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New NPCs, New Tactics
Mass Effect 2 includes a whole new range of characters who can accompany Shepard on missions as well as two old friends. In Mass Effect 2, Bioware has gone to greater lengths to try and make sure the each character has a very unique personality and that there is as little overlap in abilities as possible. Each character also now has a new "loyalty power" which is unlocked upon successful completion of each NPC's loyalty mission. In part two of this Mass Effect 2 NPC guide I will cover Jacob, Thane, Legion, Miranda, and Zaeed.
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Jacob's power include Pull and Incendiary Ammo with Barrier as a loyalty power. Barrier is a power which gives Jacob a biotic damage shield. His Cerberus Operative character upgrade results in the Cerberus Veteran or Cerberus Specialist pathes. The Veteran gains a 40% bonus to health and an 18% bonus to weapon damage while the Specialist only receives a 30% bonus to health but gains a 25% bonus to weapon damage.
While I really like how Jacob's character is written, I don't generally bring him on missions. He offers a strange and not often useful combination between combat power and biotic power. He isn't the best at using weapons, nor is he the best at taking down enemies with biotic powers since Pull is in fact his only offensive biotic power. There is usually a stronger character to take for any given combat situation.
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An unexpected companion, Legion is a Geth fighter who is encountered during the game's story. Surprisingly, he decides to join Shepard in his fight against the Reapers, revealing some insights into the Geth as a result.
Legion has the AI Hacking and Combat Drone powers with Geth Shield Boost as a loyalty power. Geth Shield Boost simply increases the duration of Legion's shields. Legion's Geth Infiltrator character upgrade line results in the Geth Assassin and Geth Trooper choices. Assassin results in 15% higher health, 25% higher weapon damage, and 25% faster power recharge time. Troopers gain a 20% health bonus, 18% higher weapon damage, and a 25% reduction in power recharge time.
Geth is an excellent character to bring along when fighting other synthetics. He can deal strong damage with his weapons, and his A.I. Hacking power can disrupt enemy lines. He can even take a decent amount of damage when Geth Shield Boost is active. Ironically, he works very well with Tali - the two are the perfect anti-synthetic team.
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Featured extensively in previews and trailers, there is no doubt that Thane is one cool cat, although he'd never say so himself.
Thane has the Throw and Warp as powers along with Shredder Ammo as a loyalty power. Shredder ammo has a damage bonus against the health of organic opponents but receives no bonus against defenses like armor and shields. Thane's Drell Assassin character upgrade opens the Drell Marksman or Drell Veteran options. Marksman results in a 15% health bonus and a 50% weapon damage bonus while Veteran results in a 20% health bonus and a 37.5% weapon damage bonus.
Thane is one of the stronger characters in the game, although he can be a bit of a glass cannon. Warp, along with his sniper rifle, makes him the perfect character to take when expecting to focus armored opponents. Shredder ammo is also great against mercenaries and other organic humanoids. However, his low health bonus and lack of defenses powers means he goes down quickly. Be sure he doesn't move too close to the enemy.
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Zaeed has the Concussive Shot and Disruptor Ammo powers with Inferno Grenade as a loyalty power. Inferno Grenade is a fire based AOE attack which is effective against armored opponents. His Mercenary Veteran upgrade path results in the Mercenary Warlord and Mercenary Commando paths. Warlords gain a +15% increase in health and a +50% increase in weapon damage. Commandos receive a +20% increase in health and a +37.5 increase in weapon damage.
Many consider Zaeed to have been given the short end of the stick in terms of writing, and I generally agree. He isn't the most interesting character in the game. He can hold his own in a fight and is a good choice if you expect to see a lot of up close combat against foes with shields and/or armor. However, most players will probably choose to take Grunt in these situations instead.
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A genetically perfect woman known for scorching hot looks and an ice cold personality, Miranda is the leader of the Lazarus project which resurrected Shepard and the third NPC you'll meet in the game.
Miranda has the Overload and Warp powers with Slam as a loyalty power. Her Cerberus Officer upgrade line results in the Cerberus Leader or Cerberus Tactician choices. Leaders gain +20% to health, +25% to weapon damage, +7.5% to squad health, and +15% to squad weapon damage. Tacticians gain +20% health, +25% weapon damage, +15% squad health, and +7.5% weapon damage.
Miranda is a versatile character who doesn't have any one strength but is strong enough in most situations to be useful. Warp, Overload, and Slam give her a number of options against both organic and synthetic opponents. It is her squad bonuses which really stand out, however. She goes well with a Soldier class Shepard and another NPC who is capable of doing a lot of weapon damage.