How to Get the Best Mass Effect 3 Ending Where Shepard Lives

Getting the best ending in Mass Effect 3, the one where it's implied Commander Shepard survives, can be hard to achieve. Use this guide to help you out! The game's original, controversially vague finale was soon changed after release with the Extended Cut update, altering the mechanics around earning the perfect ending altogether.

How to Get the Best Mass Effect 3 Ending Where Shepard Lives cover

In the original Mass Effect 3, factors that formulated the game’s outcome were far more complicated in comparison to the Legendary Edition many of us are playing today. In the “classic” edition, players needed a decent amount of both Galactic Readiness and Effective Military strength. This was seen as a huge pain for many, since players needed to use the multiplayer mode and the Mass Effect 3: Datapad app to get all of the assets necessary to unlock the perfect ending.

As the Legendary Edition’s Mass Effect 3 doesn’t include multiplayer, along with a rebalancing of those assets altogether, your ending is now neatly tied down to just Total Military strength and your decision at the Crucible. In order to be sure you unlock the perfect ending where Commander Shepard, your crew, and Earth itself comes out as unscathed as possible, you’ll need to go into the final chained missions, Priority: Cerberus and Priority: Earth with a Total Military Strength of 7800.

Based on the ending of the entire trilogy, this guide will include heavy Mass Effect Legendary Edition spoilers. So, those who’re playing these games for the first time should proceed at their own discretion.

If you’re not that far ahead in the Legendary Edition trilogy yet, be sure to check out my other Mass Effect guides. Such guides include what happens if you save or sacrifice the council in Mass Effect 1, along with how to peacefully resolve the Legion and Tali fight in Mass Effect 2.

Mass Effect 3 Legendary edition best possible ending

Boosting your Total Military Strength

Thanks to the rebalancing of war assets and those added by DLC, it’s now far easier to achieve the necessary Total Military Strength of 7800 to unlock the best ending where Shepard lives; more so if you’re playing with an imported character from the first two games, rather than jumping into Mass Effect 3 with a new character from the get-go. Throughout the trilogy, you’ll have needed to complete as many missions as possible. Thorough mission completion will be needed along with making certain decisions, resulting in saving as many lives as possible to serve as assets with the Reaper War.

This may be simple for Shepards on a Paragon playthrough. Those on Renegade playthroughs, however, may need to be nice once or twice more than they’d like, saving an extra life or two in lieu of being a badass. Also, this may go without saying, but when you’re in a confrontation where you need to pick between two sides, always pick the Paragon/Renegade option if either’s available to you. Reputation speech checks like these are usually the quick-resolve to securing peace between both parties. 

Let’s go into some of these all-important decisions with some examples. In Mass Effect 2, did you secure the loyalty of all your squadmates by completing their individual missions, helping ensure their survival? Good, because they can join the war effort in Mass Effect 3 as an asset, each with their own military strength. In Mass Effect 1, did you kill the Rachni Queen before enlisting the aid of the Breeder clone and her drones to help build the Crucible in ME3? Too bad, those Reaper-made clones will betray you and lower your Total Military Strength.

In Mordin’s ME2 loyalty mission, did you destroy or save Maelon’s research on the Genophage cure? You did? Fantastic! Having Maelon’s data means that Krogran female, Urdnot Bakara (Eve), will survive to further unite the Krogan clans. That way, this particular war asset’s military strength remains intact. 

Talking with the Catalyst on the Crucible before making your final decision

Talking with the Catalyst on the Crucible before making your final decision

Those who’re jumping straight into Mass Effect 3 with a non-imported, factory-fresh Shepard can still achieve the 7800 TMS for the perfect ending, but they need to be careful. This means that not only do they need to make the right life-saving decisions, but they also need to complete every mission that comes their way. These missions include all those involving scanning planets to pick up and deliver extra assets. Whilst fetch quests such as these can be tedious, they’ll be necessary to assure Shepard’s survival, along with offering a boosted guarantee for those playing with an imported Shepard. 

The Final Decision

The other factor, paired with your Total Military Strength, deciding which ending you get is the final decision you make at the Crucible. Talking with the Catalyst, you’re given three main options as to what to do with the Reapers: Control the Reapers, Destroy the Reapers, or Synthesize with the Reapers. Alternatively, you can upright refuse to make a decision altogether, or simply try to shoot the Catalyst. In which case, the Reapers will win and the cycle of extinction shall continue. 

In order to secure the best ending so that Shepard can live, you must always pick the Destroy ending. Your moral standpoints might reflect more with the implications of the Control or Synthesis endings, choosing to destroy the Reapers with a Total Military Strength of 7800 or more is the only way to ensure Shepard’s survival. Said survival is along with that of your crew and minimal collateral damage to Earth.

If you’ve done all that, congratulations! You’ve just achieved the best ending in Mass Effect 3 where Shepard lives. All you have to do is pick the Destroy ending with a Total Military Strength of 7800 or more at the Crucible.

(Video by crackheadcoffeecup.)

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