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Oft Overlooked: How to be a Successful Engineer

Mass Effect 2 eGuide by bundalings

According to Bioware, the Engineer is the least used class in Mass Effect 2. This is understandable, as, on paper, their powers don't sound very interesting. In this guide I'll give you some reasons why playing Engineer is a thrilling and satisfying experience, and more importantly, strategies and tips for all their powers, and advice on what weapons to use. Hopefully my guide will shed light on why Engineer is my favorite class!

At first glance the Engineer is just a support class. It doesn't have access to many weapons and the Combat Drone (the Engineer's unique talent) is simply described as being able to "harass" enemies. "Whatever!" you might say, "I am going to play a Vanguard so I can teleport."

It's true that using Biotic Charge is great fun, but the Engineer offers a very unique experience. You are (almost) literally able to take out any enemy (or group of enemies) completely on your own (see below for Squad suggestions on how to deal with pesky enemies the Engineer has trouble with).

While with other classes you might start panicking if you enter a room with two YMIR mechs and the shoot both your pals down and you have no medigel and it's Insanity, as an Engineer you have nothing to fear. Here's a rundown on their powers and how to use them:

Powers

Combat Drone

We’ll start with the Engineer’s bread and butter, the power that makes them tick and sets them apart. If your only experience with the Combat Drone is through Tali and Legion, you will be understandably deterred.

The 30 second cooldown makes it useful only on occasion. However, you’ll be happy to know that for Shepard the cooldown is a mere 3 seconds. That’s just as short as Throw or Pull. There is no power with a shorter cooldown.

-If an enemy is entrenched and refuses to come out, spawning a Combat Drone next to them ensures they won’t be able to hide much longer.

-The only enemies that ignore the Combat Drone are the Praetorians and the Larva.

-It can be used to completely tie up powerful enemies like YMIR and Harbinger. Spawn the drone next to them, and every time it is destroyed spawn another, whittling the enemy down with your guns and ally powers. In the case of Harbinger, you can distract him long enough to eliminate all other Collectors in the area so when defeated he will not be able to possess another host.

-Scions have particular trouble defeating Combat Drones. If you’re lucky it can keep a Scion busy for the entire duration of a fight.

-Husks tend to cluster around the nearest enemy, Combat Drone included. While their mobbing your Drone they are extra susceptible to area attacks like Area Cryo Blast or Pull Field.

-The Combat Drone can be used to scout ahead. Spawn it next to you and if there’s an enemy in the area it will seek it out, making it impossible for you to be ambushed.

-It’s true the Combat Drone does little to no damage on its first three levels and is simply a distraction. At its fourth stage you can either upgrade it to explode when defeated, or to deal damage with its shock attack. I have tried both and I much prefer the Attack Drone to the Explosive Drone.

The Attack Drone deals 40 damage per strike while the Explosive Drone deals 100 in a pulse upon defeat. In most cases, the Attack Drone will deal more damage over its duration.

Overload

Overload is a very simple power. It strips Shields and damages synthetics (mechs and geth).

-Overload travels instantly. It can’t be arced around cover, but it can’t be dodged, either.

-At rank one it simply deals damage. At rank two it stuns synthetics for 3 seconds, and at rank three it starts overheating enemy weapons for 6 seconds.

-Choosing how to evolve it is largely preference. I have tried both evolutions and they both have merit. However I would suggest if you are playing on Hardcore or Insanity where Shields are very common and strong that you go with Heavy Overload. The 40 point damage difference (160 versus 200) between Heavy and Area can mean the Shields of an enemy are entirely stripped away, or still have a sliver, making it impossible to use more disruptive moves like Dominate/Pull/Cryo.

Incinerate

Incinerate is unlocked at Overload’s second rank, and will probably be a power you use more than any other. It deals heavy damage to organics and Armor. It also panics unshielded organics, leaving them immobile for a few seconds, and stops the regeneration of vorcha and krogan.

-Incinerate is an arcing power with travel time. Because of this you can learn how to make it bend behind cover to hit enemies you can’t see.

-As you level Incinerate up it won’t gain side effects like Overload, it will simply become more powerful.

-At rank four you will be able to choose between dealing 170 damage in a 3.00 meter radius or 210 in a 1.20 meter radius. The choice is yours. Once again I would suggest using the Heavy variant on Hardcore and Insanity and relying on your allies for crowd control.

Cryo Blast

Cryo Blast is a power with very limited functionality, especially on Hardcore and Insanity where everything has some sort of protection.

-Cryo Blast is an arcing power like Incinerate.

-To be honest, the only time I found Cryo useful was when facing Husks, more so on Veteran and below. Cryo instantly freezes and shatters unarmored husks, so upgrading to Area Cryo for levels with them is a good tactic.

AI Hacking

Unfortunately, this power is only unlocked at Cryo Blast rank two. It’s quite useful, instantly killing enemy Combat Drones and making unarmored mechs and geth fight for you for a limited time.

-AI Hacking is an instant power like Overload.

-Be careful, some types of enemies, when hacked, will try to take cover next to you. When the hack wears off they will be dangerously close. This problem is most apparent with Geth Troopers.

-Hacked Enemies often draw the fire of all enemies in the area. Shepard is no longer the number one priority! This can be very helpful in sticky situations. Plus, even if a hacked enemy goes down in a hail of fire, it’s no loss, they were going to turn on you again anyway.

-I would suggest putting points into other talents first, since it’s a more situational power. But if you do decide to max it out I would definitely suggest using the Improved variant. The Area Hack is much less useful.

Tech Mastery

This is the Engineer’s passive ability, increasing Health, Recharge Time, Paragon/Renegade scores, and uniquely, you get a research project cost reduction. 25% off at level four, this means you have to mine a lot less, leaving more time for play. Hooray!

-This is a power you should max out as fast as possible, as it effects all your other powers, not to mention opening conversation options and reducing research cost.

-Deciding between them is once again a matter of preference. As the Mechanic, you get a 100% bonus on your Paragon/Renegade and a 15% bonus to power duration, effecting Combat Drone, Cryo Blast, AI Hacking and possibly your bonus power. As a Demolisher, you get a 70% bonus to Paragon/Renegade and a 15% bonus to power damage, affecting Combat Drone, Overload and Incinerate, and of course your bonus power depending on what you choose.

-My personal preference is for the Mechanic, as I enjoy having every conversation option open to me, and the duration bonus applies to my favorite bonus powers (see below).

Notable Bonus Powers

Reave

The Engineer’s primary weakness is its inability to take out Barriers efficiently. With Reave that is no longer an issue.

-Reave is Samara’s bonus power. Because of this it can only be obtained late in the game or in a new game plus.

-Reave has no travel time and instantly hits a target provided they are not in cover and you have a clear shot.

-Reave deals excellent damage against Armor, Barriers and unshielded organics. Against unshielded organics it also incapacitates them for its duration (unlike Warp which deals damage instantly, Reave “sucks” the life out of enemies over the course of a few seconds). There is no duration against Barriers and Armor, it deals damage instantly.

-Whether you evolve it to do area damage or have more power is entirely up to you, both are quite effective.

Dominate

Dominate is very useful, in that it is identical to AI Hacking, but for organics, and organics are much more common than synthetics.

-Dominate is Morinth’s special power. If you obtain Morinth, you instantly have her loyalty, so it isn’t hard to get. Since you can only have either Morinth or Samara on your squad, it’s wise to save before you initiate the final conversation with Morinth in Samara’s loyalty mission, and let the scene play out, choosing the person you don’t want on your team, then loading your save and picking the one you do. Now you will have both powers available to you.

-There isn’t much to say about Dominate. It is situational, like AI Hacking, but the situations come up much more often. I like upgrading it all the way to Enhanced Dominate. It’s like having an bonus aggressive and expendable squadmate.

Stasis

Statis is an interesting power. It freezes an enemy in place, but makes them invulnerable.

-Stasis is Liara’s bonus power, so it can only be obtained with the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC (which I highly suggest you get, it contains some of the best missions in the game).

-Stasis hits instantly.

-When an enemy comes out of Stasis, they will fall over, and until they stand back up they will take significantly more damage than usual (it seems about 4x damage, but it’s impossible to confirm). This can be used to make tough enemies a cinch to mop up.

-Stasis effects all enemies except the Larva, Harbinger and the Broker.

-Stasis is extremely useful even at level one. I would suggest upgrading your other powers before investing many points into this one.

Warp Ammo

Warp Ammo deals extra damage to Armor, flesh and Barriers.

-Warp Ammo is Jack’s bonus power, and so can be obtained earlier in the game than any of the other powers I’m suggesting.

-Warp Ammo is handy since it gives your guns an extra kick and makes Barriers a little less daunting. Since it deals extra damage to more types of health than any other ammo power, it understandably deals less damage to all of them.

-Since I suggest you use Jack on most missions (see below) this is a power I suggest you use infrequently.

-The evolution is entirely up to you. If you’re using squadmates that don’t have any ammo powers to themselves it’s probably a good idea to share.

Weapons

Engineers only have access to Heavy Weapons, Heavy Pistols and SMGs for the first half of the game.

Heavy Weapons

Entirely up to you. All of them do their jobs fine, from the first grenade launch to the nuke launch. I personally prefer the Collector Particle Beam, as it’s one of the few heavy weapons that has no charge up time, so you can duck in and out of cover without worry.

Heavy Pistols

Each pistol has merit, and I’ll outline each and let you choose.

-All three pistols deal 1.5x damage to Armor.

-The Predator is the first one you receive. It deals significantly less damage per shot (37) but carries a lot more shots (12/clip, 60 in reserve). It’s firing rate is faster, but I would say the other two are better bets.

-The Carnifex you receive early on in the game. It has higher damage (85) but a lot fewer shots (6/18). I would only suggest using this gun if you either don’t have the Phalanx or find its laser sight hard to use.

-The Phalanx comes in the Firepower DLC pack and deals a significant amount of damage (110). It has a slow rate of fire but pinpoint accuracy, provided the lighting is good, as instead of the usual crosshairs it has a blue laser sight that can be difficult to see in some lights. It has a fair amount of shots (6/24).

-I would suggest you buy the Firepower pack, as it comes with two other guns along with the Phalanx that are very useful.

SMGs

Simply put, the SMGs in this game are awful. Except one.

-The Shuriken and Tempest are both pretty awful. They deal 1.5x damage to Shields and Barriers but they are very inaccurate and weak. Don’t rely on them except at point blank range.

-In the DLC level Stolen Memory (worth every penny) you obtain the Locust SMG, which is excellent. It doesn’t deal much more damage than the other two SMGs, plus its bonus to Barriers and Shields are lesser (it sacrifices some damage dealt to Shields and Barrier to get 1.25x damage bonuses across all enemy protection), but it is very, very accurate. After all, it is the gun that killed two presidents. In all my Engineer playthroughs this was my most used gun. It’s really more comparable to the Assault Rifles than to the other SMGs.

Bonus Weapons

About halfway through the game you will be able to choose between Sniper, Assault Rifle and Shotgun training. Since there are a lot of options here I’m just going to highlight my favorites.

Sniper Rifles

Sniping is not very fun in Mass Effect for me. That said, I have used them on some of my playthroughs so even if I am not very good with them I feel comfortable giving advice.

-The Incisor comes with the Aegis DLC pack. Since its primary function is stripping protection and the Engineer has that mostly covered, it isn’t worth it.

-Between the Mantis and Viper, I prefer the Viper. The Mantis deals significantly more damage per shot (263 versus 82) but the Viper has a much larger clip and more reserve shots (1/9 versus 12/48). Since the Viper can fire 12 shots in rapid succession while the Mantis has to reload every time, I prefer the Viper.

Assault Rifles

Fairly useful, especially if you don’t have the Locust.

-The Collector, Geth and Avenger assault rifles are fairly similar. Good at stripping protection quickly. Not terribly accurate or high damage.

-The Vindicator is a burst fire weapon with higher accuracy and damage. It’s a safe bet, but nothing special.

-The Mattock comes in the Firepower DLC, and is my favorite of the assault rifles. Semi-automatic, its fire rate depends purely on the speed of your trigger finger. It’s highly accurate and has excellent damage. A good, dependable weapon.

Shotguns

Largely, Shotguns are less useful to Engineers, since good Engineer tactics are hang back and defeat from afar, but there is an exception.

-The Katana and Scimitar are unremarkable.

-The Eviscerator comes with the Cerberus Network, free to any new copy of the game. It has higher damage and accuracy than the Katana and Scimitar and would be my second choice.

-The Geth Plasma Shotgun comes with the Firepower DLC pack and is my favorite weapon in the game. It deals excellent damage, and unlike other shotguns, its accuracy doesn’t decay, so it can be used at close or medium range effectively, and sometimes is effective at long range even.

-The Geth Plasma Shotgun also has a charge up attack. Hold down the trigger for a few seconds and release and the base damage of the shot goes from 250 to 556. This eats up your heatsinks at twice the speed, but it can be worth it. That’s the highest damage per shot in the game, higher than the Widow and the Claymore.

-It’s also an excellent gun to give Grunt, Tali and Jack, as they often try to use their shotguns at ranges that other guns just can’t be effective at.

-All in all, I suggest you buy the Geth Shotgun and choose special weapons training in Shotguns.

Squad Members

Here’s a quick rundown on characters that Engineers go well with.

-Jack: She has Shockwave, Pull and Warp Ammo. Save enough skill points to max her Warp Ammo out to Squad Ammo after her loyalty has been gained. Shockwave is an effective crowd control power, instantly killing unarmored husk clusters and hitting enemies through walls and behind cover. Pull is especially helpful in Area Pull form. Pull instantly kills husks on Veteran or below, and instantly kills flying Collectors when they don’t have Barriers. She pairs especially well with Thane.

-Thane: Upgrading Thane’s Warp all the way to Unstable Warp as fast as you can is useful, since with the upgrade the cooldown time lessens from 12 to 9 seconds, and it can turn anyone under the effects of Pull (available to Morinth, Samara and Jack) into fantastic bombs. Take points away from Shredder Ammo if you have the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, because it’s not as good as Warp or Inferno Ammo in the end. Throw Field is useful, especially since it instantly kills unarmored husks.

-Grunt: Since the Engineer is fairly fragile, Grunt makes an excellent companion, running in close and smashing stuff. He’s almost invincible so putting points into Fortification is redundant. Squad Incendiary Ammo is nice, and Concussive Shot can take out the Barriers the Engineer struggles with.

-On levels where you know you’ll be fighting geth (Tali’s recruitment, loyalty and the Overlord DLC, notably) taking along a combination of Zaeed (for Squad Disruptor Ammo), Tali, Legion, Garrus and Kasumi is a good idea. You won’t need biotics against them. I prefer allies with low cooldown times generally so I favor Kasumi and Tali over Legion and Garrus.

-You can experiment, of course, I just find these guys pair nicely with the Engineer.

So now you know. The Engineer is a very fun and satisfying class, capable of stripping defenses and destroying the enemies underneath without hassle. They have some weak spots, but they are easily covered with bonus powers and squad members. I hope you enjoyed my guide! I tried to make it interesting and comprehensive without dragging on but I fear I may have failed. Oh well. Better long than short and unhelpful. Goodbye and good luck!

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