Playing Mass Effect As A Shotgun Melee Infiltrator Turns It Into Doom
There is no wrong way to play Mass Effect – or at least, so I thought. After the launch of the Legendary Edition, BioWare released some stats about the game gathered from player info, which shows that the bulk of players experienced Mass Effect as BroShep Soldier, the dullest way to play it. There are thousands of other games where you can be a generic white guy with a buzzcut and a gun, and while sure, you can customise Shepard, I have a suspicion players who favour Man With Gun don't bother with it. There is so much more to Mass Effect that opens up once you start to play it in different ways, and Shotgun/Melee Infiltrator is an ideal way to defend the galaxy as an entirely unique commander.
I'm using 'unique' slightly liberally there, as the reason I attempted this was because a few people on Reddit said it was fun, but when did listening to the opinions of a few people on Reddit ever do any harm? So anyway, I have my Shotgun/Melee Infiltrator build, and after baselessly accusing someone of being the Boston Bomber, I was ready to rock. And by rock, I mean break open everybody's skull.
The rules of this build are very simple – once you gain a shotgun, it is the only weapon you can use. You can still use Infiltrator powerups (a tactical cloak, hacking, and disruptive or freezing bullets), as well as the good old Omni-Blade. It means getting as close as possible to your enemy and blasting them to bits. It's not the most tactical build (even with a Tactical Cloak) and definitely not the best bet for an Insanity run, but it is the most fun. It basically means Shepard is Doomguy, but with a few neat extra touches.
Shotgun/Melee Infiltrators can turn themselves invisible, suddenly appear in front of their enemies, and then either smash their faces in or blow them apart. They can even pop up and freeze their enemy before punching them so hard they shatter. It is run-and-gun taken to extremes, and means you never slow down for a second. Take cover? Let your abilities cooldown? Listen to your teammates' witty banter? No chance – let's bash some faces in. Lock, load, rip, tear.
It's worth noting that this sort of fixed build will likely not be present in Mass Effect in the future. Though much maligned for pretty much everything else, Mass Effect Andromeda has the best combat in the series, and is far more fluid in its builds. As you progress through the game, you choose powerups, pathways, and perks to help build Ryder your way. In Mass Effect, you make that choice on the character screen. In the first game you just chug along making different attributes stronger, in Mass Effect 2 once maxed out you can choose a bonus powerup, and in Mass Effect 3 each individual powerup comes with a choice between two – but these choices are informed by the original selection made at the start. If you pick Soldier, as many do, all you get is some gun bonus and extra grenades, missing out on the ability to hack, send drones, or manipulate matter with your mind. Still, guns though. Makes a nice change from all those other video games, right?
Despite having a lot of fun with my Shotgun/Melee Infiltrator Shepard, I'm glad Mass Effect could move away from these rigid categories. That was an issue I had with Elden Ring – being asked to choose playstyles I didn't understand, and then being locked into them. You can brute force any way to play Elden Ring if you really want to (Elon Musk's build is cheese city), but in the early hours it’s frustrating to slowly figure out that the fairly random choice you made at the start is never going to make the game fun, and now you need to start over.
There is no wrong way to play Mass Effect (except BroShep Soldier), but this is definitely one of the more interesting. Give it a whirl next time. That or, you know, be BroShep Soldier again.
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