Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer: Human Engineer

Class Overview:

I've been spending a little more time playing as the original (non-Cerb, non-N7) human classes lately, and I'm beginning to detect a pattern: the original human classes, with the possible exception of the Infiltrator, are all geared toward maximizing power recharge time and spamming the you-know-what out of one or two seemingly unimpressive (but not really) abilities. With the Adept it's Shockwave. With the Soldier it's Concussive Shot. With the Vanguard it's the infamous Charge/Nova combo.

With the Human Engineer it's everything. Like Spamfest '98.

Combat Drone can be spammed. Incinerate can be spammed. Overload was flat-out MEANT to be spammed. If there was ever a class where it's possible to top the scoreboard without ONCE pulling the trigger, it's the Engineer.

With that in mind, it should be pretty easy to see where I'm going with this build...

Class Powers:

1. Combat Drone. Back when I did my Mass Effect 2 Power Rankings, I rated Combat Drone as the overall best power in that game. I have yet to put together such a list for ME3's multiplayer (or single player), but it's a safe bet that this will be near the top yet again. The multiplayer version has lost a little bit of its original appeal (Combat Drone no longer draws the undivided attention of EVERY enemy in the area), but make no mistake, it's still a terrific power.

What makes the Combat Drone so effective is that it's still the best way to project your firepower without presenting yourself as a target to the enemy. It's completely expendable, yet can kill minions with an efficiency rivaling that of many Bronze-level human players. Add the new rocket attack, and it becomes an effective measure against big armored stuff, as well. You'd be silly NOT to level this thing to rank six.

Your choice at rank four really depends on whether you plan on taking the rocket option at rank six. If you are (and you should), expanding the Drone's overall damage and longevity should be your focus here. I was always partial to the explosion effect in ME2, but that was for the pre-rocket Combat Drone.

At rank five, even more damage and shield protection is probably the better choice. I DO like the stun effect though, so it's definitely worth a look if you already went with damage/shields at rank four.

The rockets should be an easy selection at rank six. The pulse stun chain is probably sweet-looking against huge crowds of low-level bad guys; but there are plenty of other ways to deal with THOSE. Arming your Drone with rockets gives you another legitimate option against bosses....and it's still pretty good vs. little stuff, too.

2. Incinerate. The more I use Incinerate, the more I like it. With the proper bonuses applied, this power's progressive damage works wonders against pretty much everything not wearing a shield or barrier. Whether you're softening up light enemies for a quicker kill or spamming the power repeatedly to wear down the armor of bigger foes, Incinerate will likely be your Human Engineer's workhorse power. If you're debating whether to level Incinerate or Overload to rank six, choose Incinerate. Armor is generally much more of a pain that a shield or barrier.

At rank four, I like the 30% damage bonus for this build. Radius DOES make it less likely the enemy will dodge your fireball, but since I typically gear this power to be most effective against the really big stuff (which never dodges anything ever), I don't much care about that.

At rank five, recharge is undeniably nice, but an extra 50% damage over eight seconds is nicer. This power can be spammed either way, and the progressive damage lends itself to longer waits between casting.

At rank six, you can finish making this power your dedicated boss-killer by taking the 50% bonus against armored enemies. Incinerate is already great against armor; this evolution makes it even better.

3. Overload. Overload....busting fools' shields since November 2007. And while shield-killing is certainly Overload's primary purpose, it can also be used to effectively stun any non-boss-type to set up for an easier headshot.

I like Overload, and use it quite a bit. However, I find that since it's great for taking down shields at pretty much any level, it's usually best to stop putting points into this power at rank four. This lets you pick either a flat 30% damage upgrade or the chain-lightning thing.

I like the chain-lightning thing; as its effect is noticeable almost immediately- letting you stun TWO enemies instead of just the one you targeted.

4. Alliance Training. Alliance Training is the Human Engineer's first passive power; granting percent bonuses to weight capacity, power damage/force, and weapon damage. Since this build is centered around heavy use of all three of the Human Engineer's castable powers, leveling Alliance Training to at least rank five is practically a must. Pick the bonus to power damage and force at both rank four and five.

You could probably sacrifice the points from rank six if you wanted to level up Overload some more, but I'm personally partial to the 10% bonus to weapon damage at that last evolution.

5. Fitness. Fitness is this class' health/shields/melee passive power. Melee is a non-factor for this build, so points at any of the advanced levels should be used solely to boost health and/or shields. I've never had a survivability issue with this class, so I generally just level Fitness to rank four early on and just leave it. That gives me 700 health and 700 shields. Not bad. And not much less than the 850 that I'd have if I'd invested the points for rank six. For this build I just don't think it's worth it.

Build Summary:

Combat Drone to rank six, damage/stunner/rockets

Incinerate to rank six, damage/progressive damage/bonus against armor

Overload to rank four, chain lightning

Alliance Training to rank six, power damage/power damage/weapon damage

Fitness to rank four, health and shields

Recommended Weapons: Naturally you'll want to go with something lighter here...perhaps your favorite SMG or pistol, or the Avenger. I'd say just make sure your recharge bonus ends up no less than 170%. My personal favorite for this build is the Arc pistol. It has ammo issues, but packs a decent punch, is fast, and just kind of fits with the class.

Recommended Gear: Since I like the Arc Pistol for this build, I'm partial to the Pistol Amp (or whatever it's called) that grants a percent bonus to pistol damage. A power damage bonus would be okay, as well.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer: Human Soldier


The Human Soldier just might be my favorite human character in ME3's multiplayer game. Much like the Human Adept, you hardly ever see people using this class. I can see why, as (on the surface, anyway) the other races in the Soldier category have far more attractive and exotic power sets. Who seriously picks Adrenaline Rush, lame Frag Grenades, and that weaksauce Concussive Shot over megapowers like Carnage, Flamethrower, Marksman, and Inferno Grenades?

Well, I do.

Frag Grenades might be boring, but with a little accuracy they can be certified boss-killers. And sure, Concussive Shot seems weak....until you realize it's got one of the fastest recharge times in the game and can be spammed ad nauseum to devastating effect. Heck, even Adrenaline Rush has its uses.

But that's why I've become a bit partial to the Human Soldier. There's just something satisfying about going into a match as a lowly Human Soldier, equipped with a lowly Avenger assault rifle, and still topping the scoreboard, reviving everyone else multiple times, and generally being the MVP on a team full of snipers and would-be "power classes."

What follows is the build I currently use to do just that...

Class Powers:

1. Adrenaline Rush. I've never been a big fan of Adrenaline Rush. Even back in Mass Effect 2, with legit time dilation and a spammably short recharge time, I always found Adrenaline Rush to be a bit of a novelty power that, while effective in spots, was generally a good way to make myself play stupid and get killed. I just don't like the "you've-got-seven-seconds-to-do-as-much-damage-as-possible-with-your-guns-so-you-better-not-use-cover-or-play-smart-just-stand-out-there-and-spray-like-a-maniac" mentality that this power (and Marksman, to a lesser extent) forces me to adopt. But hey, if you can use Adrenaline Rush to better effect than I can, by all means do it.

For this build, however, I generally end up buying the fourth rank of the power simply because I've nowhere left to put the points. I don't carry a heavy weapon on my Human Soldier to take advantage of a damage bonus, so I prefer the 40% bonus to health and shields. This gives me a defensive escape power to prolong my life when I'm pinned down, taking rockets, and need to run to a new position. I don't use Adrenaline Rush on offense because I'm too busy spamming Concussive Shot.

2. Concussive Shot. Which brings us to Concussive Shot. I treat this power as a targetable version of Shockwave; alternating between spraying the foe with my Avenger and then knocking them down/back again with Concussive Shot until they are dead. This is an AMAZING tactic for dealing with virtually every enemy that is vulnerable in any way to knockback.

If you're set up to maximize recharge time, Concussive Shot has a faster "reload" than many shotguns and sniper rifles. It does similar damage, uses zero ammunition, and can be curved around corners. And even if you just HAVE to carry a heavier weapon and therefore are not set up to maximize recharge time, Concussive Shot will STILL have a faster recharge time than most other powers.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I highly recommend leveling this power all the way to rank six.

At rank four, I prefer the 30% bonus to force and damage over the addition of a 1.5 meter radius. Radius is nice, but since I can just fire off another Concussive Shot if I happen to miss (or want to hit multiple enemies), its overall effectiveness isn't what it would be on a slower power. Damage is damage. I'll take the damage.

If you're gonna equip Cryo Rounds all the time, I guess the double-damage to frozen targets is worth taking at rank five. If you're like me, however, and you practically never use ammo bonuses, the recharge bonus is an easy choice here. It makes Concussive Shot even MORE spammable than it already is...

The same logic applies at rank six. If you use ammo powers quite a bit, by all means go with the evolution that applies the effects those ammo powers to Concussive Shot. I like the other one, though, because it makes this power flat lethal against organics (2/3 of the game's enemies).

3. Frag Grenades. Eh, nothing fancy here. Just your run-of-the-mill pineapple grenade that's appeared in every shooter since the dawn of time. That said, the Frag Grenade has great damage and a decent blast radius; making it the perfect option against boss-type enemies and large groups.

Level it all the way, picking radius, extra grenades, and the 75% bonus to armor.

Alternatively, you COULD go with the opposite choices at ranks four and five...especially if you're only planning on using this power against bosses. The extra 30% damage will be noticed; and that 50% progressive damage to organics....yikes. You'd be trading versatility for killing power, so it's really your call....

4. Alliance Training. Alliance training is the Soldier's passive power that grants bonuses to weapon damage, power damage, and weight capacity. I take it to the sixth rank, going with power damage all the way until the 10% bonus to weapon damage at level six. This build is centered around Concussive Shot and the Frag Grenades, and the power damage bonuses at ranks four and five will have them working at maximum effectiveness.

If you've got a better place for the six points at rank six and don't think you'll notice the extra weapon damage, by all means, put them somewhere else. Your only choices are in Fitness and Adrenaline Rush, though...

5. Fitness. Humans aren't exactly the most blessed race when it comes to health and shields. They're okay, but not spectacular. Fitness can do a lot to change that, but for some reason with this particular build I hardly ever find myself wishing I had more hit points. Maybe because I'm always running around like a maniac.....the Human Soldier IS the game's premier run-n-gun class...

In any event, I find it's most useful to level Fitness to rank four (quite early) and then just leave it alone. This will give you enough health and shields that you won't feel like you're made of soggy kleenex...but leave you with more than enough points to max out the powers that really matter for this class: Concussive Shot and Frag Grenade.

Build Summary:

Adrenaline Rush to rank four, emphasis on health and shields

Concussive Shot to rank six, damage/recharge/damage to organics

Frag Grenade to rank six, radius/extra grenades/damage to armor

Alliance Training to rank six, power damage/power damage/weapon damage

Fitness to rank four, emphasis on health and shields

Recommended Weapons: I'm partial to the lowly Avenger assault rifle for this class. I like to run and gun, leading with Concussive Shot and keeping the foe on his heels with my Avenger while it recharges. I've been successful on all difficulties with this setup, so I see little need to sacrifice my recharge time by going with something heavier.

Recommended Gear: I recommend the extra-grenades gear for any class that HAS grenades, so this is an easy choice.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer: Human Adept


I guess I could be wrong, but I feel like the Human Adept (non Cerberus) is an overlooked class in multiplayer. Weapons are generally favored over powers in multiplayer; and since the Human Adept in particular is the definition of a powers-based class, it's often passed over entirely by players looking to carry the heaviest loadout possible. This is somewhat understandable, as rolling with a Claymore shotgun isn't exactly conducive to setting up power combos and/or the spamming of Shockwave...

Speaking of which, you HAVE tried spamming Shockwave, haven't you? Well, if you haven't, let me tell you- Shockwave is perhaps the most underrated power in all of multiplayer. Anyone who thinks it sucks hasn't used it enough. Provided you target this power correctly, it will knock down or at least stagger anything that isn't a Banshee or Brute. It deals decent damage to multiple targets at once; and is one of the only powers (if not THE only power) that can be fired straight through a wall. You can also combine it with Warp for combo detonations. Shockwave was meant to be spammed, and it's a beast of a power. Don't let any fool on some message board suggest otherwise.

To this end, it's my contention that any serious Silver/Gold Adept build should be centered around Warp and Shockwave. Singularity has been the Human Adept's signature power for three games, but it's just not versatile enough to be a reliable option in a multiplayer firefight. You can still do the combo detonation thing with Shockwave, and it's MUCH more viable for all-around use.

Class Powers:

1. Singularity. Remember Mass Effect 1's Singularity? How you could drop one in the middle of a room full of Geth Primes, Armatures, and Rocket Troopers (all fully shielded) and watch them float in magical circles of death? Well, since then, Singularity has been progressively nerfed to the point that it's now little more than a conditional power that's great for toying with unshielded peons on Bronze difficulty. Singularity is still effective against groups of unshielded, unarmored foes; but beyond that?'re better off looking up a new number in the Human Adept's rolodex of biotic powers.

Since the game was nice enough to automatically put the first point in Singularity, however, you might as well level it to three out of respect to the gamebreaking superpower it once was...or not. Your call.

2. Warp. I love Warp. I've loved it since it came into its own as the premier armor eater and biotic detonation catalyst back in ME2. Warp isn't quite the monster power that it was in that game, but it's still highly useful and effective in both ME3's single player and multiplayer iterations.

Used alone, Warp deals decent progressive damage and can weaken enemies against subsequent weapon and power attacks. It's also great for triggering biotic explosions. Fire it after Singularity or before Shockwave. Warp is still a great power, and you'll want to level it all the way to six for maximum effectivness.

At level four, the choice really depends on your playstyle. Some folks just like to spam powers repeatedly without bothering to set up combo detonations. If that's you, go with the 30% damage bonus. If extra explosions are your thing, however, you'd be remiss if you didn't choose the 50% detonation option. I've done both, and both approaches have their advantages. This build involves maxing out Warp and Shockwave. And while they work great as a combo, they also work just fine when spammed exclusively from each other.

At level five, I give the slight edge to the damage and duration evolution. I think it's a little better than the ten second, 15% vulnerabilty to weapons and powers because it doesn't require you to stick around to keep dealing damage. It's also the better option for combo fans.

Level six offers the easiest choice; as the 50% bonus against barriers and armor is MUCH more noticeable than a boost to recharge time.

3. Shockwave. Shockwave is the power that makes the Human Adept viable in Silver and Gold matches. Getting swarmed by Geth Hunters and Pyros? Husks? A Phantom? Try spamming multiple Shockwaves in their general direction. I've already gone into why Shockwave is so awesome in this build's overview, so I won't repeat myself....but suffice to say that if you're playing as a Human Adept, you should be making liberal use of Shockwave.

While it's tempting to pick the damage and force option at level four, radius is the better choice. It can even mean the difference between life and death; as it makes the power much more forgiving when you're using it under heavy fire. Remember, Shockwave must be aimed manually- it doesn't auto-target.

And as much as I like biotic detonations, the 50% range bonus is my recommendation at rank five. Without this bonus, Shockwave is more or less restricted to close range. You don't want that.

Recharge speed is the easy choice at rank six. Picking this evolution allows a lightly armed Human Adept to spam Shockwave almost continuously (OR alternate it with Warp for the explosions). That makes it an easy choice over the lift option, which of course doesn't work against armored targets.

4. Alliance Training. Alliance Training is the Human Adept's first passive ability. It grants bonuses to weapon damage, power damage and force, and weight capacity. Since it's absolutely critical to have Warp and Shockwave dealing as much damage as possible, you'll want to level this power to rank five and pick both of the bonuses to power damage and force.

5. Fitness. Fitness offers bonuses to health, shields, and melee damage. This build should never be using melee, but the bonuses to health and shields are definitely worth spending points on- even to rank six. Humans aren't super fragile, but every bit of health and shields makes a difference (especially if you're playing above Bronze).

Build Summary:

Singularity to rank three

Warp to rank six, four and five chosen to suit your playstyle, bonus to barriers and armor at rank six

Shockwave to rank six, radius/range/recharge speed

Alliance Training to rank five, emphasis on power damage and force

Fitness to rank six, emphasis on health and shields

Recommended Weapons: Since you'll be using your weapons primarily to strip shields and finish enemies off, go with your favorite SMG or light assault rifle. Try to keep your recharge bonus as close to 200% as possible. Full auto is better than burst-fire or semi-auto for this build, as you'll often be too busy casting powers to bother aiming down the sights anyway.

Recommended Gear: The shield bonus is good, but you could pick really any piece of gear that benefits either assault rifles, SMG's, or biotic damage/combos. Choice of gear won't make or break this build either way.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer: Class Breakdown- Quarian Infiltrator

Overview: If you've played any ME3 multiplayer at all, I'd wager you already know the typical Infiltrator build: level Tactical Cloak for the maxmum damage boost and pick the biggest sniper rifle you've unlocked. This goes for basically any race of Infiltrator; as Tactical Cloak offers the same sniper-buffing bonuses all across the racial spectrum. And I don't blame folks for doing this, either. The Infiltrator, after all, IS the de facto "sniper class," and in ME3 (like most shooters) accuracy with a sniper rifle is always a viable means of topping the scoreboard.

While you can certainly create a powerful Quarian Infiltrator build in that fashion, the class also provides a unique opportunity to exploit Tactical Cloak's damage bonus for something other than its obvious intent.

I'm talking about Arc Grenades. Combining an unfairly large radius with decent killing power, the new Arc Grenades add much-needed punch to BOTH of the new Quarian male classes. Awesome in their own right, they become downright NASTY when used in conjunction with Tactical Scan and (you guessed it) Tactical Cloak. Math is always your friend; and with the Quarian Infiltrator, all those stacking percentage bonuses can translate into massive damage to lots of enemies over a huge area. Slap on the gear that lets you carry EVEN MORE grenades and just watch the kills and assists pile up.

Class Powers:

1. Tactical Cloak. Tactical Cloak has been the Infiltrator's signature power since ME2. It lets you turn invisible for a short period of time. This does wonders for the class' durability and escapability, but the perks don't stop there. Attacking while cloaked also grants a significant damage bonus. This can be further enhanced by leveling up the power and picking the proper evolutions at ranks four thru six.

Sniper builds of all races will be maxed to level six for the bonus to sniper rifle damage. This is not a sniper build, however, and the last damage bonus that affects your grenades is at level four. This is fine, because you'll need those extra points elsewhere.

Level this power to four. Pick the universal 40% damage-from-cloaked bonus there. Level this power no further.

2. Tactical Scan. I really like this power. The Quarian male classes are both support classes at heart, and Tactical Scan is the main reason for that. It's designed to weaken boss-type enemies in a variety of ways; slowing them down, marking their position, and making them more vulnerable to everyone's weapons and/or powers. Level this to six, use it often, and your teammates will love you for it.

Since this build is centered around the Arc Grenades, pick the 7.5% weakness to powers bonus at level four. Not everything registers headshots, so I like the 15% slowdown at level five instead of the headshot bonus. At level six, the damage bonus is difficult to pass up...until you see the alternative choice in action. Double duration for Tactical Scan is awesome, and the ability to reveal every foe within twenty meters is a straight-up game changer. Damage bonuses can be found elsewhere. This unique and powerful ability decidedly cannot.

3. Arc Grenades. These babies are the Quarian Infiltrator's bread and butter. Great radius. Decent damage. Arc Grenades will admittedly have trouble killing minions outright on Silver and Gold, but the radius is so big that the sheer number of enemies affected and weakened by the blast more than makes up for any damage deficiency. Level this power all the way to six.

At level four, you might as well add to this grenade's strength by making the radius even bigger. 30% damage is always difficult to argue against, but in this case I like the radius because it enlarges the Arc Grenade's already-impressive area of effect to a ridiculous level. Throw this into a group of enemies and you're pretty much guaranteed that EVERYONE gets hit.

If you've got the gear equipped that gives you extra grenades, the single extra grenade bonus at level five might not be as attractive. The alternative certainly IS attractive, so if you don't feel like you need the extra grenade, take it. Adding 40% progressive damage to this grenade will certainly result in more kills and less assists per grenade. Not necessary but definitely advantageous if you care about topping the scoreboard....

At level six, I like the 75% damage bonus to armor. The way I see it, Arc Grenades are already great against shields. No need to make them even better.

4. Quarian Defender. This is the Quarian Infiltrator's first passive power. For this build, it's best to level this power to at least level five for the bonuses that it grants to power damage and force. Doing this will make your Arc Grenades even deadlier. Level six isn't necessary, but since I like to equip this class with a big weapon (currently the Crusader shotgun), I find that the 20% bonus to carry weight helps keep my recharge time (mainly for cloaking) at a tolerable level.

5. Fitness. The Quarian's second passive power. Adds bonuses to health, shields, and melee damage. Melee is unimportant for this build. The Quarian already has decent health and shields. Consequently, this power doesn't have to be a priority. I'd still level it up to four, however, just to add some longevity for Silver and Gold matches.

Build Summary:

Tactical Cloak to rank four, emphasis on damage over duration

Tactical Scan to rank six, power damage/speed/duration

Arc Grenade to rank six, radius/progressive damage/armor damage

Quarian Defender to rank six, power damage/power damage/carry weight

Fitness to rank four, health and shields

Recommended Weapons: Right now I'm using the Crusader paired with a Geth SMG. Carnifex, Cerberus Harrier, Wraith, and pretty much any other big-punch scopeless weapon would be ideal.

Recommended Gear: The gear that increases your grenade count is a MUST for this build. In fact, considering the scarcity of grenade refills on Silver and Gold, I'd hesitate to even try this build without it.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut: Reaction...

******Spoilers, obviously******

Well, if you didn't like the first set of endings for Mass Effect 3, the "Extended Cut" download, which essentially adds length and depth to each ending choice (without fundamental changes), likely won't do anything to alter your opinion. If you thought the three choices sucked, chances are that you still will. Nothing new here in regards to actual story elements.

If you're like me, however, and your biggest disappointment with ME3's ending had to do with its abruptness and lack of an explanation for anything, the added several minutes of clarification for each ending actually DOES help. Would I still like at least ONE option where Shepard lives? Absolutely. But then again, it's not my story; it's Bioware's.

From the three endings we have, I think the "control" ending is probably the most satisfying; with Shepard's ascendance into technological godhood and the control of the reapers. Shepard's consciousness survives, and he/she is controlling the Reapers for the good of the galaxy. I can get with that.

The synthesis ending is weird, what with all the glowing green eyes and circuitry sticking out on everyone. Kind of makes me wonder why it was included in the first place. The differences between Control and Destroy will be relatively easy to explain away if they ever make a game that's set far in the future from this one. Synthesis decidedly will not. It IS the only ending that offers another quick glimpse of Tali (or some female Quarian) with no mask on, however, so Tali fans will like that, I'm sure.

The destroy ending is fairly vanilla, as well as the most expected; but this should have been the one where they let Shepard live. Oh well.

As far as future games are concerned, I think the most telling scene is still the one at the very end with the kid talking to the old man about "the Shepard." The fact that that's the same, regardless of which ending chosen, indicates that the next game (assuming it isn't some sort of prequel) will indeed take place so far in the future that the Shepard saga will be referenced, but not in any great detail. They'll have found some way to negate the differences between the three. My guess is that either the synthesis effect "wears off" or something (wierd and unlikely), or that both the "control" and "destroy" endings somehow eventually result in a sythesis as well.

In any event it will be interesting to see where Bioware goes from here. They've created a stand-alone franchise/universe that's all their own, and I doubt they have any plans of abandoning it. The Extended Cut restores a little bit of my faith in Bioware's dedication to fan service, but it should have been there from the beginning. To have initially offered up such a brief and unsatisfying ending to what is, by all other accounts, a deep and engrossing trilogy, is still inexcusable.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer: Class Breakdown- Batarian Soldier


I feel like the obvious play with the two Batarian classes is to go melee all the way. Pump up the Blade Armor; then grab a shottie or pistol with the melee attachment and go crack some skulls. The Batarian race is perhaps the best suited of all for using non-heavy melee as a first option, so this approach definitely makes sense. It's the setup I generally use for my Batarian Sentinel, and it can work almost as well with the Soldier variant.

However, I think I've come up with a better setup for the Batarian Soldier: a primarily ranged build that's centered around the Cerberus Harrier assault rifle. If you have yet to unlock this gun, I feel your pain. The Cerberus Harrier is a devastating and highly accurate assault rifle with only one real drawback- ammo capacity. But as long as you can keep this gun stocked on ammo, you've got a beast of a weapon that can dominate combat at all ranges.

The Harrier a great weapon for any class, but since it's quite heavy, I find it's slightly more useful with classes that rely on grenades. Grenades have no recharge time, so the weight isn't really an issue. And since you're always restocking THOSE at ammo boxes anyway, the Harrier's ammo shortage becomes less of an obstacle as well.

In addition to being a grenade-reliant class, the Batarian Soldier's power set can also grant a slight bonus to ammo capacity. These two qualities make it the PERFECT class for a Cerberus Harrier build.

Class Powers:

1. Ballistic Blades. Ballistic Blades is a power that deals big damage in a limited spread at close range. It's similar to a shotgun, except it deals progressive "bleed damage," and the recharge time is even slower. I'm not a huge fan of this power, but it DOES occasionally prove to be useful.

As it's your only power with an attached recharge time (Blade Armor hardly counts), I recommend choosing between this power and Blade Armor. Pick one to max out and completely ignore the other. Blade Armor will give you added damage protection and a great melee bonus if you want it (not necessary for this build). Ballistic Blades will give you a close-range shotgun-replacement option that requires no ammo. Plus the game automatically places your first point in this power regardless.

As neither power is exactly central to this build, pick whichever you think suits you best. I'm currently leaning toward ignoring this power and going with Blade Armor.

If you DO select Ballistic Blades, however, you might as well max it out.

At level four, I favor the 30% damage bonus over an extra twenty degrees of spread. This power practically requires that you're right on top of your target anyway, so an extra twenty degrees of spread hardly ever makes much of a difference. It CAN be cool against multiple targets right at the edge of this power's range, though, so if you want to play around with the extra spread, do it. The safe choice here is damage, however.

At rank five, I prefer the 50% bonus to range over the 35% bonus to recharge time. This power has a slow enough recharge time (especially since you're carrying the heavy Cerberus Harrier) that you won't be able to spam it either way. If you take that bonus, you'll hardly ever notice it. Extended range, on the other hand, is highly useful as this power's starting range is pathetic.

The sixth rank of this power lets you choose between an added 50% bonus to both base and bleed damage or a timed explosion effect that deals 430 damage after 3 seconds. The first option deals more damage over time, so if you're planning on using this as an attrition power it's probably the better choice. I like to use Ballistic Blades as a close-range "panic-button" power, so I favor the second option. Can't go wrong with either one, though.

2. Blade Armor. Like I said, it's probably best for this build to commit to either this power or Ballistic Blades. If you go with the Blade Armor, focus on damage protection at ranks four and six. The melee bonus is nice, but since this class is built around the Cerberus Harrier, your ideal engagement is going to be taking place outside of melee range. In any case, choosing Blade Armor over Ballistic Blades will completely free you from worrying about recharge time, so go right ahead and select another big and nasty weapon to go with your Cerberus Harrier. I'd suggest a shotgun (Claymore, Crusader, Wraith, GPS, etc).

3. Inferno Grenade. I initially had little respect for this power. The Inferno Grenade rarely kills instantly; and the fact that it explodes on contact instead of bouncing and rolling makes it less forgiving to aim. Make no mistake, however, the Inferno Grenade is every bit as lethal as any other grenade option out there. Perhaps even more so.

Starting radius is great, and the progressive burn damage is fantastic. "Fling it and forget it" has become my motto when using these grenades. Close the distance to mid range and toss this into the middle of a group of enemies. On Silver and Gold, where withering return fire can make it difficult to get kills against a concentrated pack of foes, one well-placed Inferno Grenade is often just what the situation calls for. In about ten seconds, it will have killed the smaller baddies with no help at all and severely weakened everything else.

Don't underestimate this grenade. Max it out, equip the gear that gives you EVEN MORE grenades, and sprinkle them liberally wherever concentrated groups of enemies can be found.

At rank four I prefer damage over radius. Inferno Grenade already boasts a decent starting radius of five meters, so you might as well take the damage. Radius IS nice, but I think the damage is probably more noticeable.

At level five, is there really any option but to add two more grenades? The damage is nice, and if you've got the piece of gear that adds grenades, I'll listen to the argument for it. But even then, it's two more grenades. Right now my Batarian Soldier is hitting the field with SEVEN. That's disgusting.

Rank six presents a tougher choice between either a 50% damage bonus to armor or a 40% radius upgrade and an extra piece of shrapnel. The latter is the better overall value, but considering the fact that most of the game's tough enemies are of the armored variety, I usually end up going with the 50% bonus to armor.

4. Enforcer. Enforcer is the Batarian's race-specific passive ability, and it offers bonuses to power damage, weapon damage, weight capacity, and most interestingly, spare ammo capacity. The last bonus is why you'll want to max this ability, as it adds a bit of longevity (twenty bullets) to the Cerberus Harrier's paltry ammo supply.

Rank four is weapon damage/ammo capacity vs. 25 points to carrying capacity and a 10% bonus to power damage and force. Go with the weapon damage and ammo capacity. Both of those make the Harrier better, and Inferno Grenade is already good enough that you likely won't notice ten percent damage either way. The weight capacity is irrelevant as you shouldn't be worrying about recharge time with this build anyway.

At rank five, go with the headshot damage over the bonus to power damage/force. The Harrier is a headshot machine, and this bonus will reward your accuracy with faster kills and more efficient ammo use. Get used to making your shots count with the Harrier.

Go with the bonus to weapon damage and ammo capacity at level six as well. The other option isn't even worth considering for this build.

6. Fitness. Fitness is the standard health/shields/melee passive ability. Max it out, but focus on health and shields, not melee. The Harrier is your best option at all ranges, so melee should only be used in emergencies with this build. Plus, the melee options at ranks four, five, AND six are all predicated on heavy melee anyway. And since the Batarian's heavy melee is insanely slow, I'd have trouble recommending it even if we were worried about melee.

My Ideal Build:

Ballistic Blades to rank six, spread/range/explosions

Blade Armor left at zero (unless of course you select it instead of Ballistic Blades) that case: Blade Armor to at least rank five, emphasis on damage protection over melee

Inferno Grenade to rank six, damage/extra grenades/damage to armor

Enforcer to rank six, weapon damage/headshots/weapon damage

Fitness to rank six, health and shields/shield recharge/health and shields

Recommended weapons: Cerberus Harrier for sure, and since recharge time isn't really an issue, you might as well pick the biggest, ugliest, nastiest shotgun you own as a backup weapon.

Recommended gear: Bonus Grenades


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer: Silver Tip # 2

Hack Objectives: "If a bunch of big stuff swarms the hack site, leave."

It's called tactical retreat, people. I can't tell you how many times I've been playing on Silver with a group of randoms and we've been cleaning up; only to have the next round turn into a hack objective nightmare. Players will try to hold that darn hack zone AT ALL COSTS, even with multiple Banshees or Geth Primes bearing down on them. This hardly ever ends well; as neither of those enemies are what one would call an easy kill at close range. Everyone ends up spending all their time reviving one another, and before you know it the hack zone is completely overrun and the poor team is stuck right in the middle.

Folks, it's far easier to deal with the "big stuff" first and THEN complete the hack objective. You can MAYBE ignore this rule against Cerberus, but against Reapers and Geth it's practically required. Banshees close too fast and deal far too much damage, and the Geth Prime's hellacious "triple-rocket-stun" effect will keep your entire team from focusing on anything else until you kill it. It's tough enough to hold off an endless swarm of Hunters, Pyros, and Rocket Troopers as it is- don't make it even harder by trying to stand and fight against a Prime.

Bottom line, if you're doing a hack objective and you've got multiple Primes/Banshees approaching the zone, simply retreat to where it's safer, do what you have to to neutralize them, and THEN proceed with the hack.