Best Vanguard Build guide

Best Vanguard Build guide - Mass Effect 2 (ME2)

By zanuffas
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This post will cover the best Vanguard build guide in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 2 Legendary Edition. This is a very interesting class that mixes close-quarter combat, ranged combat, and Biotic abilities.

Best Vanguard Build

The Vanguard build is a very risky build that fights close to the enemies. Its main advantage is the Charge ability that allows getting close to enemies and instantly restore shields. After this enemies will be shredded to pieces with the Shotgun

vanguard charge mass effect 2

It requires some practice to pull off on higher difficulties because enemies can take out Shepard from a few shots. You should constantly evaluate the battlefield and prepare to retreat behind the cover at any second. But if you survive the satisfaction will be very high.

Squad Point Overview

Here is how you should allocate your points for the Vanguard build at level 30

vanguard build talents mass effect 2

Power name Evolution Level (Squad Points)
Incendiary ammoIncendiary Ammo Inferno Ammo 4 (10)
Cryo ammo iconCryo Ammo - 0
charge mass effect 2Charge Heavy Charge 4 (10)
Shockwave iconShockwave - 2 (3)
Pull - 3 (6)
assault mastery iconAssault Mastery Champion 4 (10)
Reave Area Reave 4 (10)

Ability Progression

Here is the detailed progression of the Vanguard build for how to allocate Squad points. We progress with what level of ability you should be getting first. I think this will maximize the build capabilities

Order Skill Description
1 Shockwave iconShockwave Lv 2 We take this ability to unlock Pull. However, it is also useful early in the game to stagger enemies. Moreover, Shockwave also passes barricades, a great way to slow enemy suppressing fire.
2 Pull Lv 2 This is a very important talent for the build. It will enable Vanguard to set up Biotic Explosions. Moreover, you can use it to lift unprotected enemies.
3 charge mass effect 2Charge Lv 2 The signature ability of Vanguard Build. It allows charging directly at enemies, sometimes passing barricades. The important mechanic of Charge is that it also restores shields instantly, greatly improving survivability.
4 assault mastery iconAssault Mastery Lv 2 The passive ability that improves biotic ability cooldown and base stats of Vanguard.
5 charge mass effect 2Charge Lv 4 Take Heavy Charge upgrade. Because with this build we will use Shotgun, slowing time will allow us to take out a few enemies before moving to hide.
6 assault mastery iconAssault Mastery Lv 4 I suggest going for the Champion upgrade. My preference is shorter cooldown times, which allow Vanguard to use Charge more often, have a longer time slow, and use Pull more often.
7 Incendiary ammoIncendiary Ammo Lv 2 This ammo ability will improve Vanguard damage to armor and health. It will also set organic enemies on fire and disable their regeneration.
8 Reave Lv 2 Another very important ability. It allows to great damage to enemy shields and barriers and instantly restores HP. This way you will have a much better chance of surviving in close combat with a Shotgun.
9 Incendiary ammoIncendiary Ammo Lv 4 Take Inferno Ammo upgrade. We want Vanguard Build to take out enemies from one or two shots up close. This ensures that we deal maximum damage.
10 Pull Lv 3 We get a third level to further increase its duration. This will give it more time to detonate for Biotic Explosion
11 Reave Lv 4 Take Area Reave upgrade. It will allow you to strip multiple enemies of shields and barriers and increase your HP. This will unlock many tactical options with other companions

In the end game, this Vanguard Build will have no issues wrecking multiple enemies on Insanity difficulty. Check the Tactics section


This section will cover recommended equipment for the Vanguard Build in Mass Effect 2.

Submachine Guns

These weapons are a good choice for Vanguard when in ranged combat and you are waiting for an opening. They are also effective at tearing down enemy shields and barriers.

Weapon Name Effective against Description
m-9 tempest mass effect 2M-9 Tempest Shields
I greatly enjoy using this weapon in long-range combat with Vanguard. It also blasts through enemy shields and Barriers very effectively
m-12 locust smg mass effect 2M-12 Locust Armor
Although this weapon is fairly good against all protections, it has lower multipliers compared to the above option.


This is the primary weapon of Vanguard Build. Shotguns can deal largely concentrated damage, easily tearing down enemy defenses or instantly killing them.

My personal recommendation is M-27 Scimitar. This should give the most flexibility and allow easily strip enemies of their defenses.

Weapon Name Effective against Description
m 27 scimitar mass effect 2M-27 Scimitar Barriers
The bread and butter of the Vanguard Build. Has a large clip allowing for multiple shots after you use Vanguard's Charge ability. Great for tearing enemy protections. I recommend this weapon
m 300 claymore mass effect 2M-300 Claymore Armor
One of the most powerful weapons in the game can kill most of the enemies with a single shot. Unfortunately, has to reload after each shot.
M 22 eviscerator mass effect 2M-22 Eviscerator Armor
A middle ground between M-27 Scimitar and M-300 Claymore. Has a decent clip and deals adequate damage.

Heavy Pistol

These weapons should be used in case you need to strip the armor of strong enemies like YMIR mechs.

Weapon Name Effective against Description
M-5 phalanx mass effect 2M-5 Phalanx Armors This is a very strong Heavy Pistol. What makes it amazing is its laser sight that guarantees 100% accuracy.
M 6 carnifex mass effect 2M-6 Carnifex Armors Stronger option than M-5 Phalanx, however, it has a bit slower firing rate and a smaller clip.

Heavy Weapons

All weapons in this category are very powerful. I think any of them work and should be used in critical situations. Here are my favorite options:

Weapon Name Effective against Description
collector particle beam mass effect 2Collector Particle Beam Shields
I enjoy using this weapon in tight situations. It also is very good in the late game against Collectors.
arc projector mass effect 2Arc Projector Armor
This weapon is very effective against a group of enemies. It can easily strip their defenses. After that, you can exploit them with Biotic powers


This section will cover what armor I recommend for Shepard Vanguard Build.

Type Armor Description
Helmet Sentry Interface Increases shield strength by 5%
Helmet Archon Visor Reduces the recharge time of your powers by 5%
Chest Amplifier Plates Increases power damage by 5%.
Shoulders Shield Harness Increases shields by 5%.
Arms Damping Gauntlets Increases shields by 5%.
Arms Stabilization Gauntlets Increases weapon damage by 5%.
Legs Stimulator Conduits Increases storm speed by 10%.
Legs Life Support Webbing Increases health by 10%.

Tactics and Squad

We have a lot to cover for the Vanguard Build. The build is very versatile. It provides very strong close combat effectiveness and ample ranged combat options.

Charge - become the master of it

This is the main ability of the Vanguard build in Mass Effect 2. It provides a way to close distance to enemies, slows time, and restores shields.

vanguard charge mass effect 2

I use it in these situations:

  • Close distance to the enemies. Just be sure not to get surrounded. Moreover, it is important that you have a cover nearby to hide if the situation becomes too risky.
  • Restore shields in a critical situation. If your shields are down and you start losing hp you may easily die. Use Charge to instantly change position and also restore your shields. This ensures that Shepard will survive longer.

Soo as you can see it is a very powerful unique ability. I like to pair it with a shotgun, that can tear enemies apart at close range.

Things to avoid:

  • Do not use Charge at the start of the fight if it is the first time in the encounter. You may have enemies appearing from unexpected directions so wait 10 seconds before deciding what to do next.
  • Don't charge where there is no cover
  • Don't charge into a group of enemies

Biotic Explosions

What makes this build special is that it can also set up Biotic Explosions. Thanks, to Pull, you are free to do that any time. This makes the build extremely versatile and powerful.

However, Vanguard can also create Explosions if you take Reave. This works similarly to Warp which detonates Biotic fields.

Thanks to this you can avoid using Charge in all combat situations and concentrate on ranged combat if needed.

Vanguard can also use Shockwave. However, I find it effective only early in the game when it can stagger even protected enemies. Later on, as you get upgrades Charge does a better job.

Ammo abilities

My personal favorite is Incendiary Ammo. It provides bonus damage against enemy armor and their health. Overall this will greatly improve your damage.

However, some people suggest using Cryo Ammo and getting a Squad upgrade. This way your companions can freeze unprotected enemies. However, I have found it lackluster after their protection is down they are easy pickings for biotic abilities.

Reave - Bonus Power

This is the most powerful bonus ability for this build in my opinion. It takes out enemy protection opening it for Biotic abilities that can be used by your companions.

Moreover, it restores and increases HP, which in turn increases Vanguard combat capabilities in close combat.

Squad Members

At the high-level companions are there to support you rather than provide any major role. Due to this here are my recommendations on how to maximize the effectiveness of the overall party output with this Vanguard Build.

  • Take Miranda as she provides weapon damage bonuses to the whole squad. Moreover, she can use Warp for Biotic Explosions. So you can use Vanguard to set up a biotic field and Miranda to detonate it.
  • You can also get other companions to set up Biotic fields: Samara or Jack
  • Samara also has Reave so you can use her to shred enemy protections
  • During the missions where you will fight synthetics or enemies with shields take Garrus or Zaeed. They are very effective against these enemies

I hope this will give you a general grasp of how to build the squad for maximum effectiveness.


Thank you for reading this post on Vanguard Build in Mass Effect 2. I covered recommended abilities and progression, best weapons, and armor. Moreover, we went through recommended tactics.

Feel Free to leave a comment below!


Post author zanuffas avatar zanuffas
Gamestegy Founder. I have been writing game guides and builds for 4 years. I like to push myself to create something wonderful for the readers!