At rank 5, Nova can evolve one of two different ways, Power Recharge or Half Blast. The descriptions are:

  • Power Recharge - Increase recharge speed of all powers by 25% for 15s.

    • Damage: 385
    • Force: 585N
    • Radius: 4m

  • Half Blast - Gain the option to use nova two times in a row by reducing its barrier consumption by 50% but at the cost of reducing damage and force by 40%.

    • Damage: 245
    • Force: 405N
    • Radius: 4m

Given these statistics, how much DPS does each version of the power do over the same period of time, all other factors (enemy shields/armor/barrier, difficulty, etc.) being equal? I'm having trouble figuring this out by eyeballing it because I'm unsure if Power Recharge increases Nova's recharge as well and what effect that would have.

If there are other, more situational factors that would significantly affect the DPS output that are more clear from hands-on experience with each version (basically, if it sounds good on paper but actually isn't so much in practice), please mention those in your answer.

  • Not sure about the answer to this, but it feels like a secondary consideration to me in evaluating these two abilities. Honestly, the key benefit of Power Recharge is that it brings Biotic Charge off cooldown faster. By contrast, the key benefit of Half Blast is more defensive - it lets you fire off a Nova for knockback/detonation purposes after a Charge without leaving yourself defenseless. Mar 8, 2012 at 23:05

3 Answers 3


Power recharge doesn't affect Nova since whether or not you can use Nova depends entirely on if you have shields or not. The biggest point of the power recharge is to make your Biotic charge have a lower cooldown so you can go into a crazy Charge->Nova->Charge->Repeat cycle until whatever you are targeting dies.

If you are comparing absolute DPS, the Charge->Nova->Charge->Repeat combo can't be beat. The reason behind this is that, once your power recharge rate goes up high enough, your charge will be instantly available right after a Nova, and rather than doing a second nova at half damage, you can do a full blown charge at max damage. Since this is the case, you want your only nova to do as much damage as possible rather than just 60%.

However, if you worry about survivability, then you can go for the half powered nova so you retain some shields.

In my first playthrough, I went the entire game using the Charge->Nova->Charge pattern (difficulty hardcore), and I had no issues with survivability. Just don't do something silly like Charge into a banshee and get impaled.


I'm talking about single player.

Half Nova is actually much better, especially on insanity difficulty.

The damage penalty of 40% applies to the BASE damage, not the TOTAL damage.

For example, the base damage is 100, and you get 100% boost through passives/upgrades/gears.

  • Half Nova : 100*0.6 + 100*1.0 = 160
  • Full Nova : 100*1.0 + 100*1.0 = 200

I did some test runs on insanity difficulty and found out there are hardly situations where Half Nova didn't manage to kill foes in one shot where Full Nova would.

Weaker ones die in one shot, stronger ones die in two shots.

In most cases the only difference is how much of their health was left after the first shot, and it really doesn't matter since they won't survive the second combo anyway.

Further, if you take full Nova, you are more or less forced to pull Nova out immediately after charge for maximum possible damage, but since Half Nova consumes 50% of MAXIMUM shield and NOT REMAINING shield, you can quickly fire a shell between charge and nova while not sacrificing the maximum possible damage at all.


I forgot to mention that if you pick rank6 pierce(you should), marauder/centurion's shields are vaporized regardless half/full or being the charge's target prior to Nova.

And again, the 25% cooldown boost of Power Recharge applies to the base speed.

Assuming you already have 200%+ boost, resulting in 300% cooldown speed, what you get through Power Recharge is 325%, and NOT 300*1.25 = 375%.

325% instead 300% is about 8.3% increase which is not negligible, but not considerable either. And this value is diminishing the more upgrade/armor enhancements are done.

You will probably play on insanity in new game+, with all the armor pieces purchased, all passives already at max at level 60.

To sum it up, BOTH damage and cooldown advantages of Power Recharge are diminishing the higher your level, the better your gears, and the more upgrades while Half Nova adds to survivablity and more importantly, FUN through crazy combos that would be too risky with Power Recharge.

True, the DPS might be somewhat higher with Power Recharge in GAMETIME, but the REALTIME DPS with Half Nova is actually considerably higher due to the fact that you charge less(less time dilation), and don't have to resort to HUD interrupt that much, at least for me.

PS1 : combos? Charge->Nova->Pull->Charge/Nova/(to a lesser degree)Shockwave. Hardly anything within the (multiple) biotic detonations survives.

PS2 : Charge radius wins hands down since Damage&Force charge will almost always push the victim out of the Nova's reach, even with Nova radius upgrade. And radius charge very often causes double (triple with luck) biotic detonations in the combo above.

PS3 : If you encounter a group of foes from some distance, pull, then charge. Starting with some nice biotic detonations, you will literally slaughter them in no time.


Did some more experiments:

  • Charge base damage : 250
  • Nova base damage : 350
  • Half Blast's damage penalty : 40%

In ME3, active powers' gain/loss like Nova ALWAYS apply to the base damage.

Therefore, the damage difference between Power Recharge and Half Blast is stuck at 140, just like rank4 pick damage/radius.

My level 60 Vanguard's "least powerful" Nova does almost 800 damage as is with armors/upgrades. (radius + half blast)

Pick Garrus and Javik as sqad member, they add 10% damage each. Charge's Power Synergy gives 25%. There might be more upgrades. (Just finished Geth server)

So, the weakest NOVA does approximately 1000 damage.

For me, it's not worth heavily sacrificing survivablity and flexibility to get a damage increase of around 14%.

I think it's also obvious that the radius increase is more preferable than damage increase. 6.6m vs 5m might sound not too impressive, but it's actually 136.78m2 vs 78.5m2 which is more than 74% increase.

I might be wrong, but my experiments also indicate that the total shield strength doesn't affect Nova damage, just the percentage depleted matters.

If I'm right at this, it would be another reason to favor Half Nova, since it would almost always do its maximum damage while this might be not the case with Full Nova.


I you do the simple math, the combined damage of the two blast would be 120% if you don't take any damage between blasts. If you shield depletes your 2nd nova is obviously weaker. For someone like me I would choose the power recharge.

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