Welcome to the inaugural edition of a new feature we’re trying out on the site: ‘A Newb’s Guide To…’. The basic premise behind this is that The Newb Review offer you our expertise on various challenges in the world of gaming.
Unlike other sites, we will not be offering up plain old game guides – that’s what Game FAQs is for – instead we will offer advice and tips for some of the latest and hottest games as well as general issues in gaming.
Without further ado, we hand you over to Luke Mears for his Mass Effect 2 Insanity Difficulty tips.
Before getting started I feel there is an issue that needs to be addressed. Most sane people will likely be asking themselves ‘why would I even bother such a hideous task?’. Sure, there is a nice 75 point achievement for completing the game on insanity, but is it really worth the effort?
It is no secret that the choices you make in Mass Effect 2 will make an impact in your playthrough of Mass Effect 3. Just look at how completed save files from Mass Effect 1 affected your Mass Effect 2 game; as well as determining who lived or died, importing a previous character granted you added experience, extra resources and wealth, all of which went a long way towards helping you in your battle against the Reapers.
According to one of the loading screens, your Mass Effect 2 save file and completion stats will be uploaded to Mass Effect 3 and will presumably offer similar bonuses. However, while completing the game once is all very well and good, in order to get the most benefit from your save file you will need to complete Mass Effect 2 on the highest difficulty: Insanity.
As the name suggests, Insanity Difficulty is incredibly difficult. Anyone that has been a regular listener of The Newb Review Podcast will know that I have been struggling with Insanity difficulty for months now. After reaching the halfway point, I found myself trapped in a battle I could not possibly win. Despite trying strategy after strategy to overcome the odds, I simply could not progress any further.
It was at this point that I had an epiphany, and have subsequently beaten the game on Insanity Difficulty. Like a Preacher of old, I come here now to share the good word with you. Below are my observations and recommendations for creating the ideal character and squad to get you and your team mates through Mass Effect 2 on Insanity Difficulty.
Play the game
This may sound obvious, considering that you need to beat the game at least once before you can unlock Insanity Difficulty, but I recommend that you play the whole game on Normal Difficulty. Take the opportunity to experiment with squad members and their abilities, and find the most useful squad for the way you play.
Make sure that you recruit every possible team member and complete every single one of their loyalty missions. By earning the loyalty of a squad member you are able to teach yourself one of their unique moves as well as earning an achievement.
You may be the sort of person that does not care about achievements, but these achievements are important if you want to stand a chance at beating the game on Insanity.
Playing through the entire game also gives you the chance to become aware of what challenges you will face and help in choosing the ideal squad for each mission.
Start from scratch
I know this will sound stupid, but resist all temptations you have to import your completed Mass Effect 2 character into your new Insanity play through; it will only hold you back. You see, once you finish the game you can then import your Commander Shepard and continue using him/her in a new game. While all of your experience is carried over, none of your purchased weapons/ship upgrades/armour upgrades carry over, which will leave you at a strong disadvantage.
Enemy strength is linked to your own experience level, so even a fully maxed-out character may find that without the best weapon upgrades, the higher level enemies will pulverise you. Likewise, if you start at experience level 1 the enemies will be relatively weak and easy to kill.
When picking a new character I would recommend the Soldier Class, simply because their adrenaline rush ability is so useful as it slows down time and dramatically boosts damage. When coupled with the sniper riffle you can easily pick off even the strongest of enemies with a few well placed shots.
The Soldier also has Disruptor rounds, which are particularly effective at breaking down Shields and damaging synthetic enemies.
Once you start a new character, the game will scan your achievements and reward you with the special abilities of the characters you have made loyal. Unfortunately you can only use one of these abilities at a time – I would recommend something that boosts your defensive abilities, such as Legion’s Shield Boost.
When playing missions, make sure to scan every possible item, hack every PDA and Safe, and pick up every resource you can find. As well as giving you more money to purchase upgrades and materials to manufacture upgrades, every mission has hidden weapon and armour upgrades that will significantly boost your performance, as well as the performance of the squad.
This also means recruiting every squad member, and completing every loyalty mission. I know you have already done it once, but if you skip out on one mission you can potentially miss that one vital upgrade that would make the difference between dominating your enemy and cowering from a laser beam enema.
Spend Spend Spend!
Make sure to scour the shops on each of the hub worlds: Illium, The Citadel, Omega, and Tuchunka, and buy as many upgrades as you can afford. Once you have cleared a shop out of their inventory it would be worth returning after completing a few missions as every now and then they get new stock in.
It is also worth noting that the shop keepers on The Citadel and Omega can be persuaded to offer you a discount, so long as you are charismatic enough.
Upgrades that should take priority include: Medigel Capacity, Damage Resistance and the upgrades for your weapon of choice.
Between missions unwind by exploring the galaxy, and scan planets for vital resources. Scanning Planets has been dramatically sped up thanks to a recent patch, so now there is no excuse for not mining planets for resources. By flying to unexplored sectors of space you can scan planets for minerals and elements that are vital in upgrade creation. A pro tip to avoid wasting your time is to only scan planets with moderate or high levels of resources.
Use Your Points Wisely
Prioritise spending your experience points on skills you really need. One of the best skills to max out first is the skill that dictates the health and damage stats. If you have followed my advice and picked a Solider, I would advise not spending any points on the Cryo Ammo, simply because it is not that useful.
Focus on increasing your health, improving the Adrenaline Rush, making your Disruptor Ammo stronger, and improving the Shield Boost ability. Those will be your go-to skills.
The same goes for squad members; do not rely on auto point spend to save time, it will be the death of you. Pick the skills that you feel are most useful for each squad mate and do not waste a single point on useless skills.
Carefully Select Your Squad
Armed with the knowledge of what awaits you, you should be able to choose the ideal squad mate for every mission. However, as you have to recruit most of your team, not everyone will be available to you from the start. Your initial team of Miranda and Jacob will be perfectly fine for the earlier missions, but Jacob in particular quickly displays his weaknesses.
When presented with the choice on where to start, head to the Krogan recruitment mission, as Grunt is the most powerful member of your team. He is armed with incendiary ammo, which burns through armour and flesh. When teamed with Miranda who has the Overload ability, which destroys shields and machinery, and Warp power, which damages Biotic Barriers, you team can cover pretty much any combat situation.
Remember which squad members worked out well for you in your first play through, and try using them again.
Be Patient, Be Prepared
There is only really one noticeable difficulty spike on Insanity, the section in which you board the deserted Collector Vessel. Before accepting the mission make sure you have completed as many missions as possible, and purchased every upgrade you can. As most enemies will have either Armour or Biotic Barriers, a team consisting of Grunt and Miranda is pretty useful.
When facing off against Harbinger and the Scions, your best bet is to activate the Soldier’s Adrenaline boost ability and pelt them with Sniper Riffle rounds to the head. The Scions should take no more than 4 shots using this tactic.
Armed with the Soldier’s Shield Boost bonus, you will have a much easier time. Remember to stay in cover and make sure that your team does the same; when popping out of cover be prepared to activate your Shield Boost, as you will likely get shot to ribbons. The added protection of the Shield Boost should give you enough time to fire off a few well placed shots and take your foes down one at a time.
So there you have it, everything you need to get through the toughest challenge Mass Effect 2 has to offer. If you have any of your own pro tips to contribute, be sure to post below or head over to the forum and let us know.