There’s no doubting that the biggest challenge in Bioware’s Mass Effect series has been completing the challenging Insanity difficulty. While the original Mass Effect was challenging on the highest difficulty, it paled in comparison to the trial that was Mass Effect 2’s Insanity difficulty.
Frequent cheap deaths, overpowered enemies, and random difficulty spikes made the whole thing a nightmare to play through. Still, if you persevered and made it off of the Collectors’ base intact you were awarded a shiny Achievement/Trophy that would let the world know that you had conquered everything that Bioware had to throw at you. We spent weeks working on Mass Effect 2’s Insanity difficulty and, as excited as were at the prospect of playing through Mass Effect 3, we were a little intimidated by the idea of playing through Mass Effect 3’s Insanity difficulty.
The good news is that Mass Effect 3’s Insanity difficulty is a far more even experience than Mass Effect 2’s. That’s not to say that it is an easy experience, but there aren’t really any massive difficulty spikes and, if you follow a few of our key tips, then you should be able to face anything the game has to throw at you.
As Mass Effect 3 is a fairly new game we’ll do our best to avoid spoilers and try to talk in general terms. Rather than writing a step-by-step guide to each mission we’ll be sharing our general advice for anyone that wants to take on Bioware’s latest challenge.
Beat The Game First:
Unlike Mass Effect 2 it’s better to play through Mass Effect 3’s Insanity difficulty with an imported character after you’ve completed the game at least once. Certain powerful upgrades, such as the weapon upgrades that can be bought in the Normandy’s Shuttle Bay, are only available on a second (or even third) play through.
That’s not to say that you can’t start the game on Insanity difficulty right away, or even play with a brand new character, but completing the game at least once beforehand has the added bonus of giving you knowledge of the sorts of threats you’ll be facing so you can prepare accordingly. For instance if you know that the mission you’re about to undertake has you battling the Geth you can choose your load out and squad members accordingly.
Importing the character brings over the vast majority of items that you have earned as well as any spare cash you have at the end of the game as well. One good tactic is to blitz through the game on a low difficulty setting without spending any money and then import all of your cash to your insanity play through.
Carefully choose weapons based on your play style. As the weight of your equipment can have a detrimental effect on your power regeneration speed so pick your weapons and weapon upgrades carefully. My own preference was to carry an assault riffle with increased damage and penetration power, as well as a sub-machine gun with the lightweight mod. This mod reduces the sub-machine gun’s weight by 90%, making it so light that it has no real effect on your power recharge rate.
No matter what weapons you chose to carry carefully select your mods. For instance, does your Shotgun really need that accuracy mod? Surely a mod to increase damage or ammo capacity would work out better in the long run.
A controversial statement perhaps, but one of the first things I would recommend that you do is download the From The Ashes DLC and complete the mission as soon as possible. This DLC pack not only includes an extra character, Javik the Prothean whose powerful Biotic abilities can devastate most foes, but it also grants you access to one of the best guns in the whole game, the Particle Rifle. It’s worth noting that the Particle Rifle is actually quite weak when you first get it, however once you have fully upgraded it to level X and applied the appropriate mods, the Particle Rifle can obliterate pretty much anyone you come across.
This powerful beam weapon is technically an assault riffle, but has the benefit of regenerating ammo. The longer you hold the trigger down the more powerful the beam gets, making this an ideal weapon for taking on the more powerful enemies like the Brutes and Banshees. So long as the ammo counter doesn’t reach zero it will regenerate ammo very quickly. Should you let the ammo counter reach zero then the weapon will overheat and take a long time to recover. By applying the ammo capacity mod and the damage mod the Particle Rifle is a jack-of-all-trades weapon that’s perfect for taking down the stronger enemies, especially when you use incendiary ammo!
During your first few play throughs take the time to chat with your squad mates on the citadel. Engaging in conversation with them unlocks their abilities for you to use. I chose to use James’ Fortification power as it gives you that added extra protection in battle, but you may wish to use something a little different, such as EDI’s Decoy, or Liara’s Stasis.
You can change your bonus ability by using the terminal in Dr Chakwas’ office on the crew deck. It’s also worth wandering around The Citadel between missions to pick up extra side missions. As well as awarding experience and cash some side missions give you upgrades. One mission for Dr Chakwas actually doubles the efficiency of your medigel, essentially meaning you can use each medigel twice before it gets depleted.
Along similar lines, make sure that you scan every possible sector as soon as you can. As well as containing war assets there are a number of unique upgrades that can be found and used at the terminal at Liara’s desk. Always use these upgrades to increase your lesser skills – so for instance, if you’ve got very powerful weapons but weak shielding make sure you pick the shield boosting upgrade over the upgrade that increases weapon damage.
Make sure you visit every store on the Citadel at least once because as soon as you have made contact with a store it’s entire catalogue of good can be ordered directly from the Normandy’s Shuttle Bay. As well as buying mods for your weapons and armor pieces you can also buy upgrades that increase your medigel capacity. Invest in armor to boost your lagging stats. You can buy unique armor to boost your specific stats, but if you’re still struggling then I recommend buying as many armor upgrades as you can.
Pick your squad sensibly. While there are far fewer squad members to chose from in ME3 that doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain missions that cater to specific squad mates. For instance, whenever facing the Geth make sure you take Tali or EDI with you as they have tech-based abilities that are great for taking down synthetics.
The team of Garrus and Liara is a general all round good team as Garrus has the overload ability that can take down shields and barriers, while Liara has Warp and Singularity to take on regular enemies and biotics. Always equip each character’s special ammo type as this will help deal out additional damage. Likewise don’t forget to upgrade your squad members’ weapons and always always always apply mods that improve the weapons’ damage levels.
Your squad mates are incapable of running out of ammo, and they’re pretty accurate most of the time so using mods that increase accuracy or the ammo count is pretty much a massive waste of time. If all else fails remember that there is a restart mission option that will take you back to the start of the mission and let you reselect your squad and weapons. Restating a level may seem like a massive burden, but it’s far easier to restart and plow through it with the correct team than to try and slog your way through with an ill-equipped team.
When facing large groups of enemies always get in cover and take your time defeating them. Remember that you can press up on the D-Pad to highlight specific enemies for your squad to attack, so get them to focus their fire on troublesome enemies.
When facing Cerberus always keep an eye out for engineers as they can build powerful turrets that’ll mow you down in seconds. Throughout the entire game the toughest scenario I faced was the battle in Grissom Academy as there were so many engineers planting turrets. If you see an engineer placing a turret focus all of your fire on the turret itself, as when it explodes it should do enough damage to take the engineer out.
If you’re playing the Xbox version of the game, and you happen to have Kinect, don’t bother with the voice controls. Yes, they work really well and are a great addition on the whole, but it’s far quicker to use the commands menu to dish out orders. Bringing up the commands menu also has the added bonus of freezing time, giving you a few precious moments to plan out your next move.
And there we have it, our key tips to besting Mass Effect 3’s toughest challenge. If you have any tips that you want to share feel free to leave them in the comments section below.