Vanguard Build Guide | Mass Effect 2 Legendary Edition

Vanguard Build Guide | Mass Effect 2 Legendary Edition

This Vanguard Mass Effect 2 Build Guide will cover the best Vanguard Build for (Mass Effect 2), which is an optimized Champion Vanguard Build for close-range combat. I’ll be sharing the best Powers to prioritize, what it means to choose the Champion Specialization for your Vanguard, the optimal Weapons, Armor, and Upgrades to use, and the Squadmates to take with you on Missions and Assignments. If you’ve been looking for a way to effectively play as a Vanguard then this guide is for you.

Vanguard Build Guide | Mass Effect 2 Legendary Edition

The Vanguard Class specializes in dealing massive damage at point-blank range and sometimes, even killing enemies with just one shot thanks to their expertise in wielding a Shotgun. In case they run out of Shotgun Ammo, Vanguards can simply switch to using the Submachine Gun. If they have to inflict mid-range damage, they can use a Heavy Pistol instead as it provides decent accuracy and damage at this distance.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition Vanguard Build (Mass Effect 2)

What makes the Vanguard menacing, in addition to high Weapon Damage is their Biotic Powers. They can immobilize enemies by knocking them off of their feet and by suspending them up in the air with Shockwave and Pull.

Mass Effect 2 Pull in Combat (Vanguard)

The Champion Vanguard Build maximizes their capability of dealing burst damage up close with the Charge Power, which provides instant access to enemies by ramming into them. This pairs extremely well with their Shotgun usage making one-shot kills their staple technique. As such, they are often touted as a very risky Class to play since they become susceptible to incoming and occasionally deadly attacks, every time they move closer to their enemies.

Powers – Vanguard (Mass Effect 2)

In this section, I’ll talk about the different Biotic, Combat and Bonus Powers that you should focus on to make the most out of your Champion Vanguard Build. Note that the number of Power or Squad Points I’ve allocated is based on reaching Level 30. Moreover, there’s no strict sequence when it comes to unlocking one Power first over another, and instead, it’ll depend on your preferences.

Biotic Powers



This Power is an AoE Ability that emits a strong and explosive mass effect field in a straight line from where you’re in order to damage and to knock enemies off of their feet, specifically unprotected ones like Husks. Shockwave can even kill them if its rank is high enough due to its massive Impact Force.

Mass Effect 2 Shockwave in Combat (Vanguard)

With protected enemies, though this Power is able to still inflict damage, it won’t knock them down. Instead, it staggers them briefly so it’s important to strip down their defenses first. Shockwave is useful as it continues to function effectively even when enemies are hiding behind a cover.

This Power is a great diversion if there are an overwhelming number of enemies in the area because it can momentarily disable and disorient them, giving you time to bounce back. I recommend investing 6 points into Shockwave to reach Rank 3 so you can utilize an Impact Force of 500 Newtons at a wider Impact Radius.


This Power makes an enemy float in the air rendering them useless and making them more susceptible to incoming attacks. As a result, you can save ammo since affected enemies can be easily destabilized. Note that the direction by which a pulled target levitates towards is dependent on the angle you’ve activated this Power. This means that if you aim at the enemy’s left side, then they will be pulled from there.

Mass Effect 2 Pull Command HUD (Vanguard)

If they’re hiding behind a cover and you use Pull, it will bounce on the enemy, hitting them from the top, which will then heave them upwards. Similar to Shockwave, Husks can die when subjected to Pull since they’re unprotected and weak. For protected enemies, Pull will only slightly stagger them, if at all. Because of this, you’ll need the assistance of your Squad to strip them of their defenses in order to effectively use this Power.

Its Recharge Time is also faster at 3 seconds versus Shockwave’s 6 seconds, making it possible to use Pull in quick succession. I recommend investing 3 points into Pull to reach Rank 2 because it will be enough to make enemies levitate and vulnerable for 7 seconds.

Mass Effect 2 Pull Rank 2

Combat Powers

In Mass Effect 2, Ammo Powers determine the type of damage you inflict. Unlike other Powers, the duration of Ammo Powers lasts until you activate another type of Ammo. For the Vanguard, you can choose between using the Incendiary Ammo or the Cryo Ammo.

Incendiary Ammo

This Power is very effective against burning down Armor, wounding Organics, and hindering HP regeneration making it very potent in numerous encounters. Additionally, Incendiary Ammo causes severe panic amongst unprotected enemies, which discombobulates them. Against the HP of Synthetics or robotic enemies however, this isn’t as useful since they’re resistant to Fire Damage. Note that despite the enemy type, Incendiary Ammo continues to deal massive damage against Armor.

Mass Effect 2 Inferno Ammo UI (Vanguard)

I recommend investing the maximum number of points at 10 into Incendiary Ammo to reach Rank 4. Between its two evolutions, you can choose Inferno or Squad Incendiary Ammo. Inferno Ammo provides you with extra 60% Fire Damage over time. Because of this explosive impact, you’ll also end up burning enemies within 3 meters of the Blast Radius. Comparatively, Squad Incendiary Ammo activates this Power for your Squadmates allowing everyone to cause an extra 40% Fire Damage. I suggest selecting Inferno Ammo due to the higher Fire and AoE Damage you can inflict over time especially since you’ll be dealing with enemies up close.

Cryo Ammo

This Power lets you freeze and potentially shatter unprotected enemies so you can disable and kill them instantly. Freezing also causes them to be vulnerable to incoming attacks. One caveat of this Power is it’s not effective when enemies are still protected with Armor, Shields or Barriers so you’ll have to destroy these beforehand. I recommend investing just 1 Squad Point into Cryo Ammo as this is already enough to stop unprotected enemies on their tracks for 3 seconds.

Mass Effect 2 Cryo Ammo Rank 1 (Vanguard)

Bonus Power

In Mass Effect 2, you can add one Bonus Power to Shepard at a time. This is earned by completing your Squadmates’ Loyalty Missions. You’ll then be able to add and use your chosen Bonus Power via the Research Terminal in the Tech Lab. Note that every time you change your Bonus Power, you’ll have to pay 5,000 Element Zero Resources.


This Power targets the enemy’s nervous system to damage them over time and to hinder HP restoration. Reave is very potent against Armor and Barriers and upon hitting Organics or live enemies, you regenerate a portion of your HP while getting a temporary HP boost. This Power can be obtained by completing Samara’s Loyalty Mission.

Reave is the best Bonus Power for the Vanguard because it provides you extra HP when fighting against Organics while dealing sufficient damage to strip down defenses prior to using Charge. Note that regardless of the evolution you choose, you’ll have to wait for 6 seconds before you can follow it up with Charge. In cases when enemies are too far for Charge to work, you can rely on Reave to eliminate them.

I recommend investing the maximum number of points at 10 into Reave to reach Rank 4. Between its two evolutions, you can choose Heavy or Area Reave. Heavy Reave is a directed attack against one enemy that inflicts more Biotic Damage over a longer period of time whereas Area Reave widens the Power’s Impact Radius to affect multiple targets. I suggest selecting Area Reave since this works very well in terms of stripping down the group’s defenses while dealing 40 points of damage. Besides, the extra 1.5 seconds for Heavy Reave isn’t really impactful.

Mass Effect 2 Area Reave (Vanguard)

Champion Specialization – Vanguard (Mass Effect 2)


The Vanguard’s Unique Class Power is Charge, which rapidly propels you straight into the enemy to deal Force Damage and to knock them back. Unprotected enemies fly into the air while protected ones are often staggered. Charge is the best power that goes perfectly well with a Shotgun when you’re up against enemies who wear Armor and Barriers because you successfully increase the chances of stripping down their defenses while blasting them down at point-blank range.

What’s more is your damage is doubled, raising the probability of killing your enemies with one shot. Starting at Rank 2, you also get extra 50% Shields. Not only can you knock back enemies while dealing massive damage, but you also improve your survivability from incoming attacks, even for just a few seconds especially when your initial Shields have been depleted. This Power can even save you in clutch moments when you’re surrounded by numerous enemies. You can simply target a secluded enemy using Charge in order to escape from further danger.

Mass Effect 2 Charge Combat (Vanguard)

With Charge, there are a few things you’ll have to remember. Enemies very far away from you are off limits. Additionally, when there are too many enemies with little to no cover in the area, do not use Charge, otherwise you’ll easily die even if you have new Shields to protect you. 4 seconds isn’t enough to save you from them. If using Charge isn’t possible, you can use other Powers like Reave, Shockwave and Pull together with a Heavy Pistol as an alternative.

I recommend investing the maximum number of points at 10 into Charge to reach Rank 4. Between its two evolutions, you can choose Heavy or Area Charge. Heavy Charge deals a higher Impact Force at 1,000 Newtons and maximizes your Shields regeneration at 100%. Moreover, upon impact, the world slows down from your perspective, giving you time to plan out your next move. Comparatively, Area Charge broadens your attack to affect multiple enemies at once with a wider Impact Radius. I highly advise selecting Heavy Charge since this provides you with 100% Shield Strength and a brief time dilation advantage, which are enough to sustain your durability while giving you extra time to find a suitable place to hide.

Mass Effect 2 Heavy Charge (Vanguard)

Assault Mastery

Assault Mastery is the Power you should focus on when it comes to choosing your Vanguard’s Specialization. As it ranks up, your HP and Weapon Damage increase while the recharge time of your Powers decreases. When you reach Rank 4, you’ll get to choose between Destroyer or Champion. Destroyer boosts your Weapon and Power Damage by 15% each while Champion focuses more on increasing your HP by 20% and Power Duration by 15%. I recommend selecting Champion because this drastically improves your survivability rate in order to withstand attacks while dealing massive damage for a longer period of time.

Mass Effect 2 Champion Specialization (Vanguard)

Squadmates – Vanguard (Mass Effect 2)

Every time Shepard explores the different clusters of the Galaxy, you’ll have to select 2 Squadmates or Companions to bring with you, similar to the previous game. Remember that their levels are the same as yours even for those who are left behind in the Normandy. Since your Squadmates’ Powers are fewer than Shepard’s, they receive lesser points every time they level up.

Miranda Lawson

As a Champion Vanguard, you specialize in dealing Tech and Biotic Attacks, however, you lack the Tech Powers necessary to debuff enemies, especially those wearing Shields. Because of this, your ammo is frequently consumed and your durability decreases since it takes time to eliminate them. As such, it’s best to bring Miranda Lawson who is both a Tech and Biotic Specialist.

Miranda is readily available at the start of Mass Effect 2 as she’s part of the group you’re working for. She has Powers that annihilate any type of enemy defense, may it be Armor, Shields and Barriers. She has Overload that not only overheats enemy Weapons, thereby rendering them useless, but it also severely damages Shields and Synthetics, stunning the latter in the process. Miranda also has Warp, which uses a mass effect field to damage enemies and to prevent their HP regeneration. This Power is very useful against Armor and Barriers. Moreover after you’ve activated Pull, you can use Warp right away since it serves as a Detonator to deal extra damage.

Mass Effect 2 Miranda Lawson

Miranda’s most notable Power is Slam, which is also one of the Bonus Powers you can select after completing her Loyalty Mission called The Prodigal. What makes Slam better than Pull is it briefly suspends the enemy in the air and then slams them to the ground to inflict tremendous damage upon impact. This is best coupled with Pull because when Miranda hits a levitating and unprotected enemy with Slam, they will instantly crash into the ground, possibly killing them.

Despite these amazing Tech and Biotic Powers, Miranda lacks proficiency with Weapons other than the Heavy Pistol and Submachine Gun. As such, you’ll need another Squadmate who can wield decent Weapons to inflict damage from afar.

Garrus Vakarian

In order to balance your need for additional firepower, you’ll need a durable Combat and Tech Specialist, specifically, Garrus Vakarian. Without spoiling much, you can recruit him pretty early in the game.

Mass Effect 2 Garrus Vakarian

Like Miranda, Garrus also has Overload. However, what makes him truly shine is his mastery when it comes to Combat Skills. Garrus is proficient with Assault and Sniper Rifles, allowing him to deal mid to long-range damage. This makes him very useful to clear enemies that your Vanguard cannot reach with Charge or to eliminate some of them so you can use this Power to deal with deadlier bosses. He also has Concussive Shot to damage and to knock down enemies, making them vulnerable to your Squad’s attacks, and Armor-Piercing Ammo, which is yet another Bonus Power you can select after completing his Eye for an Eye Loyalty Mission. Armor-Piercing Ammo as the name implies, pierces the enemy’s protective layer to inflict more than 50% extra damage to their Armor and HP.

Weapons – Vanguard (Mass Effect 2)

When it comes to Weapons, the Champion Vanguard is trained at using the Shotgun, Heavy Pistol, Submachine Gun, and Heavy Weapon. Out of these four Weapons, you can direct your focus to upgrading the Shotgun and Heavy Pistol the most since you’ll primarily use these in combat.


The best Shotgun is the M-300 Claymore, which you can acquire while doing the Collector Ship Mission. It’s  effective against Armor, Shields and Barriers. In combination with Charge, this can easily one-shot unprotected enemies at point-blank range.

The caveat to using the M-300 Claymore is its Single Shot Ammo Per Clip. Every time you shoot an enemy, you’ll have to reload. This makes you vulnerable to them. As such, you’ll have to be ready to run towards a suitable cover to protect yourself from incoming attacks. Additionally, this Shotgun’s Clip Size is also pretty small but this can be increased by researching Shotgun Upgrades. Note that the M-300 Claymore’s Accuracy is low and its Recoil is high, making it quite tricky to use at the start.

Mass Effect 2 M-300 Claymore Shotgun

Heavy Pistol

The best Heavy Pistol is the M-5 Phalanx. It’s effective against Armor but weak versus Barriers and Shields. This Weapon is viable at dealing mid-range damage when you have to eliminate groups of enemies first before executing Charge in order to lessen the risk of numerous incoming attacks. Compared to other Heavy Pistols, its Ammo Per Clip is minimal. To take advantage of its below average ammo, you can activate Cryo Ammo in order to deal double damage while firing lesser shots.

Mass Effect 2 M-5 Phalanx Heavy Pistol

Submachine Gun

When it comes to using a Submachine Gun, you can either pick the M-9 Tempest from the Dossier: Tali Mission or M-12 Locust from the Kasumi’s Loyalty Mission.  M-9 Tempest is very effective against Barriers and Shields whereas M-12 Locust is effective against all enemy defenses. You’ll be using the Submachine Gun as backup, only when you run out of Shotgun Ammo.

Mass Effect 2 M-9 Tempest

Heavy Weapon

When it comes to using a Heavy Weapon, there are a lot of options to choose from. However, I do recommend the M-66 Avalanche or M-920 Cain, which are part of a Research Project in the Research Terminal. Both Heavy Weapons are very effective when inflicting great damage against Armor, Shields and Barriers.

Weapon Upgrades – Vanguard (Mass Effect 2)

When it comes to improving the performances of your Weapons, you’ll have to collect Upgrades from Missions, Assignments, Squadmates and Merchants. You can then use the Research Terminal in the Normandy’s Tech Lab to research and to apply these Upgrades thereafter. When you do, you’ll pay using credits or Resources. Note that some Upgrades require prerequisites by leveling up others first in order to unlock them.


For the M-300 Claymore, you’ll need to research 3 Upgrades, specifically the Synchronized Pulsar, Microphasic Pulse, and Thermal Sink. The Synchronized Pulsar buffs your overall Shotgun damage by a total of 60% when it reaches Level 6. The Microphasic Pulse is a Shield Piercing Upgrade that considerably boosts your firepower damage against Shields and Barriers. Lastly, Thermal Sink provides double the Shotgun rounds doubling your Clip Size.

Mass Effect 2 Microphasic Pulse

Heavy Pistol

For the M-5 Phalanx, you’ll also need to research 3 Upgrades, specifically the Titan Pulsar, Sabot Jacketing, and Smart Rounds. Titan Pulsar boosts your overall Heavy Pistol damage when it reaches Level 6. Sabot Jacketing increases your Heavy Pistol Damage by half against Armor. Lastly, Smart Rounds sometimes doubles the damage you deal with a Heavy Pistol.

Submachine Gun

For the M-9 Tempest or M-12 Locust, you should at least get Heat Sink Capacity because it increases your rounds by 50%.

Mass Effect 2 Heat Sink Capacity

Heavy Weapon

Note that Heavy Weapons don’t receive damage Upgrades unlike the other Weapons. Instead, its Upgrade is concentrated on increasing Power Cell Capacity, which corresponds to the Microfusion Array. At Level 6, your total Heavy Weapon capacity will have increased by a total of 90%.

Armor and Other Upgrades – Vanguard (Mass Effect 2)

When it comes to Armor, you can choose to equip an Armor Set or customized Armor, which allows you to swap pieces to make improvements. For the Champion Vanguard Build, the Kestrel Armor is the best Armor Set that you can get because of its significant boosts to Melee Damage, Weapon Damage, and Shield Strength. These stats are excellent in making sure that you continue to have an optimal performance at point-blank range while significantly raising your survivability.

Mass Effect 2 Kestrel Armor (Vanguard)

What makes the Kestrel Armor more amazing is that you can customize it, however when you do, note that some of the bonuses I’ve mentioned will not carry over. If in case you find suitable replacements that you can get from the customizable N7 Armor or merchants, you may swap the pieces as needed.

When it comes to improving the Champion Vanguard’s durability, you can further add Armor Upgrades to increase your protection from damage as well as your max HP and Bio-Amp Upgrades to improve the performance of your Biotic Powers.

Shield Upgrades

For Shield Upgrades, it’s imperative to get Ablative VI and Nanocrystal Shield. Ablative VI notably increases your Shields at Level 6. On the other hand, the Nanocrystal Shield reduces the damage your Shield receives by 20%. Both of these Shield Upgrades significantly increase your protection from damage to improve your durability especially at close encounters.

Cybernetic Upgrades

For Cybernetic Upgrades, you’ll have to fully invest in all of three of them, specifically the Lattice Shunting, Skeletal Lattice, and Microfiber Weave. Lattice Shunting significantly increases your HP at Level 7. Skeletal Lattice reduces the damage your HP receives by half. This is especially important after using Charge to prevent dying since you’ll be getting the attention of all nearby enemies. Lastly, Microfiber Weave lets you deal an additional 25% Melee Damage.

Mass Effect 2 Microfiber Weave

As an alternative to using a Submachine Gun should you run out of Shotgun Ammo, inflicting Melee Attacks to supplement your aggressive playstyle should give you an advantage. Accounting for this Upgrade, Charge to instantly move in front of enemies, and the bonus you get from the Kestrel Armor Set, your total additional Melee Damage is now equal to 55%. As a result, it’s enough to finish off enemies with low HP if you still have sufficient HP and Shields yourself.

Bio-Amp Upgrades

Since the Champion Vanguard is partially a Biotic, it’s essential to acquire some Bio-Amp Upgrades, specifically the Hyper-Amp and Smart Amplifier. Hyper-Amp considerably boosts your Biotic Damage by more than half at Level 6. On the other hand, Smart Amplifier quickens the cooldown time of your Biotic Powers so you’ll be able to use Charge and Reave more often. The Recharge Times of both Powers will now become 4.8 seconds instead of 6.

Final Tips – Vanguard (Mass Effect 2)

Due to the different protective layers that your enemies have, you’ll need to remember to use the right Powers to break these down. This is easily distinguishable since Powers that don’t affect them are colored red with a downward arrow. If its color changes to orange, then you should be able to effectively deal damage to their Armor, Shields and Barriers.

It’s worth remembering that the Champion Vanguard’s weaknesses include rushing towards enemies because of how vulnerable they become together with dealing damage from afar. To combat these issues, you’ll have to reduce the volume of enemies surrounding the area before using Charge, otherwise, you could easily die. You’ll also have to utilize the strengths of your Squadmates. Miranda is excellent at annihilating any protective layer out there while Garrus is skilled at shooting with Assault and Sniper Rifles to deal mid to long-range damage.

Lastly, make sure to level up your Upgrades as much as you can in order to take advantage of the boosts they provide so you can eliminate enemies efficiently, thereby lowering the chances of getting killed yourself.

Mass Effect 2 Lattice Shunting

Stay tuned for more Build Guides for Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, and be sure to check out the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition Wiki if you have questions about the game!

I enjoy playing RPGs, narrative-driven games, and platformers. Outside of gaming, I like watching meaningful movies and reading sci-fi and dystopian books.

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