Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide

Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide

Modding Mass Effect 3 is not that difficult, and this guide will teach you how to do it.

Note: If you are only interested in my mod list and installing order, please have a look at The Checklist.

If you have read my Mass Effect 1 Modding Guide and/or my Mass Effect 2 Modding Guide, then you might be surprised that this Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide is even longer. The modding of Mass Effect 3 is not that much more complicated, but some of the mods must be installed by hand. Some of the mods are huge content mods with many options, where the installation order matters.

Updates and fixes

Note: If you already have an updated and fixed backup, you can continue with “Restore your Master Backup“.

Repair with Origin client

Important: If you have already added mods to your install, it is best to delete and to reinstall your game, unless you know exactly which DLC folders to delete. The repair facility only checks official files and will not remove any additional files you added. Therefore you can not use it to return to a vanilla state after a failed modding attempt.

Note: This should be analogous to using the Steam client, but I have never had Mass Effect 3 on Steam, so I can not say whether it is the same or not. If you are using Steam, I would be happy if you left a comment about your repairing experience using the Steam client.

The easiest way to begin with a clean and vanilla Mass Effect 3, is to use the Origin client to “repair” it. All official files will then have their checksum checked, and changed/broken files will be downloaded again.

Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide Part 1 "Repair using Origin client"
Watch this video on YouTube.

Warning: You have to deactivate the auto-update setting in your Origin client, or it will later destroy your modded Mass Effect 3.

Install Mod Manager

Download and unpack ME3Tweaks Mod Manager if you do not have it on your machine, yet.
I have put a link on my desktop for easier access. The Mod Manager is self-updating, so you only have to take care of this once.

Create Your Master Backup

After you have updated and repaired your vanilla Mass Effect 3, it is time for you to create a master backup.

You need some space where to put it, and only have to fire up the Mod Manager. The program will greet you with a list of installed Mass Effect titles for which you do not have a backup.

Open the Backup Manager, select your Mass Effect 3 installation, and click “back up”. If you do not have the international version, but a localized one installed, you must add the correct language to back up. Finally choose a backup destination and let it roll.

Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide Part 2 "Creating Your Master Backup"
Watch this video on YouTube.

Once you have reached this stage, only the rest of the Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide will matter to you. If no bad things happen, you will not have to repeat any of the steps above ever again.

Restore Your Master Backup

If you have already modded Mass Effect 3, then you have to restore to your fixed (See Updates and Fixes) vanilla backup (See Create Your Master Backup) before modding it again.

As mods get updated, you might want to re-mod some day, and for this to work a roll-back to your backup is necessary.

For this you open Mod Manager, and choose “Backup & Restore” => “Restore” in the top menu. There you select your Mass Effect 3 installation and click on “Restore this target” and let it do its work.

Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide Part 3 "Restore Your Master Backup"
Watch this video on YouTube.

Installing Manual Mods

There are a few mods available that need manual installation. Some of these mods have their own installer, some need you to copy their DLC folders into your Mass Effect 3 installation by hand.

Luckily the Mod Manager can import most of these mods anyway. All you have to do, is to drag their archives or installers onto the Mod Manager window. If the program knows about the content of the mod, it lets you import it.

This has one caveat, though: Mod Manager does not know which version you are importing, so you have to take care of any possible updates yourself.

Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide Part 4 "Manual Modding"
Watch this video on YouTube.

The following is the list of manual mods which I prefer to install. All but CEM can be imported into Mod Manager.

Please have a look at this page for other mods you might like: Mass Effect 3 Recommended Mods List

Manual mods to import

Warning: If you intent to use Project Variety, then do NOT install Mass Effect 3 Recalibrated, as it is not compatible any more. The good news is, that you also no longer need Me3Re if you install Project Variety, as it supersedes it now.

Mods with their own installers

Apart from the manual mods, I also use two mods that come with their own installers and a few optional extras.

  • MEHEM
    The Mass Effect Happy Ending Mod comes with its own installer, that already does all the copying needed. There are also only a few options to check, and the installer is very simple to use.
    Note: If you like the alternative ending, but do not want the extended fan-made scenes, you might want to take a look at JAM – JohnP’s Alternate MEHEM.
    => MEHEM can be imported into Mod Manager.
  • CEM
    The Citadel Epilogue Mod has its own installer and comes in two flavors, Full and Lite. Please check their site before deciding over which variant you’d like to use.
    Additionally you can select some alternative music, which you can listen to from the setup folder where the CEM installer is.
    => This mod and its submods can not be imported into Mod Manager, and have to be installed by hand.
    • MEHEMv0.5 to CEM
      If you use both MEHEM and CEM, you have to install a “transition” mod for both to work nicely together.
    • James CEM Full ALOT fix
      This patch file fixes a bug that is caused by some incompatibility between CEM and ALOT, and must be installed by hand after ALOT was installed. I will remind you below after the ALOT installation.
    • CEM Goodbye
      This little extra mod changes the goodbye scenes of both CEM Full and CEM Lite for more closure. This mod, too, has to be installed after ALOT, and I will remind you below.

Installing Mods with Mod Manager

All the remaining mods that I am suggesting are Mod Manager compatible. Once you have downloaded them, you can either use the “Mod Management” => “Import Mod” sub-menu, or you can simply drag’n’drop the archives onto the Mod Manager window.

Upon start the program checks whether there are any updates to the imported mods, and asks you whether to update them if updates are available. You can also use “Mod Management” => “Check mods for updates” from the top menu if you wish a new check to be performed.

I always deactivate ME1 and ME2 when I re-mod Mass Effect 3, so only ME3 compatible mods are listed.

Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide Part 5 "Modding with Mod Manager"
Watch this video on YouTube.

The following list contains my personal mod list. The installation order follows the following rules:

  1. Mods that have no dependencies
  2. EGM and mods that depend on EGM
  3. Project Variety as your last DLC mod.

Please have a look at this page for other mods you might like: Mass Effect 3 Recommended Mods List.

Mods without dependencies

EGM and mods which depend on it

Project Variety

  • Project Variety
    Note: Enable ALOT Patch if you intent to texture mod with ALOT.
    • Project Variety Extras
      This mod has many options, but most provide screenshots. Make sure to read through all the options carefully.
      Note: Some of the options need you to select variants according to the mods you have installed, like EGM.
      Warning: Unless you have super-high-end hardware, do not enable “Animated Presidium Advertisements“, as this will cripple your FPS, even if you have decent hardware!
    • Project Variety Patches
      Simply check all options referring to mods you have installed.

ASI Mods

When all mods are installed, Go to “Manage Target” -> “Other” -> “ASI Manager” and install

  • 100% Galactic readiness, so you do not have to battle in multiplayer.
  • Garbage Collection Forcer, to reduce the likeliness of out-of-memory crashes.

MEHEM to CEM transition mod

That’s it, you can close Mod Manager now and continue with texture modding, unless you have both “MEHEM” and “CEM” installed.

In that case you have to install the MEHEMv0.5 to CEM transition mod, which makes these two mods to work nicely together. Like with CEM itself, you can listen to the music from the setup folder, before making a selection.

This transition mod is quickly installed and the last step before continuing to texture modding.

Texture Modding with ALOT

If you really want to lift up your ME3 experience, you will have to install texture mods, and the easiest way to do so is to use ALOT for ME3.
The program needs a certain set of mods, but also helps you downloading them.

The ALOT installer comes with an import assistant to help you import the required mods, and another assistant to import user mods.

Some of the mods are optional, but I recommend you download at least “Improved Static Lighting“. Please note that you can not install the Full set and have to download and import “Improved Static Lighting for ME3 - Lite” if you have Project Variety installed.

If you have installed “MEHEM”, you will need the “MEHEM Patch” from the ALOT Miscellaneous Files.
If you have installed “Miranda Mod”, you will also need “Miranda Mod Patch” from the ALOT Miscellaneous Files.

Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide Part 6 "Texture Modding with ALOT"
Watch this video on YouTube.

The following is a list of additional “user mods” that I like to install.

When you are happy with you mod selection, hit “INSTALL TEXTURES” and let it roll. This will take some time.

Patches after ALOT install

Some mods need to be installed and/or patched after ALOT has been installed.

Although this looks like breaking the first ALOT rule to never install DLC mods after ALOT, the following mod and patches are meant to be added after ALOT has been installed.

The two patches I need for the mods installed above, are the “MEHEM Patch” from the ALOT nexus site and “James CEM Full ALOT fix” from the CEM nexus site.

For this I have prepared myself a folder called ‘01_Post_ALOT‘, which already consists of the folders from the patch archives. With this method you do not need to unpack and copy the patches again when you re-mod my ME3. There are only two prepared folders to be copied.

CEM Goodbye

If you want to install CEM Goodbye, now is the time to do it. This mod has to be installed after ALOT, or the goodbye scene after the Citadel Party might crash.

AutoTOC

If you have either copied patch files, or installed CEM Goodbye or any other post-ALOT mod, it is a good idea to start Mod Manager once again.

Important: Please make sure that you never ever install any mods or patches after ALOT, that are not especially meant to be installed at that point!

Click on “Tools” -> “AutoTOC” -> “Run AutoTOC on Mass Effect 3“.

reShade

ReShade is in constant development, so I always update to the latest version when I do a reinstall.

And even if there is no new version since your last install, the shader packages might have been updated, and the setup program always downloads and installs the latest releases.

You can download my PrydePlay_ME3.ini preset here, and use it as a starter. This preset is used for my PrydePlay videos and can be used to replicate their look and feel.

Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide Part 7 "reShade"
Watch this video on YouTube.
  • Start the ReShade setup program and click the upper button to select a game to manage its ReShade installation.
  • In the selection window click on “Browse” and select your MassEffect3.exe
  • Select “Direct3D 9”
  • If you would like to use my PrydePlay shader config, you have to install the following packages:
    • SweetFX by CeeJay.dk
    • qUINT by Marty McFly
    • Color effects by prod80
    • AstrayFX by BlueSkyDefender
  • For all Shaders to work, you have to open the ingame ReShade settings (Normally with the key Pos1), go on the D3D9 tab, and activate “Copy depth buffer before clear operations”.
  • Just select my presets on the Home tab and you are all set.

From here you can play around with the settings to your liking. But please note that there are dozens and dozens of shaders, and it is not only important what you use and set up, but also in which order the processing is done.

The Checklist

You can use my Modding_Checklist_ME3.txt checklist as a starter to create your own checklist.

Just be sure you add and/or remove the mods you install to your checklist whenever you change anything. Whenever I re-mod ME3, I open my checklist to make sure I do not mess anything up. And that can happen if I am in a hurry, or distracted, or … you know.

The Mass Effect 3 Modding Guide is mainly meant to explain how things work, and what you need to learn and to prepare to go on your own modding journey. But from here on, all you need in future is a good checklist.

  1. Restore your master backup
  2. Install Manual Mods
  3. Install Mods with Mod Manager
  4. “ASI Manager”
    • 100% Galactic readiness
    • Garbage Collection Forcer
  5. Post Mod Manager install
  6. Texture Modding with ALOT
  7. Post ALOT install
    • 01_Post_ALOT:
      • “Better Dreams” => “BD-MirandaMod Patch”
      • “MEHEM Patch” from ALOT
      • “James CEM Full ALOT fix” from CEM
  8. CEM Goodbye
  9. reShade
    • Select “Direct3D 9”
    • SweetFX by CeeJay.dk
    • qUINT by Marty McFly
    • Color effects by prod80
    • AstrayFX by BlueSkyDefender

Final Words

The final checklist should have shown, that modding Mass Effect 3 these days is far less complicated than it used to.

Please feel free to leave a comment. I appreciate any feedback, and would like to hear not only praise, but also criticism. Is any section not clear enough? Are you left with open questions?

Special Thanks to beccatoria from the Mass Effect Modding server on Discord. Without your feedback I would have never tried to drag’n’drop manual mods onto Mod Manager. 🙂

Many thanks fly out to all the awesome artists on Nexus Mods!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *