Which bonus power would be best for an engineer class on an insanity play-through or is it better to take a different class and if so what class/Bonus power should i take? And does anybody have any advice on the best way to approach an Insanity play-through? And what things would make it easier to do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated

6 Answers 6


Lets take a look at each bonus power and break it down individually:

Ashley (assuming she's alive):

  • Inferno Grenade: Not a bad choice as the engineer class doesn't have any grenade powers. Really useful to flush enemies out from behind cover.
  • Marksman: Boosts accuracy and fire rate of your weapons, but an engineer is more focused towards powers so not that useful.


  • Fortification: Provides defense and melee on purge, but slows power recharge by 60% (can be reduced to 30%). Although survivability is nice, an engineer relies heavily on power spamming so the slowdown on recharge is a big killer.
  • Carnage: Very high single target damage, can even stagger Atlas mechs. Pretty useful skill in a pinch, does high armor damage, but incinerate also does high armor damage.

Kaiden (only if he survives virmire):

  • Barrier: provides defense at the expense of power cooldown just like fortification, not really a good choice imo.
  • Reave: Insanely useful as the only other way to recover health is to use a med-gel.


  • Armor Piercing Ammo: Since the engineer doesn't have an ammo ability, and the majority of big and tough enemies in the game high high armor, this is an excellent choice to take.
  • Proximity mines: Very handy if you can lay down a lot prior to an engagement. Enemies tend to be more aggressive and mobile on insanity so this isn't a bad choice.


  • Stasis: Holds a single (non armored) target in place for a long time. Okay ability, not too useful imo.
  • Warp ammo: One of the best ammo powers imo, grants high damage against everything.


  • Defense Matrix: Same with fortification, reduces power recharge as a trade off for survivability.
  • Decoy: I never played around with this much, so I can't say either way if its effective or not.


  • Defense Drone: Having an additional target on the battlefield is always handy. Fully upgraded drones also have a handy AOE effect in chain lightning. I like this skill a lot.
  • Energy Drain: Does massive damage to shields and barriers while recharging your own. This is a great skill to have since it provides survivability without suffering power cooldown penalties. This is a good alternative to overcharge.

Javik: I don't have him so I'm leaving him out.

In conclusion here are the good ones to consider:

Reave/Energy Drain for survivability
Defense Drone (and possibility decoy) for an additional target
Warp/Piercing ammo for an ammo power
Inferno Grenade/Proximity mine for something different

  • 1
    Defense Drone cannot be targetted by enemy fire. It's a handy ability, but it's more suited to classes like the Vanguard that will run up in the thick of things. If you want to draw fire, take Decoy. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 19:28
  • You're limited to one active proximity mine, I do believe. Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 16:44
  • @RavenDreamer nope, at least not that way on multiplayer. I spam them all the time everywhere. However, if they are within a certain distance to each other they'll detonate so you can't place two next to each other.
    – l I
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 17:01
  • @yx. Ah. That'd be my problem, then. Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 18:25

I fully disagree with Marshal Shepard's assessment or the engineer being too squishy for insanity. My favorite class is the engineer and I have completed ME2 multiple times on insanity and ME3 once on insanity.

First, the ability to double your squad size with a combat drone and a sentry turret within the first 6 seconds of an engagement is unmatched. Because the Mass Effect AI forces the enemy to deal with drones first both of those abilities enable you to get inside the enemies decision making cycle and thus influence the battlefield on a major scale. So while your squadmates are taking advantage of the chaos the engineer just created, the engineer can either assist with target engagements or continue to influence the fight through continual spamming.

Second, incinerate is one of the most powerful and effective powers available. Not only does it deal massive damage, but it damages every level of protection, including regeneration. Add to this the "panic" effect and once again the engineer influences the fight by interruption the actions of the enemy.

Third, overload is now more powerful than ever in Mass Effect 3 since warp has been changed to no longer strips barriers, and overload has been changed to strip not only shields, but also barriers. Now, not only does overload strip valuable protection, but it stuns opponents and overheats weapons. With these changes to overload in ME3 energy drain is somewhat superfluous. The engineer now must decide if they would rather have the weapon overheat effect of overload, or the draining effect of energy drain.

Fourth, cryo blast although not damaging allows the engineer to remove enemy numbers from the fight by snap freezing them. In the sequence of a battle by the time the drone and turret have been on the field long enough to strip shields and barriers the engineer can begin freezing opponents thus providing easy targets for the squad.

Fifth, sabotage is the only power available that will turn the enemy against itself. Assuming control of a turret, Geth Prime, cannibal or marauders is an extremely effective way of reducing the enemy force while conserving your own. If done properly, the engineer can add 3 members to the squad; a combat drone, a sentry turret, and a sabotaged enemy.

Sixth, because Mass Effect does not differentiate specific armor types by class, the engineer is able to wear the same level of armor as a soldier. Add to this the ability to modify armor and select bonus powers and upgrades and an engineer's health and shields will surpass and can rival any member of the squad.

Finally, once again because Mass Effect 3 no longer differentiates specific weapon types to specific classes, the engineer is able to carry a high damage assault rifle such as the Mattock or high capacity sniper rifle such as the Raptor. Thus the engineer is able to engage and destroy targets at any range and at any point in the combat sequence.

When compared to the most common player strategies of cloak-shoot-repeat, charge-shoot-repeat both which force the player to target a single enemy at a time, the engineer's strategy of drone-turret-overload/incinerate allows the engineer to target 3 opponents within 6 seconds, tying two of those opponents up for prolonged periods.

This analysis, I believe demonstrates not how squishy the engineer is, but rather how powerful and useful the engineer actually can be even on insanity level.

  • great post, but the original question is to decide which bonus power to choose, not whether or not an engineer is great. Very tempting just to give a +1 for effort though.
    – l I
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 14:47
  • Very true and I was going to add that i fully agree with your original post, but i removed it in the final edit because i was specifically addressing and different topic. In fact your assessment is how i determined my engineer's bonus power, which is usually either armor piercing ammo or energy drain. However, I really wanted to address the comment by Marshall Shepard, although we are all entitled to our opinions' I felt an opposing view was necessary.
    – mcking1969
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 15:33
  • yea, that other post isn't an answer either (I flagged it as such) but its still there
    – l I
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 15:44
  • Good point, ironically i was just web surfing doing some ME3 research and found this site. I joined specifically to address that engineer post. And like superman, my work here is done ... up, up, and awayyyyyyyy :)
    – mcking1969
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 15:50
  • The question does say "how should I approach an insanity playthrough", I feel this answers that part of the question nicely.
    – Steve V.
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 19:02

The best way to tackle Insanity is with a character that's close to level 60 (2nd playthrough after importing from ME2 or 3rd playthrough without importing). Weapons and tactics requiring you to be exposed for long periods of time will be less effective, so a class that relies heavily on powers and high-damage weapons (Sniper rifles, shotguns, heavy pistols) is preferable. Biotic detonations are quite effective, taking Liara and Javik (From Ashes) will let you do a detonation every 3 seconds or so, which is quite nice.

Positioning your squadmates can help quite a bit too, as they will be less likely to charge a bunch of enemies with automatic weapons that way. Speccing a squad member to be a tank (High health, high shields, barriers, forticiation, etc) can also be helpful.

The choice of a bonus power largely depends on how you're going to play. If you wish to go in guns blazing, Barrier, Fortification and Defense Matrix will be useful. If you wish to rely on powers instead, something that fills in a gap in your arsenal is preferred (Such as Energy Drain for Infiltrators, who lack an ability that targets shields).


the problem with playing Engineer is that you're too squishy for insanity. I'd suggest you made an infiltrator because it has cloaking ability that can get you out trouble, cryo ammo that disable your enemies, incinerate for armored foes, and high dmg with sniper (you can use M-99 saber or chakram launcher if you desire, they both have high dmg and weight less than sniper rifle). Don't bring too many guns, you need the cd reduction. The only thing that lacks on an Infiltrator is ability to remove the enemies' shield/barrier, so i'd suggest you take Energy Drain for your extra ability so you can sustain and deal dmg at the same time. I'd take Liara for disables and the 3rd squadmate is really up to you. With that set-up, I was able to go through insanity mode w/o any real problems, even against kai leng. (energy drain is too nice to pass up on)


I would go for an ammo power, I know the Engineer is a powers class it's still nice to have damage bonus and backup fire during cooldowns! A defense drone would also be good because you could get an extra 4 allies on the field:

  • Defense Drone
  • Combat Drone
  • Sentry Turret
  • Sabotaged Enemy

Defense Matrix is a good option. It can increase tech powers damage and helps to survive in complicated situations. Engineer do not need additional active powers, he already has the strongest combos. Sabotage(+100% damage from tech powers)->Cryo Blast (optional)->Incinerate(if frozen +100% damage+electric combo after Sabotage)->Overload(fire explosion, if chain overload can be multiple explosions). Cerberus troop just can't survive in this hell. Almost the same we can achieve with Infiltrator + great damage of sniper rife. He only can't make fire explosion (Energy Drain can do it only of enemy has shields), need help of squadmates to finish combo.

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