Mass Effect 2 Ship Upgrades: Normandy research guide

Character growth is a solid staple of role-playing games, and arguably one of the most important characters of Mass Effect 2 is the Normandy SR-2 - and in finest RPG tradition, the Normandy gets a range of ship upgrades that you'll want to consider spending your hard-earned resources on. 

In ME2, the Normandy SR-2 Ship Upgrades can be accessed through the science bay as soon as you've recruited your head of science, Mordin, via the Dossier: The Professor Mission that's granted right at the start of your free-roaming access to space where you can choose your own mission order. As soon as Mordin is on board the ship, a range of characters including Miranda, Jacob, and even Doctor Chakwas will begin suggesting Normandy upgrades to you.

The ship upgrades are filed into the research menu under the Ship Enhancements option. With how they're presented in-game, we're not surprised that some are confused about what ship upgrades actually do. It's a strange one, as some of the Normandy research upgrades are essential, while others are superfluous. Ship Upgrades in ME2 basically break into two categories:

  • First, there's the Ship Upgrades that impact Mass Effect 2's story. These upgrades are important, as they can have a major effect on who might live or die in the later stages of the game. There's three of these upgrades total. We won't get into spoilers here, but we explain what each does and who it might kill if you don't have them on our ME2 Suicide Mission & ending guide
  • Second, there's the Quality of Life Ship Upgrades. These are a little more self-indulgent, and are basically a way to make your life cruising around the galaxy gathering resources much easier. In addition, one expensive upgrade can repair Shepard's unsightly facial scars, if they're bothering you.

Normandy SR-2 Ship Upgrades that Impact the Mass Effect 2 story

These ship upgrades are vital as they can help determine who lives or dies in the suicide mission. These upgrades are as important as completing all your squad member's loyalty missions, even. If you don't have these upgrades once you pass the ME2 point of no return, people will almost certainly die.

  • Heavy Ship Armor (15,000 Palladium): this armor will help protect the ship if it's hit by ordinance and the shields don't hold - and if you don't have this for the suicide mission, it might have some... negative effects. Jacob suggests this upgrade.
  • Multicore Shielding (15,000 Palladium): these special Kinetic Barriers upgrade the ship's shields significantly, which will help to stop many things from reaching the ship's actual armor. The original Normandy could've used this, and you will regret not having it. Tali comes up with this one.
  • Thanix Cannon (15,000 Platinum): Garrus suggests this upgrade, some heavy-duty Turian cannons installed onto the front of the ship as its new main gun. Having access to this for the final mission is a good idea.

Quality of Life Normandy SR-2 Ship Upgrades

These upgrades are nice to have, and will save you time and headaches... but they won't save Shepard's life.

  • Advanced Mineral Scanner (15,000 Iridium): the Argus Scanner Array upgrade will speed up the planet scanning mini-game, which is a godsend, but not crucial. Miranda suggests the uprgade.
  • Extended Fuel Cells (3000 Element Zero): while Eezo is in short supply, this doubles the Normandy's fuel supply on the Galaxy Map. Samara will suggest this if you ask her for ideas.
  • Med-Bay Upgrade (50,000 Platinum): this upgrade is expensive, especially considering it is entirely cosmetic. Doctor Chakwas will email this suggestion to you once Mordin is recruited. In ME2, Shepard has facial scarring that will worsen especially if you are Renegade. Buying this upgrade heals Shepard's face.
  • Modular Probe Bay (15,000 Iridium): for planet scanning without any interruptions, this upgrade makes probing easier by doubling the ship's total probe capacity.