The human vanguard is capable of lots of destruction in a short amount of time. This class is all about combos and timing. Pull it off, and you’ll get the same feeling of satisfaction as watching Sub-Zero pull Raiden’s spine out through his nose at the end of a string of devastating combos. Miss your mark, and your teammates will look at you with the same loathing reserved for Natalya from Goldeneye 64. Here’s how to be awesome in every game you play:
The human vanguard’s strength comes from the amount of damage their powers can do when combined. Unfortunately, you’ll have to get close to your enemy, as the Vanguard doesn’t have any powers that extend beyond close-medium range.
Biotic charge is the Vanguard’s bread and butter. In an instant, you can zip across the map like Superman, slamming into bad guys, staggering the large ones and sending the smaller ones flying. How you evolve your power will depend wholly on your play style. You can go for incapacitation of large groups of enemies:
- Tier 4: Radius, hit up to 2 additional targets within 2 meters of the impact point
- Tier 5: Power Synergy, increase power damage and force by 25% for 15 seconds after impact
- Tier 6: Bonus Power, give biotic charge a 25% chance of not triggering a cool-down
Go for this build only if you have excellent support from your teammates. You will be knocking down enemies left and right, but you probably won’t have the ability to kill them all, thus leaving yourself exposed when your powers are in cool-down. Or you can go for pure damage dealing/taking:
- Tier 4: Force & Damage, increase force and damage by 30%
- Tier 5: Weapon Synergy, increase weapon damage by 15% for 3 seconds after a successful biotic charge
- Tier 6: Barrier, increase barriers by an additional 50% after a successful charge (completely recharges your shield)
This is a great build because with the right weapons you’ll be able to clear a room by yourself, and with a low enough cool-down, will be able to recharge your shields every time you charge. Honestly, if you take Bonus Power over Barrier, you have just wasted 6 experience points.
Nova is a power unique to the Human Vanguard. It takes the place of grenades in their powers slot. Once an enemy is near, you drain your barrier and release the energy in a shockwave around you, damaging enemies and knocking them to the ground. There is no cool-down to Nova. As long as you have a barrier, you will have Nova available to you, and the strength of the barrier determines the force and damage of the shockwave. Once again, your approach to enemies will shape how you level Nova. Without support and with biotic charge maxed to incapacitation, you can also use your Nova to help you survive and incapacitate some more:
- Tier 4: Radius, increase impact radius by 40%
- Tier 5: Half Blast, reduces barrier consumption by ½, allowing you to use Nova twice in a row, provided you have over 50% barrier. This comes at a reduction of damage and force by 40%
- Tier 6: Sustain, using Nova gives you a 25% chance of not using up barriers
This is a great method to stay alive if you have built Biotic Charge and chosen Bonus Power. You will still knock smaller enemies to the ground, but larger ones will stay upright. You will also not use your entire barrier in one blast, which is essential if you aren’t able to clear a room quickly. You can also build it to go for straight damage:
- Tier 4: Force and Damage, increase damage and force by 40%
- Tier 5: Power Recharge, increase recharge of all powers by 25% for 15 seconds
- Tier 6: Pierce, increase damage to barriers, shields, and armored targets by 100%
This is the all out, damage-dealing, room-clearing build, but very risky. If you miss even one enemy, it’s lights out and the long wait for your teammates to come revive you.
Shockwave can’t be undervalued. It is excellent at flushing enemies out of cover, and it is the closest thing to a ranged power a Human Vanguard gets. I wouldn’t pour a lot of points into it, but getting it to at least tier 3 is great. If you do decide to max it out, the only things worth mentioning are tier 5, which increases the distance the shockwave travels, and tier 6, with lifting shockwave. Lifting shockwave suspends the enemy in the air for a decent amount of time, allowing you to take a few shots, or allowing a biotic teammate to score a Biotic Explosion.
As with each class, level up towards your play style, but remember that a Vanguard’s strength comes from dealing lots of damage quickly. Always go for damage boosts if possible.
A Human Vanguard should always have the lack of long range attacks in their mind. Whether it affects your weapon choices will be up to you. A good shotgun is always handy, but one with a decent fire rate over tremendous damage. Your weapon will basically be a stopgap during your power usage. DO NOT get suckered in by weapons such as the Claymore or the Graal Spike Thrower. Sure, a lot of damage per shot is great, but if you miss once with these weapons, chances are you won’t get a chance to take another shot. A good assault rifle can also be a great primary choice. The Geth Plasma Rifle (an OMFG favorite) is a great option, both for amount of damage per second and for its long range capability. If you do carry a shotgun but still want a ranged option, try equipping a high level Tempest Submachine gun with Ultralight Materials. It will be great at stripping shields, and will weigh virtually nothing.
Much like the Adept class, a Human Vanguard is all about combos, combos, and more combos. But unlike the Adept, you’ll need to time all of your combos to maximize their effectiveness. One of the best ways to take down almost any attacker is to use the combo: Nova, Charge, Nova, Heavy Melee, and finish up with a weapon. With the exception of armored opponents or “bosses” of each faction, you’ll be able to take down pretty much any enemy on bronze with this combo. It requires you to have Nova following the damage route, and Biotic Charged maxed with the Barrier option. Be careful against certain enemies that can “insta-kill” you. Biotic Charge has a slight delay after impact before you regain yourself, and that’s all the time a Phantom or Banshee needs to impale you for the round.
Another great strategy is to work in tandem with an Adept. They throw out singularity or stasis, and you “cruise missile” yourself into the enemy with a charge, detonating a devastating biotic explosion. Also, working with a Sentinel, especially a Krogan Sentinel can work greatly to your advantage, as they can soak up the damage and you can deal it back.
The main thing to remember as a Vanguard is to not be a burden on your team. Yes, you may steal a lot of their kills, but if you do that in the first few rounds, and then keep getting knocked down because you put yourself in a situation you can’t handle on your own, you’ll really start to get on their nerves. It can be exhausting trying to help a fallen Vanguard for the umpteenth time because they zap into the middle of a pitched battle before they are ready. Don’t be afraid to zap back out again, and let your shields recharge. You can get in and out very quickly.
Which brings me to one last tip about the Vanguard: Walking is for suckers. You have a “teleport anywhere on the map” button at the top of your controller. If you need to reach an objective, or help a teammate, or mop up the last few enemies, why the hell are you walking or running there? Stand still a moment, zero in on a target, and get there instantly.
Now go have fun and rack up those kills!
Written by Scott, an OMFGN contributor and supporter
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