Mass Effect 2 Research Guide: Weapon and Ship Upgrades

Mass Effect 2 Research Guide: Weapon and Ship Upgrades
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Use Your Head

While Mass Effect 2 throws aside many of the RPG conventions from the original game, it does include a new research system. Through research players can customize their experience and achieve upgrades they might have achieved through new weapons and armor in a traditional RPG mechanic, such as better weapon damage, new weapon types, and better shields.

This guide lists all of the research possible in Mass Effect 2 so that you can decide which items you’d like to research during the game.

Weapon Upgrades

The player can research weapons upgrades for every weapon type in the game. There are a few different categories of these upgrades.

The first is damage upgrades. These range from level 1 to 5 and each upgrade increases damage by 10%. The upgrades are researched in succession and the player must have “found” an upgrade in the game world first. The cost of these upgrades range between 2500 and 7500 resources. Assault Rifles use Iridium, Pistols use Palladium, Shotguns and Sniper Rifles use Platinum, and SMGs use Iridium.

The second tier of research increases weapon damage against defenses. Assault Rifles can gain a +25% bonus against all forms of defense. Pistols and Sniper Rifles can gain +50% to armor. Shotguns and SMGs can gain +50% against shields and barriers. These upgrades cost 15000 resources each.

There third tier of research has effects unique to each weapon. Assault Rifles can gain an accuracy bonus. Pistols will randomly do double damage. Shotguns and SMGs can gain twice the ammo capacity. Sniper rifles can gain 50% higher headshot damage. These upgrades cost 25000 resources each.

Ship Upgrades

These upgrades are applied to the new Normandy. Some have practical effects during exploration, while others can change the outcome of the final mission.

  • Mass Effect 2 Normandy Upgrades

    Advanced Mineral Scanner: Increases the speed with which the scanner can move across a planet’s surface. Cost 15000 Iridium

  • Extended Fuel Cells: Increases maximum fuel by 50%. Costs 3000 Element Zero

  • Heavy Ship Armor: Upgrades the Normandy with better armor plating. Can help protect crew members during the final mission. Cost 15000 Palladium

  • Med-Bay Upgrade: Gets rid of Shepard’s facial scars. Cost 50000 Platinum

  • Modular Probe Bay: +100% Probe Capacity. Cost 1500 Iridium

  • Mutlicore Shielding: Upgrades the Normandy’s shields. Can help protect crew members during the final mission. Cost 15000 Palladium

  • Thanix Cannon: Upgrades the Normandy with a heavy anti-ship cannon. Can help protect crew members during the final mission. Cost 15000 Platinum.

A Note About Ship Upgrades

Many players wonder what the ship upgrades actually do. The Thanix Cannon, Multi-Core Shielding, and Heavy Ship Armor never serve a purpose in the actual gameplay, so what do they really do?

I won’t go to into detail because I don’t want to spoil the game for anyone, but I will say they are important. As the game stressed multiple times, it is important to have everyone and everything at its best before you go through the Omega 4 relay. Failing to take the ship upgrades can lead to a situation where some characters might be killed. If it is important to you that everyone lives, you should take all three upgrades.

Armor Upgrades

As with weapons, the player can research armor upgrades.

The first tier includes the following. Each has five levels, just the same as the first tier weapon upgrades.

  • Biotic Damage: +10% Biotic Damage. Cost 500-1500 Element Zero
  • Damage Protection: +10 Shields/Barriers/Armor. Cost 2500-7500 Palladium
  • Medi-Gel Capacity: +1 Medi-Gel capacity. Cost 2500-7500 Platinum
  • Tech Damage: +10% Tech Damage. Cost 500-1500 Element Zero

The second tier includes some more unique effects. They are as follows.

  • Biotic Duration: +20% Biotic Duration. Cost 3000 Element Zero
  • Redundant Field Generator: Random shield regeneration. Cost 15000 Palladium
  • Trauma Module: Unity is upgraded to bring squad members back at full health. Cost 15000 Platinum
  • Tech Duration: +20% Tech Duration. Cost 3000 Element Zero

The third tier includes the following effects.

  • Biotic Cooldown: -20% Biotic Cooldown. Cost 5000 Element Zero
  • Hardened Shields: +20% Shield Damage Absorption (Shepard Only). Cost 25000 Palladium
  • Emergency Shielding: Unity is upgraded to bring squad member’s shields to full strength. Cost 15000 Platinum
  • Tech Cooldown: -20% Tech cooldown. Cost 5000 Element Zero.


This category seems to be a catch-all for research projects that don’t fit in the other categories. This includes new heavy weapons and personal upgrades which make Shepard tougher.

Heavy Weapons

  • Mass Effect 2 Prototypes

    Heavy Weapon Ammo: Increases heavy weapons ammo by 15% per level. As five levels. Cost 2500-7500 Iridium

  • ML-77 Missile Launcher: Allows Shepard access to the ML-77, a weapon effective against heavy armor. Cost 5000 Iridium

  • M-622 Avalanche: Allows Shepard access to the M-622. This is a cryo weapon which can freeze opponents. It is good against crowds. Cost 15000 Iridium.

  • M-920 Cain: Allows Shepard access to the M-920 Cain. This is a mini-nuke launcher which does massive damage. Cost 25000 Iridium

Heavy Armor

  • Heavy Skin Weave: Increases Shepard’s health by 10% per upgrade. Has five levels. Cost 2500-7500 Palladium
  • Heavy Bone Weave: Reduces melee damage taken by Shepard by 50%. Cost 15000 Palladium
  • Heavy Muscle Weave: Increases the power of Shepard’s melee attacks. Cost 25000 Palladium

Squad Upgrades (These apply only to certain squad members)

  • Geth Shield Strength: Upgrades Legion’s shields by 25%. Has two levels. Cost 2500 Platinum
  • Geth Sniper Rifle: Gives Legion access to the Widow sniper rifle. Cost 15000 Platinum
  • Krogan Vitality: Upgrades Grunt’s health by 25%. Has two levels. Cost 2500 Platinum
  • Krogan Shotgun: Gives Grunt access to the Claymore shotgun. Cost 15000 Platinum
  • Mordin Omni-Tool: Gives Mordin 20% better tech damage. Cost 3000 Element Zero
  • Subject Zero Biotic Boost: Gives Jack 20% stronger Biotic powers. Cost 3000 Element Zero


  • Retrain Powers. Allows Shepard to re-spec all talent points. Cost 2500 Element Zero
  • Advanced Training. Allows Shepard to learn a bonus power. This power is chosen from a list of loyalty powers known by NPCs which have been recruited. Cost 5000 Element Zero.

This post is part of the series: Mass Effect 2 Guide

In Mass Effect 2 you'‘ll fight many opponents, from evil aliens to money-hungry mercenaries.This guide to Mass Effect 2 will help you gain an edge against them all.

  1. Comprehensive Guide to the Mass Effect Sequel
  2. Mass Effect 2: A Guide to Weapons
  3. Mass Effect 2 Adept Guide
  4. Mass Effect 2 Research Guide: Fight Smarter
  5. Mass Effect 2 Strategy Guide: Know Your Opponents
  6. Guide to the Final Mission in Mass Effect 2