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    Perfect Shepard Guide by HuyDucTran

    Version: 1.5 | Updated: 02/02/10 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

     Mass Effect Guide - Creating the Perfect Commander Shepard
     Written by Huy Tran <fun.round@gmail.com>
     Last Modified February 2, 2010
     Copyright 2008-2010 Huy Tran
      I.  Introduction
     II.  Terminology
    III.  The Process
     IV.  Extra Skills
      V.  Passive Game Bonuses
     VI.  Free Charm/Intimidate Points
    VII.  Class Guide
          A. Adept
          B. Engineer
          C. Infiltrator
          D. Sentinel
          E. Soldier
          F. Vanguard
    VIII. Update History
      IX. Credits
    This guide was originally created to create the best min/maxed character to go
    into Mass Effect 2 with. Since Mass Effect 2's character import only deals
    really with the overall power level, a lot of this information really isn't
    required. Your character level, paragon/renegade rating, and your choices seem
    to be the only thing that really affects your character save. So if you were
    max level, you'd start at a slightly higher level than 1, a few extra credits,
    and a few extra resources. These minor advantages don't merit replaying the
    game over and over just to import your character so I would recommend simply
    making all the decisions you want to make in the first game and importing right
    However, if you still want to get every minor advantage (starting at a higher
    level, extra credits, etc.) or just completely dominate Mass Effect 1, this
    guide is still useful.
    By using this guide, you will accomplish:
         * Maximizing charm/intimidate skills without using a single skill point
         * Create a Commander Shepard that suits your play style
         * Pick the best extra power for your class & play style
         * Min/max your character in every aspect
    The end result of this process is the most powerful Commander Shepard you can
    possibly make that suits your play style.
    What this guide will not cover is how to play the game effectively in general
    terms. You should always use weapon mods that counter the enemy (ex. synthetic
    damage bonuses against geth enemies) and you should always equip armor mods
    that will help you the most for the situation at hand (ex. armor mods that
    will help you resist being lifted and pushed against enemy biotics). Play
    efficiently, use cover, use squad commands, save often, etc. These basics are
    outside the scope of this guide.
    Crowd control: The ability to disable enemies to make situations easier to deal
    Debuff: Weakening enemies so that they are easier to kill or survive against.
    Min/max: Minimizing penalties and maximizing bonuses. This is a term originally
    used in Dungeons and Dragons describing a player that makes character decisions
    with the strict mind-set of making the most powerful character possible.
    Skill points: Points that you get from leveling, these can be assigned to
    various skills to make your character more powerful.
    Tank: An MMORPG term, character that can take a lot of damage before dying.
    Unlocker: A character that can open locked chests and salvage various artifacts
    on planets.
    Your first Commander Shepard can never be the strongest character you'll ever
    make. This is due to the fact that you can unlock extra skills, giving any
    class an additional power that they would not have normally. However, these
    unlocked powers can only be assigned at the creation of a new character, so
    your first Commander Shepard will always be weaker than your later ones due to
    the fact that s/he cannot start with extra skills.
    The overall process looks like this:
         1. Create your first Commander Shepard that unlocks extra power(s) that
            you will want to use on your real character.
         2. Create your real Commander Shepard that will use one of those unlocked
         3. Replay the game multiple times with the same character, keeping this
            in mind:
                 - Never spend any skill point in the charm/intimidate skills.
                 - Try to get as many free charm and intimidate skill points as
                   possible regardless of how you want to be aligned at the very
                   end by making paragon and renegade decisions.
                 - Unlock as many passive game bonuses as possible regardless of
                   which romance options and ally selections you want to have at
                   the very end.
                 - Try to get as much experience to get to the highest level
         4. One final play through that will carry you into Mass Effect 2 with the
            final version of your character and decisions you would like to make.
            You will want to do the following on your final play through:
                 - Complete every quest in the game.
                 - Explore every world in the game.
                 - Pick the romantic relationship with the partner that you
                   will want to see develop in Mass Effect 2.
                 - Make the Paragon or Renegade decisions that you will want to
                   carry with you in Mass Effect 2.
                 - Choose between Ashley or Kaiden, picking whoever you would like
                   to potentially use in Mass Effect 2.
                 - Have the best gear for your character.
                 - Have the maximum amount of credits possible.
    As I have mentioned before in section III, you can unlock extra skills that any
    newly created Commander Shepard can pick that is outside his or her class. This
    creates an option of being able to create a Commander Shepard that is more
    powerful and customized to suit your play style.
    For more information on which powers you should unlock for use first, read the
    class guide in section VII of the class that you will want to finally have for
    Mass Effect 2.
    To unlock extra skills, complete the achievement with the associated power.
         * Assault Rifle: Kill 150 enemies with an assault rifle.
         * Barrier: Use Barrier 75 times.
         * Decryption: Use Sabotage 75 times.
         * Electronics: Use Overload 75 times.
         * First Aid: Use medi-gel 150 times.
         * Hacking: Use AI-Hacking 75 times.
         * Lift: Use Lift 75 times.
         * Medicine: Use Neural Hacking 75 times.
         * Shielding: Use Dampening 75 times.
         * Shotgun: Kill 150 enemies with a shotgun.
         * Sniper Rifle: Kill 150 enemies with a sniper rifle.
         * Stasis: Use Stasis 75 times.
         * Throw: Use Throw 75 times.
         * Singularity: Use Singularity 75 times.
         * Warp: Use Warp 75 times.
    In general, the unlocked weapon powers are the most worthless to generally
    have. Whereas skills such as lift, electronics, decryption, barrier, etc. are
    extremely useful. The reason for these powers being favored over the weapon are
    rooted by the fact that every class starts with base weapon specializations
    or bonuses already.
    Passive game bonuses are awarded to the player for achievements in the game
    that are not tied with unlocking skills. These will help all your characters
    regardless of their creation date, class, or progress through the game.
    To unlock passive game bonuses, complete the achievement with the associated
         * +10% Experience: Complete 75% of the game.
         * +10% Hardening: Complete 75% of the game using Ashley.
         * 10% Barrier and Stasis Cooldown Reduction: Complete 75% of the game
           using Liara.
         * 10% Lift and Throw Cooldown Reduction: Complete 75% of the game using
         * 10% Overload and Damping Cooldown Reduction: Complete 75% of the game
           using Garrus.
         * 10% Sabotage and AI Hacking Cooldown Reduction: Complete 75% of the game
           using Tali.
         * Regenerate 1 HP per second: Complete 75% of the game using Wrex.
         * +5% Experience: Get level 50 with any character.
         * +10% Shield: Take more shield damage than health damage in a
           play through.
         * Character Levels 51-60: Complete the game once.
         * +5% Weapon Damage: Complete the game twice.
         * +10% Health: Kill 150 organics.
         * +10% Shield: Kill 150 synthetics.
         * 25% Marksman Cooldown Reduction: Kill 150 enemies with a pistol.
    After playing multiple characters several times through the game, myself and
    many others realized that you get free Paragon and Renegade points without
    having to spend any point towards those skills. Experiments and general testing
    have gone into understanding how these points are achieved and it generally
    amounts up to checkpoints in the story and your paragon/renegade rating that
    reward you with free paragon/renegade points.
    What does this mean for min/maxing a perfect Commander Shepard?
    You can essentially spend 0 skill points in both charm and intimidate skills
    and have the maximum skill of both charm and intimidate on your character,
    regardless of whether you'll decide if your final character will be a heavily
    Paragon-based or Renegade-based character (or neither), they will have all of
    the skills to make any game decision at any given point in time.
    There are many ways to approach gaining these "free" points, but they involve
    two approaches.
    The first approach is to complete the game as quickly as possible, doing only
    story required missions. 
    The second approach is to constantly play the game and do everything within the
    game to amass the most possible Paragon or Renegade rating for that play
    session and therefore get the most points possible. While this approach leads
    to less replays of the game, it also makes each replay dramatically longer.
    Both approaches are good and generally depend on your tolerance of the using
    the Mako. If you have no tolerance for it, do only the story missions. If you
    love using the Mako, do the entire game. Note that if you still need to unlock
    achievements for using your squad members, the longer approach is recommended
    as it is the only way to reach a high game completion percentage for ally
    There is also a glitch that I've been informed of that will help you easily
    cap your current Paragon and/or Renegade rating for your current play through if
    you have enough charm and/or intimidate skill. Last Vampire has documented this
    trick and submitted it to GameFAQs' Mass Effect Cheats section. The glitch
    basically involves abusing a loop in a conversation with Lorik Quinn.
    Using this trick, once you've unlocked all the passive game bonuses, you can
    easily speed through multiple sessions of the game, constantly getting to the
    point where you can max your rating with Lorik Quinn and then complete the game
    to do it over and over again.
    For more details, please visit GameFAQs' Mass Effect Cheats section.
    Ultimately, the essence of getting these free points is replaying the game,
    making decisions that favor Paragon or Renegade and reaping the benefits of
    free points that the game will give you until you reach the maximum skill
    levels for both.
    Before going into class specifics, it is good to know the basics of making a
    good character. The fundamental basis of the decisions that I've made with
    every class are formed by the following:
         * You should always try to spend only enough points to reach milestones
           within the skill. So you always want to spend enough points in a skill
           to upgrade the power that is associated with that skill or to unlock
           another skill. You should always try to avoid spending points that
           doesn't help you achieve a milestone.
         * Party members, in general, should always try to round out your main
           character or take advantage of the main character's strength. You will
           always need and want a tank, an unlocker, and a crowd controller. The
           lines will blur based on your own character class and the selection of
           members, but you always want to be able to do all three of these types
           of actions.
         * A good extra skill selection should either diversify the character
           outside their class so that they have a smaller dependence on allies
           or they should take a skill that allows them to do what they're good at
           more effectively. A poor selection would be giving them a skill that
           gives no noticeable benefit or only allows them to accomplish the same
           thing in a different way.
    Now let's get into the specifics.
    NOTE: The following section definitely has some overlap, but it just goes to
    show that the strengths and weaknesses of various classes also show similar
    ideal skill selections and class specializations.
    A. ADEPT
    Adepts are the true crowd controllers of this game and they will lock down
    entire battlefields, making your enemies useless and easy to pick off. They
    have decent damage output when the crowd control is coupled with pistol
    specialization, but their defense is heavily lacking. Adepts are definitely one
    of the harder classes to play, requiring smart use of allies to do the needed
    damage and tanking for the group.
    Between the two classes, the Bastion Adepts win out because it helps the adept
    deal with the very tough situations on harder difficulties where they can
    easily die in one shot.
    Bastion Adepts get:
         * Barrier duration bonus, cooldown reduction, and shield bonus
         * Biotic skills cooldown reduction (on all biotic skills)
         * Stasis cooldown reduction and allows enemies to be damaged
    Nemesis Adepts get:
         * Biotic skills duration bonus
         * Lift (falls under throws) damage bonus and radius increased
         * Throw damage bonus
         * Warp damage bonus and radius increased
    Bastion adepts give adepts the most important things they need for the highest
    difficulty, defense. The barrier bonus becomes vital on harder difficulties and
    the biotic cooldowns allow them to apply control for entire fights when needed.
    The stasis cooldown, while not taken advantaged of by the AI, will at least let
    you stop and destroy enemies that are giving you too much trouble.
    Nemesis adepts have some impressive bonuses. The increased throw damage and
    duration bonuses to all biotic skills lets you open opportunities for that much
    longer to do more damage. However, on higher difficulties, enemies will be
    putting out a lot more damage and taking a lot more damage as well. The barrier
    bonus and cooldown reduction simply wins out in these situations. The lift and
    warp bonuses are also not so amazing that it would warrant losing defenses
    In conclusion, bastion adepts just provide the needed bonuses and is the clear
    winner when compared on the harder difficulties.
    Best Specialization: Bastion Adept
    Best Extra Skill(s): Electronics
    Good Extra Skill(s): Hacking
    Electronics: Electronics adds a lot to the adepts defenses and gives them a
    passive defense that they don't need to activate. Rockets that you may not see
    from the side, snipers that you may not see from afar, etc. will no longer have
    chances of one-shotting you on higher difficulties with the shielding that
    electronics provides. Electronics also provides another way for adepts to burst
    enemies down quickly by removing their shields instantly as well as relieving
    the electronics burden from the squad.
    Hacking: Hacking is fairly good skill for adepts to deal with geth enemies that
    they cannot control with their crowd control and to deal with turrets that
    arise later in the game. Hacking also gives you temporary tanks and is
    especially useful for soaking up damage and removing rocket launching geth
    Engineers are an interesting class that can debuff enemies and do a lot of
    burst damage with their skills. Because they can't specialize in any other
    weapon besides pistol without an extra skill and because they don't have great
    defensive skills besides electronics, they struggle in basic gun combat. But
    when enemies become debuffed and disabled heavily, engineers don't need it to
    finish fights. Good use of teammates will easily cover up this weakness and it
    proves that the engineer is one of the more advanced classes to play.
    Of the two specializations, both medic engineers and operative engineers
    provide fun playstyle differences and are both equal in terms of effectiveness.
    Medic Engineers get:
         * First Aid cooldown reduction, healing bonus, ignores toxic damage, and
           revives allies
         * Neural Shock cooldown reduction, damage bonus, and duration bonus
    Operative Engineers get:
         * Damping cooldown reduction
         * Overload cooldown reduction, damage bonus, radius increased, and
           shield damage bonus
         * Sabotage cooldown reduction, damage bonus, damage over time bonus,
           duration bonus, and radius increased
    Medic engineers play a strong support role and can essentially stand back,
    disable enemies, and heal all frontline squad members or revive them with
    extreme efficiency. Add that with the neural shock bonus and you can nullify
    many organic enemies from even moving or doing a single thing. Definitely the
    ideal class for those who want to control squad members and never see them
    stay down very long.
    Operative engineers allow players to go crazy with tons of damage from their
    skills as well as being able to debuff enemies constantly. Removing their
    shields, removing their weapons, removing their ability to use biotic powers,
    etc. Operative engineers excell at this. The damage bonuses give operative
    engineers a lot of burst damage power, taking down any focused enemy almost
    Overall, they are equally good and provide an interesting play style choice.
    Best Specialization: Equal (Medic Engineers and Operative Engineers)
    Best Extra Skill(s): Barrier, Lift
    Good Extra Skill(s): Singularity
    Barrier: The barrier skill is a good choice here because engineers lack an
    active defense skill and it fills the defense void very well. Since engineers
    already pack a good offensive punch and last decently long, they don't need
    much in terms of offensive. Barrier is the best they are going to get on the
    defensive end.
    Lift: Lift is a very strong crowd controlling move that lets you unleash all of
    your skills and damage. It also doubles as a way to stop enemies that have
    rushed up close to you or pull enemies out of cover. An overall strong skill
    that competes with barrier as it provides defense as well as offense.
    Singularity: Singularity is a much weaker version than lift since it doesn't
    allow easy shooting, has randomness issues, and can be hard for allies to shoot
    based on weapons they are loaded out with. I would always pick lift over
    singularity for engineers, but singularity allows a whole room to be
    controlled. That's never a bad thing and if you need it solely for defensive
    purposes, it works very well.
    The infiltrator is a powerful blend of debuffs and damage that overwhelms
    opponents in a short amount of time. Their long-ranged nature gives them big
    advantages of being able to apply overload and sabotage coupled with the large
    damage output that they get from specializing in sniper rifles. If enemies do
    creep up on them, they are able to deal with them with pistol fire as well.
    They definitely represent the "sniper" for those looking for the perfect class
    to pursue such goals.
    Between their two specializations, I would say that commando infiltrators
    easily win out because operative infiltrators don't add much to the infiltrator
    base class.
    Commando Infiltrators get:
         * Assassination (sniper rifle) cooldown reduction
         * Immunity cooldown reduction
         * Marksman (pistol) cooldown reduction
         * Passive bonus to damage
    Operative Infiltrators get:
         * Damping cooldown reduction
         * Overload cooldown reduction, damage bonus, shield damage bonus, and
           radius increased
         * Sabotage cooldown reduction, damage bonus, damage over time bonus,
           duration bonus, and radius increased
    Commando infiltrators add the most important thing an infiltrator can ask for,
    damage. The passive damage bonus coupled with the cooldown reduction on
    assassination and marksman makes it an essential specialization for
    infiltrators to dispatch their enemies. The immunity cooldown reduction also
    adds a nice defensive perk to an already strong package for infiltrators.
    Operative infiltrators reduce the cooldowns of damping, overload, and sabotage.
    Unfortunately, at higher difficulties, enemies will get large amounts of health
    yet the debuffs will still work with the same effectiveness that they have been
    working at since the beginning difficulties. This creates a heavy contrast with
    the commando infiltrator specialization, which has the necessary bonuses to
    deal with high health enemies later on.
    Overall, commando infiltrator simply wins out, especially on higher
    difficulties where they clearly shine over operative infiltrators.
    Best Specialization: Commando Infiltrator
    Best Extra Skill(s): Lift
    Good Extra Skill(s): Barrier, Throw
    Lift: Lift is the best extra skill choice for the infiltrator by far. It allows
    infiltrators to slow down enemy offense as well as create opportunities for
    massive damage output without worrying about enemies using defense or cover.
    Lift often shines as a great skill when infiltrators pull enemies from cover
    and gets the perfect shots on them.
    Barrier: Barrier is a useful skill for infiltrators because it provides
    another defensive move that they can use. However, infiltrators come decked
    out in good defenses already, being pretty resilient with good armor, great
    shields, and the immunity skill. The fact that they should be fighting at a
    long distance most of the time nullifies their need for barrier. It really is
    only good for sticky situations.
    Throw: Throw is a much weaker version of lift, allowing you to only push
    enemies away. This will generally mean much less opportunities and damage
    because enemies will get back up much quickly than if they were to stay in the
    air, fall down, and then get up from the lift skill. A lot of players will pick
    throw, thinking that it will allow them to stay at ranged, but I feel that lift
    already lets you control enemies extremely well. If you need range, move your
    character back until you have sufficient range after a lift.
    The sentinel is the most weakest character in terms of damage output, but make
    up for it in support abilities with crowd control, debuffs, and defense. They
    are an advanced class to play, utilizing all of their skills constantly to
    make the battle situation better. Good use of skills and squad commands are key
    to playing the sentinel well. They are also the only class where getting a
    weapon specialization is actually an ideal choice.
    The two specializations of the sentinel are interesting, providing a good
    play style choice that allows you to specialize in the way that suits you.
    Bastion Sentinels get:
         * Barrier duration bonus, cooldown reduction, and shield bonus
         * Biotic skills cooldown reduction (on all biotic skills)
         * Stasis cooldown reduction and allows enemies to be damaged
    Medic Sentinels get:
         * First Aid cooldown reduction, healing bonus, ignores toxic damage, and
           revives allies
         * Neural Shock cooldown reduction, damage bonus, and duration bonus
    The decision on which class specialization to play lies solely in play style. Do
    you value being able to lock things down with your biotic skills and using
    barrier or do you value healing your allies and shock disabling your enemies?
    The most interesting aspect of this decision probably lies within the bastion's
    ability to still attack a target in stasis and the medic's ability to revive
    allies simply by using medi-gel.
    Unfortunately, the decision is a bit one-sided when comparing these two great
    abilities. Reviving allies works as it sounds and its great, but you should be
    using strong tanks to carry out the front line and deal the damage. Ashley and
    Wrex are great here to support the medic sentinel. On the other hand, the
    stasis falls from AI problems. Whenever you stasis an enemy, even if they are
    attackable from the bastion specialization, your allies will never take
    advantage and attack them. This means that only you can take advantage of this
    impressive skill and it waters down the overall effectiveness. Nevertheless,
    the stasis ability can allow you to take on extremely tough challenges as well
    as save you defensively.
    The core decision then ultimately comes down to the comparison of whether you
    want your medi-gels to revive allies or whether you want to use your biotic
    skills at a much quicker rate. Both choices are good.
    Best Specialization: Equal (Bastion Sentinel and Medic Sentinel)
    Best Extra Skill(s): Singularity, Sniper Rifle
    Good Extra Skill(s): Assault Rifle
    Singularity: Singularity completes the Sentinel's impressive crowd control and
    support capabilities. However, singularity is the only good because it is the
    only useful skill to pick besides weapon specializations. In addition, The fact
    that sentinels already get pistol bonuses makes many players who are
    comfortable with the pistol forego picking a weapon specialization and just
    pick up singularity.
    Sniper Rifle: A weapon specialization is ideal for sentinels because they don't
    have much else to take in terms of extra skills. Singularity is nice, but it
    doesn't add much to sentinels. The sniper rifle's usefulness over other weapons
    stem from the fact that sentinel already has a bonus to pistols, covering the
    short-ranged situations. The sniper rifle allows the sentinel to cover a much
    longer range so that they can pick off enemy snipers, which may be useful if
    your two allies happen to be Ashley and Wrex (who ideally should be using
    assault rifles or shotguns and tanking damage in the front). You can also make
    use of the pistol specialization whenever anyone gets close.
    Assault Rifle: Assault rifle itself provides a good balance that is useful at
    all ranges. The only reason it isn't a great choice is because pistols, a
    built-in sentinel bonus, already cover close-ranged combat situations. It would
    be more beneficial to get a sniper rifle so that you can get better long-ranged
    The soldier is a basic run and gun class and is by far the easiest class to
    play. Strong, effective, resilient, and does a large amount of damage. They are
    the true tanks of the game and possess one of the best damage outputs in the
    game. Their only flaw would be their lack of crowd control, debuffs, and
    inability to contribute towards salvaging or unlocking.
    When looking at the two specializations that a soldier can choose, the shock
    troopers will win out overall, but just by a touch.
    Commando Soldiers get:
         * Assassination (sniper rifle) cooldown reduction
         * Immunity cooldown reduction
         * Marksman (pistol) cooldown reduction
         * Passive bonus to damage
    Shock Trooper Soldiers get:
         * Adrenaline Burst cooldown reduction
         * Immunity cooldown reduction
         * Passive bonus to health
    The commando soldier specialization has role issues and it certainly shows. A
    soldier is a heavily armored combatant that can soak up damage, but to be able
    to do that, they must stay within relatively closer range than others and be
    able to lead them into battle. The commando falls heavily short here as they
    use sniper rifles and pistols. There are some odd considerations when you think
    about this closely. Why would you make a soldier to use pistols, which all the
    weaker non-weapon based classes get? You wouldn't, so the decision lies solely
    with the sniper rifle. 
    After establishing that frame of mind, why would you need the soldier's
    impressive defense (and forsaking other abilities s/he could have gotten) when
    you are a long-distanced fighter? As a sniper, you would never go in first,
    which means someone else is tanking the damage and your defensive capabilities
    is a waste. The best way to make use of a commando soldier would be to
    specialize in multiple weapons (assault rifle and sniper rifle at least) and
    make use of the fact that a soldier can fight at any range given the right
    weapon. Add to that, you should not use allies that heavily rely on slowing
    down the enemy (Kaiden and Liara) opting for a high damage party because of the
    fact that all members defenses, including your own, would be useful when there
    is constant fire. You take this crowd control trade for members that consist of
    Ashley, Wrex, Garrus, and/or Tali for their high burst damage. Assassination is
    is useful for taking down heavily shielded targets and will help you dispatch
    of enemies quickly and efficiently. Your soldier defense will still be
    important in this party configuration because you rely on killing quickly under
    pressure and not controlling the situation for longer fights.
    The shock trooper soldier is better overall in many ways. The adrenaline burst
    means they can keep up and put out huge damage in long fights. They also last
    longer defensively, giving you breathing room for push and pull strategies
    dependent on the situation at hand. Their passive health bonus is nice, but
    with the more powerful adrenaline burst, immunity, and the soldier's natural
    defense -- it is not really required. You get more freedom of party members as
    well and you don't have to run a strong combat heavy party to make use of your
    bonuses, although you always have the option to. Basically, you get a more
    well-rounded package that gives you more breathing room and ways to play the
    Overall, the shock trooper soldier wins out due to the flexibility that the
    specialization offers. Room to retreat, room to strategize, room to run low
    damage squad members, etc.
    Best Specialization: Shock Trooper Soldier
    Best Extra Skill(s): Electronics, Lift
    Good Extra Skill(s): Barrier, Singularity 
    Electronics: The electronics skill is an amazing skill for the soldier as it
    adds so much to the class. First, you will get more shields passively, allowing
    you to take more damage as well as making your shield boost skill more useful.
    Secondly, it allows you to remove an opponents' shield and attack his health
    directly more quickly. Lastly, electronics will also grant you the ability to
    fix the Mako and salvage artifacts. This last utility feature will remove some
    of the burden from your squad members, allowing your squad members to choose
    other skills earlier without having to worry about fulfilling the electronics
    requirement of the squad.
    Lift: Lift is an extremely powerful skill and rounds out the Soldier very well.
    With lift, soldiers are able to control situations better, disabling enemies so
    that they do not damage you when there are too many as well as opening up
    opportunities for soldiers and their squad to unleash all of their damage
    without fear of being blocked by objects or the enemy using defensive
    Barrier: The biggest problem with barrier is the fact that it only helps you on
    defense. A lot of players love Shock Troopers with barrier because they become
    an extremely strong tank, but barrier ultimately loses to electronics because
    it is so one-note in comparison. Electronics gives you defense that is
    comparable to barrier, offense, and utility. Barrier simply is not strong
    enough to make up for the losing the advantages of electronics. However, it is
    still a strong skill for soldiers who want to fulfill the tanking role
    Singularity: The singularity skill selection for a soldier is similar to
    choosing lift, but not as effective. There are a few enemies that can't be
    controlled by singularity when they can be controlled by lift. However, the key
    deciding factor is the fact that singularity has a few peculiar random features
    that make it inferior to lift for soldiers. First, the enemies float around
    with quite a bit of speed and randomness, making you and ally members unable to
    score as much damage as you would normally (based on your squad's weapons).
    Secondly, enemies will often float behind areas and obstacles when placed far
    away, leaving unpredictable results where they will float behind objects and
    structures, not allowing you to shoot at them. However, even with these
    disadvantages, singularity covers big area and is still a good skill for
    soldiers to gain control of the battlefield and slow enemies down.
    The vanguard is a hybrid class that marries the adept and soldier class to
    provide a powerful close-ranged, heavy hitting, and crowd controlling
    character. It is a moderately skilled class to play, providing a simple run and
    gun effectiveness paired with the biotic skills that will let you slow enemies,
    disable enemies, and attack enemies more effectively.
    When looking at the two specializations, shock trooper vanguards will clearly
    edge out over the nemesis vanguard due to the fact that nemesis vanguard
    bonuses being neglible.
    Nemesis Vanguards get:
         * Biotic skills duration bonus
         * Lift (falls under throws) damage bonus and radius increased
         * Throw damage bonus
         * Warp damage bonus and radius increased
    Shock Trooper Vanguards get:
         * Adrenaline Burst cooldown reduction
         * Barrier cooldown reduction
         * Passive bonus to health
    Nemesis vanguards get a bigger bang for their buck. All of slightly more
    duration and slightly more damage. However, this bonus is so small that it will
    generally prove insignificant in the higher difficulties. According to Brian
    Roberts who did the math to show me, this bonus is generally around 1-2 seconds
    for each skill. This essentially renders the nemesis vanguards as worthless
    simply because the bonuses that they do have don't really mean anything.
    Shock trooper vanguards have a big jump in defense from their barrier cooldown
    and the passive health. However, the adrenaline burst cooldown is the most
    interesting of the shock trooper package, allowing shock trooper vanguards to
    deal a large amount of damage quickly, boost their defenses often, and crowd
    control often due to the simple fact that they can refresh all of their skills
    for use at a more frequent pace.
    The nemesis vanguards lose out because their bonuses just don't add enough of
    anything to make a difference. The shock trooper vanguard specialization adds
    impressive amounts of options for the vanguard, leaving the nemesis vanguard an
    extremely weak alternative.
    Best Specialization: Shock Trooper Vanguard
    Best Extra Skill(s): Electronics
    Good Extra Skill(s): Singularity 
    Electronics: Electronics is the ideal skill for the vanguard as it helps the
    vanguard deal with one of its biggest issues, defense. While vanguards have a
    large amount of defense, because of their closer-ranged arsenal (pistol or
    shotgun), they have to be in close quarters often enough to require more.
    Electronics provides the shields that will allow vanguards to get a much more
    solid defense. Electronics also helps vanguards quickly pummel shields down,
    even while an enemy is controlled by skills such as lift. This allows vanguards
    to quickly chip away and deal the amount of burst damage that they need in the
    short time-frame of their crowd control skills. Lastly, electronics also allows
    vanguards to fulfill a utility role, salvaging artifacts and repairing the
    Mako. This frees up allies from having to invest into electronics as the
    vanguard already has it covered.
    Singularity: Singularity adds another crowd control to the impressive arsenal
    of vanguard crowd control powers. It opens up more opportunities to shoot and
    gives you breathing space if you need it. The only reason it loses to
    electronics is because of the randomness of the skill. Issues with some weapons
    (and the AI using those weapons) having a hard time hitting enemies that have
    been put in singularity as well as enemies actually flying to areas and
    positions that make them hard to kill make this skill lose the "great" cut.
    v1.5: Updated introduction to reflect Mass Effect 2 character import.
    v1.4: Grammar fixes.
    v1.3: Grammar and minor clarifications.
    v1.2: Vanguard and soldier section revamped from the suggestions of Brian
          Roberts. Grammar fixes.
    v1.1: Grammar fixes.
    v1.0: Engineer class completed. Final review before submission to GameFAQs.
    v0.9: Adept class completed.
    v0.8: Operative class completed.
    v0.7: Vanguard class completed.
    v0.6: Remaining classes fleshed out in skill selections and specializations.
          Sections still need explanations.
    v0.5: Sentinel class completed.
    v0.4: Completed introduction of classes section and soldier class.
    v0.3: Passive game bonuses section completed.
    v0.2: Table of Contents updated.
    v0.1: Initial creation of the FAQ. Introduction, terminology, the process,
          extra skills, free charm/intimidate points and credits sections created
          and written.
    Myself (Huy Tran): For writing this guide and replaying this game so many
    Brian Roberts: For showing me that the nemesis vanguard is inferior to the
    shock trooper vanguard and for helping me clarify the strengths of shock
    trooper soldier and commando soldier.
    BioWare: For creating a game worth replaying so many times.
    GameFAQs: For hosting my guide.

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