Insanity achievement in Mass Effect 3


Finish the game on Insanity without changing difficulty after leaving Earth.

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How to unlock the Insanity achievement

  • Chimaera36Chimaera36343,059
    10 Mar 2012 10 Mar 2012 09 Nov 2013
    159 3 81
    Just finished my Insanity run. Want to help you guys out!

    The instructions for getting this achievement are, not surprisingly, putting the difficulty on Insanity right away on Earth (or from the main menu) and not changing it during the course of the game.

    With that spoilerific revelation out of the way, I would like to provide some tips (please note this is from a soldier POV, see the bottom of the guide for details):

    1) I highly, highly recommend doing your Insanity run on a New Game+ with an imported ME3 character (your character from your initial run). This will allow you to be a significantly higher level (50-55ish depending on how many sidequests you did on your first run), with the resultant levelled skills. In addition, you can upgrade your guns to level 10 (instead of the max of 5 on your first playthrough). This will greatly increase your damage output as well as your power recharge rate (as level 10 weapons are _far_ superior and weigh much less than their basic variants). You will also have all your previous weapon upgrades, money and armor. You will also have a bonus power - I used Defense Matrix (to help with my reduced tank from not having Tech Armour). Fortification would also likely work well.

    2) I played as a soldier and I consider this the best class for ME Insanity runs (in general). I know that many people prefer the Engineer and Tech Armour, but IMO what sets the soldier apart (in addition to better health/shields) is the Adrenaline Rush class ability (slow-mo mode). When fully upgraded, this gives you +75% damage, -25% damage taken and lets you line up shots. Combining this with cryo/disruptor/incendiary ammo (for barriers/shields/armor respectively) allows you to quickly take down the bars of any tough enemies you come across. On Insanity it helps immensely against Banshees, Phantoms, etc. Furthermore, when levelled for damage instead of radius, the frag grenades do tremendous amounts of damage. I picked the large Armour damage upgrade and they are very useful against Brutes/Banshees. Engineers have plenty of tank, but the increased gank of a soldier really helps you in arenas where you have a Banshee, Brute, three Marauders and a dozen Cannibals and need to thin out the enemies a bit so you have room to run away!

    3) If you are using a soldier, I highly reccomend using the Vindicator battle rifle (upgrade it to level 10 as soon as you get the Normandy back). This gun, considered quite poor in ME2, is a beast on Insanity in ME3. When level 10, it is extremely accurate and quite powerful. Most importantly, because of the rapid burst, rarely will any of the three shots miss your target, making it very suitable for headshots. I reccomend the damage mod and your choice of the stabilizer/extra ammo mod. I personally used stabilizer just to make the aim even better. When (as mentioned above) combined with the appropriate ammo types it is very powerful (a full clip of incendiary ammo at level 10 can take most of a Brute's armor bar. Sadly, the Revenant does not seem to be the powerhouse it was (way too inaccurate - mabye this is different at level 10? Let me know!). I reccomend using the Carnifex as a backup, when loaded with the appropriate ammo it is extremely powerful (You can two-shot a Stasis-locked marauder with full shield with headshots). I avoided shotguns/sniper rifles as they reduced my regen rate for Adrenaline Rush too much for my liking (plus you really dont want to get too close to a lot of enemies on Insanity!).

    If you have the 'From Ashes' DLC, the 'Particle Rifle' that you find will make the game much easier. It has unlimited ammo and, when upgraded, does tremendous damage. It is quite OP, and makes the Insanity run much easier, so I would highly recommend giving it a try.

    4) For armour, I actually preferred to use the Cerberus armour. While you do not get as large a heath bonus, you get +10% weapon damage, and this helps a lot when combined with correct ammo type (see the trend?). I always prefer gank to tank and it appears to hold here as well.

    5) Make sure you level up Liara and keep her with you. No exceptions. Warp is almost required to efficiently take down Banshees and similar tier enemies. Stasis is stupid OP in particular. When fully levelled, it will freeze _anything_ except for a Banshee/Brute/Ravager/Harvester. This is invaluable when dealing with Cerberus Phantoms/Nemesis. Stasis them, give them three bursts in the head with the Vindicator, and they are done. She can cast Warp/Stasis every few seconds if her unique tree is levelled up. Singularity is also useful of course, but since it only works on enemies without Barriers/Shields/Armour I found myself preferring to spend her cooldowns on Warp/Stasis.

    6) For your other party member, take anyone who fits your play style. Early on I stuck with James since he has some extra abilites useful against Armour (grenades and carnage), and he can act as a damage sponge for a little while. I switched him up with Tali for all Geth missions as she can hack the Geth Primes and get them to faceroll all the minor Geth around them. If you have the DLC, Javik is excellent as well - his unique ability essentially DoTs/debuffs an enemy, and is very useful against Banshees (In case you did not get the point, I hate Banshees >.<).

    7) Be _extremely_ careful around Ravagers (the mutant Rachni-Reapers). Their three-shot combo will kill you at full health/shields. Repeatedly warp them with Liara and move just enough our of cover to hit them without them being able to hit back. Pop their sacs for some extra damage (though this spawns the small spider-reapers. Your companions will usually kill them before they get to you, but watch out!).

    8) Unlike ME1/2 where Insanity massively buffed every enemy by giving them armour/shields/barriers, no extra bars are given to enemies on Insanity. Thier default bars are longer, but there are no extra bars. They do do much more damage and are more aggressive though (Cerberus troopers will spam grenades like it is CoD: World at War and Cannibals will usually move forward pretty aggressively).

    9) Be aware of special weapon placement (Blackhole/Hydra/Shredder). These weapons are extremely powerful and can help you kill the tough enemies instantly. Especially in the last fight around the missile trucks on Earth, there is a Hydra rocket launcher under the store counter next to the trucks, and if properly used, you can kill two Banshees, a Brute and a bunch of random trash, making your life a lot easier.

    10) Be aware of cutscene-running. In two specific areas (that I know of) there are infinite?/lots of spawns until you activate a console. The first in on Tuchanka where you are activating the Thresher Maw hammers - Brutes will constantly spawn. Since they are slow, just run past them and hit the two switches to get the cutscene/checkpoint. The huge amount of crap everywhere stops them from charging after you. Another spot is (again) the final missile trucks on Earth - once the second truck is good to go, just hit Adrenaline Rush (or Tech Armor :) ) and blitz the console to get the cutscene.

    I'll update this over the next few days with other thinks I think of.

    Comment Updates:

    According to many people in the comments below, Infiltrator can work very well on Insanity, even on a first playthrough. I have no experience with this class, but there are several independent tip collections in the comments below. Take a look if you prefer being a cloaky sniper.

    According to some other people, Vanguard can work quite well too. Again, see comments.


    If people can offer specific tips for Engineers/Adepts/Vanguards/Sentinels etc, please put them in the comments and I will annotate this solution. If there is anything else you think I should add, or any reason you think there an error in the above, please tell me in the comments.

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    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    If you have the free Reckoning pack then the best weapon by far is the M7 Lancer - the most powerful and accurate assault rifle and infinite ammo.
    Posted on 30 Oct 14 at 21:07
    M1ght33 J03I’m still going on this, but one missing aspect is that tech/ice/fire/biotic bursts do a tremendous amount of damage to Brutes and Banshees. I found getting my team mates set things off with ammo was tough, but powers work great. I’m an adept, and with Kaiden and EDI, I can chain fire-biotic and ice-biotic and tech biotic by priming fire or tech with EDI, triggering with Kaiden’s reave, and then triggering the biotic myself with warp or throw. At high level, with+ 200% power reset, an adept can spam reave/throw and warp//throw to continuously set of biotic bursts. Kaiden can use the particle rifle, for added damage.
    Posted by M1ght33 J03 on 17 Dec 20 at 18:52
    Br1ngDownTheSkyNew game+ to finish. Also, last wave of enemies while launching missiles at the reaper that gaurds the portal to the citidel, you do NOT need to kill all of foot soldiers. Run a lot and use biotic powers to evade or kill the powerful enemies.
    Posted by Br1ngDownTheSky on 10 Mar at 05:26
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  • Scott is KingScott is King171,271
    04 Apr 2012 05 Apr 2012 03 Nov 2013
    80 1 25

    Because of one weapon, the Particle Rifle, that you get in the From Ashes DLC, this game will be easier and simpler on your Insanity run then you can imagine. You will be doing this DLC eventually and this mission is available right after you get to the Citadel for the first time. I do still recommend playing on Normal first and importing your high leveled character but this is certainly not necessary .

    The Particle Rifle has UNLIMITED AMMO, it only overheats and when it does, all you have to do is vent it. This takes NO thermal clips.

    Upgrade it all the way, put extra damage and the bigger clip upgrade on it. This gun kills faster on Insanity then any other gun on Normal. My Insanity play through was actually easier then my normal one.

    With this weapon, no enemy is a problem. How fast will enemies die...

    Banshee = 2 clips
    Atlas Mech = 2 clips
    Geth Prime = 2 clips
    Brute = 1 clip
    Ravager = 8 seconds of firing
    Phantom = 8 seconds of firing
    Harvester = 5 seconds of firing
    Other Cerberus troops = 1 to 3 seconds of firing
    Cannibals/Marauders = 1 to 3 seconds of firing

    It is dead on accurate, has absolutely no recoil and doesn't take ammo!!

    You don't need to worry about what squad members to use because biotics aren't even necessary.
    I do recommend using James because of his ability that lets the squad do 20% more damage. Also use Cerberus armor because it too lets you do 20% more damage.
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    Angels Kill Too

    Locations of all upgrades. You're welcome. smile
    Posted by Angels Kill Too on 16 Jan 16 at 15:04
    Angels Kill TooAnd Ashley gets the boost for damage for the squad, Javick gives 20% shield recharge.
    Posted by Angels Kill Too on 16 Jan 16 at 18:24
    Angels Kill TooI'm using that recharging rifle you get when you beat sheppards clone it's pretty good so far and I'm using that silenced pistol from the same dlc with an extended barrel and lightweight parts

    lv 5 extended barrel and extended magazine for that rifle. Here's a bried list on the extended barrel locations.
    1 Thessia after the ravagers its in the rubble to the right (further on in mission)
    2. Sur-Kesh
    3. Tuthanka after the "memorial" fight it's to the left after the last set of stairs after the fighting
    4. Pres commons- citadel shop
    5. Batarian state arms- citadel cargo hold c shop
    Posted by Angels Kill Too on 16 Jan 16 at 19:46
  • BloodngunsMrphyBloodngunsMrphy265,103
    30 Mar 2012 31 Mar 2012 17 Jun 2014
    25 2 4
    Mass Effect 3 - Insanity

    08/29/12 - (Finally) added tips for the toughest parts.

    Long guide incoming.

    First things first, Insanity is doable with any class. Consider that the Engineer and Adept, the two weakest classes in ME2 (imo), have both been strongly improved. Every class is fun in it's own way, and you can truly play however you want.

    But, my favorite class is Infiltrator. They are very versatile, occupying the middle ground between a Soldier's firepower and Engineer's tech abilities. There are two ammo types that deal with everything, Incinerate for Armor and barbeques, Sabotage for turning Geth, turrets and Atlas Mechs against their friends; and Tactical Cloak helps you move away, run up, flank, hide, etc. With the various damage bonuses, right teammates, and Mantis/Widow(s), you can complete an entire skirmish with Shepard using just a sniper rifle.

    It's certainly possible to complete Insanity in the first run through (with a ME2 import), but New Game Plus is the way to go this time. You keep ALL your weapons, upgrades, and money, are more powerful, and get a bonus power. The first time through, the three Geth Primes and Kai Leng fight each made me curse repeatedly. With everyone at max level, I got through on the first try. You are a mean son of a bitch at level 60.

    - Keep your powers even for the most part, but focus on maxing Fitness, Operational Mastery and Tactical Cloak as soon as possible.
    Here's the progressions I advise:
    Operational Mastery - Weapon Damage (small but helpful), Weight Capacity (better weapons or faster recharge, either's great), Sniper Damage (Headshots now have 30% more damage)
    Fitness - Basically, forego the melee options. It makes for an interesting playstyle on lower difficulties, but you won't be very effective or alive long on Insanity.
    Tactical Cloak - Damage Bonus (Duration is good enough already), Recharge Speed, and Sniper Damage.

    With these evolutions, a headshot from your already powerful sniper rifle gets a 70% damage bonus while Cloak is active.
    Upgrade everything else but Sticky Grenades almost all the way, which aren't very good. Cryo Ammo is actually useful now, completely freezing weaker enemies and slowing down stronger ones. For it and Incinerate's final evolutions, choose the synergy options. When you freeze an enemy, hitting them with Incinerate will cause them to shatter.

    - For optimal cooldown, an assault rifle and sniper rifle are all you need. I stuck with the Mattock/Vindicator for my AR and Mantis (bolt-action sniper rifle) for optimal cooldown. The Widow and Black Widow are excellent, but they will slow down power use, and even a level 5 Mantis with Extended Barrel Mod is reasonably close to max damage. The Vindicator with a Stability mod let you get headshots almost as easily as a sniper rifle. Use whatever mods you want, but ALWAYS have the Concentration Mod on your sniper rifle, as it gives you even more slow motion for getting headshots (and even more damage!). I preferred to put Disruptor Ammo on the AR and Cryo Ammo on my Mantis, since you'll be using the sniper rifle on the tougher enemies who usually have armor. Anything that doesn't die from a headshot (and instantaneous freeze+shatter) will be snap-frozen.

    - Bonus power: Stasis is once again awesome, freezing two enemies in place (when maxed) and giving you a free headshot. It works on all but the toughest enemies/bosses as before. The main selling point? Free, easy shots at Phantoms who have come out of cloak (making the Kai Leng fight less infuriating).
    ENERGY DRAIN is probably the next best choice for this class. It gives you a quick way to take down shields and barriers without shooting, and if you opt for the Bonus Power evolution of Cloak, it's possible to regain shields while invisible.
    REAVE is the organic equivalent of ED, it's great for setting up biotic explosions, and works through Guardian's shields.

    - Once again, cover is essential. You will die fast if running around in the open. However, it's much easier to move from cover to cover, and certain things (mainly grenades) will force you to do this. Tactical Cloak sometimes becomes necessary when you get swarmed and must run out in the open.

    - Bring up the power wheel when using abilities. This lets you pause the game, evaluate what you're fighting, and designate who is getting hit with what. With the increased speed and less narrow "battlefields", you'll also want to look at the minimap often to see if anything's getting close.

    - Watch for enemies that have Barriers or Shields and shouldn't. This means there's a pylon around, and those are first priority when present.

    - See a turret? Get on it. The game goes into easy mode when using a turret, and I have never had a teammate "die" while using one.

    - Heavy weapons can no longer be carried around, but you'll find one in places where it makes everything much easier e.g. the two Brutes on Menae, three Geth Primes on Rannoch, and final defend-the-missiles "holdout" mission. Use them wisely.

    - When facing a "boss" enemy, it can be better to go after the weaker guys first. The first example is the Atlas on Sur Kesh - kill the troopers first, and you're be able to move around the slow Atlas. This also applies to Kai Leng and any area with Ravagers.

    - ALWAYS position teammates somewhere (Cloak helps when under cover) unless you will be forced out of cover soon. Although the AI has improved, if you don't issue commands, they will move around and possibly run right into pointless deaths. I prefer to position them farther back from the action, then move Shepard up (or to the side) and draw fire. Line of sight is irrelevant for abilities - if you can see an enemy, you can use anyone's abilities on them. For allies with weaker weapons but fantastic powers (mainly Liara), I believe keeping them alive is preferable to them being able to shoot anyone.

    - Garrus, Garrus, Garrus. He is the overall best squadmate in the game, having Overload for both Shields and Barriers, Concussive Shot for crowd control, and Armor Piercing Ammo for Armor (duh). Oh yeah, and he can hit just about anything with a sniper rifle, including a Phantom at point blank. Give him a bolt-action (Mantis or Widow) so he's in cover often. Once Garrus joined me, I used him the rest of the game.

    - Liara has perfect synergy with Garrus, and these two are an excellent team for any class. Singularity turns Husks and normal Cerberus troops into a joke, sometimes throwing them off ledges to instant death. At a high level, she can use Warp on enemies still trapped in it. Stasis is great for the reasons above, and you having it too means up to four enemies can be immobilized at once. Arm her with the Scorpion pistol, which is basically a mini grenade launcher.

    If Kaidan is alive, he has both Overload and Reave which makes him an excellent choice. Javik can match Liara's biotics and he's able to use the Particle Rifle, and James is the closest thing to a Krogan you'll get.

    (note: Putting the accuracy mod on your sniper rifle helps you see through smoke)

    Priority: Phantoms - Watch for when they appear, Stasis them, use Overload for the barrier, and zoom in with your sniper rifle. Even in slow motion, it's hard to get a headshot, so just focus on hitting them.

    Priority: Nemesis - Small, weak snipers who will make you regret standing up at the wrong moment. Unless a Phantom is right on you, you should actually target them first, so that leaving cover isn't as dangerous.

    Priority: Engineers - They will make engagements harder and longer than necessary if you leave them alive. As soon as you see the word 'Engineer' at the top of the screen, hit them with an Overload and blow their head off. You're lucky if you get them before a turret's dropped, but they won't be alive to repair it. Engineers also hide behind Atlas Mechs, negating any damage from you.
    Note: Turrets will track you even while cloaked.

    Guardian - You can snipe in slow motion, so blast their head off through the "mail slot". Alternatively, use Singularity or Stasis' Bubble evolution to make them drop the shield, cloak and get behind them, or shoot the arm. Armor piercing mods and/or ammo help as well, and both Widow weapons have innate piercing ability.

    Centurion - Shields and smoke are the only reason they stay alive longer than normal troops. Hit with Overload, then headshot while they're stunned.

    Trooper - Note they're the ones that throw grenades. No special tactics needed.

    ATLAS - I put them here because of how slow they move and the somewhat slow rate of fire. You can either kill weaker enemies one by one, OR use Sabotage to turn it against everyone else. Keep the pressure on, because they slowly regenerate.
    Note: The ME Wiki says that the engine in back is a weak spot. Getting behind can be tricky, but is definitely doable.

    Note: When Garrus is with you (and he always should be), equip Cry Ammo on your sniper rifle, as maxed Overload destroys Shields quickly.

    Harvester - They use cannons similar to Ravagers, but with more damage. STAY IN COVER until they leave.

    Priority: Banshees - STAY AWAY. The very last battle is the only place you can't backtrack away from everything to fight just them. Overload and Disruptor Ammo damage the Barrier, then switch to Cryo Ammo, use Warp, and snipe in the head while cloaked. Press down on the D-pad to keep the the team together.

    Priority: Brute - Once again stay away, and deal as much damage as you can before they close in. Watch for when they charge and roll out of the way ASAP. They can't see you when cloaked, but this puts your team at risk, so use it primarily for added sniper rifle damage. If you can't hit the head, aim for the area between their shoulders, or their soft hind-quarters.

    Priority: Marauder - They buff Cannibals and Husks when present, drawing out battles like Engineers. If neither of the above are coming, kill Marauders before anyone else via Overload and slow motion headshot. The distinct noise makes them easy to detect, so you just need to spot them.

    Husk - They rush forward looking to melee you, therefore becoming priority. Hit the one closest to you with a Singularity and kill whoever isn't trapped first (Incinerate stuns them momentarily). Try to avoid a "boxing match" which locks you in place fighting them.

    Ravager - Hard to place as a threat, they're powerful, but usually stationary or slow moving. Three direct hits will destroy your shield, so be careful. Shoot them at the highest point possible and use Warp repeatedly. Shooting the sack deals more damage, but also releases more Swarmers, so be mindful.

    Cannibal - Singularity is perfect for two close to each other. The only difficulty with these "grunts" is regenerating health, so keep pressure on them. Aim for the top of the "hump" right above their head with a bolt-action -- if it doesn't kill them, they'll freeze with one bar of health left.

    Note: Sabotage now works on all Geth, regardless of a Shield or Armor!
    Also, you might want to turn up the brightness while on the Dreadnought.

    Priority: Hunter - The only Geth besides Pyros that will rush you. Look for the silhouette, shoot it until abilities can be used, and pelt them until they die. Sabotage is risky, because you can lose them again easily.

    Priority: Pyro - Rare, but just as dangerous as Hunters. VERY effective when "sabotaged", because they are usually in close proximity to several other Geth. After the shield is gone, one sniper round through the tank will ignite it and make them explode.

    Priority: Rocket Trooper - One direct rocket takes away your shield. Luckily, they are equally dangerous when turned against others - just be ready with a headshot when they turn back. Note that the concentration mod will help you see (and avoid) incoming rockets.

    Trooper - First or last target, depending on the situation. Sabotaging any of the other types will kill or drastically weaken them. Otherwise, Disruptor Ammo and/or a powerful sniper rifle.

    PRIME - Again, powerful but slow. They're the best choice for Sabotage because they can kill almost everything else by the third use (after which all Geth become immune). Learn their firing pattern (bam, bam, bam) and avoid it.

    - Grissom Academy auditorium - Immediately run in and to the right, killing the enemies at your level first. After that, you'll have the high ground, and there are countless turrets to Sabotage. Now the thing that will make this section much easier is this: KILL THE ATLAS HERE! Do this before going in the hallway that connects the two halves of the area, and the rest will be easy.

    - Rannoch - Three Geth Primes - Once you come off the elevator, immediately tell your teammates to take cover and grab the Geth Spitfire. Sabotage the Geth in the middle first - this will cause the other two to shoot at him, giving you some respite to use the Spitfire, preferably on him. After doing this two more times, use Sabotage on one of the other two. Hopefully by this time there's only one left, and you might need to turn invisible to get away, but keep the pressure on and play smart.

    - KAI LENG - First off, although I didn't get the prompt at first, mash B when he gets close and starts the QTE. After this, he'll start to run away - immediately head towards the door and take cover in the section of floor missing. Cerberus Troopers will drop down, so headshot them one at a time. When you Leng start to charge, use double Overload (you chose Garrus right?!!!), direct fire to him, and shoot him yourself. With luck, he'll take enough damage to back off. Repeat with the second wave. Now when the final wave of Phantoms and Nemeses show up, Stasis the Phantoms to keep them off you. Note that Kai Leng can be killed now, so when the other enemies aren't really a problem, give him all you've got and enjoy the cutscene.
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    A BatwomanGreat guide. I didn't really use it since I'm a pro at ME3 ;D But the only time I struggled was at the end like any other game. Liara and Garrus will help you soooo much as well as Statsis. I probably had the best character in the game with using Overload, having a shield protection,Statsis and Warp. Sentinal is what I did it with but he was lv 60 make sure you do Insane on Game+! Another tip; the Scorpion Gun will help it blows just about everything up it may take awhile but it's very useful!! :}
    Posted by A Batwoman on 04 Apr 12 at 11:47
    Travis2310Did exactly what you said in this guide, except:
    - Used Javik and EDI/Liara for most of the game (I was sleeping on Garrus... didnt realize he was that good)
    - Sabotage works on ALL Geth, regardless of Shields/Armor???? (Would have saved me some cursing)
    - Using the Mattock/M-98 Widow/Scorpion/Geth Pulse Shotgun made the game cake (Especially at lvl 5's)

    P.S. Fuck Kai Leng.
    Posted by Travis2310 on 13 Apr 12 at 14:44
    MugenKairoLove the guide as I always play as an Infiltrator! I would love to see a quick entry into strategy for the Cerberus base/Kai Leng battle and the last battle on Earth with Banshees and Brutes as these are the only places I have had trouble (currently on last battle on Earth). I only realised on Earth how good Stasis is combined with Cryo ammo for Marauders - double sniper shot and they are gone making majority of reapers a piece of cake, even Brutes are 4 sniper shots while in cloak mode.

    @Travis2310 - agreed, that wannabe-ninja was not worth all the effort :)
    Posted by MugenKairo on 14 May 12 at 22:52
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