Combat Tips and Tricks - Mass Effect 3 wiki

On this page, add any useful or helpful tips or techniques you have discovered for particular classes, weapons, powers, enemies, etc. Tactics related to higher difficulties (Hardcore/Insanity for story, Silver/Gold for multiplayer) are especially relevant.

All Classes

  • A useful technique in frantic close quarters combat, especially for shotgun users, is to perform an evasive roll then immediately hold down the weapon or power wheel button to pause the game. Rotate the camera until you are "looking" at an enemy who was formerly in an awkward position (e.g. behind you). When you resume, Shepard will instantly turn and look in that direction, allowing you to rapidly erase the threat. Otherwise, you might waste precious seconds (and shields) evading and/or re-aiming until you can square that enemy up. Obviously this only works in single player.



  • Against enemies with protection, try "buffering" a heavy melee by holding melee just as your Charge ends. If done right, you will enter your heavy melee animation pretty much immediately after impact. Finish off the staggered enemy with a shotgun blast. This 1-2-3 combo (Charge, heavy melee, shotgun) does massive damage. 
  • Nova + Charge is a risky but absolutely devastating combination. Against tough enemies such as Cerberus Centurions, try pinning them in cover then sprinting up and activating a Nova to damage and stagger them, then immediately charge to refill your shields and continue the attack with shotgun or heavy melee. Remember that Nova's damage directly correlates to your shield level. A fully evolved Charge ability will refill your shields to 100%, thus allowing you to hit an enemy with two full-power Novas sandwiched around a Charge if you're willing to take the risk. If both Nova and Charge are fully spec'd for max damage, this should put even the strongest enemy on the brink of death.
  • The Nova + Charge combo is also very effective against mobs of weaker enemies in close quarters, e.g. Cerberus Assault Troopers. Enemies in cover can actually help you in this regard since they like to bunch up behind cover objects, e.g. computer consoles or low walls.
  • In furious multiplayer battles, a Vanguard player can help their team instantly turn the tide of a fight by using Charge to hit the center of an enemy group then immediately triggering Nova. As this leaves the Vanguard highly vulnerable, teammates must do their part to help keep him/her alive or buy a few seconds to let the Vanguard get out of the kill zone. 



  • Warp detonations are your best friend and soul mate. The Adept has Warp and several tantalizing means of setting up a det (Pull, Throw, Shockwave, Singularity) right at his disposal, with many of those powers offering upgrade specs for additional detonation damage. Warp detonations offer you a powerful, area-damage crowd-control attack that is effective at any range and never runs out of ammo. 



Cerberus Phantom

  • Overload and Energy Drain are extremely effective at removing a Phantom's barrier.
  • Sentinels and Adepts with rapid cooldowns should try spamming Throw at the Phantom. This will repeatedly trigger her dodge animation, preventing her from advancing to melee range and suppressing her ranged attack's rate of fire. Continue casting it when she cloaks or takes cover to knock her down and/or keep her stationary. Phantoms also seem to occasionally "absorb" Warp and use it to recharge their barriers, making this more risky. However, the reward (a followup Throw for a warp detonation) will inflict massive damage to her, if not an outright kill. 
  • Infiltrators with appropriate weapon mods, class skills and Tactical Cloak fully spec'd for sniper rifle damage can kill Phantoms with a single headshot from cloak. Cloaking will usually cause an approaching Phantom to take cover and wait you out, use this opportunity to line up your shot as their heads frequently protrude out. 
  • Only the strongest close-quarters-battle classes (Vanguards and Krogans) should risk fighting Phantoms at melee range. Krogans' durability and massive melee damage give them a good chance of winning a brute force fight, especially if teammates assist with suppressive fire to prevent the Phantom from causing stunlock with her melee. Charge/Nova spam gives Vanguards a strong chance to win if they get the first attack in. For Vanguards, rapid cooldown and/or getting in a few weapon hits during power cooldown can make the difference. After charging in, quickly move back a step or two before using Nova to prevent the Phantom from using her instant kill attack. 
  • As anyone online has already seen, the Asari Adept/Vanguard's Stasis turns Phantoms from a huge threat to a moderate annoyance.
  • A properly equipped Soldier in an active Adrenaline Rush can, with excellent aim, slug it out with a Phantom and win before she gets to melee range. A headshot-favorable weapon like the Mattock is ideal; however, the Phantom's prowess at dodging fire means only skilled players should attempt this. Disruptor Ammo is the perfect choice for this situation as it inflicts extra damage to her barrier. Keep in mind that the Soldier only needs to take down her barrier, then use Concussive Shot for the knockdown and easy kill.


Cerberus Atlas

  • Infiltrators with the Mantis or Widow can deal huge damage to the Atlas with cloaked shots to the cockpit window.
  • Spamming Overload or Energy Drain will rapidly take down the Atlas's shields.
  • Vanguards with rapid cooldown can actually get away with attacking an Atlas at close range, as it will attempt to use its melee attacks instead of firing its weapons. The trick is to stay at the right distance where it will not fire, but also cannot grab you. Charge, backpedal a bit, use Nova, repeat.
  • Adepts and Sentinels should salivate at the word "Atlas" for one reason: warp detonations. Hitting an Atlas with Warp, regardless of its current protection, still "casts" the Warp on it even though no visible biotic effect is seen. To give an idea of its effectiveness, with powers spec'd for detonation damage, a single detonation can destroy 25-30% of an Atlas's armor on Multiplayer Silver. This obviously also makes proximity to the Atlas a rather hostile environment for any enemies next to it. Especially in multiplayer, enemies love to congregate around and behind an approaching Atlas; thus, spamming detonations kills them while heavily damaging the Atlas itself, while exposing the Sentinel or Adept to enemy fire only sporadically. 
  • Engineers can use an old ME2 trick by spawning Combat Drone repeatedly on the Atlas, which seems to easily preoccupy its attention away from the player. 
  • On higher multiplayer difficulties, especially Gold, the sight of 2 or 3 Atlases at a time becomes common. The key to surviving is rapidly focusing fire from the whole team on each threat. A concentrated barrage of shield- and armor-ripping powers, gunfire and biotics will destroy an Atlas surprisingly quickly. A disorganized team with its attention divided will allow multiple Atlases (and other enemies) to get in close, preventing them from marshaling any concentration of fire.
  • Biotics such as Throw and especially Shockwave will cause a knockback on an Atlas, momentarily halting its forward progress. 
  • Beware that the Atlas's rocket attack has a surprisingly robust homing capability, explaining why it never seems to miss you


Cerberus Guardian

  • Soldiers: Use Concussive Shot to stagger him, then blast his exposed side and feet. A trickier method is to throw a Frag Grenade behind him, but this  fails as much as it works.
  • Engineer: Use Combat Drone or Sentry Turret to distract him or get him to turn around. Overload also causes a stun/knockback effect. Alternately, angle a Cryo Blast from a vertical or high-sideways angle to freeze him.
  • Adept: Use a Singularity from a vertical or high-side angle to snag him. Alternately, simply use Pull to strip his shield, or Throw to cause a long knockback where he will expose his head and torso for a prolonged period.
  • Vanguard: Use Pull to strip his shield, or Shockwave to cause a similar long knockback exposing his head and chest. At close range, a shotgun headshot should finish the job.
  • Sentinel: Throw or Cryo Blast
  • Infiltrator: There are three ways to effectively snipe a Guardian: the "mail slot" on the shield, the feet, the exposed weapon hand. The exposed hand is the easiest as it remains relatively static and is the biggest target. Alternatively, the Widow will punch right through their shield, all you have to do is aim and shoot. 

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