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 Post subject: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:10 am 
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Here, at last, is my long-threatened promised strategy thread for the Mass Effect series. I will be covering all three games, based on personal hands-on experience (so this will obviously be a continuing topic, since #3 won't be out until next year :P ) and rather than straightforward walkthroughs, I'll try to focus on general strategies and elements I haven't seen other sites or books go into much detail on.

Yeah, I know, I put way too much time and thought into these games. We all have our vices.

Updated on 12/15!

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:34 pm 
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Betcha thought I forgot about this. :P

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The year is 2183. You are Commander Shepard, a Special Forces (N7) commando in the human Systems Alliance, and you are about to be thrown into a central role in events which will decide the fate of all life in the Milky Way Galaxy. But it's really best if you experience such a story for yourself, so I'll focus primarily on gameplay elements, instead. :P

First of all, let's look at the available classes the player can choose for Shepard.

Character Classes:

Soldier
Tactical Role: Combat
Weapons Training: Pistols, Shotguns, Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles
Armor Training: Light, Medium, Heavy
Abilities and Powers: Overkill (assault rifles), Adrenaline Burst, Shield Boost, First Aid, Immunity, Marksman (pistols), Carnage (shotguns), Assassination (sniper rifles)
Specialization Class: Commando / Shock Trooper
The Soldier is the default starting class, and the introductory class for Mass Effect. As pure combat specialists, the Soldier is the only class with access to all weapons and armor types, but has no tech or biotic abilities. In combat, they rely on speed, stamina and sheer firepower to prevail, and are effective at any range. Their primary tool is the assault rifle, which no other class can wield as effectively.


Engineer
Tactical Role: Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols
Armor Training: Light
Abilities and Powers: Shield Boost, Damping, Sabotage, Overload, First Aid, Neural Shock, Marksman (pistols), AI Hacking
Specialization Class: Medic / Operative
Tech specialists whose primary assets are their technical skills and Omni-Tools, Engineers tend to play more of a support role in combat. So if you intend to play as one, plan to surround yourself with heavy-hitting combatants like Ashley, Wrex and/or Garrus at all times. Engineers also excel at hacking computers and bypassing locks, and their powers can wreak havoc on synthetic enemies (like the geth).


Adept
Tactical Role: Biotic
Weapons Training: Pistols
Armor Training: Light
Abilities and Powers: Barrier, Shield Boost, Lift, Marksman (pistols), Singularity, Stasis, Throw, Warp
Specialization Class: Bastion / Nemesis
Like Engineers, Adepts are not strong direct combatants, but specialize in using their formidable biotic physics powers to paralyze, levitate and fling enemies about. Although they are somewhat vulnerable to direct physical damage, take note: biotics are fucking broken in ME1. You'll have to lean on your squad a bit in the beginning, but my level 60 Adept basically walked through the entire game on Insane (the hardest difficulty setting) with very little trouble. So if you want an absurdly easy game, go with one of the biotic classes.


Infiltrator
Tactical Role: Combat/Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Sniper Rifles
Armor Training: Light, Medium
Abilities and Powers: Damping, Sabotage, Overload, First Aid, Immunity, Marksman (pistols), Assassination (sniper rifles), Shield Boost
Specialization Class: Commando / Operative
Think of Infiltrators as Engineers with much better direct-combat capabilities. You're still not going to want to wade into close-quarters battles the way you might with a Soldier or a Vanguard, but when their weapon proficiencies are properly developed, Infiltrators are peerless long-range snipers. And that's a trait that comes in very handy on the vast, wide open surfaces of planets you'll find throughout the galaxy.


Sentinel
Tactical Role: Biotic/Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols
Armor Training: Light
Abilities and Powers: Barrier, Sabotage, Overload, First Aid, Lift, Neural Shock, Stasis, Throw
Specialization Class: Bastion / Medic
Combining tech skills with biotic powers, Sentinels are arguably the most versatile support class. Their powers are useful in nearly any situation, although they are somewhat lacking in their ability to deal or absorb direct weapon damage...but then, that's what you've got Ashley, Wrex and Garrus for, anyway.


Vanguard
Tactical Role: Biotic/Combat
Weapons Training: Pistols, Shotguns
Armor Training: Light, Medium
Abilities and Powers: Adrenaline Burst, Barrier, Lift, Marksman (pistols), Carnage (shotguns), Shield Boost, Throw, Warp
Specialization Class: Nemesis / Shock Trooper
Fearsome biotic close-combat specialists, the Vanguard is an ideal choice for those who aren't afraid to get up close and personal.


The Team

Of course, no RPG would be complete without a roster of recruitable party members, and Mass Effect is no exception. Each crew member will bring a distinct viewpoint and set of skills to the table when they're with you in the field, so choose your team wisely.
Note: In order to open locked containers and doors or hack computers in ME1, someone must be present who has points allotted to the appropriate tech skill. If your Shepard is an Engineer, an Infiltrator or a Sentinel, you will have access to these skills yourself. But if you're a Soldier, an Adept or a Vanguard, you will need to make sure you have someone else with you -- at all times -- to handle your tech needs. This means Kaidan, Garrus and/or Tali.

ImageStaff Lt. Kaidan Alenko
“We finally get out here and the 'final frontier' was already settled. And the residents don't even seem impressed by the view. Or the dangers.”
Voice Actor: Raphael Sbarge
Species: Human
Class: Sentinel
Tactical Role: Biotic/Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols
Armor Training: Light
Abilities and Powers: Barrier, Sabotage, Overload, First Aid, Lift, Neural Shock, Stasis, Throw
Recruitment: SSV Normandy SR-1
One of Shepard's fellow officers aboard the Normandy, Kaidan is also a biotic of exceptional power, at least for a human. His experience both in the Alliance military and as one of the earliest identified human biotics has taught him to value discipline, self-control, and careful, deliberate action. This makes him an excellent tactician and advisor, although his outdated L2 biotic implants cause him to experience frequent migraines (and spending all his time staring at that flickering orange holo-panel probably doesn't help, either). As a Sentinel, his combination of tech and biotic powers can prove useful in virtually any situation. While this means he is never a bad choice to take with you, his lack of specialization also means he may not necessarily be the "best" man for every given job.


ImageGunnery Chief Ashley Williams
"How can you look out at this galaxy and not believe in something?"
Voice Actor: Kimberly Brooks
Species: Human
Class: Soldier
Tactical Role: Combat
Weapons Training: Pistols, Shotguns, Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles
Armor Training: Light, Medium, Heavy
Abilities and Powers: Overkill (assault rifles), Adrenaline Burst, Shield Boost, First Aid, Immunity, Marksman (pistols), Carnage (shotguns), Assassination (sniper rifles)
Recruitment: Eden Prime; near excavation site
Ashley is a Marine whose family has a long history of military service, going back many generations. She was assigned to the 2nd Frontier Division on the human colony of Eden Prime, but loses her entire unit in the geth attack at the beginning of the game and, after teaming up with Commander Shepard and Kaidan Alenko, is subsequently reassigned to the Normandy by order of Captain David Anderson. Due to one specific episode in her family's history, Ash is somewhat suspicious of extraterrestrials. She's also quite religious and loves poetry, but she is first and foremost an infantry soldier, and that means her role on the battlefield is very straightforward: she shoots things, and she does it better than anyone else.


ImageOfficer Garrus Vakarian
“Fighting a rogue Spectre with countless lives at stake and no regulations to get in the way? I'd say that beats C-Sec.”
Voice Actor: Brandon Keener
Species: Turian
Class: Turian Agent (Infiltrator)
Tactical Role: Combat/Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles
Armor Training: Light, Medium
Abilities and Powers: Overkill (assault rifles), Adrenaline Burst, Damping, Sabotage, Overload, First Aid, Assassination (sniper rifles), Shield Boost
Recruitment: Citadel; Med Clinic
A young and somewhat idealistic turian, Garrus works for the Investigations Division of Citadel Security, as does his father. He is assigned to investigate the Spectre Saren Arterius after Shepard accuses him of involvement with the attack on Eden Prime, but finds himself stonewalled by bureaucracy and quickly becomes disillusioned. After Saren's guilt becomes evident, Garrus decides to quit C-Sec and join Shepard's crew to help bring him down. A strong combatant and superb marksman whose tech abilities are particularly devastating against synthetic opponents (like geth), Garrus can eventually become a sniper of phenomenal skill and precision.


ImageUrdnot Wrex
“Anyone who fights us is either stupid or on Saren's payroll. Killing the latter is business. Killing the former is a favor to the universe.”
Voice Actor: Steven Barr
Species: Krogan
Class: Krogan Battlemaster (Vanguard)
Tactical Role: Combat/Biotic
Weapons Training: Shotguns, Assault Rifles
Armor Training: Medium, Heavy
Abilities and Powers: Overkill (assault rifles), Barrier, Shield Boost, Immunity, Carnage (shotguns), Stasis, Throw, Warp
Recruitment: Citadel; C-Sec Academy
A venerable krogan mercenary and bounty hunter, Wrex's name is known -- and rightly feared -- throughout the galaxy. Having survived and thrived in a life of violence for nearly a thousand years, Wrex is very jaded and pessimistic, but is privately concerned about the fate of his species. When Shepard first meets him, Wrex has been hired by the Shadow Broker to kill a local crime lord on the Citadel. In battle, he combines biotic defenses and the ability to equip heavy armor with his natural krogan strength, stamina and regeneration to become damn near un-killable at high levels. You'll find the same does not hold true for any enemy that strays within range of his biotics, or his shotgun. When the fighting is up close and personal, Wrex is unquestionably the best ally to have at your side.


ImageTali'Zorah nar Rayya
“Our Pilgrimage proves we are willing to give of ourselves for the greater good. What does it say about me if I turn my back on this?”
Voice Actor: Liz Sroka
Species: Quarian
Class: Quarian Machinist (Engineer)
Tactical Role: Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Shotguns
Armor Training: Light
Abilities and Powers: Shield Boost, Damping, Sabotage, Overload, First Aid, Marksman (pistols), AI Hacking, Carnage (shotguns)
Recruitment: Citadel; alley outside Chora's Den
A young quarian on her Pilgrimage (a cultural rite of passage she'll be only too happy to tell you all about :P ), Tali has come across information in her travels which will prove vital to Shepard's cause, and is willing to contribute her considerable technical talents to it as well. Cheerful and outgoing despite -- or perhaps because of -- the fact that she needs to wear an environmental suit at all times, Tali is very hard to dislike. Her tech powers and ability to dominate synthetic enemies are also second-to-none, and unlike an Engineer, she can defend herself with a shotgun should the need arise.


ImageDr. Liara T'Soni
"I may be Benezia's daughter, but I am nothing like her!"
Voice Actor: Ali Hillis
Species: Asari
Class: Asari Scientist (Adept)
Tactical Role: Biotic
Weapons Training: Pistols
Armor Training: Light
Abilities and Powers: Barrier, Overload, First Aid, Lift, Singularity, Stasis, Throw, Warp
Recruitment: Therum; Prothean archaeological dig site
A young asari (she's "only" 106) archaeologist, Liara becomes important to Shepard's quest for two reasons. The first is her mother's alliance with Saren, and the second is her own expertise on the extinct Prothean civilization, whose fate eventually ties into Shepard's mission. Although shy, naive and socially awkward, her unique asari biology enables Liara to unlock the mystery of the apocalyptic vision burned into Shepard's mind by the Prothean artifact on Eden Prime. It also makes her the most powerful biotic you'll ever meet (at least in ME1, anyway), so she's got that going for her, too.


Assorted Tips:

  • The Mako turret has a zoom-capable scope. I'm embarrassed to confess that it took me three years to figure this out. :oops: But this is very useful for long-range scouting and turret sniping, particularly when things are firing missiles at you from several miles away, which is pretty much all the time.
  • Each of the weapon-specific achievements also have in-game benefits. Ditto for all the powers, etc. If you're trying for the "Ally" achievements, take note: All of the Citadel-based side quests at the very beginning do count toward this, so it's safer to not even talk to anyone (aside from those you have to) until you have your desired team present.
  • The rogue VI mission on Earth's moon will unlock a choice of two specialization classes for Shepard, so that's a very good thing to do. This mission can either be very easy or very hard, depending on your level. All of the enemies in the lunar base are aerial assault drones. This means you should take Tali and Garrus with you.
  • Garrus, Tali and Wrex each have a personal quest you can complete to cement their loyalty; talk to them enough and eventually they'll bring them up. Well, Garrus and Wrex will, Tali's is one you can stumble across when you're out exploring the galaxy, it's a series of missions you'll get from Admiral Hackett investigating a possible geth invasion force out in the Armstrong Nebula. After completing the missions, Tali will have a request for you. As for the others, there's an outlaw doctor Garrus is looking for, and Wrex wants to hunt down a turian mercenary who's in possession of a family heirloom of his. These missions are optional, and the ones relating to Garrus and Tali will have some minor significance in Mass Effect 2. Wrex's armor hunt, however, is of far more immediate importance, and I strongly advise you to track it down before you go to Virmire. If you don't, you may risk permanently losing Wrex on Virmire. And that would be bad.
  • If you have the Bring Down the Sky DLC mission, you should tackle it as early as possible, because after a certain point in the game it becomes unavailable. While I can't say for certain precisely when that is, I can say that you can safely go to Therum and find Liara first. But I wouldn't put it off much later than that.
  • This is more a weird/quirky glitch than a real tip, but it has potential strategic applications so I'll go ahead and mention it. If you take a high-quality assault rifle (like, for example, the HMWA X) and equip it with a Frictionless Materials X barrel mod and Snowblind X ammo, you can completely eliminate the problem of weapon overheating. You read that correctly: with this setup, you can lay down sustained fire indefinitely, hold down the trigger as long as you want and your assault rifle will literally never overheat. Note that it can still be overheated by enemy powers like Sabotage, but not from simple sustained use.
  • About thresher maws. If you do a lot of exploring on uncharted (and not plot-critical) planets, you will quickly find yourself running across them with aggravating frequency, and having one unexpectedly erupt out of the ground in front of you as you're driving along can be...problematic, to say the least. But there are ways you can watch for them, so as to avoid such nasty surprises. They usually nest in roughly circular, crater-like areas which are further marked by irregular, telltale mounds of earth here and there. If you're attentive, you can learn to spot for thresher nests by studying the overhead maps. When you do encounter one, the best strategy is generally to maintain a healthy distance, drive parallel to them while firing the Mako's cannon, and above all else keep moving to avoid their acid spit, which is devastating and will destroy your vehicle and kill you with two or three solid hits at the very most. Do not attempt to fight them up close, ever, as they are capable of flipping the Mako and trapping you inside it. With experience it is possible to find a "safe range" close enough that the thresher maw will not submerge and burrow to chase you, but far enough away that it will remain above ground and continue to spit acid, which you can avoid by remaining stationary and simply jumping in place while firing continuously. While this is the most efficient method for killing a thresher maw, it requires precise timing and can be extremely risky if you've misjudged your distance. On a similar note, attempting to fight a thresher maw on foot is nearly always suicide. Some people may tell you that the experience bonus for killing one while disembarked is far greater than for doing so in the Mako, and that may be true, but in my opinion the risk vs. reward spread isn't worth the extra trouble.

What to Buy

And here's a somewhat more in-depth study on "what's worth buying", adapted from notes originally imparted to my brother via Hatebook when he was playing through ME1.

As you'll quickly notice, there's a numerical scale for the basic quality level of all equipment, starting at I (1) and going all the way up to X (10). You will also notice that there are dozens and dozens of individual weapons and armors available, all of which are functionally (if not cosmetically) identical but with varying stats, and very few of which are really worth using, let alone spending money on. That's why I'm here to tell you what to keep an eye out for.

The best weapons in the game are the aptly-named Spectre Master Gear series, which are only available in levels VII and X. These will never be found and can only be purchased from either the C-Sec Requisitions Officer on the Citadel, or from the Normandy quartermaster, and only after you've reached a certain level and accumulated at least 1,000,000 credits. The second-best weapons are those manufactured by Rosenkov Materials (the Karpov pistol, Sokolov shotgun, Kovalyov assault rifle and Volkov sniper rifle). Enemies will drop tons of these toward the end of the game, so you can consider them the best weapons money doesn't have to buy.

The best armor in the game for nearly every character is Kassa Fabrications' Colossus series. (This is what Fist will be wearing when you fight him, but no, you can't take his.) Armax Arsenal's Predator L, M and H armor, and Geth Armory's Battlemaster and Berserker krogan armor may have better shields or tech/biotic protection, ditto for the Serrice Council's Phantom turian armor (what Nihlus had), so those are kind of a toss-up. But for everyone else you will not find better protection than a Colossus X hardsuit. It's also worth remembering that certain attacks (such as rachni, creeper and thresher acid) ignore shields altogether, and while the Predator and geth-manufactured armors might have better shields, Colossus armor tends to have much better damage protection under their shields, which arguably makes them a safer choice overall. The Phantom armor, which is only available for Garrus (since he's a turian), is somewhat rare.

If you have the Pinnacle Station DLC missions, completing the Pinnacle Station challenges can also unlock the krogan Rage Armor, which is reportedly the best armor available for Wrex, even better than Colossus or Battlemaster armor. I have never seen it firsthand so I can't personally confirm this.

Serrice Council's Savant Omni-Tools and biotic amps are the best in the game.

Generally speaking, the most worthwhile places to shop on the Citadel are the C-Sec Requisitions office, or -- more often -- Morlan's Famous Shop (the salarian outside of Chora's Den) and Delin's Emporium (the hanar on the Presidium). I don't think I've ever bought anything from Expat, the volus upstairs from Morlan. Ever. Contrary to what the nearby volus customer will claim, he mostly sells garbage.

The Normandy Quartermaster will sometimes get something really really awesome in stock (assuming you've bought the required licenses for him), every once in a while. But he'll also continue to waste inventory space on mediocre starting gear, and tells you as much, right up until the end of the game.

Opold, the hanar merchant on Noveria, is also sometimes worth checking. I don't think I've ever had much luck shopping from Ledra, the salarian on Feros.

Lastly: any money problems you may have at the beginning of the game will disappear as soon as you get out into the galaxy and start prospecting on uncharted planets. For this reason among others, don't even bother selling anything that's rated below level IV -- your return on these items will be so minuscule that you're better off converting them into omni-gel, which will come in handy later.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head, unless anyone has any specific questions about anything.

Next: Mass Effect 2!

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Last edited by CWS on Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:18 am, edited 11 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:16 am 
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Some comments:

1. Aside from being very hard to dislike, Tali is fuckin' hot.

2. I found the Infiltrator to be the second easiest class in Mass Effect, simply because, while the Infiltrator does not possess any biotic talent, they do have access to Sniper Rifles, which, when packed with damage/accuracy mods, are brutal. Seriously. Frag rounds in spectre gear = ultimate pain.

3. Weirdly, you rely more heavily on weapon spam and ability choice in Mass Effect than in Mass Effect 2, where you rely rather more heavily on ability spam and weapon choice. Your choice of squadmate is just as critical between both titles, though.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:38 am 
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Loki Kola wrote:
2. I found the Infiltrator to be the second easiest class in Mass Effect, simply because, while the Infiltrator does not possess any biotic talent, they do have access to Sniper Rifles, which, when packed with damage/accuracy mods, are brutal. Seriously. Frag rounds in spectre gear = ultimate pain.

Soldiers also have access to sniper rifles, and depending on how you build up their skills, can be just as deadly with them as Infiltrators. They do, however, lack the Infiltrators' tech skills, and in ME1 that is a big deal.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 1:25 am 
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Then there's the Infiltrator's Tactical Cloak + Incinerate in Mass Effect 2, which is also, well...

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:50 am 
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Edited the ME1 post to make the formatting look a bit nicer, and also added a minor but semi-noteworthy tip I'd forgotten to include before.

Still working on the first of several ME2 strategy posts, too, which will be forthcoming very soon. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
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Apologies for the long delay. :oops: And now for some grade-A, Tuchanka-raised varren steak. Mmm, mmm.

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After an intro sequence in which it throws you one of the biggest story curves that any game ever has, Mass Effect 2 picks up two years after the conclusion of the first game, which means you're stepping back into Shepard's boots in 2185. You must also continue the mission you embarked upon just before the credits rolled last time around, but you'll find yourself having to do so from a very different position in the galaxy, and reliant upon an entirely new set of allegiances and base of resources as a result. But I'll let you find out those details for yourself. ;)

As I've previously mentioned, all of the character classes from ME1 have been dramatically overhauled in ME2's game engine. Therefore, they bear revisiting. One big change you'll notice right off the bat is that every power and ability can now potentially be evolved into one of two enhanced versions thereof. While it may appear at first glance that ME1's ability tree has been dramatically pared down and simplified for ME2, that's really not the case once you factor in all of the possible power evolutions.

Character Classes:

Soldier
Tactical Role: Combat
Weapons Training: Pistols, Shotguns, Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Heavy Weapons
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Adrenaline Rush (Hardened Adrenaline Rush / Heightened Adrenaline Rush), Concussive Shot (Heavy Concussive Shot / Concussive Blast), Cryo Ammo (Improved Cryo Ammo / Squad Cryo Ammo), Disruptor Ammo (Heavy Disruptor Ammo / Squad Disruptor Ammo), Incendiary Ammo (Inferno Ammo / Squad Incendiary Ammo)
Passive Class Ability: Combat Mastery (Commando / Shock Trooper)
As before, the Soldier is a good introductory class for the game mechanics of Mass Effect 2. And since there are no longer weapon-specific skill trees, they will be equally effective with all weapon types right from the start of the game. Although there are no longer any class restrictions on armor, the Soldier still enjoys a slight "survivability edge" due to having higher base health scores than the other classes. And being completely reliant on weapon damage and ammo powers, they'll need it. Their new class-specific power, Adrenaline Rush, works very differently than it did in ME1; whereas it simply reset the recharge times for all your other powers in the first game, it now creates a time dilation effect, enabling you to more easily line up the perfect shot (or several). It can also increase your weapon damage, and reduce the damage you take from incoming fire while it's active.


Engineer
Tactical Role: Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Submachineguns, Heavy Weapons
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Combat Drone (Attack Drone / Explosive Drone), AI Hacking (Improved AI Hacking / Area AI Hacking), Cryo Blast (Deep Cryo Blast / Full Cryo Blast), Incinerate (Heavy Incinerate / Incineration Blast), Overload (Heavy Overload / Area Overload)
Passive Class Ability: Tech Mastery (Demolisher / Mechanic)
As before, Engineers are at their best when faced with synthetic opponents, but their Incinerate and Cryo Blast abilities are also devastating against armored and organic foes. In addition, they can now deploy holographic combat drones to distract, stun and damage enemies.


Adept
Tactical Role: Biotic
Weapons Training: Pistols, Submachineguns, Heavy Weapons
Defense Type: Barrier
Abilities and Powers: Singularity (Heavy Singularity / Wide Singularity), Pull (Heavy Pull / Pull Field), Shockwave (Heavy Shockwave / Improved Shockwave), Throw (Heavy Throw / Throw Field), Warp (Heavy Warp / Unstable Warp)
Passive Class Ability: Biotic Mastery (Bastion / Nemesis)
Biotics have been heavily reworked in ME2. While no longer as game-breakingly overwhelming as they were in the first game, skilled players will find them to potentially be much more strategically rewarding thanks to ME2's vastly improved physics engine. For example, biotic powers can now be "fired" around corners and over cover, and even combined to create new and devastating effects.


Infiltrator
Tactical Role: Combat/Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Submachineguns, Sniper Rifles, Heavy Weapons
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Tactical Cloak (Enhanced Cloak / Assassination Cloak), AI Hacking (Improved AI Hacking / Area AI Hacking), Cryo Ammo (Improved Cryo Ammo / Squad Cryo Ammo), Disruptor Ammo (Heavy Disruptor Ammo / Squad Disruptor Ammo), Incinerate (Heavy Incinerate / Incineration Blast)
Passive Class Ability: Operative (Agent / Assassin)
Infiltrators now possess the extremely cool Tactical Cloak ability, which grants temporary invisibility and boosts weapon damage. Their base class ability also creates a time dilation effect when looking through a sniper rifle's scope, for pinpoint, long-distance accuracy.


Sentinel
Tactical Role: Biotic/Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Submachineguns, Heavy Weapons
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Tech Armor (Assault Armor / Power Armor), Cryo Blast (Deep Cryo Blast / Full Cryo Blast), Overload (Heavy Overload / Area Overload), Throw (Heavy Throw / Throw Field), Warp (Heavy Warp / Unstable Warp)
Passive Class Ability: Defender (Guardian / Raider)
The Sentinel is arguably the most improved class in Mass Effect 2. Their selection of powers are effective against all enemy defenses, and their Tech Armor gives them an additional layer of protection which can stun and damage nearby enemies when overloaded.


Vanguard
Tactical Role: Biotic/Combat
Weapons Training: Pistols, Submachineguns, Shotguns, Heavy Weapons
Defense Type: Barrier
Abilities and Powers: Charge (Heavy Charge / Area Charge), Pull (Heavy Pull / Pull Field), Shockwave (Heavy Shockwave / Improved Shockwave), Cryo Ammo (Improved Cryo Ammo / Squad Cryo Ammo), Incendiary Ammo (Inferno Ammo / Squad Incendiary Ammo)
Passive Class Ability: Assault Mastery (Champion / Destroyer)
Playing a Vanguard can now be an even more rewarding proposition for the true daredevil. Their new Charge ability allows them to instantly "leap" across the battlefield, and even through solid objects, to strike enemies with explosive force and engage them at point-blank range.


Defense and Offense

One important shift in the focus of combat from ME1 to ME2 is that both your squad, and many (or, on the higher difficulty settings, all) enemies will be equipped with one or more of three specific defenses, and they cannot be hurt or affected by most powers until those defenses have been removed. Each defense type is vulnerable to specific kinds of attacks, while resistant to others. For example, Armor is vulnerable to Incendiary attacks, Warp, and high-damage-per-shot weapons; biotic Barriers are vulnerable to Concussive attacks, Warp, and rapid-fire weapons; and kinetic Shields are vulnerable to Disruptor, Overload and rapid-fire weapons. More detail on powers and their effects will follow.


Enemy Factions

In ME1, you spent the majority of the game battling either Saren's geth forces, random patchwork mercenary teams, or a few specialized enemy types. In ME2, you'll be going up against no less than five major factions, each with their own separate and distinct tactics, technology, weapons and defenses. Knowing what to expect from your opposition is crucial in planning your strategy, equipment and squad selection for each mission.


Blood Pack
Armaments: Pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, flamethrowers, missile launchers
Defenses: Armor
Species: Krogan, Varren, Vorcha
A krogan mercenary gang banned from Citadel space for their lawless brutality, you'll encounter the Blood Pack on Omega, Tuchanka, and a handful of other locations in the Terminus systems. What they lack in advanced technology, they more than make up for with relentless aggression. Be aware that both krogan and vorcha can rapidly regenerate their health when injured, and vorcha can also spontaneously generate armor. This is best countered with Incendiary attacks and/or Warp. Oh, and it should also be noted for the record that attempting to take on a krogan in a melee contest on any difficulty level above Normal is basically suicide.


Blue Suns
Armaments: Pistols, submachineguns, shotguns, assault rifles, flamethrowers, missile launchers, mechs, gunships
Defenses: Shields, Armor, Tech Armor
Species: Batarian, Human, Turian
A quasi-legitimate mercenary company who also run illicit operations on Omega, Korlus, Purgatory, Zorya and dozens of other locations throughout the Terminus systems, the Blue Suns are a disciplined and well-equipped adversary. They can bring significant firepower to bear, up to and including heavy YMIR combat mechs and the occasional Mantis gunship.


Collectors
Armaments: Collector assault rifles, particle beams
Defenses: Barriers, Armor
Species: Collector, Harbinger, Husk, Praetorian, Scion
The mysterious Collectors are Shepard's primary enemy in Mass Effect 2. They have abducted entire human colonies -- tens of thousands of people -- for unknown purposes, and this makes them an existential threat to all human life in the galaxy. Their bizarre, organic technology and potent biotics are weapons to be feared, as is their leader, Harbinger. And their use of Husks, as well as the even more dreadful Scions and Praetorians, hints at their true allegiances. Note that contrary to their appearance in some cases, all Collector-aligned units are considered organics.


Eclipse
Armaments: Pistols, submachineguns, shotguns, assault rifles, missile launchers, mechs, gunships
Defenses: Shields, Barriers, Armor, Tech Armor
Species: Asari, Human, Salarian
Like the Blue Suns, Eclipse is a semi-legitimate private mercenary corporation which is primarily led by asari and salarians. Also like the Blue Suns, Eclipse favors the use of high-tech weaponry and mechs of all sizes, but they also employ more indirect tactics on the battlefield. Beware of asari Vanguards who will rush you with biotics and shotguns, and salarian Engineers who will employ combat drones and tech attacks to strip your defenses. You'll find a strong Eclipse presence on Omega, Ilium, Bekenstein, and a number of other worlds.


Geth
Armaments: Geth pulse rifles, shotguns, flamethrowers, assault rifles, missile launchers
Defenses: Shields, Armor
Species: Geth
Your old "friends" the geth are here as well, though you'll encounter them far less frequently in ME2 than you did in the first game. They still use many of the same tactics and unit types, including Shock Troopers, aerial drones, the new Tactical Cloak-equipped Hunters, Armatures and the fearsome Geth Primes, although the Hopper variants are (thankfully) nowhere to be found. They do have a few new tricks however, so don't let your guard down. It should go without saying, but all geth units are synthetic and are therefore resistant to Incendiary attacks, but vulnerable to AI Hacking, Disruptor weapons and Overload.


The Team

As a result of Shepard's new circumstances annoyingly tantalizingly hinted at above, you are going to need to recruit a (mostly) whole new crew. Unlike ME1, this time it will take you nearly the entire game to completely fill out your roster, and only in part because you can recruit fully twice as many characters as you could in the first game. The stakes are also much higher this time. Fail to properly build your team and secure their individual loyalties, and you may literally be embarking on a suicide mission.


ImageOperative Jacob Taylor
"Saved the Citadel, like you, but what’s the saying — a good deed’s like pissing yourself in dark pants. Warm feeling but no one notices."
Voice Actor: Adam Lazarre-White
Species: Human
Tactical Role: Combat/Biotic
Weapons Training: Pistols, Shotguns
Defense Type: Barrier
Abilities and Powers: Pull (Heavy Pull / Pull Field), Incendiary Ammo (Inferno Ammo / Squad Incendiary Ammo), *Barrier (Heavy Barrier / Improved Barrier)
Passive Class Ability: Cerberus Operative (Cerberus Veteran / Cerberus Specialist)
Recruitment: Lazarus Research Station; Tram Walkway
The first ally Shepard will encounter on his (or her) new mission is Jacob Taylor, an ex-Alliance Marine turned Cerberus security officer. His current employment status notwithstanding, Jacob is an honest, moral and genuinely decent guy. He's also a capable close-quarters combatant and a biotic of moderate power, and is useful as such early in the game. It must be noted, however, that he will be completely outclassed in each of those two areas by your later recruits (Grunt and Jack, respectively), and once you have them in your roster, you may find little need to use Jacob for the rest of the game. He will, however, enable you to improve the Normandy's armor plating, which will be very important in the final mission. His unlockable Barrier skill can dramatically strengthen his biotic barriers for short periods.


ImageOfficer Miranda Lawson
"Worried about my qualifications? I can crush a mech with my biotics or shoot its head off at a hundred yards. Take your pick."
Voice Actor: Yvonne Strahovski
Species: Human
Tactical Role: Biotic/Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Submachineguns
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Overload (Heavy Overload / Area Overload), Warp (Heavy Warp / Unstable Warp), *Slam (Heavy Slam / Crippling Slam)
Passive Class Ability: Cerberus Officer (Cerberus Leader / Cerberus Tactician)
Recruitment: Lazarus Research Station; Shuttle Bay
Miranda is a no-nonsense, true Cerberus loyalist who fully subscribes to their ends-justifies-the-means philosophy. A highly skilled and ruthless tactician, on the battlefield she is quite possibly the single most versatile member of your entire team, due to her ability to use both Overload and Warp. And the fact that her passive class skill grants bonuses to the entire active squad ensures that she is never a bad choice to have at your side, no matter the situation. She will also enable you to upgrade Normandy's mineral-scanning capabilities, which will allow you to gather resources with much greater efficiency. Her unlockable ability, Slam, is a biotic attack which can stun and cripple single enemies.


ImageProfessor Mordin Solus
"Have killed many, Shepard. Many methods. Gunfire, knives, drugs, tech attacks, once with farming equipment. But not with medicine!"
Voice Actor: Michael Beattie
Species: Salarian
Tactical Role: Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Submachineguns
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Incinerate (Heavy Incinerate / Incineration Blast), Cryo Blast (Deep Cryo Blast / Full Cryo Blast), *Neural Shock (Heavy Neural Shock / Neural Shockwave)
Passive Class Ability: Salarian Scientist (Salarian Genius / Salarian Savant)
Recruitment: Omega; Auxera Clinic
A brilliant salarian geneticist, Mordin is also a former member of the salarians' infamous Special Tasks Group whose work has had a much more significant impact on galactic affairs than he'll initially let on. He is one of the most important characters for Shepard to recruit, as having him on board will unlock all the tech and power upgrades that can be acquired through research, one of which is a specialized Omni-Tool for Mordin himself. In combat, his abilities can decimate armored and organic enemies, which makes him particularly useful against the Collectors. As a footnote, average salarian life expectancy is around forty years and Mordin is at least in his mid-to-late thirties, but age doesn't seem to have slowed him down at all. His unlockable Neural Shock attack can briefly paralyze organic enemies and permanently reduce their accuracy.


ImageGarrus Vakarian
"When it comes down to it, Shepard, I don't think I'm a very good turian. When a good turian hears a bad order, he follows it. He may complain, but he knows his place. I just don't see the point in staying quiet and polite. Not when the galaxy is at stake."
Voice Actor: Brandon Keener
Species: Turian
Tactical Role: Combat/Tech
Weapons Training: Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Concussive Shot (Heavy Concussive Shot / Concussive Blast), Overload (Heavy Overload / Area Overload), *Armor Piercing Ammo (Tungsten Ammo / Squad Armor Piercing Ammo)
Passive Class Ability: Turian Rebel (Turian Renegade / Turian Survivor)
[Reveal] Spoiler: Garrus' recruitment
Recruitment: Omega; Archangel's Hideout

As you may be able to tell from his thumbnail portrait, the past two years have not exactly been kind to Garrus. I'll let you find out the specifics for yourself, but suffice to say that he's no longer the impulsive, idealistic C-Sec investigator he was when you first met him in ME1. His combat skills are as sharp as ever, though, if not sharper, and he still makes an exceptionally effective medium- to long-range sniper against synthetic, shielded and armored enemies. He can also outfit the Normandy with a prototype turian weapon of unprecedented destructive power, which will be a decisive factor in a certain battle later in the game. His unlockable Armor-Piercing Ammo will make short work of armored targets.


ImageJack (Subject Zero)
"Ain't saying it was easy. Not everything is spur of the moment. Sometimes, you have to work to give people what they deserve."
Voice Actor: Courtenay Taylor
Species: Human
Tactical Role: Biotic/Combat
Weapons Training: Pistols, Shotguns
Defense Type: Barrier
Abilities and Powers: Shockwave (Heavy Shockwave / Improved Shockwave), Pull (Heavy Pull / Pull Field), *Warp Ammo (Heavy Warp Ammo / Squad Warp Ammo)
Passive Class Ability: Subject Zero (Primal Adept / Primal Vanguard)
Recruitment: Purgatory; Cryo-Stasis
Don't be fooled by her diminutive stature. Jack is a convicted pirate, kidnapper, vandal and mass-murderer with a foul mouth and a fouler temper. She is also possibly the most powerful human biotic alive. Her Shockwave power can quickly clear the field of large groups of massed enemies, and as such is ideal for fighting off Husks. She can also help you research a prototype L5x biotic implant to boost her already prodigious power levels even further. Her unlockable Warp Ammo is devastating against enemy barriers and armor alike, and will deal additional damage to any target already affected by another biotic field.


ImageGrunt
"I am pure krogan. You should be in awe."
Voice Actor: Steve "Spike Spiegel" Blum
Species: Krogan
Tactical Role: Combat
Weapons Training: Shotguns, Assault Rifles
Defense Type: Armor
Abilities and Powers: Concussive Shot (Heavy Concussive Shot / Concussive Blast), Incendiary Ammo (Inferno Ammo / Squad Incendiary Ammo), *Fortification (Improved Fortification / Heavy Fortification)
Passive Class Ability: Krogan Berserker (Krogan Pureblood / Krogan Warlord)
Recruitment: Korlus; Okeer's Lab
A genetically-engineered juvenile krogan, Grunt was designed to be the perfect soldier. And he is, arguably, precisely that. His inherent strength, stamina and durability far outstrip any of Shepard's other potential recruits, and his enormous pool of base HP combine with his insanely fast natural regeneration to make him nearly unstoppable at close- to medium-range, against any opponent. As if that isn't enough, he can also be equipped with the M-300 Claymore shotgun, which in close quarters is the deadliest weapon in the game. And his unlockable Fortification power can temporarily reinforce his armor and boost his health, rendering him nearly invulnerable.


ImageTali'Zorah vas Neema
"I don't think life is about what you deserve."
Voice Actor: Liz Sroka
Species: Quarian
Tactical Role: Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Shotguns
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Combat Drone (Attack Drone / Explosive Drone), AI Hacking (Improved AI Hacking / Area AI Hacking), *Energy Drain (Heavy Energy Drain / Area Drain)
Passive Class Ability: Quarian Machinist (Quarian Engineer / Quarian Mechanic)
Recruitment: Haestrom; Ruins
After successfully completing her Pilgrimage, Tali returned home to the quarian Migrant Fleet a hero, and was given her formal ship assignment (hence the name change). Shepard will first encounter her very early in ME2, but she cannot be permanently recruited until much later in the game. Her skills in subverting and commandeering enemy technology will prove as useful as ever, and she can now deploy her very own combat drone to sow confusion on the battlefield, as well. She can also outfit the Normandy with experimental shield technology which will be invaluable in the final mission. Once she gains access to her unlockable Energy Drain power, Tali can sap enemy shields and use them to temporarily bolster her own.


ImageThane Krios
"The universe is a dark place. I’m trying to make it brighter before I die."
Voice Actor: Keythe Farley
Species: Drell
Tactical Role: Combat/Biotic
Weapons Training: Submachineguns, Sniper Rifles
Defense Type: Barrier
Abilities and Powers: Throw (Heavy Throw / Throw Field), Warp (Heavy Warp / Unstable Warp), *Shredder Ammo (Improved Shredder Ammo / Squad Shredder Ammo)
Passive Class Ability: Drell Assassin (Drell Marksman / Drell Veteran)
Recruitment: Illium; Dantius Towers, Penthouse
A drell, trained from childhood by the hanar (of all people...) to be the ultimate assassin, Thane also happens to be slowly dying of Kepral's Syndrome. Aside from apparently being the obligatory tragic anti-hero of ME2, Thane is more importantly the most efficient Collector-killer at your disposal. He can counter enemy biotics with his own, is an even more impressive sniper than Garrus, and his passive class skill can grant him jaw-dropping bonuses to his base weapon damage. On the side, he can also double the number of mining probes the Normandy can carry, allowing you to maximize your ability to gather resources before refueling. As a veteran assassin, Thane is trained to kill with maximum speed and efficiency, and his unlockable Shredder Ammo will quickly tear unprotected organic enemies to pieces.


ImageJusticar Samara
"I might seem a hero to many, but I would kill all of them if I had to."
Voice Actor: Maggie Baird
Species: Asari
Tactical Role: Biotic/Combat
Weapons Training: Submachineguns, Assault Rifles
Defense Type: Barrier
Abilities and Powers: Throw (Heavy Throw / Throw Field), Pull (Heavy Pull / Pull Field), *Reave (Heavy Reave / Area Reave)
Passive Class Ability: Asari Justicar (Sapiens Justicar / Caedo Justicar)
Recruitment: Illium; Nos Astra Commercial Spaceport
Samara has spent roughly half her life wandering asari space as a Justicar, an ancient and legendary sect of asari warriors renowned for their uncompromising -- and merciless -- pursuit of justice...and she's nearly a thousand years old. As such there is very little she has not seen, done or experienced, and in my opinion, this makes her a much better representative for the cultural mystique of the asari than Liara was in ME1. Both her skills in combat, and the strength of her biotics, are second to none. Additionally, she can increase the Normandy's fuel capacity by 50%, allowing you greater freedom to explore the galaxy. Her unlockable power, Reave, is a devastating biotic attack which can dissipate barriers, fracture armor and drain health from organic targets, transferring it to Samara.


[Reveal] Spoiler: Mass Effect 2
ImageMorinth
"I love any game where your opponent can believe he's about to win...right before you kill him."
Voice Actor: Natalia Cigliuti
Species: Asari
Tactical Role: Biotic/Combat
Weapons Training: Submachineguns, Assault Rifles
Defense Type: Barrier
Abilities and Powers: Throw (Heavy Throw / Throw Field), Pull (Heavy Pull / Pull Field), *Dominate (Enhanced Dominate / Group Dominate)
Passive Class Ability: Ardat-Yakshi (Endua-Yakshi / Malian-Yakshi)
Recruitment: Omega; Afterlife V.I.P. Lounge
Through a shocking act of betrayal, it is actually possible to recruit Morinth, Samara's serial-killer daughter, for your team (though you do so at your own peril :P ). For the most part, her abilities are identical to her mother's, with one exception: her Dominate power, which can best be described as being roughly equivalent to AI Hacking, but against organic targets, instead.


ImageLegion
"We are Legion, a terminal of the geth. We will integrate into Normandy."
Voice Actor: D.C. Douglas
Species: Geth
Tactical Role: Tech/Combat
Weapons Training: Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: AI Hacking (Improved AI Hacking / Area AI Hacking), Combat Drone (Attack Drone / Explosive Drone), *Geth Shield Boost (Heavy Geth Shield Boost / Improved Geth Shield Boost)
Passive Class Ability: Geth Infiltrator (Geth Assassin / Geth Trooper)
Recruitment: Derelict Reaper; Power Core
So, you've spent the better part of two games fighting geth. Well, now you finally have the chance to get to know them on a more..."personal" level. Meet Legion, a unique mobile platform housing more than a thousand geth software "minds". (They also have a piece of Shepard's old N7 hardsuit welded to their torso, but good luck getting a straight answer out of them about that.) All past prejudices aside, the usefulness of a synthetic super-sniper should not be overlooked. Their AI hacking proficiencies are superior even to Tali's, and they can even be equipped with the ungodly powerful M-98 Widow anti-material rifle, which is ME2's very last word in long-range, high-precision death dealing. Finally, their unlockable Geth Shield Boost ability can temporarily boost Legion's shield strength to a level that can almost rival Grunt's durability.



ImageZaeed Massani*
"A stubborn enough person can survive just about anything. Rage is a hell of an anesthetic."
Voice Actor: Robin Sachs
Species: Human
Tactical Role: Combat
Weapons Training: Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Concussive Shot (Heavy Concussive Shot / Concussive Blast), Disruptor Ammo (Heavy Disruptor Ammo / Squad Disruptor Ammo), *Inferno Grenade (Heavy Inferno Grenade / Inferno Blast Grenade)
Passive Class Ability: Mercenary Veteran (Mercenary Warlord / Mercenary Commando)
Recruitment: Omega; Docking Bay
Zaeed is a legendary professional mercenary and bounty hunter, and Cerberus is paying him a small fortune to join Shepard's cause. He is an outstanding all-around combatant at any range and against any enemy, though you may find him to be particularly effective against the Blue Suns. His passive class skill can dramatically bolster his already-substantial weapon damage, and his unlockable Inferno Grenade can ignite enemy armor and panic unprotected organics. By helping Zaeed with his personal vendetta mission, Shepard can also gain access to the brutally effective M-451 Firestorm flamethrower.


ImageGoto Kasumi*
"I'm the best thief in the business, not the most famous. Need to watch my step to keep it that way."
Voice Actor: Kym Hoy
Species: Human
Tactical Role: Tech
Weapons Training: Pistols, Submachineguns
Defense Type: Shield
Abilities and Powers: Shadow Strike (Deadly Shadow Strike / Rapid Shadow Strike), Overload (Heavy Overload / Area Overload), *Flashbang Grenade (Frag Grenade / Improved Flashbang Grenade)
Passive Class Ability: Master Thief (Master Infiltrator / Master Saboteur)
Recruitment: Citadel; Zakera Ward Docking Bay
As she'll tell you, the mysterious (yet surprisingly personable) Kasumi is not the most famous professional thief in the business -- she's the best. Fast, agile and extremely tech-savvy, there is no foe she can't outwit. Her unique Shadow Strike can target any enemy, regardless of their defenses, and potentially inflict massive damage to a single target while also distracting nearby enemies and disrupting their ranks. Her unlockable Flashbang Grenades can further confuse and stun unwitting opponents, and deal minor damage to enemy defenses. In addition, her personal mission will also make the M-12 Locust, which is arguably the best (or at least the most versatile) submachinegun in the game, available to the entire squad.


ImageDr. Liara T'Soni*
"I'm a very good information broker, Shepard. The world of intrigue isn't that different from a dig site. Except that the dead bodies still smell."
Voice Actor: Ali Hillis
Species: Asari
Tactical Role: Biotic
Weapons Training: Pistols, Submachineguns
Defense Type: Barrier
Abilities and Powers: Singularity (Heavy Singularity / Wide Singularity), Warp (Heavy Warp / Unstable Warp), *Stasis (Deep Stasis / Enhanced Stasis)
Passive Class Ability: Asari Scientist (Asari Controller / Asari Operative)
Recruitment: Illium; Baria Frontiers
Like the rest of Shepard's former companions, Liara has been busy the past two years, and has made some surprising -- and somewhat alarming -- choices. The former archaeologist and Prothean expert is now a professional "information broker" on the rampantly corrupt asari colony world of Ilium, on the galactic borderline between Citadel space and the Terminus Systems. Liara is also hellbent on hunting down and executing the elusive Shadow Broker, for reasons I'll let her explain (or not). In spite of her rather questionable present situation, she remains a loyal friend and ally, and her biotics are as potent as ever.


Note:
*Denotes unlockable power/ability
Denotes DLC content*


(The Phiend also contributed to this post. All thumbnail portraits in this, and the previous post were taken from the Mass Effect Wiki.)

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Last edited by CWS on Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:46 am, edited 5 times in total.
Added the Tactical Role field and made some minor edits to Jacob's, Mordin's, Grunt's and Tali's profiles.


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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:03 pm 
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Mass Effect 2: Powers, and You

Powers are vital. Unlike weapons, they are unhindered by ammunition limits, and choosing a different power is as simple as pressing the appropriate button (as opposed to waiting for unequip and reequip animation to switch weapons). They also have wider ranges of effects (throwing an enemy off a ledge tends to be faster than shooting their health away), and even those with similar effects can supplement each other well (using Incinerate, which is highly effective against armor, while wielding a weapon that is less effective against armor).

Having and using the appropriate powers is also vital. Powers vary in their ideal use times of use (aside from the passive class powers that are "always on"), and the shared cooldown means that using the wrong power forces you to wait until you can try again...and in some situations, the opportunity may be gone, or Shepard killed, by then.

Making Powers Work

The most important thing to remember is that the vast majority of offensive powers behave differently (and almost always more effectively) against a target with health showing, than they do against a target that has armor/shields/barriers. Overload will not stun synthetics, nor will higher level Overload be able to disable a target's weapons and powers if it still possesses some forms of protection, but it will be damage to that protection even if it isn't the shields Overload is specialized for (more on this later). Using Throw to toss an enemy around is quite handy, but only works if its health is showing; otherwise, it's not even worth bothering.

Most tougher enemies have some of these defenses, and on Hardcore or Insanity difficulty nearly every enemy has them, so the first thing to understand is how to best remove these protections. This can be with weapons or other powers. For weapons, their descriptions should indicate which types of defense they work best against; but in general, SMGs and shotguns are best against shields and barriers, while pistols and sniper rifles are best against armor. Exceptions exist, however, and assault rifles and heavy weapons don't have a single trend. As for powers....

Offensive Powers

  • Against Barriers
    • Concussive Shot
    • Reave
    • Shadow Strike
    • Warp
  • Against Shields
    • Energy Drain
    • Overload
    • Shadow Strike
  • Against Armor
    • Incinerate
    • Inferno Grenade
    • Reave
    • Shadow Strike
    • Warp

In a pinch (or to use as a side effect with powers that affect an area), these can damage other types of protections; however it's less efficient, most powers are 50% less effective against other defense types. Incinerate is 58% less effective. Concussive Shot is 71% less effective, so intentionally using it against armor or shields is discouraged.

Ammo Powers

Another option is to use ammo powers. Ammo powers are similarly geared towards removing certain types of defense (and a few are geared towards health), but rely on the underlying weapon for the base damage. Ammo powers last on the weapon for an entire mission, and never decrease damage, so it's always a good idea to use one if available. You can only have one active on a weapon at a time, however, though you can switch ammo powers mid-mission if you find your needs change.
  • Against Barriers
    • Warp Ammo
  • Against Shields
    • Disruptor Ammo
  • Against Armor
    • Armor Piercing Ammo
    • Incendiary Ammo
    • Warp Ammo
  • Against Health
    • Armor Piercing Ammo
    • Incendiary Ammo
    • Shredder Ammo
    • Warp Ammo

Cryo Ammo is kind of different. Shots have a chance to freeze targets like Cryo Blast, causing them to slowly freeze and then fall over, taking increased damage until they thaw. And like Cryo Blast, has no effective on a protected target.

Anyway, there are three things about ammo powers that may not be apparent, but are still important:
  • The damage bonus does not increase exponentially with weapons with similar properties. An ammo power that does +40% damage to armor on a weapon that does +50% damage to armor stacks additively for a net +90% damage to armor, not multiplicatively for +110%.
  • A class passive's bonus to power damage does increase the damage done by ammo powers. This is largely of impact to Shepard, as all class' passives can be evolved at fourth level to increase power damage; but also note that Garrus' class passive improves his power damage (and by extension his Armor Piercing Ammo).
  • Unlike the more directly offensive powers, ammo powers have no effect against other defenses. Armor Piercing Ammo does no extra damage to shields or barriers (although the weapon will do its normal damage to them).

Disabling Powers

Now that we've gotten past how to get past defenses in the way, here's a not-so-brief summary of the powers that require a target's health to be exposed for their full effect.
  • AI Hacking and Dominate cause unprotected synthetic and organic enemies (respectively) to fight for you for a time. They are covered in more detail below.
  • Charge, Concussive Shot and Throw apply force, hurling enemies away and rendering them unable to attack or effectively defend themselves. They simply apply this effect to the target they hit (and with the proper rank 4 version, the area around them). Charge is a multifaceted power that's covered further in sections below, Concussive Shot also does damage (especially to barriers) as mentioned above. Throw, in exchange for this being its only effect, applies more force and has a shorter cooldown than either.
  • Cryo Blast and Cryo Ammo, as mentioned above, freeze targets; afflicted targets will slow down and turn icy white over the course of a few seconds, before being frozen solid and falling over. While this is not instant death for them (except in the case of husks, which tend to die instantly when subjected to many of the disabling effects), as given enough time they'll thaw, they're unable to attack and take increased damage while frozen.
  • Disruptor Ammo and Overload are typically used for damaging shields and synthetics, but Overload is also capable of stunning unprotected synthetics. At higher levels, both powers are able to not only stun synthetics, but overload weapons and powers, disabling the attack potential of enemies. They can also cause the flamethrowers of enemies wielding them to explode, instantly killing the enemy and damaging those around them.
  • Flashbang Grenade stuns unprotected enemies in a large radius, rendering them unable to attack, as well as disabling their weapons and powers. I don't have the requisite DLC purchased, and information seems to vary on this point, but I'm led to believe it can disable weapons and powers even on protected enemies.
  • Incinerate, Incendiary Ammo and Inferno Grenade set unprotected enemies on fire. In addition to causing damage over time, most organic enemies panic when set ablaze, neglecting to counterattack. Further, these attacks will halt the health regeneration of krogan and vorcha, assuming damage is dealt to health.
  • Neural Shock stuns an enemy, and at higher levels permanently reduces their accuracy as well.
  • Pull causes an unprotected target to slowly float towards you. The application of Pull reduces the target's effective mass while in effect, amplifying the potential of force applying powers like Throw.
  • Reave is probably best known for its effectiveness when damaging armor and barriers, but against unprotected organic targets it overwhelms them with energy, holding them up out of cover and causing them to take extra damage while it drains health from them.
  • Shockwave generates a series of small force explosions towards a target in a line, throwing enemies into the air. While this behavior limits its range, it comes with a reasonable area of effect, allowing it to clear large paths of enemies. Shockwave is especially useful against husks, which tend to appear bunched up enough to hit many with a single use of Shockwave. Husks are also vulnerable to force effects, they die instantly when subject to such.
  • Singularity creates a small vortex of gravity, hurling unprotected enemies around and minorly bothering defense-bearing foes. Singularity persists for a while (unless it's capacity is depleted before its normal expiration time), and so can be used to cover a chokepoint.
  • Slam lifts a target into the air then shoves them against the ground, dealing damage from the force of impact. They're unable to attack while picking themselves up from the ground, as might be guessed.
  • Stasis holds enemies, unable to attack or be attacked. It is rather unique in that it works on protected enemies.
  • Warp is probably best known for its effectiveness when damaging armor and barriers, but it also halts health regeneration and another special effect: it can "detonate" ongoing powers, ending their duration and causing Warp to do double damage and in an area. Certain powers, like Dominate and Reave, are unable to be detonated by Warp; leaving Pull as the most reliable candidate.

Defensive Powers

Not all powers are purely offensive. Several increase survivability. Again, proper use can make the most of these powers.
  • Barrier, Fortification, and Geth Shield Boost are nearly identical in function: they increase shield (or armor or barrier, as appropriate) capacity for a time, and instantaneously recharge it to full capacity when first activated. The primary difference is in type (Barrier is a biotic power, Fortification is a combat power, Geth Shield Boost is a tech power); and that Geth Shield Boost has a rank 4 version that increases weapon damage instead of overall capacity, whereas that same non-capacity version Barrier and Fortification increase duration. Fortification is generally discouraged as a choice for Shepard's advanced training power, because there are no cooldown or duration research upgrades for combat powers while there are for biotic and tech powers. In case there's no other particular reason to between Barrier and Geth Shield Boost, Geth Shield Boost has an activation animation which means its activation can be interrupted by a melee attack or explosion. Barrier has none and thus can't be interrupted.

    Because it fully recharges upon activation, even a single rank can prove effective for that reason. Similarly, it's most efficient to activate the power when shields are low or already depleted, to get the most use of the free recharge.
  • Tech Armor is largely similar to the above, in that increases shield capacity and instantly recharges to full. However, it also lasts until broken, and when broken it releases an energy pulse that damages and repels enemies (although like the myriad similar powers that apply force, it's only truly effective against an unprotected target). Additionally, at rank 4 it can be further developed to either increase its capacity bonus and provide a bonus to power damage as long as it lasts, or to boost its energy pulse and restore half of the shield's normal capacity when Tech Armor broken.

    The ideal time to activate Tech Armor is at the beginning of a mission so the cooldown completes before the first combat, and as soon as Tech Armor is broken because the energy pulse won't trigger simply by reactivation (also, the energy pulse has a very brief stun effect even against protected targets, which can provide enough time to reactivate it uninterrupted).
  • Charge is quirky compared to other members of this group, as Charge's primary purpose is to move Shepard up to a target, applying force (which is far less effective against protected targets) and of course providing point-blank range to optimize a shotgun's damage potential. However, beyond rank 1 it also provides a barrier boost. Unlike the previous defensive powers, this is not a complete recharge; rather it restores the same percentage it boosts capacity by, and only for a few seconds.

    Charge is primarily a mobility power with a secondary defensive benefit, and should be treated as such. That said, judicious use of the power's recharge time and avoiding prolonged exposure to damage can allow it to keep defenses intact while simultaneously allowing much shotgun damage to be dealt.
  • Energy Drain and Reave are both damage powers that can restore defenses: Energy Drain transfers the damage it deals to shields or synthetic health to the user's shields or barriers, while Reave transfers health damage it deals to organics to the user's health.

    They are offensive powers with secondary defensive benefits, and should be used as such. Reave in particular is restricted to health boosting through health damage, limiting its defensive usefulness while the user's shield or barrier is still up. Energy Drain restores shields or barriers, but only when used against shields or synthetics; limiting its viable targets for this purpose.

Reinforcement Powers

Admittedly just a pretty way of saying "Powers that make enemies shoot at things other than you", these powers are different enough from other powers to make them their own category.

  • Combat Drone creates an autonomous hovering sphere that seeks out targets, damages shields and stuns unprotected targets. If used against a target, it appears near the target; otherwise it's created a short ways in front of the user. A rank 4 Combat Drone can either attack targets normally, damaging other protections and health, or can be rigged to explode when destroyed.
  • AI Hacking and Dominate temporarily take over certain enemies (synthetic enemies for AI Hacking, organic enemies for Dominate), forcing them to attack their former allies; and at higher ranks endow said enemies with shields (for AI Hacking) or barriers (for Dominate) while controlled, increasing survivability. Like many other powers, these only work on unprotected targets; but also require targets of the correct type, potentially limiting their usefulness.

While the extra firepower can be nice, the real advantage here is that enemies tend to target these new additions instead of your own squad. This gives them the unique advantage of distracting far larger numbers of enemies than most other powers are capable of. Even their destruction can be a net bonus in itself: an explosive drone will almost always be near something when it explodes, damaging it; whereas the destruction of a hacked or dominated target means that target will be unable to resume attacking you when the duration expires.

Support Powers

This oddball bunch of powers is grouped by having bestowing a quality that doesn't have an easy to calculate effect on the using character. Moreso than the other powers, making the best use of them is a matter of strategy and tactics, more than simple target selection criteria.
  • Adrenaline Rush is largely defined by its ability to dilate time, effectively increasing Shepard's reaction times. What may not be so apparent is that it also negates Shepard's weapon recoil entirely, which can allow certain weapons (particularly assault rifles) to fire rapidly with far less loss in accuracy. It can also increase Shepard's weapon damage, as well as reduce health damage if that rank 4 version is chosen (which might be viable, if Shepard has enough more health than shields or otherwise burns out shields quickly due to an aggressive playstyle).

    Use is rather straightforward, turn it on whenever you want to kill something. This power is exclusive to Soldier Shepard, who only have one other power in their tree that needs to be activated in combat (Concussive Shot), so depending on the advanced training power chosen Adrenaline Rush could be the primary power used.
  • Charge is geared towards allowing point-blank combat, fitting well with the Vanguard Shepard's access to shotguns. Teleporting through obstacles, and through cover, can make most any enemy a potential target. That said, using it all the time is a bad idea. Shotguns aren't known for their rapid fire rates, and charging into a cluster of enemies can easily result in one dying while the others surround and kill Shepard. Make sure there's cover near the target, so if nothing else you can hide for a bit while the cooldown expires and you're ready to charge again...or don't charge that target at that time. Charge can also get you away from a group of enemies by going after a lone trooper, an opportunity that should not be overlooked.
  • Shadow Strike is unique in this group because it's a power unavailable to Shepard. Kasumi cloaks, moves behind the target unseen, breaks cloak to attack it doing a lot of damage (and is effective against all kinds of defenses), then recloaks a short time later to return to her original position. While cloaked she is not targeted by most enemies, and unlike Tactical Cloak she can recover health and shields while cloaked. Additionally, during the brief period she's visible nearby enemies try to attack her, and usually she's not visible long enough to be taken down.

    Most of my knowledge here is second-hand, as I don't have the requisite DLC myself, but the description does suggest power creep to sell post-release content effectiveness against most sorts of individual targets.
  • Tactical Cloak is rather straightforward in its effects, it makes an Infiltrator Shepard invisible to all but a handful of types of enemies, and can also increase weapon damage. It does, however, disable health and shield recovery while it's active.

    The environment largely dictates what can be done with this power. Moving to cover, moving away from incoming enemies, repositioning to attack a particular target while it is unable to respond in kind, or simply turning it on for the increased weapon damage can all be worthwhile.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:21 am 
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So, here's what I've been working on the past couple weeks instead of posting about more "important" things. :geek:

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Weapon Analysis

As I've mentioned previously, the first Mass Effect boasted a huge arsenal with dozens upon dozens of weapons that could be collected over the course of the game. But although their precise numeric stats varied widely, within each of the four categories (pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles) all weapons were functionally more or less the same. This is no longer the case in Mass Effect 2. While the total number of available weapons is now much smaller, there are many more variables to take into consideration when evaluating their performance, and each weapon has its own distinct advantages and drawbacks.

You may also recall that in the first game, thanks to mass effect technology your weapons had effectively unlimited ammunition, but were subject to overheating and would then be rendered useless during a lengthy cool-down period. To solve this problem, all personal weapons have now been outfitted with universally-designed heat sinks called "thermal clips" which can (indeed, must) be ejected and swapped out on the fly after a set number of shots have been fired, varying by weapon. The practical result of this is that while you no longer have to worry about your weapons overheating, you effectively do have a limited supply of ammo in ME2, even if it isn't technically the actual projectiles the weapons fire that are limited.

Weapon upgrades are now handled very differently, as well. Damage upgrades for each weapon type can be purchased and researched, in increments of +10%, up to a total of +50% for each category. Furthermore, the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC mission grants an additional damage upgrade for each weapon type, raising the total to +60% above each weapon's base damage output. These bonuses stack with each character's passive class and armor/equipment bonuses, and their ammo powers. Finally, there are additional upgrades which can be researched for each weapon category. Those will be described below.

Pistols

As in ME1, pistols are the standard sidearm available to every character class. In ME2 they're now called "heavy pistols" to reflect the fact that they have a slower rate of fire, but also tend to hit harder. As a rule, pistols are reasonably accurate at close to medium range, and are very effective against armor, but weak against shields and biotic barriers. Through research, pistols can be outfitted with the AP Heavy Pistol upgrade for an additional +50% damage vs. armor, and the Heavy Pistol Critical upgrade, which enables them to sometimes do double damage.

ImageM-3 Predator
Manufacturer: Elanus Risk Control Services
Base Damage: 37.2
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +50% (+100% after AP Heavy Pistol upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +0%
Base Capacity: 12 / 60
Rate of Fire: 300 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.43 seconds
Acquisition: Lazarus Station
The Predator is your starting weapon in ME2. It's a solid, reliable firearm that doesn't particularly excel in any area, but it also doesn't fall short in any area, either. It's fairly accurate, has a very good rate of fire, does decent damage and has an excellent capacity, with twelve shots per clip and a whopping sixty in reserve.


ImageM-6 Carnifex
Manufacturer: Carnifex
Base Damage: 85.4
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +50% (+100% after AP Heavy Pistol upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +0%
Base Capacity: 6 / 18
Rate of Fire: 145 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.43 seconds
Acquisition: Omega; Auxera Clinic (Mordin recruitment)
The Carnifex definitely qualifies as a "heavy" pistol, dealing more than twice as much damage per shot as the Predator. However, it also has much greater recoil, a much slower rate of fire, and a much smaller sink capacity...so aim carefully.


ImageM-5 Phalanx*
Manufacturer: Human Systems Alliance
Base Damage: 109.8
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +50% (+100% after AP Heavy Pistol upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +0%
Base Capacity: 6 / 24
Rate of Fire: 80 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.43 seconds
Acquisition: Firepower Pack DLC
Personally, I think this is a fun weapon. It does even more damage per shot than the Carnifex, at the cost of even greater recoil and an even slower rate of fire, but that's not its main selling point. Its most useful and distinctive feature is a laser sight which ensures perfect accuracy at any range, making it extremely useful for Adepts, Engineers and Sentinels whose standard weapon options are limited. It also looks really cool, in my opinion. :P


Submachineguns

New to ME2, submachineguns ensure that every character class has access to a rapid-fire weapon type should they have need of one. Their ability to quickly expel a large number of small-caliber rounds allows them to overwhelm shields and barriers with great efficiency, but they have a much harder time penetrating armor. Their high recoil also dramatically reduces their accuracy at medium to long range. This means they are most effective in close quarters, and effectively useless for distance shooting. The SMG Shield Piercing upgrade grants an additional +50% bonus vs. shields and barriers, and the SMG Extra Rounds upgrade increases your reserve heat sink capacity by +50%.

ImageM-4 Shuriken
Manufacturer: Elkoss Combine
Base Damage: 20.5
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +50% (+100% after SMG Shield Piercing upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +50% (+100% after SMG Shield Piercing upgrade)
Base Capacity: 24 / 240
Rate of Fire: 700 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Freedom's Progress
Due to both its appearance and -- to a lesser extent -- its performance, it wouldn't be unreasonable to describe the Shuriken as a somewhat weaker Predator that fires in three-round bursts. However, it is much less accurate and, with that in mind, it actually has a pretty poor rate of fire for an SMG, making it rather dicey in close combat where you'd normally expect this type of weapon to shine. Honestly, I think it's probably the most mediocre weapon in the game, and once you've replaced it you'll likely never have reason to go back.


ImageM-9 Tempest
Manufacturer: Elanus Risk Control Services
Base Damage: 14
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +50% (+100% after SMG Shield Piercing upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +50% (+100% after SMG Shield Piercing upgrade)
Base Capacity: 50 / 450
Rate of Fire: 925 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Haestrom; Ruins (Tali recruitment)
Now we're talkin', this is what a submachinegun is supposed to be. True to its name, the Tempest throws out a huge torrent of projectiles with astonishing speed, and fortunately has a very deep heat sink capacity to support its incredible rate of fire. Its recoil and barrel climb is very significant with sustained fire, so it's most effective for shredding enemies at close range...particularly geth, who tend to have strong shields but low health.


ImageM-12 Locust*
Manufacturer: Kassa Fabrications
Base Damage: 25
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +25%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +25% (+75% after SMG Shield Piercing upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +25% (+75% after SMG Shield Piercing upgrade)
Base Capacity: 20 / 240
Rate of Fire: 550 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Bekenstein; Donovan Hock's Vault (Kasumi loyalty)
As you can see from the stats listed above, the Locust performs more like an assault rifle than a submachinegun. It boasts superior damage and is also effective against armor, though it only gets half the bonus vs. shields and barriers that the Shuriken and Tempest do. But its biggest advantage is something that can't be reflected in numerical stats: its recoil and barrel climb are a fraction of the other SMGs'. This makes it vastly more accurate, and at much longer ranges, making it the only SMG that is truly effective at medium range. In fact, it actually outperforms the M-8 Avenger assault rifle in this respect.


Shotguns

In most shooters (and most games in general), shotguns are designed to throw out a short-range whirlwind of death with every shot, and ME2 is no exception to this. Like SMGs, they are highly effective for stripping shields and barriers, but much less effective at punching through armor. And also like SMGs, they do the most damage at close range, with both their accuracy and damage potential diminishing rapidly the further away a target is. For this reason, they are the favored tool of Vanguards (and krogan). By researching the Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade, your shotguns will gain an additional +50% damage bonus vs. shields and barriers, and the Shotgun Extra Rounds upgrade will double their reserve heat sink capacity (which is a must if your Shepard is a Vanguard).

ImageM-23 Katana
Manufacturer: Ariake Technologies
Base Damage: 27.5 (220)
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +50% (+100% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +50% (+100% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Base Capacity: 5 / 10
Rate of Fire: 58 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Freedom's Progress
The Katana is pretty much what you'd expect in a basic shotgun. It's devastating at close range, but both its accuracy and damage potential drop dramatically at anything further than that, due to the increasing spread and the decreasing velocity of its shot over distance. It also has a surprisingly slow rate of fire, so make your shots count.


ImageM-27 Scimitar
Manufacturer: Ariake Technologies
Base Damage: 20.3 (162.7)
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +50% (+100% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +50% (+100% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Base Capacity: 8 / 16
Rate of Fire: 100 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Ilium; Eclipse Hideout, Nos Astra Spaceport (Samara recruitment)
Although it has somewhat lower per-shot damage potential than the Katana, the Scimitar more than makes up for it with nearly double the rate of fire. This makes it an ideal choice for dealing with large groups of enemies who like to rush in and attack at melee range...in other words: Husks.


ImageM-300 Claymore
Manufacturer: Ariake Technologies
Base Damage: 50.1 (400.8)
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +25%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +25% (+75% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +25% (+75% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Base Capacity: 1 / 10
Rate of Fire: 64 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Collector Ship (research: Grunt)
This monster is only available to Shepard (and only if s/he is a Soldier or a Vanguard) and Grunt. As you can see, its damage potential is simply unreal, and few things can survive a point-blank Claymore shot, even on the higher difficulty settings. Its only drawback is that the heat sink must be ejected after every single shot, and it can only carry ten in reserve. Taking its very limited range into consideration, this really makes it the game's ultimate high-risk, high-reward weapon.


ImageM-22 Eviscerator*
Manufacturer: Lieberschaft
Base Damage: 36.8 (294.4)
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +25%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +25% (+75% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +25% (+75% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Base Capacity: 3 / 12
Rate of Fire: 48 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Cerberus Assault Pack DLC
This shotgun arguably renders the Katana obsolete right from the start of the game, if you have it. It deals half again as much damage, and like the Claymore, it's effective against armor as well as shields and barriers. The drawbacks are that it has an even slower rate of fire and only gets three shots per heat sink. However, it has one more factor working in its favor: its damage (though not its accuracy) decreases much less over distance than the other shotguns'. Or to put it more simply, it maintains its effectiveness at longer ranges than other shotguns.


ImageGeth Plasma Shotgun*
Manufacturer: Geth Armory
Base Damage: 156.50 (250.4) / 347.77 (556.43)
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +50% (+100% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +50% (+100% after Shotgun Shield Piercing upgrade)
Base Capacity: 5 / 10
Rate of Fire: 174 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Firepower Pack DLC
Think of this strange, insanely overpowered gun as a heavy weapon that uses standard heat sinks(!!!). Its shots have very little spread when compared with other shotguns, so it's effective and accurate at much greater ranges. On top of its enormous base damage, it can also be charged up to essentially fire two shots in one (expending double the "ammo" in the process), and puts even the Claymore's damage to shame when this is done. There are, however, three important things to remember when using this weapon. First, it cannot be overcharged while you're behind cover, you have to be aiming in order to charge it up. Second, your AI squad-mates (and I don't mean EDI :P ) will never use the overcharged shot, however its base damage is still high enough to make it more than worthwhile to equip them with it. And third, remember that this is not actually a projectile weapon, but an energy weapon. This means that, while it rips through shields and barriers in nothing flat, it's much less effective against armor and also has much less physical stopping power than other shotguns. Somewhat ironically, this also makes it less effective for fighting Husks than other shotguns.


Assault Rifles

The primary weapon of Soldiers, assault rifles are versatile, dependable rapid-fire weapons. They are reasonably effective against all defense types, and generally reliable from close to medium range, which is where most of ME2's combat takes place. You can research the Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade for an additional +25% damage bonus against armor, shields and barriers, and the Assault Rifle Accuracy upgrade will dramatically increase their precision.

ImageM-8 Avenger
Manufacturer: Elkoss Combine
Base Damage: 10.8
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +25% (+50% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +25% (+50% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +25% +50% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Base Capacity: 40 / 400
Rate of Fire: 850 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Freedom's Progress
The iconic rifle of Mass Effect is functionally pretty similar to the Tempest. While its damage per individual round is quite low, it is capable of riddling a target with bullets very quickly, particularly at close range. Its recoil, while not quite as severe as the Tempest's, is still significant, so to maintain accuracy over distance you should either fire in short bursts or (if possible) use the Soldier's Adrenaline Rush ability, which greatly mitigates weapon recoil.


ImageM-15 Vindicator
Manufacturer: Elanus Risk Control Services
Base Damage: 36.8
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +25% (+50% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +25% +50% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +25% (+50% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Base Capacity: 24 / 96
Rate of Fire: 900 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Omega, Archangel's Hideout (Garrus recruitment)
Like the Shuriken, the Vindicator fires in three-round bursts, but that's where the similarities end. It deals excellent damage and is incredibly accurate at any range, and with the Assault Rifle Accuracy upgrade it can even compete with sniper rifles. Simply a superb weapon in nearly every way.


ImageGeth Pulse Rifle
Manufacturer: Geth Armory
Base Damage: 10.8
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +15% (+40% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +35% (+60% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +35% (+60% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Base Capacity: 40 / 480
Rate of Fire: 1000 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Haestrom; Ruins (Tali recruitment)
Veterans of ME1 will remember the Geth Pulse Rifle as being surprisingly unimpressive. In ME2, this is not the case, justifying the additional lengths one must go to in order to acquire it (the weapon can only be obtained by completing the entire Haestrom mission on Hardcore or Insane difficulty). It has the highest rate of fire of any assault rifle in the game, but being an energy weapon, it also has very little recoil and can maintain an astonishing level of accuracy even through long, sustained volleys. The fact that it is an energy weapon also means it's less effective against armor, and has less physical stopping power, than other rifles. But it makes absolute mincemeat out of shields, barriers and all synthetic enemies, particularly when paired with Disruptor Ammo.


ImageM-76 Revenant
Manufacturer: (unknown)
Base Damage: 21.3
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +40% (+65% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +20% (+45% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +20% +45% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Base Capacity: 80 / 480
Rate of Fire: 700 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Collector Ship
This fully automatic uber-rifle is only available to Shepard, and only if s/he happens to be a Soldier...and for good reason. Its damage is practically twice that of the Avenger or the Geth Pulse Rifle, but this boost in firepower comes at a price: the Revenant's recoil is much more severe than even the Tempest's, greatly impairing its accuracy at anything past very close range whenever you're not using Adrenaline Rush. This would make it a highly impractical weapon for any class but a Soldier. That's not to say it has no advantages; its capacity, at an astounding eighty shots per heat sink, is simply unrivaled and makes it by far the single most ammo-efficient weapon in the game. And its tremendous firepower is capable of bringing down nearly anything with a single sustained, Adrenaline Rush-assisted volley. But the rest of the time, when you don't have Adrenaline Rush active, even if you're in close, just...aim for their feet. Seriously.


ImageCollector Assault Rifle*
Manufacturer: Reapers
Base Damage: 17.4
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +25% (+50% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +25% (+50% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +25% (+50% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Base Capacity: 28 / 280
Rate of Fire: 500 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition retail package
Unless you bought the Collector's Edition package of ME2, you may never see this odd weapon...except, of course, when the Collectors are firing it at you. I would rate its performance somewhere between the Avenger and the Vindicator. It does more damage than the Avenger, but has a lower rate of fire and a smaller capacity. It also has less recoil, and is therefore more accurate, than the Avenger. Even so, I've never really used it much because I just can't get past how creepy the friggin' thing looks. But that's just me. :|


ImageM-96 Mattock*
Manufacturer: (unknown)
Base Damage: 50.4
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +30% (+55% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +20% (+45% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +20% (+45% after Assault Rifle Penetration upgrade)
Base Capacity: 16 / 64
Rate of Fire: 750 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Firepower Pack DLC
In spite of its rather antiquated appearance and background, I'd have to say this is probably my favorite weapon in the game. Think of it as essentially a Viper without a scope. It's unique among the assault rifles in that it is semi-automatic, but don't let that fool you; its rate of fire is only limited by how fast you're able to physically pull the trigger. More importantly, it has almost no recoil whatsoever, and with the Assault Rifle Accuracy upgrade this thing is pinpoint accurate even at long range. It has a slightly lower damage bonus against shields and barriers than most other assault rifles, but it does so much more damage per shot that it really doesn't matter in the end. Try it, I think you'll like it.


Sniper Rifles

The favorite tool of Infiltrators, sniper rifles are the only class of weapon ideally suited to picking off targets at long range. Highly accurate even over great distances, few enemies can survive a precise headshot from these deadly weapons. They also excel at armor penetration, but can have some difficulty dealing with shields or barriers, and are not recommended for close-quarters firefights due to the fact that they are wildly inaccurate when not aiming through the scope. The AP Sniper Rifle upgrade will enable your sniper rifles to deal an additional +50% damage to armored targets, and the Sniper Headshot Damage upgrade will inflict an additional +50% damage with a successful headshot.

ImageM-92 Mantis
Manufacturer: Devlon Industries
Base Damage: 263.1
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +50% (+100% after AP Sniper Rifle upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +0%
Base Capacity: 1 / 9
Rate of Fire: 70 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Freedom's Progress
The Mantis is, in many ways, typical of what you'd usually expect in a sniper rifle. Each shot deals enormous damage over any distance, and very few enemies are capable of surviving a precise headshot, even on the higher difficulty settings. The drawbacks are that the heat sink must be ejected after every single shot, which evokes the functionality of a traditional bolt-action rifle, and it also has a very limited reserve capacity. So, this means it's very costly to miss. Fortunately, both Adrenaline Rush and the Infiltrator's inherent class abilities can help to mitigate your chances of that happening.


ImageM-97 Viper
Manufacturer: Rosenkov Materials
Base Damage: 81.9
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +35% (+85% after AP Sniper Rifle upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +15%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +15%
Base Capacity: 12 / 48
Rate of Fire: 240 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Ilium; Dantius Towers (Thane recruitment)
The equivalent of a modern semi-automatic rifle, the Viper is the most ammo-efficient of all the sniper rifles, granting more shots per individual heat sink than the total capacity of either the Mantis or the Widow. It also has a surprisingly rapid rate of fire, and a minor bonus against shields and barriers, which may make it a more practical primary weapon for players who like to do a lot of sniping. However, while it has a much higher rate of fire and a much greater capacity than the Mantis, the tradeoff is that it does less than one-third the damage per individual shot. Its only significant advantage over the Mantis and the Widow is its ability to fire repeatedly without having to eject the heat sink after each shot, but you may find one of the other rifles to be more reliable on the higher difficulty settings.


ImageM-98 Widow
Manufacturer: (unknown)
Base Damage: 368.3
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +50% (+100% after AP Sniper Rifle upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +0%
Base Capacity: 1 / 12
Rate of Fire: 70 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Collector Ship (research: Legion)
This massive, devastating rifle is only available to Shepard and Legion (see a pattern here?). It does by far the highest damage per shot of all the sniper rifles, and like the Mantis, the heat sink must be ejected after every single shot, but it has a slightly higher total capacity. But the most important factor in the Widow's favor is that its ability to kill at long range is simply unmatched; very few enemies will survive a single Widow round. It is the ultimate "one shot, one kill" rifle in ME2.


ImageM-29 Incisor*
Manufacturer: (unknown)
Base Damage: 53.6
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +25% (+75% after AP Sniper Rifle upgrade)
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +25%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +25%
Base Capacity: 15 / 30
Rate of Fire: 600 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: Aegis Pack DLC
The Incisor is an interesting and fun weapon, though it's not without its own drawbacks. It fires in three-round bursts, and being a sniper rifle, it's even more accurate than the Vindicator (though not by much, despite what the in-game description suggests). It performs better against shields and barriers than other sniper rifles, but at the cost of reduced armor penetration. But its biggest problem is that it rips through heat sinks with alarming speed, and if you're not careful you may find yourself coming up empty before you know it. However, since ammo consumption is not a factor for your teammates, the Incisor truly shines in the hands of Garrus and Thane. It's also worth noting that there is a highly beneficial glitch affecting this weapon: when using the Incisor, your squad members do not suffer the damage penalties on higher difficulty settings that they normally do with other weapons.


Heavy Weapons

Heavy weapons are another new addition to ME2, and replace the rather odd disc-like "grenades" employed in the first game. They are generally designed for larger-scale area damage, and as such can be potentially dangerous to the person firing them if used carelessly. They also have a much more limited supply of ammunition than other weapons, so use them sparingly.

ImageM-100 Grenade Launcher
Manufacturer: Elanus Risk Control Services
Base Damage: 500
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +25%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +25%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +25%
Base Capacity: 10
Rate of Fire: 100 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: N/A
Acquisition: Lazarus Station
The M-100 is, well, a grenade launcher, exactly as advertised. It fires grenades which deal a large amount of explosive damage in a small blast radius, and at a fairly rapid clip. The grenades do travel in an arc, but they don't drop as quickly as you might expect, making this weapon surprisingly accurate at impressive ranges. The grenades' blast radius also makes them highly effective for crowd control.


ImageML-77 Missile Launcher
Manufacturer: Armax Arsenal
Base Damage: 350
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +25%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +25%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +25%
Base Capacity: 15
Rate of Fire: 80 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: N/A
Acquisition: Research
This weapon fires slow-moving missiles which will lock onto and pursue moving targets, though not necessarily the ones you were originally aiming for. It's somewhat useful for swatting aerial drones, targeting distant stationary turrets or dislodging entrenched snipers, or chipping away at large, out of reach targets such as Mantis gunships or the game's final boss. However, the missiles are slow enough that fast-moving aerial foes will often elude them, and their damage is kind of unimpressive compared to the M-100. You'll also find yourself having this weapon fired at you with annoying frequency throughout the game, but fortunately, your enemies' missiles don't have the homing ability that yours do.


ImageM-622 Avalanche
Manufacturer: Cerberus
Base Damage: 50
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +800%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +800%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +800%
Base Capacity: 20
Rate of Fire: 50 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: N/A
Acquisition: Research
As you can see from its stats, the Avalanche isn't so much about doing direct damage as it is stripping defenses and freezing targets. Its shots fire in an arc, they arc more sharply than the M-100's, and do splash damage. Even better, your squad is completely immune to said splash damage! It's also very ammo-efficient, which is fortunate because this unique weapon does take some getting used to.


ImageM-920 Cain
Manufacturer: Cerberus
Base Damage: 10000
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +0%
Base Capacity: 100%
Rate of Fire: 30 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: N/A
Acquisition: Research
Here you have your personal superweapon. It has a very long "warm-up" cycle before firing, gets no damage bonuses against anything, and can only be fired once per mission. It also has a huge area of effect, will kill all but the strongest enemies outright, and will heavily damage the rest (which is basically just Praetorians, the Thresher Maw on Tuchanka and the Geth Colossus on Haestrom) even on the highest difficulty settings. Use it carefully...and by that I mean do not fire it indoors, or you and your team will die.


ImageCollector Particle Beam
Manufacturer: Reapers
Base Damage: 20
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +0%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +50%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +50%
Base Capacity: 500
Rate of Fire: 1200 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: N/A
Acquisition: Horizon
True to its name, the Collector Particle Beam projects a solid beam of searing yellow pain wherever you point it, for as long as you hold down the trigger...at least until it runs out of ammo, anyway. And it's so precise that you can literally write your name on your targets with it. The down side is that it does damage over time, meaning you have to hold a sustained beam on your target in order to bring it down. Still, it's exceptionally ammo-efficient and easily the most precise of all the heavy weapons. Some people swear by it, but personally...like with the other Collector weapon, I just can't shake the impression that I'm carrying a bee hive strapped to my back or something. :|


ImageM-490 Blackstorm*
Manufacturer: (unknown)
Base Damage: 500
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +300%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +300%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +300%
Base Capacity: ?
Rate of Fire: 40 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: 1.5 seconds
Acquisition: GameStop retail pre-order bonus
All the weapon notes included in this post are gleaned from my own personal, hands-on experience with them. And, well, the Blackstorm is the one weapon in the game with which I have no hands-on experience whatsoever, and in fact have never even seen in action, on account of the fact that I did not pre-order ME2 at Gamestop (because they suck). This being the case, there is very little I can say about it with any degree of authority. Based on third-party descriptions, it sounds like it creates an effect similar to a biotic Singularity, followed by a Warp detonation. That's all I can really say.


ImageM-451 Firestorm*
Manufacturer: Human Systems Alliance
Base Damage: 15
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +35%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +15%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +15%
Base Capacity: 1350
Rate of Fire: 1000 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: N/A
Acquisition: Zorya; Refinery (Zaeed loyalty)
Here you have the flamethrower that you'll notice many Blood Pack mercenaries, and some geth units, are all too eager to use against you. Its purpose is fairly obvious, to set things on fire and burn them until they're dead. Which it does, but by any objective measure, it's the least effective heavy weapon in the game. Like the Collector Particle Beam, it deals damage over time, but it also has an extremely limited range, even shorter than a shotgun. These factors combine to drastically limit its practical usefulness, unless you happen to be feeling exceptionally malicious or something.


ImageArc Projector*
Manufacturer: Cerberus
Base Damage: 400
Damage Bonus vs. Armor: +15%
Damage Bonus vs. Barriers: +15%
Damage Bonus vs. Shields: +30%
Base Capacity: 10
Rate of Fire: 50 rounds per minute
Heat Sink Ejection Time: N/A
Acquisition: Cerberus Assault Pack DLC
Personally, I like this weapon. It has a two second warm-up cycle before firing, and when fired into a group of enemies, it will "jump" repeatedly from one successive target to the next, and over a fairly wide radius. It's absolutely devastating against shielded enemies and all synthetics.


(All images were once again shamelessly pilfered from the Mass Effect Wiki.)

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:12 pm 
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Most of the details I had on ME2 weapons are already present in the big post above, so here's a bulleted list of scattered notes :-P

  • Most weapons do extra damage to closer targets, up to double damage at point blank range. Sniper rifles don't, and I'm not sure how it works with heavy weapons that do splash damage. Shotguns lose their bonus more quickly over distance than the other weapons, except for the Firestorm which loses it even more quickly.
    • There's also a "maximum" distance beyond which weapons drop below their base damage, but for most weapons capable of relying hitting far away targets (ie not shotguns or the Firestorm) it's sufficiently distant that it doesn't matter in normal cases (and for sniper rifles and heavy weapons, it's a full 50% farther than for pistols/SMGs/rifles).
  • The listed rounds per minute are the maximum firing rate. For burst weapons (such as the Shuriken) or semiautomatic weapons (such as the Viper), this is reached by rapidly hitting the fire button instead of holding it down, and in such cases the continuing weapon recoil can easily impact accuracy.
  • Comparing the Tempest and the Locust can be difficult because their base damages are comparable, but their ideal operating scenarios are rather different. The Locust's high accuracy and slightly stronger damage over time make it well suited for more distant targets, while the Tempest's ample magazine (and the reduced frequently of reloads) make it more suitable for close targets. As for damage, the Tempest destroys shields and barriers faster while the Locust is better against armor; against health the Locust is slightly better unless it has to reload, in which case the Tempest is the slightly better option.
    • For those rare cases where ammo capacity matters, the Tempest also has a much larger reserve than the Locust, enough that it can "carry" more damage than the Locust even with the difference in their damage per rounds. This is probably most pronounced when fighting Praetorins, as the large profile makes it easy for the Tempest to hit even at longer ranges, and having to break its barrier at least three times can strain ammo supply rather easily.
  • Comparing the Katana and the Eviscerator is a lot easier. While the Katana can do more damage over a stretch of time than the Eviscerator can (owing to the Eviscerator's low fire rate), the Eviscerator's performance is slightly better against health, and and superior against armor. Even against shields and barriers, the Eviscerator has better single-shot damage, and with its larger reserve it will outlast the Katana as well (against shields and barriers, 100% of the Katana's capacity is slightly below 75% of the Eviscerator's capacity, damage-wise). So outside of the middling range between "kinda tough shields and barriers" and "but not too tough shields and barriers", the Eviscerator is the better option.
  • Geth Plasma Shotgun "trivia":
    • It fires 3 projectiles per shot, making it the only shotgun that doesn't fire 8 projectiles per shot.
    • If multiple projectiles hit the same target, the second and third projectiles will only do 30% of their normal damage; it's more efficient to hit multiple targets with two blasts than it is to hit multiple targets with a full blast each.
    • The overcharged shot does 222% damage at 200% ammo, making it more ammo efficient if you can spare the charge time.
  • Heavy Weapon notes:
    • The Grenade Launcher's respectable damage and respectable fire rate makes it excellent at doing a lot of damage quickly, though its meager ammo capacity can pose problems.
    • Oddly, the Cain is one of the most ammo efficient heavy weapons, in terms of damage per ammo. Its tendency for extreme overkill does make it difficult to determine its practical efficiency, however.
    • The Collector Particle Beam is the second most ammo efficient heavy weapon (it's tied with the Cain against health and armor, but it's 50% more effective against shields and barriers so that's the tie breaker). It also does its damage in a stream of small chunks, making it far less likely to waste its potential on overkill than the Cain; however at the same time that means it takes a lot longer to do the same amount of damage. With its highly accurate beam and continual fire, it makes a lot of sense to view the Collector Particle Beam as an exotic assault rifle. All this said, it excels at depleting shields; of the heavy weapons capable of outperforming it in this department, only the Grenade Launcher doesn't have a charge delay impacting its effectiveness.
    • The Firestorm sucks. While it is the most ammo efficient heavy weapon in the game, its short range and sad damage are quite a liability. Even against armor, where it has its biggest damage bonus, the Collector Particle Beam (which has no bonus against armor) kills things more quickly....Which, of course, means that against health and especially against shields and barriers the Collector Particle Beam is significantly better, and it works fine at range on top of that. Basically, if something's close enough for the Firestorm to hit it, the Firestorm probably isn't going to kill it fast enough.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:43 am 
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CWS wrote:
I like the Arc Projector. If you know ahead of time where and when a group of powerful enemies are going to be coming at you, you can ready it a second ahead of time and absolutely decimate them with a single shot, particularly if there are mechs in the mix. At the end of Kasumi's loyalty mission, it is literally a lifesaver, more so than the grenade launcher (I've tried both) because the Arc Projector's "jump radius" is larger than the grenades' blast radius.
Loki Kola wrote:
I seem to remember that the Arc Projector doesn't break your tactical cloak while you're charging it, which makes it great for Infiltrators. It also works exactly like Overload, detonating Mechs and Pyros; not only this, but the shock prevents Krogan and Vorcha health regen. The secondary electrical bolts will disregard cover and jump to enemies hiding behind it. It's also just a devastating effective weapon, not necessarily limited to close-range. If you can chain the shots properly, it can harm enemies quite some distance away. So, goodbye Husk swarms.

This, and that it comes with at least 17 shots when combined with all ammo bonuses and the offhand ammo packs at Harrot's, makes it probably one of the best heavy weapons, imo.
CWS wrote:
Loki Kola wrote:
I seem to remember that the Arc Projector doesn't break your tactical cloak while you're charging it, which makes it great for Infiltrators.
Hmmm, I'll have to confirm this...
Loki Kola wrote:
I'm pretty sure that is the case, but I can't quite remember properly. Also don't want to start another run through ME2 just to ascertain whether or not I'm correct. :p
CWS wrote:
Loki Kola wrote:
I'm pretty sure that is the case, but I can't quite remember properly. Also don't want to start another run through ME2 just to ascertain whether or not I'm correct. :p
Whereas I happen to be in the middle of an Infiltrator run. Convenience! :rbg:
Loki Kola wrote:
That thing makes Infiltrators so powerful against Synthetic enemies that it's not even funny.

Arc Projector
M-5 Phalanx
M-12 Locust
Geth Plasma Shotgun
M-97 Viper/M-29 Incisor

Throw in Tactical Cloak, and Incinerate with Reave. HURT TIME. Seriously, with Infiltrator, playing very aggressively and intelligently is the way to go. Playing passively gets you nowhere unless you're in a specific segment where you have to play passively to avoid pretty much instant death.
The Phiend wrote:
Hmm. Maybe the Arc Projector is just better suited for you Overload-deprived types :lol:
Loki Kola wrote:
It's far more effective than Overload, though. And on a lower cooldown. :P
The Phiend wrote:
Loki Kola wrote:
It's far more effective than Overload, though. And on a lower cooldown. :P
It's not that much more effective, though admittedly I do have a direct-damage-power focused Sentinel build. I'd much rather have a heavy weapon that kills all sorts of things faster, instead of one whose primary feature is to duplicate the effects of a power I already have, but a little bit stronger.
Loki Kola wrote:
I'm just thinking about situations where Overload would not be super-practical compared to situations where the Arc Projector would be. Mainly against massed enemies, particularly synthetics, or in situations where you can use the chain lightning to hit enemies you don't have in direct line of sight, something which Overload, unlike Incinerate, cannot do for some reason. The Arc Projector did make Overlord (the DLC) so easy to get through that it was a joke, though.

Maybe I'm thinking it a lot more effective than it is merely because I've never used Overload or heavily used it even on Garrus or Kasumi. Although that's mainly because I already had the Arc Projector. =/

EDIT:

I just found this in an old chat backlog:

Cylor wrote:
Yeah, well, the Illusive Man is a backstabbing prick. And Martin Sheen. Which is worse.


:lol:
The Phiend wrote:
Loki Kola wrote:
I'm just thinking about situations where Overload would not be super-practical compared to situations where the Arc Projector would be. Mainly against massed enemies, particularly synthetics, or in situations where you can use the chain lightning to hit enemies you don't have in direct line of sight, something which Overload, unlike Incinerate, cannot do for some reason. The Arc Projector did make Overlord (the DLC) so easy to get through that it was a joke, though.
I ended up switching from Heavy Overload to Area Overload, simply because the damage boost going from Rank 3 Overload to Heavy Overload wasn't that significant, while expanding the 1.2 (I think?) meter radius to 3 meters allowed it to hit multiple enemies far more often.

The interesting part about the no line of sight thing, and this just occurred to me now, is that you can use it with (Area) Overload as well as you can with the Arc Projector. The Arc Projector has to hit an initial target, after all; and Overload's area of effect would start there just the Arc Projector's jumps will.


The charge time on the Arc Projector is what kills it for me. If I could pop out of cover briefly to use both Overload and the Arc Projector, it'd be a lot more useful to me. As it is, the charge time leaves me too exposed to fire. And between Guardian, the tech cooldown research and Power Armor; I've halved the cooldown on Overload to 3 seconds and still get a +15% to power damage, so it's an even lower risk-to-reward ratio to stick out of cover for two seconds to charge and fire the Arc Projector.
In my opinion, the optimal time to use the Arc Projector is at the beginning of an engagement, ideally to catch a group of enemies in the open, sap their shields and barriers and/or shock them before they have a chance to dig in, leaving them vulnerable to further attacks and a potentially quick finish. Otherwise, you're right, it usually isn't very practical to try and use it in the middle of a firefight.

That's the thing about ME2's heavy weapons, most of them are very situational. For example, the only time I've really found the Firestorm to be useful is if you're fighting a solo boss-type enemy, and can set them up for it with Stasis.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:50 am 
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Yeah, it's effective at the beginning of an engagement, or pretty much each engagement or wave that you have to fight through. So, every new lot of Blue Suns mercenaries or Blood Pack Pyros that show up. What I think makes it shine for the Infiltrator, anyway, is that the Infiltrator can effectively disengage from and then reengage the enemy whenever they wish, which makes the most of its situational effectiveness by constantly emulating the situation in which it is most useful.

And with a hefty damage boost, too.

It could be the Geth Plasma Shotgun I was thinking of, by the way; the weapon that doesn't break Infiltrator Tactical Cloak while charging.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:00 am 
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Loki Kola wrote:
It could be the Geth Plasma Shotgun I was thinking of, by the way; the weapon that doesn't break Infiltrator Tactical Cloak while charging.

I keep forgetting to test it, but you're probably right, I don't think the Arc Projector does either. Actually, I'm 90% sure it doesn't, because I believe the Cain doesn't either.

EDIT: Confirmed, the Arc Projector's charge time does not break an Infiltrator's cloak.

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Last edited by CWS on Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:55 am 
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I'd meant to mention something here some time ago, but I evidently forgot to do so until now. o_o
The Phiend wrote:
  • The listed rounds per minute are the maximum firing rate. For burst weapons (such as the Shuriken) or semiautomatic weapons (such as the Viper), this is reached by rapidly hitting the fire button instead of holding it down, and in such cases the continuing weapon recoil can easily impact accuracy.
It's extremely difficult to do this in the 360 and (I presume) PS3 versions of ME2 unless you have a turbo controller or something, due to the fact that you're dealing with a set framerate of 30 FPS at all times, no matter what. Though I guess that would also be true of the PC version too, assuming your PC can reliably run it at that speed without breaking a sweat.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:20 am 
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I guess I'd better put up my ME2 walkthrough before ME3 comes out, huh? o_o

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Once again, this will be adapted from notes originally imparted to my brother via Facebook. I will try to give you a strategic overview of the game, but I'll be as vague as possible about specific story elements.

The reason you will want to plan your approach somewhat in advance is because there are three "benchmarks" in the game which will trigger an unavoidable plot event either immediately or a certain number of missions later. And if you're not prepared for those plot events when they happen, they can hurt. A lot. And possibly forever.

The first such event is triggered once you have completed the first four recruitment missions -- the Professor, the Warlord, Archangel, and Subject Zero, which you can approach in any order. In order to maximize your experience and your income, you should do as many other side missions as you can find before completing all four. This includes any DLC missions you decide to get which can be undertaken from the beginning of the game (those potentially being Firewalker, Zaeed's and Kasumi's loyalty missions, and Overlord).

As for what you have in front of you right now, I'm going to be fairly specific because there really aren't any big surprises in the first segment of the game's plot. And I won't spoil the ones there are.

First, go to Omega, recruit Zaeed, talk to Aria T'Loak and have a look around, talk to various people and so forth. Aria will tell you where to look for Mordin and Archangel, but do not embark on either of those missions just yet. (Contrary to what she might suggest, there's no rush.) Then go to the Citadel. Recruit Kasumi (if you've downloaded her), talk to Captain Bailey and Avina, then catch a taxi up to the Presidium and let Anderson and/or the Council know that you're not dead anymore. After that you can explore the rest of Zakera Ward and see the sights.

Now go pick up the Hammerhead and do the Firewalker missions. You will be in the Hammerhead the entire time throughout these missions so personal upgrades are not a factor here, and the missions will net you credits, experience and a nice tech upgrade for later, so you might as well do them immediately. After completing the Firewalker missions go back to the Omega Nebula and go check out the Normandy SR-1's crash site. This is a non-combat mission so again upgrades are not a necessity yet. Make sure you find all the missing dog tags because, like all other missions in ME2, you can never go back there again once the mission is completed.

Now return to Omega (the station itself) and go recruit Mordin (The Professor), so you can start researching the upgrades you've picked up so far. You may want to do some shopping on Omega and/or the Citadel first. Be ready to face the Blue Suns and Blood Pack in order to reach Mordin. Once you've got him on board and have made some initial purchases, go do Zaeed's loyalty mission, where you'll be fighting the Blue Suns. You can also do Kasumi's if you have her, but take note: Kasumi's loyalty mission is the hardest one in the entire game, so if you're not confident yet, you can save it for later. (The Arc Projector is a godsend at the end of said mission, in my opinion.) It will be just you and her against Eclipse, hence the steep difficulty, but among other things it will also net you the most versatile SMG in the game for your squad's use.

You can go about picking up your other recruits (Archangel, Subject Zero and The Warlord) in any order you like, and the ideal order will vary somewhat depending on your Shepard's class. Your opposition on both the Warlord and Subject Zero recruitment missions will be the Blue Suns, and for Archangel, it will be the Blood Pack, Blue Suns and Eclipse. I strongly suggest doing Overlord (if you've got it), and any other side missions you've come across thus far, before picking up whoever ends up being your fourth recruit. Also make sure you've bought and/or researched as many weapon, tech and squad upgrades as possible before you go get the last of your initial batch of recruits. Because as I've said, after you've filled out your roster, you'll immediately be railroaded into the next big plot advancement mission which will throw you into battle against the Collectors for the first time.

After you've finished gathering your initial recruits and have completed the plot event on Horizon, the Illusive Man will give you the rest of his dossiers. The loyalty missions for your current crew will also start to become available, depending on a number of factors, one of which is how much you've been talking to them. Unfortunately they are also somewhat random.

The most important thing you need to know is that after Horizon, the next mandatory plot event will trigger after you have completed FIVE more missions, of any kind. And depending on your preparations, that plot event can be very difficult. This means you will need to choose your priorities.

Jacob's and Miranda's personal missions will be the first to become available, but do not worry about either of them yet. They can wait. Depending on your Shepard's character class, you may want to immediately recruit Thane, because he will be the single most effective Collector-killer at your disposal. He is on Ilium, so go there, catch up with some old friends, do some shopping, and then, should you so desire, go find yourself a drell assassin. You'll have to fight your way through a skyscraper full of Eclipse mercs to find him.

Aside from possibly recruiting Thane, focus on loyalty quests for your remaining four missions. Prioritize your most effective anti-Collector fighters -- this means Jack, Grunt and Mordin, not to mention Thane, although it's likely that his loyalty mission will not trigger before your time runs out. But make sure you get the other three for certain, although you may have to fit Miranda, Jacob or "Archangel" somewhere in the middle if they're not all available right off.

NOTE: There is a way you can game the system and fit a sixth mission in before you're forced into the next plot event. The plot event will not trigger until you have returned to the Normandy after the fifth mission. When loyalty missions take place at a "hub" location such as the Citadel, Omega, Ilium or Tuchanka, you do not automatically return to the ship after completing one (whereas you DO automatically return to the ship after a recruitment). This means that when you have two characters whose loyalty missions occur at the same location -- such as Mordin and Grunt, whose missions both take place on Tuchanka -- if you have both unlocked (by talking to them) ahead of time and save one of them for your fifth mission, you will be able to do the other one immediately after that, provided that you DO NOT return to the Normandy in between them. This is a good idea.

That's the most important thing you'll need to know after Horizon...oh, one other footnote for male Shepards. Unless you plan on pursuing a relationship with Jack, choose your responses carefully when talking to her (on the ship). And by that I mean, don't be a total asshole, but be careful not to be TOO nice to her, or she'll get the wrong idea. If she does, and you have to "break it off" with her, she'll hate you forever and never speak to you again. Wish I was kidding. I accidentally found this out on my first playthrough. :(

As I said, there will be another mandatory plot event after the next five (or six) missions. After that event, a mission will become available to obtain a certain piece of technology which, in theory, will allow you to safely traverse the Omega-4 relay and attack the Collectors directly.

Jacob will want to go get this item immediately. Ignore him. The next plot event will not trigger until after you've obtained the item in question. That means you now have all the time in the world to do whatever you want. So finish recruiting everyone you haven't gotten yet, complete everyone's loyalty missions, and any other missions you can find to earn money, experience and upgrades.

As for the other DLC missions (Lair of the Shadow Broker and Arrival), you can do these either before or after you assault the Collector base, depending on your personal preference. Personally, I usually do LotSB before the endgame, and Arrival after. Just make sure you keep the following in mind.

BEFORE you go to retrieve the technology that will enable you to use the Omega-4 relay, IT IS CRUCIAL THAT YOU COMPLETE YOUR CREW ROSTER, *AND* FINISH EVERY SINGLE LOYALTY MISSION!!! (Note: ANY character whose loyalty quest has NOT been completed WILL NOT SURVIVE the final mission.)

The reason you want to do all of this in advance is because once you have retrieved that item, you will have time to do exactly ONE mission (and that mission should be the loyalty mission for your final recruit) before the next plot event triggers. After said event, if you do not use the Omega-4 relay and undertake the final mission IMMEDIATELY*, the consequences will be extremely dire. There will also be similarly dire consequences if you have not upgraded the Normandy's armor (Jacob), shields (Tali), and main guns (Garrus) before you go through the relay.

*This means you cannot do any actual MISSIONS, no matter how short or minor. You can, however, spend as much time mining or shopping as you need to. Apparently those things have little to no impact on the passage of time or something.

Once you commit to going through the Omega-4 relay, it will be pretty straightforward until you arrive at the Collector base, at which point you will be presented with a series of choices. The lives of your team will hinge on the choices you make. If you want to test your own judgment, then stop reading here and give it a shot; you can always restart the mission if things go south. Otherwise, I will tell you what the best approach will be.

[Reveal] Spoiler: Mass Effect 2's final mission
  • You will be asked to choose a tech specialist. This MUST be either Kasumi, Legion, or Tali. No one else will be fast enough.
  • You will be asked to choose someone to lead a second team. This MUST be either Garrus or Miranda. I think Jacob may also be up to it, but I know for certain that Garrus and Miranda are both safe choices.
  • Later, you will be given the choice to assign someone to escort duty. Do this. Anyone can do this successfully, but it is still important that you choose the right person for the job. You should send either Mordin or Tali -- whichever one of them you DON'T want to have in your final, personal squad. The reason for this is because there is a chance that they will randomly be killed during the retreat at the end of the mission, if they're not either with you or back on the Normandy. I know, it's brutal.
  • You will then be asked to choose a biotic specialist to keep the Seeker Swarms from ripping you to pieces. This MUST be either Jack or Samara. No other biotic will have enough stamina. (Personally, I usually pick Samara, because Jack is handy to have against the husks you'll be facing during the "long walk".)
  • You will also be asked to choose a leader for the secondary fire team. Again, this should be either Garrus or Miranda, or possibly Jacob.

That's about it. When your whole team is reunited again and you choose your team to take with you to see where all the tubes and cables are leading, make sure you pick either Mordin or Tali (whichever one you didn't assign to escort duty earlier) as one of them.

Keelah se'lai.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 3:27 pm 
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CWS wrote:
Now go pick up the Hammerhead and do the Firewalker missions. You will be in the Hammerhead the entire time throughout these missions so personal upgrades are not a factor here, and the missions will net you credits, experience and a nice tech upgrade for later, so you might as well do them immediately.
I do believe it's actually a biotic upgrade.

CWS wrote:
(Note: ANY character whose loyalty quest has NOT been completed WILL NOT SURVIVE the final mission.)
This is not necessarily true. Failing to secure a character's loyalty does increase the chance of a character dying (which may not be the character whose loyalty wasn't secured), but it's no guarantee of death. That said, it's still a very bad idea to purposefully neglect taking those quests.

[Reveal] Spoiler: Mass Effect 2's final mission
CWS wrote:
Later, you will be given the choice to assign someone to escort duty. Do this. Anyone can do this successfully, but it is still important that you choose the right person for the job. You should send either Mordin or Tali -- whichever one of them you DON'T want to have in your final, personal squad. The reason for this is because there is a chance that they will randomly be killed during the retreat at the end of the mission, if they're not either with you or back on the Normandy. I know, it's brutal.
Ideally you should send Mordin, Tali, Jack, or Kasumi...assuming they're loyal, of course. Do not send Garrus, Grunt, or Zaeed.

CWS wrote:
You will then be asked to choose a biotic specialist to keep the Seeker Swarms from ripping you to pieces. This MUST be either Jack or Samara. No other biotic will have enough stamina.
Correct. Don't be fooled, as I was, that Jacob receiving Barrier as a power implies he has some particular talent with barriers.

CWS wrote:
That's about it. When your whole team is reunited again and you choose your team to take with you to see where all the tubes and cables are leading, make sure you pick either Mordin or Tali (whichever one you didn't assign to escort duty earlier) as one of them.
Similar to the above, to truly maximize squadmate survival potential you should take two from Mordin, Tali, Jack and Kasumi (assuming they're loyal)...but unless you've been foolhardily slacking on multiple loyalty missions, that's overkill. Plus you'll probably want at least one squadmate tougher than them to help with the final boss fight :P As long as you don't take Garrus, Grunt or Zaeed, nor any nonloyal characters, things should be OK.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:36 pm 
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The Phiend wrote:
I do believe it's actually a biotic upgrade.
Yes, it is. I meant "tech upgrade" in the generic sense, sorry.
The Phiend wrote:
CWS wrote:
(Note: ANY character whose loyalty quest has NOT been completed WILL NOT SURVIVE the final mission.)
This is not necessarily true. Failing to secure a character's loyalty does increase the chance of a character dying (which may not be the character whose loyalty wasn't secured), but it's no guarantee of death. That said, it's still a very bad idea to purposefully neglect taking those quests.
To the best of my knowledge, the chances of a non-loyal character being killed during the "suicide mission" are increased substantially; substantially enough that it really isn't worth it to try and roll the dice.
[Reveal] Spoiler: Mass Effect 2's final mission
The Phiend wrote:
CWS wrote:
Later, you will be given the choice to assign someone to escort duty. Do this. Anyone can do this successfully, but it is still important that you choose the right person for the job. You should send either Mordin or Tali -- whichever one of them you DON'T want to have in your final, personal squad. The reason for this is because there is a chance that they will randomly be killed during the retreat at the end of the mission, if they're not either with you or back on the Normandy. I know, it's brutal.
Ideally you should send Mordin, Tali, Jack, or Kasumi...assuming they're loyal, of course. Do not send Garrus, Grunt, or Zaeed.

CWS wrote:
You will then be asked to choose a biotic specialist to keep the Seeker Swarms from ripping you to pieces. This MUST be either Jack or Samara. No other biotic will have enough stamina.
Correct. Don't be fooled, as I was, that Jacob receiving Barrier as a power implies he has some particular talent with barriers.

CWS wrote:
That's about it. When your whole team is reunited again and you choose your team to take with you to see where all the tubes and cables are leading, make sure you pick either Mordin or Tali (whichever one you didn't assign to escort duty earlier) as one of them.
Similar to the above, to truly maximize squadmate survival potential you should take two from Mordin, Tali, Jack and Kasumi (assuming they're loyal)...but unless you've been foolhardily slacking on multiple loyalty missions, that's overkill. Plus you'll probably want at least one squadmate tougher than them to help with the final boss fight :P As long as you don't take Garrus, Grunt or Zaeed, nor any nonloyal characters, things should be OK.
Ironically, on my very first time through, I did send Zaeed on escort duty, and I took Grunt with me at the end -- and didn't lose anyone! I guess I was incredibly lucky or something. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:24 am 
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CWS wrote:
The Phiend wrote:
CWS wrote:
(Note: ANY character whose loyalty quest has NOT been completed WILL NOT SURVIVE the final mission.)
This is not necessarily true. Failing to secure a character's loyalty does increase the chance of a character dying (which may not be the character whose loyalty wasn't secured), but it's no guarantee of death. That said, it's still a very bad idea to purposefully neglect taking those quests.
To the best of my knowledge, the chances of a non-loyal character being killed during the "suicide mission" are increased substantially; substantially enough that it really isn't worth it to try and roll the dice.
It's not worth it to try, no. (Particularly since most loyalty powers are quite useful.) However, it's possible to lose some squadmates' loyalty after completing their loyalty mission; and if it's an isolated cases it's still possible to have everyone survive...and certainly less time-intensive than deciding to start all over due to a mistaken belief that you're now screwed.

[Reveal] Spoiler: Major final mission spoilers
Once you go through the relay, nothing about squadmate survival is random. Everything can be determined based on ship upgrades, your squads' members and loyalty status, and your decisions.

There only a few things to track for keeping nonloyal crewmembers alive, aside from the general things mentioned in the above post.
  • Don't assign a special task to a nonloyal squadmate. With one exception, assigning a nonloyal squadmate to any of these will result in someone's death. (That one exception is assigning Miranda to lead the diversion team during the long walk.
  • Don't take nonloyal squadmates with you to the final battle. If you do, they'll die. It might be easier to simply not take them in your squad of three at all.
  • Have a strong team holding the line. This one is actually important even if everyone is loyal. Here's a short method for calculating this:
    • Start with 0.
    • For each of Garrus, Grunt and Zaeed holding the line (ie with you in the collector base but not in your squad; so not dead and not escorting the crew back to the Normandy), add 2.
    • For each of Mordin, Tali, Jack and Kasumi holding the line, subtract 1.
    That is your threshold for nonloyal members holding the line. If more than that number of them are nonloyal, there will be at least one death among them.
    • Nonloyal members will die before loyal members, but in keeping with the lack of randomness mentioned above, the order in which squadmates are checked is fixed...and Mordin's first on the list. This is probably the source of the oft-repeated recommendation to send Mordin to escort the crew; prior to DLC characters (Zaeed and Kasumi) and assuming a full recruitment of the non-DLC characters, taking Garrus or Grunt with you to the final boss would result in Mordin's death if all three of Mordin, Tali and Jack were holding the line (that would put the threshold at -1, and of course 0 nonloyal members is still bigger than -1), and sending Mordin to escort the crew would conveniently prevent him from weakening the line (the threshold becomes 0 at that point...enough that a completely loyal contingent survives).
    • Yes, this means that the simple act of recruiting Tali or Kasumi negatively impacts the survival margin, and completing their loyalty missions doesn't fully offset this. Very convenient for those too cheap to pay for DLC, like myself.

If you want more in-depth details of the whole thing, Here's a flowchart thing I found, detailing the whole suicide mission.

CWS wrote:
Ironically, on my very first time through, I did send Zaeed on escort duty, and I took Grunt with me at the end -- and didn't lose anyone! I guess I was incredibly lucky or something. :lol:
If your other squadmate wasn't Jack/Tali/Mordin, or if you had recruited Kasumi (I'm pretty sure your first playthrough was before Kasumi's DLC was released), Mordin (or Tali, if Mordin was your other squadmate but you had recruited Kasumi) would have died holding the line.

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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:08 pm 
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I updated my big weapons post with some notes on the available upgrades for them. Also, one other thing I apparently forgot to mention before now...
The Phiend wrote:
  • Geth Plasma Shotgun "trivia":
    • It fires 3 projectiles per shot, making it the only shotgun that doesn't fire 8 projectiles per shot.
    • If multiple projectiles hit the same target, the second and third projectiles will only do 30% of their normal damage; it's more efficient to hit multiple targets with two blasts than it is to hit multiple targets with a full blast each.
The Plasma Shotgun's projectiles are so tightly grouped that it's incredibly difficult to actually hit multiple targets with a single blast, even from a distance, unless one is partially in front of the other or something. The charged shot does seem to cover a slightly larger target area, but the larger point is that the Plasma Shotgun performs very differently from all the other shotguns, and thus requires a different tactical approach. You simply cannot use it to "pepper" an area the way you would with the Scimitar or the Eviscerator, which is part of the reason it's less effective against Husks.

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Last edited by CWS on Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Slight clarification.


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 Post subject: Re: The official Mass Effect strategy thread
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:02 am 
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Yeah, for the 'hold the line' segment of the suicide mission, your squadmates each hold a particular defence rating that is boosted by loyalty. This defence rating will determine how effective they are in holding the line, which in turn affects whether or not a squadmate will die in this segment. If the collective defence rating of the group is too low, the characters with the lowest defence rating in the group you left (Mordin has the lowest defence rating overall) will be killed. Remember that non-loyal members will always have a lower defence priority than Mordin.

Interestingly, the defence rating that each character is assigned makes sense from a storyline perspective, which I guess is what helps people to choose correctly, as in the other segments of the mission that require a choice.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Grunt has the highest defence rating, and, provided all your allies are still alive by this point, will always survive this segment whether he is loyal or not. Normal Krogan are tough, and given Grunt is the ultimate Krogan - created using the genetic code of the greatest Krogan to ever have lived - he'd be even tougher.

Zaeed co-founded the Blue Suns with his ex-partner Vido, and emerged victorious in countless skirmishes against enemies as dangerous as Krogan like Grunt, before surviving a gunshot to the face; a wound that appears to be responsible for his artificial right eye and the ring of scarring around his eye socket.

Thane is an experienced Drell assassin who fights in close combat rather than from afar, and whose biotic prowess, extensive combat experience, and quick reactions combined with his eidetic recall allow him to stand his ground very well. You could presume that, if Shepard finds his son, Kolyat, then Thane's renewed vigour and faith further fuel his drive to survive.

Legion is a uniquely valuable Geth mobile platform constructed to observe and understand other forms of life as they attempt to determine their future paths, either themselves or with the help of another race. He seems to be more durable than other Geth constructs, which are already durable enough, given that he's survived what appears to be either a high calibre rifle shot to the torso with no apparent impact on his functional capabilities.

Samara and Morinth are each powerful biotics with several centuries of experience hunting worthy prey. Though Samara hunts wrongdoers in the pursuit of justice, and Morinth hunts conquests with unique minds to dominate and consume, both are adept at fighting, killing, and most of all, surviving. Both have suffered, and escaped, reprisal for their respective paths, which have taken them down opposite extremes of the moral spectrum.

Garrus has a fair amount of combat experience at his disposal. His tenure in C-Sec, his service with Commander Shepard aboard the Normandy, and his time as the vigilante Archangel have all contributed to a greater understanding of the battlefield, with the latter two also contributing to a loss of some of his youthful naivety. Garrus isn't the most durable squadmate, physically, but his experience serves him well. He's also been forced to do a lot of growing up and endure significant mental hardening in the past few years. It's arguable that Garrus would be able to even more effectively stand his ground were he not recovering from severe injury and subsequent - facial, at least - reconstruction aboard the Normandy SR2.

Jacob is an experienced soldier who worked for the Systems Alliance before he turned to Cerberus, and he has, like Garrus, had to deal with a lot of hardship in his life, including the loss of his father. He is physically very strong, and adept with both weapons and biotics. However, despite these proficiencies, he does not wear heavy armour like Garrus, and he is not as good a marksman. He can hold the line, but not as well as the preceding squadmates.

Miranda has a lot of experience, like Jacob and Garrus, but hers does not seem to tend towards direct combat. Though she claims that her father created her to be perfect, she is not as adept with either biotic powers or weapons as other squadmates, and either cannot, or does not, wear heavy armour. Or, apparently anything other than that skin tight suit. She is more suited to indirect action than all out warfare, and so she doesn't hold the line well.

Jack is a biotic prodigy. However, her powers all tend towards causing damage to others, and she never seems to shield herself with a biotic barrier like Samara can. Her combat 'techniques' revolve mostly around throwing her biotics, which rival even Samara's in destructive power, around the battlefield until she and her allies are the only ones standing. That is, she lacks refinement, and her use of biotics consists of simply unleashing a torrent of brutal destructive force without too much thought for her own safety or that of others. Jacob, Miranda and Thane are all weaker than her, biotically, but they have some level of mastery over their powers. They do not simply activate them and wait for everything to die, as Jack appears to. She also lacks mental maturity, any real combat training, and her 'top' protects the eyes of sensitive others more than it protects her. Her years of suffering at the hands of Cerberus and uncertainty with the universe around her don't give her any stability, either.

Kasumi is a master thief; not a master of battle. She can crack any safe that she has access to, steal anything that she sets her sights on, and could probably break into Commander Shepard's fish tank. However, Kasumi's talents do not really extend into battle. While she is capable of fighting, her two more unique and powerful abilities focus upon either striking from stealth or using flashbang grenades to blind her enemies. She can devastate a single opponent in battle, and make it easier for Shepard to take out other enemies. However, an honest fight is something that she neither relishes nor thrives in.

Tali is an excellent technician, mechanic, and a great friend. However, her combat experience is very limited, and she is quite naive. Had Commander Shepard not rescued her from a trap that she walked into on the Citadel, she'd be dead. She excels mostly in combat against enemies that can be hacked or otherwise influenced via her technical expertise, such as Geth and synthetics. As Collectors and their constructs cannot be affected in such a way, she doesn't gain any real edge in combat against them. Given the short amount of time she's spent actually fighting for her life, and the fact that most of those fights she could turn in her favour by hacking an enemy, Tali is a poor choice for holding the line, though she'd never abandon it.

Mordin is a geneticist and former member of the Salarian Special Tasks Group. Though he is intelligent, quick, decisive, and deadly, Mordin seems to fit the 'scalpel' phenotype of military doctrine; he excels in strikes designed to quickly disrupt and incapacitate the enemy, but this excellence does not, it appears, extend to protracted direct combat. Given his history as a saboteur and infiltrator, this makes sense. His frailty can also be attributed, perhaps, to his light armour, possible frailty of the Salarian species, and to his being haunted by the genophage he administered. Either way, Mordin is invariably the first squadmate to die holding the line if anything goes wrong.

As for Commander Shepard, it could be considered that they would not have survived against the Collectors had they not previously been killed and then rebuilt by Cerberus, whose cybernetic enhancements make Shepard far stronger, faster, and tougher than they once were. These improvements can also be improved upon to improve either him or her further. Consider, for example, that Shepard can wield the Widow sniper rifle and Claymore shotgun, neither of which can be used by any human or human-like alien in the game. Only Geth can use the Widow without first mounting it to control the bone-shattering recoil, and only Krogan can use the Claymore, for the same reason. The heavy skin, muscle, and bone weave upgrades Shepard installs would also make either him or her vastly more difficult to subdue.

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