Mass Effect Walkthrough
After creating your character, you'll be permitted to begin your career in the Alliance. Well, that's not quite true: your character will already have spent many years in the Alliance military, so that you don't wind up having to go through basic training or anything like that.
You begin the game on the Normandy, an Alliance vessel that's on a shakedown run. Your conversation with the pilots here will be your first introduction to the game's conversation system, which BioWare has designed to be more powerful than ever. If you've played Knights of the Old Republic, you'll be familiar with the idea that your conversations with people will let you gain influence with them, and will also change your Light Side and Dark Side ratings…er, "paragon" and "renegade". These rankings will further determine how other characters view your own character, and will eventually determine the ending of the game that you receive. You can gain paragon points by generally being solicitous and helpful, while renegade points will result if you're rude or downright hostile.
Speak to Joker and the co-pilot here (you can use the X button to skip dialogue), then start making your way backwards through the ship. You can speak with Navigator Pressly as well as Doctor Chakwas and the unfortunate Corporal Jenkins for some Codex information and small XP bonuses. You can also go to the Squad screen to allocate your first skill points.
When you reach Nihlus, speak with him and Captain Anderson. When your conversation is over, you'll receive a transmission from Eden Prime. The next thing you know, you'll be on-planet.
Head To The Dig Site
Your initial grouping here includes Corporal Jenkins and Kaiden Alenko. Jenkins is a fine soldier, but, well…. Kaiden is a Sentinel, capable of using both tech and biotic attacks. He doesn't have any weapon skills at all, so you'll need to make the most of his abilities. Give him points in First Aid and Barrier to begin with; he'll activate Barrier if he comes under fire automatically.
Get your bearings here, and get used to the basic combat systems. Pull the left trigger to aim your weapon, and the right trigger to fire. You can switch weapons with the LB button, but note that any weapon you're untrained with will be all but unusable; you won't be able to aim properly. RB will use any special attacks that your character is capable of.
Make your way through this first area, using the gasbags as target practice. You can find your first treasure chest in the water in front of you; hang a right into the little culdesac to find some upgrades. Move on until Jenkins takes a dirt nap. Be careful here; the Geth Probes have special weapons that will ignore your shields, so it's easy to take damage from their fire. Shoot back until they go down, then check Jenkins body before moving on.
Continue To Dig Site
Move along, continuing to shoot any enemies you spot and check for loot in the chests and containers that you spot. You'll probably gain another level pretty soon, so be sure to check your menu screen and allocate points when you can do so.
Eventually you'll run across Ashley Williams, who's on the run from the Geth. Save her and she'll join your squad. As a Soldier, she's a good replacement for Jenkins. Load her up with Assault Rifle points and give her some Soldier skills to regenerate her health.
Near Jenkins, you'll find a bunch of equipment in chests. You'll want to use the Equipment screen around this time to switch out your equipment and upgrade it with any new tech that you've found. You probably have a set of Scorpion armor at this point; if your character can only use light armor, it'll be a handy upgrade.
You'll come to the dig site soon enough. Clear out the Geth around it with your weapons and abilities, and get used to the cover mechanic. It's kind of clunky—Gears of War this isn't—but it'll help you stay behind cover in combat, which is sometimes all you can ask.