James Vega Build

James Vega Build - Mass Effect 3 (ME3)

By zanuffas
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This post covers the best James build in Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect 3 Legendary Edition. He is an Alliance marine, who is effective in weapon combat which allows him to use ammo and combat powers.

James Vega Build - Fire Soldier

This James build will concentrate on using Fire related abilities. This in turn will make him very effective against enemies with Armor protection.

Squad Point Allocation

This section covers how Squad points should be allocated for the end game on the James Build

James build squad abilities Mass Effect 3

Power name Upgrades Order Level (Points)
fortification mass effect 3Fortification Durability
Recharge Speed
6 (21)
frag grenade mass effect 3Frag Grenade - 3 (6)
Incendiary ammo mass effect 3Incendiary Ammo Damage/Squad Bonus
Explosive Burst
6 (21)
carnage mass effect 3Carnage Damage
Recharge Speed
6 (21)
arms master mass effect 3Arms Master Durability
Shield Recharge
Squad Bonus
6 (21)

Ability Progression

This section covers detailed ability progression for Vega Build. This is just a suggested progression, feel free to adjust it based on your needs.

Order Skill Description
1 carnage mass effect 3Carnage Rank 3 We get this ability as early as possible. It deals adequate damage and can detonate Fire Explosions.
2 Incendiary ammo mass effect 3Incendiary Ammo Lv 3 This is the main ability of James' build that allows him to deal very high damage. However, we will need a few more upgrades before it becomes overpowering.
3 frag grenade mass effect 3Frag Grenade Lv 2 This is a great ability with a few points of investment. It deals adequate damage in a 6.5-meter radius.
4 Incendiary ammo mass effect 3Incendiary Ammo Lv 4 Now upgrade to either Squad Bonus or Damage. For example, if Shepard already has an ammo ability Incendiary Ammo will just overwrite it. In this case, go with the latter upgrade. Of course, if Shepard does not have ammo ability effective against armors, then having Squad upgrade makes it very useful.
5 fortification mass effect 3Fortification Lv 2 This ability will allow James to soak up much more damage and make him very tanky. However, I only recommend using it when you fight enemies that use mostly Shields/Barriers. For example Geth. The reason being is that you will not use your abilities against them and its better to have high survivability.
6 Incendiary ammo mass effect 3Incendiary Ammo Lv 6 Take Headshots and Explosive Burst upgrades. Combined with Squad Bonus you and your allies will have a 50% chance to cause small explosions that damage enemies in a small radius. Of course, the damage is decreased for the companions.
7 arms master mass effect 3Arms Master Lv 4 Take a Durability upgrade. This will allow James to take more damage by having more HP and Shields
8 fortification mass effect 3Fortification Lv 6 Now we maximize this ability, which plays an important role when fighting enemies without Armor. Take Durability, Recharge Speed, and Durability upgrades. This will make sure that Vega can be tanky when fighting against any type of enemy.
9 carnage mass effect 3Carnage Lv 5 Take Damage and Recharge Speed upgrades. This ensures that Carnage is effective against single targets and we minimize the ability's cooldown.
10 frag grenade mass effect 3Frag Grenade Lv 3 Take the third level for 20% more damage with the Grenades.
11 arms master mass effect 3Arms Master Lv 6 I recommend getting Shield Recharge and Squad Bonus upgrades. By having them James build will be much more effective in tanking. Moreover, the last upgrade greatly boosts the whole squad's survivability.
12 carnage mass effect 3Carnage Lv 6 At last, take the 6th upgrade. Both of them work. I personally prefer Damage. Carnage will now deal very high damage, especially against shields.

Tactics and Squad

Here are some general tips for the James build in Mass Effect 3:

  • Use Fortification for encounters where there are not many enemies with armors: Cerberus or Geth. James' build problem is that he is mostly effective against armor. If you fight multiple enemies with shields or barriers, it is better for him to have high survivability.
  • Incendiary Ammo - has to be always enabled. Although it works only against armor protection it is also very effective against organic enemy health. The Explosive Burst upgrade takes this to the next level.
  • Carnage is a very useful ability. Once James or any other party member sets the enemy on fire use it to create Fire Explosion. This will either damage or kill all enemies around. It can also detonate any other Tech Combos - fire, tech, and cryo.
  • Frag Grenade is a decent option for dealing with some burst damage in difficult encounters on when being overwhelmed. Have in mind, that James' grenade will travel and explode instantly without any time delay.


James Vega can be effective in almost any group as he can play two major roles: tank and Fire support.

  • You can take Vega with Sentinel or Adept Shepard and use Warp to detonate enemies that are set on fire with Incendiary Ammo. Liara is also the only companion who has Warp and can easily detonate Fire Explosions.
  • Taking companions with Overload or Concussive Shot can also detonate Fire Explosions utilizing James' ability to set enemies on fire. For this be sure to take Garrus, Ashley, Soldier Shepard, EDI, or Engineer Shepard.
  • James can also play a tanky role, allowing the squad to have some fragile companions and Shepard classes. For example Liara, Tali, Sentinel, or Adept Shepard.


This section will cover what equipment you should be using with James Build.

Assault Rifles

The idea here is to have the fastest-firing rifles. This way James can proc Explosive Burst with incendiary ammo for insane Damage per second.

Name Upgrades Description
particle rifle mass effect 3Particle Rifle Piercing Mod
Extend Barrel
This weapon has a very fast fire rate in the game. Making it very effective for applying explosive bursts.
N7 typhoon mass effect 3N7 Typhoon Piercing Mod
Extend Barrel
This is a crazy weapon, that can pierce through covers. It is especially useful for companions and it has a very high fire rate.
geth pulse rifle mass effect 3Geth Pulse Rifle Piercing Mod
Extend Barrel
This rifle has the fastest fire rate in the game which is perfect for the Explosive Burst effect of Incendiary Ammo.


What makes shotguns special is that they release 8 pellets per shot. This means that on average 4 explosions will be released with each shotgun shot with Incendiary Ammo.

Name Upgrades Description
N7 piranha mass effect 3N7 Piranha Smart Choke
High Caliber Barrel
A fully Automatic Shotgun that is perfect to be used for companions. Unfortunately, it requires some upgrades and is quite costly.
reegar carbine mass effect 3Reegar Carbine High Caliber Barrel
Shredder Mod
A unique shotgun that is very effective against shields and barriers. Thanks to Incendiary Ammo it will also be effective against armors. Has a very fast fire rate as it releases a constant stream of electricity
m27 scimitar mass effect 3M-27 Scimitar Smart Choke
High Caliber Barrel
Has a fairly high Fire rate. A good choice that is easily accessible in the early game.


In mass Effect 3 different companion armors provide some different stat boosts. So it is a good idea to see what you pick. Here is what I recommend for James build:

Name Effects
james armor shields mass effect 3 Shields +25%


Thank you for reading this post on the best James build in Mass Effect 3. I covered recommended abilities and their progression, best equipment, and 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!