In the Mass Effect universe, the Drell are known for two things: being really fatal, and being fatally ill. They’re trained masters of martial arts and gunplay, but most of them spend their free time on life support.
So it should come as no surprise that the Drell in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer are glass cannon characters. Picking one up you can expect to do a lot of damage… assuming you live long enough to dish it out. But if you have the patience and want a taste of the power, there’s no ride more fun than taking the Drell Adept for a spin.
Basic overview/race traits
As a Drell, your Adept has a few racial traits that will greatly influence how you play your character (compared to a Human or Asari Adept). While you can work around these strengths and weaknesses to some extent, you should honestly ask yourself if the playstyle they entail is something you’ll enjoy before picking up this particular biotic.
- Speed: Drell move very quickly and have the option to move even faster with the right points spent in Fitness. You’ll find your character zips around the battlefield when using normal run/sprint animations. His acrobatic moves are also blazingly fast, letting you escape tough situations in an instant and covering more ground than a Human while doing so. On a lesser note, these animations are also incredibly sweet, so you’ll find yourself backflipping and performing ukemi all the time for no reason whatsoever.
- Frailty: Drell have extremely poor shields, so don’t expect to survive in the open for prolonged periods of time. Even on Bronze it will be easy to die quickly if exposed, so you must rely on cover, speed, and the protection bonuses of Reave to keep your red bar full.
Due to the combination of agility and weakness, you’ll probably find playing the Drell Adept in the most ninja-esque manner possible to be effective. Hit and run tactics, as well as general caution when leaving cover will drastically extend your lifespan. Whether you choose to take defensive bonuses to further boost your HP or ignore them in favor of a riskier build is ultimately up to you.
Reave is a powerful biotic ability that drains enemy life over time. Unlike most biotic skills, it takes effect instantly, requiring no angling to hit targets. It is one of two powers that can both set up and detonate biotic explosions (Warp being the other), making it highly versatile when teamed with other biotic classes. Reave stacks on itself, so if you can cast it on the same enemy repeatedly, you’ll quickly notice its life bar draining faster and faster.
Even better, Reave increases your own life indirectly by providing damage reduction when in effect on organic units. That won’t help much vs the Geth, but can be a life saver on all difficulties against Cerberus or Reaper forces. If it sounds like Reave is one of the best abilities in the game, that’s because it is.
In fact, its only downside is a bug that loops the sound effect for Reave for a much longer duration than the actual spell animation. In essence, playing Drell Adept includes resigning yourself to hearing the droning sound of Reave played continuously during the course of the match. Until Bioware fixes the bug, you should probably blast your favorite music.
Recommended evolutions: radius (4), either (5), damage/duration/protection (6)
At rank five, Reave can receive a shorter cooldown or provide more protection. If you intend to play on lower difficulties or fight primarily Geth enemies, cooldown is a better selection. Otherwise, the added defensive bonus is your best bet.
Pull draws enemies in the direction they were hit by the projectile, allowing you to suck foes out of cover and into allied fire. Using Pull requires some planning, because hitting your target at the right angle can make or break the skill’s effectiveness. That said, Pull has one of the shortest recharge times in the game, so a missed shot isn’t a big deal. In fact, it’s pretty easy to get half a dozen targets suspended at the same time.
Once in the air, your enemy will be extremely vulnerable, including to biotic detonations from Reave. You can judge if it’s best to finish him yourself or let an ally handle it while you make your next move. With certain evolutions, Pull will damage lifted enemies over time, letting you sweat bigger targets in the interim. A good example would be a horde of Guardians. Pull instantly strips them of their annoying shields, letting you pluck their defenses from them one after another. Once they’re exposed, you can throw Reave and/or Cluster Grenade at them for massive damage.
The main downside of Pull is that it only lifts unprotected targets. Any enemy with Armor, Shields, or Barrier cannot be lifted, though Pull will still deal piddling damage to them. On lower difficulties, this isn’t an issue, but on Gold you won’t be able to Pull most foes. That said, you can still use Pull to incapacitate weaker enemies, allowing your team to focus on the more serious threats.
Recommended evolutions: radius (4), either (5), damage/detonations (6)
At rank five, Pull can inflict 27 damage/sec to your target or increase damage from all sources by 25%. If you’re working closely with teammates who will kill your Pulled foes, choose the damage boost. Otherwise, take the damage over time.
If you think grenades suck, you haven’t used Cluster Grenade. Instead of one weak projectile, Cluster Grenade chucks out a handful of explosives in the area you’re aiming. Enemies can get hit with every projectile’s blast, potentially doubling or tripling the damage reported in the stat screen. Better yet, Cluster Grenade is a biotic weapon, meaning it can trigger detonations set up by yourself (with Reave) or by any squad member.
In fact, if you Reave a target, run up to it, and throw your grenades in its face, you’ll deal thousands of damage in one massive explosion. When used correctly, this is the single most damaging ability in Mass Effect 3.
Many players whine about the fact that this skill is a grenade, limiting its use with ammunition. However, this is mitigated by several factors:
- Drell Adepts are incredibly fast, making it easy to quickly dash for more ammo any time
- Thermal Clip packs (the ones you never use) refill all your grenades
- Cluster Grenades are so powerful, having more would be game-breaking
Recommended evolutions: damage/force (4), capacity (5), either (6)
At rank six, Cluster Grenade can release an additional shrapnel or deal more damage. Mathematically the total damage is almost identical, so decide if you want a wider damage spread (shrapnel) or more compact blasts (damage/force).
Drell Assassin and Fitness
As with all characters, your Drell’s passives increase his strengths and make up for his weaknesses. I’ll discuss a few options for these abilities below, but in general I wouldn’t stray far from these choices, regardless of what levels you ultimately take these abilities to.
Drell Assassin recommended evolutions: power/force/weight (4), power/force (5), damage (6)
Fitness recommended evolutions: health/shield (4), shield recharge (5), health/shield (6)
When it comes time to actually distribute your Drell Adept’s skill points, there are basically three schools of thought.
The Pull Your Weight (balanced biotic build)
In my preferred build, Pull is included nominally to handle weaker crowds and set up convenient biotic detonations when possible. In order to do so, I leave Drell Assassin at level five, since the sixth tier options don’t really make or break the character, especially if you’re not planning to use only Heavy Pistols. With this setup, you can still do massive Reave/Grenade damage and have an instant answer for Guardians or pesky Husks. Your teammates will thank you.
Build allocation: Reave (6), Pull (3), Cluster Grenade (6), Drell Assassin (5), Fitness (6)
The Healthy Reaver (support-centric build)
The second angle assumes Pull is completely useless and should be avoided altogether. This gives you a biotic who can’t instantly take weak foes out of battle, but is generally more healthy and still able to play well with other biotics with Reave and Cluster Grenade. You’ll get six points to use on Drell Assassin, giving you the option of either heavier pistols/shorter recharge or more upfront weapon damage. If your pals can handle unprotected foes, this is the setup for you.
Build allocation: Reave (6), Cluster Grenade (6), Drell Assassin (6), Fitness (6)
The Thane Krios Special (glass cannon build)
Not a fan of foregoing skills in exchange for a few more seconds of life in this miserable galaxy? Load up on extra-explosive Pull and let’er rip with full-power Reave and Cluster Grenade. You’ll be skipping the last three levels of Fitness for this admittedly situational power, but when it pays off in gigantic, level 18 detonations (6 Reave + 6 Pull + 50%), it’ll be hard to give a damn. You will be extremely vulnerable, though, so expect to rely on health kits often.
Build allocation: Reave (6), Pull (6), Cluster Grenade (6), Drell Assassin (5), Fitness (3)
Weapons and equipment
In general, the Drell Adept doesn’t have the weight capacity to carry around heavy weapons, nor the vitality to survive firing them in the open for more than a few seconds at a time. Additionally, you’re going to want to spam Reave as frequently as possible to disable and hurt enemies with stacked DOT (damage over time).
As such, your best bet is to rely on a single, light-to-medium weight weapon. If you’re poor, that probably means using just an Avenger assault rifle or a Predator pistol. While the prospect of running out of ammo may arise, keep in mind you’ll be taking sprints to the ammo chest and using Thermal Clip Packs to restore grenades anyway. In practice, the majority of your damage will come from Reave combos anyway, so your weapon of choice doesn’t really matter, as long as it keeps your cooldowns short.
If you are using a single weapon, choosing a weapon damage rail will be easy, though generally not necessary to do well. Neither is special ammo is highly recommended, but Disruptor Ammunition is your best bet if you want to take something. It will allow you to take down shields more quickly (which your skills aren’t good at), and help you slow down the Geth (against whom Reave does not grant additional bonuses). As for armor mods, almost anything will do, though boosting run speed is generally a waste. Your Drell Adept runs incredibly fast as-is, and would be better served with more shields, more damage, or shorter cooldowns.
The Drell Adept isn’t a terribly tough character. He can’t handle shielded enemies, and his best power has the nasty side effect of violating your eardrums continuously. But if you’re looking to do major damage while jumping around the map like a more sickly, reptilian version of Neo, there’s no more fun way to play. Suit up, grab a pistol, and… for Amonkira’s sake… take your goddamn medicine before you end up in the emergency room.