a [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits diverse band of companions]], as well as by the technology left behind by the Protheans.
# ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' was released for the Xbox 360 and PC in 2010, and for [=PlayStation=] 3 in January 2011. In the prologue, shortly after the first game Shepard and their crew are brutally attacked by the enigmatic alien species, the Collectors, and Shepard is seemingly killed. After a two-year TimeSkip covered by the opening credits, it takes up in 2185 where [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters the militant/terrorist human group]] called Cerberus has [[WeCanRebuildHim revived Shepard]] and tasked them to investigate the Collectors, who have been [[AlienAbduction abducting entire human colonies]] for unclear reasons but believed to be a new front for a Reaper invasion. Shepard's association with Cerberus strains their relationship with both the Alliance and their previous allies, so they turn to [[RecruitingTheCriminal the seedier side of the galaxy]] for a new team to face the Collectors. The gameplay shifted dramatically into something much more streamlined, instead of the first game having an open world third-person-RPG-with-shooting it had more clearly stated levels built around [[TakeCover cover-based shooting]], vehicle travel was dropped entirely (excluding a DLC mission) and weapon types was restricted by class.
# ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' was released on all three platforms in early March 2012, with a UsefulNotes/WiiU port being released at the console's launch in November 2012. It leads to the ultimate fear: the Reapers invade the Milky Way in the year 2186 and Earth is among the first to be overwhelmed. Shepard has reunited with the Alliance and retrieved blueprints for [[ForgottenSuperweapon a potential machine to defeat the Reapers]] they call "The Crucible." To retake Earth, and more importantly survive the Reaper invasion, Shepard must form a new team and unite the races of the galaxy to fight back and commit resources to the Crucible. It continued to refine the gameplay, increasing movement and combat actions as well as weapon customization to the point that Creator/BioWare felt confident including a CoOpMultiplayer mode.
# ''VideoGame/MassEffectAndromeda'' was released in March 2017 for UsefulNotes/PlayStation4, UsefulNotes/XBoxOne, and PC. Set around the same time as ''Mass Effect 2'', the "Andromeda Initiative" was a colonization program to travel to the nearest galaxy, Andromeda. [[PlanetSpaceship City-sized starships]] full of {{Human Popsicle}}s (not to mention ones for asari, salarians, turians and krogan) go on a 600-year journey. This allows the game to essentially function as an {{interquel}} to the original trilogy, whilst simultaneously insulating it from the effects of the third game's world-changing conclusion, [[MultipleEndings whichever it may be]]. The player assumes the role of Scott or Sara Ryder, HalfIdenticalTwins who take on a leadership position within the Initiative when their ship arrives in 2819 and things go FromBadToWorse. The gameplay was changed to reflect the emphasis on exploration and travel, largely eliminating the [[{{railroading}} highly linear maps]] in the second and third games.

The series makes heavy use of a large number of science fiction tropes. Nearly every aspect of the setting has been thoroughly thought out, with hefty amounts of technical, cultural, and historical background data provided by an EncyclopediaExposita. (Amongst other things, the names of alien races ''are not capitalized''--[[DumbassHasAPoint the way "human" isn't]].) It manages to be simultaneously a {{reconstruction}} of the SpaceOpera, a highly plausible setting ranking quite high on the MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness (the eponymous mass effect is the setting's OneBigLie), and a LovecraftLite CosmicHorrorStory in the form of the Reapers.

Shepard, in true [=BioWare=] fashion, is customizable across the board, from gender to family background to previous military experience. The sequels allow you to [[OldSaveBonus transfer your personal Shepard, with the same appearance, background and choices]]. The Ryders are somewhat less customizeable -- they will always be fraternal twins, so the player cannot change their gender -- but everything else is available for tweaking; in fact, the two do not even have to look like each other.

The franchise is primarily a [=RPG=], with third person shooter combat. The games combine the [[RegeneratingHealth regenerating shields]] and integrated vehicle sections of ''{{Franchise/Halo}}'', the stop-and-pop cover mechanics of ''[[VideoGame/GearsOfWar Gears of War]]'' and [[WideOpenSandbox wide open sandbox]] exploration elements as you fly around the galaxy in your CoolStarship, the ''Normandy''. Shooting took on a completely new dimension in the first game, however, as firearms were not limited by clip size and ammo {{cap}} but rather by refire rate; the remaining games in the series have returned to a much more traditional firearms experience. [[RPGElements RPG elements]] are present in the form of a [[ClassAndLevelSystem class and level system]] for you and your party members, in addition to new guns and armor, while outside of combat you are able to influence the story in a lot of ways, and even transfer your story decisions to the next game. Gameplay elements, and their revisions for the sequels, saw a [[BrokenBase mixed reception]].

The classes presented to you are divided up between three affinities: [[FighterMageThief Combat, Tech and Biotic]]. Combat classes have abilities based on amplifying their weapons, armor and [[BulletTime own reflexes]] to make them deal and receive loads of damage. Tech classes counter the opponents' technology (jamming their weapons, overloading their shields, sending out attack drones) and hacking {{mecha mook}}s to attack their own. Biotic classes project the eponymous mass effect with their own bodies, giving them [[MindOverMatter mind over matter]] powers that are based on warping space and gravity, creating area-effect burn damage and providing [[DeflectorShields biotic barriers]]. Shepard can choose one of three specialized classes for maximum effectiveness in one style, or one of the three hybrid classes, [[NecessaryDrawback sacrificing the full range of options and abilities of either class type]] for maximum flexibility. Your own team tends to be an eclectic mix of all three and you are only allowed to take two members with you on any given mission, so choosing which ones would be helpful for the circumstances is vital. Because gameplay evolved quite a bit over the course of the trilogy, it's hard to pin down just how the classes work, but here's a brief overview:
* Adept: Full Biotic, based on manipulating gravity and providing crowd-control. Signature powers include the stunners Stasis and [[UnrealisticBlackHole Singularity]], but the basics are things like Pull and Throw.
* Soldier: Full Combat, powers are focused on dealing as much raw damage through the use of weapons and grenades, as well as maximum damage protection. BulletTime skills and a huge arsenal are typical. The second game gave them access to many elemental bullets they could swap out quickly, letting them adapt to enemy weaknesses.
* Engineer: Full Tech, very useful in stripping away enemy defenses and distracting them via automated turrets and drones. They can also reprogram enemy technology and (in the first game) get bonuses to unlocking minigames or (in the second game) cheaper research projects.
* Sentinel: The Tech/Biotic combo. In the second game, they got their signature power, Tech Armor, which: doubles shields but also cooldowns, staggers nearby enemies when depleted, and lets the Sentinel alternate between frontal assault (when it's on) and support spellcasting (when it's not).
* Infiltrator: The Tech/Combat hybrid has a variety of debuffs and offensive abilities. In the second game they got their signature abilities: an InvisibilityCloak and a BulletTime that activates automatically when they use the scope on their SniperRifle.
* Vanguard: The Biotic/Combat class. Formerly bland, the second game gave them the signature power "[[FoeTossingCharge Biotic Charge]]", a FlashStep cannonball move that also recharges their shields. This encourages them to [[ICanStillFight stay in the fight]].
* Explorer: Introduced in ''VideoGame/MassEffectAndromeda'', this class is a hybrid of all three affinities due to the gameplay altering the Classes into "Profiles" with identical names and purposes. As you level up you can do a freeform selection of any power from Combat, Tech and Biotics however you see fit. The Profiles offer bonuses independent of how your points are allocated. The ultimate JackOfAllStats, it also guarantees a MasterOfNone. The Explorer Profile specifically is designed to keep you mobile anticipating you to be a FragileSpeedster.

Like previous [=BioWare=] games, ''Mass Effect'' employs a [[KarmaMeter karma meter]] with two moral endpoints. Rather than simply Good or Evil, however, the meter essentially measures the player's place on the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism; Paragon choices move toward idealism and Renegade choices toward cynicism. Most responses tend to be either nice or mean ways of saying the same thing ("I'm sorry, but please tell me what happened" versus "Get over it and tell me what happened"), but as you climb each meter, you unlock new conversation options which can take things in a completely different direction ("I'm an ActionSurvivor too. YouAreNotAlone!"; "GetAHoldOfYourselfMan! QuitYourWhining!"). These options also allow your character to influence people via their charisma or their intimidation factor, reflecting on the growing impact you are having on the galaxy.
* TheParagon is the more humane, compassionate, diplomatic end of the spectrum, one who tries to solve problems and disputes as peacefully as possible, or at least with the motive of protecting the innocent, but shows little if any pity towards [[GoodIsNotSoft corruption or immoral actions]]. Paragon dialogue also tends to take a more cooperative, egalitarian stance to the other sentient species of the galaxy and the Citadel Council. Succinctly, this path is [[TheFettered The Fettered]].
* [[AntiHero The Renegade]] is a more ruthless hero who believes in solving problems and disputes by force, intimidation, and an "IDidWhatIHadToDo" philosophy, preferring to kill the enemy at all costs and allowing petty immoral acts to slip by to achieve the bigger goal. Renegade conversation options tend to show little regard for the council and more of a "humans first" position. To put it simply, this path is [[TheUnfettered The Unfettered]].

The story largely remains the same regardless of the choices that you make but the multiple methods of how Shepard works through any given scenario is carefully monitored between the games, which creates a more enriching experience as ''your'' particular choices resonate throughout the story and [[OldSaveBonus across the games]]. The {{railroading}} on dialogue choices may not allow complete freedom of choice but it helps hold the plot together: whether you choose to play Shepard nice or mean, s/he is still a hero either way.

These choices are omnipresent, as every conversation in the game is interactive and most give a chance to score Paragon and Renegade points. Yes, Paragon ''and'' Renegade: you can climb both sides of the scale simultaneously. Instead of each choice pulling you in one direction or another, there are ''separate'' meters for Paragon and Renegade, and choosing towards one does not change your position on the other. This allows much more complex characterization; there's no reason you can't play (say) a moral xenophobe who is Paragon towards humans but Renegade towards aliens, a TrueNeutral character who adapts to fit each situation, or even [[BlueAndOrangeMorality alternate every time you're given a choice]]. Of course, there are benefits to committing to either end; in every game but the last, there are dialogue options and even missions you can't access at all unless you have a high Paragon/Renegade score (the third unlocks options based on your total Karma Points, and adds non-flavored "Reputation" points as well). And in terms of replay value, it's kind of brilliant, since no matter what path you choose, there's always ''at least'' one other branch ([[TakeAThirdOption sometimes more]]) you consciously turned away from.

And these link up with the other theme of the franchise: [[ContinuityPorn continuity porn]], the [[ButterflyOfDoom butterfly of doom]] and the [[OldSaveBonus old save bonus]]. There are plenty of [=NPC=]s you can interact with, and depending on your choices they could even die over the course of the game. If they don't, they will almost certainly appear in the next game (where, possibly, they can be killed this round). ''Mass Effect'' has hundreds of named characters, and the list of ones who don't re-appear in the next game is a ''lot'' shorter than the list of those who do; this creates a sense of not only a living, breathing universe, but the feeling that you, Commander Shepard, have some significance within it. And these are just the casual choices -- what about the ones where you decide the fates of entire sentient species? Players of the franchise are known to run two or more saved games, playing and re-playing to see how their choices impact the galaxy.

In addition to the games, the series contains four prequel/interquel novels: ''[[Literature/MassEffectRevelation Mass Effect: Revelation]]'', ''[[Literature/MassEffectAscension Mass Effect: Ascension]]'' and ''[[Literature/MassEffectRetribution Mass Effect: Retribution]]'', written by Creator/DrewKarpyshyn, one of the writers for the games. As a result of Karpyshyn moving from working on ''Mass Effect'' to working on ''[[VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic Star Wars: The Old Republic]]'' and subsequently leaving [=BioWare=], the fourth novel, ''[[Literature/MassEffectDeception Mass Effect: Deception]]'', was written by outside writer William C. Dietz. It was released on January 31, 2012.

The series also contains several comics: ''Mass Effect: Redemption'', ''Mass Effect: Evolution'', ''Mass Effect: Invasion'', and ''Mass Effect: Homeworlds'' are graphic novels that consist of four issues each, while ''Mass Effect: Foundation'' is a thirteen-issue series. ''Mass Effect: Incursion'', ''Mass Effect: Inquisition'', and ''Mass Effect: Conviction'' are short 8 page stories and ''Mass Effect: Blasto: Eternity Is Forever'' is a one-shot comic about the [[ShowWithinAShow show within a game]] (and AscendedMeme) Blasto.

There are also two {{iOS}} games, titled ''Mass Effect: Galaxy'' and ''[[VideoGame/MassEffectInfiltrator Mass Effect: Infiltrator]]'', respectively, as well as ''Mass Effect: Datapad'', a companion app for ''Mass Effect 3''. An anime movie, ''[[Anime/MassEffectParagonLost Mass Effect: Paragon Lost]]'' was released on November 28, 2012.

A 4D motion simulator attraction based on the video games called ''Ride/MassEffectNewEarth'' debuted at the California's Great America theme park in May 2016. The ride features characters from the original trilogy, with the voice actors reprising their roles, but does not take place canonically in the series.

!!The ''Mass Effect'' universe encompasses:

* ''{{VideoGame/Mass Effect|1}}''
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2''
** MassEffect2/TropesAToF
** MassEffect2/TropesGToM
** MassEffect2/TropesNToS
** MassEffect2/TropesTToZ
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3''
** MassEffect3/TropesAToD
** MassEffect3/TropesEToK
** MassEffect3/TropesLToR
** MassEffect3/TropesSToZ
* ''[[VideoGame/MassEffectGalaxy Galaxy]]''
* ''[[VideoGame/MassEffectInfiltrator Infiltrator]]''
* ''VideoGame/MassEffectAndromeda''
** MassEffectAndromeda/TropesAToG
** MassEffectAndromeda/TropesHToZ

* ''[[Literature/MassEffectRevelation Revelation]]''
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectAscension Ascension]]''
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectRetribution Retribution]]''
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectDeception Deception]]''
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectNexusUprising Nexus Uprising]]''
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectInitiation Initiation]]''
* ''[[Literature/MassEffectAnnihilation Annihilation]]'' (TBR June 26, 2018)

* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectRedemption Redemption]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectIncursion Incursion]]:'' can be downloaded [[http://masseffect.bioware.com/resources/assets/market/books/incursion-01.pdf here]]
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectInquisition Inquisition]]:'' can be read [[http://www.usatoday.com/life/comics/2010-10-25-masseffect25_ST_N.htm here]]
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectEvolution Evolution]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectConviction Conviction]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectInvasion Invasion]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectHomeworlds Homeworlds]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectBlastoEternityIsForever Blasto: Eternity Is Forever]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectFoundation Foundation]]''
* ''[[ComicBook/MassEffectDiscovery Discovery]]''

* ''Ride/MassEffectNewEarth''

[[WMG: Films]]
* ''[[Anime/MassEffectParagonLost Paragon Lost]]''

[[WMG: Other]]
* [[https://masseffectarchives.com/ Mass Effect Archives]], an online app that stores players' personal canons from the four main games.

!!The ''Mass Effect'' series as a whole contains the following tropes:

* MassEffect/TropesAToD
* MassEffect/TropesEToH
* MassEffect/TropesIToL
* MassEffect/TropesMToP
* MassEffect/TropesQToT
* MassEffect/TropesUToZ
* MassEffect/MassEffectRaceTropes
->''"It's been a good ride."''
->''"...the best."''