Throughout this mini series I’ll be choosing one particular class and walk you through why I chose the power enhancements and weapons that I do in order to gain as much XP as possible. These tips are based around leveling up in the Multiplayer section but can also work as you grind through the campaign. Most of the ideas are for the starting levels of the character as when you advance sufficiently (usually to level 10 or above) you can be more adventurous. This is especially with the first class I will cover the Vanguard.
The Oxford dictionary definition for vanguard is the “foremost part of an advancing army or naval force”. This is how most people play the Vanguard in Mass Effect 3. They use the vanguard in an almost suicidal all or nothing manner or shock and awe if you prefer. The idea is to rush in cause mayhem and destruction and then disappear off. However is this the best way to play and help the team and yourself. When a player rushes in he runs the risk of dying and so can cause you to lose the XP bonus that comes with staying alive for 3, 5 or 10 rounds. This can then mean a loss of XP and increase your risk of losing a round. You have to weigh up are those extra kills you can get worth the loss of greater bonuses down the line. To be honest in the bronze levels even a self confessed slow twitch player like me can go crazy and come off as a rushing guru. However when playing the gold and silver challenges this tactic can leave both you and your team exposed. Also when you are starting out your shields have less strength and you have less health these disadvantages again putting yourself and those XP bonuses at more risk.
To begin with I have chosen the male Vanguard as its a class open to all. But the principles are transferable to the other characters within the class. Personally I prefer the Asari myself but as this class is not open to all I have chosen not to use it for this explanation.
The powers of the Vanguard are offensive to say the least. The Bioware Motto for this class seems to be More Power ala Tim the Toolman Taylor. I think the importance comes into why you chose the power upgrades and also how they work together. The best example of combining powers is when using Biotic charge and Nova. They work together because Nova draws 50% power from the vanguards shield where Biotic charge is a traditional power that has the added benefit of recharging the shield by 50%. It’s almost as if these powers were meant to be together.
So to set up a few scenarios where you can use the powers together.
You are facing Cerberus and are have two Assault troopers and a Nemesis in a close group.
Scenario 1. You have clear line of sight.
Use the biotic charge aimed at the Nemsis as you land use nova then use the weapons to do some damage if you’re still struggling after a few seconds hit Nova again and Biotic charge. This maybe a bit overkill as you have just dealt an enormous amount of damage.
Scenario 2. The same opposition but they sneak up on you.
Hit nova depleting your shields but stunning the enemy again target the nemesis hit biotic charge recharging your shields allowing you to hit nova again or use your weapons.
These two Scenarios show how these powers complement each other. Obviously they neglect using a weapon off the bat but they are just illustrations of what you can do. Using the vanguard is a lot like playing chess you have to try to think two or three moves ahead and thats why I enjoy playing this class so much.
The third power is shockwave and this can also be an effective get out of jail card as you can topple a row of enemies. I do not use this power that much as I feel the other two offer me more versatility.
When it comes to upgrading the Generic powers I tend to specialize at the start focusing on Fitness to improve the durability of my shields. I feel this is better than trying to increase Melee as the increase in health and shields improves your ability to use powers and gives you extra protection whereas melee upgrades are very focused. Coupled with this is Assault mastery if you can increase your weight capacity it allows you to carry heavier weapons or more importantly lowers your power recharge speed. When spare points are available i will rank up my biotic powers so they are roughly equal on level with the other two powers I tend to leave Shockwave till last.
Below is a list of the upgrades I make. The explanations are short but when you see the upgrades on the screen you will recognise the upgrade. Up to level three you are given no options on which power to chose so thats why I start at level four. The powers have a pretty consistent theme a stronger more resilient player. All the Upgrades are not available to you even in a fully ranked up character but these are my choices in each section so pick and chose to your hearts content.
For the power upgrades my choices are;
Power Biotic Charge Nova Shockwave
Level Four 2 extra Targets Increase Power Increase Power
Level Five Increase power Faster power recharge Increase Force
Level Six Increase Barriers Increase Damage Increase Recharge
The Generic Upgrades are
Power Assault Mastery Fitness
Level four Power/ Weapon Damage Barrier/Health bonus
Level Five Increase Weight capacity Decrease Shield recharge delay
Level Six Increase Power damage Increase Health and Barrier
These Upgrades I feel compliment the class as I play. However if you feel sufficiently powerful after you have ranked up and decide to go your own route try to pick the upgrades that suit your play style. The main goal is to try to maximize your advantage so you overcome the numbers of enemies you have to face.
Weapons (brackets demarcate weapons weight effect on lowering Power recharge speed)
The main balancing act for the weapons when considering the vanguard is the power recharge speed. Due to the short burst powers that are available to you if you chose weapons that are too heavy the recharge speed is delayed and rushing becomes more about your weapons. I think striking a good balance is the key especially in the early levels of a character as your powers are less evolved. As you manage to rank up you are able to increase your power recharge time and this can allow for more flexibility with your weapon choice.
The first weapons you are given are an SMG and Shotgun. Both weapons are short range and this gives you a definite advantage when rushing into a cluster of enemies. The main question is do you really need two weapons of this type to be an effective offensive player. The change over time is not that much greater than the reload time. So having both weapons seems a little overkill. My personal choice is to equip one short range weapon and then a sniper rifle. This gives me the flexibility to soften the enemy up with my sniper rifle at a long safe range. As well as then use it on an enemy after my initial biotic charge and then swap to my short range weapon. I will not use the heavy Snipers like the Black Widow (219%) as it is too heavy and leaves you very vulnerable when rushing as your power recharge times are greatly increased. So choosing a lighter sniper helps give you that long range advantage in the initial engagements of a round while not significantly reducing your ability to be a Human/Alien wrecking ball. My two favourite choices are the N7 Valiant or the Mantis. The Mantis (78%) is a bolt action equivalent but for most lower enemies is a one shot kill, its also very accurate helping it to be an amazing long distance weapon. This allows taking out a few in a group at distance easier and then allowing you to rush in with a biotic charge and finish off the rest with your short range weapon. As this is a starting weapon even those who are just starting out can have access to this weapon. The N7 Valiant (145%) although lacking the power of the mantis does give three shots before a reload is needed and coupled with its enhanced stability capabilities makes it an effective tool for softening up a crowd. The Valiant is my prefered choice.
For my secondary I love the N7 Eagle Heavy Pistol (30%) but otherwise i would use one of the SMG’s like the Geth Plasma SMG (34%). The reason I prefer this particular pistol is due to its quick draw/reload time, and it’s able to help me stun an opponent in order to make a quick exit but is also powerful enough to deal a good amount of damage. Obviously with the way we are playing this class weight is a major issue so the pistol offers the flexibility to use the sniper rifle effectively without it being a sole weapon. Due to its rapid fire nature the N7 eagle is the only heavy pistol i would use in this class it’s got enough of a large clip to hurt the larger enemies and the kick isn’t so strong that it becomes difficult to handle. I think of it as a mini SMG in certain aspects and I just love the feel of the weapon. Obviously you may not have this pistol so I think a normal SMG would be the right option here due to its rapid fire ability. Remember to just keep checking that power recharge bar.
The weapon mods on these weapons comes down to two things. Firstly what do you have and secondly how are you going to use the weapon. One of the funnest things about the way the multiplayer is handled is the store.When you purchase a pack you do not know what you will be acquiring so its a bit difficult to say exactly what to use. I do not like using scopes on pistol, the reason for this is the way it works with the sniper rifle. The pistol/SMG is my short range get out of trouble weapon and when you ADS you will lose that peripheral vision you may need to get out of a tough situation. Usually when I’m lower ranked I will use the extra clips on the sniper rifle but when I rank up sufficiently I find myself going for extra power instead of capacity. But play around for your own balance needs.
I will admit my plan has one huge flaw. Sometimes you will get a player who is not as strong or a John Rambo wannabe who can mess up a round and lose you XP. There is not much that can be done about this except to remember each game will give you experience for playing that character so do not give up and try to find some good players to do the harder levels with.
The whole meaning of this article is to try to alter the way we view our roles when playing the game. The ability to make each character as flexible as possible while not compromising their base abilities is an important part of making yourself a great team member to play with. So have fun and remember to make those first shots count.
Always remember in space no one can hear you scream!
Unless you have a Mic!
Photos courtesy of Google Images.