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StriderHoang avatar 1:51 AM on 03.03.2013  (server time)
Strider gets a Reckoning with Mass Effect 3's new characters

Mass Effect 3: Reckoning is definitely one of the largest DLC packs Bioware has introduced to the multiplayer game. It's hard to believe that a game with such celebrated single-player would receive so much multiplayer support over the year. And it now comes to a close with Reckoning with it's six new character kits, new weapons, and new gear. The first week has definitely been a baptism by fire as many players got their hands hands on the new kits and figured out the strengths and limitations of the new characters, figuring out what works and what doesn't. I've unlocked three new character kits myself so far, which is a personal best for me so far when new DLC is involved with the way the RNG store works for me: the Talon Mercenary Engineer, the Female Turian Cabal Vanguard, and the Geth Juggernaut.

The Talon: how does I shot omni-bow?
The Talon has been put through its paces and overall, people are finding his gimmick, the omni-bow, to be rather underwhelming. Even if people have found the bow to do even respectable damage, its DPS and charge functionality is lackluster.

The Talon has no traditional melee. Using the melee function instead triggers an omni-bow which fires a quick spread shot on a light attack and a focus fire of three arrows on a charged shot. Asides from a trip mine, his other two power load special arrows into his omni-bow: a set of concussive arrows or a set of armor piercing arrows. All his powers use his load of grenades, which in turn are slowly regenerated on his self which is supposed to lessen his reliance on returning to the ammo box.

Unfortunately, the one thing the Talon has in common with all other engineers is his low base shields and health. Strangely, he lacks everything that most engineers has like good support powers or crowd control but he still retains the shields that make his class a liability. This further punctuates the disconnect between the strength of his offense and the weakness of his defense. Most engineers lack defense but make up for it in other ways. The Geth Engineer can repair shields and the Salarian Engineer can set a holographic Decoy. But the Talon is focused on dealing damage, and he isn't particularly good at it. If his gimmick is a constant secondary, it doesn't do enough damage. But he depends on using his limited powers to supply decent damage.

This is before mentioning the crippling bugs such as the overdraw glitch which causes him to draw his bow too long.

Verdict: Not enough damage, not enough shields. How's a mercenary supposed to do his work like this?

The Cabal: reverse vanguard
The Female Turian Cabal Vanguard is the first demonstration of a female Turian outside of the Omega DLC. The Cabal Vanguard is weird contextually because she uses poison and venom as opposed to what other sci-fi mumbo jumbo like biotic warp fields or even fire afterburn. Despite that, nearly all her options focus on damage over time, which makes her consistent design wise.

Her main attack is Poison Strike, which can be summarily described as a Biotic Charge in reverse; you need to get in close to your target, pass through them to damage them, where you'll then phase through them and end up far away from them instead of near them. Thinking of Poison Strike this way is important though, because over the course of the few days Reckoning was out, most people assumed the attack was bugged. Most N7 operatives complained that the attack rarely ever hit without thinking of it as a Biotic Charge in reverse.

Speaking of Poison Strike, she also has some of the fastest teleports in the game. Compared to the Fury's and Slayer's teleports, her's respond faster and move quicker. Combined use of her Poison Strike for forward momentum and her teleports for horizontal shifts accentuate her goal of mobile combat.

Effective use of the Cabal means a deep understanding of when and where to use all your powers and options. Biotic Focus is a self buff that activated damage resistance, speed buffs, and can be specced for instant barrier refilling. Nightshade Blades is basically the Batarian Soldier's Ballistic Blades but running off a grenade counter. It can even be specced to explode like Ballistic Blades! And it is her most damaging attack and is her only answer for immediate damage when Poison Strike is still cooling down, especially on bosses. Her DoT is pitiable against the high health of bosses.

Using the Cabal effectively is about constant, flowing movement in both her physical position and her use of powers. You should constantly be using Biotic Focus, Poison Strike, Nightshade Blades, and Biotic Focus again with your melee and weapons to continuously do damage and stay out of harm's way. Her Turian body offers some resilience but she can't refill her barrier like a lot of other vanguards and Biotic Focus doesn't let her tank damage forever. Shield gate works by eliminating whatever extra damage that would've carried over from breaking your shield but it only works once every couple seconds and Biotic Focus doesn't give enough survivability to refresh the shield gate mechanic.

Verdict: Decent DoT coupled with high mobility options means the Cabal can get in and get out without much trouble. She needs a decent mid-grade weapon to balance damage and recharge rates but when it comes to getting someplace and a degree of crowd control, the Cabal is an unorthodox but effective kit.

The Juggernaut: a wall with a gun
Most Geth kits are damage machines (get it?). With a good weapon and Hunter Mode, almost all Geth kits become incredible glass cannons. The Juggernaut however, goes where even the Geth Trooper cannot; a pure tanking role. The Trooper might have 1,000 base shields but the Juggernaut tops that with 2,100 by default and if you want, you can spec for a 110% increase. Yes, one upgrade can catapault the Juggernaut's shields to 4,100 shields plus unlike the other Geth, the Juggernaut has a high health to match.

Further pushing the Juggernaut's tank role is his heavy melee attack, which drains enemy health for shield refill! One-on-one, the Juggernaut can single-handedly divert aggro from any boss enemy by draining their health and refilling his shields! He can also erect a shield wall to block all forms of fire (including your own and allies) and even your own Geth Turret to repair shields. He also has a Seige Pulse much like Geth Primes, but it can be specced so that the three pulse shots he normally stores to fire can be held in for 10% damage resistance each.

All this comes at a price though. The Juggernaut has absolutely no form of evasive movement. He can't even run though thankfully, because he can't outrun sync-killers, he is also the only kit in the game that is immune to instant kills. Still he also can't take cover, so if the Juggernaut finds himself in a bad position, he won't be able to outrun enemy fire like most characters can. In those cases, you'll have to be smart about how you approach situations and how you'll be using your options to effectively tank damage and refill your shields.

After playing him for nearly one hundred waves already, I can safely say that this kit has the most potential for diverse builds. So many upgrades can drastically change the way you can play him that you'll have to simply figure out how you'll want to play him and settle on one. For example, you can upgrade his shields by 110% but such a major upgrade in defense actually decreases all damage you do by 15% (which is what it means when its called Power Transfer). A popular upgrade for Seige Pulse is definitely damage resistance, but after that, you can either upgrade its damage by a mind boggling 60% or increase the number of shots store by one, giving you another shot for your DPS and another 10% for your DR (totaling to 40%, on a character with potentially 4,100 shields). Hex Shield can be specced offensively or for increased defensive utility. And many people should be familiar with how the Geth Turret can be flexible (flamethrower or super fast shield repairs?). The opposing upgrade to Power Transfer gives your allies a 10% damage buff when they stay near you.

Just keep in mind that even forgoing Power Transfer, the Juggernaut does not have the same capacity for damage buffs like the other Geth and Hunter Mode. The Juggernaut's lack of speed and lack of Hunter Mode means it gets left in the dust compared to the stock Geth kits.

Verdict: Despite the high shields, the Juggernaut is actually better suited to being categorized as support than an actual combat kit. Draw the attention of high threat units and allow your allies to either focus fire them at their leisure or seek out other priority targets like long range artillery units.

I still have the Awakened Collector Adept, the Krogan Warlord, and the Alliance Infiltration Unit to unlock. I'm cautiously optimistic to try the Warlord, curious of how I should handle the Collector, and hoping to unlock the Alliance Infiltrator before Bioware caves and nerfs her somehow.

Here's to hoping for another week of luck for the RNG store.

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