Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mass Effect 2 Class Build - Engineer (on Insanity difficulty)

Mass Effect 2 Class Build - Engineer (on Insanity difficulty)
(Click here for all Mass Effect 2 Builds)

Assault Build
  • Overload 4
  • Combat Drone 4, Cryo Blast 4, AI Hacking 1
  • Tech Mastery 4 (Mechanic)
  • Advanced Training: Reave 4
  • Weapon Training: Shotgun
Anti-Barrier: Reave
Anti-Shield: Overload
Anti-Armor: Reave
Anti-Regeneration: Reave
Anti-Melee: Combat Drone

Cryo Shatter Build
  • Overload 4, Incinerate 4
  • Combat Drone 4, Cryo Blast 1
  • Tech Mastery 4 (Mechanic)
  • Advanced Training: Armor Piercing Ammo 4 or Warp Ammo 4
  • Weapon Training: Sniper Rifle
Anti-Barrier: None
Anti-Shield: Overload
Anti-Armor: Incinerate
Anti-Regeneration: Incinerate
Anti-Melee: Combat Drone

Control Build (48/51)
  • Overload 4, Incinerate 4
  • Combat Drone 4, Cryo Blast 3, AI Hacking 1
  • Tech Mastery 4 (Mechanic)
  • Advanced Training: Dominate 1
  • Weapon Training: Shotgun
Anti-Barrier: None
Anti-Shield: Overload
Anti-Armor: Incinerate
Anti-Regeneration: Incinerate
Anti-Melee: Combat Drone

Engineers are pretty self-sufficient builds, with only a weakness against the armor of synthetics. Incinerate and Cryo Blast arc but depending on how much the target is exposed, invariably hits cover. Something you can do is to arc it at a target that is still in cover because it will track, and by the time your Power gets there, the target will have changed thermal clips and popped up, just in time to get hit.
The Combat Drone power makes this one of the easiest and most interesting classes to play.

Overload can be used against Barriers or Armor, but with no bonus damage.  If you are stuck for Talent Points, maximize Incinerate over Overload since Overload cannot inflict Health damage except on synthetics. If the enemy only has partial shields, go for a strong Incinerate instead unless it is synthetic and has no armor, since leftover damage becomes wasted.

Although Incinerate can be arced, it almost never hits a target in cover unless they stand up, which they can be made to do with Combat Drone.
Incinerate does half damage against synthetics, so once armor is down, Overload is better against synthetics.
Against targets without much shielding left, switch to Incinerate since Overload damages Health only against synthetics. For this reason, the Control Build does not try to maximize it.

Combat Drone
Combat Drone is one of the most useful Powers available to any character. No other Power works against protected enemies or spawns an expendable character.
  • You can spawn it at a target completely behind a barrier, as long as you are close enough to have the target selected (bounding box around the target and health stats at the top of the screen).
  • It spawns behind a target and typically gets a first strike.
  • It can automatically move toward enemies that are not yet on your radar and have not yet detected you.
  • If it is near a target or if it attacks a target, that target almost always gives it highest priority and switches targets.
    • This almost guaranteed distraction combined with the short cooldown means an Engineer can confront single powerful enemies (e.g., YMIR mechs) quite safely as long as the distraction can be managed and kept up -- even out in the open with no cover between them. The Engineer would probably need to take down the enemy with gunfire, however, since all power usage would be devoted to spawning Combat Drones.
  • A hit will knock a target out of cover. If a target has to turn around to engage it, the target will also typically stand up if it were it cover..
  • Its basic attack damages shields and briefly stuns any target even if they have protections. Unless it has the Attack Drone evolution, it cannot actually kill anything, even targets that have only shields and no Health.
    • Although Barriers work like Shields, they are not the same and a Combat Drone cannot damage them unless it has the Attack Drone evolution.
  • Rocket-launching enemies typically have no other weapon so they will rocket a drone even at melee distances, thereby hurting themselves or others near the drone with the blast radius.
On Insanity difficulty, Combat Drones rarely last very long once they come under attack by several enemies. Against a single opponent they can do quite well because of their ability to stun, but against two or more you can expect them to be destroyed quickly, though generally not so quickly that you are not already out of cooldown and ready to use another power or create another Drone. Only in rare instances are the enemies so numerous that your Drone is destroyed almost as soon as it is created. In such a case, AI Hacking or Dominate will typically be more useful despite having a longer cooldown.

The attack cooldown appears to be affected by tech upgrades because it is not as long as the 3-4 seconds listed. You can count on at least the first attack to hit if you specified a target for your Combat Drone, so if the target isn't regenerating, continually sending out Attack Drones will theoretically let you win by attrition. Some few enemies can't or won't do anything to the Drone (e.g., Scions, Geth Recon Drones), so without the Attack evolution, the drone can only remove their shields.
The attack is quite weak, but you can still send out the Attack Drone on an already injured enemy instead of trying to shoot it

The Explosive evolution at rank 4 is fairly good, but you will rarely catch more than two enemies in the blast radius (despite it being 6 meters), so the overall wider utility of the Attack Drone (being able to damage more than just shields) is generally better.

Cryo Blast
For the first second or so, the target is still freezing so it can still act. Afterwards, it typically falls over frozen (if behind cover, this puts it back behind cover, so you'll have to shoot at a foot sticking out from cover or something), during which time it is highly susceptible to gunfire damage (but apparently not to power damage).

It is remarkably hard to just one-shot shatter a frozen target for an instant kill (and it may actually not be possible -- one-shot kills might be high damage combined with temporary susceptibility in the target), so don't count on it. Instead, during the susceptibility interval, follow up with a weapon while your Cryo Blast is on cooldown, or use a squad member's power.

The cooldown is short enough that with additional cooldown reduction bonuses and the fact that the target has to get up afterwards, you could continually Cryo Blast a target even at rank 1. Cryo Blast is therefore also good in melee to keep an enemy frozen and incapacitated while you hit them (although you will generally not want to get into melee to begin with). All levels of Cryo Blast have basically the same utility, so it is not really necessary to have more than 1 rank except to access AI Hacking.

Cryo Blast can take off some protection, but cannot inflict any Health damage. If you need to quickly take off a bit of shielding or armor, you could use Cryo Blast for its shorter cooldown. For this reason, on the damage-focussed Assault Build, we have maximized Cryo Blast but you can reduce that to 2 ranks and improve AI Hacking instead.

At rank 4, because Cryo Blast freezing only really affects unprotected targets, either evolution will be fine. The Deep Cryo Blast is preferred even at only two seconds longer because you will rarely hit more than one unprotected target at a time.
The Full Cryo Blast only has a 3-meter radius, and in many fights you will be lucky to still get more than one target in it unless they start out massed to begin with. Even then, you will need to strip their Protections, and on Insanity difficulty, just about everything after the Prologue mission has Protection of some kind.

AI Hacking
Unlike Dominate, hacking works instantly -- there is no projectile to fly to the target, and unlike Dominate there is no period of disability to waste your Hack duration and enemies react to it almost immediately if they can see it.  Hacked targets will not attack you even if there are no other enemies, so you can approach and melee if you want. AI Hacking therefore can be used to quickly get you respite from being shot at, not only from the hacked target but from almost all enemies that can see it.
You can typically hack a target that is behind another as long as you have it selected as a target. Hacked targets will freeze if they see no enemies -- that is, they won't turn around to look unless they are attacked from behind.

Hacking a synthetic once its protections are gone is typically safer than killing it yourself, because you expose yourself only briefly to enable the hack, then you return to cover. The more enemies there are, the more attack your target and take their attention off you and your squad, even if only briefly. It doesn't matter who kills who, but your mind-controlled ally typically stays out of cover, so you can keep renewing your hack.
Hacking a target at rank 2+ gives it a shield. Since ultimately you will have to neutralize all enemies, it may be more convenient to leave AI Hacking at rank 1 so that either your target gets killed by its allies or you have a weakened target you can finish off later.
Once a target is hacked, you have various tactical options:
  • If it has drawn a lot of fire, you can emerge from cover to aim and shoot or fire off your own power. You can also direct the fire of your squad, who are also briefly safe from fire.
  • You can help kill the target if it is dangerous and too close to you to risk re-hacking or some other distraction, or if it is in a bad position to help you draw enemy fire.
  • You can attack a different target to take off its protections, and thereby set up your next hack.
This is a specialized-situation skill and any all-or-nothing limited-options power should be considered carefully before investing too many points. Even with the short rank 1 duration, you could renew your hack right after it expires once you have some bonuses to cooldown time.

If you do develop AI Hacking to rank 4, the area effect option is an interesting one because as each controlled target strips the shields off another, each time you hit the area with AI Hacking you get another ally. It's fun to see, but in the grand scheme of things probably too infrequent to really invest that many points, and the net result might just be a bunch of enemies you still have to kill yourself because they all have strong shields that they may not be able to shoot off each other during the hack duration.

Tech Mastery
Because so many Powers are duration-based, the Mechanic evolution is preferred for Engineer builds.

Assault Build: Reave
By substituting Incinerate with Reave, we lose a bit of anti-armor power against organics, but gain an anti-Barrier attack, anti-armor against synthetics, superior disabling effects against unprotected organics, and healing from unprotected organics.
Reave also strikes faster than Incinerate, but Incinerate can be curved around barriers. This drawback can be mitigated somewhat by drawing enemies out of cover with Combat Drone.

The Reave Assault Build is the most straightforward to play and has the fewest redundancies.

Cryo Shatter Build: Armor Piercing Ammo
You can try to maximize gun damage against a vulnerable frozen enemy with Armor Piercing Ammo (Shredder Ammo has a higher bonus, but only works on organics). For the Assault Build, drop Reave and take Armor Piercing Ammo, and develop Incinerate for anti-armor. Warp Ammo is another good choice as it helps against Barriers, and therefore makes a more generically applicable Ammo choice.

The Cryo Shatter Build is really only good if you use your gun frequently. The Engineer has enough powers and a good enough cooldown to kill everything with Powers, and in practice any gunfire is quite dangerous on Insanity difficulty where enemies pretty much never miss and damage is high. Unless you insist on using your gun, another Engineer build will see more utility from your Advanced Training power.

Control Build: Dominate
Dominate basically hits instantly and is fairly reliable against targets partially in cover, presumably because the small round bolt it fires is quite small. Where a target might not be affected by Overload or Incinerate, you could probably still hit it with Dominate.
Dominate starts with a period of incapacity in the target, during which it cannot act. Once it can act, it is outlined in light until the Dominate fades. At that point, it attacks the nearest visible target, which can include Shepard and his squad. This makes rank 2+ Dominate tricky because they now get a Barrier, so if you are targeted, you have just made them tougher to take down. If you are not sure whether it will become an ally or not, or whether it will get killed by the enemy or not, go for Cryo Blast instead.
Against Krogan, the duration is generally too short unless an enemy already has it in sight and can shoot at it. Krogan tend to use shotguns, and unless they are ready to use their Carnage shotgun power, you won't get much damage out of them. Use them against Krogan when it has several allies with automatic weapons; otherwise you are probably better off using Cryo Blast or Incinerate.

If you try to Dominate a second target before the first Dominate expires, that first target will retain whatever Barrier from Dominate (rank 2+) remains, but will no longer be under the influence of Dominate.
Rank 2+ Dominate grants a Barrier to the target, and if you use Dominate on the same target, the power usage will start to refill that Barrier.

During the period of incapacitation, you could close with the target and start melee, following up with a Combat Drone to further distract it. At rank 2+ this becomes useless because the target gains a protective Barrier. If you have Cryo Blast, use that in melee instead.

As with AI Hacking, repeated application of the area control version can lead to a growing army of dominated targets under the right circumstances.

The Control Build is costly in Talent Points so in the early game, so if you are aiming for even just 1 rank in AI Hacking in the very early game, you need proper team support to strip defenses quickly to apply Dominate and AI Hacking. If you can do so, you can slow down enemy advances, draw them out of cover, and have them kill themselves or keep them in a controlled state almost continuously (especially if you have the Mechanic evolution already). With any luck, your mind-controlled target can also strip the protection from another target so that you can control another target without having to tear down its defenses. In this way, the Control Build can be very viable, especially when enemies are strong enough or numerous enough to quickly destroy your Combat Drone.
If you aim for AI Hacking too early, you might have trouble with time-pressure fights, such as when several shotgunners advance on your position (e.g., the first fight in the Convict recruitment mission), or you need to clear enemies quickly (e.g., the Archangel recruitment mission). Miranda is probably the best teammate to have at least until your Overload and Incinerate start to improve.
Other than this early drawback, the Control Build is one of the easiest to play--maybe too easy to be challenging even on Insanity difficulty--given that you can distract any target on the field with Combat Drone, and distract many targets at once with AI Hacking and Dominate.

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