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The Expanded Galaxy Mod is a Game Mod developed by Kinkojiro and several other modders for Mass Effect 3 which adds to and overhauls many aspects of the game, via new gameplay assets, missions and more.

The mod completely revamps the Search and Rescue system — not only can every system visited in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 be revisited on the Galaxy Map, but many of them have new War Assets, items, intel, and more which can be obtained for use onboard the Normandy or during missions. The Normandy herself is significantly overhauled, and adds a new "Crew Manifest" mechanic that allows you to recruit specialists who will offer character bonuses — as well as the ability to bring back any of the other specialists from the previous game as squadmates on certain missions.

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New armors and weapons (including the N7 armor sets from the multiplayer mode) can be bought or obtained through the Galaxy Map. Additional missions and Assignments are also added, including a massive rescue mission set during the evacuation of Thessia. Later versions of the mod also pack in the EGM Squadmate Pack, which expand the number of missions ME2 squadmates can be brought on, as well as add a set of alternate appearances for them and Tali.

Several modules were also co-developed by the team behind EGM, and require it to function, including:

  • Alliance Warpack, which gives additional armors to the Virmire Survivor, James, and EDI (effectively the second Alternate Appearance Pack DLC);
  • Ark Mod, functionally a fanmade DLC for the game, adds new environmental hazards to the existing N7 single-player maps, as well several new N7 missions (featuring participation by the entire roster of squadmates!) which forms a loose story regarding an investigation into the Andromeda Initiative;
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  • Miranda Mod, which adds Miranda Lawson as an Executive Officer/squadmate for the final missions of the game, along with an additional set of terminal missions, bonus War Assets and a new love scene if romanced;
  • Omega Hub, which allows the player to revisit Omega and see new encounters, buy new weapons/armors and more if the Omega DLC is completed;
  • Priority Earth Overhaul Mod, a large-scale reworking of the final mission that restores cut content, shows the effects of decisions made throughout the game, greatly expands the final levels and adds new events and temporary squadmates.
  • Spectre Expansion Mod, which adds additional star systems, War Assets, Spectre authorization messages, emails and sidestories; and
  • Take Earth Back, an alternate reworking of the final mission (Priority: Earth) that integrates new level events, appearances from allied units and enhanced level design to create a fleshed-out experience for the last battles
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The mod is available to download on NexusMods.


This mod contains examples of the following tropes:

  • 100% Completion: Several of the new achievements revolve around this, including the acquisition of every Shuttle Bay customization option in the game, as well as whether every main and side mission in both prior games was completed.
  • Adaptational Badass: If Sidonis was spared in the previous game, an email (which is given as part of the Veterans vs. Criminals assignment) mentions that he's leading a group of Turian veterans behind battle lines to fight the Reapers.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Several events of the game have been greatly expanded, including the events centering around Thessia. Additionally, all of the multiplayer elements (including the N7 special forces and Awakened Collectors) and Canon Immigrant characters like Tazzik from Mass Effect: Redemption are brought into the fold.
    • Take Earth Back not only integrates units into the London hub that normally don't appear during Priority: Earth, but also integrates units seen during co-developed mods (including the Expanded Galaxy Mod itself and the Spectre Expansion Mod) if they have been installed.
  • Ammunition Backpack: The new MOHLE Backpack armor piece, which gives you additional grenades and ammo at the cost of increasing your encumbrance.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: If the Virmire Survivor became a Spectre and survived the events of the Cerberus coup, the Council will deliver a free set of Spectre armor and a new gun (the M-57 Gladius assault rifle) to Shepard in the Spectre Requisitions office on board the Citadel. It is likely that this armor will be generally weaker than anything else the player has, making it more of a cosmetic choice than anything else.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating:
    • Scanning certain planets throughout the galaxy will net you additional mechs and transport vehicles which can be displayed in the shuttle bay.
    • The Captain's Cabin is expanded with additional items that can be collected and displayed. Aside from the save bonuses (your N7 helmet and the Prothean Sphere will automatically appear if you imported a file routed through both prior games), you can purchase import-exclusive ship models like the Mako and Hammerhead, and snag a copy of Fornax to display on your bedside table. If the Ark Mod and/or Miranda Mod are installed, you can get one additional model in each mission chain depending on your choices.
    • Played with in the Ark Mod, which requires the EGM to function. Upon examining a specific decoration in Shepard's room, the player can discover a cache of informaton that ties into the Andromedia Initiative, with clues that will lead them to a derelict ship that features key intel regarding the project.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: The shuttle bay can be customized in a variety of ways. Aside from an armory that automatically updates as you find new weapons and displays them, the bay can hold several variants of unique mechs and transport vehicles, as well as a set of Javelin missiles once the associated upgrade is unlocked. By the time you reach the final mission, you may even have an entire platoon of soldiers on-hand who will salute Shepard as s/he walks by.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Completely averted in the Ark Mod, which tasks Shepard and his/her entire team with holding the line against waves of Reapers on Menae's moon. Much like the Citadel DLC, the player will command an active party, but the rest of the team will act independently, using the weapons previously chosen for them through squad selection.
  • Bag of Spilling: Notably averted if a save is imported. After leaving Mars, the player will receive several emails letting them know that their cabin items (which normally don't appear in the retail game) were saved and put in storage while the Normandy was in Alliance lockup, and that they've been returned to their original spot. This includes the N7 helmet (from the Normandy Crash Site DLC) and the Prothean Sphere (from the Firewalker DLC), both from Mass Effect 2. Additionally, the weapons that the player had in the previous game are stored in a weapons chest in the Shuttle Bay for the first few missions. Picking them up gives you the Level V versions of those weapons, up to and including some powerful late-game weapons like the Geth Pulse Rifle.
  • Bookends:
    • With the previous game, in a way. The second mission of 2 has Shepard visiting Minuteman Station, where s/he first meets the Illusive Man and obtains the Normandy SR-2. The final Assignment in the mod (given just before assaulting Cerberus Headquarters) tasks you with finding and raiding the station. Your choices throughout the trilogy impact the overall success of the assault, and the best result nets you additional Normandy-class frigates, resources, and more.
    • If the Miranda Mod is installed and Miranda herself is brought to Cerberus Headquarters, the nature of the last conversation with TIM changes drastically, as both of them will get into an argument with each other, with TIM criticizing her for continuing to support Shepard and Miranda criticizing TIM for going too far in the pursuit of human supremacy (using repurposed lines from the previous game), much as their conversation unfolded at the end of ME2 if she was present during the final battle.
  • Bragging Rights Reward:
    • If the krogan were helped all throughout the prior games and the genophage arc is completed in the optimal fashion (genophage cured, Wrex and Bakara are alive, Grunt's loyalty mission was done in 2, etc.), the player will get an achievement and an email from Wrex, who sends over the Tomkah they used during Priority: Tuchanka as a gift of friendship. The vehicle can subsequently be displayed in the cargo hold.
    • Completing the Evacuation of Thessia in a certain way nets Shepard one of the Asari (Talon) gunships, which were seen in the previous main mission (Priority: Thessia). Like the Tomkah, it can be displayed in the cargo hold.
  • Brick Joke:
    • If Jack and the students were rescued from Grissom Academy, the mission ends with Jack offering to give the students tattoos of their choice for free. If you walk around the Normandy right after this mission, you'll find the students in one of the lounges on the Crew Deck ... along with Jack using her omni-tool to etch a tattoo on Rodriguez's shoulder.
    • Picking up the Spectre Armor in the Spectre Requisitions Office after the Cerberus coup will cause Shepard to sarcastically proclaim, "This is my favorite store on the Citadel."
    • Reading enough issues of Fornax in Shepard's cabin will eventually net you an email from EDI, who has taken notice of your habit and says she took the liberty of purchasing a year-long subscription for you.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • One of the main draws of the mod (provided you have the Citadel DLC) is the ability to take any of the ME2 squadmates (who normally can't be recruited onto the ship in the base game) on certain missions as "Non-Crew Specialists". This includes Jack, Jacob, Zaeed, Samara, Kasumi, Grunt, and Aria (the last of which requires the Omega DLC).
    • Sidonis will you send Shepard an email if he was spared during Garrus' loyalty mission in 2. He is later included in the "Veterans vs. Criminals" Assignment, where Shepard must choose which of the two groups to save before the Reapers kill them.
    • Admirals Ahern (from ME1's Pinnacle Station DLC) and Mikhailovich return as the parties convening a meeting just before the evacuation of Thessia.
    • Depending on whether you completed the Quarian Pilgrimage sidequest for Kenn on Omega (in 2) and resolved the Geth–Quarian conflict in 3 with Tali alive, Kenn can be recruited to the Normandy as a specialist who provides an exclusive ship upgrade.
    • With the Miranda Mod (which requires the EGM to function and was co-developed by the same author), Miranda will return to the Normandy, provided that she survived the events of Priority: Horizon. Completing her associated terminal mission chain in a certain way also nets you Corporal Toombs from ME1.
    • In the Omega Hub, nearly every surviving character from the Omega hub area in 2 returns in some fashion, including Captain Gavorn, Patriarch and Helena Blake (who awards a War Asset if she was helped in the previous game).
    • Provided that they've survived their respective missions in the third game, Jacob, Zaeed, Grunt and Kirrahe can all join the party in the Priority Earth Overhaul Mod for the final stages of the Conduit assault as temporary squadmates, utilizing unused battle dialogue recorded for the mission. More notably, Kirrahe's voice actor returned to voice new lines for the character!
    • In Take Earth Back, a large number of allied units will be present in the Forward Operating Base in London depending on what missions were completed beforehand (along with certain War Assets collected), while a special video report from Khalisah Al-Jilani (detailing what's happened during the Reaper siege on the Citadel) can be found and viewed.
  • Bus Crash:
    • In the N7: Cerberus Lab mission, the player can find a new terminal that displays a report mentioning how Mess-Sergeant Gardner (from 2, if he was rescued at the end of that game) has been caught, interrogated and processed. Normally, the character in question is absent in 3 and never even mentioned. Reading this terminal causes Shepard to comment that "it's one more thing Cerberus is going to pay for".
    • In the Omega Hub, Ish is expressly said to have turned traitor and sold out Aria and the station, regardless of how you handled his sidequest in 2. Notably, a datapad explains that he was captured and tortured to death for his transgressions.
    • In the Priority Earth Overhaul Mod, the Destiny Ascension (if it was saved in ME1) is destroyed by the Reapers during the London mission, as an ambient level event that occurs over the surface of the planet.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Rescuing the Shadow Broker Wet Squad nets a new group of NPCs who will hang out on the shuttle bay until you return to the Citadel – including the "giant salarian hitman" Tazzik, who had only appeared up to this point in the Mass Effect: Redemption comic tie-in for 2.
    • One planet also reintegrates the Collector forces originally present only in the multiplayer mode. Recruiting them as War Assets (through use of Javik or other means) nets the player a collection of Collector-based weapons, also from said multiplayer mode.
    • The Miranda Mod also does this for Randall Ezno from Mass Effect: Infiltrator, who can be hired as a member of Miranda's team of defectors.
    • The Spectre Expansion Mod adds a tie-in text storyline based on the "Ghosts of Antilin", a race of "virtual aliens" that are said to have been encountered by the Salarians in a Cerberus Daily News post, part of the tie-in marketing used for the third game. The storyline itself begins when the player is able to access a computer on Sur'Kesh that gives details as to their activities.
    • The Ark Mod includes obvious ties to Mass Effect: Andromeda, inclding an ND1 Nomad that can be found on the surface of Palaven's moon, an intel package delivered by Spectre Avitus Rix (the Turian Pathfinder), videos and messages recorded by characters (including Liara) during said game, and Initiative armor and weapons (including the X5 Ghost) that can be recovered during the respective missions.
  • Canon Welding: The Ark Mod, a tie-in module that was originally planned as a series of missions integrated into the Expanded Galaxy Mod, begins with a mission that takes place on Palaven's moon — and gives the player the opportunity to find and salvage an ND1 Nomad, with a datapad explaining why it ended up on the planet. Additional missions added into later updates make this connection between 3 and Andromeda much more apparent — you help Liara scrub one of the messages she sent to Ryder in the latter game, and can view archival videos in a derelict ship related to the project (reused from the latter title).
  • Chain of Deals: The Dealer's sidequest boils down to this — he is planning to flee to parts unknown, and gives Shepard the opportunity to acquire a number of rare and valuable items (including the Black Widow, the Geth Spitfire, several unique armor sets and trinkets) if they complete a Fetch Quest, which they can turn in for a free pick from his selection of wares.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • If the From Ashes DLC is owned and Javik has been recruited, the player can offer to let him negotiate with a group of Awakened Collectors in one of the systems. Doing so allows them to be recruited as a War Asset.
    • In the Priority Earth Overhaul Mod, the Rachni will appear to aid Shepard at one point during the "No Man's Land" sequence if the Rachni Queen was rescued on Arrae. However, later versions of the mod removed this due to conflicts with the level.
    • If the player aided Kenn (the Quarian on his Pilgrimage) with his sidequest on Omega during the second game, and if Tali is alive at the conclusion of the Priority: Rannoch arc in 3, Kenn can be recruited as an exclusive ship specialist, who eagerly decides to help the Normandy crew. Recruiting Kenn confers an exclusive upgrade that's dependent on his presence, and allows the Normandy to eke out additional speed on the Galaxy Map (and is a life-saver during the "Evacuation of Thessia" mission).
    • Provided that the player spoke to him fully on Sur'Kesh and he survived through the events of Priority: The Citadel II, Major Kirrahe will join Shepard's party as a temporary companion during the "No Man's Land / Hold The Line" sequence in the Priority Earth Overhaul Mod.
    • In Take Earth Back, a hidden intel terminal in London will display a broadcast by Khalisah Al-Jilani explaining the situation regarding the Reaper invasion of the Citadel, thus providing important Foreshadowing to the final level.
  • Command Roster: While the basegame has a clearly-defined command structure, the mod gives the player the flexibility to delegate squadmates or Normandy staff to specific positions, which confers gameplay benefits (up to and including health/bonuses for Shepard, and/or additional upgrades for the ship) depending on who's chosen.
  • Continuity Nod: In the Ark Mod mission "Scorched Earth," the first Banshee the player will encounter is named "Erinya" - the name of the Asari on Ilium in ME2 who had a medical contract with the Feros colonists.
  • Day in the Limelight: Used as part of the "text adventures" added by the mod. At one point, the Normandy's medical staff write a supplemental log after Shepard is knocked unconscious on Ilos (while retrieving the technology that will eventually become the Prothean Implants), while a later side mission to Minutemen Station is written from the perspective of random Alliance Marines raiding the station with the help of EDI (with variations based on prior choices).
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • The Black Widow sniper rifle (a piece of teaser gear that is sold in the Spectre Requisitions Office and normally costs 250,000 credits, which the player likely won't have until much later in the game) can be acquired for one-tenth of the price very early on by visiting the Dealer's Shop and picking it as one of the "gifts" he allows you to choose from. Doing so gives you one of the most powerful sniper rifles in the game (DLC or otherwise) right from the get-go.
    • Owing to his already-powerful status in the Citadel DLC, Wrex can be used as a squadmate for missions up until Priority: Tuchanka begins. He has the potential to solo most enemies (up to and including Harvesters and Banshees), depending on how his abilities are upgraded, making the missions he can be used on a cakewalk.
    • The Old Save Bonus weapons (delivered if you imported a savefile from 2) functionally turn 3 into its New Game+ mode... without the enemy scaling that normally occurs. As a result, having a boatload of Level V weapons right at the start of the game makes enemy encounters much easier for the first third of the plot, and there's nothing stopping the player from upgrading them to their Level X versions immediately.
    • Due to the fact that the entire galaxy can be explored from the get-go (thus averting the linear progression presented in the map by the basegame), it's possible to explore dozens of planets long before they become important to the plot, racking up tens of thousands in credits, items and more before you even complete Priority: Palaven.
  • Doomed Hometown: Bekenstein, which Diana Allers hails from. Regardless of the player's choice during the Bekenstein Assignment (where Shepard must choose whether or not to force a treaty to produce weapons for the war effort), the planet is carpet-bombed into oblivion just before the endgame.
  • Driven to Suicide: If the Normandy finds and rescues the MSV Strontium Mule during the associated assignment, the captain of said ship kills himself out of guilt for allying with Cerberus and instigating the Citadel coup.
  • Due to the Dead: In the Omega Hub, a memorial is built to honor Nyreen Kandros (as well as Ruck, if you didn't rescue enough injured Talons during the Omega DLC side missions) and other victims of the Cerberus siege after the DLC is completed.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Morlan's Pawn Shop, which returns from 2 in the form of a terminal that can be accessed by a soldier on the Crew Deck, and allows you to buy in-universe versions of the Mass Effect novels (like Ascension and Deception, which show up as their own codex entries).
    • The "Cooking with Zaeed" video, which can be bought from the Morlan's Shop terminal on the Normandy and played in the Shuttle Bay.
    • In the Ark Mod, continuing to click on a certain piece of the environment after receiving several prompts not to prompts an instakill by a surprising enemy.
    • Within a later build of the Priority Earth Overhaul Mod tie-in module, going down an unapparent hallway during the "No Man's Land" sequence will cause a voice to shout, "And his name is John CENA!!!" before a pair of Brutes burst through a wall and attack the player and their squadmates. This sound effect was later removed, with the Easter Egg relegated to a single datapad located at the bottom of a set of stairs.
  • Fetch Quest:
    • The Dealer's Shop (a new vendor added to the Galaxy Map) has a shopkeeper who tasks you with recovering several relics hidden on planets throughout the galaxy, in exchange for a choice of free items from his stock.
    • Depending on how Priority: Rannoch was completed, scanning certain planets will start a sidequest to find and recover several Geth Supply Caches scattered throughout the systems. Collecting all these upgrades the Geth War Assets.
  • Flashback: Visiting certain plot-relevant planets from previous games (such as Virmire or Ilos) nets you flashbacks of what happened in those games, complete with a variation based on which crew member you sacrificed at Virmire in ME1.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Invoked — one of the optional settings for the mod allows you to choose between limiting certain non-crew specialists (like Wrex) to the parts of the game where they are expressly onboard the Normandy with their guards, while the other non-canon setting allows you to use them at nearly any point in the campaign, even if they're expressly said to be busy (i.e. Wrex leading the Krogan on Palaven during the middle-third of the campaign).
  • Golden Path: Four of the Achievements require the player to have demonstrated unwavering loyalty to one of several factions. "A True Friend" requires that the player helped the Krogan in the most opportune fashion across the entire trilogy (and subsequently nets Shepard an exclusive Tomkah for display in the Shuttle Bay). "A Deadly Acquaintance" offers the opposite: do whatever it takes to win across the entire series. The "True Blue" and "Three-Headed Dog" Achievements require the player to have been loyal to the Alliance or Cerberus, respectively, through the entire trilogy.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Several sets of collectibles are added to the mod and are scattered throughout the Galaxy Map.
    • Several different shuttles and small ships can either be purchased from certain merchants (e.g. the Dealer's Ship) or discovered by scanning planets, and can be displayed in the Shuttle Bay. There's even an achievement ("Gas Guzzler") for collecting every possible vehicle and ship.
    • Likewise, several variants of the YMIR Mech (including models with Alliance, CAT-6 and Triton colors) can be salvaged or bought and displayed in the Bay.
    • The Shuttle Bay also adds an armory that automatically updates to display all of the weapons you've collected across your playthroughs.
    • The Prothean Implants, a set of cybernetic upgrades that can be scavenged from various planets and confer different sets of bonuses (with their own disadvantages) for Shepard.
    • The Spectre Expansion add-on module adds a number of star charts that can be bought from the Citadel, which open up new galaxies to explore and additional War Assets to collect.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality:
    • The Evacuation of Thessia Assignment is initiated via a conference Shepard has with Admirals Ahern and Mikhailovich (from the first game). Ahern wants to save as many people from Thessia as possible, while Mikhailovich advocates leaving them to their own fate. Both men make reasonably strong arguments for each case, but regardless of which option is picked, not everyone on Thessia makes it out alive.
    • Several of the Assignments in the Spectre Expansion Mod run headlong into this, most notably the Ghosts of Antilin storyline (which is an ascended storyline based on a Bioware blog post touting an in-game race of "virtual aliens"). The player is alerted to a situation involving "ghosts" hacking into and controlling Salarian-operated installations, and in the result of investigating the disturbance, stumbles upon a pitched battle between Salarian STG operatives and the "virtual aliens", who have inhabited utility mechs and have slaughtered most of the inhabitants. The morally "correct" choice is to attack the Salarians, as it is revealed after the fact that they created the "aliens" by essentially implanting the spirits of deceased souls into robot bodies. The player can also choose to save the Salarians and have them continue their experiments on the "ghosts" — which nets Shepard one of the biggest War Asset boosts in the game (152 assets, spread across several aspects of the Salarian military)... but at the cost of being branded as a war criminal by the Salarian Councillor, who promises to "correct" the situation herself, and several ANN news briefs indicating that people are starting to catch on that there's something... off with the new divisions of robots being sent to the front lines of the Reaper War.
  • Guest-Star Party Member:
    • If he's alive, Wrex can be taken along as a squadmate to several missions during his stay on the Normandy (from Priority: Sur'Kesh up until Priority: Tuchanka). Considering his damage protection and set of abilities that are normally only found in the Citadel DLC, he can come off as a Disc-One Nuke, as he is able to solo most enemies unaided.
    • Operation: Paladin, the opening mission of the Ark Mod, makes it so that Shepard's entire roster of squadmates can be brought on the mission, who will fight directly alongside the player (in contrast to the Citadel DLC, where the squadmates you didn't choose for the player's party are only seen in distant or inaccessible areas fighting enemies).
    • In the Priority Earth Overhaul Mod, depending on your choices, it's possible to amass a party consisting of Shepard, his/her two squadmates, Jacob, Zaeed, Grunt and/or Major Kirrahe during the final siege at the Thanix Cannon just before the Conduit Run.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The "Gas Guzzler" achievement requires you to collect every ship, mech and model that can be found throughout the galaxy. Getting one of the vehicles (the Tomkah) requires you to have an Old Save Bonus routed through all three games, while another (the Talon Gunship) requires you to know what to do during the "Evacuation of Thessia" side-mission (and screw yourself out of the best War Assets in the process).
    • Getting all of the unlockable decorations in Shepard's cabin requires the aforementioned Krogan storyline to be completed across all three games — and for the player to know that the cabin item must be picked up from inside the Tomkah, meaning it must be selected and displayed, then deployed, in the Shuttle Bay before the player can recover it. Up until the most recent versions of the mod, finding this was required for the Gas Guzzler achievement.
    • The Evacuation of Thessia itself, as the mod requires players to think on their feet and make quick decisions based on the most pressing needs (not helped by the fact that the game repeatedly forces you into a Sadistic Choice over whether to save civilians or military assets). Besides player experimentation, there is no true guide or walkthrough — after all, the mod even states that you "can't save everyone". Consensus is that the best results are usually achieved through committing only one fleet to the rescue effort, and ensuring that the Normandy has acquired all possible ship upgrades (which means getting a ship boost that is dependent on whether a specific sidequest from ME2 was completed).
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • The Ark Mod is designed to offer Gold-level multiplayer combat in the single-player mode — and it shows. Enemy spawns are rebalanced to throw many high-level enemies at the player at once (N7: Scorched Earth throws sets of four-to-five Awakened Collectors, Ravagers and Banshees at once, at a level even above some of the max-difficulty Armax Arena modes), while Operation: Paladin throws the player (and their entire stable of squadmates) into a situation that can go sideways if proper planning hasn't been done beforehand.
    • The "Extinction Event" difficulty mode, unlocked through the options menu for the mod, makes it so that the value of War Assets are drastically reduced, to such a point that unless you've routed a savefile through all of the games and picked the most opportune decisions, it is functionally impossible to achieve the best endings.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Attempting any kind of scan in the Local Cluster (where Earth and Mars are located) causes multiple alarms to sound and EDI repeatedly warning you that the Reapers are coming and you need to flee as quickly as possible, while a horde of them begin closing in from all sides of the local map.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Tali's alternate outfit from the EGM Squadmate Pack has her wearing her hood down, which displays the entirety of her helmet and is more casual in nature.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters:
    • Depending on how many of the side missions/Search-and-Rescue ops are completed, several groups of individuals will spend a brief amount of time hanging out on the Normandy, including Jack and the students from Grissom Academy, Liara's Shadow Broker Wet Squad, Legion, a horde of Geth Primes, and others. Not to mention certain packs of guards who appear whenever dignitaries are onboard the ship (krogan guards for Wrex, turian guards for Primarch Victus, and quarian guards for Admirals Xen and Raan).
    • Depending on your crew setup, you can enlist additional personnel as permanent fixtures in the Normandy, including a chef or barman, two additional nurses, two additional engineers and more Marine guards, up to and including an entire platoon situated in the Shuttle Bay.
    • The opening mission of the Ark Mod, "Operation Paladin", has the entire stable of squadmates join Shepard, in a manner similar to the Citadel DLC. Unlike Citadel, however, all of the characters stay in the battlefield, are not relegated to blocked-off catwalks, have their own unique (though cobbled together from existing voicework) conversations throughout the forward base on Menae, and outside of Shepard's direct squad, they will move independently and battle other enemies during the Horde Mode siege.
  • Lower-Deck Episode:
    • Finding the Prothean Implants on Ilos causes a report to be displayed, written from the perspective of the Normandy's chief medical officer due to Shepard receiving a Prothean vision and falling unconscious.
    • Minuteman Station is also an example of this, as the "mission" consists of comm chatter between Alliance Marines as they storm the station, potentially with EDI's help.
  • Mercy Kill: In the Ark Mod, one of the ways to deal with the broken Pathfinder AI found in the derelict ship is to perform one of these on it, via a Paragon/Renegade decision.
  • Monty Haul:
    • The Dealer, who is located on an unapparent planet, has a wide selection of weapons, armors and other goodies for the player to purchase — and if you don't feel like spending the credit, all you have to do is complete a handful of short fetch quests.
    • Minuteman Station, provided you you completed all of the requisite games in the opportune fashion. The player nets a boatload of credits and several War Assets, including multiple Normandy-class frigates.
    • Playing through the Ark Mod's three missions nets the player a boatload of goodies related to the Andromeda Initiative, including multiple sets of Initiative armor (along with the "N7 Classic" armor), two weapons (the X-8 Ghost and L-89 Halberd), a new weapon mod (the Frictionless Rail), additional items for the Captain's Cabin and Shuttle Bay and several War Assets.
  • Nerf:
    • As a rule, the value of War Assets have been changed to make getting the best endings more difficult to achieve. This forces the player to rely on salvaging War Assets from as many planets as possible to make up the difference.
    • The value of the promoted N7 multiplayer assets in the single-player is changed from 75 per unit (in vanilla) to 1 per unit. This was done to prevent an exploit that could be caused by continually promoting units, to such a point that every other War Asset in single-player would come off as meaningless. This is slightly mitigated by a War Asset that can be obtained from Earth during the Search-and-Rescue on the Galaxy Map, but the value is much lower and encompasses most of the N7 character classes in the game.
  • Old Save Bonus: Aside from the existing save bonuses from the base game, the mod adds new variables that impact the success or failure of assignments throughout the galaxy.
    • Depending on whether you imported a save from 2, you can get all the weapons you had in that game back, along with several cabin items if you acquired them (including Shepard's N7 helmet, Mako and Hammerhead models and the Prothean Sphere).
    • The Minuteman Station assignment's success hinges on aspects of all three games, including whether you've helped or hindered Cerberus in various missions throughout the series and have made certain upgrades.
    • If you have a savefile routed through the previous games with all of the krogan missions completed in the most opportune fashion (Wrex and Grunt alive, max Thresher Maws killed in the first game, Maelon spared) and complete Priority: Tuchanka by curing the genophage, Wrex will send over the Tomkah he used during the mission as a gesture of friendship, and it can be displayed in the Shuttle Bay.
  • Optional Party Member:
    • Any former squadmate who isn't part of the lineup in the vanilla game can become this, provided that the player has completed their personal mission in 3. Wrex, Zaeed, Samara, Jack, Jacob, Kasumi, Grunt, and Miranda can all be enlisted as "Non-Crew Specialists" who can be deployed in certain missions. The EGM Squadmate Pack expands the list of possible missions they can be brought on.
    • In the Priority Earth Overhaul Mod, several former squadmates will join Shepard's party as temporary companions for the Hammer Assault on the Conduit if they've survived through to the final mission, including Zaeed, Jacob, Grunt and/or Kirrahe. Provided the player has rescued all of these companions, Shepard's party can max out at seven by the time the final battle begins.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
    • Played with. The specialists you can recruit to the Normandy each have their own specific crew bonus, and several of them (including the extra doctors in the med bay and the engineers) can be seen either treating patients who are sick or analyzing components of the Normandy. However, the additional Alliance soldiers you recruit (as part of the "Squad Strength" mechanic) seemingly do nothing except stand around and lounge, and salute you when you walk past them in the Shuttle Bay at max strength. Despite the Squad Strength tab noting that the highest number of soldiers are on the Normandy expressly to protect it from an enemy boarding attack, no such action ever occurs.
    • Averted in the Ark Mod — the soldiers onboard the Normandy can be deployed to aid the Turian Marines on Menae during Operation Paladin — if the Normandy's compliment isn't at max strength, the player will suffer casualities.
  • Porn Stash: It's revealed that James has a copy of Fornax in his possession. Taking this magazine will cause it to be displayed in your room, and viewing it enough times will cause EDI to send you a message informing you that she's ordered a year-long subscription.
  • Private Military Contractors: With the Spectre Expansion Mod installed, the player can hire the CAT-6 Mercenaries (the cannon fodder of the Citadel DLC) as a War Asset for the fight against the Reapers after the main mission is completed.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Any of the ME2 squadmates can be this, as up to two can be recruited and used as "Specialists" through usage on numerous missions within the game with the mod installed. The Miranda Mod brings back the titular Cerberus agent as a permanent squad member, post-Horizon, if she remains alive through that mission.
  • Race Against the Clock: Several of the new assignments have this mechanic.
    • The N7 Extractions assignment asks you to rescue a group of highly trained N7 Special Op units (essentially multiplayer units that have already been promoted without player assistance) from Earth. Attempting any scan in the Local Cluster causes a horde of alarms to sound, Reaper forces to rush at you from all sides and EDI repeatedly telling you to get the hell out of there. What follows is a rush to extract the soldiers and flee to the mass relay before you're destroyed.
    • The Evacuation of Thessia, where you must rush between the planet and various fleets, prioritizing civilian/unit evacuations all the while, while the Reapers get faster and faster and fleet losses mount. As the official FAQ for the mod states, "you can't save everyone".
    • The third mission in the Ark Mod, "Scorched Earth," requires the player to battle past waves of Reapers and Awakened Collectors to escape in two minutes after starting a countdown to destroy a Thessia facility where sensitive information and equipment was stored.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear: Thanks to the new mix-and-match armor system, it's possible to have Shepard wear armor pieces that are wildly incongruous, like slim chestplates mixed with bulky heavy leg pieces or vice-versa. You could conceivably mix pieces of four or five different armor sets if you wanted.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • The Evacuation of Thessia. The readme for the mod states that "you can't save everyone". You'll have to prioritize who you want to save, and while it may be easy to pick orphans and civilians first, they are not as valuable from a War Asset standpoint. Additionally, committing the full fleets to the operation causes reports to pop up between rounds of Alliance crewmen crying out for help over the radio while their ships are torn through by the Reapers.
    • The Veterans vs. Criminals assignment. Both Garrus and Aria send you separate emails asking Shepard to rescue a group of stranded individuals (Turian soldiers [including Sidonis]) or a high-level group of mercenaries. You can save one group, and those you fail to save are immediately written off and presumed dead/converted into Husks.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The Dealer makes an offer to trade any relics you find for a choice of items from his private stock, because he's liquidating everything and plans on fleeing the galaxy for parts unknown before the Reapers destroy everything.
  • Shooting Gallery: A shooting range can be bought for the Shuttle Bay through the terminal on the Engineering deck, and displays targets similar to the range set up in the Spectre Requisitions office onboard the Citadel. Unlike that range, practicing enough on the Normandy's gallery (shoot 250 targets or more) nets you an achievement and a bonus intel upgrade that either improves your weapon or headshot damage. As the plot continues, squadmates the player has recruited will stand in the gallery and comment on the player's performance (including guest-party members like Wrex).
  • Sidequest Sidestory:
    • The Miranda Mod adds a series of missions accessed through a terminal (similar to Lair of the Shadow Broker from 2) that revolves around Miranda leading a group of Cerberus defectors, including Randall Ezno and — depending on your choices in the first game — one of the characters from Shepard's origin-exclusive side mission. The terminal will give you mission reports, with different outcomes (and permanent deaths for some of her squad) depending on how it's completed.
    • The Spectre Expansion Mod adds a sidestory called "Ghosts of Antilin" (referencing a minor race in the ME universe) that plays out via journal entries, and must be accessed in the STG lab on Sur'Kesh.
    • The Ark Mod is a set of functionally-linked missions that revolve around the investigation of a damaged Turian Dreadnought (and the efforts to salvage it) before transitioning into an investigation into the Andromeda Initiative, and a quest to turn off a beacon before the Reapers can learn of the Initiative's destination.
  • Sleep Cute: The mod adds a "cabin invite" system similar to the ending of the previous game, where you could invite your love interest up to snuggle on the bed or couch together. If you romanced Liara, there's even a special contextual prompt in her office to lay together on the bed, complete with a short reprise of "Reflections" from the last game's soundtrack.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: The "Normandy Manifest" gameplay mechanic. You can assign characters to specific roles on the ship, and assigning certain people to certain positions will net unique crew bonuses and emails. For instance, assigning Dr. Chakwas back to the Normandy's Med Bay will net you an email where she gives you a list of preferred candidates to join and help out on the ship, and these additional specialists will give minor health or power damage bonuses. Choosing Tali to become the Chief Engineer over Adams will get you more engineering specialists to pick from, including one that is conditional on a side-mission from 2.
  • Storming the Castle: Minuteman Station. How successful the Alliance marines are depends on the player's actions through all three games, as well as whether EDI is present to help.
  • Take That!: One of the options in the hidden Morlan's Shop terminal is the option to buy a set of targets for the shooting range that feature the Electronic Arts logo.
  • Timed Mission: A couple of the new assignments run on a short timer that begins as soon as you read the associated e-mail alerting you to it. Failure to rescue the stranded parties on the Galaxy Map will cause them to be gone for good.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The Evacuation of Thessia. Players unfamiliar with the mod will likely be confused with the set-up and not understand the format, which forces you to quickly fly from the planet, scan the nearby ships and fleets and dock at the nearest one that registers a signal). Even beyond that, it's impossible to know which rescued Thessian refugees/units are worth the most, and there are several variables at work — namely, whether you chose to commit only the Normandy, a single fleet or full fleets in the preceding meeting with Ahern and Mikhailovich.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • The Evacuation of Thessia, which is essentially a space battle (over several "rounds", depending on your choices) that plays out entirely on the Galaxy Map. It forces you to scan the planet multiple times and fly back-and-forth between said planet and various fleets while avoiding Reapers that get more and more aggressive as time passes.
    • Both the Miranda Mod and Spectre Expansion Mod tie-ins do this in the form of text adventures that can either reward or hinder the player based on their choices, in a manner similar to the expeditions found in the Pinnacle Station and Lair of the Shadow Broker DLCs from the previous games.
    • Both the Ark Mod and Spectre Expansion Mod each introduce an ambient environmental mission with no enemies, much like the N7: MST Estevanico mission in Mass Effect 2. In the Ark Mod, it involves Shepard walking through a similar derelict ship (this time, floating in space) and recovering Andromeda Initiative weapons and armor while investigating a distress call, and in Spectre Expansion, a previously text-only mission in the vanilla game is converted into a proper level, where Shepard can recover the Obelisk of Karza and investigate an abandoned dig site.
  • Unique Enemy: The Spectre Expansion Mod adds one in the form of the "Geth Ghost," originally only encountered in the first game, that only appears a couple of times during the Priority: Rannoch mission.
  • Virtual Paper Doll:
    • The mod itself does this via a modular mix-and-match armor system, which allows for many different and unique combinations. Additionally, several sets of armor and accessories are added, including the Z-4 Rangefinder (essentially a monocle that improves weapon damage for Shepard) and the MOHLE Backpack (a large piece that has its own customizable light color).
    • The EGM Squadmate Pack adds additional armor variations for all of the returning squadmates who can now be taken on missions, as well as an alternate look for Tali that has her hood down.
    • The Alliance Warpack module adds a set of new armors for the Virmire Survivor, as well as an additional appearance for EDI (black heavy combat armor) and James (prototype GARMR multicam armor).
    • Later versions of the mod allow the player to customize squadmates' casual clothing onboard the Normandy, allowing them to wear any armors unlocked by DLC packs or the Collector's Edition. The same versions also add a quest to find EDI's "Synth Skin" armor (a variant of the outfit used by Dr. Eva during Priority: Mars).
  • The Voiceless: The player can attempt to interact with Tazzik in the cargo hold if the Shadow Broker Wet Squad is rescued, but the prompt does nothing and he simply continues to stare at you.
  • Wall of Weapons: The Shuttle Bay is upgraded to feature an armory that automatically updates and displays all of the weapons you've collected in the game. While the pistols are displayed freely on the wall, the assault rifles are locked behind a window that can only be opened by the player.
  • Wham Episode: The Evacuation of Thessia. It starts with Shepard being summoned to a conference where two Alliance Admirals will discuss the pros and cons of committing resoruces to rescuing civilians and military assets, with Shepard deciding how many of the Alliance Fleets to send. It ends with an Unexpected Gameplay Change that involves the player flying the Normandy to and from Thessia in a desperate bid to save said assets, all while the Reapers get faster and faster and text reports detail the damage to the Alliance forces. Depending on your performance, it's possible to screw up the ensuing Assignment so badly that numerous personnel and ships are condemned in favor of the few assets you saved, with between-round reports describing in vivid detail how the Reapers are decimating the fleets.
  • With This Herring: Averted. If you import a save from 2, you gain all your weapons from that game back via a chest that appears in the Shuttle Bay, with the explanation that the crew kept them in storage in the event that you were released from the Alliance lockup.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Inverted. Kai Leng's broken sword can be collected from EDI on the Normandy just before the final mission, and serves as a decoration in Shepard's cabin.
  • You Bastard!: Diana Allers will call Shepard this verbatim in an email if the player chose to lie to the Bekenstein government and force a treaty with them to produce weapons for the Alliance earlier in the game.

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