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Since I follow the XKCD theory of gaming, I'm just now playing through the Mass Effect trilogy.

I'm near the start of Mass Effect 2, and having recovered Garrus I now have the option to spend materials to upgrade the weapons systems on the Normandy 2. What sort of priority should I put on these upgrades? The existence of this option implies that there's some ship-to-ship combat in ME2, though there was none in ME1, but without any reference point I don't know if it's a good use of resources.

(Answer without spoilers if possible.)

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up vote 22 down vote accepted

The three ship combat upgrades (armor, weapons, and shields) are only relevant in the final mission. However, they are essential if you want the best result in it.

When the Normandy travels through the Omega relay, it is attacked by a collector ship. For each of the three upgrades your are missing, you will lose a squad member:

- Missing the armour upgrade will cause Jack to be killed.
- Missing the shield upgrade will kill the first character on this list who is recruited and not one of the two members in your party: Kasumi, Legion, Tali, Thane, Garrus, Zaeed, Grunt, Samara
- Missing the weapons upgrade will kill the first possible character from the following: Thane, Garrus, Zaeed, Grunt, Jack, Samara

Losing a squad member here causes you to fail the No One Left Behind achievement.

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Are the upgrades linked to a specific crew member (or set of crew members) or is it random? e.g. If you don't have the cannon, Tali dies or such. – Compro01 Jan 12 at 5:09
    
@compro01 Specific crew. There's a list for each one depending on who's recruited/purchased/available. I'll post it when I can. – Studoku Jan 12 at 10:47

Near the start of the game, upgrading ship weapons is not that important.

It is only towards the end of the game that they are very important.

(The suicide mission)

You do go toe to toe against another ship as you rightly surmised.

In the last mission, the survival of your crew depends upon your ship upgrades.

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In addition to the mission mentioned by Studoku, the Normandy ship upgrades also indirectly affect the ending of Mass Effect 3.

For each installed upgrade, the Alliance Frigate Normandy SR-2 war asset is given a 25 point increase to its Military Strength value.

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2  
Which is barely registerable benefit, even when added to the effects connected with Studoku's spoiler, so that part is not really important. – Deltharis Jan 11 at 15:27
    
@Deltharis they're 75 points combined, or 38 if you have 50% Readiness rating. On my first playthrough, they were less than 1% of my EMS. Do not underestimate the potency of the effects though. If you choose wrong, you could easily miss out on another Thousand MS. For example, certain effects make a peaceful resolution of a certain conflict impossible, which can cost you a few hundred MS. Of course, if you are a completionist, you're unlikely to encounter this situation. – Nzall Jan 11 at 15:43
    
I'm not negating the importance of overall gain of ME3 assets through ME2 decisions. It's just that on its own this effect would classify for "not important at all" as the answer to the question. – Deltharis Jan 11 at 15:58
2  
That's the same number of points as 75 Conrad Verners. – Studoku Jan 12 at 0:56
1  
+1, This is essentially irrelevant, but still interesting to note. – DCShannon Jan 12 at 2:40

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