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Prepare for Combat
The weapons of Mass Effect 2 are more similar to those of a normal shooter than those of the original Mass Effect. Players will no longer constantly be running across slightly different variations of the same basic weapon type.
There are still distinct weapon types, however, and a few upgrades to be found along the way. The upgrades available to the player depend on player's class and on the player's actions.
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M-8 Avenger: The basic assault rifle. Fully automatic and decent against anything. It is however surpassed by later upgrades, which are more precise or more brutal depending on your needs.
M-15 Vindicator: A very accurate rifle good for mid to long range combat which fires in 5-round bursts. It lacks full auto so isn't as good at short range encounters. It is found during the Archangel recruitment mission just after reaching Archangel.
M-76 Revenant: Only available to Soldiers as advanced weapons training, the Revenant has an extreme rate of fire. It is among the most deadly weapons at short to medium range and a really good pick for Soldiers. It isn't very accurate, however, so long range combat is out of the question.
Geth Pulse Rifle: Very effective at most ranges, the Pulse Rifle is strong against shielded enemies. This makes it particularly effective against boss opponents, who are often shielded in some way. It is found during Tali's loyalty quest on Hardcore difficulty.
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Generally used only for special situations, heavy weapons can have a variety of effects. They use their own category of ammo called Power Cells, which is harder to come across in the game, so make sure to use your heavy weapons only when you need to.
M-100 Grenade Launcher: Found early in the game as part of the story. This weapon can put a lot of heart on multiple enemies, but it is hard to angle the shots correctly. It is often left behind because there are other heavy weapons which are better suited for any situation you might want the grenade launcher for.
ML-77 Missile Launcher: A great weapon that fires guided missiles. Very effective slow-moving armored bosses like Heavy Mechsand Scions, not as great against weak, fast moving opponents. Can be obtained via a research project.
M-622 Avalanche: This weapon shoots Cryo rounds which freeze targets. It can be very effective, particularly on levels where you face hoards of fast-moving Husks, but those who use Cryo Ammo will find it a little redundant. Obtained via research.
M-920 Cain: A freaking nuke launcher. What do you expect? It does a ton of damage but is hampered by slow firing speed and by ammo usage. Its great for clearing blobs of enemies and pretty good against bosses as well. It is obtained via research.
Collector Particle Beam: Gained in a mid-game story mission, the Particle Beam is extremely accurate and does a lot of damage against shields and biotics but not that great against armor. It is good against almost all Infantry and can vaporize an un-armored opponent within a second or two. This is my favorite heavy weapon, although it is less interesting if your character does not already carry another weapon which is good against armor.
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M-3 Predator Heavy Pistol: The basic pistol, this gun is accurate but low on damage. It is most effective against armor. Most other weapons kill quicker, so its often a last resort, particularly for classes with a large selection of better weapons.
M-6 Carnifex Hand Cannon: Much more powerful than the Predator, the Carnifex can do a real number on armored enemies. It is a suitable weapon for use against heavily armored opponents when you've run out of heavy weapon ammo. The low clip size and low overall ammo capacity still limits its usefulness as a primary weapon. Mordin gives the player the Carnifex.
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If you need something in front of you dead, shotguns will do it. They're extremely powerful at short ranges, but their power falls off dramatically as range increases. They're best against shields and biotic barriers, although the Claymore is good against just about everything.
M-23 Katana Shotgun: The basic shotgun, it is powerful enough at the beginning of the game but doesn't quite cut it against tougher opponents.
M-27 Scimitar Shotgun: Basically a more powerful and faster firing Katana, the Scimitar will make short work of most enemies at close range. It is found during the mission to recruit Samara.
M-300 Claymore Shotgun: A VERY powerful shotgun which is also better against armor than the others. Only available to Vanguards and Soldiers as advanced weapons training. This weapon is great against opponents who charge your positron like Husks and Krogan warriors. Vanguards will quickly fall in love with this gun.
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M-92 Mantis: The basic Mantis rifle is an extremely lethal long-range weapon capable of taking out many enemies with a single headshot. However, it has a very slow rate of fire, so large groups of opponents can be troublesome.
M-97 Viper: A semi-automatic sniper rifle, the Viper lacks the one shot, one kill power of the Mantis. It has a much higher rate of fire, however, so it does more damage over time. The high rate of fire also makes it more forgiving, since missing a shot doesn't leave you defenseless for a moment. It can be found during Thane's recruitment mission.
M-98 Widow: Available to Soldiers and Infiltrators during advanced weapons training, the M-98 is fairly slow firing sniper rifle. It is effective against all types of defenses and does an extremely high amount of damage. It is extremely good against bosses and also good at eliminating opponents who don't rush your position. However, the faster firing Viper is can be preferable against fast-moving targets.
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SMGs are probably my least favorite class of weapon, but then I play as a Soldier. I generally feel that SMGs are like baby Assault Rifles, but for players who don't have access to an Assault Rifle the SMG can make a lot of sense as a mid-range weapon.
M-4 Shuriken Machine Pistol: The basic SMG. One of my least favorite weapons in the game due to low damage and lack of effectiveness against armor.
M-9 Tempest: An upgraded SMG with higher overall damage which can be found at the beginning of Tali's recruitment mission. I still don't like it a great deal, but it can be effective as a mid-range weapon.