Disambiguous This article is about the Cerberus unit in Mass Effect 3. For the Collector enemy in Mass Effect 2, see Collector Guardian.
Guardians are a class of Cerberus soldiers encountered in Mass Effect 3. Described as "human tanks", Guardians are heavily fortified soldiers equipped with a nearly impenetrable shield.

Description Edit

Guardians, the Cerberus equivalent of human tanks, are slow-moving soldiers who carry enormous polycrystalline-composite shields. The weight of the shield requires an armored suit equipped with hydraulic assists and a dedicated power supply. Combining this exceptional protection with a suite of enviro-mapping systems, guardians focus on flanking opponents to flush them from cover.

A Guardian's slow but relentless approach is intended to demoralize enemies as well as draw their fire, but rip away their shield, and guardians become little more than cannon fodder.

Capabilities Edit


Guardians are armed with the M-358 Talon pistol. They can also use their shields as an effective melee weapon if they get close enough. Guardians also carry electrical batons, much like the Centurions and Assault Troopers, but only use these when their shields are gone.


Guardians are distinguished by the nearly impenetrable shields they carry. A few weapons and powers can stagger them. They almost always come in pairs, which helps mitigate flanking tactics and allows for them to cover each other and other Cerberus soldiers. Naturally, they have no way (and little need) to dodge player attacks with their shield up, but once rid of it they can evade attacks with combat rolls.

Tactics Edit

General Tactics

  • Though Guardians are equipped with the M-358 Talon, which is a "shotgun pistol," they don't seem to lose effectiveness when firing at longer ranges than this gun is capable of in the hands of players. Thus, they should still be prioritized as targets when they are at a distance.
  • Guardians rely on their shields for protection; without them, Guardians are as vulnerable to attacks as Assault Troopers.
  • There is a tiny centered opening near the top of the shield. A skillful sniper shot can go through the hole, and this will count as a headshot. This is required for the Mail Slot Achievement. Such a shot can also be achieved with a semi-automatic assault rifle, or with other accurate weapons such as most heavy pistols, though it will not necessarily be an instant kill.
  • If hitting the shield's "mail slot" proves too difficult, Guardians can be killed fairly easily by firing at their weapon-hands or feet.
  • The shield's protection is directional. Grenades thrown right behind or beside them will ignore the shields. Powers that arc to the target can be finagled to go around the shield with some practice.
  • Hitting a Guardian's shields with certain powers (e.g. Concussive Shot, Carnage, Shockwave, Seeker Swarm, Throw) can cause him to stagger and momentarily hold the shield away from his body. However, you must be quick as he will quickly redeploy his shield.
  • Powers that knock the Guardian off his feet force him to drop his shield on the ground, after which he can be easily finished off. However, these powers must hit the Guardian instead of his shield for this to occur, which is normally achieved by flanking.
  • Pull and Lash will instantly strip a Guardian of his shield. The fairly quick recharge of either power makes them perfect for engaging groups of Guardians.
  • Guardians that are hit by Stasis will drop their shields, making them vulnerable. The rank 6 "Bubble" evolution is highly recommended — it is easier to get multiple Guardians in one fell swoop, and you will not need to flank them in order to freeze them.
  • Grenades that rebound off walls (such as Frag Grenade and Cluster Grenade) can sometimes be rebounded off one to explode behind the Guardian.
  • Reave completely ignores the shields of Guardians and will deal damage over time. It may also stagger them if the biotic effect is detonated. This effectively mitigates the Guardian's one and only advantage.
  • A well-aimed Proximity Mine shot at their feet can kill them with just one mine.
    • At extreme close range, a Proximity Mine fired directly at the shield may fail to hit the Guardian and, instead, plant itself on the ground behind him. It will then explode and likely kill him.
  • Since the M-98 Widow is an anti-materiel rifle, simply zooming in and shooting at the shield will cause the bullet to go through the shield and kill them instantly. The same effect occurs when using the Black Widow or Javelin. In fact, because the Javelin's default scope nicely highlights its targets through cover, it is a trivial task to get head shots through the shield, always killing the Guardian in a single head shot, even on Insanity.
  • With an upgraded M-92 Mantis or M-98 Widow, it is possible to shoot a Guardian in the foot and kill them instantly. Higher difficulties may require a headshot instead.
  • Armor-Piercing Ammo can pierce the Guardian's shield, allowing Guardians to be quickly dispatched by sustained fire from an assault rifle. Armor-Piercing Ammo can also make a powerful weapon like the Mantis, or M-300 Claymore capable of one-shotting a Guardian (sometimes regardless of the body part(s) hit).
  • Piercing and shredder Weapon Mods (available for all weapons, including SMGs, with the addition of the Mass Effect 3: Earth Pack and Mass Effect 3: Leviathan DLC) can also allow Guardians to be taken down through a raised shield. Such weapon mods are especially effective on powerful weapons like the M-92 Mantis, M-96 Mattock or the M-99 Saber.
  • While the Kishock Harpoon Gun cannot penetrate cover, it can innately penetrate a Guardian's shield. Due to their large profile and slow movement, a player armed with the Kishock can dispose of Guardians with relative ease.
  • The Particle Rifle is useful against Guardians because it staggers them and causes them to move their shields, similar to Concussive Shot.
  • On high difficulty levels, it is advised to keep distance from Guardians, their heavy melee and Talon will make close-range combat difficult. Usage of a high power assault rifle or a semi-automatic sniper rifle (such as the M-96 Mattock or the M-97 Viper) is advised to remove them from the fight quickly.
  • Much like a Phantom and a Nemesis, Guardians and Combat Engineers support one another on the battlefield. While Engineers are vulnerable placing turrets, Guardians will place themselves between them and the player, blocking shots. Once the turret is up and firing, the Guardians are often forgotten about in the face of turret fire. The turret also pins players to one spot, easily overtaken by Guardian ambushes. Combat this by, as always, killing the Engineer as fast as possible. If available, using Sabotage on the fresh turret can be devastating to this plan.
  • The Krysae Sniper Rifle can be effective in killing Guardians if one shoots about a foot away from them, causing the explosion to flank them without having to flank the Guardian yourself.

Class/Character Specific Tactics

  • A cloaked Infiltrator can easily kill a Guardian by placing a Sticky Grenade on his back.
  • A Soldier is capable of taking out Guardians with relative ease if the Frag Grenade power has been significantly upgraded. Either drop the grenade underneath or behind the Guardian, or throw it directly at the shield of the Guardian to deal significant damage. With highly upgraded Frag Grenade, you can instantly kill a Guardian with a single throw.
  • A Vanguard can Biotic Charge at the shield of a Guardian, which will stagger the Guardian and allow them to safely take care of them with their weapon of choice from point-blank range. This might require more than one Charge, since even a powerful shotgun may not deal enough damage for a one-shot kill.
  • An Engineer can use a Combat Drone to turn the Guardian around. If used while targeting the Guardian, the drone will appear behind the Guardian and shoot it in the back, causing it to face the current greatest threat. You then fill his back with bullets. If the Engineer has taken the Neural Shock upgrade at rank 5 of Overload, you can use it once the Guardian turns around to incapacitate him and drop his shield permanently, as well as giving you a few more seconds to deal damage to him while he's on the ground.
    • It should be noted that a Combat Drone with the rank 6 "Rockets" evolution is significantly less effective on Guardians, as the drone will typically attempt to retreat to a distance where it can fire its rocket instead of using its much faster shock attack.
  • Hitting a Guardian's shield with Singularity will cause him to hold the shield up and away from his body allowing for easy body shots. When Liara T'Soni uses Singularity on a Guardian, he will usually be swept into it, which will cause him to drop his shield.
  • A krogan's light melee can stun the Guardian and cause him to expose himself to fire. A krogan's heavy melee, though rare, can cause a Guardian to be knocked off his feet.
  • Annihilation Field will hit through the shield, as will Reave. This prevents the worry of how are you going to target Guardians as you will affect them regardless of how you do it, just make sure though they are in range of another enemy if targeting them rather than the Guardians themselves. With Annihilation Field, the range you have to be in makes trying to hit through Guardians dangerous and is ill-advised unless you are standing behind a piece of cover or a wall where they cannot hit you back.

Trivia Edit

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