I finished Mass Effect 3 on Insanity...

...and I decided to blog about it because why not? I'm going to write about my loadouts and strategies in case anyone needs tips or just wants to discus different strategies. This isn't intended as an all encompassing guide, I'm just listing what worked for me and why.

Also, potential spoilers, though if you're taking on Insanity you probably already finished the game once.

So, I played through the game with a Paragon Soldier that lived through ME1, 2 (twice) and 3. I honestly found the difficulty easier then when I played ME2, but this might be only because ME3 didn't have any big "rough spots", unlike ME2's Horizon or Praetorian's in general.

Powers

Adrenaline Rush was nerfed a decent amount and no longer makes you basically immortal but it still serves the purpose of skyrocketing your damage output nicely. I took increased Damage, Duration and Power Use.

As my Bonus Power I took James' Carnage. (Damage, Incapacitate, Damage) It synergies well with Incendiary Rounds because killing an enemy that's on fire with this causes a big explosion (same goes for Incinerate). I'm using Carnage as my one free power I can use during Adrenaline Rush. Think of it as an upgraded Concision Shot. It also allows me to lob something at enemies hiding in cover or around corners.

Incendiary Ammo is the ammo power I found myself using the most, even on the Geth. I was a big fan of Warp Ammo in ME2 (to the point of getting it as my Bonus Power there) but here that type of ammo lacks punch so we're going with the next best thing. Health and Armor are the two types of enemies you'll encounter the most. Unlike in previous games, here enemies don't magically get shields just because you're playing on Insanity. Setting enemies on fire means that they don't take cover and can explode is shot by Carnage. It also causes corpses to vaporise so you won't get upgraded Cannibals often, though this does mean other Cannibals won't run out of cover as often. For upgrades I picked Damage, Headshots and more Damage. Explosive Burst might be a good choice if you're willing to experiment. Don't take Squad Bonus. You doing 6% more damage is better then 2 teammates getting 50% of your ammo power.

Honestly that's all you need. I never used Cryo Ammo, but it might have it's uses as a Squad Ammo if you want to try it. Other bonus Powers simply don't fit. You can't use Marksman during AR, Fortification, Defense Matrix and Barrier come at the price of skill recharge and we want to keep that as low as possible.

As for Passives, I went with Influence & Duration, Headshots and Weapon Master for offense, and Durability, Shield Recharge and Fitness Expert for defense. You can pick Damage instead of Influence & Duration I guess, but don't even think about upgrading your Melee :P

Weapons

This is probably the section that mostly going to differ between players. In ME2 I used the M-15 Vindicator as soon as I could. It was very accurate and thanks to AR I could fire entire bursts as headshots, taking almost any enemy down with ease. Unfortunately in ME3 they upped the recoil on that gun by a lot and while looking for a replacement I found the M-96 Mattock. I found the recoil to my much more manageable, though I still use a Recoil Dampening upgrade (and an Extended Barrel for more damage). Both can be found early on (the Vindicator is on Mars, and the Mattock is in Grissom Academy).

Wait, find? Well yeah, you carry over all your weapons, but on a first playthrough you can only upgrade them to level V. Finding the weapon on a NG+ will give you 3 upgrades, and the last 2 can be bought. DLC weapons, and the weapons you start with only get 1 bonus upgrade. The weapons from the Specter Office get none as far as I know. This is important, because upgrades increase damage and decrease weight. You want to be running around with X weapons as soon as you can.

You also want to be over +190% recharge speed, preferably at the max +200%. Not only do you need those Adrenaline Rushes, but also if what I heard is true, The cooldowns for your squadmate abilities is influenced by your weight, not theirs. All of this means that we're going in light. Just an assault riffle and a pistol.

Speaking of pistols, you can't find anything better then the M-77 Paladin. This thin is like a pocketsized Widow. Personally I moded it with Increased Damage and Piercing, but a scope isn't a bad idea if you're into that sort of thing. (personally I found the accuracy to be good enough, and I was using it on short ranges too often to make the scope comfortable.) What if you bought the Black Widow on your first playthrough instead? (like me). In that case stick to the M-5 Phalanx or the M-6 Carnifex. Both are good pistols, with the Phalanx having the edge in the fact that it's much, much lighter. Because of this fact this was the pistol I most often had with me. I can have a +200% recharge bonus only when the Paladin and Mattock are upgraded to level X.

Squadmates

Liara and EDI (Tali and EDI during Geth missions). I was providing the firepower, but I needed support.

Liara has Singularity and Stasis. Make sure to upgrade Stasis into a Stasis Bubble. Stasis is incredibly good and it's sad that Liara will use Singularity instead most of the time. We need Singularity though, for brining enemies out of cover and to counter the shield wielding Cerberus troops. Warp is just icing on the cake. The ability that should get the short end of the stick is Warp Ammo.

EDI brings with her both Overload and Incinerate. This means we have ways to combat shields as well as deal additional armor damage to Brutes, Banshees and Atlases. Don't buy Decoy. At all. It's useless and will just cause the AI to use it and waste cooldowns on it instead of having them ready for Overload or Incinerate. As for Defense Matrix... I don't know... My EDI had it, but the extra 30% recharge was noticeable. Try not getting it and see how it goes if you want. It's also worth mentioning that when upgrading Overload I picked incapacitating of organic foes, and 1 extra jump at the end of the tree. I think that this might have caused the AI to prefer this over Incinerate on most foes - another point worth considering. Upgrading both skills for more damage incread of a wider area seems to be the better way to go.

Tali should max Sabotage (too good vs Geth). I don't find much usefulness in most other squadmates. Javik's power does too little damage, Garrus might be an OK replacement for EDI since he has Overload, but I'm not sure if the extra firepower can make up for Incinerate. Same thing with James (Carnage is basically Incinerate, but no Overload.)

Armor and upgrades

My armor was a custom set: Delumcore Overlay headgear, Hehne-Kedar chest, Armax Arsenal shoulders, Armax Arsenal arms, Hehne-Kedar legs.

This set gives me 40% more weapon damage, and 25% more headshot damage. I found this to be better then pure weapon damage, but your mileage may vary. In ME2 I was all over the +health custom armor, but here health doesn't regenerate, and I tried playing with a +shield armor and didn't find it useful. When you're out of cover for too long, you'll die regardless. I found it better to kill the enemies quicker and thus use my ammo more efficiently (since I am limited on the guns I can carry).

As for Glyph upgrades, I prioritize them in this order: Weapon Damage > Power Damage > Power Recharge > Shields > Rest.

Notable enemies

Cerberus Guardian - Have Liara use singularity. Problem solved. You can also use a pistol with armor piercing.

Cerberus Nemesis - These snipers are a real pain. On Insanity they fire almost instantly and take out your shields, forcing you to go back to cover. Best way to deal with them is to use Overload as soon as you see them and gun them down. If they get into cover, pop out, and pop back in as soon as you see movement, making them miss. Then try to flush them out with Overload, Singularity, Stasis and / or piercing rounds.

Cerberus Phantom - Normally a very dangerous enemy, trivialized by Stasis. They don't really cover, so freezing them is easy.

Cerberus Atlas - Find cover, don't peek out without AR. Switch to Disruptor Ammo to take down the shields, then back to Incendiary Ammo for the armor. Spam your squadmate abilities. It's not that hard to take this thing down, but don't let it catch you out of cover.

Geth - Sabotage.

Geth Prime - Sabotage still works, though not as effectively. Each subsequent Sabotage lasts less and less until they become immune. Do the same thing you did with Atlas (cover, AR, skill spam). Primes are more dangerous, but stagger more easily under heavy fire. It's worth noting that there's a room in the last geth mission with 3 Primes. Quickly run to the left, and try taking down 1 Prime at a time. Don't use the heavy weapons in the room - they require you to be out of cover for too long.

Reaper Brute - Not a problem honestly. He's all armor. AR + Incendiary Ammo + Carnage (x2 on Palavin's Moon) take this guy down pretty quick. Try to aim for the head is you can, but avoid the armor plating.

Reaper Ravager - Problematic. remember that they fire a salvo of 3 shots and then pause. Use this window to do some damage and follow up with Incinerate. Liara's Singularity is a very good way to kill the small Swarmers.

Reaper Harvester - Not as tough as they might seem. Forus fire and they go boom.

Reaper Banshee - Problematic as always. Even heavy weapons don't always kill them on Insanity, and they have a ton of both Bariers and Armor. If you have any means of backtracking to previous rooms, do so. They will follow you, while most enemies will not and you can deal with them without interruptions. Same spammy tactics apply, though this time you have to be mobile. Get out of cover is possible and always be on the move. I hope you have the Paladin already.

Final words

Use up your Medigel if you need it. You're sticking 8 of it and don't need the extra exp. I'm also pretty sure it auto replenishes between missions. Don't be stingy. Squadmates tend to use their worthless submachineguns. Check from time to time and switch to their Paladin / Carnifex. don't try to take on the Brutes on Tuchanka by the Maw Hammers. Just run to the hammers.

...guess that covers most of it. I had fun, it was a nice challenge, not too easy, not hear pullingly hard. Overall I think ME3 is a decent game, and definitely a must play for anyone that's invested in the franchise. And for the record, I'm not a fan of the endings, though I think this whole mess is at least a little bit overblown.

20 Comments

QTEs and why they don't work on the PC. Also Resident Evil 5.

So I bought my regular PC magazine this month, and it came with a copy of Resident Evil 5. Now, I've never been a RE fan (Survival Horror is just not a genre for me) but I respected the series and knew that the gameplay shifted in 4 and 5. I could also play it co-op with a friend, why the heck not?
I enjoyed the game for the most part. Cooperating was fun most of the time and there were some awesome moments. However the one thing that almost ruined the game for us, especially by the end, where the Quick Time Events. Oh God...

Now I actually don't mind QTEs, in fact I like them... when they're implemented properly. RE5 makes a few design mistakes and this is amplified on the PC due to the nature of the controls.

  1. The QTEs come out of nowhere. The first QTE comes up in the middle of a cutscene. A regular cutscene that you saw several of up to that point. There's no indication that QTEs are in the game at all, and more importantly that they are in this cutscene. In God of War you initiate QTE's when you see a big glowing O over the enemy's head, and the first ones are simple to get you going. What's also confusing is not in co-op some QTE's are for both players and some just for one player during those cutscenes. There's no feedback on who failed to do it properly in the shared ones.
  2. The keyboard is not a controller. Ever play a console game with QTE's and fail one of those because "I didn't know this game uses the shoulder buttons in QTE's" (totally happened to me in GoW3 during Helios) or "I didn't know I'd have to press in the analog sticks." The keyboard amplifies this tenfold. On consoles you have a general idea of what buttons might be used, but on the PC, even if you can restrict the amount of keys from over 100 to just the ones the game uses it's still a problem.
  3. Custom control configurations can break your QTE's. Actually, default ones can too. RE5 by default has the following QTE's: Tap F or V, Press F, V, A+D or F+V. Now try to have your fingers in the right spots for all of those. I had to reconfigure my controls for the QTE's to be under Q and E to have it be manageable, but I still can only have my fingers on one set of buttons. This also brings me to my next point
  4. All the keyboard buttons are the same. Controllers have buttons that are color coded, and have different shape in the case of the shoulder buttons. All the keyboard buttons are trapezoids with a different letter. It's far less intuitive and requires you to process more information, slowing your reaction time (that's already slowed thanks to problem number 3). Especially when the button in jumping up and down...*
  5. Bad game design based around QTE's. Finally I'll go back to RE5 for a moment. This is kind of like point 1, but touches other gameplay elements. Not going to spoil the game for anyone here, but the boss battle at the end of Chapter 5 sucks. It's not hard, it's just frustrating because you have no idea what to do... no, you know what to do, but it doesn't look like it's working and the game gives you no feedback. OK, so you're not supposed to outright kill the boss, you know that. And there's a QTE you can do. So you do it, franticly tap the button and the boss breaks out. OK you think, you just have to do it like 3 times. Well no, you have to do it like 30-40 times. We thought something was broken. The game gave us no feedback if what you're doing it right or wrong. I read up a bit, and apparently you CAN shoot the boss a bit in the right place and decrease the QTE amount, even though the game was very explicit about not shooting a moment ago. That fight was really unfun.
So developers (who I'm sure are reading my blog at this very moment) please, think about the platforms you're putting the games out on more and give the player some feedback and warning signs. No one likes to die from something they had no idea was coming. There are simple ways these can be fixed.
  • Ease the player in. Train him to be ready to react to QTE's by giving him a sign.
  • Design your game, or your port with the controller in mind. The PS3 trigger buttons kind of suck and if you're putting out a shooter you probably want to shooting to be on R1 and not R2, even though the Xbox version might benefit more from using the right trigger.
  • Make sure to give the player feedback if what he's doing is right or not.
* Also, yes, you can use a controller in the PC version of RE5 but that can even make things worse. If you have an actual Xbox controller it's probably fine, but if not then the game will probably be using Xbox buttons that in no way relate to the symbols on your controller, or use a horribly generic "1, 2, 3, 4..." button layout that's even worse. I played through the PC version of Ninja Blade using my PS3 controller and having the game spit out Xbox button prompts at me. How's that for multiplatform?
Plus, why would you want to play a shooter with a controller if your mouse is right there?
Start the Conversation

Help me pick a Need for Speed game!

So here's the pitch: I bought a new router, and it had a coupon in it for one if the following (my pick):

 
Now, the best choice would be Hot Pursuit, but I don't really have the money to buy that right now and the promotion lasts only till the end of January, so I think I'll have to settle for one of the free alternatives, even though all are not that great (but hey, free game, right?).
So I'm asking you: what's the best free game to pick from that list?
12 Comments

Final Fantasy XIV, you're not up to a good start.

OK, so my Demon's Souls copy that I ordered came... and it turns out then sent me the Chinese version, so I had to sent it back. So bloging about that game is delayed significantly ATM. In other news.
 
I installed the FF XIV beta, and my God, does it have some fundamental problems. I have it on my computer 3 days now, and still didn't even witness the main menu. What did I get to see? The patcher. For hours and hours...
 I really don't know who programmed this, but you ser are an IDIOT. It's a Peer-to-peer downloader, and that's not necessarily bad by itself if p2p connections are used to suplement proper patch servers and the whole thing is programmed properly. The thing is that this patcher isn't anything like that.
 
First and foremost, download speeds suck. As I'm writing this, the speed is 30 Kb/s, and that's really good for this thing. Estimated download time of one patch file (and there are more to come) - 25 hours. You know it's bad when your download service can't provide you with the download. The beta requirements stated that participants "need to be able to download large amounts of data." Well apparently you are not capable of giving the large amounts of data, so shut up.
 
Second, this thing sucks out all your upload after you get a few parts of the file downloaded. Anyone who knows how p2p works knows that you need to cap your upload to about 80-90%, so that the rest can be used for other p2p related traffic and so that you'll still be able to browse the Internet. This thing doesn't have any sort of capping ability, and uses all the upload, slowing itself down in the process because it can't work right. Also, good luck using the Internet, and waiting till you can send a "I want to view this page" request every time.
 
Third, it uses 100% of one of your processor cores CONSTANTLY. WHY? What sort of rocket science and cancer research are you computing that it would require such processing power? Is it because the patcher constantly plays music that was cool at first, but I'll puke if I hear it somewhere in the game after listening to it for 20 hours? Thank God that you at least had the brains to not play it if the patcher isn't the focused window. Then I REALLY wouldn't be able to use the computer. Not that I can play a game though, since you're using my efing processor like it's some sort of slave mule.
 
Finally, the straw that broke the camels back and made me write this. Every time a new patch comes out, and you where in the middle of patching, you have to download the patch from scratch again! I ask again, WHY? You can't provide anything near adequate download speed and after I spent 2 days and 1 night trying to download this patch and got up to 65% I wake up only to find that a new patch came out, and the file I was downloading, is invalidated and I have to start from scratch.
 
I can't leave this computer on for a whole day and night just downloading your patches. I have work to do that requires processing power that you're taking away. I want to browse the Internet sometimes. I want to entertain myself and play a game at least once a day. You made it so that the patcher can't coexist with any of this. I just pray that there won't be any new patches till at least Monday so that I can have ample time to download file H2010.07.15.2000.

37 Comments

Hello world!

Oh, hi there... umm...
I figured I might as well start writing a blog here from time to time. I think I'll be writing my thoughts about the games I'm playing recently mostly. Updates will be "whenever I feel like it".
 
I ordered Demon's Souls a week ago, and it's taking forever for the shop to get stock, but I'll definitely want to write something about that once it gets here. We'll see how it goes.

Start the Conversation