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Old January 7th, 2010, 04:29 PM   #1: [Thread] [Post]
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Mass Effect 1 Character Building: Yeas and Nays

This guide is designed to help beginners, veterans, and everything in-between. Hopefully, this will be a central hub for uncommon information.

I will take the time to actually make a table of contents later on.

Note: I base this information off of the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect. If there are differences between platforms, please let me know!

Note 2: Admitedly, a lot of this information is readily available throughout the web. Only a select portion is original suggestions and material.

Note 3: There are SPOILERS. Read at your own risk.

1. The Creation Process
1.1. Creating Your Character Model
When beginning Mass Effect, you go through "Profile Reconstruction". This is BioWare's fancy way of saying custom characterization. You may choose between a male (default John) or female (default Jane) Shepard. Later on, there are a limited number of options to customize Shepard's look. Sex only affects a possible love interest and possibly one quest.

1.2. Choosing Your Background
Once the character model is created, you may choose between three pre-made Pre-Service History options. They are as follows:

Spacer: Both of your parents were in the Alliance military. Your childhood was spent on ships and stations as they transferred from posting to posting, never staying in one location for more than a few years. Following in your parents' footsteps, you enlisted at the age of eighteen.
[-]Spacers get a good boost in starting Paragon levels (more on this later).
[-]Spacers get the exclusive assignment "Citadel: Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Things".

Colonist: You were born and raised on Mindoir, a small border colony in the Attican Traverse. When you were sixteen, slavers raided Mindoir, slaughtering your family and friends. You were saved by a passing Alliance patrol, and you enlisted with the military a few years later.
[-]Colonists get a slight boost in starting Paragon and Renegade levels.
[-]Colonists get the exclusive assignment "Citadel: I Remember Me".

Earthborn: As an Earthborn, you had a rough childhood in the slums of Earth, and have a gritty edge to your personality.
[-]Earthborn get a good boost in starting Renegade levels.
[-]Earthborn get the exclusive assignment "Citadel: Old Friends".

My personal suggestion is to go with "Colonist", and I will specify why later on.

1.3. Choosing Your Thought Process
Now that you have chosen your background, it is time to create your Psychological Profile. You may select one of three options:

War Hero: Early in your military career you found yourself facing an overwhelming enemy force. You risked your own life to save your fellow soldiers and defeat the enemy despite the impossible odds. Your bravery and heroism have earned you medals and recognition from the Alliance fleet.
[-]War Heroes get a further Paragon boost.

Sole Survivor: During your service, a mission you were on went horribly wrong. Trapped in an extreme survival situation, you had to overcome physical torments and psychological stresses that would have broken most people. You survived while all those around you fell, and now you alone are left to tell the tale.
[-]Sole Survivors get a further slight Paragon and Renegade boost.

Ruthless: Throughout your military career, you have held fast to one basic role: get the job done. You've been called cold, calculating, and brutal. Your reputation for ruthless efficiency makes your fellow soldiers wary of you. But when failure is not an option, the military always goes to you first.
[-]Ruthless get a further Renegade boost.

Once again, I recommend the neutral set up of Sole Survivor. This will be explained later on.

1.4. Choosing a Class
Ah, now comes choices that really affect gameplay. Specific military specializations determine specific talents and weapon proficiency. Weapon proficiency is important because it allows you to zoom with that weapon, as well as use ALL the weapon bonuses associated with it. Only the Pistol is universal aside from Sentinels, therefore it will not be listed under Starting or Unlockable Talents. There are six total classes; three "pure" classes and three "hybrid" classes. Later on in the game, Shepard is capable of changing to a Specialization Class. In addition, four of your allies have exclusive classes. However, since this is focused on Shepard's development, they will not be explained in detail. These classes are described below:

1.41. Pure Classes
These classes all have a main focus. The focus may be Combat, Tech, or Biotic.

Soldier: The Soldier is a tough warrior, able to deal with a range of combat situations. The Soldier gets improved health, has the widest selection of weapons, and is eventually able to wear heavy armor. Gameplay focus is on getting into the thick of the fight, picking the right weapon for tactical situations, and outlasting opponents.
[-]Starting Talents include Assault Rifles, Assault Training, and Medium Armor.
[-]Unlockable Talents include Heavy Armor, First Aid, Fitness, Shotguns, and Sniper Rifles.
[-]Eventually, Soldier Shepard may specialize in two advanced classes, Commando or Shock Trooper. (Explained below)

Engineer: The Engineer is a tech specialist, able to quickly and easily manipulate the environment with specific talents. Gameplay focus is on shaping the battlefield during combat, healing the party, and debuffing enemies.
[-]Starting Talents include Decryption, Electronics, and First Aid.
[-]Unlockable Talents include Light Armor, Damping, Hacking, and Medicine.
[-]Eventually, Engineer Shepard may specialize in two advanced classes, Medic or Operative.

Adept: The Adept is the ultimate biotic, able to affect the physical world with the power of the mind. They can use biotics to violently manipulate objects in the environment, including nearby enemy targets. Gameplay focus is on disabling and debuffing enemies while dealing massive amounts of damage.
[-]Starting Talents include Barrier, Light Armor, Throw, and Warp.
[-]Unlockable Talents include Lift, Singularity, and Statis.
[-]Eventually, Adept Shepard may specialize in two advanced classes, Bastion or Nemesis.

1.42. Hybrid Classes
These classes combine Talents from two different pure classes.

Infiltrator: The Infiltrator is a tech-savvy warrior, able to win battles by quickly disabling and killing enemies. These soldiers focus on unlocking alternate routes, gaining access to good equipment, and obtaining an advantageous position over enemies in combat.
[-]Starting Talents include Decryption, Electronics, and Light Armor.
[-]Unlockable Talents include Damping, First Aid, Fitness, Sniper Rifles, and Medium Armor.
[-]Eventually, Infiltrator Shepard may specialize in two advanced classes, Commando or Operative.

Vanguard: The Vanguard is a powerful combatant, able to combine the offensive powers of the Adept and the Soldier. They have access to various weapons and armor, as well as biotics. Gameplay focus is on taking down enemies with quick and brutal force.
[-]Starting Talents include Assault Training, Throw, and Warp.
[-]Unlockable Talents include Barrier, Lift, Shotguns, Light Armor, and Medium Armor.
[-]Eventually, Vanguard Shepard may specialize in two advanced classes, Shock Trooper or Nemesis.

Sentinel: The Sentinel is the most flexible class, able to combine tech and biotics to manipulate the environment, disable and track enemies, or defend the party. Gameply focus is on protecting the party using kinetic barriers and healing it with advanced medical training.
[-]Starting Talents include Barrier, Decryption, First Aid and Throw
[-]Unlockable Talents include Electronics, Lift, Medicine, and Stasis.
[-]Eventually, Sentinel Shepard may specialize in two advanced classes, Bastion or Medic.

1.43. Specialization Classes
These classes are Shepard-exclusive, and are obtainable after the mission UNC: Rogue VI on Luna. Depending on your class, two specific specializations are offered. They are:

Commando: Commandos rely on lethal efficiency and precision strikes, rather than brute force, to eliminate their opponents.
[-]Soldiers (Combat) and Infiltrators (Combat/Tech) may become a Commando.
[-]Bonuses include up to a 21% increase in weapons damage and a 25% recharge time improvement for Immunity, Assassination, and Marksman.
[-]Commandos are for those who wish to rack up Soldier-like damage with distance and technique.

Shock Trooper: Highly trained killing machines, Shock Troopers excel in all combat situations.
[-]Soldiers (Combat) and Vanguards (Combat/Biotic) may become a Shock Trooper.
[-]Bonuses include up to a 14% increase in Health, 16% increase in Damage Protection, 25% reduced recharge time of Immunity and Adrenaline Burst, and a 25% increase in strength and duration of Barrier along with a 40 shields per second regeneration.
[-]Shock Troopers are highly recommended for those who wish to continue a reckless abandon style, and who want to take some punishment.

Operative: Operatives are masters at manipulating their environment to maximum advantage.
[-]Infiltrators (Combat/Tech) and Engineers (Tech) may become an Operative.
[-]Bonuses include a 14% increase in tech attack recharge times. It increases Sabotage's radius by 2 meters, explosion damage by 50, burn damage by 1 per second, and duration by 5 seconds. It also increases Overload's radius by 2 meters, explosion damage by 50, shield damage by 200, and damage vulnerability by 5%.
[-]Operatives are for those who wish to create your own support, as well as greatly crippling enemy machinery.

Medic: Medics... don't even have a real description.
[-]Engineers (Tech) and Sentinels (Tech/Biotic) may become a Medic.
[-]Bonuses include a 21% reduction in medical talents' recharge times, 80 points extra healing, ignoring toxic damage, allowing medi-gel to revive a fallen teammate, and improves Neural Shock duration by 25% along with 40 more toxic damage.
[-]Medics... are medics? They're great for those who greatly rely on their team members, as opposed to themselves, and are great... medics.

Nemesis: Nemesis don't have a real description, either. The Nemesis focuses on weakening their foes through powerful biotics.
[-]Vanguard (Combat/Biotic) and Adept (Biotic) may become a Nemesis.
[-]Bonuses include 14% increased duration or damage of biotic abilities, increased Lift radius (4 meters), increased Warp radius (2 meters) and increased Warp damage (25% per second).
[-]Nemesis are great for causing distant biotic damage, as well as displacing an opposing enemy troop. Out of the biotic-focused specializations, this is the more offensive selection. Lift allows for comedic battles, as well.

Bastion: Bastions, once again, don't really have a description. They specialize in distortion of the enemies and crowd control.
[-]Sentinels (Tech/Biotic) and Adepts (Biotic) may become a Bastion.
[-]Bonuses include 28% reduction in biotic talent recharge times, improved Barrier by 25% strength and duration as well as a 40 shield per second regeneration, and allowing enemies in Statis to be damaged.
[-]Bastions are the best choice for a purely supportive offensive character. The improved Stasis can stop Thresher Maws dead in their tracks, allowing for close-range destruction.

In my opinion, not many tactics are needed to succeed in Mass Effect, so I go with a Soldier every time, followed by an upgrade to a Shock Trooper. With the right team support, Shock Troopers become near unstoppable due to their damage tolerance and high offense. Near the end of the game, Shock Troopers can basically fight solo. The choice is yours, obviously.

2. Stat Distribution
Throughout the game, you will earn experience, levels, and most importantly talent points. You only have a limited amount of talent points from level 1 to 50 (and later on 60), so how should you distribute them? Here are some good strategies.

A. Always upgrade your class/specialization stat FIRST. This ensures you get every possible bonus for your class before you work on specifics, such as support moves or weapons. If you're a Soldier/Shock Trooper, work on Soldier/Shock Trooper first. Also, work on Spectre Training, period. Do NOT ignore your class/specialization and your Spectre.

B. NEVER, EVER invest in Paragon/Renegade. This is where neutral classes get explained to you. While you may be denying yourself of certain dialogue choices in the short run, you will deny yourself valuable stat points in the long run. Paragon and Renegade can both go up about three or four stat points by NATURALLY PLAYING THE GAME. By your third run-through, you should be AT LEAST near-max for both. If you're interested in running up your Paragon and Renegade, there are two in-game glitches you may use to max them out as much as possible for that run-through (note that, after a certain amount is gained, you cannot increase either stat any more throughout the current run-through):

I. For infinite Paragon, enter the Hercules System in the Attican Beta Cluster. On the planet Eletania, there is a mission that involves finding a lost data pad from a monkey. Once you find the monkey, you are awarded +6 paragon. Save immediately. Now load the save file. You should be able to infinitely click on the monkey, continuously getting Paragon points.

II. For infinite Paragon AND Renegade, you will need some points in both. This is best achieved during your second playthrough, so you don't waste any points. Once you go to Noveria and steal data for Lorik Quinn, eventually you will be able to talk to him about testifying. Do the following- Tell Quinn to testify. When he disagrees, either charm him or intimidate him (depending on which you wish to increase). End the conversation. Now ask him about the Matriarch. Afterwards, ask about "other questions". Now you can repeat charming or intimidating him over and over until you've maxed out your possible points for this run-through.

Using these two methods, you will never have to spend valuable points on character stats.

C. Upgrade your strengths, not your weaknesses. This should be obvious. If you have a Shock Trooper, you should focus on making your character as tank-like and as effective with damage as possible. Likewise, if you're the supportive Bastion, working on weapons would hurt you in the long run. Specifically:

2.1. Pure Classes

Soldiers - Work on buffing your defense first. Since you're a front-line fighter, you want heavy armor and high health as soon as possible. Make Soldier/your specialization, Combat Armor, and Fitness your first priorities. Afterwards, focus on Spectre and Assault Training. Last, work on Assault Rifles and Shotguns. After these are maxed, you can invest in whatever else you want. I recommend working on anything that ISN'T Sniper Rifles, Paragon, or Renegade.

Recommended Team: Tali/Liara or Wrex/Garrus. You want balance while you're improving your soldier, and these combinations bring about great balance. Wrex and Garrus are great clean up for if/when you need to run off and heal, while Tali and Liara are great cripplers. If you find you are struggling too much, replace somebody with Kaiden so you have a form of medicinal support until your defenses are great enough.

Engineer - Engineers can begin by working on one of their tech abilities. I recommend focusing on one ability at a time, along with Pistols, that way there is a follow up way to damage a crippled enemy. I do NOT highly recommend Hacking; while it may be nice to turn a Geth Armature against its bretheren, Hacking is overshadowed by other great techniques. As usual, work on Engineer/specialization first along with Spectre Training. Since I prefer defensive characters, regardless of class (a dead strong man is just that: dead), I recommend improving your shields with Electronics. After all that, be sure to focus on Pistols and Decryption. With the trio of Decryption, Overload and Pistols, you can disable an enemy offensively and defensively and finish it up with a few well-placed shots.

Recommended Team: Ashley/Liara or Ashley/Wrex. Electronics are excellent support, but you'll need finishers to bring about total doom. Ashley is pure combat, and is recommended regardless. Depending on whether you want more biotic support or more combat finish, Liara or Wrex should be the third. If you are going to become a Medic, go with Kaiden and Ashley/Wrex as a third. With Kaiden, your healing speed is REDUCED BY 60%. This mean you can heal every three seconds or so. Incredibly useful if you're going for support.

Adept - Biotics are actually one of the harder classes to use. Not necessarily because they are difficult, but it is easy to stray from a good leveling path and try to use as many of the cool animations as possible. Per standard, work on Adept/specialization and Spectre Training first. After this, you may think it's a crapshoot, but improving defense is especially important with the fragile Adept. Put enough points in Barrier to unlock Stasis, then IMMEDIATELY focus on that. Stasis is, without a doubt, the most effective move to use as a Biotic. While a target in Statis cannot take direct damage, all lingering effects will still damage them. This works especially well when you are outnumbered; one less enemy is one less chance to die. Warp and Singularity are also great moves, and Singularity helps set up a great one-two punch. Adepts do not need to worry much about upgrading Pistols due to their high output biotic damage, so do not worry about increasing this. Contrary to my defensive style of play, Basic Armor isn't as effective with an Adept as with other classes, so long as you focused on Barrier.

Recommended Team: Ashley/Garrus or Wrex/Garrus. Ashley and Garrus provide great combat prowess and the obvious tech support, whereas Wrex adds additional biotic abilities to further weed out the crowd. Wrex/Garrus is much more effective when fighting Saren, as well.

2.2. Hybrid Classes

Infiltrator: Infiltrators, for all intents and purposes, are the snipers of Mass Effect. Sniping in Mass Effect is a garbage concept, though. Nonetheless, you should first work on Infiltrator and Spectre Training. If you are playing this class the way it's meant to be played (IE Sniping), focus on Electronics first, so you can unlock Overload. Overload will help remove the shield that Sniper Rifles are too slow to accomplish single-handedly. Max Electronics and Overload are highly recommended. Since this is supposed to be a distance class, I would recommend working on offensive combat before defense. Pistols are a great secondary weapon if you're in a tight squeeze. Don't even worry about First Aid unless you have invested in basically everything to the max.

Recommended Team: Liara/Tali, Liara/Garrus, or Liara/Wrex. Liara was a match made in heaven for the Infiltrator. Both Infiltrator and Liara can do devastating damage from long distances. The third is up to preference. If you want more crippling power, Tali is the way to go. If you want to lean more towards tech, Garrus brings a nice balance, whereas Wrex will aid Liara in biotic damage. Try to avoid Ashley, since that would defeat the purpose of long range, cripping strategies the Infiltrator's made for.

Vanguard: The Vanguard makes me laugh. They have the ability to two-piece (with magic!) an almost-surefire kill. Per usual, work on Vanguard and Spectre Training first. Now's where I truly break my rule. Vanguards are, by nature, less-fragile than Adepts, but still extremely fragile. Instead of working on defense with this class, learn to take cover, and take cover well. Lift and Warp should be priorities, as this aids in disorienting your enemies before you combat them. Throw and Lift are not as important in this class, but are great for crowd control. What you want with this class is great Lift and Warp, along with great Shotgun and Assault Training. If you want to play the distance game, focus on Pistols first instead of Shotguns.

Recommended Team: Ashley/Garrus or Wrex/Garrus. These two combinations pack quite a punch. With Warp active, Ashley/Wrex and Garrus can go to town on crippled enemies. Vanguard isn't as effective with support characters such as Liara, Tali, and Kaiden.

Sentinel: Bleck. I never liked playing as a Sentinel. Stick with the class/specialization and Spectre upgrades. There really isn't a wrong way to play a Sentinel. Just think of how to combine two to three techniques together to create a great distraction/damaging combination. Stasis, Sabotage, and Overload is one such combination. Neural Shock, Lift, and Throw are also another good combination. Make sure to focus on Barrier, since you only have access to light armor. Sentinel is quite literally the only class I would recommend adding a bonus talent once bonus talents are unlocked. I recommend adding Shotguns.

Recommended Team: Kaiden and any combat character. Sentinels are literally pure support. While you can easily defeat anybody as a Sentinel, team synergy relegates them to the role of support. Kaiden may seem redundant, but if you make your Sentinel into a Medic, your medicinal attributes are second to none. A combat-based character is recommended to finish off the enemy.

With your specialization classes, continue the strategy of your base class, then work on secondary stats recommended with the other class that can become your specialization.

As stated earlier, I prefer Shock Trooper. To show how tank-like they are, Shock Troopers, with Heavy Colossus Armor, can take a Thresher Maw melee to the face on Insanity. That, ladies and gentlemen, is extreme defense. To compliment my Shock Trooper, I typically use Garrus at all times for crippling tech support as well as combat prowess, and it is usually a toss up between Ashley and Wrex. While I prefer being defensive in stats, I prefer going all out a la warrior class in most RPGs.

3. Weapons and Their Add-Ons
More to come.

Quote Steven edited at 03:38 PM (January 14th, 2010)

Old January 19th, 2010, 08:18 PM   #2: [Thread] [Post]
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Well done so far, and my first mod action for this forum is me sticking this.

Hope you finish up the rest, and have something similar planned for ME2.

Old January 20th, 2010, 09:21 AM   #3: [Thread] [Post]
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I plan on doing something with ME2 as well, yes.

It's been years since I wrote a guide for anything, so I'm trying to figure out how best to explain the weapons aspect. More will probably come later today.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 06:25 AM   #4: [Thread] [Post]


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Is that Paragon glitch patched out at all? If not, thank you so much. Also, this is an excellent write-up.

Old April 9th, 2010, 01:44 PM   #5: [Thread] [Post]
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Sorry for the huge delay.

I plan on doing one more Mass Effect 1 runthrough in the (hopefully) near future so I can further elaborate on the weapons, armors, and strategies.

Mass Effect 2 will probably get its own thread, but that certainly won't be for a while. I've done 1 1/3 runthroughs of that game, and while I have significant knowledge on what to and not to do, it feels empty to make a guide without playing it through a couple more times.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 06:57 PM   #6: [Thread] [Post]
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wats up u guys

Old August 19th, 2012, 06:57 PM   #7: [Thread] [Post]
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this is a sick place to post vidoe game facts

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