Nightsolo's Mass Effect Shepard Guide

Starting A New Shepard

The Manual and In-Game Character Creation Steps do a good job explaining the basics of creating a character, so I won't go over those here. I will, however, go into some more subtle details.
  1. Choosing a character appearance. This has only aesthetic value. Male or Female only changes your character's body, voice, gender-specific words, and Romance Options. Everything else is the same.
  2. Choosing a Background. This will have an effect on your alignment, Paragon vs. Renegade. (see below)
  3. Choosing a Personal Historical Event. This will have an effect on your alignment, Paragon vs. Renegade (see below). Which one you choose will also determine which of three different Optional Assignments you get.
  4. Choosing a Class. This will affect the Abilities available to you. If you choose a non-technical class, you may not be able to Decrypt some lootable objects, e.g. "Electronics Skill Too Low." This does NOT affect which Assignments you can complete, but WILL affect how much XP you can accrue.
Your choices of Background and History will give you several possibilities for starting Paragon or Renegade scores:
  1. Spacer & War Hero +20 Paragon
  2. Spacer & Sole Survivor +15 Paragon & +5 Renegade
  3. Spacer & Ruthless +10 Renegade
  4. Colonist & War Hero +15 Paragon
  5. Colonist & Sole Survivor +10 Paragon & +5 Renegade
  6. Colonist & Ruthless +15 Renegade
  7. Earthborn & War Hero +10 Paragon
  8. Earthborn & Sole Survivor +5 Paragon & +15 Renegade
  9. Earthborn & Ruthless +20 Renegade
Each class has a different set of starting Abilities and Talents:
Type Starting Talents Trainable Talents
Soldier Medium Armor, Pistols, Assault Rifles, Assault Training Heavy Armor, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, First Aid, Fitness
Engineer Pistols, First Aid, Decryption, Electronics Light Armor, Damping, Hacking, Medicine
Adept Light Armor, Barrier, Throw, Warp Pistols, Lift, Singularity, Stasis
Infiltrator Light Armor, Pistols, Decryption, Electronics Medium Armor, Sniper Rifles, Damping, First Aid, Fitness
Vanguard Pistols, Assault Training, Warp, Throw Medium Armor, Shotguns, Barrier, Lift
Sentinel Barrier, First Aid, Throw, Decryption Lift, Medicine, Stasis, Electronics

Description of Talents

Class Talents

These are available initially and will change to Specialization Talents after 6 ranks.
SoldierIncreases health, regenerates health per second.
EngineerReduces cooldown timer on all tech abilities, increases protection against tech.
AdeptReduces recharge time on all biotic talents, increases protection against biotics.
InfiltratorIncreases tech mine explosion damage, reduces overheating on sniper rifles and pistols. The only class that can zoom with a sniper rifle.
VanguardIncreases protection against biotics, increases pistol and shotgun damage.
SentinelReduces cooldown of biotic and tech Abilities, increases pistol damage and accuracy.

Specialization Talents

Upon reaching Level 20, you'll get an Assignment to take out a Rogue VI on Luna. When you complete it, you'll then have a choice between two of these, depending on your starting class.
BastionReduces cooldown on biotic Abilities; Increases Barrier's shield strength, duration, and regeneration; Enemies under Stasis can be damaged.
CommandoIncreases all weapon damage; Reduces cooldown on Immunity, Assassinate, and Marksman
MedicReduces cooldown for First Aid and Neural Shock; Increases Neural Shock's duration and damage; Increases First Aid's effectiveness, and allows for the revival of squad members with Medi-gel.
NemesisIncreases force and damage of Throw; Increases duration of Lift, Warp, Singularity, Barrier, and Stasis; Increases duration and damage of biotic abilities; Increases Warp's radius and damage; Increases Lift's radius
OperativeReduces cooldown timers for all offensive tech Abilities; Increases Overload's radius, explosion damage, shield damage, and damage vulnerability; Increases Sabotage's radius, explosion damage, damage per second, and duration.
Shock TrooperIncreases health; Increases damage protection; Reduces cooldown on Immunity; Reduces cooldown on Adrenaline Burst.

Shepard-only Talents

There's no reason for your squad to have these.
CharmIncreases Charm score, opening up new Paragon dialogue options; Grants a discount when purchasing items from merchants.
IntimidateIncreases Intimidate score, opening up new Renegade dialog options; Grants an increase to the value of your items when selling them to merchants.
Spectre TrainingIncreases the damage and duration of all your powers and attacks; Increases health; Increases maximum accuracy; Regenerates extra accuracy per second; Unlocks and increases the effectiveness of Unity;

Squad-only Talents

You can figure out which belongs to which character.
Asari ScientistReduces recharge time on all Biotics; First Aid heals additional hit points; Reduces recharge time on First Aid.
Krogan BattlemasterRegenerates health per second; Increases melee damage; Increases resistance to physics forces.
Quarian MachinistIncreases protection to tech; Increases shield capacity.
Turian AgentImproves accuracy with all weapons; Increases damage with assault and sniper rifles.

Combat Talents

PistolsIncreases accuracy and damage with pistols; Grants Marksman.
ShotgunsIncreases accuracy and damage with shotguns; Grants Carnage.
Assault RiflesIncreases accuracy and damage with assault rifles; Grants Overkill.
Sniper RiflesIncreases accuracy and damage with sniper rifles; Grants Assassination. Even if you have this, only Infiltrators can zoom with a sniper rifle.
  Marksman, Carnage, Overkill, and Assassination all do the same thing when activated: increase rate of fire and decrease heat generated. The weapon you have out will determine which one appears on your quickslot bar.
Assault TrainingIncreases standard weapon damage; Increases the damage caused by rifle-butting and pistol-whipping; Grants Adrenaline Burst.
FitnessIncreases health; Grants Immunity.
Basic ArmorMakes light armor equipable; Increases damage protection; Grants Shield Boost.
Combat ArmorMakes medium and heavy armor equipable; Increases damage protection; Grants Shield Boost.
Tactical ArmorMakes light and medium armor equipable; Increases damage protection; Grants Shield Boost.

Biotic Talents

BarrierA biotic shield, on top of a suit's shield.
LiftRaises enemies and objects into the air and incapacitates them.
SingularityEnemies and objects get pulled towards a blob and orbit it.
StasisImmobilizes a single target.
ThrowPushes objects and enemies away from you.
WarpWeakens enemies' armor and inflicts damage over time.

Tech Talents

AI HackingTemporarily turns robotic enemies to your side.
DampingIncreases explosion radius of your tech proximity mines and shuts down enemy tech and biotic abilities.
DecryptionIncreases the amount of Omni-Gel recovered; Allows you to open secure containers; Grants Sabotage.
ElectronicsIncreases the strength of shields; Increases amount of hull restored when repairing the Mako; enables you to repair or bypass secure containers; Grants Overload.
First AidHeals wounded party members, including self.
HackingGrants AI Hacking; Lowers the cooldown of Sabotage, Overload, and Damping.
MedicineReduces cooldown on healing abilities; Grants Neural Shock.
Neural ShockTemporarily incapacitates an enemy; Inflicts toxic damage over time.
OverloadInflicts damage in an area; Inflicts damage to shields; Makes enemies more vulnerable to damage.
SabotageInflicts damage in an area; Overheats enemy weapons; Burns enemies over time.

last modified 21 March 2018