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.
COMBAT AND TEAM:
- 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.