First thing, this is not going to a blog purely about Mass Effect! Secondly, this was also the reason I have been delayed adding any more posts!
I have recently completed 100% of the ME achievements, and this was a task in itself. Bear in mind you need at least full 3 playthroughs to get all of the “ally” achievements, and this relies on you know about them before your first playthrough..
So! I had already completed the game once and got completionist the first time around and a couple of years ago done a Veteran play. Insanity..not so much.
I did it WRONG I will tell you now. I played as an Adept, and level 1-10 or so was a nightmare, being limited to light armour only is a very bad thing. Barrier (once you get it, and you should prioritise it.. I didn’t) makes a very big difference and makes things a LOT easier. The good advantage being however that once you hit about level 10-15 your biotic abilities start to be quite effective even just to slow things down or hold them. I went down the statis route and my speciality was the Bastion which gave improved durations on abilities and the big one – being able to hurt enemies in stasis! Something completely immobile that you can still plug away at? Great! Only problem being that the AI squad mates wont sadly attack a target in stasis. Singularity and lift were also very useful against practically everything and getting a lot of points into those made a big difference. Level 2 lift means you can lift a Geth Armature. and believe me that made things a lot smoother. On insanity their main weapon can kill you outright, and I’m pretty sure it did it to me through my barrier and full shields too. So anyway to stop them is a BIG help. On a side note, due to other achievements I already had I took the Assault Rifle specialist as my “perk” as it were. This meant I had a decent weapno I could fall back on for a bit more firepower when I needed it, and my biotics didn’t really need a boost. Again there could have been better abilities to have taken but due to my own foolishness I will explain later. In general the problem I found was large groups of pirates and mercenaries. They have the ability to use Immunity and make themselves immune to damage, medigel to heal AND shield restore. Along with there being snipers, who again are capable of killing you outright if your barrier isn’t up. There are what appeared to be engineers who will use tech powers to lock down your weapons, biotics and overload shields, they were not pleasant. However this is another point where I went wrong, at low levels do NOT go after human opponents, it nearly led to me jacking the whole thing in because the first assignment I did after leaving the citadel was a tiny little planet with 1 building on it.. full of pirates. It was terrible, it took me nearly 45 minutes just because I hadn’t got the damage to drop them before they started spamming abilities and I hadn’t got anything strong enough to give any real crowd control (ie. high enough levels of singularity or lift). Basically go after geth, they have much less hp and whittling away at their shields takes no time at all. In theory a good idea would be to go straight to Artemis Tau for Liara after leaving the Citadel because its quite a decent sized level and its all (bar 1 Krogan) geth. By mid game it became rather easy and I wondered what all the fuss had been about. There were only a couple of times I died and it was down to not making sure barrier was up, or thinking I was capable of running into a room full of people and gunning them all down. This was not the case. Only real issues were (no spoilers) the boss on Noveria, and to a lesser extent Feros. But again this was really down to my lower level on Noveria and the mechanics of the fight. Taking on 4 snipers at a time? Along with biotic commandos? That took a while I can tell you now… Otherwise the rest of the game past about level 15-18 or so was very noticeably easier, I wont say it was easy though!
The other challenge I stupidly set myself was to finish off other achievements I hadn’t done. I had 2 ally achievements left, along with the level 60 Extreme Power Gamer. This, if I had planned it, wouldn’t have been a problem. However the 2 allies I needed to use were Kaiden and Tali. This meant I was lacking in outright damage potential – hence me taking assault rifles. Kaiden was limited to pistols the entirety of the game and I had to specialise Tali into shotguns and maxing out her shield skill and electronics. The good thing was having these 2 together meant dropping any sort of mechanical enemy was even easier. 2 Overloads, 2 Sabotage, along with their then independent abilites (AI hacking for Tali and Neural Shock for Kaiden). So geth were very much a walk in the park! But it was very noticeable the small amount of brute force the group had, again especially at lower levels with poor ammunition types and weak weapons with low heat capabilities. Once I had everyone running around with the VII Spectre weapons with specialist ammunition it again helped. I tend to stick to a common formula, not saying it’s the best but it’s worked for me a lot! I use an assault rifle with chemical/polonium rounds and then switch to Hammerhead once they’re available. The damage over time and increased toxic hit damage does help, and stopping regeneration really helped. My weapon modifications vary from increased heat absorbers to accuracy depending on what class I am using. With one squad mate using Incendiary/Inferno rounds to set enemies alight which can cause damage over time again and reduce their accuracy! I then had my last person using Cryo/Snowblind rounds again for reduced enemy accuracy (and because it looks cool!) and shield pentration.
NOW, if I were to do it again. I would have possibly stayed with adept, once you are used to the play style of hiding a lot it works quite well once you get a few decent abilities. However squad mates I would’ve used Garrus for my tech along with assault rifles and sniper rifles. With maybe Liara for her biotics and team heal/med bonus abilities. This would mean possibly being able to use different bonus talents over assault rifles and meant whilst hiding and waiting for my cooldowns the others could be doing a reasonable amount of damage. I know Liara isn’t the best choice for a damage ally but she is capable and her other benefits make up for it. Wrex would be a good choice (and he’s awesome) but then you will be lacking the reduced cooldowns on medigel, which wont be a gamebreaker but will cause frustration when squadmates wander off and get themselves into trouble. Go find some nice squishy enemies to start with and do as much on the Citadel as you can before going anywhere else. Something I’d be careful of is going to Noveria and Feros with a low Charm/Intimidate because there are choices that can give you a BIG paragon/renegade boost if your skill is high enough on both planets. All in all just keep at it and persevere, yes you will die, yes it will frustrate you. But it’s not as insane as they make out!
With regards to my level 60 that was a bit more awkward believe it or not (and made things worse for me). I decided to start this with my insanity character. So going to every single planet available and doing every single assignment was my plan… and I did.. and it got me to level 55. The only thing I missed was parts of Pinnacle Station that just seemed impossible on insanity. This is higher than I had hoped but believe you me, level 59-60 is a nightmare. Luckily I had set myself a decent amount of time to get it. 55-60 took me nigh on another 15 hours. I was up to the point of having done Feros, Noveria, and all bar one cluster of planets on my second playthrough with the imported character (only on normal difficulty this time!) with keeping equipment it made it a much quicker process! But I literally hit level 60 with maybe 2-3 hours of the game left. That was a painful experience!
A VERY USEFUL TIP. Anything you kill whilst inside the Mako will give about 30% of the experience you get for killing them on foot. So driving up to enemies and jumping out to mow them down works a treat (doing this still only got me to level 55) however watch out for environmental hazards, that got me killed a couple of times shouting “There’s not even anything left alive!!” then I felt silly. This is where biotic lift for armatures comes in very handy, if you don’t have it you can ram them with the Mako to knock them down and then use tech abilities to try and keep them off you but it’s harder. Even killing a thresher maw on foot at level 35 isn’t hard! Once you have some decent ammo types if you stay just out of its claw range you can just keep dancing about to avoid the acid splash and even use abilities like neural shock and stasis on them!! Very rewarding to drop your first! And it’s actually easier than using the mako because it doesn’t move around and then have a chance to pop up right next to you!
But I did it. I now have 1200/1200 gamerscore for Mass Effect. However I have now imported this into Mass Effect 2 to do the same thing.. I’m up to disc 2 but now Gears of War 3 has arrived so there may be a delay on getting that finished.. but I will be writing a post on that too (and I know already I’m doing myself no favours by taking an even harder option there again). Hopefully this helps anyone who has managed to read the wall of text in front of them!