Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mass Effect 2 - Squad Builds - Fire Support (on Insanity Difficulty)

Mass Effect 2 Squad Builds - Fire Support (on Insanity difficulty)
(Click here for all Mass Effect 2 Builds)

In this post, we cover builds for Garrus Vakarian, Grunt, Jacob Taylor, Jack, Legion, Morinth, Thane Krios, and Zaeed Massani. They are "Fire Support" squad members because of their stronger emphasis on using guns and their Powers mainly work only on unprotected targets. Our builds focus on weapon damage.

Many characters here have Ammo Powers, so if you find yourself using two members with Ammo power frequently, you may need to adjust the builds to avoid overlap since you cannot have more than one Ammo Power on any firearm at one time.

For weapon choice, based on how squads typically fire, favour weapons with the highest damage output per round fired. Squad members have unlimited ammunition, and tend to fire either a single shot from a semi-automatic, or a very short burst from an automatic weapon, before pausing or returning to cover.

Garrus Vakarian
Concussive Shot 4 → Overload 0
Turian Rebel 4 (Renegade)
Armor-Piercing Ammo 4 (Squad)

Concussive Shot is very strong against Barriers but otherwise not that great since it has low damage and the knockdown works against unprotected targets only (but can very briefly stagger protected targets). Nevertheless, we suggest you maximize Concussive Shot instead of Overload because Overload is already available with various other squad members, and powers strong against Barriers are not common.

Garrus is both Fire Support (Armor-Piercing Ammo) and Power Support (Overload and Concussive Shot). His Concussive Shot goes well with Armor-Piercing Ammo as that targets either have armor or no more protections after Barriers, and Armor-Piercing Ammo has bonuses against armor and health.

Grunt
Concussive Shot 2 → Incendiary Ammo 3 (Inferno)
Krogan Berserker 4 (Pureblood)
Fortification 4 (Heavy)

There are enough power and ammo builds that you don't really need another, so for Grunt, you can make an exception and emphasize survivability with maximum Fortification and maximum regeneration to help you on certain missions. In general, having fast powers at your disposal help more, but when you are rushed by the enemy and damage is unavoidable, then having a sturdy squad member can help (e.g., when you are swarmed by Husks or when Scions shockwave your location).
Unlike having a defensive power on Shepard with a long cooldown, squad defensive powers have approximately the same cooldown as their attack powers.

Jacob Taylor
Pull 1
Incendiary Ammo 4 (Inferno)
Cerberus Operative 4 (Specialist)
Barrier 4 (Heavy)

Jacob (and Miranda) have 1 extra Squad Point (for a maximum of 31 points available) because he starts with two Powers at rank 1 instead of just one.

Pull is left at rank 1 because it is really only good against unprotected enemies, and to set up Warp explosions for Shepard and Miranda.
Because squad members tend to be good at managing their shields, and because we don't need him to use his Pull that often, we opted for the stronger Heavy Barrier evolution.

Jack
Shockwave 2 → Pull 3
Subject Zero 4 (Vanguard)
Warp Ammo 4 (Squad)

Since Jack is supposedly a strong biotic, it may seem strange to put her with Fire Support characters. But both her biotic powers (Shockwave and Pull) are really only good against unprotected targets. She doesn't have any real biotic attacks like Warp or Reave to help tear down protections.

Shockwave is harder to use because of its limited range. It does work against targets in cover because it ignores barriers, but only very briefly staggers protected enemies. On Insanity difficulty, almost all enemies have protection. If you do strip the protections from an enemy, you might as well Pull them into the open to be shot.

Pull is useful to bring enemies out, and while they are under its effects, Warp Ammo has double the damage bonus.

Legion
AI Hacking 2 → Combat Drone 3
Geth Infiltrator 4 (Assassin)
Geth Shield Boost 4 (Improved)

See notes on AI Hacking in our Engineer Build Guide. Unfortunately, to get to Combat Drone, we need to have at least 2 ranks of AI Hacking.
Unlike the Engineer's Combat Drone, squad Combat Drones have an extremely long 30-second cooldown. Combined with the generally short lifespan of drones on Insanity difficulty, you have to really think carefully about how to get the maximum benefit from a drone. The Engineer's 3-second cooldown means they use them like water. But because of the global cooldown, using Combat Drone from a squad member locks that squad member out from all powers for a very long time.
If you do want to deploy a squad drone, don't target it at any particular opponent. This makes it less likely to be exclusively targeted. Alternatively, pair it with an Engineer's drone so that between the two of them, they can keep the target stunned.

Morinth
Throw 2 → Pull 3
Ardat-Yakshi 4 (Malian-Yakshi)
Dominate 4

Morinth's powers all rely on the target being unprotected, and for that reason we have put her with Fire Support. Once protections are stripped, she is still better for Fire Support, by being able to Pull enemies so that others can shoot at it, or by using Dominate so that it shoots for you.

Her weapons are the submachine gun and the assault rifle, both of which are better against shields. Therefore, she is best used on missions involving shielded enemies, which typically do not have armor.

Thane Krios
Throw 2 → Warp 4 (Unstable Warp)
Drell Assassin 4 (Marksman)
Shredder Ammo 3

On a squad member, Throw has a long 9-second cooldown. Combined with it being only useful on unprotected targets, we are only taking enough ranks to unlock Warp.

Thane's Marksman evolution has a very strong +50% weapon damage bonus, putting him on par with Zaeed and Shepard.

His Shredder Ammo power is very strong against unprotected organics, and you could certainly avoid missions where you encounter a lot of synthetics, but even so, because it only works on unprotected targets, we have gone with maximizing Warp instead -- stripping protection is more important than making it easy to kill unprotected targets. Once a target is unprotected, all sorts of things can be done to them, and killing them quickly isn't necessarily the optimal tactical choice at that point. They could be used to set up a Warp detonation, for example.

Zaeed Massani
Concussive Shot 3 → Disruptor Ammo 4 (Squad)
Mercenary Veteran 4 (Warlord)
Inferno Grenade 2

With Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC:
Concussive Shot 4 → Disruptor Ammo 4 (Squad)
Mercenary Veteran 4 (Warlord)
Inferno Grenade 0

As with Garrus, you could specialize Zaeed for anti-Barrier with Concussive Shot. If you are not sure of the type of enemy defenses you will face, then Zaeed makes a fairly good choice of a squad member because Concussive Shot will help against Barrier and Squad Disruptor Ammo will help against Shields. The only weakness is Armor, and bosses tend to have armor under Barriers or Shields.
Team Disruptor Ammo is recommended because it gives everyone the ability to overheat enemy weapons.
If you have the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, you can respec him to maximize his core skills and make him very strong against Barriers as well, at the cost of not having any anti-armor from his Inferno Grenade.

Inferno Grenade is annoying to use as Shepard because you have to lob a real grenade. If you use Zaeed's grenade and he is not on screen, it fires immediately, accurately, and with no arcing -- you can't send it over a barrier, but you don't have to fool around with throwing it either. Also, at 9 seconds, the cooldown is shorter than most squad powers with a 12-second cooldown.
Either evolution is fine if you want to maximize this, but Heavy Inferno Grenade is the conservative choice since you are guaranteed more damage on your initial target. Relying on the secondary explosions to hit something is chancy at best unless enemies start out massed closed together.

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