Shepard and squad members in Mass Effect can make use of six major types of equipment: weapons, armor, biotic amps, omni-tools, ammo upgrades, and armor upgrades. Equipment quality is rated in Roman numerals, I (one) being the weakest and X (ten) being the strongest. Equipment can be found in storage containers throughout the galaxy, can be acquired after defeating an enemy, or purchased from merchants. Shepard can carry no more than 150 items at a time, and will receive a warning as the limit is approached.
- Main article: Armor
There are three different classes of armor in Mass Effect: Light, Medium, and Heavy. The ability to wear a class of armor is dependent on Shepard's or the squad member's class and their level in their armor skill. Armor is uniquely race-specific, with four different types of armor:
Armor sets have three stats: Damage Protection, Shields, and Tech/Biotic protection. Higher levels of armor have higher stats across the board, but different models of armor have different strong points. Some armor manufacturers have hidden abilities. Armor from Devlon Industries provides immunity to level one environmental hazards, and Phoenix armor from Sirta Foundation boost health regeneration.
- Main article: Weapons
Weaponry in Mass Effect is based on mass accelerator technology. A weapon shaves a projectile the size of a sand grain from a dense block of metal. The projectile is launched at supersonic velocities by decreasing its mass in a mass effect field. Because of this, ammunition is never a concern, 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 its heat buildup. Weapons fall into four categories:
Only the Soldier class is capable of receiving training in all weapon types. Other classes have a selection of weapons for which they can receive training. Weapons have three stats: Damage, Accuracy, and Shots before Overheat. Higher levels of weapon inflict more damage, maintain greater accuracy, and can fire for longer time periods before overheating. Different models of weapons, however, place importance on specific attributes.
- Main article: Armor Upgrades
Most armor sets in Mass Effect have one slot to upgrade their effectiveness, but certain high-grade armors have two such slots. Armor upgrades have various beneficial effects, such as improving damage protection or shields, providing greater damage from melee attacks, or increase resistance to toxic environments.
- Main article: Weapon Upgrades
Nearly all weapons can be upgraded with one modification to its functionality. Some high grade weapons can accept two such upgrades, and weapons from Geth Armory do not accept upgrades. 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.
- Main article: Ammo Upgrades
Nearly all weapons can also accept an upgrade to its ammunition. Weapons from Geth Armory do not accept upgrades. Upgrades to ammo have effects on their target, such as poisoning or burning, but sometimes have negative effects, such as a slower rate of fire or greater heat generation.
- Main article: Grenade Upgrades
Shepard's supply of hand-grenades can also accept a modification to their payload, capable of special effects such as freezing or burning targets in the blast radius.
- Main article: Bio-amps
Biotics can synchronize the dozens of element zero nodules throughout their nervous system by using amps (amplifiers). Bio-amps are only used by classes with biotic specializations. Bio-amps have three stats: Duration Bonus, Power Bonus, and Cooldown Bonus. Higher level amps have better stats, with various models placing emphasis on certain stats.
- Main article: Omni-tools
Omni-tools are worn devices, appearing as an orange hologram over the forearm. Standard issue for soldiers and first-in colonists, they are multipurpose diagnostic tools combining a computer microframe, sensor analysis pack, and minifacturing fabricator. Versatile and reliable, omni-tools are used for a variety of battlefield tasks, such as hacking, decryption, or repair. They can analyze and adjust the functionality of most standard equipment and rapidly assemble small three-dimensional objects from common and reusable industrial plastics, ceramics, and light alloys, allowing for reparations and modifications in the field.
Omni-tools are only worn by classes with tech specializations. Omni-tools give bonuses to Shields, Tech Cooldown, and Medi-gel recharge. Higher levels of omni-tool have better stats, with various models placing emphasis on certain stats.
Medi-gel and Grenade Upgrades
These upgrades increase the number of medi-gel packs and grenades Shepard can carry. Initially, Shepard can carry five of each, and can acquire a total of five upgrades each, for a maximum of ten medi-gel packs and ten grenades.
The following table lists the pricing and availability for medi-gel and grenade upgrades. These prices may lower based on Shepard's charm skill.
|I||100||Morlan / Normandy Requisitions Officer||C-Sec Requisitions Officer / Normandy Requisitions Officer|
|II||3,125||Morlan / Expat / Petozi||Morlan / Opold|
|III||12,500||Opold / Commander Rentola / Expat||Expat / Commander Rentola / C-Sec Requisitions Officer|
|IV||56,000||C-Sec Requisitions Officer / Commander Rentola||C-Sec Requisitions Officer / Commander Rentola|
|V||110,000||Dr. Chloe Michel / Delan||Delan|
Mass Effect 2
Shepard and squad members in Mass Effect 2 can make use of weapons, armor, and their upgrades as found throughout the galaxy or acquired through DLC.
- Main article: Armor
In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard starts with the default N7 Armor. This armor can be customized with piecemeal parts for helmet, chest, shoulders, arms, and legs. These parts can be purchased at in-game stores or as DLC. There are also a number of visual customizations available including color, reflectiveness, and color pattern.
Alternatively, Commander Shepard can swap out the N7 Armor for another set of non-customizable armor available via DLC. Armor sets for squad members are predetermined in stats and appearance, and alternate appearances can be unlocked by completing the squad member's loyalty mission, or by purchasing an Alternate Appearance Pack DLC.
- Main article: Weapons
Since the events of Mass Effect, 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 around the environment.
The HUD element, in the lower left corner of the screen, shows how much ammunition remains in Shepard's equipped weapon. The number on the left (the one which decreases along with the nearby bar) shows how many shots remain before reloading is necessary. The other number, on the right, shows how many shots are available from backup clips. Shepard can manually reload a thermal clip at any time, or else will be forced to do so when the current clip becomes saturated with heat. 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. Heavy weapons can only be used by Shepard, and can be researched or purchased as DLC. Heavy weapons usually have special functionalities, such as homing in on a target or causing abnormally large and destructive explosions.
- Main article: Research
Upgrades for Armor and Weapons in Mass Effect 2 are available. These can either be purchased through shops, and are instantly available, or found throughout the galaxy, which then require researching aboard the Normandy SR-2 in the tech lab.
Upgrades to weapons have effects such as additional damage, ammunition capacity, and shield and armor piercing. These upgrades are applied by weapon type, and once they are unlocked, all weapons of that type receive the bonus. Cybernetic upgrades to Shepard offer increased health and melee damage. Medical and shield upgrades benefit Shepard and squad members, offering additional damage protection and medi-gel capacity, among other benefits. Upgrades to omni-tools and bio-amps benefit classes and squad members with tech and biotic abilities, respectively, offering increased damage and cooldown, among other benefits. Upgrades to squad members and the Normandy itself are available, throughout the galaxy and by talking to squad members themselves, and vary from character to character.
Mass Effect 3
Shepard and the squad make use of a variety of weapons while armor is again not customizable for squadmates. However, Shepard can once again piece together armor by finding and buying pieces, but other non-customizable armors are available, through purchase.
- Main article: Weapons
The use of thermal clips returns, along with the standard five weapon categories
Weapon use becomes even better, due to the lack of class restrictions on weapons. An Infiltrator Shepard could, for example, have all five weapons, however there is a counter balance. The weight of the weapon(s) Shepard carries determines power cooldown. Meaning the heavier the weapon loadout, the slower the cooldown. As weapons become upgraded from I (lowest) to X (highest), their weight will be reduced and other stats will be changed.
- Main article: Weapon Mods
Weapon modification returns, playing a larger part than it did in Mass Effect. Each weapon category has specific modifications, as well as modifications that span all five. Each weapon class however has its own special modifications that enhance the weapon in some way. These modifications can be purchased at various locations on the Citadel, found throughout the game, or from the Terminal in the Shuttle bay aboard the Normandy SR-2.
- Main article: Armor
Shepard can purchase different pieces of armor from vendors on the Citadel, as well as finding them on missions. The Commander starts the game with the standard N7 Armor and the areas of customization are Helmet, Chest, Shoulders, Arms, and Legs with a wide array of customizable colors. On the other hand, non-customizable sets of armor are available for purchase on the Citadel, while some are delivered directly to the Normandy. These include Inferno Armor, Blood Dragon Armor, Collector Armor, Cerberus Armor, N7 Defender Armor, and Terminus Armor. Each armor piece and set has its own boosts to various stats.
Armor for squad members has a predetermined bonus, and two different outfits are available immediately, with each providing a different boost for that particular squadmate. A third outfit can be gained by downloading the From Ashes DLC, but for some squadmates, the From Ashes outfit may just repeat one of the bonuses already available. Changing the outfits of squadmates can drastically affect how they perform on certain missions. Some squadmates can have up four outfits depending on DLC and preorders, though not necessarily four different stat boosts.