Simon is a content writer with a great deal of knowledge about a variety of things, with a special love for video games.
Choose the Class That Is Right for You
I have played RPGs (Role-Playing Games) for over thirty years, beginning with paper and pencil games and moving to computer video games. Out of all of the games I've played, the Mass Effect series has been among my favorites due to decent characters, a great plot, and enough freedom to make you feel like you are actually role-playing.
Mass Effect is a science-fiction role-playing game with many elements reliant on the class you choose. The gameplay, storyline and often the characters you should include as part of your team are heavily reliant on your initial choice—therefore it’s very important to choose the class that is right for you.
At the beginning of the game, you can choose between six different classes. each has one or two of the talents: Combat, Tech, or Biotic. As you progress through the game, you will also unlock specializations that give you added bonuses.
- Note: This article describes how to choose a character class in the original Mass Effect trilogy. For information relating to Mass Effect: Andromeda, please check out Mass Effect: Andromeda Skills and Profiles.
Summary of the Classes in Mass Effect
The table below lists all the available classes, the relevant talents and the specializations that will become available:
Bastion / Nemesis
Commando / Shock Trooper
Medic / Operative
Nemesis / Shock Trooper
Bastion / Medic
Commando / Operative
Available Character Classes
As well a determining the talents and abilities, class also has implications for the weapons, abilities, and armor choices, changing the way in which your character should be played.
Choosing your character's class is one of the more important decisions you will make. Not only should you take into account what type of game you want (more combat-oriented, more stealthy, etc.) but you should also take a look at the specializations that become available as you progress through the game.
Soldiers are perhaps the easiest to play and are ideal for beginner players. This article describes each class and the specializations available to them.
Adept (Biotic Talent)
- Starting Talents: Basic Armor, Throw, Warp, Barrier, Adept
- Unlockable Talents: Pistols, Lift, Singularity, Stasis
- Specializations: Bastion / Nemesis
Adepts are Biotic specialists who have special abilities in both attack and defense. Their skills allow them to lift objects, shield your party, disable and destroy opponents. They can only wear armor and use pistols so they should team up with a Tech and a combat-oriented team.
The Adept is the best Biotic—they are able to change the physical world with their mind. An adept is ideal for focusing on disabling enemies and also removing ‘buffs’ from them. They are hardy and powerful manipulators of the mass effect fields.
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They have all the Biotic abilities but are severely limited when it comes down to combat—they can get postils and light armor. They have no Tech skills. Their forces can be used to throw, lift, weaken forces and protect themselves.
The Adept is one of the tougher classes to play. It is essential that you set your strategy correctly so that they are protected while performing Biotics.
Soldier (Combat Talent)
- Starting Talents: Pistols, Assault Rifles, Combat Armor, Assault Training, Fitness
- Unlockable Talents: Shot Guns, Sniper Rifles, First Aid, Fitness
- Specializations: Commando / Nemesis
The Soldier class is most proficient in Combat. As a Soldier, you can use all weapon types and over time will be able to wear heavy armor. As you really don’t have to concentrate on all aspects of the game, the Soldier is ideal for beginners who want to use a powerful class and don’t want to have to delve too much into the game.
Their biggest drawback is the lack of Biotic and Tech abilities but when combined with a decent party they can be domineering. Soldiers are ideal for most combat situations.
The Soldier is ideal for all types of combat situations as they get improved health, the widest choice of weapons, and eventually, the ability to use heavy armor. They are your go-to guys when inundated with enemies and are great at protecting your Techs and Biotics.
They are durable and do the most combat damage, but do not have any Biotic or Tech abilities, so they have to rely on team members during quieter or more technical times.
Engineer (Tech Talent)
- Starting Talents: Pistols, Decryption, Electronics, First Aid, Engineer
- Unlockable Talents: Basic Armor, Hacking, Damping, Medicine
- Specialization: Medic / Operative
The Engineer is the best Tech. They are perfect for disabling shields, decrypting codes and also have some healing powers. They are a passive class that is ideal for players who like to be able to help the combat-oriented team by healing and getting them past obstacles such as locks. With light armor and pistols, they should only be used in combat in extreme emergencies.
Their talents allow them to repair and modify equipment, heal the party, disable enemy weapons and shields and unlock doors—they are basically your hackers of the Mass Effect world. They come with all Tech abilities, minor Combat abilities and no Biotics. They are often quite difficult to play, as you have to ensure their safety during combat.
Vanguard (Nemesis / Shock Trooper Talents)
- Starting Talents: Pistols, Assault Training, Throw, Warp, Vanguard
- Unlockable Talents: Shotguns, Tactical Armor, Lift, Barrier
- Specialization: Commando / Operative
If you like combat but also like to manipulate the environment, then the Vanguard is the class to pick. With powerful combat skills and the ability to specialize in Biotics, they are one of the more dangerous classes and a good choice for intermediate players.
They are ideal in close combat but you should keep a Tech close by as they will need healing—they are not as hardy as the soldier. They are almost like your shock troopers that go in for a quick and efficient kill.
Vanguards (like soldiers) are the first into battle—they can combine their Biotics with their Combat skills to great effect. They should be used to disable the enemy, reducing their armor, etc. while protecting themselves—then when they are close in combat, they can use their superior abilities to destroy the weakened opponent while being protected from major damage.
Sentinel (Biotic / Tech Talents)
- Starting Talents: Throw, Barrier, Decryption, First Aid, Sentinel
- Unlockable Talents: Lift, Stasis, Electronics, Medicine
- Specialization: Bastion / Medic
The Sentinel combines Tech and Biotic to create a very defensive class that can defend themselves and allies and can heal the party. They are very poor at combat so they will always be outside of combat, darting in to heal when required.
They are great to assist the party in several ways: as they can manipulate objects they can keep the part moving; this, combined with Tech, allows your party to go almost anywhere. This combined with their healing abilities makes them a great support class. They are quite difficult to play as they are weak in combat and can be taken out pretty easily if not guarded well.
While they are durable, their lack of Combat skills means that in a fair fight they will lose.
Infiltrator (Combat / Tech Talents)
- Starting Talents: Pistols, Tactical Armor, Electronics, Decryption, Infiltrator
- Unlockable Talents: Sniper Rifles, Fitness, Damping, First Aid
- Specialization: Commando / Operative
The Infiltrator is my personal favorite class. This class combines Combat and Tech to great effect allowing you to disable and kill enemies. With the Tech abilities, you are able to find different routes and often are able to find additional equipment that a soldier would not be able to find. When used correctly, they can find a route that will give you a distinct tactical advantage over enemies.
They are tough combatants but also have the ability to keep your party moving through locked doors, coded doors, etc.—with the Tech abilities, they often can disable enemies shields and defenses.
The downside is their lack of Biotic and therefore it’s essential at times to have a strong Biotic accompanying your Infiltrator. This is a good class for intermediate players.
What Are the Specializations in Mass Effect?
Specialized class talents are unlocked after completing the UNC: Rogue VI assignment on Luna. Each initial class has a choice of two of the six specializations. The specialization will add new traits.
- Bastion is a specialist class for Adepts and Sentinels. Bastions are experts at the Stasis talent—this allows enemies pinned by Stasis to still receive damage. It’s a great skill to use against very large enemies allowing the combat-oriented classes to get close to them without taking much damage.
- Shock Troopers is a specialist class for Vanguards and Soldiers. With increased health and damage protection and the addition of Immunity, Barrier and Adrenaline Burst abilities combat-oriented classes become that more powerful allowing them to excel in every conceivable combat situation.
- Commando is a specialist class for Infiltrator and Soldier. With an increase in damage for weapons, extra immunity, and the additional of Marksman and Assassination abilities, they become perfect for stealth combat, taking out opponents with precisions. This is ideal when trying to avoid larger groups of enemies by stealthily taking out key opponents.
- Nemesis is a specialist class for the Adept and Vanguard. With increased Biotic, these classes are able to interact with the surrounding area with devastating effects—additionally, with more focused powers they are able to do a lot more damage to opponents—this is especially needed when facing fortified opponents.
- Medic is a specialist class for Engineers and Sentinels. With improved First Aid, Medicine, and a large increase in the recharge rate of the abilities, they become superb support classes, especially during long and arduous battles. With the added increase for Neural Shock, they also become a valuable offensive element, especially during siege scenarios.
- Operative is a specialist class for Engineers and Infiltrators. With improvements to Overload and Sabotage, and an increase in the way these classes can manipulate the environment, they become very powerful, especially during defensive combat situations.
Mass Effect Class Talents
Below is a table that includes the corresponding talents for each class.
- Y = Starting
- O = Unlockable
- X = Starting Ability with Extra Point
© 2012 Simon Cook
John Roberts from South Yorkshire, England on May 06, 2012:
@Judi Bee - if you plan on playing them, I would recommend ME1, definitely the second for its much more refined play and options. ^^
Judi Brown from UK on May 06, 2012:
I have to admit that I have never played an RPG before (I didn't even know what that was until I read your hub - see, I've learnt something already!) but it looks kind of interesting ... now I just need to find some time!
Voted up etc.
Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on May 05, 2012:
Superb description of the game and 'Classes'. I might end up playing this game in the winter, instead of cross stitching. My companion would be a Vanguard and I'd be a Sentinel.
Jimmy the jock from Scotland on May 05, 2012:
A great guide to the game for beginners and experienced players alike, thanks for sharing.....jimmy
John Roberts from South Yorkshire, England on May 04, 2012:
In all honesty, I think it was Morrowind and Oblivion which hit the nail on the head - choosing what role you want (melee, stealth or magic), then abilities and then a name. Fallout 3 did it well too, what with there being many choices such as primary stats and perks. Mass Effect's system is one I really like, but if it was mixed with DA a li'l bit, I'd love it more.
However, you've been playing RPGs for 30 years, so you're the one who knows best ^^
Simon Cook (author) from NJ, USA on May 04, 2012:
JGG: totally agree! I'd actually prefer a classless system (a bit like Skyrim and/or Fallout 3) but tailored to Mass Effect...
John Roberts from South Yorkshire, England on May 04, 2012:
Excellent Hub, certainly gets my vote up. I'm not complaining about choice, but what would the game have to lose by having a custom class? By choosing 2 out of the three possibilties, then choosing what abilities/weapons you'll start out with, this could aid in character customization much better ^^
Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting. Also sharing ^^
glenn wallace on May 04, 2012:
Wow, great hub! I love the Mass Effect series, and am about to jump into ME3.
Good use of tables to show the differences between the classes. I'd love to see one of these on ME2 and 3 as well.