Mass Effect Andromeda's best weapons
Mass Effect Andromeda brings back all your favourite Milky Way weapons and throws a stack of local Heleus Cluster tech at you to boot. It's a lot to get through, and with research points and crafting materials thin on the ground, you'll want to know which boomsticks to back good and early.
The good news is, we have that sorted out - we've been through Mass Effect Andromeda's weapons and picked out the best assault rifles, shotguns, heavies, lights and more. While most of Team VG247 favours a melee and shotgun build with a lightweight SMG for shield work, we've tried to include something for every kind of player.
The weapons we've listed here are best in class across a number of different categories, so you can rely on them to slot nicely into your build - whatever that it.
Best Assault Rifle for spray-and-pray: M-8 Avenger
Mass Effect Andromeda has so many assault rifles, and a bunch of them are a bit off-the-wall, shooting laser or grenades or otherwise surprising you. So in choosing a best overall assault rifle, we had the run-and-gun Mass Effect Andromeda player in mind: one who wants a gun that behaves as they'd expect from this class of weapons, with fully automatic fire and no fancy tricks to distract you.
That leaves us with just three choices: the Cyclone, the M-8 Avenger, and the Thokin. All three of these weapons deal comparable damage, but embarrassingly it's the M-8 Avenger - a starter weapon, for goodness sake - that wins out with the best stats across clip size, accuracy and rate of fire. It's a fantastic all-rounder.
There's a reason the Initiative packs the M8 into every soldier's starting kit. Get the highest rank blueprint, augment it, mod it up and combine with consumables for a deadly multitool suitable for any occasion.
Also try: the Thokin has comparable stats except that it needs reloading more frequently - but its projectiles track targets, which is pretty cool.
Best Assault Rifle for headshots: N7 Valkyrie
If you don't mind trading in high rate of fire for extra accuracy, Mass Effect Andromeda fields a range of semi-automatic and burst assault rifles that favour precise shooting, for those who like to take down their foes with surgical strikes to weak spots. This group of guns is great for tactical cover play and headshots by the dozen.
Of the four weapons in this paradigm, the stats show the N7 Valkyrie is supreme, with exceptional damage, rate of fire and accuracy, and a decent clip size of 16. It's only slightly heavier than the Mattock, a close runner up, but otherwise outclasses it slightly in every category.
The only other burst-fire assault rifle that should give you pause is the Sweeper, which makes up for its lower damage with a higher clip size and a heat-sink style reload system - but since you can craft, augment and mod an N7 Valkyrie to mimic this effect if you like it, we don't consider it a serious contender.
Also try: the Sandstorm has a low rate of fire and small clip, but it's super accurate with high damage and has a built-in scope - it's almost a sniper rifle.
Best Assault Rifle for heavy damage: M-37 Falcon
If you're playing a big soldier type who can carry heaps of heavy equipment, consider throwing an M-37 Falcon in your spare weapon slot.
Although it's called an assault rifle, the M-37 Falcon is Mass Effect Andromeda's grenade launcher. It has, as you'd expect, the absolute highest damage output of any "assault rifle", and it's reliably accurate, too.
Oh sure, it's slow as heck and you have to reload after six shots, but this is the gun you pull out after you've knocked the shields down with a lighter, more rapid-fire gun. It's the gun you point into the Architect's mouth after you knock a leg conductor out. It's the gun you rely on when the Fiends come calling and you want to take that armour bar down, fast.
Update: We'll be revisiting all three assault rifle categories now that the long-coveted X5 Ghost has been added to Mass Effect Andromeda. Stay tuned for details.
Also try: honestly, nothing in the assault rifle class matches this baby for raw power. A Cobra RPG consumable or combat power like Omni-grenade is the closest you'll get.
Best Shotgun for primary use: N7 Crusader
There's a fair bit of variety in the shotgun category, although not as much as in assault rifles, so for our first shotgun category we've elected to focus on shotguns that follow the model you'd expect from the class: workable clip size, low rate of fire, and lovely high damage.
By these standards, there are two shotguns that stand out as absolutely the best in Mass Effect Andromeda, and the N7 Crusader has a very slight edge over the runner up, the Disciple. Its damage and accuracy are just a little bit better, and they have identical weight, clip size and rate of fire. It's only drawback is its narrow focus - it hits the target in front of you, not a group.
Like other shotguns in this class the N7 Crusader has a slow reload speed, so as a primary weapon it favours those who like to get in and out quickly, and use powers and melee as often as rifles. It is the vanguard's best friend, and well worth the effort of crafting up.
Also try: the Disciple really is the only comparable weapon. It fires spread projectiles which can hit groups rather than single targets, which you may prefer. It's also very pretty, being an Asari weapon.
Best Shotgun for high damage: Dhan
If you want to pack a shotgun for use not as a primary weapon but to hit very, very hard at close range, and potentially get you out of an emergency situation, Mass Effect Andromeda has you covered.
Of the two most powerful shotguns in the game, our pick is the Dhan. It only holds two shots per clip, but if you're playing smart, those two shots - or maybe even just one of them - will be all you need. This baby packs a mean punch.
Like the N7 Crusader, the Dhan fires a straight projectile with no spread, so while it requires more precise aiming than a spread shottie it doesn't suffer as badly from damage drop off over distance. It's great for beating up that one guy right in front of you rather than blasting away when you get swarmed. Get in close and pull it out after you drop an enemy's shields to eat into that health or ammo bar most satisfactorily.
Also try: the Ruzad has comparable damage and boasts a three-shot clip with spread - but it's also significantly heavier. Your choice.
Best SMG for eating shields: Equalizer
SMGs have been lumped into the pistol category, but there are loads to choose from if you go looking. These rapid-fire weapons are fantastic for taking down shields before you whip out something heavier to do actual damage, and they're lighter than assault rifles, making them a great choice for those who favour heavy power usage. Just about their only downside is a tendency to lose damage and accuracy at distance; you'll want something like an assault rifle for Architect battles, probably.
Since damage is pretty standard across the whole category, what we look for in an SMG for shield work is a high rate of fire and a nice big clip. The Equalizer is the winner here, on balance: while it doesn't have the highest rate of fire in the class, it has excellent accuracy to make up for this very small shortfall, meaning you waste fewer shots. The Equalizer is also the lightest of the higher-rated SMGs.
The only consideration here is that the Equalizer uses a heat-based reload system, meaning you have to let it cool down. If you don't like that, look elsewhere. We've got a good suggestion below.
Also try: the N7 Hurricane is still an absolute beast. It has the best rate of fire and a nice big clip; just be wary of its lower accuracy and higher weight.
Best Pistol for heavy damage: Scorpion
If you want to do heavy weapon damage without lugging around assault rifles and shotguns, a heavy pistol is your best friend. These slow firing, hard-hitting, highly accurate hand guns are the perfect complement to a nice SMG. They come into play when the shields are down, the weak points are exposed, and you are ready to do a murder.
Our favourite weapon in this class is the Scorpion, making a return from the original trilogy. It has very high damage for a pistol class weapon, and it fires sticky grenades. Sticky. Grenades. Not the most traditional handgun, we grant you, but deadly effective if you can master its timing; you'll need to wait a moment after landing a shot for the damage to kick in.
There's only one other weapon in the pistol class which approaches the Scorpion for all round performance, and that's the Talon - but the Talon is a shotgun-style handgun, meaning it only works at close range. The Scorpion allows you to stand back and dish damage from safety.
Also try: newcomer the Ushior is an Angaran pistol with just one shot in the clip - but what a shot! Exceptional damage and accuracy make it a fantastic last measure, but its comparatively high weight will see it regretfully left behind by many an intrepid explorer.
Best Sniper Rifle: Black Widow
Sniping in Mass Effect Andromeda is a bit tricky, since it's much harder to get your squadmates to run interference, and encounters rarely involve nice long sightlines. But if you're the sort of skilled player who can make a sniper rifle work when you're on the go, you have options.
Another original trilogy hang-on, the Black Widow remains best in class. Its damage is only fractionally lower than its rivals, and alone among the high damage snipers it holds three shots. That's going to be important in Mass Effect Andromeda's run-and-gun playstyle, which makes it difficult to take your one shot and then reset.
The Black Widow is also lighter than the others, with identical accuracy. Don't get the Black Widow mixed up with its also-ran cousin the Widow; that heavier variant has just one shot and a lower rate of fire. It'll do in a pinch but it's no substitute.
Also try: the Isharay has the highest damage in the sniper rifle class. It's heavy and one shot only, but with a good multiplayer crew for support it would be deadly indeed.
Best Melee: Asari Sword
Melee weapons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes in Mass Effect Andromeda, and fall into various classes. Daggers and biotic amplifiers do light but fast damage. Omni-tools are a little slower, but hit harder. Gauntlets are slow with low damage, but have an elemental effect. Hammers hit very hard, knock enemies down, and are relatively fast. Swords tend to hit hard, but be a bit slow to wind up.
But the Asari Sword? The Asari Sword is a thing of beauty. It has the highest damage output of any melee weapon in the game, and there is no reason to give even a single shit about how slow its attack windup animation is, because you will blink out of existence during the biotic animation, making you briefly invulnerable. It. Is. Glorious.
The image shows one we crafted up to complement a vanguard run, by the way. You can do some really special things with augments, if you're focused on a particular build.
Also try: the Krogan Hammer also has a unique animation and very good damage and attack speed. A fantastic second choice if you're not an Asari fan.
Best weapon to pack because why not: Sidewinder
There's really no excuse to put the Sidewinder on a "best weapons" list, except that it's super fun. This six-shot gun has a classic revolver aesthetic, and you are welcome to ask everyone what time it is before you unholster it, so you can then inform that it is high noon.
Sidewinder is a pretty average gun. It does better damage than an SMG, and its rate of fire and accuracy are more than reasonable. This doesn't really make up for its small clip size, but in an emergency it's really cool to pull it out and fan the hammer. Maybe those six shots are all you need?
As another bonus it weighs very little, so if you've got the space, hey: why not pack it? It is super cool.
Also try: if you're looking for a very light weapon that behaves differently from others in the class, the Razerad is a weird gun that increases its rate of fire as you hold the trigger down. It has a huge clip, too.