With the Extended Cut DLC finally out, there is now no reason not to milk Mass Effect 3 for everything you can., and this of course includes achievements. One of the tougher ones you can unlock is beating the entire game on Insane. This can be brutal, but we’ve put together a small list of tips that can help you destroy those pesky Reapers. Most of this tips will also help you out in the multiplayer arena.
Shepard: Optimizing your personal Shepard for combat is where it all begins. Obviously, you have a number of options, but I suggest using an Infiltrator or Sentinel. The other classes offer better offensive abilities, but staying alive is your number one priority, and those classes help you do it best. The Sentinel provides a nice mix of abilities, plus Tech Armor, which offers a default damage protection factor of 35%. But the Infiltrator offers Sabotage, which is invaluable against Geth, both Cryo and Disruptor Ammo (arguably the best two ammos available in the story), powerful sticky grenades and the invaluable Tactical Cloak. With the hit of a button, it activates invisibility, which can (and should) provide a get-out-of-jail free card when you’re under heavy fire. It will save your life innumerable times, so keep in handy.
The bonus power Shepard gets to pick is an important choice as well. There are some powerful options, but Tali’s Energy Drain and EDI’s Defense Matrix are two excellent defensive options that provide maximum survivability (note that you can only get Energy Drain if you import a game with Tali alive). Defense Matrix functions like Tech Armor did in ME2, giving you a passive defensive boost while offering an instant shield recharge on cooldown. I can’t stress enough how useful that is, and coupled with Tactical Cloak it can keep you alive in even the most hazardous situations. It’s possible that you can Liara’s Stasis ability as a bonus power, but if you’re following this guide you’ll always have access to it. If you’re not a fan of Liara, I recommend imbibing Shepard with Stasis. It’s the best ability in the game to have on Insanity.
Party Members: When picking your party members, you should always take a situational approach. Some characters will serve you better on certain missions, but I recommend taking Liara with you. Everywhere. Biotic teammates are scarce in ME3, and Liara’s Stasis ability makes her a powerhouse. This ability bypasses shields and freezes enemies in place, opening them up to an instant kill. Upgrade it ASAP to its final form, and pick the bubble upgrade. You then have an instant form of crowd control, which is a top priority on Insanity. Basically everything but the big three (Atlas mechs, Banshees and Geth Prime), Reavers and Brutes can be put into Stasis, making them an easy target. It has a fairly quick recharge, and should be spammed mercilessly.
In addition to Liara, you should gauge your third member based on who your fighting. Got geth upcoming? Bring Tali or EDI. Cerberus wrecking the place? Garrus, Ashley and James can help out. Reapers inbound? Javik and Kaiden are especially effective. Anybody with biotic powers are a plus, as Liara can combine Warp with them for deadly biotic bursts.
General Tips: These tips will try to cover the general basics of keeping you alive during your Insanity run.
- Set your squad power usage to manual. It slows combat down a bit having to select each command, but you need optimal timing at all times. You can’t risk waiting on a valuable ability to cool down because the AI is getting power-happy. Time your power usage together for optimal efficiency.
- On the same note, you should be liberally sending your squad where you want them, and should always target an enemy for them. They do more damage if they are set on someone, and that helps tremendously against the bigger enemies, especially Brutes. Keep your squad fairly spread out, and don’t be afraid to send them out to scout ahead.
- Balance your weapon usage. You don’t need to carry the whole armory with you. The more weapon weight you are carrying, the slower your powers recharge, so keep it to two weapons maximum, or even consider using only one. Generally though you want to pair weapons from the two groups: Fast (Assault Rifle, Sub Machine Gun) and Slow (Sniper, Shotgun, Heavy Pistol).
- Keep your weapons upgraded. Down in the shuttle bay, there is a console devoted to weapon upgrading. Whenever you find the weapons that suit you, keep them as upgraded as possible. It is necessary, and doesn’t cost that much.
- Don’t be stingy with your medi-gel. It’s readily available, but you do want to be smart with it. If your party members get taken out, wait till the threat moves away a little before re-raising them. Then you have the enemy flanked. Don’t be afraid to use it as a last-ditch defensive move as well.
- Keep an eye out for shield and barrier pylons. They make some fights impossible until you destroy them, so they should always be your first priority. Shield pylons can even be used in your favor if you’re good enough.
- Most of the tough encounters in the game, including the last one, have heavy weapons spread around that make them significantly easier. Find them, and use them.
Enemies: Each of the three enemy types has distinct strategies, strengths and weaknesses. Let’s examine them:
Reapers: Of the three classes of enemies, the Reapers are probably the hardest. Myriad heavy units like Banshees, Reavers and Brutes will mercilessly hunt you down, while a steady infantry of Cannibals and Husks will try you in a battle of attrition.
- Cannibals: Thanks to their big giant heads, Cannibals can be handled with dome shots fairly easily. They are big targets, and don’t have a ton of health, so take them out before they can buff themselves.
- Reavers: Reavers can take you down so fast with their missiles, so stay in cover when fighting them. They have a soft, fleshy spot behind their swarmer sac, so aim for it if you like. Just be wary of the swarmers.
- Brutes: Always keep as much distance between you and a Brute as you can, as they are only deadly in close quarters. Cryo Ammo or Cryo blast is invaluable against Brutes, both slowing them down and reducing their armor.
- Banshees: If you’ve been saving any heavy weapons, pull them out when the Banshee’s come. They can instant kill you up close, and their biotic blast can decimate you from afar. Focus on first their barrier, then their armor. And for the love of god, stay away from her.
Geth: The geth will try to pummel you with overpowering offense. Pryos, Hunters, Rocket Troopers and Prime all possess high firepower, but have exploitable weaknesses. Disruptor Ammo is always great, and Energy Drain and Overload can cal all go a long way in dealing damage to geth.
- Pyros: Whatever you do, don’t let a pyro get in close, because he will chew through your shield in seconds. His tank can be blown up with bullets or Overload, so make the most of that. Use the explosion to take out nearby enemies as well.
- Rocket Troopers: Experts at dealing high damage, a single rocket to the face can turn a good day into a very bad one. They have fairly low defense, so make them a quick priority.
- Geth Hunters: While nothing sucks more than dying to a Hunter who snuck up behind you, there are steps you can take to prevent that. They are only cloaked as long as they are shielded, so look for the shimmer and hammer away.
- Geth Prime: Make sure to keep an eye on the turrets the Prime drops, as they can do massive damage to you. Keep them in check, and continue to hammer away at him. Remember to use fast weapons and Overload for his shield, then switch to power weapons, Incinirate and Cryo powers to finish him off.
Cerberus: Cerberus troops aren’t too powerful on their own, but they can overrun you if you aren’t careful. A well-rounded mix of abilities is best when dealing with Cerberus, as their own abilities pretty much run the gamut.
- Centurions: Centurions drop smoke when they approach, so make sure you can move to a clearer line of sight if you need to. They are only protected by a b asic shield, and their massive head is just begging to be sniped off. Oblige them.
- Nemesis: You can always tell a Nemesis by their tell-tale red light, so when you see it, don’t stand in the way! A quick counter-shot could do the trick, or you can interrupt them with a power. If you rush them down, they will freak out and try to run, making for an easy kill.
- Phantoms: Phantoms can be a real problem, so you want to deal with them ASAP. They will hunt you down anywhere you go, so try to find an object to keep between you and her. Warp is an especially effective ability to have against a Phantoms, as is Warp Ammo.
- Combat Engineers: Whenever a combat engineer steps onto the floor, he should immediately become your top priority. In addition to his annoying disposition for healing Atlas mechs, he throws down turrets, which can ruin your day absurdly quickly. Take him out!
- Atlas: Atlas mechs are the least threatening of the big 3, but can still pose a hazard to your health. If you can direct enough firepower at its cockpit glass, it is possible, but unlikely, to capture the mech for your own nefarious purposes.