A large ship in Mass Effect.

Mass Effect 1: Best Classes, Ranked

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Mina has been devoted to playing video games for more than 30 years, and she has been writing about video games professionally since 2016. She currently also writes for the video game websites Game Rant and LadiesGamers.

Stephanie is a writer at VGKAMI and a long-time lover of video games—specifically JRPGs. Anything in the fantasy genre is her jam, and she vows to bring back The Legend of Dragoon one day. Stephanie has also worked as an editor at TheGamer and published features for NME.

Key Takeaway

In Mass Effect 1, the Vanguard is the best overall class. It is followed by the Soldier, Adept, Infiltrator, Engineer, then Sentinel. Some of the classes become better in later titles.

Mass Effect was lauded by critics for its immersive characters, world-building, and being entirely built around player choices. But one of the most important choices a player can make in the game is which class to play.

Table Of Contents

    Mass Effect‘s classes were created around three different types of combat: gunplay, biotics (magic), and support. Each of the six classes in the game were designed to be either focused on one of these or is a combination of two. These classes are:

    • Adept – Pure biotics, which is the magic-like system in Mass Effect
    • Engineer – Full support class
    • Soldier – Pure combat and strength class
    • Vanguard – Mix of Soldier and Adept
    • Sentinel  – Mix of Engineer and Adept
    • Infiltrator – Mix of Engineer and Soldier

    When choosing a class for Mass Effect 1, you don’t need to think about how that will impact your playthrough of future titles. You can choose a new class for Shepherd in the second title of the series, so don’t worry at all about how these classes will change from one game to the next. Just choose what is best for you for the first title. The following are the Mass Effect classes ranked from worst to best overall.

    Worst Overall: Sentinel

    Mass Effect screen that highlights the Sentinel class.

    Unfortunately for the Sentinel class, it takes all the worst bits about being Engineer and Adept and puts them together, leaving out most of the fun stuff. Not only do you give up all the cool stuff about being a Soldier, you also lose a lot of what make an Adept fun to play. The Sentinel has no weapon specializations, no Adrenaline Burst cooldown resets, and just is overall not fun to play. And besides, why would anyone make a Tech character when Tali is around?

    Weak in Combat: Engineer

    Mass Effect screen that highlights the Engineer class.

    Tech and support classes can be awesome when you are playing in games with other real, live people. But this support class is boosting the other people in Shepherd’s party, which are all AI. Relying on NPCs to do all the fighting while you heal from the sidelines isn’t a great move in Mass Effect. And on top of that, Tali’Zorah nar Rayya is always there to take care of all of your Tech needs, so Shepherd doesn’t need to worry about it at all.

    The Most Awkward of Classes: Infiltrator

    Mass Effect screen that highlights the Infiltrator class.

    Snipers are super cool in all games, so it’s such a shame that the Infiltrator class is not awesome in Mass Effect 1. The main problem? Almost all of the combat in the game takes place in small locations where long ranged combat is nearly impossible. And if anyone has ever tried to use a sniper rifle at close range, they can easily see what makes this class so awkward. That being said, this class thankfully gets much better in future games.

    Squishy but Fun Class: Adept

    Mass Effect screen that highlights the Adept class.

    Adepts are extremally fun to play. There’s nothing better than being able to pick up an enemy and toss them across the room like a doll. But unlike the Vanguard and Solider classes, Adepts don’t get to use the higher classes of armor; being pure psychic means settling for ranged combat as often as possible because light armor just doesn’t hold up as well. On the up side, though, you still get to specialize in pistols and take advantage of their great accuracy and good heat management.

    Easiest Class to Play: Soldier

    Mass Effect screen that highlights the Soldier class.

    If you aren’t especially comfortable with the combat of Mass Effect 1 with its clunky and sometimes glitchy play, the Soldier is the class for you. This is the straightforward gunplay class with no bells or whistles. Just loads of different gun types to choose from, including the all-powerful pistol and an abundance of health. This class also gets access to Adrenaline Burst, lots of health regen, and stronger armor.

    Best Overall: Vanguard

    Mass Effect screen that highlights the Vanguard class.

    Vanguard is the best of the two strongest worlds in Mass Effect 1. Not only do you get the strong physical attacks and armor from the Soldier class, but you also get to throw people around with your biotic psychic powers. The Vanguard gets access to all the best stuff in the game from pistol specialization to Adrenaline Burst to spells like Lift, Warp, and Throw. And this is what makes it the very best class in Mass Effect 1.