Mass Effect 3: Best Character Builds by the Numbers – N7 Destroyer Soldier

This week I’m going to be analyzing the Best Builds for popular characters, based purely on the in-game stats (facts, people!).  On request, the first one will be the N7 Destroyer Soldier!

BEST BUILD 6/0/6/6/6

Q:  Should I put points into the Missile Launcher?

A:  Short answer is no.

Here’s why, mathematically:

Let’s look at a Pure Defense build (Devastator Mode to Rank 6 spec’d for shields, T5-V Internal Systems to Rank 6 spec’d for shields/health). Let’s also assume you’re equipped with a Piranha X Shotgun with Smart Choke V and High Caliber Barrel V (accuracy and damage bonus).  Lastly, let’s simplify and say you’re fighting a single Assault Trooper who has infinite health and you can’t take cover or dodge his shots.  Given that the Assault Trooper does about 618 Damage Per Second (DPS), you have a certain expected lifespan to do damage before you die.

The Missile Launcher power will take away 50% of your max shields (not base shields, like Hunter Mode on the Geth) – you can also spec it to have a 25% less shield penalty.

health shields total lifespan (sec) DPS Total Damage
NO ML Pure Defense 825 2050 2875 4.65 2295.82 10680.40
ML DAM Pure Defense 825 1025 1850 2.99 2571.96 7699.23
ML SHIELD Pure Defense 825 1281 2106 3.41 2510.59 8556.521

The first line shows you how much total damage you can expect to deal without the Missile Launcher before the Assault Trooper kills you – in this case, you’re only dealing damage with your weapon.  The second shows you with the Missile Launcher to Rank 6 spec’d for damage, so you get weapon damage and ML damage.  The last line shows you with Missile Launcher to Rank 6 spec’d for reduced shield penalty by 25% – you get both weapon and ML damage here as well.

As you can see, the ML doesn’t do enough pure damage to justify the shield penalty.  The total damage you can expect to do without the ML is far greater than with it.  Additionally, the flight path of the ML is terrible – more often than not, the missiles hit the wall or the ceiling.

Q:  But I really like the power and it’s ability to stun enemies.  How can I use it effectively?

A:  Spec Rank 4 for 25% shield penalty reduction and rely on the ML to stun enemies, not deal damage.

In the previous chart, you can see that by selecting the shield penalty reduction at Rank 4, you increase your total expected damage.  So, if you must use it, make sure you spec for 25% reduced shield penalty at Rank 4.

Q:  What’s the better Rank 6 evolution for the Missile Launcher?

A:  Top (additional missiles with 25% less damage).

Hydra Missiles (Upgrade housing for 2 additional missiles at 25% reduced damage) will give you total damage of 607.5 while Cobra Missiles +150% damage will give you a total damage of 495.  The additional missiles not only do higher total damage, the damage will likely be spread out to different targets, stunning more than one enemy at a time.  The stun effect is probably the most useful effect of this power.

Q:  What is the best way to evolve the Frag Grenade power?

A:  Top, Bottom, Top.

Here’s why, mathematically:

Assuming you’ve spec’d out your T5-V Battlesuit for power damage at Rank 5, here’s a chart of the total damage and the damage per grenade you can expect out of one iteration of your power:

Evolution Base Damage Damage/Grenade # Grenades Total Damage
B,T,B 682.5 682.5 4 2730
T,T,B 787.5 787.5 4 3150
B,B,B 822.5 822.5 2 1645
B,T,T 507.5 845.8 4 3383
T,B,B 927.5 927.5 2 1855
T,T,T 612.5 1020.8 4 4083
B,B,T 647.5 1079.2 2 2158
T,B,T 752.5 1254.2 2 2508

Let’s start with why you should go with Multi-Frag Grenade (increase the number of grenades launched by 2) over +50% damage bonus at Rank 6.  Assume Ranks 4 and 5 were spec’d for increased damage.  With 2 extra grenades launched with the original 3, you can expect total damage of 1254.2.  With 50% damage bonus, you can only expect total damage of 927.5.

Now let’s talk about grenade capacity – as you can see in the chart, if you want the highest total damage, you’ll want to increase your grenade capacity.  If you want the highest damage per grenade, you’ll want to spec for damage.  On Platinum, you usually get one grenade per ammo box, so getting up to four requires a lot of running around and you probably won’t need all that capacity.  For that reason, choosing damage per grenade (Top, Bottom, Top) is the better choice.

Q:  Is it better to spec for Offense or Defense?

A:  Defense.

With the same assumptions that we used to evaluate the Missile Launcher Power, let’s look at a mix of Offensive and Defensive setups:

Pure Defense – Devastator Mode to Rank 6 spec’d for shields, T5-V Internal Systems to Rank 6 spec’d for shields/health
Pure Offense – Devastator Mode to Rank 6 spec’d for damage, 0 points in T5-V Internal Systems
Mixed Defense – Devastator Mode to Rank 6 spec’d for damage, T5-V Internal Systems to Rank 6 spec’d for shields/health
Mixed Offense – Devastator Mode to Rank 6 spec’d for damage, T5-V Internal Systems to Rank 3

health shields total lifespan (sec) S Total Damage
Pure Defense 825 2050 2875 4.65 2295.82 10680.40
Pure Offense 500 1000 1500 2.43 2501.51 6071.63
Mixed Defense 825 1650 2475 4.00 2501.51 10018.19
Mixed Offense 625 1250 1875 3.03 2501.51 7589.54

As you can see, the total damage you can expect to do with a Pure Defense build is the greatest, with Mixed Defense a close second.

So, that’s an analysis of the N7 Destroyer Soldier using the numbers – hope you found it helpful!  Here is the handy tool I used to Spec out the character with all the bonuses – click here if you want to experiment for yourself!

How do you have your N7 Destroyer built?  Let me know in the comments!


  1. Alexander M. September 5, 2012
  2. Andrew September 14, 2012
    • girlplaysgame September 14, 2012
  3. DingChavez October 28, 2012
    • girlplaysgame October 28, 2012
  4. Ranger December 8, 2012
    • Mark January 13, 2013
  5. bronzeathlete June 24, 2013
  6. Caribbean February 5, 2016

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