Weapons in the Mass Effect universe are micro-scaled mass accelerators, using mass-reducing fields and magnetic force to propel miniature slugs to lethal speeds. Nearly every gun on the battlefield is laden with features, from targeting auto-assists to projectile shavers that can generate thousands of rounds of ammunition from a small, internal block of metal.

Mass Effect[edit | edit source]

In Mass Effect, to generate ammunition a weapon shaves a projectile the size of a sand grain from a dense block of metal contained within the weapon's body. The projectile is launched at supersonic velocities by decreasing its mass in a mass effect field. Thousands of these tiny rounds can be produced from a single ammunition block. Ammunition is never a concern because of this, but managing the weapon's internal heat is; if a weapon is fired too rapidly, heat will build up inside of the weapon and it will overheat, forcing the operator to stop firing long enough for the weapon to disperse that heat buildup.

Weapon Attributes[edit | edit source]

  • Damage - The amount of Damage inflicted on a targets Shields first, and then Health minus their Damage Protection (%) on a successful hit.
  • Shots before Overheat - The number of rounds a weapon may fire before being disabled due to overheating.
  • Accuracy Rating - Keep in mind each weapon has a unique HUD circle. Accuracy controls the size of the HUD circle and time to stabilize after zooming. Increasing accuracy shrinks the HUD circle and minimizes expansion. Each Weapon's HUD has 2 expansion sizes, triggered when moving or by rapid fire. Crouching effectively doubles the base accuracy of a weapon.

Weapons also have a level (I through X) which denote their overall quality. Higher level weapons inflict more damage, maintain greater accuracy, and can fire for longer time periods before overheating than lower level weapons.

Weapon Types[edit | edit source]

Weapons in Mass Effect fall into five categories:

Upgrades[edit | edit source]

Nearly all weapons can be upgraded with one modification to the weapon itself and one modification to its ammunition. Some high-grade weapons can accept two upgrades to the weapon itself. Weapons from Geth Armory do not accept upgrades to the weapon or its ammunition. Upgrades to weapons have various effects, such as increasing damage or stability, but often have negative effects as well, such as reducing shots before overheating. Upgrades to ammo also have effects, such as poisoning or burning targets, but sometimes have negative effects, such as a slower rate of fire or greater heat generation.

Mass Effect 2[edit | edit source]

See also: Thermal Clips

In Mass Effect 2, personal weapons have undergone a massive shift. It was discovered that, in an age of kinetic barriers, most firefights were won by the side who could put the most rounds downrange the fastest. As such, detachable heat sinks, known as thermal clips, were adopted first by the geth, and shortly thereafter by organic arms manufacturers. Ammunition may never be a concern with modern arms, but the availability of thermal clips is; weapons without thermal clips have nowhere to disperse their heat and are incapable of firing. Luckily, thermal clips litter modern battlefields, and can be obtained from fallen enemies or found lying around the environment.

Thermal clips become more likely to drop from slain enemies when the extra carried ammunition (i.e. not the rounds still in the weapon's magazine) for any of Shepard's weapons starts to drop below maximum capacity. Some enemy types will never drop thermal clips upon death, mainly those that don't utilize conventional weapons such as Husks. Occasionally some clips found in the environment are capable of "respawning" in the same location a short time after being picked up.

Thermal clips dropped by slain enemies restore a smaller amount of ammunition than clips found already lying around the environment. Picking up thermal clips will restore a flat amount of ammunition to all of Shepard's weapons not at full carrying capacity, the amount varying for each weapon type. Ammunition will not be restored to a weapon with an empty or partially empty magazine if the weapon is still at maximum capacity for extra clips, so weapons should always be reloaded before obtaining ammunition pickups to maximize the ammo regained.

The HUD element, in the lower left corner of the screen, shows how much ammunition the player has in their equipped weapon. The number on the left (the one which decreases along with the nearby bar) shows how many shots you can fire before you need to reload. The other number, on the right, shows how many shots are available from your backup clips. The player can manually "reload" a thermal clip at any time, or Shepard will automatically do so when the current clip becomes saturated with heat. Reloading a new clip before using up all of the rounds in a magazine will not waste the remaining rounds

Weapon Types[edit | edit source]

Weapons in Mass Effect 2 fall into six categories:

Only the Soldier class is capable of wielding all weapon types, with the exception of submachine guns; other classes have a selection of weapons they can wield. Heavy weapons, carried only by Shepard, are unique from other classes of weapon in Mass Effect 2 because they use power cells instead of thermal clips. These power cells can be found in crates throughout the environment and are usually an important find because heavy weapon ammo is not automatically refilled to maximum between missions like the ammunition of other weapons. Power cells will also restore a large amount of ammunition to non-heavy weapons at no penalty to the amount of heavy weapon ammo restored. Picking up power cells while at full heavy weapon ammo capacity will refill the ammo of other weapons and also salvage 100 credits. Heavy weapons can only be used by Shepard and not squadmates. They can be researched, unlocked with DLC, and occasionally, found on missions. Heavy weapons usually have special functionalities not available from other weapon types such as homing in on a target, stunning or disabling enemies, or causing damage in large areas.

Upgrades[edit | edit source]

Upgrades in Mass Effect 2 are not weapon-specific modifications. Instead, the player obtains upgrades through research which apply across an entire weapon type. For example, an Assault Rifle Damage upgrade will boost the damage output of all assault rifles that the player owns, not just a specific model.

Ammo Powers[edit | edit source]

Another fundamental change from Mass Effect is how ammo types for weapons can be modified. Previously, a given weapon could be upgraded to use Cryo Rounds to freeze enemies or Proton Rounds to cut through their shields. In Mass Effect 2, ammo for all weapon types except heavy weapons can be modified through the use of different powers which can be applied at any time at the cost of a very short cooldown. Ammo powers usually provide weapons with a damage bonus to specific types of protection or health and often secondary effects as well, all of which become more powerful with rank.

The ammo powers available in Mass Effect 2 are:

All of the ammo powers have rank 4 evolutions that can share the power to all members of Shepard's squad. Only one ammo power can be active per weapon, and activating a squad-evolved ammo power will override other active ammo powers for the currently selected weapons only. Which ammo power is active can be verified either from looking at which power icon is highlighted in the HUD, or by visually inspecting weapons for a glowing holographic effect color-coded for each ammo power, or by firing a weapon as each ammo power imparts a distinctive colored particle effect to the firing bursts, bullet trails, and shot impacts of the weapons they are active on.

The following squadmates all can have ammo powers of their own: Garrus Vakarian, Grunt, Jack, Jacob Taylor, Thane Krios, and Zaeed Massani. Shepard can have access to various ammo powers either as either native class powers or as bonus powers. Various enemies in Mass Effect 2 can also use ammo powers at higher difficulty settings.

Mass Effect 3[edit | edit source]

The weapons system in Mass Effect 3 is expanded by incorporating systems from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Like in the original Mass Effect, a large number of possible weapons and weapon modifications are available in Mass Effect 3. Also like in Mass Effect, new weapons and mods can be found during missions by exploring carefully, while others are available for purchase at various locations. Once found, a weapon or mod is "unlocked" and becomes available for use by Shepard and squadmates able to use the item without any restriction on quantity. This improves on Mass Effect 2's general lack of item variety while retaining its more efficient inventory management by preventing redundant item finds. Weapons can be selected and modified at the beginning of missions with occasional opportunities to change loadouts at specific points within certain missions as well. Finding a new weapon on a mission provides an opportunity to change weapons for Shepard and the squad right then and there, but only to change weapon types, not weapon mods. Both weapons and weapon mods can be changed at weapon benches found during missions, at the start of missions (or by choosing to restart the mission), and aboard the Normandy Shuttle Bay between missions.

Weapon Upgrades[edit | edit source]

Weapon levels have also been brought back from Mass Effect, but they no longer depend on random drops or player level but are instead upgraded. Upgrades increase a weapon's reserve ammo capacity, damage and accuracy while also reducing its weight. Weapons can be upgraded at a terminal in the Shuttle Bay (and at the Armax Arsenal Arena if the Citadel DLC has been installed and is available) at a cost in credits that increases with each upgrade level. Weapons can be upgraded up to level V on a first playthrough; creating a New Game Plus will carry over the pre-existing upgrade level and also allow additional upgrades to a maximum of level X. In a New Game Plus, finding the weapon in-game adds three levels and is the only way to reach level X for weapons that are found during missions. If such a weapon is already at level X it will no longer be found during missions. Players looking to conserve credits on a subsequent playthrough should purchase the lower level upgrades while waiting to find the weapon during a mission to provide levels VIII, IX, and X at no cost. Because of the limitations on upgrades based on the playthrough and on what missions certain weapons can be found, it can take until a third playthrough to have certain guns available at level X from the start of the game without the use of PC tweaks.

Note: If a weapon that can be found during missions is missed during a first playthrough it will enter the inventory at level III on subsequent playthroughs (with the exception of the M-3 Predator pistol).

Note: Certain weapons aren't found during missions but instead are only purchasable from the Spectre Requisitions office or included with DLC such as the Firefight Pack and Groundside Resistance Pack. These weapons can be upgraded up to level V on a first playthrough and up to level X on subsequent playthroughs without restriction aside from the cost in credits.

Stats are also listed with Base Weight, Capacity, Fire Rate, Damage, and Accuracy.

Weapon Types[edit | edit source]

In Mass Effect, Shepard's class determined what weapons could be used effectively, while in Mass Effect 2 it determined which could even be carried at all. In Mass Effect 3, any class can carry up to five total weapons, with no more than one chosen from each of the five equipable weapon types; however, the total weapon loadout is subject to a weight limit. Exceeding weight capacity increases power recharge times while going underweight decreases them. SMGs and pistols are the lightest weapons while the most damaging shotguns and rifles are the heaviest. This system allows players to customize their builds extensively: classes wanting to use powers as their primary attack method can choose to equip a light weapon loadout; conversely, any class has the freedom to carry more heavy-hitting weapons if desired though at the cost of rapid power use. Some classes can be built to carry heavier weapon combinations without receiving penalties to power recharge speed.

Weapons in Mass Effect 3 all fall under one of the following categories:

Heavy weapons are no longer available as inventory selections in Mass Effect 3 and can now only be found as limited-use pickups during certain missions.

Weapon Mods[edit | edit source]

Main article: Weapon Mods

Weapon modification returns from the original Mass Effect, though with some changes. Each weapon class has specific modifications available to it that can be equipped on any weapon of that class but not across classes. Every weapon has two available slots for mod customization, though certain combinations of mods aren't possible. Weapon modifications can be found throughout the game during missions, or purchased at various locations on the Citadel or via the Procurement Terminal in the Shuttle Bay aboard the Normandy SR-2. If a certain mod is missed or not purchased during a first playthrough, they can be found or purchased in subsequent playthroughs.

Once a weapon mod is found, it may be applied to any and all of the weapons of the applicable type for Shepard or for squadmates. Finding another instance of a mod the player already possesses will upgrade that mod to the next level. Weapon mods can reach a maximum level of 5; some mods can't reach level 5 on an initial playthrough due to limited availability. Shops will always carry mods one level above those the player currently has.

The weapon mods available in Mass Effect 3 fall under the following categories:

Ammo Powers[edit | edit source]

Ammo powers return in Mass Effect 3 and in single player work much the same way as they did in Mass Effect 2. However, one improvement in Mass Effect 3 is that ammo powers no longer have a recharge time and can still be activated even when other powers are on cooldown. In single player, evolutions of ammo powers that share the power with party members still exist but the ammo power will work at reduced effectiveness for all but the owner of the power. The following squadmates have access to ammo powers of their own: Ashley Williams, James Vega, Garrus Vakarian, and Liara T'Soni. Shepard can have access to ammo powers either as class powers or as bonus powers.

The ammo powers available in single player Mass Effect 3 are:

In multiplayer ammo powers work differently as they are not native character powers but instead can be obtained as one-time use equipment for missions.

Mass Effect: Andromeda[edit | edit source]

See also: Weapons (Mass Effect: Andromeda)

Weapon Types[edit | edit source]

Weapons in Mass Effect: Andromeda are in the following categories:

Weapon Customization[edit | edit source]

Weapons can be customized by two different methods in Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Weapon Modifications[edit | edit source]

Main article: Mods

Mods are customizations that are exclusive to weapons only in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Mods use round-shaped sockets on a weapon and can only be changed at a Loadout terminal.

Weapon Augmentations[edit | edit source]

Main article: Augmentations

Augmentations are semi-permanent customizations to crafted weapons or armor in Mass Effect: Andromeda. When a weapon is created during Development (crafting), hexagonal-shaped sockets are available to add Augmentations to the weapon. These augmentations cannot be changed like weapon Mods and stay part of that weapon until it is deconstructed.

See Also[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • According to the Mass Effect concept art books, all guns were designed with two barrels primarily for appearance rather than functionality. They were there to create a look that's unique to the franchise. They were originally chrome, then later changed to make them more practical for military use.
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