Mass Effect 2: Character Creation Guide

Mass Effect 2 is already shaping up to be one of the biggest releases on the Xbox 360 ever having sold millions of copies in the first week.  Not everyone will buy a strategy guide though, and that is why we here at GamerSyndrome are giving you our free-to-use strategy guide.  We have already spent hours in front of our TV learning all of the secrets and strategy to completing Mass Effect 2, and now we’re going to give it to you in an easy-to-use guide.

In this guide we are going to specifically cover character creation, and help you figure out the best class to use for your style of gameplay.  If you completed Mass Effect then you will have the option of importing your character over to Mass Effect 2.  Keep in mind that importing your character includes importing all of the decisions you made in the first Mass Effect; so if you decided to kill a particular person in the first Mass Effect, then they won’t be there in Mass Effect 2.  In many situations you will simply receive a message from someone you helped in the first game, but you may not get anymore than that.  At other times, helping people or hurting people in the first game will directly affect important scenarios in Mass Effect 2, so keep this in mind when importing your character.  If you are creating a brand new character then you can create them from the ground up, but if you are importing a character then you can only change a limited number of things like class and appearance.

Getting Started

Let’s assume now that everyone is creating a brand new character.  The first and most basic thing that you will do is create a name for your character.  Your last name is automatically Shepard, because that is the name that is used in the voice overs throughout the game.  Creating a first name is really only for self satisfaction.

Game Set-Up

The first thing you do when starting a new character is set up the difficulty and other settings that will make your game play in a particular way.


There are five different difficulty settings that cannot be changed during the game, so carefully make a selection before you begin play.  There is an achievement on the Xbox 360 for completing the game on the Insanity difficulty setting, but I would suggest only playing on Insanity if you have completed Mass Effect on the Hardcore or Insanity difficulty.  Below are the in-game descriptions of each difficulty setting.


Increases the toughness and power of Shepard and the squad members.  Enemies are slower to react to the player and use powers less often.  This option is great for players who care more about story than combat.


This is the baseline Mass Effect experience.  This difficulty is intended for players who are familiar with shooters and RPGs.


Enemies are tougher, react more quickly, use powers more frequently, and use upgraded weapons at this difficulty level.


This difficulty is intended for players who have already beaten Mass Effect 2 and want a bigger challenge.  Enemies are extremely tough, use upgraded weapons, and are aggressive with their powers.


This level is intended for players who have beaten the game on hardcore and want the ultimate challenge.  Enemies are exceedingly aggressive and use their powers mercilessly.

Auto Level Up

Turning Auto Level Up off will let you be the one who distributes squad points to yourself and your team.  Those who love the concept of building up your character will prefer having it turned off because you can design a character that better fits your playing style.


Turn subtitles on if you want to read what characters are saying.  This is a preferred option because it’s easy to miss what someone has just said, or to have trouble understanding what they mean at times.

Squad Power Usage

Turning Squad Power Usage on gives your squad members the freedom to use powers as they see fit in combat.  Turning it off will only allow them to use powers defensively, but you will have to make most decisions for them.


Turning Autosave on cause the game to automatically save for you at certain checkpoints; turning it off forces you to save on your own.  I suggest turning it on or else you will find yourself forgetting to save it on your own and setting yourself way back.


You now have the opportunity to change the appearance of your Shepard.  You can stick with the default structure of the Commander or you can shape it yourself by manipulating a variety of different facial structure categories.  If you are continuing a game from Mass Effect then this is your opportunity to change the facial structure if you choose to.

  • Facial Structure
  • Head
  • Eyes
  • Jaw
  • Mouth
  • Nose
  • Hair
  • Makeup (females only)

Each section allows you to change a variety of different attributes within each category so you can produce a nearly unlimited variety of Shepards.

Choose your Class

After setting up your appearance you will have to choose the class that you will play as for the remainder of the game.  It is very important that you choose a class that is right for you, or else you may waste a lot of time or end up hating your character.

There are six classes, and each class has three different areas of expertise, they are power training, weapon training, and ammo training.  Each class uses power training and weapon training, but certain classes like the engineer only use power and weapon training.  There are also three different types, or styles, of attacking, they are combat, tech, and biotics.  Each class will either be strictly one of these styles, or a mix of the two.  As you level up in Mass Effect 2 you will receive squad points that you can use towards upgrading your powers, so keep this in mind while choosing.  Each class also has its own mastery power which strengthens specific skills that pertain to your characters class.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how classes work, let’s check out the classes:


If you are the type of player who likes to run in with guns blazing, and you enjoy having a variety of weapons to choose from then this is the class for you.  By choosing this class you have chosen to stick to guns and true shooting combat.  The Soldier class is a pure combat class.

  • Power Training: Adrenaline Rush, Concussive Shot
  • Weapon Training: Assault Rifle, Heavy Pistol, Shotgun, Sniper Rifle
  • Ammo Training: Cryo, Disruptor, Incendiary


The Infiltrator class combines tech powers and combat to give you a deadly stealth machine.  Having the sniper rifle for long distance kills and a cloaking power to allow you to sneak in for the close range kills, makes you a deadly force at any range.

  • Power Training: AI Hacking, Incinerate, Tactical Cloak
  • Weapon Training: Heavy Pistol, Sniper Rifle, Submachine Gun
  • Ammo Training: Cryo, Disruptor


While Infiltrators are known for their tactical long range approach to combat, Vanguards are power-houses when it comes to close range fighting.  Equipped with a shotgun and biotic powers, Vanguards are at a short distance and biotic powers keep them a strong contender in the long range field as well.

  • Power Training: Charge, Pull, Shockwave
  • Weapon Training: Heavy Pistol, Shotgun, Submachine Gun
  • Ammo Training: Cryo, Incendiary


Sentinels are perfect for those who don’t care for gunplay and can’t choose between biotic and tech powers or want to combine the two for interesting  and deadly results.  Sentinels aren’t easily taken down, and can handle most any situation that they are thrown into.

  • Power Training: Cryo Blast, Overload, Tech Armor, Throw, Warp
  • Weapons Training: Heavy Pistol, Submachine Gun
  • Ammo Training: None


Adepts are for those who know they want to take on the sheer power of biotics and want to blast enemies away without having to resort to using guns.

  • Power Training: Pull, Shockwave, Singularity, Throw, Warp
  • Weapons Training: Heavy Pistol, Submachine Gun
  • Ammo Training: None


Engineers are tech masters and know how to disable even the strongest defenses on the battlefield.  Their combat drones are also useful in drawing enemy attention away from teammates.

  • Power Training: AI Hacking, Combat Drone, Cryo Blast, Incinerate, Overload
  • Weapons Training: Heavy Pistol, Submachine Gun
  • Ammo Training: None

Background and Profile

After choosing your class you will be asked to Shepards background and psychological profile to determine how he will react to certain situations and how people will treat him.  Below is a list of the three backgrounds you can choose from:

Spacer: Both of your parents were in the Alliance military. Your childhood was spent on ships and stations as they transferred from posting to posting, never staying in one location for more than a few years. Following in your parent’s footsteps, you enlisted at the age of eighteen.

Colonist: You were born and raised on Mindoir, a small border colony in the Attican Traverse. When you were sixteen, slavers raided Mindoir, slaughtering your family and friends. You were saved by a passing Alliance patrol, and you enlisted with the military a few years later.

Earthborn: As an Earthborn, you had a rough childhood in the slums of Earth, and have a gritty edge to your personality. You enlisted at the age of eighteen, in order to avoid falling into the trap of gang culture and poverty.

And now for Psychological Profiles:

Sole Survivor: During your service, a mission you were on went horribly wrong. Trapped in an extreme survival situation, you had to overcome physical torments and psychological stresses that would have broken most people. Everyone around you fell, and you alone survived to tell the tale.

War Hero: Early in your military career you found yourself facing an overwhelming enemy force. You risked your own life to save your fellow soldiers and defeat the enemy despite the impossible odds. Your bravery and heroism have earned you medals and recognition from the Alliance fleet.

Ruthless: Throughout your military career, you held fast to one basic rule: Get the job done.  You’ve been called cold, calculating, and brutal.  your reputation for ruthless efficiency makes people wary of you.  But when failure is not an option, you are the one to call.

There are also morality benefits to these backgrounds and profiles, and they are as follows:

Paragon Bonus: Spacer, War Hero

Renegade Bonus: Earthborn, Ruthless

Here ends part one of the Mass Effect 2 Walkthrough.  Keep your eyes open for other guides.  Please leave feedback and comments if you have any questions.

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