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Pistols And Shotguns
The Vanguard can only train two weapons- the pistols and shotguns. Since she can't train assault rifles, the shotgun will be her weapon for close range combat. It has its disadvantages with a slow fire rate and quick overheating, but it can deliver a powerful punch with one hit. The shotgun is more dangerous with Carnage, a special ability that brings heavy damage and can send enemies backwards and down to the floor. Besides the shotgun, don't forget to also rely on melee attacks; they get stronger as long you're improving your Assault Training, a talent well suited for the Vanguard since it improves weapon and melee damage.
The pistols shouldn't be frowned upon even though it fires light damage. Once you've unlocked the Marksman ability, your pistols become much better, as its fire rate and accuracy increases. It's a fast way to take down an enemy, with quick shots that deal plenty of damage in a short timespan. The game has plenty of strong pistols to be found so make sure to search for those crates and lockers. With no sniper training for the Vanguard, the Pistols are your best long range weapon, and will be especially handy for the Vanguard since you can't fight in close combat all the time.
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Mix It Up With Biotics, Pistols, And Shotguns
Make sure to be strategic in how you use your weapons and biotics during combat; experiment with your talents and see what combinations will work best together with your pistols and shotguns. For example, you may want to begin a fight by casting Warp on enemies, where it lowers their defense as well delivering some damage every second. As they're taking damage, you can then fire your pistol to finish them off, so the fight should end more quickly.
Another strategy is to attack first with Lift and Throw and then use your shotgun. When an enemy is falling down from Lift, he will be on the floor for a few seconds before he gets up. Take the opportunity to run up close to him and blast him away with your shotgun. This way, you won't have to worry about an enemy firing as you run ahead.
It's poor game planning when you're just gunning around without relying on your biotics to give your weapons an advantage over your opponents; going in this route will not always be a good start during a fight.
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Warp should be paid great attention to since tougher opponents in the game, like Krogans and the Geth Destroyer, will be more resistant to your weapons. This is when you need to rely on Warp and use it once you notice your shotguns and pistols isn't having a strong effect on the enemies. Warp deal damage and decreases their defense, so it makes them more vulnerable to your attacks. The more you improve this talent, enemies will take more damage every second and lose more protection.
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Her Biotics Will Help Her Defense
If you're someone who hates being thrown across the floor or losing shields because of your enemies' biotics, then Vanguard is a class you can rely on to provide strong protection. Her biotics and class-based talents can significantly boost her defense, a welcome feature since she can spend plenty of time in close combat. Barrier will improve the duration and strength of her shields; this will increase her protection from biotics and weapons. Shield Boost will help recharge her shields, so this will be a handy talent when its running low and you run the risk of receiving direct damage, causing loss of health.
The Vanguard isn't tied to just light armor. With Tactical Armor, it will allow her to upgrade to medium armor, which is an improvement over light armor, because your basic defense and shields should be better, as long as you take the effort to get good equipment.
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Shock Trooper And Nemesis
The Vanguard has two specialized classes later on in the game, the Shock Trooper and the Nemesis. These two classes concentrate on a specific side that will make significant improvements for it. For the Shock Trooper, your defense will be the focus; you can increase your health and damage protection, as well as receive significant improvements over Adrenaline Burst and Barrier. For example, once you get the Adrenaline Burst Specialization, the recharge time for this talent is reduced by 25%. This will come very handy for the Vanguard who will have to rely on using her biotics quite often.
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Have A Balanced Team
Since the Vanguard's specialty is biotics, pistols, and shotguns, it's always a good idea to have a teammate who is different from you; to have success in Mass Effect is to have a balanced team. For the Vanguard, make sure to bring along a weapons expert like Wrex or Ashley.
You should also consider a teammate with tech skills since the Vanguard has none. Tali and Garrus are the two who specialize in that area. Don't forget check to see what weapons your teammates can train. If you must have a sniper, then consider Garrus over Tali, since she has can't train that weapon.
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No Tech Talents
Remember that the Vanguard comes with no tech talents. There are just some things she can't do against enemies that a class with tech talents could. Without tech, the Vanguard can't shut down enemy weapons and lower their shields. Classes with tech talents would be a threat against synthetics because of their AI Hacking talent, which causes them to turn against their own.
Vanguard also won't be able to do squat when it comes to repairing the Mako, unless they have a teammate with Electronics. They won't be able to bypass some security systems or unlock many of the items in the game. Those skills belong in the tech department.
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If too many enemies are near the Vanguard and she can't handle them all at the same time, she can rely on Throw and Lift to send them farther away. Enemies will become vulnerable as they lay on the floor for a few seconds from Lift, so run up close to them and fire with the shotgun. It should be one of your common strategies for this class.
Fortunately the Vanguard can rely on her medium armor to provide a solid foundation for defense. Not only that, her Barrier and Shield Boost gives her stronger shields and longer protection, which she will need when she's in close combat. Her special class-based talent that can be later unlocked in the game, Shock Trooper and Nemesis, gives her more opportunity to either increase her health and defense or her biotic powers. Even when she goes toe to toe with Krogan Batlemasters and powerful Geths, she can rely on Warp for support, lowering the enemy defense and sending some damage along as well, giving herthe upper hand. The Vanguard will be a reliable class for fighting up close thanks to her shotguns and biotic talents.