Biotic power involves manipulating dark energy with the brain to create miniature mass effect fields, the same phenomenon used for faster-than-light space travel. Biotic ability varies wildly by species and individual, and requires extensive training and surgical implants (called bio-amps) for use in combat. Element zero, as the key to generating mass effect fields, is also necessary to use biotics. Asari
are the only species with naturally occurring biotic ability, which implies that the presence of element zero had some effects on their evolution. All other known species with biotic capabilities require exposure to some form of element zero in utero in order for nodules to form on the brain that respond to the brain's natural electrical impulses. However, foetal exposure to element zero is very dangerous, and more often results in fatal cancer than biotic nodules. There are many other assorted risks associated with biotic power, which is why successful biotics are so prized for their combat abilities.
The asari are the only naturally occurring biotic race, with nearly every asari individual possessing some degree of biotic ability. As such, biotics are the backbone of the asari military. Asari do not have the physical capabilities of humans, turians, or especially krogan, so they rely on their mobility and superior biotic powers. Asari commandos are highly trained, immensely powerful individuals, but they are lightly armoured and loosely organized so they prefer guerrilla tactics. Still, asari commandos are formidable enough that even the militaristic turians have declared that "the asari are the finest warriors in the galaxy. Fortunately, there are not very many of them."
Humans appear to have the greatest capability for biotics of any sentient race in the galaxy, except for the asari. However, humans still lag greatly behind asari in volume of individuals with biotic power, as only 10% of humans exposed to element zero in utero successfully survive the process and develop biotic nodules.
Humanity first discovered element zero after uncovering Prothean
ruins on Mars, which led to the development of FTL
space flight. As the use of element zero greatly expanded with this technological breakthrough, the first cases of element zero exposure in humans were caused by accidents involving spacecraft. After establishing contact with the Citadel and learning the tremendous military value of biotics, the Alliance created Conatix Industries as a corporate venture into training human biotics. Conatix created humanity's first bio-amps, and was also responsible for tracking down individuals who had been exposed to element zero. Conatix established Biotics Acclimation and Temperance Training (BAaT) on Gagarin Station (also known as Jump Zero) in the interest of evaluating human biotic ability, and hired turian mercenaries to serve as teachers for the children. However, the turians treated the students extremely harshly, culminating in an incident where a young Kaidan Alenko
accidentally killed his teacher, Commander Vyrnnus. Shortly after this, BAaT was shut down.
As of the first Mass Effect
, most human biotics use L3-type implants, which are proven safe for use. However, some older biotic soldiers (like Kaidan) still possess the older L2 implants, which are more powerful but are also linked to numerous side effects, such as mental disability, insanity, or severe pain disorders. Some of the side missions in Mass Effect concern a growing biotic rights movement, which campaigns for reparations from the Alliance due to the harsh side effects of L2 implants. Biotics rights activists also believe that they have been mistreated by the Alliance government since there are widely held suspicions that Conatix may have intentionally staged spacecraft collisions over human colonies, unethically exposing millions of people to element zero, after they began to run out of accidental exposures.
biotics are very rare, and often mistrusted due to their incompatibility with the typical soldier in the highly regimented turian military. As a result, they are usually assigned to specialist units called cabals, whose assignments rarely overlap with the rest of the military.
biotics are also extremely unusual, but unlike the turians they are valued for their rarity rather than discriminated against. In fact, salarians with biotic capabilities are considered too valuable for the front lines, and are instead encouraged to become agents in the formidable salarian intelligence network.
Krogan have very limited capability for biotics, which makes the rare few with biotic power on top of their formidable physical skills greatly feared, even among their own people. The krogan military finds this intimidation factor as useful (if not more so) than the biotics themselves, which means krogan biotics usually have little trouble reaching the coveted rank of Battlemaster.
Throw: Available to Adepts, Vanguards, and Sentinels. The biotic uses intense telekinetic force to hurl the target backward, knocking them off their feet. Throw also deals damage if the target strikes a wall or any other solid object while thrown. This damage is especially useful because it ignores the target's shields. Adding skill points to Throw increases the force of the power.
Lift: Available to Adepts, Vanguards, and Sentinels. Lift alters the effects of gravity around the target, causing the enemy to float helplessly into the air. This is useful for crowd control, as the target cannot attack for the entire duration of the effect. The target is also exposed and therefore very vulnerable to attack. Lift also preserves the target's momentum, which makes it especially useful against charging enemies like krogan or Geth Destroyers. Adding skill points to Lift increases the height the target is lifted as well as the duration of the effect.
Barrier: Available to Adepts, Vanguards, and Sentinels. Barrier creates a protective mass effect field around the user, greatly increasing their shields for a short period of time. This is especially useful for Adepts and Sentinels, who can only wear light armor. Putting skill points into Barrier increases the strength of the biotic shields and the duration of the effect.
Stasis: Available to Adepts and Sentinels. Stasis prevents the target from moving, firing a weapon, or using any other sort of ability. However, the target is also invulnerable to damage during that time. Putting skill points into Stasis increases the duration of the effect.
Warp: Available to Adepts and Vanguards. Deals damage over time and greatly weakens the target's armor. This is especially useful against enemies who can regenerate health such as krogan, as the damage over time prevents the regeneration from taking effect while Warp persists. Warp does higher damage and lasts longer as skill points are added.
Singularity: Available exclusively to Adepts. Singularity creates an intense gravitational field around a single point, drawing all nearby enemies and objects into it. Singularity is extremely effective for crowd control due to its large area of effect, and can deal serious damage if environmental objects are caught in the field and bludgeon enemies within the singularity. As the user becomes more proficient with the power, the both the size and duration of the singularity increase.
Mass Effect 2
Biotic powers have undergone numerous gameplay changes in Mass Effect 2. Lift has been changed into a new power called Pull (see below), and Barrier is now an unlockable power. Like all abilities in Mass Effect 2, the recharge time on biotic powers has been greatly reduced so that they can be used more often within a single encounter. In addition, powers such as Lift and Pull can now be thrown in an arc to hit enemies behind cover. Biotics now also account for the angle of impact, so the player can aim powers in a specific direction to affect enemies in a particular way, such as throwing them off a suspended walkway to their deaths.
Biotic powers are also now more effective if used in combination. For example, if a biotic character uses Throw on an enemy already affected by Pull, that foe will be flung much further than if the biotic had only used Throw. Using biotic combos is the condition for the Tactician achievement in the game. As with all abilities in Mass Effect 2, biotic powers can be evolved into one of two separate versions upon unlocking the final rank for greater customization.
Throw: Available to Adepts and Sentinels. Throw now moves in an arc, but otherwise functions identically to its use in the first game. At rank 4, Throw can be evolved into Heavy Throw or Throw Field. Heavy Throw greatly increases the force of the throw, while Throw Field changes the power into an area of effect attack that can hit multiple targets at once.
Pull: Available to Adepts and Vanguards. Pull replaces Lift from the first Mass Effect, because the power can now move enemies in more directions than just vertically depending on how the player aims it. Pull is now especially useful at removing enemies from cover, exposing them to weapons fire or another biotic attack. Pull can be evolved into Heavy Pull (longer duration) or Pull Field (area of effect).
Warp: Available to Adepts and Sentinels. Warp works basically the same way as it did in the first game, with two new important features. First, Warp is extra effective against targets with heavy armor or biotic barriers. Secondly, when used in combination with another sustained power (such as Pull or Singularity), Warp acts as a detonator, blowing up the mass effect fields of both powers and causing heavy damage to the targets. The evolved versions of Warp are Heavy Warp (increased damage) and Unstable Warp (increased detonation radius).
Shockwave: Available to Adepts and Vanguards. An all-new biotic power, Shockwave causes a series of biotic impacts that travel in a line from the user. It can be used both along the ground, where it will launch targets into the air, or against airborne targets. Upon reaching rank 4, Shockwave can be evolved into either Heavy Shockwave (greater damage) or Improved Shockwave (wider area of effect).
Singularity: Available exclusively to Adepts. Singularity also functions essentially the same as previously, but it now will trap enemies who enter its field of effect as well as targets who were in range when it began. As such, Singularity is now ideal for setting large groups of enemies up for a combo using powers such as Shockwave or Warp. Singularity's evolved versions are Heavy Singularity (longer duration) or Wide Singularity (stronger gravitational pull).
Charge: Available exclusively to Vanguards. Charge is the Vanguard's class feature. The Vanguard envelops himself in biotic energy and dashes forward at extreme speed, ramming into the target and knocking them back. A charging Vanguard can even phase through solid objects between him and the target. Charge is ideal for the Vanguard's role as a close-combat specialist, dealing heavy damage and closing large distances quickly so that the Vanguard is within range to use their shotguns effectively. Charge can also be used to escape dangerous situations, allowing the Vanguard to dash away from areas of heavy fire to safer parts of the battlefield. Charging also boosts the Vanguard's barrier for a short time, allowing them to soak up more damage. At the final rank, Charge can be evolved into Heavy Charge or Area Charge. Heavy Charge further increases the damage and barrier boost, and also slows down time for a brief period, allowing the Vanguard to take extra shots at the target while it is stunned from the knockback. Area Charge turns the impact into a splash effect, allowing the Vanguard to hit multiple targets with a single charge.
Barrier: Now an unlockable power upon successfully gaining Jacob Taylor's loyalty. Jacob gains use of it automatically upon the completion of his loyalty mission, and Commander Shepard can purchase an upgrade to use it as well. As in Mass Effect 1, Barrier greatly augments the user's shield strength.
Slam: A new unlockable power, developed by Miranda Lawson after completing her loyalty mission. The player can also purchase the ability for Commander Shepard (provided that their character has biotic ability) after Miranda unlocks it. Slam lifts a single target into the air and then slams it into the ground, dealing damage and stunning the target for a short time. Slam can be evolved into Heavy Slam (greater damage) or Crippling Slam (longer stun) upon reaching rank 4.