Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Every Class Ranked Worst to Best

Every Mass Effect class is great in its own way, but which class is the absolute best across the trilogy and for an Insanity mode run?

Mass Effect
Photo: EA

While picking a class isn’t the most daunting decision you’ll make in the Legendary Edition of the Mass Effect trilogy, new and returning players may initially struggle to choose a character class for their custom Shepard out of fear that they’ll somehow miss out on some crucial aspect of the game or make things harder for themselves by choosing a bad class.

Well, there are numerous ways that your choice of class will ultimately impact your playthrough, but the good news is that there aren’t really any “bad” classes in Mass Effect. The best class is still the one that you want to play the most, and because you have the ability to change your class at the start of each game, you’re not necessarily committed to making what you might eventually view as the “wrong” decision.

However, if you’re looking for a slightly more comprehensive overview of Mass Effect‘s six character classes and how they perform in each game, then here it is:

Soldier Is a Somewhat Boring (But Powerful and Reliable) Class for the Entire Mass Effect Trilogy

Mass Effect‘s Soldier class has sometimes been referred to as the game’s standard third-person shooter option, and there is some truth to that. Playing as a soldier in Mass Effect means spending a lot of time behind cover and relying on the franchise’s arsenal of firearms over the Biotic and technical abilities other classes get to enjoy.

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However, there is certainly something to be said for the consistency of the Soldier class. Soldiers are durable, powerful, and, once you accept that you’re going to be relying pretty much entirely on guns, surprisingly versatile in terms of their ability to find a way out of even some of the most difficult combat scenarios. Indeed, the Soldier’s health regeneration abilities alone are often enough to help you outlast some of Mass Effect‘s toughest fights.

It’s tempting to look down on soldiers for being a little more “generic,” but they can be surprisingly fun to play as once you start to build them up a bit, and they’re certainly one of the most capable overall classes in the series.

Adept is Mass Effect’s Mage Equivalent (With a Few Interesting Twists)

The Adept is pretty much the opposite of the Soldier class in that they’re just slightly better than useless when it comes to gunplay but can take advantage of a wide range of Biotic abilities (which are basically the Mass Effect equivalent of spells).

While there are times when your Adept will essentially be hurling sci-fi fireballs to take out enemies Adepts in Mass Effect often rely on a series of elaborate trap and draining abilities to toss foes around or simply wear them down.

You will obviously need to rely on your squadmates to deal certain types of physical damage if you choose to play as an Adept, but most classes in Mass Effect are dependent on their squadmates to some degree, and Adepts’ high ceiling makes it that much easier to put up with their occasional weaknesses.

Engineers Are Mass Effect’s Version of a Pet/Support Class

Engineers are a somewhat strange class compared to the other specialization options in Mass Effect. If you’re looking to compare them to more “traditional” RPG classes, I’d say that Engineers combine elements of support characters and pet-based hunters.

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In combat, Engineers essentially rely on their hacking skills to disrupt certain enemies (and turn them against each other) as well a variety of drone assistants that basically serve as additional squadmates. They’re also pretty much the best “healer” class in the game (though some of their abilities actually offer additional defensive options and quick recharge times).

While Engineers aren’t quite as versatile in the first Mass Effect as they are in the sequels, they offer an enjoyable playstyle that really lets you appreciate how powerful even this game’s “support” classes can be.

Mass Effect’s Sentinels Combine Engineering and Adept Abilities For a Fascinating Hybrid Style

Sentinels are one of Mass Effect‘s strangest (and most interesting) “hybrid” class options. Essentially a combination of the Adept and Engineering classes, they offer an array of Biotic and tech abilities but don’t benefit from some of the higher-end skills you get with those classes.

You might think that’s a notable downside, but what’s great about Sentinels is that their potent combination of tech and Biotic abilities means that they’re equipped to handle just about any situation that is thrown at them. Sentinels are durable, versatile, and surprisingly capable with a pistol.

This is another one of those classes that doesn’t really break out until the sequels, but Sentinels can absolutely get it done.

Mass Effect’s Vanguards Combine “Magic” and Guns For Close Range Mayhem

It’s easy to take a quick look at the Vanguard class and assume that it must be the best combat class in the game simply because it combines magic and gunplay. Truth be told, that assessment isn’t entirely inaccurate.

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While Vanguards do combine elements of those two distinct playstyles, the thing that really makes this class stand out is their reliance on close combat. Indeed, no other class demands that you throw yourself into the fray quite the way that Vanguards do. If you prefer to use a shotgun in these kinds of games, this is absolutely the class for you.

So while that style of play is naturally very risky and perhaps best pursued by players who are somewhat familiar with Mass Effect‘s basic combat mechanics, few classes boast the pure damage that experienced Vanguard players will ultimately dish out.

Infiltrators Use Sniper Rifles and Tech To Keep Themselves At a Distance

Essentially the opposite of the Vanguard class in many ways, Mass Effect‘s Infiltrator class relies on sniper rifles and Engineer-lite tech abilities to keep their distance in a fight and disrupt certain enemies.

You may think that the Infiltrator’s reliance on keeping their distance makes them somewhat limited, but their various tech abilities really do help them escape some especially tricky scenarios and survive fights where multiple enemies are threatening to close the gap.

For what it’s worth, it’s also incredibly fun to play as an Infiltrator as they offer a specific style of combat that no other class in the Mass Effect franchise can really match.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition – What is the Best Class for Mass Effect?

I’ll emphasize yet again that the best class to choose in Mass Effect is the one that you think you’ll enjoy playing the most, but here’s a rough ranking of the best and worst classes for the Legendary Edition of the first game in the franchise based on their power levels and reliability:

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Engineer, Sentinel, and Vanguard are only at the bottom section of this ranking because they are the three classes that really break out and find their identity in the later games. Sentinels are definitely better in the Legendary Edition version of Mass Effect than they are in the base version of the game, but you’ll still need to wait a little while before you see what they can really do.

Infiltrator is also a bit better in the sequels, but they’re arguably still your best overall option in Mass Effect if you want to pick a class that can use some of the game’s better tech abilities.

Ultimately, Soldier and Adept’s more “straightforward” designs make them some of the most reliable picks for the Legendary Edition of the first game. Again, most classes will do well on most difficulty levels, but I recommend going with one of those two if you’re looking for consistency.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition – What is the Best Class for Mass Effect 2?

Mass Effect 2 introduces quite a few new ideas, mechanics, and abilities that change the overall class rankings somewhat.

6. Adept

5. Engineer

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4. Vanguard

3. Soldier

2. Sentinel

1. Infiltrator

Truth be told, there’s not a lot that separates the “bottom” three spots on this ranking. Adepts struggle just a bit to keep up with some of the advantages that other classes enjoy in this sequel, but they’re still incredibly powerful (and a lot of fun). Engineers, meanwhile, greatly benefit from the ability to summon a combat drone, and Vanguard’s iconic Biotic Charge ability is simply one of the best offensive tools in the game.

I was tempted to move Soldiers up at least one spot on this ranking due to their durability, ammo power abilities, and versatility, but Sentinel and Infiltrator were ultimately just too good to ignore.

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Sentinels greatly benefit from new defensive abilities that essentially turn them into tanks, while Infiltrator’s Tactical Cloak ability really lets you take full advantage of their stealth-like nature in a way that just wasn’t possible in the first game.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition – What is the Best Class for Mass Effect 3?

Mass Effect 3‘s combat changes and new abilities really alter the existing class dynamics in some interesting ways.

6. Soldier

5. Adept

4. Engineer

3. Vanguard

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2. Infiltrator

1. Sentinel

Soldier finally takes it on the chin just a bit not because it necessarily got significantly worse in this game but because so many of the other classes got better in Mass Effect 3. Engineer also once again finds itself in the bottom part of the list, but don’t read too much into that. It’s still a versatile, unique, and enjoyable class that can hold its own once you learn to use it.

Adept was the hardest class to rank for ME 3. Ultimately, I think that Vanguards’ ridiculous power potential puts them in a class of their own at this point in the franchise while Infiltrator still packs a unique combination of defensive, offensive, and evasive capabilities. Adepts have the potential to be incredibly powerful in ME 3, but they just never fully return to their ME heights.

Ultimately, ME 3 really is the Sentinel show. By this point in the franchise, Sentinel’s inherent versatility is complimented by some dangerous new abilities that allow them to not just survive various situations but thrive in them. It’s as close to a “Swiss Army Knife” class in a Mass Effect game as you’re going to get.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition – What is the Best Class For an Insanity Run?

Generally speaking, the rankings above should give you a pretty good indication of which classes are best equipped to help you beat the Mass Effect trilogy on the hardest possible difficulty setting, Insanity. If you’re really curious, though, here are the best classes for and Insanity mode run across the entire trilogy:

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6. Vanguard

5. Adept

4. Engineer

3. Infiltrator

2. Soldier

1. Sentinel

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Again, if the idea is that you’re looking to stick to one class throughout your Insanity run, then Vanguard should probably be your “last place” choice. Those who have mastered the class probably won’t mind throwing themselves into the fray, but everyone else is going to make an already hard mode that much hard on themselves.

Adept is a strange Inanity class choice. It’s incredibly powerful, but just a little too squishy for what that mode demands.

Despite finding itself near the bottom of some of those individual game rankings, Engineers perform surprisingly well in Insanity mode due to the ways the class can distract and disable tougher enemies.

Infiltrator is a perfectly viable full Insanity run class that may struggle somewhat in the first game but gets noticeably better in the sequels.

That brings us to Soldier and Sentinel. Both classes benefit from their reliability, versatility, and defensive capabilities. Soldier may technically be the more consistent class for a full Insanity run, but the high-end potential of Sentinels combined with my personal belief that they’re more fun to play as makes them a fairly easy pick for the top spot in this category.

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