Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer

Quick & Dirty Guide: Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer

Version 0.9


Welcome to the Quick & Dirty (Q&D) Guide to Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer.

As with all my Q&D Guides, the aim of this document is to be the guide I wished I had available when I started this game: a lightweight, spoiler-free resource designed to get you up to speed without burying you under mountains of text and theorycraft. If you can navigate your way across the internet to a game guide in the first place, chances are you do not need a whole lot of hand-holding.

So let’s get started.


The basic structure for multiplayer is four-player co-op survival mode against 11 Waves of increasingly strong enemies. In Wave 3, Wave 6, and Wave 10, there will be one of three types of special objectives: activate four nodes, kill four specific enemies, or a King of the Hill type defense. Those specific waves are the only ones in which you can earn Credits, which you can then use to purchase reinforcement packs (see below). Wave 11 is the Extraction wave, which is another King of the Hill scenario that asks you to be inside the highlighted zone at the end of a two minute countdown.

There is a scoring system in multiplayer that is based on damage done and the hitting of certain milestones – such as killing 50 enemies, getting 5 headshots, and so on. Aside from quantifying a player’s contribution, the scoring has no effect on anything. All players will get the same amount of XP and credits at the end of the match. Special note: if you leave a match before it’s completion, you get NOTHING. Thus, even in a losing match it is better to simply die than to bail.

The three difficulty levels are:

BRONZE – About as difficult as Normal in single-player. [~15,000 credits]
SILVER – Enemies deal a lot more damage/take less. [~30,000 credits]
GOLD – All enemies extremely dangerous. [~70,000 credits]

When I talk about enemy “tiers,” I am referring to the following:

Tier 1: Basic units. Husks, Cannibals, Assault Troopers, Geth Troopers.
Tier 2: Shielded units. Centurion, Nemesis, Combat Engineer, Geth Hunter/Rocket Trooper/Pyro, Marauder
Tier 3: Insta-kill/armored units. Phantom, Atlas, Geth Prime, Brute, Banshee, Ravager

==Basic Strategy Q&A==

Q. Which class should I pick?
A. Starting out, I recommend picking a Human Sentinel; it is the most well-rounded, useful class for new players. Once you start collecting some weapon upgrades and unlocking new races, pick whatever you want.

Q. Which weapons should I pick?
A. As a general rule, Powers > Weapons, so you will want to keep your Power Recharge Speed in positive territory no matter what weapons you have. It is generally a good idea to pick a primary weapon (assault rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun) and then use a Heavy Pistol as a backup until you get upgraded weapons; SMGs are almost universally useless as either primary or as a backup weapon. See the Weapons section for details about specific weapons.

Q. How should I spec?
A. Depends on your class/race combo, what you want to do, and possibly what weapons you have access to. The level cap is 20 and there are five skills that have six slots each. You can max out four of the five skills by putting nothing in the fifth (6/6/6/6/0), or you can have a more balanced approach of maxing three skills and not taking the 6th slot of the forth skill (6/6/6/5/3). Personally, I usually go the latter route.

You can try more esoteric builds like 6/5/5/5/5 or 6/6/5/5/4 or 6/6/6/4/4, but you end up with unspent talent points that provide no use whatsoever.

During the level-up process, I usually focus on unlocking my other powers first (1/1/0/0/0 at level 1), but I always spare a point or two in the class training skill (Alliance Training for Humans, Quarian Defender for Quarians, etc) and Fitness thereafter, considering the first talent spent has a huge impact right away (typically making you 10% better, compared to 5% or less for each additional talent).

Q. When it gives me a choice between two different talents, which one do I choose?
A. Again, it will depend on the build. That said, generally speaking, the rubric for Powers goes like this: affects more enemies > more damage to armored units > more damage > duration. For the Class skills, I always pick Power Damage/Carrying Capacity > Weapon Damage.

Q. I’m ready to go. What now?
A. Hit Quick Match and CHANGE THE DIFFICULTY from Random to Bronze. Once a Match is found, PRESS SPACEBAR (on PC) once there are four players in the lobby.

Q. Okay, I’m in a match. What do I do?
A. Pick a person who looks like they know what they’re doing, follow them around, and find some cover in their general area.

Q. Why?
A. Enemies have specific spawn points in each map, but generally won’t spawn at a location a player can see. However, if players spread out across the map, enemies CAN and WILL spawn at “blocked” spawn points. This is bad news when three Geth Pyros pop into existence right behind you. Also, if you die, you are much more likely to be rezzed if you are near someone else.

Q. I died! What now? Should I use my Medigel?
A. It depends. If you died near somebody, it is generally worth waiting to see if they will rez you. If you think that your team might die without you, or you died in the middle of a Credit round, it’s worth using a Medigel right before your blood meter runs out. Keep in mind that Assault Troopers (Cerberus) and Geth Troopers (Geth) can execute you; if you see one nearby, your decision to use a Medigel or not needs to come quickly.

Even if you bleed out, all players are resurrected between rounds.

Q. Someone died across the map. Should I try and save them?
A. This depends on many factors, such as which map you are playing on, against what enemy, how soon the round is over, and so on. The risk in rezzing someone must be less than the strength of maintaining your current position; there is nothing more embarassing and demoralizing than trying to rez someone only to die yourself.

Q. When and how should I use my Cobra Missile Launcher?
A. The two important things to note about the Cobra is that it instantly kills every enemy it damages, and it has a rudimentary tracking system. The problem with “rudimentary” is exactly that: it can track the wrong target, miss completely even when locked onto the right one, or it can detonate early by hitting a random enemy that jumps in front of it. Since you have to hold the Fire button down for a second or two before it launches, that can also account for wasted shots. Hence, the best way to use the Cobra is to actually aim it at the ground near where your target is located.

As for WHEN to use it, typically you would use it if A) there are 2 or more Banshees close together, or B) when it could be the difference between success and failure of a Credit round. You will probably know by round 3 or 4 whether your team can easily handle Tier 3 enemies like Banshees, so it will be more apparent when the tide has turned and a Cobra may be necessary. Keep in mind that there is no easy way to get more Cobras (all equipment is random), so you DO want to ration them a bit.

Q. When should I use Weapon/Ammo/Armor Equipment?
A. No equipment is REQUIRED to defeat even Gold difficulty. However, a newer player is not going to have access to the upgraded weapons and thus will not contribute as much damage to the fight as a similarly skilled player with better weapons. Thus it is a good idea to use your Equipment to make up the difference. Plus, since you have to assign equipment before a match begins and all equipment is one-time use only, it demonstrates a level of commitment on your part for a successful run.

Q. Is all equipment treated equal?
A. No. Cryo Rounds fundamentally change the power of the weapon firing them; fast-firing guns like SMGs and assault rifles become MUCH more useful than a Sniper Rifle or Heavy Pistol with those same rounds, for example. Armor-Piercing Rounds radically improves the damage of all weapons, but single-shot weapons get absurdly more powerful. All other equipment does help, but to much lower degrees than Cyro and AP ammo.

Q: Should I use the Armor-Piercing Mod or the Extended Barrel Mod?
A: Both, if you can. Otherwise, Extended Barrel for Heavy Pistols and Sniper Rifles; Armor-Piercing for Assault Rifles and Shotguns EXCEPT for Crusader, Claymore, Geth Plasma Shotgun and the Graal Launcher (use Extended Barrel for them). I generally put scopes on my Heavy Pistols instead of using both.

Complicated math can be seen here:

Q: I keep getting kicked! What the hell?
A: Everyone has an N7 rating that starts at 1. Each level you gain with a class grants a +1 to your rating, and you gain +10 rating for Promoting a class (e.g. your level-capped class goes back to level 1). While it is entirely possible for you to stick with one class, never Promote, and otherwise be the best player in the history of game… most players will look at your low N7 Rating and vote to Kick you just to be on the safe side. The general assumption is that there is a correlation between a higher N7 rating and how good you are.

Getting all classes to 20 will leave you with a N7 120 rating, which will likely be enough for most people.

==Reinforcement Pack Strategy==

Just starting out, the game is going to suck for a while. Your lack of weaponry is going to impact the specific strategies available for you – armed with a mod-less Mantis I, a cloaked Infiltrator isn’t going to be able to kill the average grunt even with a headshot, for example. Thus, the more Reinforcement Packs you open, the more your gameplay diverges and the more likely you find a class/weapon loadout that appeals to you.

The three main Reinforcement Packs and their notable contents are:

Recruit Pack (Common) – 5,000 credits

  • Mods: High Caliber Barrel/Scope for Heavy Pistols; High Caliber Barrel/Smart Choke for Shotguns
  • Weapons: Mantis, Predator, Katana, Avenger
  • Classes: None
  • Equipment: +1

Veteran Pack (Uncommon) – 20,000 credits

  • Mods: High Caliber Barrel for Assault Rifles; High Caliber Barrel for Sniper Rifles; Shredder for Shotguns
  • Weapons: Mattock, Phalanx
  • Classes: Salarian Engineer, Quarian Infiltrator, Turian Sentinel & Soldier, Asari Vanguard
  • Equipment: +3

Spectre Pack (Rare) – 60,000 credits

  • Mods: N/A
  • Weapons: Carnifex, Geth Plasma Shotgun, Claymore, Graal Spike Thrower, Widow
  • Classes: Asari Adept & Justicar, Quarian/Geth Engineer, Salarian/Geth Infiltrator, Krogan/Batarian Sentinel, Krogan/Batarian Soldier, Krogan Vanguard
  • Equipment: +5

Those are just their NOTABLE contents, not ALL of their contents. Regardless, it is pretty clear that a lot of the fun weapons/classes are hidden behind the Rare paywall. So what should you do in the meantime?

First, it’s useful to note that the three Reinforcement Packs have an inherent association to the three difficulties:

Bronze (15,000 credits) –> 3 Recruit Packs
Silver (30,000 credits) –> 1.5 Veteran Packs
Gold (70,000 credits) –> 1.2 Spectre Packs

So a “natural” sort of strategy would be to purchase only Recruit Packs until you get out of Bronze difficulty, then start buying Veteran Packs as you play Silver. While this works, it is not especially fun considering how long you end up stuck with the same kind of weapons. Then again, a Mantis X isn’t THAT bad, and you can usually run around with an Avenger X and Predator X and still achieve a +200% Power Recharge Speed to spam Biotic powers.

A different strategy, and the one I ended up going with, is to essentially play two matches and then buy the Reinforcement pack above my “pay-grade.” In other words, for every two successful Bronze matches, buy a Veteran Pack; for every two successful Silver matches, buy a Spectre pack. While this forces you to use weaker weapons for a longer period of time – and opens the possibility of getting VERY screwed when the Spectre Pack contains crap – it is the most efficient use of your Credits. Why? Because Spectre Packs also have a good chance of containing Uncommon weapons/classes. Plus, if you manage to snag a Widow early on, for example, it will suddenly make Infiltrators instantly viable no matter what else you have.

==Notable Powers, Classes, Specs==

Rather than go through all 30 class/race combinations or outline all of the various Biotic/Tech Combos, I just want to focus on a few notable ones.

-Warp- [Recommend: (4) Detonate, (5) Expose, (6) Pierce]
One of the most versatile Powers in the game, Warp deals damage, increases damage taken by the enemy, and sets up Biotic explosions from other powers that wouldn’t normally work on the enemy. For example, a Geth Prime is typically immune to the effects of Throw or Pull. Slap a Warp on it first though, and a Throw/Pull (etc) will trigger some major damage. Indeed, everything basically combos with Warp, so you can never go wrong with tossing one out and seeing what happens.

-Overload- [Recommend: (4) Chain Overload, (5) Neural Shock, (6) Chain Overload]
While not quite on the level as Warp, Overload is easily one of the best Tech Powers in the game due to its unparallelled ability for crowd-control. Overload strikes instantly (no flight time, so no dodging), staggers the target for a few seconds, and (assuming the above build) then leaps up to 24 feet away to hit and stagger another enemy, and then a third. My Turian Sentinel can fire one of these off every 2.68 seconds. Although Overload won’t be taking down any Bashees by itself, it will absolutely give your team the room it needs focus on her.

-Stasis- [Recommend: (4) Stasis Strength, (5) Recharge Speed, (6) Bubble]
Simply put, Stasis is one of the most absurdly powerful Powers in the game once the sixth evolution is chosen – it becomes perfect crowd control: hitting instantly, affecting multiple enemies, and handing perfect headshots on a silver platter. Indeed, Stasis’ sole weakness is its inability to affect Tier 3 enemies (and thus trigger combos), with the extremely notable exception of Phantoms. In fact, Stasis is the absolute best way to handle Phantoms on Gold difficulty, as they can otherwise dodge most other Powers.

-Combo: Tactical Cloak + Energy Drain + Widow bodyshot-
This is not so much a “combo” as it is simply a demonstration of the power of the Salarian Infiltrator. Cloak, pick a target through your Widow sniper rifle scope, hit them with Energy Drain, and immediately follow it up with a simple bodyshot. Even with a Widow I, this simple combo will “one-shot” almost every enemy type even on Gold difficulty. Other Infiltrator races have similar combos, but none so consistent as the Salarian. This and other combos can be attempted without the Widow, but will require actual headshots in order to kill non-Tier 3 enemies in one shot.


In a perfect world, the best weapons are the ones you are most comfortable using. The reality in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer though, is that some weapons are simply flat-out better than the others by accident or design. Or, perhaps conversely, many weapons are straight-up terrible.

Amazing Weapons

  • M-98 Widow: Heavy as hell, the Widow is nevertheless one of the most powerful sniper rifles in the game. It has but a single shot per clip, but each round has inherent armor penetration that can burst through thin cover.
  • M-300 Claymore: Although it needs to be supported a bit by specific character builds (due to its weight), a Claymore with the Shredder and Smart Choke mods is ridiculously strong. This weapon single-highhandedly built the entire shotgun Infiltrator archetype.
  • M-6 Carnifex: Simply put, the Carnifex is the weapon all other weapons are judged by. Fitted with a Scope, this heavy pistol replaces nearly any sniper rifle a non-Infiltrator might bring to a match. By far the most common weapon for Adepts and other Power-using classes in Gold.
  • Geth Plasma Shotgun: This shotgun has four special properties. First, it cannot score headshots (there is no bonus damage). Second, it ignores the shield-gating mechanic. Third, it can be charged up to release an extra powerful shot. Finally, it has an inherent Smart Choke that makes it a capable of accurate, long-range fire.

Decent Weapons

  • M-3 Predator: At Rank X with a scope, this dependable little gun can complement a sniper rifle or shotgun loadout without really impacting your weight by much (if at all). Quick firing, even quicker reloading, it’s perfect for taking out Swarmers, knocking down those last few bars of health, or putting even undamaged enemies on their back with a rapid hail of pistol fire.
  • M-5 Phalanx: Fitted with a scope, the Phalanx is a poor man’s Carnifex. It doesn’t have the power to take anyone out with a single headshot (it will take 2-4), but what it can do is send a dozen shots right down the center of the bullseye with effectively zero recoil.
  • M-9 Tempest: Although there is no scenario in which you would want to use an SMG, if you did want to, the Tempest is the least worst of the bunch. Relatively low recoil, high clip size, and decent damage.
  • M-22 Eviscerator: I really don’t like this gun. However, it is a relatively powerful mid-range shotgun if you can rank it up some. Having only three shots before reloading is a pain, and the tight grouping can lead to some embarrassing misses at close range, but it otherwise packs a punch.
  • M-23 Katana: At Rank X, definitely a nice, light-weight backup weapon for a melee-oriented character
  • M-92 Mantis: Nice, light-weight, dependable sniper rifle.
  • M-97 Viper: There is pretty much no circumstance in which you will one-shot anything with this sniper rifle, but it does offer a stronger, less spammy shot than the Raptor, if extreme-range potshots are your thing.
  • M-358 Talon: Pistol-shotgun hybrid. Decently powerful.
  • Phaeston: If you manage to snag a Phaeston early on in your multiplayer career, it will serve you well in your travels across Bronze and midway through Silver difficulty. It has relatively low-power shots, but with its ample clip size and relatively stable shooting pattern, it can serve as your sole weapon for many classes without requiring frequent trips to the ammo box.
  • M-96 Mattock: Technically one of the highest DPS weapons in the game, the Mattock’s main weakness is its small number of clips combined with the necessity for multiple headshots to take things out. After all, if you can score that many headshots on the same enemy back-to-back, you are probably better off with a sniper rifle or Carnifex. Those concerns aside, the Mattock is an otherwise respectable weapon.
  • Graal Spike Thrower: Many players consider the Graal on par or better than the Geth Plasma Shotgun. The problem is that this shotgun shoots projectiles instead of bullets, which means they do not impact immediately; unless you are hosting the game, there is a chance your shot will miss due to lag on the projectiles themselves. If you can get around that problem, the Graal outstrips the Geth Plasma Shotgun in that the Graal ignores shield-gating but can also score headshots (and can be charged up as well).

Mostly Useless Weapons

  • Arc Pistol: While a charged shot is technically stronger than a Carnifex and comparable to even a Paladin, it weighs more than the former and the same as the latter. Stick with the pistols that let you use cover and fire faster than once every 3 seconds.
  • Disciple: Poor man’s Geth Plasma Shotgun, the Disciple’s only claim to fame is its low-weight.
  • Geth Plasma SMG: Comparable to the Tempest, this gun’s gimmick nevertheless gets tiresome when you try and weave in some power usage.
  • M-4 Shuriken: There is no scenario in which this gun makes sense to use.
  • M-25 Hornet: Recoil makes aiming largely impossible. Can pump out some pretty quick 3-round bursts somewhat accurately from the hip, but at that point you may as well stick with the basic Avenger.
  • M-77 Paladin: Technically the most powerful heavy pistol in the game, every since its clip size and damage was nerfed, the Paladin simply isn’t worth the weight.
  • M-27 Scimitar: Incredibly weak shotgun.
  • M-29 Incisor: Completely useless sniper rifle.
  • Kishock Harpoon Gun: Technically the most powerful sniper rifle, the Kishock has a slow, arcing projectile instead of a normal bullet and deals 20% of its total damage over time.
  • M-13 Raptor: Although I like this sniper-assault rifle hybrid in single-player, it is simply too weak to rely on in multiplayer.
  • N7 Crusader: A shotgun-sniper rifle hybrid, the Crusader is simply too heavy to justify its so-so damage.
  • M-15 Vindicator: While it’s not terrible, the Vindicator is simply outclassed by its fellow assault rifles.
  • M-76 Revenant: Unless you are a Turian Soldier firing from cover with Marksman active in Silver or below difficulty, the Revenant is not the weapon for you. It is essentially a Phaeston that trades clip capacity for accuracy in a game that punishes you for not hiding in cover. There are some who will swear up and down that they can make the Revenant work, but that is because the Revenant does not work on its own.
  • M-37 Falcon: Supposedly this grenade launcher-assault rifle hybrid gets a lot more interesting with Cryo Rounds equipped, but so do a lot of other weapons. It is simply too weak to be used as your only weapon, and too heavy to be a secondary weapon.
  • Striker Assault Rifle: Another grenade launcher-assault rifle hybrid, this one shoots faster the longer the trigger is pulled. Which is important, considering it will take (many) precious seconds of standing out of cover bathing your foes in micro-explosions in order to kill them. Or, you know, you could simply shoot them in the head with nearly any other weapon.