The Mass Effect series is widely regarded as one of the best sci-fi franchises in the gaming industry, and apart from last year’s Andromeda, the original trilogy is also regarded as some of the best games ever created. In this stellar RPG experience, it is easy to miss out the set of game mechanics the series offers and especially its action, backed up by an extensive set of solid weapons in the arsenal. Although weapons are just a small part of the overall Mass Effect experience and it is easy to overlook them, the arsenal in Mass Effect packs some of the best weapons in gaming, and across 4 entries, the series features some of the best guns to be found in gaming. Across a range of shotguns, sniper rifles, assault rifles and heavy weapons, Mass Effect offers something for every plathrough style as well and with extensive sets for each type, there is something to be found for everyone. This list is formed on my objective opinion only and won’t represent everyone’s picks, but spread across multiple games and weapon types, part of it would tailor to everybody’s taste. These weapons are organized in no particular order, but the 10 chosen are the best weapons in the Mass Effect franchise.
The Prothean Particle Rifle obtained from Mass Effect 3’s From Ashes DLC mission is an assault rifle limited only by the heat formed from discharge, enabling continuous firing until it overheats. To add to that, this rifle packs a serious punch and allows to eliminate multiple enemies with ease once you upgrade the ammo capacity, which keeps the fast-paced flow of combat. With its unique design, the particle rifle is one of the best weapons in the entire series and its capabilities overpower most other guns in the arsenal and while heat management becomes crucial at times and introduces an unnecessary micromanagement element, it never interferes in the action. While Mass Effect: Andromeda features a similar weapon in form of the P.A.W. rifle derived from Remnant tech, I never found its punch as satisfying as the Particle Rifle in Mass Effect 3 and the damage of the Prothean weapon is significantly higher than the Remnant rifle in the next entry.
N7 Crusader Shotgun
The N7 Crusader Shotgun has the highest DPI out of all shotguns available and only the Krogan-engineered M300 Claymore rivals the power of the Crusader. The N7 Crusader is seriously heavy and thus most players won’t use it, but the tradeoff can sometimes be worth it. The Crusader eliminates most enemies with a single shot, and especially works best in Charge-based Vanguard builds with its serious damage but short range, giving biotic-light players an opportunity to create a powerful assault build. Equipping the Crusader leaves little room for other weapons, which is one of its downsides and even the highest level of Light Materials upgrade barely fixes that, but its incredible power makes it a serious tool for competitive players, who can still opt to add a pistol and an SMG into their loadout.
Nothing says “Collateral Damage” more than the experimental Reaper Blackstar. Available in Mass Effect 3 on multiple missions, the weapon can be used in instances against overwhelming odds, and the game is generous enough to let players use the Blackstar on multiple occasions. Although developed by Human researchers, the prototype is heavily based on Reaper tech, which means serious damage is to be expected from it. The Blackstar delivers a powerful punch that can eliminate a brute or a harvester with one shot. The downside is a long charge time before the shot, which makes its timing crucial on missions where this weapon is available as you definitely don’t want to waste its high damage output. The Reaper Blackstar is one of the best weapons in the game, and although Mass Effect 3 removes the opportunity to carry heavy weapons, its limited use is made worthwhile by the sheer power it delivers.
Collector Heavy Beam
Back when the player character could carry heavy weapons in Mass Effect 2, the Collector Heavy Beam is the most powerful in the game, and available to those with DLC packs installed. Many no doubt wish it offered unlimited ammo, the limited capacity of the Collector Beam is still enough to get Shepard out of the toughest enemy encounters. Similar to the particle rifle, the Collector Beam fires continuously, however instead of overheating, it is depleted once all ammo has been used up. The damage output significantly increases the more the beam is discharged, which makes it particularly strong against heavy mechs encountered in the game. The Collector Beam is much more powerful than the game’s other heavy weapons, and can also be used on larger groups, which gives it a lot of versatility, thus earning it the spot on this list.
Black Widow Sniper Rifle
If you actually manage to have good luck with a stealth build, the Black Widow is the ultimate sniper rifle in the arsenal and makes long-range combat a breeze for skilled players. Combined with the cloak ability, the Black Widow is a serious threat to enemies, however the rifle’s heavy weight somewhat limits the ability to use biotics. For ranged combat, however, the Black Widow is ideal, and for those who prefer to stay still, it is an ideal murder weapon, given it eliminates most enemy threats with a single headshot. Its design is military-grade through and through, but there’s some beauty to it, although you won’t be focused on that while sniping off enemy heads and while its limited capacity can prove to be a disadvantage, higher damage is a worthy tradeoff in a stealthy character build.
M96 Mattock Assault Rifle
The conventional Mattock rivals damage levels of the Prothean Particle Rifle, and while it won’t offer unlimited ammo, there are plenty of crates in the world to replenish it. Firing in single-shot bursts, this assault rifle packs a serious punch with each hit and only a few rounds are necessary to eliminate most targets, which makes it another powerful contender on this list. Unlike most weapons on this list, the Cerberus-made Mattock is also available across multiple games, first being given to players in Mass Effect 2 and available on offer in both 3 and Andromeda that followed. The Mattock is extremely satisfying to use and is only one of the few assault rifles out of the broad arsenal that can be considered truly great, which made me choose it more often than not when replaying Mass Effect 2 or 3.
M560 Hydra Rocket Launcher
I’ve always liked the fact that Mass Effect never had conventional rocket launchers and the M560 Hydra proves that at many levels. While the power of its 4 combined rockets significantly lacks behind a single shot of the Reaper Blackstar, it is good enough to eliminate most heavy mechs in the game. Additionally, the Hydra packs in more ammunition which makes it great for multiple discharges in combat, and can easily eliminate Brutes before they even reach the player character. While I’d rank it third among the heavy weapons on this list as the Hydra is not a particularly impressive rival to those, but its unique attributes still make it a worthy contender among the best weapons.
Sweeper Assault Rifle
The Sweeper assault rifle based on Remnant tech is a sweet weapon players can build in-game and I found it to be one of my all-favorite assault rifles to use in the series. The Sweeper fires in 3 shot bursts and features high damage to eliminate most targets quickly, and generally is among the more interesting assault rifles in the entirety of Andromeda arsenal. The Remnant tech is a research tree worth investing in for all kinds of players and there are multiple high damage weapons available to construct once the blueprints are researched. The Sweeper is among the best Remnant weapons available in Mass Effect: Andromeda and I’ve used it for most of my first time playing the game. With its high damage output and precise accuracy, the Sweeper handles better than the laser-beam P.A.W. Rifle and its satisfying punch makes it one of the best weapons not just in Andromeda, but the series in general.
N7 Hurricane SMG
Among SMG and Pistol categories, few weapons pack a serious punch to grant them a place at this list, but the N7 Hurricane just barely makes it under the requirements. Compared to the rest, its damage is relatively limited, however its precise handling and large ammo capacity make up for that by giving players a light versatile weapon that goes along well with heavy weapon and shotgun character builds, as well as biotic-focused players. The N7 Hurricane is quite far from powerful, and is only worth using on base enemies with no shields, but tackle on a few upgrades, and this Submachine Gun can be satisfying to use as a sidearm.
It will be amiss of me to avoid including melee weapons into this list, but the Omni Blade is a seriously powerful melee tool that works well with Vanguard Builds and its striking power eliminates melee enemies with ease. While the Omni Blade has been seriously downgraded in Mass Effect Andromeda and is far from enjoyable to use, the Mass Effect 3 version is a stellar melee weapon available by default in the game. The animation for melee hits in particular is very well designed and shows Shepard lunge forward with an omni blade on each hand, making for an extremely satisfying tool available for melee combat.
Inferno Sniper Rifle
The Inferno is highly capable, and similar to the Prothean-based Particle assault rifle, avoids reloading through heat management, which allows for a few high-precision shots to be fired in quick succession. This sniper rifle is not limited by its ammo capacity, which makes it useful in extensive combat sections in Mass Effect: Andromeda, and while its damage output is quite low to compete with Black Widow, the Inferno has its own unique traits to make it a memorable weapon in the entire series, which earns it a spot on this list.
*all images are credited with their original sources