Mass Effect: Special Forces Trailer

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So Your Friend is a Vanguard
Patrick Weekes


You’ve finally gotten your hands on the Mass Effect 3 demo, including the new and exciting multiplayer. You start a match, invite your friends, and get ready to lay your enemies to waste with an awesome four-player combination of skills — overloading their shields, blasting through their armor, biotically tearing them apart at the molecular level, or, as in my wife’s case, clubbing them to death with your rifle.


You’ve taken a defensible position. A Singularity is blocking the side doorway to keep you from getting flanked. Everyone is ready to turn the street ahead into a veritable killzone as soon as the enemy comes around the corner.


And then your friend zips halfway across the battlefield in a burst of blue light like Leroy Jenkins and you’re all left sitting there going, “Umm… so… should we run after her?”


Don’t panic! Everything is going to be fine. You’re just experiencing a common condition known to the BioWare Dev Team as “Someone’s Playing a Vanguard.” And we can help you through it.


Step One: ABC: Always Be Carnaging


If you’re a polite and respectful player, as I assume that anyone playing a game in the Mass Effect franchise is, you likely frown on firing weapons at your allies. So when you’re hosing down a Warp-stunned Cerberus trooper with an assault rifle, it can be disconcerting to see your friend suddenly rocket into your line of fire as she charges your target. Your first instinct might be to go, “Whoah, sorry, Sylvia, I’ll stop firing!”


Do not stop firing.


In the technological era of Mass Effect, the same advanced user interface that highlights enemies and displays your squadmate’s names automatically adjusts weapons fire precision targeting to prevent inadvertent friendly fire incidents. Or in layman’s terms: you cannot hurt your friend by firing at her. (We verified this fact when my friend insisted that my wife try to Warp her, to no effect.)

In fact, given that she may have charged into a group of four or five heavily armored Cerberus troopers, your friend might even appreciate a hail of gunfire coming her way.


Once you get used to this, you can even start using your vanguard friend as an advanced targeting system. Can’t quite see where the enemy is off in the distance? Cerberus shock troops obscuring the battlefield with smoke grenades? Well, if you’re having trouble seeing the enemy, remember that every time the vanguard charges, she’s charging at an enemy. Therefore, logically, wherever she ends up, there must be an enemy nearby.


So just keep shooting at your friend. It will work out for the best.


Step Two: Wakeboard the Rhinoceros


Having a vanguard in your squad completely changes the nature of the battle. As an infiltrator, you’ll find that a lot of formerly hunched-down enemies now have a tendency to stand up with startled exclamations of “My goodness, where did she come from and why is she elbowing me in the kidney?”, offering you a chance for an easy head-shot. As an adept, you’ll find that the vanguard tends to attract enemies into nice Singularity-able clumps. As an engineer, you’ll find it easy to think of your vanguard friend as a slightly less-controllable version of your combat drone, annoying your enemies and getting them to shoot at something that isn’t you.


However, you will also notice that your vanguard friend, in her enthusiasm at charging headlong into the enemy ranks, may have left a few things unresolved back behind her. Things like the assault trooper who still has a bit of health left, or the sniper who just took down your shields, or the three guys with riot shields who have you surrounded and are giving a Taiko drumming demonstration with their shock batons.


In these cases, remember that your friend is essentially a charging rhinoceros. She is wreaking havoc upon the enemy ranks, disrupting people who might try to set up turrets or find a perfect cover location, and generally being the most shootable thing on the battlefield.


Your job is to follow along behind that rhinoceros (as closely as you can given your inability to instantly charge to the nearest enemy) and clean up these little straggly bits. Kill anything she can’t reach, and as noted above, keep shooting at the things around her. Abilities that stun enemies also offer the vanguard a fun and easy charge target, and a charge target lets her refresh her shields and continue her quest to be the thing that enemies shoot at instead of you.


Stay too far back, and you leave her exposed to enemies that can target her at long range, like snipers. You also risk being too far away to help her if she goes down. You also also risk letting her kill all the bad guys herself and mock you.


Step Three: It’s Not Kill-Stealing, It’s Kill-Helping


At some point, you will be good enough to be concerned about the fact that you had finally gotten that sniper’s shields down and were about to unload a Warp bomb of epic proportions only to have your friend charge in and shotgun them to death before zipping off to a few assault troopers that will be dead by the time you reach them.


For right now, just say “Thank you,” and move along.




Watching your friend play a vanguard will always raise questions. Questions like, “You’re aware that the Atlas you just charged still has shields, right?” or “Did you not see the turret over there?” or “Do you seriously expect me to get past two snipers, a phantom, and a guy with a riot shield and revive you?” But with this helpful guide, it can nevertheless be a fun and worthwhile experience for everyone.


Until she zips out and leaves you surrounded by husks. That’s just uncalled for.


Playing the Vanguard: A Measured Counterpoint
Sylvia Feketekuty, Vanguard Expert


Hahaha I don’t know why you haven’t tried Vanguard yet, this is awesome. Watch, you can solo an Atlas if you don’t get too close to it when it


Rez pls


Right by the atlas and turret

Phantom too



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Author: Patrick Weekes

Senior Writer for BioWare, currently working on Mass Effect. Sometimes talks like Mordin, always aims poorly.