I've Done It; You Can Too
If you're like me, then you absolutely love the Mass Effect series, especially Mass Effect 2; but you've also most likely run into the issue of thinking you've done everything right only to have one—or more—of your team die during the suicide mission through the Omega 4 Relay. This is an avoidable outcome despite how random and nonsensical it may seem, and I think I have figured out how to avoid it every single playthrough. Unfortunately, this method is extremely time-consuming and will be very boring despite how simplistic it is to carry out.
Spoiler Alert: Though I shouldn't even need to say this in a game guide, I will do so for the snowflakes in the crowd anyways. You have been warned not to go any further if spoilers negatively trigger you, and I don't care about your feelings any further than this warning.
So, without further ado, let's hop into everything that you need to do in order to keep your entire crew alive through the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2.
First and Foremost: Have Patience
It can be very difficult to remain patient while playing through Mass Effect 2, and I understand you are eager to jump into the action and move onto the third installment in the series, but you need to slow your roll, buckle down from the very beginning of the game, and be ready for taking redundant actions over and over again. The necessity of these actions is quite confusing due to many players expressing different experiences with the game, so don't let the experience of other players frustrate you. When I talk to other people about their experience with the game, it is always vastly different than my own.
Take, for example, so many individual players claiming that all they had to do was "complete the loyalty missions for all your companions" and doing nothing more than that to keep everyone alive. That is all well and fine, but for me, that has never been the only requirement to keep everyone alive. Whenever I rush through the game—jumping into the Omega 4 Relay as soon as everyone is loyal—someone on my crew always dies! Thus I have set out to discover how to get that "perfect ending" each and every single time I play.
The main key to unarguable success, that proverbial perfect ending, is to talk to every single companion—except Legion—to absolute completion of their available dialogue.
Consult Every Companion Before and After Every Mission
As if I really need to tell you this when the game smacks you in the mouth with hints at every turn, but you need to talk to every single companion you have on the ship both before and after every mission you run. Don't think for a second that you can squeak by without doing this, either, because you never know what you might miss if you do. Talking to every single companion before every mission is a necessity; there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it!
That being said, there is a slightly obscure detail you need to be mindful of when consulting every single one of your companions; that detail is that you need to do their loyalty missions the second they offer them to you. This isn't because the order in which you do missions is really all that important, but because you can't continue the dialogue trees with companions until their missions are done. Without doing their loyalty missions as soon as possible, you will run into the issue of not being able to finish the dialogue trees.
You see, before you do the Reaper IFF mission, you need to have every single dialogue with your crew completed. Once you complete the IFF mission, you have no choice but to launch through the Omega 4 relay because if you do even a single mission more, you will lose half of your non-essential crew, and if you do three or more, then you'll lose all non-essential personnel except Dr. Chakwas. Thus, if you complete main story missions before all available side missions, then you have eliminated your ability to converse with your team.
Starting from your very first opportunity to speak with Jacob and Miranda on that off-site base—you know, where you first meet the Illusive Man—all the way through every single subsequent mission, the task of talking to every single companion is crucial. As a final piece of advice to help smooth this out, remember that dialogue trees open up after every single mission you complete so long as you have not left your companion's loyalty missions uncompleted. Talk to every single companion before and after every mission, do their loyalty missions as soon as they offer them to you, and ensure you get through those dialogue trees!
Having offered you the most important of all the things you can do to ensure a perfect ending, I'll now move on to what your squad selection screen needs to look like.
Loyalty Is Key
No matter what you do in the game, as mentioned previously, your squad screen needs to look exactly like mine, as pictured above. This is for the sole reason that every single one of my companions is loyal to me prior to entering the Omega 4 Relay. Each and every one of your companions needs to be loyal in order to have any chance of surviving the suicide mission.
I know, I know, it seems like basic knowledge, but you'd be surprised just how many people wonder why companions die despite not being loyal. It's just a staple of RPG games to have mandatory side quests, and Mass Effect 2 is no exception to the rule. Don't be lazy, don't be impatient, and make sure you do every single loyalty mission as they become available!
Just before you do the Reaper IFF mission or any time before, you need to explore the entire galaxy to 100% completion as well.
Explore, Explore, and Explore Some More
Although the exploration in Mass Effect 2 isn't absolutely necessary, you'd be missing out on some crucial side quests and lore by leaving most of the galaxy unexplored. If side quests and lore are not your thing, then think of it as a way to safeguard your essential crewmates. Exploring the galaxy, and every cluster within it, is a great way to gather resources for upgrading your ship and crew.
It is arguable as to whether or not any of the upgrades in Mordin's lab are essential outside of the ship upgrades, but my thought process is that anything that makes the team stronger could also contribute to the success rate of the suicide mission. Thus, I demand you explore every cluster to 100% completion, doing every single anomaly quest you find and collecting resources.
This will guarantee you have the resources you need—and then some—for all the upgrades in the game.
Though any upgrades in Mordin's lab aside from the ship upgrades are unnecessary in the long run, it isn't against your best interests to get every upgrade you can possibly get. This is because no one can truly confirm or deny whether or not the upgrades are all-important outside of the ship upgrades, and it is good to give yourself a sort of safety net to fall back on for success rates. Of course, you can always choose to ignore any upgrades outside of the mandatory ship upgrades, but I don't and never will suggest such a line of action.
Why ignore a facet of the game that can make the game easier for you and possibly ensure that your entire team survives? Just buckle down, grow some patience, and get those damn upgrades!
Picking the Proper Character for the Task
If you've followed every single part of this guide perfectly thus far, then you should have no issue when facing off with the suicide mission. However, you still have the important decision to make of who will lead your squads into the Collector base. These decisions can make or break the mission, but luckily there are clearly appropriate and inappropriate choices, and I'm going to tell you how to deal with them.
I'll cut this down to size and give it to you in an easy-to-read format. Here are your choices for sending which team members where:
- Vents: Tali, Kasumi, or Legion
- 1st fireteam leader: Jacob, Miranda, or Garrus
- Biotic Shield: Jack, Samara, or Miranda
- 2nd fireteam leader: Miranda, Jacob, or Garrus
- Escort leader: Any loyal crew member will work, but I always send Mordin Solus
- Final Squad: Samara, Jack, Tali, Kasumi, Miranda, or Thane
Please, remember that these choices are unarguable, and you cannot deviate from this line of choices while still expecting a perfect ending. Your crew is specialized to perform different tasks, and the only way to get the perfect ending where everyone survives is to utilize your crew to the best of their strengths. If you've done this properly, then congratulations, everyone survived, and you can pat yourself on the back!
Take a Breather, Hero
You've talked to every one of your companions to fruition, explored every planet to 100% completion, and you're so upgraded that not even the blast from a supernova could take you out; the Collectors didn't stand a chance against you and your crew, and now you're on your way back to Citadel space to report your successes to anyone and everyone who is willing to listen. Congratulations, hero, on saving every single being in the galaxy—again—and bringing a sense of hope to everyone!
It's time you head down to the crew deck and grab yourself a stiff drink, relax, and stare aimlessly into the void of space. Perhaps you decided to romance that fine piece of Yeoman, Kelly, and she is waiting back in your quarters; go ahead, enjoy her. You've more than earned the privilege to sit on your butt and get a lap dance or six. Heck, maybe just head to Omega and blow your wad on drinks and Asari strippers; I don't know what you're into, but just make sure to properly celebrate your victory.
All jesting and parodies aside, though, if you followed this guide, then you've successfully kept every single one of your crew alive through the final mission in Mass Effect 2. It wasn't an easy feat by any means, but you managed to do it, and now you're ready to move on to Mass Effect 3 to face the Reaper threat. I hope my guide helped you to accomplish all you set out to do!