Mass Effect: X Hidden Details You Never Noticed On The Citadel

The Mass Effect series is full of varied locations for players to blow aliens away on, from desolate ice planets to husk-infested ancient space stations. But one area is consistently present across the entire franchise, becoming a character in its own right: The Citadel, centre of council power across the Milky Way.

There’s plenty to see and do on The Citadel on Shepard’s adventures, but there’s also plenty that can be missed. Over the course of three games, Bioware stuffed this megastructure full of little easter eggs and details for players to discover hidden amongst its areas. Some are huge, some are small, but all of them are rewarding.

8 Based On A Real Concept

Few players will ever forget their initial glimpse of the Citadel in the first Mass Effect game and the panorama of its rotating panels against the vastness of space. But those who are clued up on their sci-fi will recognize the iconic image immediately as an O’Neill Cylinder.

Created by American Physicist Gerard O’Neill in his 1967 book The High Frontier, the O’Neill Cylinder was an idea for outer space colonies intended for use in the 21st century. It’s clear that Bioware took a lot of influence from O’Neill’s original illustrations of such a colony, as the Citadel is a nearly 1-to-1 replica of the physicist’s concept drawings. It’s just a lot shinier and has more arms.

7 The Drunk Guy Who Knows Your Mom

A detail from the original Mass Effect, this one is only available to players who chose the “Spacer” background during character creation. When walking through the wards, the commander will be called over by a drunk calling them “That Shepard Kid” who references flavour text from the character creation, including the Battle of Mindoir. Go through the resulting secret quest in its entirety, and you might be surprised.

As it turns out, the drunk knows your mother. And, even more interestingly, this quest not only reveals more about Shepard’s parentage but also includes direct communication with their parent. The quest itself is, in typical Bioware fashion, both amusing and bittersweet, but is also full of fantastic little details which show just how interconnected the Mass Effect universe is to itself.

6 Flying Rats (How Are They Here?)

There’s plenty of varied species on the Citadel, but there’s one which is both incredibly familiar and strangely out of place. If players go to the canopy above the Citadel Commons in Mass Effect 2, they’ll be able to spot pigeons roosting on the roof.

How did the pigeons get there? An in-game explanation from the Citadel’s VI Avina reveals that council races get to apply to introduce certain native flora and fauna from their home planets to the station. Looks like even in space, human beings wanted to make sure there were always creatures around to nest in trash and steal fries out of their hands.

5 This Hologram Belongs In A Museum

Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC is full of fun little details and easter eggs for eagle-eyed players. One of these is a great nod towards Hollywood legend and an implicit admission that the intrepid Indiana Jones exists within the canon of Mass Effect. As players make their way through the Archives section, there are several holographic records of important historical events. These include the release of the Genophage and the founding of the Spectres.

However, one of the final holograms is a recreation of an “important early religious artifact from Earth”. Anyone who has seen Raiders of the Lost Ark will recognize it immediately as the Ark of the Covenant. Whether or not the Ark is actually on The Citadel is never revealed, but it’s safe to say that it probably doesn’t work on Reapers.

4 Multiplayer Shenanigans

Across the Mass Effect franchise, The Citadel is full of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ conversations between NPCs. They’re often pretty hilarious and surprisingly self-aware, from discussions on the state of video games to little slice-of-life interactions that flavour the game world. However, beginning in Mass Effect 3, these conversations go onto another level.

During the Citadel DLC, players can overhear NPC conversations that directly reference the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer and community around it. These range from a biotic receiving a Graal shotgun “because it’s awesome”, the deadliness of the Tech Armor powerup in multiplayer matches, and the powerful Drell Adept grenade strategy. It’s even got an enterprising Vorcha who wants to learn how to roll.

3 A Reaper Hiding In Plain Sight

In the confusing sprawl of the Citadel, use of the map is pretty much mandatory unless you want to end up circling the same district over and over again. One of the few places where you’re unlikely to need it is the Council Chambers, given that the Council themselves are highly visible at the end of the hall. But should players examine the map, they’re in for a surprise.

It’s easily missed at first glance, but the Council Chambers are built in the unmistakable shape of a Reaper. This is likely a reference to the fact that the mysterious space-faring superweapons are the architects behind the Citadel’s construction, and adds a level of creepiness whenever players find themselves stood in there.

2 Christmas Presents

This one is a small detail, but a fun one. Mass Effect players are used to traipsing around levels looking for health and ammo, but there are more than just useful crates waiting around The Citadel. And unlike the others, these ones aren’t steel-clad.

In select places, particularly behind crates in the Archive area of the Citadel DLC, players can find beautifully wrapped Christmas presents just lying out on the floor. There’s no real point to them, save for a fun little surprise for those who want to check out their environment.

1 The Fate of Joker’s Family

A crew member since the original Mass Effect, there’s plenty to discover about Normandy pilot Joker. One of the facts he’ll disclose is that he has very few members of his family left: a 15-year-old sister named Hilary who lives on a farm colony named Tiptree with his dad. Those who want to keep things light may want to stop thinking about it there.

However, those with a taste for tragedy can overhear a conversation between two Asari outside Huerta Memorial Hospital in Mass Effect 3. One Asari, Aeian, is suffering from PTSD and survivor’s guilt. She’ll relate the harrowing story of how she barely escaped from a Reaper attack on Tiptree, and how she was forced to kill an injured teenager called Hilary to stop her crying from alerting the Reaper forces.

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