I've been replaying Mass Effect lately, and I recently noticed something: Commander Shepard is a naval officer in charge of a (presumably armed) warship.

This is significant because there are a lot of surface missions where the obvious solution to fights where the Mako is outgunned is "radio Joker and have the Normandy bomb/strafe the crap out of the [Geth base/thresher maw/mercenary camp/whatever]." And yet he never does. Here he is, with what everyone keeps calling one of the most advanced ships in the fleet... and he treats it as nothing more than a bus.


There is no official statement as to why Normandy is not used for strikes, but here it is probably related to the fact that strikes by starship guns tend to level the entire area. Quite often, enemies are located in areas that you want to enter or otherwise not to destroy.

That is the first part, related to firepower.
The second is related to the nature of Normandy:

Normandy is a stealth vessel, a submarine in space if you will. It is not a strike craft. While Normandy can hide itself in space, for a limited amount of time, it can be seen from a planet's surface where anti-starship guns can target it. Furthermore, since the ME fields needs to be generated to allow the ship to fly in gravity fields, its shields are weak. In one of the ME books (I forgot which), a frigate was destroyed by a shoulder launched anti-ship missile launcher in the atmosphere.

Often, the Normandy operates in areas that the enemy is heavily entrenched in and as a result, trying to approach these areas for high-precision attacks, is far more risky than just taking the site on foot. For example, on Feros, trying to attack the Geth dropship would have had every Geth gun target Normandy, which is not build for extended combat.

Talking with Anderson and Presley, they will tell you that Normandy is ideal for stealthy insertions rather than combat. In other words, being a "bus". It has teeth, but it should only bare those as a last resort. Its primary method of dealing with enemies is to hide and run, not stand and fight.
This is best seen in the opening of Mass Effect 2: the moment the Normandy is noticed by the Collectors and it fails to hide and run, it suffers catastrophic damage.

  • Perhaps the weapons don't even work properly in [different] atmospheres? I seem to remember ME1 has some pretty harsh environments that you land the MAKO in (death in 10 seconds?) - perhaps the Normandy can only tolerate these briefly?
    – Smock
    Oct 16 '19 at 9:05
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    I don't issue is atmosphere. If Mako can survive them, then Normandy should be more than capable of handling them. There was no mention of atmospheric conditions limitations for Normandy anywhere. Furthermore, the gun is a mass accelerator: it simply "throws" a solid slug at extreme speeds. It should not be affected by the atmosphere that much, unlike GARDIAN lasers.
    – Mandemon
    Oct 16 '19 at 9:29
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    @Mandemo I highlighted parts of your answer (I like that second sentence, +1 :) as I edited it. If you disagree, you can change it, naturally.
    – Joachim
    Oct 16 '19 at 9:35
  • I'm not sure that example really applies. It's been a while since I played 2, but I seem to recall that the reason the Normandy got beaten was not that it got in a fight per se, but that it got in a fight with a ship much bigger than itself. (And armed with Reaper weapons tech to boot!) Oct 16 '19 at 15:52
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    It is true that Collector vessel carriers a massive particle beam weapon, but as can been over ME2 with the Normandy SR-2, a sufficiently armed ship can deal with it and take a blow (at least one). SR-1 had none of the upgrades and the beam acted like the barrier wasn't even there
    – Mandemon
    Oct 17 '19 at 11:00

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