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- See also: Stop the Collectors
The true nature of the trigger for this mission is not fully understood, as there are a few reports of players completing more than five missions before triggering this mission, but it usually works like this:
- After the mission on Horizon, a five-mission countdown begins, after which Shepard will be unable to access the Galaxy Map and instead must report to the briefing room to speak with the Illusive Man, who will dispatch Shepard to investigate a disabled Collector Cruiser. At that point completing the mission becomes the only way forward.
- Even N7 assignments (e.g. "anomalies") count as a mission, so pick your five missions carefully.
- If the fifth mission is one of the two loyalty missions on Tuchanka or the Citadel, you can complete the other one before returning to the Normandy SR-2. Because of the order and tempo with which loyalty missions are acquired, the second Citadel mission will only become available in time if you leave Grunt in his tank.
- Finally, it is theoretically possible to complete Miranda's loyalty mission fifth and then recruit Thane or Samara as an extra mission, but only if Jack's loyalty mission has not yet been completed (because while Miranda's mission normally ends back on Ilium, if Jack is loyal then Shepard returns immediately to the Normandy for their argument).
- This mission will not trigger until eight squad members have been recruited, and indeed the official Prima Publishing Collector's Edition guide states explicitly (p. 114) that the story will not advance without eight squad members. Grunt does not count as a squad member until he is awakened from his tank. The addition of Kasumi and Zaeed in DLC packs, along with the ease of recruiting them, tends to make this condition moot for many players unless they delay waking Grunt.
Note: Though you'll have no choice but to complete this mission once it appears, any other missions that you didn't get to by this point can still be done afterwards.
If you have a hard time with this battle, arguably the most difficult in the game for the level you are when you reach it, one strategic way to prepare for it is to do as many missions as possible before undertaking it, and you must plan for this well before Horizon: do as many side assignments as possible, and all of the available DLC missions before completing the recruitment of all four of Mordin, Jack, Grunt, and Garrus. Then, following Horizon do four missions (perhaps including the Shadow Broker which gives more experience) and then go to Tuchanka and stay for both Mordin and Grunt's loyalty missions without returning to the Normandy thus getting an extra mission on the clock. Planning this way ensures that you reach this mission at the highest possible level with the most possible abilities.
However, there is a countering opinion to this: the special weapon or extra weapon training you get at the beginning of this mission can have an extreme effect on your ability to complete subsequent missions and you may want to consider having it available for as many missions as possible. You may want to consider "rushing" to the Collector ship which is done in the following way:
- Recruit all four of Mordin, Jack, Grunt and Garrus as soon as the recruitment missions become available without completing any other missions.
- Complete the mission on Horizon.
- Complete 5 of the missions within the Firewalker Pack and/or Normandy Crash Site free DLC, which involve virtually no infantry combat.
The above will get you to the Collector ship to get the special weapon or training and have it available for as many other missions as possible. This WILL be difficult, but remember the weapon/training is given to you at the very beginning of the mission so you will have its strength to rely on.
You will be facing a lot of barriers and armor, making Warp Ammo the most effective ammo ability overall, with Armor-Piercing Ammo and Incendiary Ammo as followup choices in that order. In terms of damage powers, Warp is effective against both barriers and armor, as is Reave, which can be considered while choosing squadmates and bonus powers. While considering squadmate powers, however, don't understimate the value of a more combat-oriented squadmate with high survivability and weapon output -- anyone who distracts enemies from focusing on Shepard pulls a lot of weight.
In terms of other bonus powers worth considering, the abundance of "bottomless" pits in the mission architecture makes physics-based attacks viable: Throw, Pull etc can dispatch clumps of enemies with minimal ammo use given a nudge in the right direction. If you have completed Lair of the Shadow Broker then Stasis is also helpful here, because there will be at least one opportunity to "one shot" a heavy hitter with it during a key battle. Alternatively, selecting Barrier or one of its sister powers will allow you to instantly re-raise your shields when they go down, providing some extra survivability in key encounters.
In terms of heavy weapons, the Arc Projector is the most generally applicable to all of the situations you will encounter.
Cruiser Entrance EditMedi-gel. Moving along you reach a Control Terminal next to the body of a dead Collector in a pod. Save your game before you select it. Caution: a close approach will select it automatically.
When you access the terminal a squadmate makes a comment while Shepard contacts EDI, who will tell you about the experiments. Apparently, the Collectors were making fundamental "genetic comparisons between their species and humanity." Shepard can ask a question, and the conversation shifts to the Normandy's bridge where a holographic display and EDI's analysis reveals something shocking. The Collectors' DNA matches that of the Protheans! Respond to this however you choose. You can ask questions until you are satisfied, then end the conversation; Shepard then reaches down toward a pile of weapons.
Advanced Weapon Training Edit
After the conversation, a menu will appear allowing you to choose one of three weapon-training options, which enables Shepard to use the weapon in combat. If your character already has that weapon proficiency, you instead have the option of choosing a powerful, unique weapon of that class. For example, an Infiltrator will have the option to take the unique sniper rifle, or gain access to either the common assault rifles or the common shotguns. Adepts, Sentinels, and Engineers will only have options to train in the common weapons, and not the unique ones.
- Shotgun Training: Soldiers and Vanguards can choose the M-300 Claymore Heavy Shotgun instead.
- Assault Rifle Training: Soldiers can choose the M-76 Revenant Light Machine Gun instead.
- Sniper Rifle Training: Soldiers and Infiltrators can choose the Widow Anti-Material Rifle instead.
Warning: The training carries through for each new game: you do not get to pick another weapon or additional training on subsequent playthroughs with the same character, so choose wisely. New characters on their first playthrough will always be able to pick a new option.
A nearby weapons locker allows you to change the squad's weapon loadouts. It is highly advised that you save your game at this point and do not overwrite it until you finish the mission. Grab the refined element zero and power cells before you continue on.
Into the Belly of the Beast Edit
From here continue moving. You soon enter a larger room to see many pods—some still occupied—above and ahead of you, which evokes some comments from the entire squad as well as EDI, who detects no life signs in the pods (if that offers any relief). Move up some inclines and veer to the right, where you'll find some more Collector tech to salvage; also, a terminal at the end of this path will give the Ablative VI/Damage Protection upgrade. Continue moving through the oddly deserted ship. As you walk up a long ramp, Joker comes over the comm and tells you that he and EDI discovered that this is the same Collector ship which attacked the SSV Normandy. Shepard makes the comment that this is too much of a coincidence.Terminus Systems and they still couldn't fill them all; the Collectors must have one target: Earth. Now you have yet another reason to stop them, if you didn't have enough already. Move along until you approach an apparent dead end, where one squadmate will take note of a Command Console and the other will ominously wonder about the absence of Collectors. SAVE before you access the console.
Alert EditCollector General briefly appearing in the form of a red hologram, to Joker's displeasure. Back to Shepard, the whole ship shakes as strange things begin happening around the squad, and the Commander radios for a status report. Joker responds that there was a power surge, and EDI says that she managed to divert the overload to non-critical systems. Worse, she informs Shepard that this was not a malfunction; it was a trap. The platform suddenly flies into the air, confusing the squad, and EDI reports that she's having difficulty maintaining the connection: "someone else" is in the system. When the platforms stops in midair, everyone loses their balance and one squadmember is knocked down. Your squad recovers as EDI says that she has reestablished connection and needs to finish the download before she can override any systems. She will keep you updated on the progress, but it is really finished when you defeat all the Collectors that are coming in fast. So take cover and prepare for a hard fight.
Sky High Battle Edit
The platform you are on provides some cover and a good position to combat the enemy. Two Collector Drones and a Collector Guardian are the first to drop in; take them out as fast as possible to prevent Harbinger from possessing them. A platform with a Scion stationed on it will arrive in the first wave and slowly orbit the main platform cluster whilst you combat the other Collectors, to devastating effect. The perfect loyalty power to deal with this one is Stasis, as the Scion will be frozen in place when the platform moves. If you time it right, this will cause it to fall to its death before it can even damage your team once. More Drones and Guardians will continue to arrive on new platforms as you fight. Move from cover to cover as needed and don’t forget about your squadmates. Eventually two Scions arrive with more reinforcements; however focus on the Collectors before going after the Scions because Harbinger will take over if you don’t. Once all the Scions and Collectors are down, EDI radios that if you access the panel again she can regain control. Before you do, pick up clips and some power cells on one of the platforms.
Insanity Tips: On lower difficulty settings many play styles will work here, but of all the Mass Effect 2 missions, it is perhaps the first battle of this mission that strikes the most fear in the hearts of Insanity level players. Fear not, however, as there are some straightforward methods for dealing with it. The following list is intended to help players having a hard time getting through this on Insanity, but many will of course work on lower settings as well.
- Take cover in the center of the U-shaped cover on your first platform. It's safer than anywhere else you can go. Remain on the original platform throughout the battle if possible. When reinforcements come on another platform that links on the left side, you can move Shepard to the first Collector platform. They prefer to focus on Shepard, so your squad, still in the U, can get better shots. Also, if you are far enough away, the second Scion will probably not be able to hit Shepard there with its Shockwave (but will try -- so watch for it).
- If you have Stasis, use it to deal with the first Scion immediately when it first appears. For best results forgo using Shepard's powers for the first few seconds of the battle so that you can catch the Scion immediately when its platform first arrives (you can actually target the Scion successfully even before it appears to be targetable, while the platform is briefly tilted toward you - just aim straight at it and activate the power). But if you don't have Stasis, then defeating the Scion will have to take a back seat to keeping Harbinger off your platform. The Scion's Shockwave will tend to knock your squad out from behind cover in addition to causing damage, so if you can, tie up the Scion with e.g. an Engineer Combat Drone. Otherwise, attend to killing it whenever you have a lull between Harbingers.
- When the first wave of Collectors appears, if you wipe it out quickly enough you can avoid having a Harbinger created at all. The Arc Projector can be useful here to quickly set up Warp Detonations, area Throws, area Lifts, and the like. A single shot has an excellent chance of taking out all Barriers, making the Collectors immediately vulnerable to the special effects of powers. This will then let you handle the Scion.
- With all waves when there isn't a Harbinger to deal with try to wipe out the Drones first, followed by Guardians, followed by Assassins. The Drones take the least effort to wipe out (you can one shot them with a good sniper rifle), and by eliminating them early you can force Harbinger to claim a more valuable unit like a Guardian or an Assassin, thus sparing you having to fight the more powerful unit. In other words, if you're going to have to trade a Collector for a Harbinger, you might as well have the eliminated Collector be a powerful Assassin instead of a weak Drone.
- When Harbinger throws his slow-moving "warp", move back and forth behind your cover so that it will miss you -- because if it hits Shepard will be knocked from behind cover and exposed to potentially deadly fire.
- It's very important to keep Harbinger off your platform for as long as possible, so concentrate your fire on Harbinger especially when he gets close. You don't want him flanking you on your platform and driving you out to a bad position.
- Always revive your squadmates as soon as they fall - they create distractions for the enemy that will keep fire off of Shepard. Don't "conserve" Medigel during the arguably hardest battle of the game.
- Bring squadmates with fully upgraded Warp powers - Thane and Miranda. Warp is effective against both barriers and armor, and a double whammy from both squadmates can put serious damage on a Harbinger approaching your platform. Samara's Reave also works for this purpose, but less dramatically.
Access the panel to continue. You are rewarded with a ride before more action, during which EDI explains that the distress signal originated from the Collector ship contains an error that clearly identifies it as a non-turian signal. She further explains that it is not possible that the Illusive Man would have been fooled by it, since she discovered the error using Cerberus detection protocols which he wrote. The conclusion is that he knowingly sent you into this trap. Respond to that in any way you wish. Joker will then interrupt to tell you to hurry up because the cruiser is powering up its weapons. He will keep you updated over the course of the rest of the mission about their progress.
Fight Your Way Out Edit
As you land get off the platform and move. You'll enter a small room with closed doors, one of which EDI will open for you; grab the Medi-gel, and head through the open door. Soon you come to a close encounter on level terrain, just beyond some salvageable tech. Slam into cover at the first chance and shoot out the Collector drones that fly in; one of these will be quickly possessed by Harbinger. Focus on taking out Harbinger then focus on the other fodder in the room to prevent it from doing it again, or, if you wish, sick your henchmen on it while you kill its cronies. That way the cronies should all die right about when your squadmates polish off Harbinger. After you put down these enemies, grab the salvage (if you haven't already), and move down a ramp to a larger and more complicated room for another Collector encounter.
In this next area you really have a fight on your hands; however, there is a lot of cover to take advantage of. Note the ramp on your left (as you enter), which leads to an elevated section stretching the length of the room; this section is accessible on the far side of the room as well. The first wave of Collectors will arrive as you enter, more or less in front of you. But keep an eye on them because they may use that left side walkway to flank you; and watch out for Harbinger because you can bet it will make an appearance.
On lower difficulty levels it is often possible to kill Guardians before they land, thus preventing them from setting up shields. On Insanity though this is harder to do, plus as explained previously it's usually better to drop the drones first - that way Harbinger will often "kill" the tougher Guardians for you by taking them over.
After a couple of waves, a group of Abominations will appear and should always be the first priority because of their explosive suicide attack. Burn their armor away and then throw them around with biotics. On Insanity it is not recommended to send your squad forward during this section, as they will tend to get flanked and fried. At lower levels if you allow a squadmate to move forward on the lower level, these new arrivals may attack the squadmate from their elevated position, allowing you to flank them.
In any case, once you mop up all the enemies (it's four or five waves depending on how you count), head to the other end of the room and pick up the power cells, Medi-gel, and another crate of refined element zero.
SAVE YOUR GAME HERE.Husks block the way, and there is a Praetorian as well. This battle is very different from the one on Horizon. The battle will not be easy because in addition to the Praetorian, there will be other Collectors and Harbinger who will make your life miserable if you don’t take them out first.
Note: You can stop the Collectors and husks from spawning if you run to the other side of the room towards the open door. Once it closes, no more enemies should spawn, making it much easier to focus on the Praetorian. Attempting this is NOT recommended on higher difficulty levels.
Begin by taking cover behind the narrow wall at the top of the "hill" looking down at the rest of the room. If you have a sniper rifle you can often get in a couple good shots at the Praetorian before it even gets close enough to target you.Heavy Weapons Tip: Highly useful at this point is the Arc Projector - by aiming it at either the Praetorian or one of the husks, you can damage them all and quickly remove many of the small enemies from the battlefield, dramatically simplifying your life. It is possible to do significant damage to the Praetorian with a well-deserved Cain shot at the beginning of the fight, however the Arc Projector is probably the safest choice because it is more consistent in eliminating the Collectors and Husks. After all once you're down to the Praetorian by itself the rest of the fight is fairly simple.
Be sure to revive your squadmates with Medigel when they fall, because their powers and weapons will come in handy. Note though that assigning a squadmate to attack the Praetorian while you concentrate (as you should) on the smaller enemies will NOT produce the desired effect of distracting the Praetorian, and is not likely to do significant damage.
While glowing, the Praetorian will recharge its shield and be temporarily invulnerable, so take this time to run away from it and, if you need to, find new cover. You also have a chance to dash for cover at the end of each Praetorian firing cycle while the eye-beams recharge. Just make sure you start moving to your next cover position before the Praetorian gets too close. Don't "get greedy" by trying for an extra point blank shot.
Once you finish the Praetorian off, pick up ammo—the power cells if you didn’t already—and move to the door. Unfortunately the door will close as you approach it and EDI will divert you to a longer path around the obstacle.
Wave 1: Take cover immediately when the first wave appears, and remain in this position until the entire first wave is down. That prevents getting flanked. The first wave includes an Assassin, a Guardian, and some Drones, one of which will rapidly become a Harbinger. One Collector will attack you from the "little window" up above; take him out too. Partway through Wave 1, a group of Abominations will appear - prioritize them for immediate kills so they don't get close enough to explode. Strip their armor and then throw them around with biotics or concussive shots.
Wave 2: Once the first wave is down, take an immediate sharp right up the side path instead of proceeding "straight" up the hill. Right when you're about to have to turn left, this will trigger a second wave with a Guardian and a couple of Drones but because of your new position it will appear safely in front of you rather than on your flank. Take cover and wipe them out.
Wave 3: Once the second wave is down, proceed forward to the place the second wave spawned. This will trigger the third wave, which will again appear right when you need to turn left to keep going, and again they will appear safely in front of you. Behind Wave 3 a Scion will also have appeared, but he will remain where he spawns and will not cause you any problems yet. Wipe out all of Wave 3 before engaging the scion.
Scion: Now from the place that Wave 3 spawned, it is safe the engage the lone Scion. He won't move from his spawn location, so you can even conserve ammo and kill him entirely with powers if you wish.
The final part of this mission involves about twenty husks! Head down the lengthy hall until you hear or see husks charging you. Backpedal to eliminate them—know that there are many. Don't get in cover because you want to stay mobile. Once the Husks are down the way back to the shuttle is clear. A cutscene will play that covers your escape and your return to the Normandy.Note: Although it can be difficult to pull off, you can bypass the Husks entirely by sprinting past them to the shuttle, which triggers the escape cutscene. A Soldier could Adrenaline Rush past the Husks, an Infiltrator could Tactical Cloak, and a Vanguard could Charge at a Husk nearest the exit. If playing as an Adept, Sentinel or Engineer, then a quick blast from the Arc Projector could stun the Husks and punch a hole big enough to rush past them.
Tip:Husks and Abominations cannot leap over obstacles, so you can use that against them. After the first wave appears in your scanner, start to retreat, the husks will take on your squadmates first and you are free to take out as many of them as you can. When your squadmates are down, the husks will target the player. Now it is time to use their weakness. Retreat to the higher ground in the last battlezone, in the middle of it is a wall cover crossing the area. As long as husks have a direct line, they will come straight towards you, but as soon as you leap over, some will take the longer detour around the wall, and some will get confused. That will make lots of easy kills, even at insanity.
Normandy EditOmega 4 Relay, an advanced form of an Identify Friend/Foe device, or IFF. The Illusive Man tells Shepard that each Collector ship is equipped with the device. Make a comment about that. After your conversation decision, he tells Shepard that Cerberus has located a Derelict Reaper in the Thorne system of the Hawking Eta Cluster. It is in orbit of the brown dwarf Mnemosyne. He says that the vessel’s mass effect fields keep it aloft and safe, and that he has dispatched a team already to study it. You can make a comment about that. To end the conversation, the Illusive Man tells Shepard that a trip through the Omega 4 Relay will likely be a one way trip and that the team needs to be focused on their tasks in order to survive.
After the meeting Jacob, Miranda, and Mordin join you in the briefing room. You can explain the Illusive Man’s actions any way you want. No matter the conversation, the general consensus is that the mission was a success. EDI comes over the comm and tells you that, based on the Collector ship’s course through the Omega 4 Relay, she can calculate the location of the Collector homeworld. She brings up a display of the Milky Way and the path ends up in the galactic core. That shocks everyone and you can make a comment for a laugh. EDI, however, counters that she is accurate and considering what the Reapers have already done, a base in the core of the galaxy doesn’t seem all that unlikely when put next to the Mass Relays and the Citadel. At the end of the conversation, you have the dialogue options about whether to go after the Reaper IFF immediately or build up the team. It is strongly recommended that you continue to build up the team first, but your answer in the conversation does not commit you one way or the other.
Mission Summary Edit
Gathered vital intel regarding Collectors and Omega-4 relay.
With Shepard's escape, Harbinger knows our true capabilities and will have to adopt new tactics. Will have to be careful, as Harbinger's information network may rival Cerberus or Shadow Broker's. Also appears impossible to block his ability to possess minions. EDI's work was exceptional, however, proving value of shackled AI.