Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mass Effect 1 - Classes - Soldier (on Insane Difficulty) and Ashley

Mass Effect 1: Classes - Soldier (on Insanity Difficulty) and Ashley

In this article, we discuss Soldier builds for Insane Difficulty.

The Soldier talents are:
  • Pistols → Shotguns
  • Assault Rifles → Sniper Rifles
  • Combat Armor → First Aid
  • Assault Training → Fitness
Recommended Builds:
  • Shepard (97/102 points)
    • Pistols 4, Shotguns 8
    • Assault Rifles 7, Sniper Rifles 12
    • Combat Armor 7
    • Assault Training 12, Fitness 12
    • Soldier 6, Shock Trooper 6
    • Spectre 11
    • Bonus Talent: Lift 12 (or Damping, Decryption, or Electronics)
  • Ashley Williams (70/82 points)
    • Pistols 4, Shotguns 12
    • Assault Rifles 12
    • Combat Armor 12
    • Assault Training 12, Fitness 12
    • Soldier 6
For the Soldier, the challenge on Insanity difficulty is to stay alive when rushed by melee or shotguns. Varren are not so bad, but Krogan are deadly (as they are against all characters). In the early game this will be very hard, so focus on surviving a Krogan rush (or you can instead avoid melee encounters by knowing where they occur in the game, but that is restrictive and artificial). Surviving Krogan is best done by having biotic teammates for support, but if you want Shepard to do their part, then you need to enhance survivability early.
Since even a good pistol will get you through most encounters (except melee), don't worry about getting your combat skills up too early. Since melee encounters are rare, you can focus on biotics to get you through the few times a Krogan crisis comes up.

As the only class with both Assault Training and Fitness, the Soldier is pretty much the only choice if you want to try hand-to-hand combat in Mass Effect on Insanity Difficulty, IF the enemy fights back with hand-to-hand. If they prefer to back off and shoot, then the Vanguard is equally viable. If they will go toe-to-toe with you, then you need Fitness and the Immunity skill.
However, the opportunities for close combat are quite rare, especially when sniper rifle and rocket-launching enemies will often one-shot-kill you and you are usually outgunned 2-to-1 (at least). Entering melee is therefore safer for a Vanguard who has the Barrier skill and might survive one direct hit from a sniper rifle or rocket. The alternative is to use Lift on the enemies first, but biotics are mid-range at best.

For Shepard, getting Lift as a bonus talent will help alleviate a lot of frustration in hand-to-hand combat on Insanity difficulty, where shields don't count. You need tech skills to hack terminals and unlock containers but you need biotics to survive Krogan. That means in the very early game you should take Kaiden and specialize him in Lift. Once you have Throw and Lift to decent levels, you can branch him out to do tech skills -- that is what Sentinels are for: Versatility and Support.
Initially, minimally improve Kaiden's tech skills (e.g., increase ranks there only if you can't hack a terminal or open a container) because once you get Tali she can take over. Once you have Liara (for a biotics poor party, I recommend you recruit her early), you can choose between the three of them.
Having Lift for Shepard means you always have one additional use of a biotic power that can get you out of a melee crisis quickly.

Even with Kaiden and Liara, I still recommend Lift because they might get knocked out early and then you are stuck; or you might want a different team for other aspects of your mission. Other good choices for a bonus power are:
  • Damping - Briefly prevents enemy biotics and techs, which are most dangerous against your Soldier, especially as medium and heavy armor have less protection against these effects. Damping is not reliable and generally depends on pre-emptive use, which is not always possible. The bonuses (radius increase) are also weak for a character that has only one tech power.
  • Decryption - Good if you want to melee. Zap them with this and rush in. Especially good for neutralizing shotguns, which are dangerous to you at mid to short range. Also excellent for handling robotic enemies who typically only have one weapon and do not melee (e.g., drones).
  • Electronics - Probably the best choice. Overload helps strip shields so you can get at them with your weapons, and each level improves your shields, so this skill is passively good all the time.
If you don't want Lift and want to enhance survivability at hand-to-hand combat distances (i.e., against melee combat and shotgunners), aim for Fitness and the Immunity power early. Along the way, grab Adrenaline Rush to re-activate Immunity if you need it.
As an early-game build, Immunity is not unreasonable since enemies are not so numerous or strong that you can't rush into melee, even if you have to go from one to another to keep them knocked down for your allies to shoot or a quick shot from your Sniping Rifle (zooming onto a stationary/knocked down target is pretty easy, after all).
Against Krogan, it is still not advisable to engage them in hand-to-hand because they are hard to knock down, they typically have Immunity also, and their hand-to-hand damage bonus is obscene (just look at Wrex) -- They can outlast you and outfight you. Use some cheap tactic on them and kill them quickly.

In general combat, the sniper rifle will be primary, assault rifles secondary against targets that constantly move, and shotguns up-close. Also, the Carnage power from shotguns (which fires a slow fireball that moves straight ahead with no spread) can be used as a type of grenade.
For the remaining 4 talent points, you can either maximize Carnage from Shotguns (recommended) or squeeze as much out of Combat Armor as you can for maximum survivability in melee. By mid to late game, however, you should have biotic teammates to help you survive melee situations so Combat Armor can be deprioritized.

For the specialization class, I recommend the Shock Trooper because an instant power cooldown from Adrenaline Burst gives more flexibility and options than bonus damage and faster cooldown on Assassination and Marksman. Cooling down Adrenaline Burst helps with re-using Assassination/Marksman as well. Also, if you are going for maximum survivability, then the Shock Trooper also has defensive bonuses.

Same as for Shepard, and you might want to control her use of defenses personally when in close-quarters combat, pausing the game frequently.
Sniping Rifles are useless for teammates who are probably better off using Assault Rifles at the distances at which they will engage enemies. They CAN snipe, but they're also not that smart about cover that they can't press themselves against, so even if you could trigger a long-range encounter for them, they are generally too vulnerable to enemy sniper fire whereas you can control Shepard to deftly step behind a hill or step back from a ledge. And on Insanity difficulty, a single sniper shot will typically take down any team member.

That said, Ashley does have an excess of Talent Points, so she could take Sniping Rifles. Or, if you need someone with First Aid, she has the most "free points" available to specialize in that.

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