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Disambiguous This article is about the power in Mass Effect 3. For the ability unlocked from the Decryption talent in Mass Effect, see Decryption#Sabotage.

ME3 SabotageSabotage is a tech power in Mass Effect 3's single-player and multiplayer modes.

Power Ranks[]

Rank 1: Sabotage[]

Sabotage weapons and hack synthetics.

Compromised synthetics fight on your side.
Affected weapons overheat.

  • Recharge Speed: 8 sec (10 multiplayer)
  • Hack Duration: 12 sec (10 multiplayer)
  • Radius: 2.50 m
  • Backfire: 150 (250 multiplayer)

Rank 2: Recharge Speed[]

Increase recharge speed by 25%.

  • Recharge Speed: 6.40 sec (8 multiplayer)
  • Hack Duration: 12 sec (10 multiplayer)
  • Radius: 2.50 m
  • Backfire: 150 (250 multiplayer)

Rank 3: Radius[]

Increase impact radius by 30%.

  • Recharge Speed: 6.40 sec (8 multiplayer)
  • Hack Duration: 12 sec (10 multiplayer)
  • Radius: 3.25 m
  • Backfire: 150 (250 multiplayer)

Rank 4: Duration/Backfire[]


Increase power duration by 50%.

  • Recharge Speed: 6.40 sec (8 multiplayer)
  • Hack Duration: 18 sec (15 multiplayer)
  • Radius: 3.25 m
  • Backfire: 150 (250 multiplayer)


Increase damage taken by 30% (60% multiplayer) when enemy weapons overheat.

  • Recharge Speed: 6.40 sec (8 multiplayer)
  • Hack Duration: 12 sec (10 multiplayer)
  • Radius: 3.25 m
  • Backfire: 195 (400 multiplayer)

Rank 5: Explosive Hack/Recharge Speed[]

Explosive Hack

Synthetics explode when destroyed, dealing 350 points of damage across a 4 meter radius.

Recharge Speed

Increase recharge speed by 25% (35% multiplayer).

  • Recharge Speed: 5.33 sec (6.25 multiplayer)
  • Hack Duration: 18 sec (15 multiplayer) [Duration], 12 sec (10 multiplayer) [Backfire]
  • Radius: 3.25 m
  • Backfire: 150 (250 multiplayer) [Duration], 195 (400 multiplayer) [Backfire]

Rank 6: Berserk/Tech Vulnerability[]


Hacked synthetics fighting on your side move faster and do 100% (50% multiplayer) more damage.

Tech Vulnerability

Increase all tech power damage done to target by 100% (50% multiplayer) for 10 seconds.

Player Notes[]

  • Sabotage is a non-projectile hitscan power, like its sister tech powers, Overload and Energy Drain. However, Sabotage has a significantly shorter range than the other two, and other powers generally. It is only able to hit enemies close enough for their status bars to be visible in the HUD or slightly further. If enemies beyond that range are targeted, the Sabotage effect will appear short of the target and hit nothing.
  • Sabotage has a very misleading name and in-game description, especially for players of the previous two games in the trilogy. Unlike the ability of the same name in the first Mass Effect, Sabotage in Mass Effect 3 does not disable enemy weapons or attacks. Also, in Mass Effect 2, powers such as Overload and Flashbang Grenade could "overheat" enemy weapons to disable them; Sabotage doesn't do that. Instead, the word "overheat" in Sabotage's description is referring to a "backfire" effect: a delayed electrical discharge that deals damage to organic targets. Synthetic targets such as geth don't suffer this backfire damage and are instead hacked. Both effects of this power work even against targets still with active protection layers such as shields.
  • Sabotage has a baseline area of effect that can be increased with additional ranks. However, there are limits on the number of enemies that can be affected by certain effects:
    • The maximum number of synthetic enemies which can be simultaneously hacked is 2 (1 in multiplayer).
    • The maximum number of enemies which can be simultaneously affected by Sabotage's backfire damage is 2.
  • Hacking: The hacking effect of Sabotage is much like the AI Hacking ability in the first game, only it works against basically any robotic enemy without restrictions based on the level of either the power or the target.
    • As with Hacking in the original Mass Effect, sabotaged synthetic enemies are still capable of attacking the player or player allies if they can't find a closer enemy target to attack. Also like in the original game, synthetics subjected to repeated use of Sabotage will gain an increasing resistance towards further attempts. After three uses, an enemy will become immune to the hacking effects of Sabotage altogether (this only applies to the hacking effect on synthetics, not the backfire effect on organics).
    • Sabotage can hack the Turrets deployed by Cerberus Combat Engineers, as well as the Combat Drones and Geth Turrets deployed by Geth Primes. It also works on Atlases despite them having organic pilots.
    • Hacked enemies will still prioritize "summoned" enemies (e.g. Combat Drone, Sentry Turret) as targets.
    • Sabotaged geth will not attack a cloaked Geth Hunter.
    • If used on a Cerberus shield generator or generator pylon, Sabotage will reverse the generator's effect and cause it to drain any shields in range. While this effect lasts, the pylon will glow orange instead of its usual blue.
      • Reaper Barrier Engines are not hacked by Sabotage but are instead instantly destroyed.
  • Backfire: The backfire effect of Sabotage affects all organics, regardless of whether or not they actually have a weapon (e.g. Husks will suffer the effect), though the electrical visual effect usually appears on the weapons of enemies that carry them. This is also accompanied by a sparking sound similar to the one made by Overload, which can also be used to tell when the backfire has occurred.
    • The backfire effect is not immediate; it occurs about 1.5 seconds after the initial hit. This delay means that the backfire effect is affected by Sabotage's own Tech Vulnerability evolution at rank 6.
    • Sabotage's backfire deals 1.5x damage to organics' shields.[1]
    • Backfire deals considerably more damage in multiplayer.
    • While Sabotage can be used to prime Tech Bursts, it requires the weapon backfire effect to occur; immediately following up a Sabotage with a detonator power will not set off a Tech Burst. Because synthetics never take backfire damage, Sabotage cannot prime Tech Bursts on synthetics.
    • Electrocution effects: The backfire effect of Sabotage is able to electrically shock and stun almost all types of unshielded (red and yellow bar) organic infantry enemies. This stun can take two forms: the default causes unshielded targets to double over briefly. The second stun is an electrocution effect that causes the target to spasm violently while standing; this effect lasts noticeably longer than the default stun but occurs less frequently. If multiple unshielded targets are hit, each individual target hit can suffer a different stun effect. Other tech powers can also cause these stuns such as Overload and Energy Drain. This shock stun is more severe than the very brief stagger that the initial hit of Sabotage can cause on even most protected enemies.
  • Tech Vulnerability: The rank 6 Tech Vulnerability effect works even when Sabotage itself is red in the power menu.
    • Tech Vulnerability does not enhance the damage of non-tech powers like Sticky Grenade or ammo powers (or the equivalent ammo bonuses in multiplayer).
    • Tech Vulnerability affects all targets and applies independently of the hacking effect on synthetics, lasting its full duration even if the target has grown resistant or immune to hacking, or if Sabotage is cast on another enemy.
    • Because of the way backfire damage is implemented, this means that total backfire damage is increased by 100% (50% multiplayer) by Tech Vulnerability.
      • Backfire (effectively, not listed as such in-game): 300 (375 multiplayer) [Duration], 390 (600 multiplayer) [Backfire]
    • Tech Vulnerability increases the damage of non-biotic Power Combos (Tech Bursts, Cryo Explosions, and Fire Explosions). Moreover, because it is a debuff on the enemy, it stacks multiplicatively with power evolutions that increase combo damage.[2]
    • Tech Vulnerability also increases damage done with some tech-based heavy melee attacks.
    • Tech Vulnerability also affects damage done by Combat Drones, but only affects the damage from the Shock evolution of a Sentry Turret.[4]
    • In multiplayer, Tech Vulnerability from different players does not stack (as of Patch 4).[5] It likewise does not stack in single-player from Tali's and Shepard's Sabotages.
  • The Tech Vulnerability debuff is independent of the delayed priming effect of the backfire mechanism; this means that with the Tech Vulnerability evolution Sabotage can immediately and significantly increase most combo damage for an extended period of time, making most "boss" takedowns very quick.
  • Tech Vulnerability makes Sabotage potentially useful against any target at any time, even a synthetic enemy that has grown immune to hacking.
    • It can also increase the backfire damage to organics sufficiently to where it can be used like Overload except with a delayed fuse, and with the advantage of hitting up to 2 enemies with the same level of damage. Unlike Overload, however, Sabotage cannot detonate Power Combos.
    • A chaining Overload is a devastating follow-up to a Tech Vulnerability-upgraded Sabotage. If two enemies suffer the backfire and the Overload chains to each one, up to two Tech Bursts are triggered, with the damage of each combo being increased on top of the increase to the base damage of each power. Most weaker enemies are annihilated by this combo on any difficulty.
  • Sabotage is very useful against Atlases and Cerberus Turrets as while they are hacked, they will turn on the nearest enemy, which is often a Combat Engineer, preventing the Engineer from effecting any repairs.
  • Teammates should be aware of synthetic enemies under Sabotage. These enemies glow in orange and they can either serve as temporary allies or as immobile targets.
  • When using Sabotage against geth, particularly in multiplayer, care should be taken in selecting a target. A Sabotaged target does not draw aggression from enemy units until it starts attacking its allies. When Sabotaging a Geth Prime, the Prime will usually prioritize its own Geth Turrets as targets (unless another geth is closer). Thus, while Sabotage can be useful against Primes to distract them, it is not a reliable method of inflicting damage on nearby geth. Geth Pyros are very good targets for Sabotage, particularly when enemies are clustered together. Otherwise, Geth Rocket Troopers are the best bet: when Sabotaged they are capable of inflicting heavy damage over large distances. In multiplayer, Geth Bombers are also very effective when under the effects of Sabotage.
  • Even though the backfire damage from Sabotage is delayed, it still benefits from the damage bonus of Tactical Cloak if the initial cast of the power was made while invisible. If an Infiltrator Shepard is properly specced to optimize power damage buffs, a Sabotage backfire does enough damage to completely strip the shields from organic infantry enemies such as Marauders and Centurions even on Insanity.
  • Sabotage is an excellent power to use with sniper rifles and other slow-firing, heavy-hitting weapons such as the Executioner Pistol and Saber. When humanoid enemies are hit by Sabotage, it has a brief staggering effect, leaving a small window to line up a head shot. Once the backfire occurs, this causes an additional stun that can strip any remaining protections, though this one usually makes the enemy stumble or double over, making it harder to line up a head shot.



  • In multiplayer, enemies killed by the backfire effect of Sabotage are not credited as a Sabotage kill in the kill feed.