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Mass Effect Wiki
Disambiguous This article is about the biotic power Nova in Mass Effect 3. For the Nova skill in Mass Effect: Andromeda, see Nova (skill).

ME3 NovaNova is a biotic power in Mass Effect 3's single-player and multiplayer modes.

Power Ranks[]

Rank 1: Nova[]

Transfer the energy of your biotic barrier to charge and spark this deadly blast.

Barrier strength determines intensity.

  • Damage: 350
  • Force: 450 N
  • Radius: 4 m

Rank 2: Radius[]

Increase radius by 25%.

  • Damage: 350
  • Force: 450 N
  • Radius: 5 m

Rank 3: Force & Damage[]

Increase damage and force by 30%.

  • Damage: 455
  • Force: 585 N
  • Radius: 5 m

Rank 4: Force & Damage/Radius[]

Force & Damage

Increase damage and force by 40%.

  • Damage: 595
  • Force: 765 N
  • Radius: 5 m


Increase impact radius by 40%.

  • Damage: 455
  • Force: 585 N
  • Radius: 6.60 m

Rank 5: Power Recharge/Half Blast[]

Power Recharge

Increase recharge speed of all powers by 25% for 15 seconds.

Half Blast

Gain the option to use Nova two times in a row by reducing its barrier consumption by 50% but at the cost of reducing damage and force by 40%.

  • Damage: 455 (Force & Damage), 315 (Radius)
  • Force: 585 N (Force & Damage), 405 N (Radius)
  • Range: 5 m (Force & Damage), 6.60 m (Radius)

Rank 6: Pierce/Sustain[]


Increase damage to barriers, shields, and armored targets by 100%.


Nova gains a 25% chance of not using up barriers.

Player Notes[]

  • Nova deals 1.5x damage to biotic barriers and full damage to all other types of protection and health by default. The Pierce evolution at rank 6 increases the damage multiplier against barriers to 3x, and 2x against shields and armor.
  • Nova is a close-range power which utilizes a high-risk, high-reward combat system. While expending the remainder of the player's biotic barrier, Nova inflicts a high amount of damage to surrounding enemies, pushing them back or sending them flying. As with the Shockwave power Nova also penetrates cover and intervening terrain.
    • There is no cooldown—it can be used whenever the player has barrier remaining, though as the power description states the power of the blast is proportional to the amount of barrier used to create it.
    • The damage of Nova is based on the percentage of total shield remaining, not the raw shield strength number. Therefore, increases to shield strength from sources such as the Fitness power, single-player armor pieces, or equipment in multiplayer mode will not increase the damage of Nova.
  • Nova is the Vanguard's analog to a grenade ability; that is, it neither triggers or works off regular power cooldowns.
  • Nova has a large radius of effect and this is vertical as well as horizontal; since it also penetrates intervening terrain, Nova can be used to hit enemies on higher or lower elevations relative to the player.
  • Nova can hit a maximum of 3 enemy targets in both single-player and multiplayer.
  • Nova can be used to detonate all four types of Power Combos and its large area of effect, lack of normal cooldown, and ability to penetrate cover makes it ideal for this.
  • During the Nova animation, the player is invulnerable to almost all damage. This can be used to buy time for Charge to cool down, and you can dodge-cancel it if you want to save the barriers.
    • The player is more resistant to being stunned by many attacks but not immune; they are likewise not immune to being grabbed by husks or executed by enemies that can perform sync kills.
    • The timing to perform a dodge-cancel is to dodge in any direction (more reliable sideways), just as the Vanguard is at the "peak height" of the animation. Poor timing will either result in player not receiving any invulnerability frames from the Nova-cancel, or the player's barriers will be used/depleted.
  • The Power Recharge evolution's bonus applies regardless of whether Nova hits an enemy, so Nova can be cast purely to gain the 15 second cooldown speed buff before a fight. The buff will not apply if the Nova is dodge-cancelled—the animation must complete.
  • After shields are depleted by Nova, you are able to sustain one hit before health starts taking damage from enemy fire. This is because using Nova does not actually break the shield gate, so you can sustain one more hit before the shield actually "breaks" even though technically the shield amount is at zero. The "bullet time" time dilation of the shield gate breaking (single-player only) is useful either to line up a Charge to restore shields, or to escape to safety some other way.
  • Charge and Nova are the Vanguard's "signature" moves; as they are both central to the class's playstyle, see the Mass Effect 3 Vanguard Guide for more in-depth tactics and information.
  • Nova is an excellent way to follow a Biotic Charge, as you are nearly guaranteed to have shields to perform the attack, and the invulnerability period helps buy time for powers to come off cooldown so that Charge can be used again. Both Charge and Nova can stun nearby enemies, creating plenty of space and preventing you from being stunned or attacked.
    • If Biotic Charge is evolved specifically for speed and used in tandem with a light loadout, it can be regularly alternated with Nova. The near-instant cooldown of both abilities mitigates risk and makes a properly evolved Vanguard an incredibly powerful damage dealer on the battlefield.
    • Nova can be used in succession with Biotic Charge and a heavy melee to deliver a devastating "1-2-3" power combination punch, where a player can follow a Biotic Charge with a Nova attack and finish off enemies with heavy melee for even more damage, as well as damage reduction during the windup animation of the melee.
  • With the rank 6 Pierce evolution and enough bonuses to power damage from various sources like armor, upgrades, squadmates, Weapon Mods, and the Vanguard's class power, Nova can do enough damage to almost or even completely strip the shields from enemies such as Marauders and Centurions even on higher difficulties.
  • Keep in mind that Nova's damage is proportionate to the strength of your shield. If you take a lot of damage before executing the attack it will do far less damage. If your shield is fully depleted, you won't be able to Nova at all; this can prevent you from benefitting from its temporary invulnerability and result in taking even more damage or being killed before you can Charge again. This is one reason why taking on multiple enemies at once is ill-advised.
  • Nova is capped at 3 targets hit per use. This can make certain enemies such as Swarmers severely hamper an overly aggressive playstyle.
  • Even though you are still protected by the shield gate after fully depleting your shields with Nova, allowing the shield gate to break cheaply by using Nova recklessly can carry certain risks. The shield gate effect has a cooldown of several seconds before it is available again, so you can be much more vulnerable to extremely powerful enemy attacks such as shots from Cerberus Nemeses which can go all the way through your shields to severely injure your health without the gate. It's a good habit to use Charge immediately after Nova to avoid losing your gate protection, or even avoid using Nova altogether around especially heavy hitters; the Half Blast evolution can be a good way to preserve the shield gate as well.
  • Being able to prime opponents for Power Combos using weapon fire is a great way to ensure that Nova always deals good damage to nearby foes, even when casting it at low shield strength.
  • The reduced shield consumption of the rank 5 Half Blast will reduce Nova damage by 40%, but as compensation, if you are overwhelmed by enemies at longer ranges than your Nova will hit, you can make a quick getaway if everything hits the fan. Conversely, it can also be used again to polish off any enemies that are still left standing after the initial blast—this will guarantee eliminating weaker enemies from the fight. The damage/force penalty also has no effect on the damage caused by any Power Combos Nova can set off making it a useful evolution if you can consistently prime opponents for combos. The force component is also still sufficient to knock down weaker unshielded enemies and stagger protected foot soldiers.