Mass Effect Legendary Edition is now on Game Pass, so there's never been a better time to start up a new character or pick a class for a brand-new adventure.
Picking your character class is usually one of the hardest decisions you have to make in any RPG. And in Mass Effect Legendary Edition, it's a choice you're required to make almost as soon as you start the game, before you've got a feel for the combat, controls, and vibe of your Shepard.
There are six character classes to pick from and - with this choice standing between you and the many sliders of the character creation screen - the pressure is on to choose both wisely and fast.
Below we've put together a few hints and tips to help you pick the best Mass Effect character class for you.
- What are the character classes in Mass Effect Legendary Edition?
- What are the specialisms?
- How to choose the best class for you in Mass Effect Legendary Edition
- Should you change character class in ME2 and ME3?
- What is the best character class for Insanity Difficulty?
What are the character classes in Mass Effect Legendary Edition?
Mass Effect Legendary Edition features the same character classes as the original release of the trilogy.
The games feature three specialisms and six character classes. These six classes persist across all three games, though their exact abilities do change up a little between titles.
The following are the descriptions you'll see for each class when you go to create a character in Mass Effect 1:
- Adept class: “Adepts are biotic specialists. Through upgradeable implants, they can use biotic powers to lift or throw objects, shield the squad, and disable or destroy enemies. Adepts can only wear light armor, and they specialize in pistols.”
- Soldier class: “Soldiers are combat specialists ideal for the front lines of a firefight. Soldiers have improved health, can specialize in the use of all weapon types, start with the ability to wear medium armor, and can train in the use of heavy armor.”
- Engineer class: “Engineers are tech specialists. Using the holographic omni-tool, they can decrypt security systems, repair or modify technical equipment, disrupt enemy weapons or shields, and heal their squad. Engineers can only wear light armor, and they specialize in pistols.”
- Vanguard class: “Vanguards are biotic warriors. They combine biotics and weapons to take down opponents and are especially deadly at short range. They specialize in pistols and shotguns, and wear medium armor.”
- Sentinel class: “Sentinels combine biotic and tech abilities. Typically, they use biotic abilities and advanced healing skills to defend allies, though they can also disrupt opponents with biotic or tech attacks. They are more efficient at tech and biotics than other classes, but at the expense of combat. Sentinels can only wear light armor and receive no specialized weapon training.”
- Infiltrator class: “Infiltrators combine combat and tech abilities to specialize in killing or disabling enemies at long range. Infiltrators are trained to use omni-tools, focusing on decryption and offensive abilities rather than healing. They can specialize in sniper rifles and wear medium armor.”
What are the specialisms?
In order to choose the character class that's best suited to your play style, it's essential to have a sense of what the three specialisms are.
Combat is the most clear-cut specialism, though you shouldn't write it off because of that. Characters who specialise in combat have a greater mastery of the game's weaponry. Characters from any of the combat specialist classes get access to better base armour, and can also benefit from improved health.
Tech is also fairly self-explanatory. Less hands-on than Combat specialists, Tech specialists are particularly good at ranged attacks, but are also useful for medical and other vital support activities that sound like they require a PhD or two. They're far from defenseless, as their unique ability to disrupt enemy tech can be a powerful offensive move.
It's an oversimplification to call Biotics the Mass Effect equivalent of magic, but all the same you can't deny the similarities. Thanks to their cyberpunk-y implants that harness their natural psychic abilities, biotics specialists are very versatile, and can just as easily use their skills to support their squad or take point wading into the fray.
How to choose the best class for you in Mass Effect Legendary Edition
The three single-specialism classes follow a familiar pattern if you're an RPG fan. So, if you've played a lot of RPGs before and know what sort of characters you prefer, you can use this to help inform your choice in Mass Effect.
- If you enjoy playing Tank characters, consider playing as the Soldier. They get a lot of the classic Tank perks, such as increased health (they're the only class whose health regenerates by default) and weapons mastery. Soldiers also make the shortest work of the third-person shooter sections of the games.
- If you tend to have the most fun as a Mage, check out the Adept class. Biotics aren't technically magic, but they fulfil more or less the same role in the sci-fi space opera universe of Mass Effect. There's some in-story justification about them using technological implants to enhance their natural psychic abilities — but when it comes down to it, if in your experience you like flinging energy blasts from your hands and throwing enemies around through sheer willpower, this class could be the one for you.
- If you enjoy playing healer and support roles, Engineer might be the class for you. The Engineer is a classic omnidisciplinary scientist, fulfilling a variety of roles for their squad ranging from medic to hacker and even drone specialist in the two later games.
On the other hand, if you didn't come to Mass Effect with strong feelings about classic RPG character archetypes, you don't have to commit to a clear-cut choice. Mass Effect features three dual-specialist classes as well — and in our experience, they can be a lot more fun and useful than committing to a relatively narrow focus.
This sometimes comes at a cost — defining two strengths does often make their weakness in the third specialism more of a liability. However, it also adds a layer of complexity to the characters that you do arguably miss out on if you choose a single-focus class.
- As the name suggests, the Vanguard is typically the first person in their squad to enter the fray. Unfortunately, Vanguards aren't quite as hardy as Soldiers, and will need a good support structure so that their squad can heal them when they need it. They're far from mere cannon fodder, however, as their risky approach to combat — with a one-two punch of biotics and weaponry — will begin to pay off in a big way as you master their specialisms.
- The Sentinel class also has a meaningful name, as they tend to be focussed on watching over their squad and providing for their wellbeing. As a result, they're somewhat reliant on their squad for combat support, as they have the lowest weapons capability of any class. However, they have the widest range of other skills to draw on, and their combination of biotics and tech can be extremely powerful when deployed tactically.
- What do you get when you combine a soldier and an engineer? Answer: a sniper and a hacker in one scary package! The Infiltrator does best when using long-range combat, and takes the strategic approach towards getting behind enemy lines. Unlike other tech specialists, Infiltrators don't act as the squad healer; their focus is firmly on damaging the enemy, making them the most offense-based tech class.
Should you change character class in ME2 and ME3?
You can't change your class within any of the games in Mass Effect Legendary Edition without restarting from the beginning.
However, you can choose a different class when importing your Mass Effect save into Mass Effect 2, or Mass Effect 2 into Mass Effect 3.
Exact details of classes vary slightly between games. There are a few tweaks to how each class operates in later instalments of the trilogy, mostly in the form of additional abilities.
Biotics users gain more powers that emphasise their quasi-supernatural skills; tech specialists get more elaborate gizmos, like drones and cloaking devices; and combat specialists enjoy quality-of-life improvements like greater accuracy and slow-motion bullet time while they line up their shots.
As ever, in the end it comes down to a matter of personal preference. There are no penalties for changing class when you start a new part of the trilogy, so there's no reason not to experiment with a new class in ME2 or ME3 if you see another you think you'd prefer, or if you simply feel like a change.
However, we don't feel like there are any classes that stand out in any one particular game in the trilogy. That is, unless you're attempting a run on Insanity Difficulty.
What is the best character class for Insanity Difficulty?
All three games in the Mass Effect trilogy feature Insanity Difficulty. This highest difficulty level features enemies who are much tougher in terms of health, attack accuracy and reaction speeds, immunities, weapons, and just about anything else they can think of to make your life harder.
You will need to complete all three games on Insanity Difficulty if you want to get all trophies/achievements in Mass Effect Legendary Edition.
When choosing a class for an Insanity Difficulty playthrough, you might find you have different priorities. If you intend to radically alter your play style for Insanity Difficulty, you might want to consider changing up your class too.
The general consensus is that Insanity Difficulty becomes slightly easier if you play as a Combat specialist class. Soldier is the obvious choice and does seem to make things easier on you — though the trade-off, according to a lot of long-time Mass Effect fans, is that Soldier is also the most boring class to play as. (Although of course, your experience may vary.)
If you're one of the people who can't bring yourself to play the whole trilogy as a Soldier no matter the advantages, any of the dual specialism classes could take second place on the recommendations list.
Even Sentinel, which unlike the more obvious choices of Vanguard or Infiltrator doesn't incorporate the Combat specialism that makes the Solider class so desirable for these runs, comes highly recommended — since the Sentinel's ability to protect themselves while keeping their enemies at bay more than makes up for their initial lack of upfront aggression.
Ultimately, though, it's important to remember that your own preferences and play style should inform your character class decisions, even on Insanity Difficulty. None of the classes make it impossible to complete the game on this difficulty, and you're more likely to do well (and stay interested!) playing as a class you enjoy and have experience with.
Tackling this challenge as an Adept or Engineer might seem like adding an extra layer of difficulty to the most difficult task in the game, but if your preferred play style is firmly built around Biotics or Tech, then you should absolutely go for it.
For more on Mass Effect, you might like our guide on importing Shepherd's appearance from your old saves into the Legendary Edition.