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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.


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.



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 that will block most weapon fire and powers hitting them from the front. A few weapons and powers can stagger them on impacting their shields. Powers fully blocked by the shields will not have any other effect and cannot set up or detonate Power Combos on Guardians. Guardians carrying their shields are immune to grab kills but are vulnerable to them without shields.

A Guardian cannot dodge attacks with his shield up, but once rid of it he can evade attacks with combat rolls.

Guardians often attack in pairs, which helps mitigate flanking tactics and allows for them to cover each other and other Cerberus troops.



  • Guardians are equipped with the M-358 Talon, which is a "shotgun pistol," that does extreme damage at close range. The damage is still respectable even at medium ranges.
  • 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-powerered, accurate pistol or rifle is advised to remove them from the fight quickly.
  • Guardians rely on their shields for protection; without them, Guardians are as vulnerable to attacks and powers as standard 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.
  • 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.

Powers and Weapons[]

  • 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, most such powers must hit the Guardian instead of his shield for this to occur, which is normally achieved by flanking. In single-player, squadmates can be used to flank Guardians as their powers are treated as though launched from their position, even if Shepard is the one ordering the power use.
  • 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 from behind will drop their shields, making them vulnerable. The rank 6 Bubble evolution is highly recommended—it can hit multiple Guardians and works from any angle.
  • Grenades can damage Guardians as long as they detonate behind their shields, and sometimes from the front if they detonate directly on a gap in the shield, though this basically depends on luck. Lift Grenade can suspend a Guardian in the air if it gets past the shield.
  • Reave and Annihilation Field completely ignore the shields of Guardians and will deal damage over time. The biotic effect can also be detonated.
  • A well-aimed Proximity Mine shot at their feet can bypass their shields to damage them. If fired directly at the shield it may fail to hit the Guardian and, instead, plant itself on the ground behind him. It will then explode and likely damage or kill him.
  • The M-98 Widow, Black Widow, Javelin, N7 Crusader, N7 Typhoon, and Executioner Pistol all fire penetrating rounds by default. The Javelin's default scope nicely highlights its targets through cover, making lining up headshots simple.
  • 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).
  • A few weapons are innately able to penetrate Guardian's shields even though they don't normally penetrate cover without modification:
    • Shooting a Guardian from any direction with the Reegar Carbine at close range will disintegrate them in seconds. In single-player, the weapon can do this by default, but in multiplayer, penetration aids and/or shooting them in the mail slot is required.
    • The Geth Plasma Shotgun has a high chance of penetrating Guardian shields, charged or uncharged. This won't occur on every shot, but it's reliable enough.
    • The Chakram Launcher can't penetrate cover or terrain even with piercing modifications, but it can penetrate Guardian shields.
    • 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.
  • Weapons that deal explosive damage on contact with their shots such as the Krysae Sniper Rifle and the Scorpion easily dispatch Guardians if the shots are aimed to detonate behind them or at an angle their shields don't cover. The charged or uncharged shots of the Venom Shotgun easily kill them even when fired squarely at their shields.
  • 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.
  • The Particle Rifle is useful against Guardians because it staggers them and causes them to move their shields, similar to Concussive Shot.
  • The Acolyte's projectile can be bounced of terrain to hit Guardians behind their shields. With good aim and a little luck, it's also possible for the detonation of the shot impact to hurt them if fired at their feet or the mail slot.
  • Cryo Ammo or Cryo Rounds can freeze a Guardian if an unprotected area is hit and the freeze triggers, at which point it can be easily dispatched.
  • Beware of Cerberus Shield Pylons, as they can make Guardians immune to powers that can otherwise remove their shields, in addition to making it much harder to hurt them in general. It's strongly advisable to destroy or hack any Pylons or their attached generators first, or wait until Guardians leave the area around any Pylons, though certain weapons and powers listed above can still be effective against Guardians that have been given shields by a Pylon.


  • 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 light melee can stun a Guardian and dislodge his shield to expose him briefly.
  • The Krogan Warlord Sentinel and the Geth Juggernaut Soldier are tall enough that they can shoot over a Guardian's shield to hit him at close range with any weapon.