Disambiguous This article is about the combat technique in Mass Effect 3. For the combat technique in Mass Effect: Andromeda, see Combos (Mass Effect: Andromeda).
Power combos - cryo explosion
Power Combos are a gameplay element introduced in Mass Effect 3, expanding on the Warp detonations of Mass Effect 2. By attacking an enemy with two powers in sequence, the combined effects of each power can result in an explosion. All power combos require two different varieties of powers be used: a source and a detonator. The source power determines which of the four power combos will be triggered, and the detonator triggers the combo and causes the explosion.

Priming and Detonating Edit

An enemy is visibly "primed" for a combo when they glow a certain color/texture, which corresponds to what combo they have been primed: violet for biotic, red for fire, electric sparks for tech, and a white "chill" effect for cryo. Not all enemies display this texture for whatever reason; for example an Atlas primed for a fire explosion will not actually glow red.

The priming duration varies from power to power. Some powers prime for only a short period of time (such as Overload or a Sabotage backfire), some powers prime for an extended period of time (such as Warp). Powers with durations may prime for their full duration (such as enemies lifted by Singularity) or a fixed subset (Sabotage's Tech Vulnerability evolution will not extend the priming duration to 10 seconds, for example). It should be noted that the passive class powers which increase power duration do not affect the priming duration of powers which do not prime for their full duration such as Incinerate with rank 5 Burning Damage, or powers with no duration such as Overload.

Some powers have caveats for successfully priming or detonating. For example, Energy Drain cannot be used to detonate organic targets which lack shields/barriers and in single-player, Singularity will not prime enemies that are not lifted. In multiplayer, Lash will not prime or detonate an armored target. Incendiary Rounds will not prime an enemy while it is being protected by shields or barriers. Additionally, some powers must be evolved in a certain way in order to make them able to prime and/or detonate power combos.

Generally speaking, powers with areas of effect can prime multiple enemies at once. However, aside from a small number of exceptions (Overload, Shockwave, Smash, Biotic Slash, Electric Slash and Biotic Sphere) only one enemy can be detonated at once. Moreover, detonations will not set off other combos.[1]

Some powers can be both sources and detonators, but any combo must be composed of a different source and detonator, for example, you cannot detonate Warp with another Warp, but Reave and Warp will detonate each other in any order. Once a source has been applied, it can only be detonated once. This is true even if the source power has a damage over time effect that is still active after the power combo. Area-of-effect powers can set up multiple combos (one on each affected target), but typically can only detonate one combo per use, or per projectile launched if more than one (e.g. single-player Throw or Cluster Grenade). The specifics and "exceptions" are covered in the next section.

Overlapping Primers and Sequential Detonations Edit

When working with mixed power types (biotic/fire/ice/electricity), it is often more effective to adopt a strategy of "prime-prime, detonate-detonate" or "prime, detonate+prime, detonate" instead of "prime-detonate, prime-detonate". Understanding this allows power combos to be done more efficiently and/or with fewer power uses. Though the concept is fairly simple, memorizing the Source Powers/Detonator Powers charts below is necessary to take full advantage of this technique.

An enemy can be primed for 2, 3 or all 4 types of power combos at once but only 1 of each type at a time. Each primer can then be set off, back to back, by a sequence of detonator powers. Despite the enemy visuals often suggesting the contrary, the addition of a different primer type does NOT erase the previous one(s), nor will it fail to prime if another type is already present; instead, the different types form layers.

The order in which the primers are applied will affect the sequence in which they are detonated; it follows a reverse chronological order, provided the detonator used is capable of causing that type of explosion. If it cannot, then the detonator will work its way backward until it finds a primer it can detonate but will not erase the primers it skipped.

For example, a Warp-Throw biotic with incendiary rounds/ammo can trigger 2 power combos in 3 moves by: shooting the enemy, using Warp, then Throw. Warp will simultaneously cause a fire explosion and prime for a biotic explosion, which Throw will then detonate. This biotic could perform the same 2 explosions in a slightly slower, but more damaging manner by opening with Warp and taking advantage of the Pierce and Expose evolutions. In that case, the biotic would start with Warp, shoot the enemy (causing it to be double primed for a biotic and fire explosion), then use Throw two times in a row.

Enemy glows (or lack thereof) do not always reflect what primers the target is carrying or what the most recent one is; keeping track of which powers have been used and which explosions have occurred is difficult but necessary. As in the previous example, when Warp is used to detonate a non-biotic explosion, the enemy may not glow violet afterwards despite being primed for a biotic explosion.

If multiple priming powers of the same type hit a target, only the most recent one can be detonated. With the exception of Warp-Effect Biotic Sphere, if the detonator is also a source and of the same type as the source, the enemy will not be primed after the power combo. If the detonator power is also a source and of a different type than the source, the priming aspect of the detonator power will be applied to the enemy after the power combo. For example, Overload and Energy Drain will not prime for a tech burst if they detonate a tech burst just as Incinerate and Carnage will not prime for a fire explosion if they detonate a fire explosion; they will prime normally if they detonate a power type different than their base. As such, Carnage, Incinerate, Overload would only yield a single fire explosion but Carnage, Overload, Incinerate would yield a fire explosion and then a tech burst.

If this concept is taken to the extreme, with a synergistic set of powers, it is possible to have the number of explosions on a target be equal to one less than the total number of powers used. This is achieved by alternating powers of different types that are all primers and can detonate each other in any order. Doing this with a team is easier and gives a much bigger variety but there are a handful characters that can do it alone.

  • Quarian Male Engineer: Incinerate + Electrical Damage Arc Grenade.
  • Human Engineer: Incinerate + Overload.
  • N7 Paladin Sentinel: Snap Freeze + Incinerate.
  • N7 Paladin Sentinel: (On synthetics/shields/barriers) Energy Drain + Snap Freeze
  • Salarian Engineer/N7 Paladin Sentinel: (On synthetics/shields/barriers) Energy Drain + Incinerate.

The following is not a comprehensive list; they are merely examples of synergy with different power types. As noted before, many tech powers have a short priming duration so if too much time passes between consecutive powers, the primers will wear off and the examples below will not work as described. Fast recharge speeds and/or additional teammates are necessary.

  • Example 1: Dark Channel, Carnage, Throw, Throw = Fire Explosion, Biotic Explosion
    • An enemy is hit with a priming Biotic power and then a fire attack. Since no fire attack can cause a biotic explosion, it is now double primed. If the enemy is hit with 2 universal detonators in a row, it will trigger a fire explosion first and then a biotic explosion.
  • Example 2: Snap Freeze, Flamer, Warp, Warp, Throw = Fire Explosion, Cryo Explosion, Biotic Explosion.
    • While Warp is detonating Flamer, it primes for a biotic explosion. Warp cannot detonate itself so the 2nd Warp detonates Snap Freeze, causing a Cryo Explosion. Throw then detonates Warp. An enemy cannot be double primed for the same type of explosion so a 2nd Throw would not cause a 2nd biotic explosion.
  • Example 3: Snap Freeze, Flamer, Warp, Throw, Throw = Fire explosion, Biotic Explosion, Cryo Explosion.
    • Substituting Throw for the 2nd Warp in Example 2 yields the same explosions but alters the order. Warp detonates the Flamer but also primes for a biotic explosion, making it the newest primer, so the 1st Throw detonates Warp and the 2nd Throw detonates Snap Freeze.
  • Example 4: Warp, Disruptor Rounds, Throw, Throw = Tech Burst, Biotic Explosion.
  • Example 5: Disruptor Rounds, Warp, Throw = Tech Burst, Biotic Explosion. (Faster version of #4)
  • Example 6: Singularity, Overload, Reave, Incinerate = Biotic Explosion, Tech Burst.
    • Because Overload was used after Singularity, it is first in line to be detonated. However, since Reave can only detonate biotic explosions, it will bypass Overload and detonate Singularity instead, but Overload's primer remains in effect and will be detonated by Incinerate. The enemy is also primed for a fire explosion after Incinerate hits.
  • Example 7: Warp, Snap Freeze, Sabotage, Flamer, Throw x 4 = 4 Explosions (Fire, Tech, Cryo, Biotic).
  • Example 8: Reave, Dark Channel, Throw, Throw = Only 1 Biotic Explosion.
    • Reave and Dark Channel both prime for biotic explosions but since a target can only carry a single prime for each explosion type at a time, this will not yield 2 explosions.
  • Example 9: Carnage, Overload, Warp, Throw = Fire Explosion, Tech Burst, Biotic Explosion.
  • Example 10: Snap Freeze, Sabotage, Flamer, Concussive Shot x 3 = Fire, Tech, then Cryo Explosion.
  • Example 11: Incinerate, Overload, Incinerate, Overload = Fire Explosion, Tech Burst, Fire Explosion.
    • Since both of these powers prime for different explosions but detonate all non-biotic combos, after the first power is used, each successive power will simultaneously trigger an explosion and prime for the next one. This causes an alternating sequence of Tech Bursts and Fire Explosions but this needs to be done very quickly as each power only primes for around 3 seconds each.
    • 3 target Chain Overload with radius evolution on Incinerate is extremely useful for crowd control since Overload can detonate 3 separate Fire Explosions with a single use.
    • With a 200% recharge speed, the basic Human Engineer in multiplayer is capable of continuous level 12 power combos (Fire Explosions and Tech Bursts) every 2.5 seconds from nearly any distance, taking down the toughest enemies and crowds on Platinum very quickly.

Note: Rank 6 Warp-Effect Biotic Sphere technically follows the same rules listed above but due to a unique property, it behaves as though it is an exception. Reave, Warp Effect-Biotic Sphere, Reave will result in 2 biotic explosions despite both powers being biotic primers & detonators. Most powers that are both primers and detonators, prime first and detonate second. Warp-Effect Biotic Sphere does the opposite; it detonates first, primes second. It only acts as a detonator upon initial activation and then is strictly a priming power once the sphere has been formed. From a power combo perspective, deploying Warp-Effect Biotic Sphere directly on an enemy is like hitting the enemy with Throw first and then exposing it to an Annihilation Field second, which would detonate whatever primer was there initially and apply a biotic primer after. This is why: an enemy hit with Reave inside a Biotic Sphere causes an explosion, an enemy hit with Reave that then has Biotic Sphere deployed upon it causes an explosion but an enemy hit with Reave who then walks into an existing Biotic Sphere, does not cause an explosion.

Note: Like Biotic Sphere, the Rank 6 Detonate Evolution of Singularity can be used to achieve 2 biotic explosions with only 3 biotic power uses because of a unique property. Due to the delay of Singularity's Detonate Evolution, it can act as the primer for the first biotic explosion and then the detonator for the second biotic explosion. If an enemy is within the area of effect of Singularity, hit with a biotic detonator power and then a biotic priming power before the Singularity "dies", it will detonate the second biotic primer. The basic human adept could do this by using: Singulary, Shockwave, Warp or Singularity, Warp, Warp. In either case, the second power would detonate Singularity's primer and the third power would re-prime the enemy for a another biotic explosion and when Singularity "dies", the Detonate evolution would trigger a biotic explosion off of the second primer.

Note: In the lists below, powers marked with an asterisk (*) have rank evolutions that can increase biotic explosion, tech burst, fire explosion, or cryo explosion damage. This increases the effective level of the power by at least 50%, whether used as source or detonator, with damage bonuses stacking if both powers have the applicable combo damage-increasing evolutions.

Damage Edit

All power combos have a "base" damage based on the combo level, which is simply the total power level of the source and detonator. The base damage ranges from 100 (for a minimum combo level of 2) to 250 (for a maximum possible combo level of 12). Note that for purposes of combo levels, multiplayer Ammo Bonuses always count as rank 1 powers. This is in contrast to single-player ammo powers, which use their respective power rank for the sake of calculating combo level. This base damage is then multiplied by a factor dependent on the game's difficulty, scaling with enemy health.[2]

  • Narrative: x.5833333
  • Casual: x.83333
  • Normal/Bronze: x1.5
  • Hardcore/Silver: x2.25
  • Insanity/Gold: x3.375
  • Platinum: x4.3875

Note that this scaling means that, as difficulty levels increase, the relative importance of combos for a power-based class's damage output increases dramatically. For example, in multiplayer a maxed-out combo will do only 375 damage on Bronze but an astounding 1,096 on Platinum. This also has the ramification that while ammo powers may be useful from a single-player/solo perspective for priming/detonating combos at will, it can severely reduce the total damage output of a power-heavy party in multiplayer.

The combo damage is further modified based on its type and on whether it is damaging armor, shield, barrier, or health as noted below (e.g. tech bursts do 2x damage to shields). Any debuffs on the target receiving the combo (such as Sabotage's Tech Vulnerability) will also affect the combo damage, if applicable.

The combo damage is otherwise completely independent of the actual damage or damage bonuses of the powers being used, unless it is a damage bonus that specifically mentions combo damage (such as Warp's Detonate evolution). Note that Snap Freeze's Tech Combo and Electric Slash's Detonate evolutions are bugged; Electric Slash's Detonate does not actually affect combo damage, and Snap Freeze doubles damage for any cryo explosion the N7 Paladin primes when he chooses Reach at rank 4. For the AIU, she has to select Tech Combo and that doubles all combo damage for any Tech Combo whether priming or detonating. Electrical Hammer's Radius & Combo evolution, however, only affects combo damage when used to detonate.

Biotic Explosion Edit

Primed for BE
Biotic explosions cause a wave of biotic force that damages and knocks back enemies. These combos can be triggered without killing an enemy.

Biotic explosions have a radius of 2 to 4 meters.[3]

Biotic explosions do two times normal damage against biotic barriers and armor.[4]

Source Powers Edit

Detonator Powers Edit

* Has rank evolution that increases combo damage.

Cryo Explosion Edit

Primed for CE
Cryo explosions create a blast of ice that deals severe damage to the primary target and may freeze nearby unprotected enemies (no armor, shields, or barriers). Cryo explosions can be triggered without killing an enemy, although in most cases, the enemy must be frozen solid in order to do so. Enemies killed by cryo explosions shatter without leaving a corpse.

Cryo explosions have a radius of 3 to 5 meters. Even if enemies in the radius are not frozen or damaged, they are still chilled and have their movement slowed by 30%.[5]

Snap Freeze has an apparent bug where cryo explosions that use it as its source do twice normal damage.[6]

Source Powers Edit

Detonator Powers Edit

* Has rank evolution that increases combo damage.

Tech Burst Edit

Primed for TB
Tech bursts create a blast of electricity that inflicts severe damage on the shields and health of nearby enemies and has a chance of stunning them. Tech bursts can be triggered without being a killing blow.

Tech bursts have a radius of 4.5 to 7.5 meters.[7]

Tech bursts do two times normal damage against shields.[4]

Source Powers Edit

Detonator Powers Edit

* Has rank evolution that increases combo damage.

Fire Explosion Edit

Primed for FE
Fire explosions create a blast of flames that inflicts severe damage against the armor and health of nearby enemies and may also set them on fire, though this is mainly cosmetic and does not apply extra damage. Fire explosions required that enemies be killed to trigger until Patch 1.04 removed that requirement. Lesser enemies used as a source for fire explosions are instantly vaporized without leaving a corpse.

Fire explosions have a radius of 3 to 6 meters.[8]

Fire explosions do two times normal damage against armor.[4]

Source Powers Edit

Detonator Powers Edit

* Has rank evolution that increases combo damage.

Synergies Edit

In the table below, the columns marked Biotic/Cryo/Tech/Fire indicate whether the ability can detonate primed biotic explosions, cryo explosions, tech bursts, or fire explosions respectively. Underscore indicates whether a power has a multiplier evolution which increases the effective combo level of the power for the purposes of the combo type indicated by the column. These evolutions increase damage by at least 50% regardless of whether the power is used as source or detonator, and whether it is stacking with another power with such a multiplier.

Icon Power Primes Biotic Cryo Tech Fire Notes
ME3 Annihilation Field Annihilation Field Biotic ✓* *On self-detonation
ME3 Arc Grenade Arc Grenade Tech* *Primes with "Electrical Damage" evolution
ME3 Barrier Barrier Biotic* *On self-detonation
ME3 Biotic Charge Biotic Charge
ME3 Biotic Hammer Biotic Hammer
ME3 Biotic Orbs Biotic Orbs
ME3 Biotic Slash Biotic Slash
ME3 Biotic Sphere Biotic Sphere Biotic* *Primes with "Warp Effect" evolution
ME3 Carnage Carnage Fire
ME3 Cluster Grenade Cluster Grenade
ME3 Combat Drone Combat Drone ✓* ✓* ✓* *On destruction, detonates with "Detonate" evolution
ME3 Concussive Arrows Concussive Arrows Tech* *Primes with "Shock" evolution
ME3 Concussive Shot Concussive Shot
ME3 Cryo Ammo Cryo Ammo Cryo Also applies to Cryo Rounds
ME3 Cryo Blast Cryo Blast Cryo
ME3 Dark Channel Dark Channel Biotic
ME3 Dark Sphere Dark Sphere Biotic
ME3 Decoy Decoy ✓* ✓* ✓* *On destruction, detonates with "Exploding Decoy"
ME3 Disruptor Ammo Disruptor Ammo Tech Also applies to Disruptor Rounds
ME3 Electric Slash Electric Slash
ME3 Electrical Hammer Electrical Hammer Fire* *Primes with "Fire Damage" evolution

Combo evolution only works when detonating

ME3 Energy Drain Energy Drain Tech ✓* ✓* ✓* *Only detonates shielded or synthetic targets
ME3 Flamer Flamer Fire
ME3 Flare Flare
ME3 Frag Grenade Frag Grenade
ME3 Geth Turret- Icon Geth Turret Fire* *Primes with "Flamethrower" evolution
ME3 Havoc Strike Havoc Strike
ME3 Hex Shield Hex Shield Tech* *Primes with "Shock" evolution
ME3 Homing Grenade Homing Grenade
ME3 Incendiary Ammo Incendiary Ammo Fire Also applies to Incendiary Rounds
ME3 Incinerate Incinerate Fire
ME3 Inferno Grenade Inferno Grenade Fire
ME3 Lash Lash Biotic Primes if target is lifted. Armored targets cannot be detonated in MP.
ME3 Lift Grenade Lift Grenade Biotic *Unprotected enemies only
ME3 Nova Nova
ME3 Overload Overload Tech
ME3 Phase Disruptor Phase Disruptor
ME3 Poison Strike Poison Strike
ME3 Proximity Mine Proximity Mine
ME3 Pull Pull Biotic* *Combo evolution in multiplayer only
ME3 Reave Reave Biotic
ME3 Sabotage Sabotage Tech* *Only primes non-synthetics, application delayed 1.5s
ME3 Seeker Swarm Seeker Swarm
ME3 Sentry Turret Sentry Turret Cryo* *Primes with "Cryo Ammo" evolution
ME3 Shadow Strike Shadow Strike Tech* *Primes with "Electric Damage" evolution
ME3 Shield Mastery Shield Mastery Cryo*/Fire* *Mutually exclusive evolutions
ME3 Shockwave Shockwave Biotic* Primes with "Lifting Shockwave", multiplayer only
ME3 Siege Pulse Siege Pulse
ME3 Singularity Singularity Biotic ✓* *On self-detonation, detonates with "Detonate" evolution
ME3 Slam Slam
ME3 Smash Smash Biotic*/Tech* *Mutually exclusive Rank 4 evolutions
ME3 Snap Freeze Snap Freeze Cryo* *Affects both slowed and frozen targets
ME3 Stasis Stasis Biotic
ME3 Sticky Grenade Sticky Grenade Cryo*/Tech*/Fire* *Primes with Cryo/Disruptor/Incendiary Ammo or Rounds
ME3 Submission Net Submission Net Tech
ME3 Throw Throw
ME3 Warp Warp Biotic

References Edit

  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2
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