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Disambiguous.png This article is about the power. For the enemy created by Geth Primes or opposing engineers, see Combat Drone (enemy). For drones in general, see Drones.

Combat Drone is a tech power in Mass Effect 2, and in Mass Effect 3's single-player and multiplayer modes.

Mass Effect 2[]

Drone ME2 Icon.png Command your very own battle drone.

Power Ranks[]

  • Rank 1 - Spawns a tech drone to draw enemy fire. The drone can electrically stun targets briefly and damage their shields. Only one drone can be active at a time.
    • Recharge Time: 3.00 seconds (Shepard); 30.00 seconds (others)
    • Duration: 12.00 seconds (Shepard); 18.00 seconds (others)
    • Drone Attack Recharge Time: 4.00 seconds
  • Rank 2 - Improvements to the drone keep it flying longer, make it more durable, and increase the frequency of its attacks.
    • Recharge Time: 3.00 seconds (Shepard); 30.00 seconds (others)
    • Duration: 16.00 seconds (Shepard); 18.00 seconds (others)
    • Drone Attack Recharge Time: 3.70 seconds
    • Drone Health Bonus: 120.00%
  • Rank 3 - Improvements to the drone keep it flying longer, make it more durable, and increase the frequency of its attacks.
    • Recharge Time: 3.00 seconds (Shepard); 30.00 seconds (others)
    • Duration: 20.00 seconds (Shepard); 18.00 seconds (others)
    • Drone Attack Recharge Time: 3.40 seconds
    • Drone Health Bonus: 140.00%

Rank 4

Evolves Combat Drone into one of the following options:

Attack Drone[]

  • You have upgraded the Combat Drone so its electric shock damages target health, armor, and biotic barriers.
    • Recharge Time: 3.00 seconds (Shepard); 30.00 seconds (others)
    • Duration: 24.00 seconds (Shepard); 18.00 seconds (others)
    • Drone Attack Recharge Time: 3.00 seconds
    • Drone Health Bonus: 160.00%
    • Drone Damage: 40.00 points

Explosive Drone[]

  • Your Combat Drone is rigged to explode when destroyed, pulsing energy that inflicts high damage on all nearby enemies.
    • Recharge Time: 3.00 seconds (Shepard); 30.00 seconds (others)
    • Duration: 24.00 seconds (Shepard); 18.00 seconds (others)
    • Drone Attack Recharge Time: 3.00 seconds
    • Drone Health Bonus: 160.00%
    • Pulse Radius: 6.00 meters
    • Pulse Damage: 100.00 points

Player Notes[]

  • Combat Drone deals various amounts of damage depending on power rank, chosen evolution and target's protections:
Combat Drone Damage
vs Shields vs Barriers, Armor and Health
Rank 1 35
Rank 2 40
Rank 3 45
Attack Drone 40
Explosive Drone 50
Explosive Drone's pulse 100
  • Combat Drones always attempt to get as close as possible to their target, but allied drone attacks possess a surprisingly long range and are often able to start hitting enemies long before they get close. The drone's attack itself can't penetrate cover, but drones themselves can usually get behind enemies in cover or can be summoned behind them making them effective at dislodging enemies in cover, especially as their attacks briefly stun most light enemies, protected or not.
  • Combat Drone's damage is not affected by damage upgrades (not even generic ones like that found on Blood Dragon Armor).
  • Explosive Drone releases a pulse only when destroyed by enemies, summoning a new one does not trigger an explosion.
  • Combat Drones are very useful at any difficulty level. Combat Drones are effective distractions as enemies will usually focus on them first, rather than firing at the squad. Rocket-launcher toting enemies may even damage or kill themselves by blasting the Drone at point-blank range. Combat Drone attacks can also flush enemies from cover.
  • Combat Drone cannot detect or attack invisible enemies such as cloaked Geth Hunters.
  • Certain enemies such as Engineers and Geth Primes can summon Combat Drones to attack the squad. These will be colored differently than allied drones.
    • An attack from enemy combat drones will dislodge the player from cover, so they should be given the utmost priority.
    • Enemy Combat Drones can be hacked, but doing so will not cause them to attack other enemies or cause other enemies to attack them, it merely freezes them in place.
    • Enemy drones move quite rapidly but are fairly weak and easy to kill.
    • Enemy drones will dissipate after successfully attacking one time.
  • Since Combat Drones are counted as "allies" (they are blue dots on Shepard's radar), they can disrupt enemy spawns—and even cancel some whole fights—by spawning them at enemies who are currently in areas which should be inaccessible, e.g. a doorway leaving the current "arena".
    • This can be a double-edged sword. Occasionally, summoning a Combat Drone deep in enemy lines will trigger aggressive behavior from enemies that would normally have hung back passively, in essence "disturbing the hive." This can result in enemies unexpectedly swarming Shepard's position. Sometimes the trick with Combat Drone is knowing when NOT to use it.
  • Combat Drone is surprisingly good at keeping Harbinger and Scions tied up even on higher difficulties (provided there are few other enemies around that will target and kill the drone). It's also useful at distracting Husks and especially Abominations, stopping them from reaching you as fast. Legendary Edition: In Legendary Edition, Harbinger can quickly dispose of Combat Drones, but they are still extremely effective against Scions and Geth Primes.
  • Explosive Drone can be quite effective at high difficulties against powerful enemies, particularly enemies that usually kill the drone almost instantly like YMIR mechs, shotgun-wielding krogan, and so forth. The explosion damage has a large area of effect, deals moderate damage, and stuns enemies; this combined with a fast recharge allows even groups of enemies to be gradually whittled down while simultaneously keeping their attention away from Shepard and the squad.
  • Against a single target, Attack Drone can do more damage than Explosive Drone against unshielded targets that aren't good at destroying drones quickly, including most non-shotgun-wielding minor enemies but also otherwise powerful foes such as Geth Primes, Scions, and Harbinger (LE not Harbinger unless his attacks have been disabled). Using it in tandem with abilities that can disable the attacks of enemies such as Flashbang Grenade can enable it to attack with impunity. It can also be better than Explosive Drone at finishing off nearly dead enemies as you don't have to wait for them to kill the drone to take damage.
  • Drone upgrades can greatly improve Drone survivability, much more than the health bonus suggests. A fully upgraded Drone attacks frequently enough that for some enemies all attacks are interrupted.
  • A useful tactic with Combat Drone especially on higher difficulty levels is to summon it while fully in cover without peeking out to be exposed to enemy fire at all. This can be done as long as Shepard's back is up against cover and Shepard is facing directly away from it. The drone won't spawn directly at enemies when summoned in this way, but it will still travel quickly towards enemies and this can be done safely even while Shepard's shield is down, giving Shepard something to do while waiting for shields to recharge.
  • Tali and Legion can both use Combat Drone but their versions have very long recharge times (about 30 seconds). A Sentinel Shepard can circumvent this somewhat by using Tech Armor to instantly reset their power cooldowns.

Availability[]

Mass Effect 3[]

ME3 Combat Drone.png

Power Ranks[]

Rank 1: Combat Drone[]

Deploy this attack drone to stun targets and draw enemy fire.

  • Recharge Speed: 5 sec
  • Drone Damage: 40
  • Drone Shields: 500


Rank 2: Recharge Speed[]

Increase recharge speed by 25%.

  • Recharge Speed: 4 sec
  • Drone Damage: 40
  • Drone Shields: 500


Rank 3: Shields & Damage[]

Increase drone's damage by 30%.
Increase drone's shields by 30%.

  • Recharge Speed: 4 sec
  • Drone Damage: 52
  • Drone Shields: 650


Rank 4: Shields & Damage/Detonate[]

Shields & Damage

Increase drone's damage by 40%.
Increase drone's shields by 40%.

  • Recharge Speed: 4 sec
  • Drone Damage: 68
  • Drone Shields: 850

Detonate

Drone explodes when destroyed, dealing 156 points of damage (520 multiplayer) across a 5 meter radius.


Rank 5: Shock/Shields & Damage[]

Shock

Upgrade drone's short-range attack to deal 130 points of damage across a 2.5 meter (5 m multiplayer) radius.
Drone stuns enemies for a short duration.

Shields & Damage

Increase drone's damage by 50%.
Increase drone's shields by 50%.

  • Recharge Speed: 4 sec
  • Drone Damage: 88 (Shields & Damage), 72 (Detonate)
  • Drone Shields: 1100 (Shields & Damage), 900 (Detonate)


Rank 6: Rockets/Chain Lightning[]

Rockets

Upgrade drone with long-range rockets that deal 195 points of damage (390 multiplayer) across a 1.5 meter (2.5 m multiplayer) radius.

Chain Lightning

Upgrade drone's electrical pulse to jump and hit 3 additional targets.


Player Notes[]

Mechanics
  • Friendly Combat Drones move markedly slower in Mass Effect 3 than they do in Mass Effect 2.
  • In addition to the in-game text, the Combat Drone's different attacks feature varying force values, which are used to determine whether an enemy is staggered when hit:[1]
    • The Combat Drone's basic attack has enough force to stagger basic enemies, with an attack cooldown of 3 seconds.
    • The detonate attack provided by the Rank 4 Detonate evolution has enough force to stagger moderately strong enemies (with greater likelihood in multiplayer).
    • The area-of-effect (AoE) shock attack provided by the Rank 5 Shock evolution has enough force to stagger moderately strong enemies with an attack cooldown of 5 seconds. In multiplayer, it has enough force to stagger all but the hardiest of enemies, even Phantoms, with an attack cooldown of 3 seconds.
    • The rockets provided by the Rank 6 Rockets evolution have enough force to stagger moderate enemies with an attack cooldown of 4 seconds (3 in multiplayer). The rocket attack also has a minimum range of 4m.
    • Note that whether an enemy has protections such as shields is irrelevant to the question of whether the stuns will affect them.
  • The Rank 4 Detonate evolution can detonate all types of Power Combos except biotic explosions.
  • The Rank 5 Shock evolution attack is independent of the Rank 6 Chain Lightning evolution attack. The Chain Lightning directly affects the drone's default Rank 1 "zap" attack. The Rank 5 Shock evolution gives the drone an additional type of attack. Despite a common misconception, the Chain Lightning evolution will not let the Rank 5 Shock evolution attack chain to multiple enemies. The drone tends to cast the Rank 5 shock attack as soon as it spawns and is in range of an enemy; if the cooldown of Combat Drone is short enough, recasting it several times can chain stun an opponent, sometimes more than one if they are packed tightly enough. The shock attack animation looks is a white burst of energy whereas the Rank 4 Detonate evolution is an orange burst when the drone is destroyed.
  • The chaining effect provided by the Rank 6 Chain Lightning evolution has a maximum range of 10m. It should be noted, despite the in-game wording, the Chain Lightning evolution lets the drone hit 3 total targets, not 3 additional targets.
  • The various Shield & Damage evolutions also increase the damage of the all types of the drone's attacks.
    • If the Rank 4 Shield & Damage evolution is taken, Rank 5 Shock damage increases to 170, and Rank 6 Rocket damage increases to 255 (510 multiplayer).
    • If Rank 5 Shield & Damage evolution is taken, Rank 4 Detonate damage increases to 216 (720 multiplayer), and Rank 6 Rocket damage increases to 270 (540 multiplayer).
    • If both Rank 4 and 5 Shield & Damage evolutions are taken, Rank 6 Rocket damage increases to 330 (660 multiplayer).
  • The Rank 6 Rockets evolution also changes the Combat Drone's AI to float away from enemies rather than float towards them (since its rockets have to meet the 4m minimum range).
  • When spawned, the drone's outer ring color is blue to the player who spawned it. The drone's remaining "health" can be gauged by the color of the outer ring. A blue outer ring indicates full health, a purple outer ring indicates intermediate health, and a red outer ring indicates that the drone is close to being destroyed.
    • The outer color ring is also visible through walls, allowing the player to keep track of its position.
  • The drone appears in different locations depending on enemy proximity and whether or not you have an enemy in your crosshairs:
    • If you have an enemy in your crosshairs, the drone will appear behind that enemy and generally start attacking that enemy.
    • If you have no one in your crosshairs but are aiming near where hostile forces are, the drone will appear at a distance where you are aiming and then generally start seeking out nearby enemies.
    • If you have no one in your crosshairs and are not near enemy forces, the drone will appear next to you.
  • Combat Drones can detect, pursue, and attack cloaked or invisible enemies such as Geth Hunters, CAT6 Snipers, and Phantoms, or enemies obscured by smoke. A drone attack won't break enemy invisibility by itself, but it can still stun affected targets, chain to nearby invisible enemies, and reveal them for players.
  • Certain stronger enemy types (mostly of the "super elite" variety) are always immune to the various stun effects of Combat Drone, including the Phantom, despite it being a smaller "foot soldier." Also, Nemesis snipers don't seem to get stunned while crouched behind cover, though deploying a drone next to them will usually make them move of their own accord.
Strategies
  • As its description suggests, the Combat Drone is effective at distracting enemies like the Atlas and Cerberus Guardians, as frequently enemies will stop attacking your allies to focus on a newly summoned drone.
  • Aside from drawing fire and attention, Drones are primarily useful as "stun machines", able to severely disrupt groups of lesser enemies by knocking them out of cover and preventing them from acting, creating space for the player and allies.
  • In earlier versions of the game, Husks and Brutes react to drones by attempting to grab/instakill it, failing, and end up staring at it dumbfounded until sufficient incoming damage distracts them. Banshees will cycle their shockwave scream attack until the drone is destroyed. However, in more recent versions of the game (as of Patch 4),[2] melee enemies ignore the drone and "big" enemies like the Banshee have no problem attacking the drone.
    • The fact that melee enemies tend to ignore drones can be to your advantage, as well-placed drones can greatly interfere with the pathing of such enemies, particularly Brutes.
  • Combat Drones no longer have a specific duration. Instead, they last until combat ceases, they are destroyed by enemy fire, or a new Combat Drone is spawned by the player.
  • The Rank 6 Rockets evolution suffers on several multiplayer maps, as the drone will sometimes attempt to unsuccessfully shoot enemies through walls instead of moving to clear the obstruction for a clear line of sight.
  • One way to play the Combat Drone is as a sort of "mobile mine." Taking the Rank 4 Detonate evolution, the Rank 5 Shock evolution, and Rank 6 Chain Lightning evolution will cause the drone to stay close and engage at point blank range. When it is killed, the explosion is usually powerful enough to finish off surrounding enemies damaged by the electrical pulses.
    • Even on Gold/Platinum difficulty for multiplayer—where immense enemy damage will make quick work of the drone regardless of any shield evolutions—this "mobile mine" strategy can prove effective. The drone will briefly distract even the most powerful of enemies. This distraction buys you enough time to safely prime the enemy with an ability like Incinerate, which will then be detonated in a Fire Explosion when the drone finally dies. However, without a light weapon loadout, a long cooldown from using Combat Drone may prevent you from being able to prime the target before the drone dies.
    • An alternative to using the Rank 5 Shock evolution is to take the Rank 5 Shields & Damage evolution as it increases the Detonate damage. However, the shock attack provided by the Rank 5 Shock evolution has a significant force value and can be very useful for crowd control as it staggers many more enemies than the basic "zap" attack is capable of, especially on higher multiplayer difficulties.[3]
  • The drone can act as an early warning system. Spawn the drone near an enemy spawn point, then place yourself somewhere where you can see the drone but not the spawn point. If enemies drop there you will see the drone attack them, alerting you to their location. Conversely if the drone does not attack it shows you that point is clear at present.

Availability[]

Trivia[]

  • In Mass Effect 2, the color of the drone is different depending on who spawned it and whether it is combat/attack/explosive: Shepard's is blue/orange, Legion's is blue/orange, Tali's is purple/pink, enemy Engineers' are red and Geth Primes' are green/orange.
  • Attack drones take on a new color, while explosive drones have sparks but stay their original color.
  • Friendly Combat Drones can appear during cutscenes if deployed at the right time.
  • In Multiplayer, one of the new objectives, added via the Mass Effect 3: Earth DLC pack, is to escort a combat drone that randomly appears on waves 3, 6, and 10.

References[]

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