Incinerate, Cryo Blast
Combat Drone, Sentry Turret
Anti-Melee: Combat Drone, Sabotage
Anti-Blocking: Combat Drone
Recommended Bonus Power: Control Build: Dominate or Biotic Support Build: Slam.
Theoretically Interesting Power Build: Fortification or Defense Matrix.
With a broad array of non-redundant powers, the Engineer is probably the most interesting and versatile character who can make the most of the skill points over 60 levels. In Mass Effect 3, powers that affect Shields also affect Barriers (but not vice versa, so Biotics are weak against Shields), so the Engineer has all defenses covered. The big damage multipliers the class can get make it very strong against mini-bosses, short of spamming grenades (which Engineers do not have). More so than any other class, the Engineer can clear enemies without firing a single shot.
Aim for fast cooldowns and setting up your own Chain Power Combos by alternating Overload and Incinerate. Overload is one of the best choices to start because it is basically instant and briefly stuns the enemy, whereas Incinerate and Cryo Blast have to fly to the target, which not only adds a delay but they can be dodged. When you get Sabotage to rank 6, then you will start combat with that on tougher enemies; on weaker ones, two powers plus detonation is generally good enough to kill them.
In the early game, reduce your weapon loadout to get the maximum +200% cooldown bonus, which reduces your cooldown to 1/3rd normal. Ignore rank 2 of all powers for the moment since an additional +25% has very little effect if you already have +200%. The difference is 1/3.25 of normal cooldown versus 1/3.00 normal.
For skills, take a minimum set for Priming and Detonation at rank 1 (Overload + Incinerate), then develop Tech Mastery before going back to increase the ranks of attack powers because Tech Mastery (and Sabotage rank 6 Tech Vulnerability) will also increase Power Combo damage, whereas damage bonuses specific to a power do not, unless the evolution specifically refers to combo detonations.
- Recommended sequence: Incinerate 1, Overload 1, Combat Drone 1, Dominate 1, Sabotage 1, Tech Mastery 6, Incinerate 6, Sabotage 6, Fitness 6, Overload 6. Move Fitness up if you are having difficulty and relying on medi-gel, although in the general case you should be able to avoid needing it badly.
- Arcs around cover.
- Your basic attack, although it can be dodged.
- Start with Overload to stun an enemy, then follow with Incinerate.
- Enemies that are already in cover are better targets for Incinerate because they are less likely to dodge. Although you can reduce the effectiveness of dodging with the rank 4 Radius evolution, you can already circumvent it by using Overload first and getting an area effect blast with a Power Combo.
- Arcs around cover. Slow Priming. Cannot Detonate. Blocked by Protection.
- A target is paralyzed but not Primed for a Cryo Explosion until it has completely frozen about 1 second after being affected by the power.
- This power gives you the longest amount of time to Detonate, at the cost of no initial damage to the target: Cryo Blast does not do damage on its own, just freezing or slowing.
- For best results, wait until it is falling over to hit it with a power.
- Once frozen, a target cannot be usefully Slammed because Slam doesn't rise off the ground far enough. You will still get Cryo Detonation damage, however, and at ground level where it is more likely to catch someone in the blast radius.
- Very low priority:
- Overload will do damage, primes the target immediately, and reliably stuns a target.
- Cannot Detonate, so you cannot chain-detonate a target in the same way you can by alternating Overload and Incinerate.
- Even opening with Cryo Blast to try to freeze a clump of enemies is problematic because of the delayed Priming.
- One of two Instant Powers available to the Engineer and typically the first attack to use until rank 6 Sabotage is obtained.
- If the enemy dodges too many of your attacks, use this because it is too fast to react by dodging. The brief stunning effect then gives you a window to Detonate the target some other way, such as Incinerate, which can otherwise be dodged.
- Also good to detonate a faraway target when Incinerate might not fly there before the Priming ends.
- For ranks 4-6 we recommend Chain Overload, Neural Shock, and Chain Overload.
- Shield/Barrier damage is already very high, so maximize Incinerate damage instead and use Overload for stunning.
- Neural Shock increases damage to organic barriers/shields by +300%, and causes them to fall.
- The chain effect will strike a target that is out of your line of sight. Damage is less (60%) but being out of line of sight of that target generally means absolute safety. No Neural Shock on chain targets.
- Use this to finish off multiple weakened enemies.
- Instant. Limited Priming. Cannot Detonate.
- Sabotage hacks synthetics but damages non-synthetics by overheating their weapons (whether they have a weapon or not). This latter effect is the "backfire", which occurs about 1.5 seconds after the power hits and does 150% listed damage against shields. This backfire can Prime a target for a Tech explosion.
- Sabotage does work on very high-value dangerous targets such as Cerberus Engineer turrets and Atlas mechs that can output a lot of damage very quickly. Sabotage therefore acts as both instant defence and attack at the same time.
- Initially low priority for this power because it is quite specialized and damage is delayed against non-synthetics.
- However, definitely get at least 1 rank for the ability to stop a synthetic immediately. Even if there are no enemies for it to attack, you can at least get shots in without facing retaliation. Remember that enemies build resistance against it, so if you want to use it to "paralyze" an enemy, be ready to concentrate fire.
- Because Sabotage does do good damage against shields, prioritize developing this before Overload, especially if you want to race for the rank 6 Tech Vulnerability evolution, which gives an incredible +100% damage bonus that will also apply to the backfire from the Sabotage that inflicted the vulnerability.
- If you absolutely need fast damage output then Incinerate is the better choice for early development because Tech Vulnerability is so far away. If you can handle yourself in combat and/or there are no time-sensitive combat scenarios, then try to forgo Fitness and aim for Tech Vulnerability.
- Cannot Prime. Limited Detonation.
- Detonates Primed targets only when it explodes under the Rank 4 Detonate evolution.
- Appears behind a target if a target is specified, and it typically causes them to turn around. Ceberus Guardians would therefore have their shield facing the wrong way. The targeted Guardian then starts turning around, exposing their side or rear to attack.
- Lasts until destroyed.
- High priority for enemies that shoot, so it can potentially be used to draw grenades from enemies. Ignored by melee enemies.
- Ignores obstacles/cover as long as an enemy is selected, even if the enemy is not in line of sight or behind an obstacle such as an unbreakable window.
- Tends to move in close, unless it has the Rocket Launcher evolution.
- Very fragile on Insanity Difficulty, even with all shielding evolutions. Therefore, priority is very low.
- Great for protecting yourself from Swarmers because Swarmers are very fragile, so the small amount of damage from even a rank 1 Drone is enough to kill them and cover your position.
- Seems to be ignored by Cerberus Engineer Turrets.
- Can Prime if it has the Cryo Ammo evolution.
- Lasts until destroyed.
- High priority for enemies, so it can potentially be used to draw grenades from enemies.
- Deploy far on your flank so that grenades thrown at it will not force you to move.
- Try to support it with a Combat Drone in the enemy's midst and drawing fire.
- Both Combat Drone and Sentry Turret are very fragile on Insanity Difficulty. Focus on one and keep the other at a low rank. Combat Drone is generally the better choice because the Sentry Turret is immobile.
- Best used against single (or very few) targets who can't or won't divide their attention to destroy the Turret. Even if they do destroy it, the fast cooldown means you can create another one almost immediately.
- For ranks 4-6 we recommend Power Damage, Damage and Capacity, and Power Mastery.
- Maximize this early for +85% damage to all powers, then develop either Incinerate or Sabotage.
- Melee is extremely dangerous on Insanity Difficulty, so instead of trying a melee build, for ranks 4-6 we recommend Durability, Shield Recharge, and Durability.
- Taking Dominate as the Bonus Power combines well with Combat Drone and Sentry Turret for eliminating the enemy with very little exposure to return fire.
- All three powers can draw fire and have a "fire-and-forget" aspect: An Engineer can stay in cover or around the corner in another area, fully protected from enemy fire while a Dominated target, a Combat Drone, and/or Sentry Turret continue to attack the enemy.
- It completes the Engineer's complement of powers that attack and distract the enemy. Other options include Decoy and Defense Drone, both of which have limited range and except in special circumstances, less utility.
- Works against protected targets so you can start it right away in combat to break up enemy ranks.
- Only a few special enemies are immune. Works even on mini-boss level enemies like Brutes, making it a great power to quickly give yourself breathing room if an enemy closes on you.
- If there are no available targets for the Dominated target, it stands still and therefore can easily be targeted with head shots.
- If you take the Overload rank 5 Neural Shock evolution, you might consider dropping Dominate since it will get you a fairly long-duration incapacitation of the target.
- Once you have Incinerate and Overload to rank 6 (and especially if you also have Sabotage rank 6 Tech Vulnerability), you will probably find that you can efficiently kill enemies quickly, reducing the frequency with which you use Dominate and the value of the Power. In such a case, getting even more damage with the Fortification option means a more generally useful Bonus Power choice.
- Where Dominate really shines is in the rare crisis scenarios where enemies are aggressively closing on your location. Dominate can force them to pause their advance while they deal with the turncoat in their midst. Combined with damage-to-target evolutions and you have a combo attack/distraction power.
- If you find Dominate and Sabotage too cheesy, you can try Slam as your bonus power. The basic power set for an Engineer cannot Detonate Biotics, so something that can Detonate biotic attacks can be useful IF you are with biotic teammates.
- Instantly hits but effect delayed. Cannot Prime. Detonates all types of Primed targets. Detonate occurs only when the target is fully lifted. Cannot affect armored targets.
- Delayed Detonation this means that most Engineer Priming will have expired by the time the target has been lifted. You can use it to detonate someone else's tech attack Priming, such as EDI's, but it is more likely that Slam will be used only to detonate Biotics.
- Cryo Blast is the exception, BUT once frozen, Slam can't lift them high enough for appreciable damage. You will still get the Cryo Blast after the lift duration is over, and you will get a near ground-level blast, but hardly any damage from the Slam itself because the target wasn't lifted high enough.
- On its own, Slam is a strong attack with a very fast cooldown (4 seconds base, compared with Incinerate and Overload which are 8 seconds base) and can make a decent primary attack with good target-neutralizing effects (the target has to get to its feet after the Slam). In the early game, if you can Slam the target for strong damage, you may consider using it exclusively instead of Incinerate (which can be dodged) or Overload (which is weak except against Shields and Barriers).
Power Build: Fortification / Defense Matrix
- On higher difficulties this is a late game because the recharge speed penalty may be too annoying and can make detonating combos trickier. Try it to see if it cramps your style too much. More of a theoretical build.
- For an Engineer, Fortification gives 25% damage reduction and +30% Power Damage/Force (at rank 5) in exchange for -50% recharge speed (-20% at rank 6). Keep it up at all times, combined with +200% recharge speed from a very light weapon loadout.
- Defense Matrix gives you less bonuses and a slightly longer cooldown, but the option to instantly restore some of your shields.
- The shield restoration is generally not vital if you are careful, so the bigger bonus from Fortification is recommended.
- The 10% higher cooldown difference is generally trivial after a +200% cooldown bonus from a light weapon loadout.
- Instead of maximizing Fitness first, maximize Fortification or Defense Matrix, and just keep the power active.