Best and Worst Weapons against Illuminates

Hello all,
I’ve noticed a few things in my own game play concerning weapon choices and the Illuminates, and thought it might be a fun thing to mention some of them.
First off, I have observed that turrets are only worthwhile against Illuminates if the team can focus on keeping them alive. This means another strategem slot for the Rep 80, and at least one Healer. Unsupported turrets are wrecked too quickly to be of much use.
Secondly, the ARC weapons are not quite as powerless as Nerf guns, but are at the bottom of primary weapon choices. On my last Illuminate dive a player used the ARC thrower with better effect against our team than the enemy.
Rounding out our top three worst choices choices is the Recoilless Rifle. This secondary weapon falls flat against shields. It’s agonisingly slow rate of fire assures a thrilling experience, but little else.
On the flip side, best choices against Illuminates begin with the Guard Dog. This droid is great at dispatching any visible enemies, and can really help with knocking down shields and those hovering eyes.
Primary weapon choice goes to the Patriot. This Assault Rifle handles shields with ease, and is effective against all illuminates, although it is challenged by illusionist / council members.
Secondary weapon choice is a tough one, because several can fit into this slot, but my choice goes to the Obliterator. This mini mortar works against all illuminates when combined with the Patriot. It does require some getting used to, and a working concept of it’s fixed distance, but it reloads quickly and can launch single explosives as well as volleys.
Finally, the wall of fire, red strategem is a very reliable anti-illuminate weapon. Unlike mines, it doesn’t pose a lurking danger to the team, unless one is recalled, or mind controlled into it.
Special mention must go to the MLSX. This fine weapon has a support pack, which precludes use of the Guard Dog, but it has 8 homing rockets, and shreds all Illuminates.
I’m sure that others have their own choices for best and worst. Feel free to post them below, and good gaming.


The Rumbler is pretty good at clearing waves of Illuminate cannon fodder, since it hits twice or even three times, takes down a shield with the first hit and usually kills with the second.
Anything that doesn’t die is poisoned (at max upgrade) and easy to mop up.
Dunno about the reload time though…

The PLAS-3 Singe is great too, especially when you’re downed and need to clear the Striders and Outcasts away, since you don’t take splash damage while lying down.

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Justice is OP for tripods and illusionists and council members, it’s probably the best primary for it. And handily meleeing in tandem with your shooting can make a single clip go a long way when clearing out scouts and outcasts and the other light ground units, to the point that you can be more ammo efficient with it than you would be with Patriot or Liberator.

Suppressor is also an excellent tripod pack killer. It falls pretty flat against every other enemy though.

DumDum destroys any Illuminate unit in a few shots, and its laser makes it easy to use even when mind-controlled. But don’t waste it on lightly armored enemies.

A strafing run or 2 will allow you to run pretty much any primary you want on Illuminate planets. A close air support paired with a strafing run is deadly as well; save the close air support for when an illusionist or council member appears and spam strafing run against tripods.


The Commando is stupidly good against Illuminates, aye.
Tripod mobs approaching? Send Missiles!
Obelisk opened up? Missiles!
Illusionists and Councilmen on the battlefield? You know what to do!

As for the Support pack: just get a friend to carry it for you and let him reload you.
You can then wear the Guard Dog drone to keep both of you protected during Commando-use.

Obliterator, as you’ve already noticed, obliterates squids, as does the Dum Dum.
Machine Gun and Incinerator, meanwhile, may not be stupidly good against Squids but are still useful, and more importantly, fun to use against them.

As for RL-112: there really is no point to bring it against Illuminates, unless you have multiple Beacons to destroy and Shredder nuke is not an option for some reason. And even then I’d argue that you’re better off bringing one or two drops of EAT-17; one drop is enough to get rid of one set of beacons and the cooldown is painless enough for you to able to handle a couple of these objectives even without using Stratagem Priority.

Among Primary Weapons there really isn’t a bad weapon, except maybe for the sniper rifles.
It could be argued that the Railgun especially is wasted on all them Illuminate shields.
However, if you have a teammate cooking all them shields with the Incinerator flamethrower for you and setting up mobs and elites for your high-powered shots then it’s a whole different story.

But the usual fan favourites among some veterans include:

  • Double Freedom and Punisher shotgun; the first is for large groups during active combat and the latter is for sniping scouts and maintaining stealth.

  • The Breaker and Justice, what with their penetrating rounds, work well, too, of course, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

  • The Stalwart LMG is a fun beast; it has similar applications as the Patriot Assault Rifle (another fan favourite), but thanks to the high accuracy - once the recoil has settled - you can actually just hold down the trigger in front of Illusionists and Councilmen; I recommend NOT actually aiming once you’ve found your target, simply stand still and let her rip, no need to worry about mind-control (but maybe that is easier when using a gamepad, I actually don’t know about Kb/M). Also, the low accuracy at the start will still not prevent you from hitting Scouts.

  • Similar to the Stalwart, the LAS-98 Laser Cannon can be used in much of the same way, except that it has much higher range, higher accuracy, doesn’t need ammo AND, if you burst fire it into the fleshy centre of Illusionists or Councilmen you can prevent them from teleporting away. And just like the Stalwart, let go of your aim once you found your target and let rip. Rip, burn and burst. Bye bye, Squid Elites.

  • Then we have the Arc Shotgun, aka Meta-Gun. Take a SH-32 shield to protect you from Tripod Arc attacks and let them come. They melt. It’s stupid.

  • Last but not least, if you want to really have an easy time against Illuminates then just bring the Scorcher Plasma Rifle. If you think the Singe Plasma Pistol is good, ho-boy! Prepare for complete obliteration of Squids (like, literally, it’s like a primary version of the Obliterator, except it fires in a straight line).

As for Stratagems, usually Strafing Run, Hellfire Bombs and Close Air Support are the big squid killers. Add Heavy Strafing Run to that, too, why not?!
Orbital Laser is fun, too, but I don’t ever see many people use it because it really really REALLY could use a faster cooldown. So unless you are using Strat Priority you probably won’t think of it as very useful.

Lastly, if we’re talking backpacks / shields, then the SH-32 is actually useful against squids (as I mentioned above). It has a specific purpose, though, and won’t protect you from everything. It’s mostly useful against mobs of Tripods and Striders. On a side note: it actually is possible to block hostile projectiles with the SH-32 (specifically the Hunters sniper shot and the Cyborg IFVs main-cannon shot), but it is really tricky to do and requires extreme precision and practice.

SH-20 will protect you from mind-control, but if you follow my advice regarding LAS-98 and Stalwart, you won’t need it for that.

More important than protection from mindcontrol, IMO, is the ability to easily, reliably and consistently block Hunter snipershots with it, which is especially useful when defending launchpads or Geo Surveys (but I also don’t see many people doing that because NOT being shielded is kinda dangerous when surrounded by squids - also, a stray shot from a teammate could easily get you killed when you attempt to block shots like that).

So a really effective loadout against Illuminates could look like this (I’m going to omit Boots or Cardio and just recommend power and survivability - switch out perks and items according to your preference):

The Plasma-Master
PERK: MD-99 Autoinjector (for Stayin’ Alive), Singe Plasma Pistol (Full Plasma Master), or any other perk of your choice
WEAPON: Scorcher Plasma Rifle
STRATS: Ammo Ressuply x1, SH-20 x1 (especially if NOT using MD-99), Strafing Run x1, Hellfire Bombs x1 (or any variation of this)

The Laser-Master
PERK: Stratagem Priority
WEAPON: Arc Shotgun
STRATS: LAS-98 x1, SH-20 / SH-32 / Lift-850 (depending on preference and playstyle), Orbital Laser x2

I could post more but I’d suggest you just try out some of the above recommendations and find your own groove.

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Scorcher, Punisher and Tanto are my the best and favourite weapons against Illuminates.

  • Scorcher easily kills patrols, because of the fire explosions it’s really good against tripods. Sets them on fire and take down shields quickly when a group of tripods spawns.
  • Punisher my favourite patrol-killing weapon, almost always 1-shot them. Awesome weapon for non-mechanic Illuminates and good for armored as well.
  • Tanto when merged with SH-32 and MD-99 Autoinjector is probably the best synergy to fight Illuminates.

The Tanto is actually OP against any race, especially when used with the gear you suggested.
I currently enjoy bringing it against Bugs, like, all the time.
(My Elitist “Let’s Carry this Team through Bugdives” Loadout includes: Cardio, Tanto, Ammo x1, Tox/Rumbler, Vindicator x1, Railcannon x1 - it’s OP af, but I enjoy that sweet sweet power :smile:).

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I must agree, but against any other factions you can still get killed. Illuminates can’t handle SH-32 and MD-99 Autoinjector. You are a tank for them.

I always thought Commando is a dumb idea against Illuminates, but then Liber-Coffee opened my eyes. It’s insane how it can quickly destroy Obelisk (2 rockets) or Illusionist along with the Council Members, gold stratagem.

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I heard Tanto was good, haven’t upgraded it yet… next unlock I think.

I’ve been meaning to try a Commando run VS Illuminates for ages, never got around to it. Looks like I should!

Will add though, the classic beltfed (mg94) has always been a solid favourite for me. Locks up council members nicely - and illuminates don’t really bring heavy armour, so it’s dependable.

One might surmise that there are many effective weapon combinations to deploy. Hopefully, those looking for a starting point, or just wishing to try something new will get some ideas here. Trying them all should take many hours of exciting gameplay, which is exactly the point.
Good gaming.

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Got 30min kids free and tried Punisher VS illuminates on weekend… Wow, yeah, great patrolled swatter! Drops those probes shielded or not, a handy scout’s gun. With a heavy weapon to back it up for tripods & councillors you can get a lot done even alone.

Tanto is cool in a fight but gets me detected a lot with that short range. Maybe if you’re really on the spot with a pistol for those damn probes, I dunno. Or do you just not worry about it and let the chaos begin? :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll get the Scorcher sorted out eventually…

The Illuminate race is, IMHO, the hardest when it comes to avoiding detection. I have done so for all save one objective several times, but they always flank me with a hidden eye sooner or later.
The Guard Dog is a truly helpful choice vs. Illuminates, but it has a range limit.
A very effective anti illuminate weapon is the Dum Dum, especially since it has full automatic fire, and good range and precision.
Did find some time to random team play illuminates last weekend, and reaffirmed my own choices for the Justice as primary, and the Obliterator as heavy up to level 12.
Displacement Field is never a bad choice either, and if not packing the Guard Dog, the SH20 will stop Hunter shots and Tesla bursts until it collapses.
I’m not a big fan of the purple and pink illuminate home planet, but I just enjoy the chance to play.

If you haven’t already, give the Punisher shotgun a try. It’s one shot kill for shielded probes - just like skeet shooting! - and works great with the barrel extension. It also drops a councillor’s shield in one blast, which is handy for the team - but it’ll take a lot more than one to kill it.

Personally I find the Punisher much less useful for Tripods groups, so I tend to bring something else for them.

I haven’t played with the Punisher all that much, largely because I haven’t found it to be an easy fit for my style of play.
Most likely, if the magazine capacity was increased I would find it an easier choice.
However, I will take your advice. Once the Illuminate threat returns, I shall wield the Punisher again, and do my best upon the skeet range.

This thread ought to be required reading for newcomers. Every race is best engaged with different tactics, and they don’t get more different than squiddies!

Bare in mind this thread has aged. Early 2019 advise is less applicable because higher difficulties were released since then; councillors are more frequent at the top 3 levels, sometimes spawning around you in a wide ring of mind control & death ball mayhem. Even scouts can (briefly) mind control - there’s a lot of MC madness getting around now at the top end; get familiar at the Helldive & lower levels first before diving into the most special levels of hell. :wink:

  1. Bring a shield. It stops the mind control when active. At higher difficulties don’t leave home without it.
  2. Punisher shotgun is very efficient against Squid probes. Try it! If you’re switched on you’ll avoid a lot of alerts with this, but bring something else for the heavier enemies.
  3. No AT required! Only race that doesn’t really demand an AT weapon - use that opportunity to bring other heavy weapons, like MGs, grenade launchers or even vehicles that lack an AT weapon like IFV, EXO44 Walker or (if you have it) an EXO48 Obsidian. I’ve always enjoyed fighting Squiddies for this reason - you can bring stuff that’s normally higher risk to carry because Squids don’t have tanks.
  4. Practice dodgeball. Those balls of doom the councillors throw around are a minigame unto themselves, but you can shoot the balls - and you should!

Lastly, try to get used to reversed controls. It sucks, but it happens. Learn to manage well enough to at least move around reversed.


The baby bear stratagem is the dum dum…as long as you can aim and move efficiently with it (this is read as melee dodge). Why?

  1. Unlike any other blue, is supports tactical reload, which means you can have a 3 second reload down from 4. This is very important because apprentice blasts come out in 4ish, which means if you have a 5 second reload weapon, you will constantly be hunting for a safe moment to reload
  2. It has high burst damage vs sustain (which the 2 machine guns have). This is preferrable to take down council members, removing 1 quickly can mean the difference between success and a wipe
  3. It kills efficiently through shields

The 2 areas it’s lacking are:

  1. No indirect fire means you can be neutered by obelisks
  2. Medium rate of fire and single projectile shots means this gun is not so great for clearing scouts

Agreed. Wouldn’t suggest using it to hit anything small. But hell with the buffed damage this thing now drops a Councilor in under 2 seconds; that will however consume most of it’s magazine, so it’s a “squash one then reload” approach. For perspective, this is (I think?) one of only two magazine weapons that can kill a Councilor without reloading - the other being the humble MG94 beltfed machine gun.

A laser cannon takes maybe 3-4 seconds to achieve the same (remember, Laser Cannon does DOUBLE damage when it hits centre mass - a much larger increase than most weapons), but they don’t seem able to teleport out of it. If you can keep the beam on, that Councilor is toast, and it sheds heat so fast it can soon remove another.

At some stage during my most recent year’s hiatus, the Laser Cannon got a further buff - you can now move around a bit and shoot (at least at tier3). That’s pretty significant against squiddies, as when you’re fighting them movement is life - more than any other foe.

Another good one is the humble Dive Bomb red calldown. One hit just drops their shields, but 2 hits drops the councilor! It’s the easiest calldown to dial with a very fast response time. IDK what else that fighter-bomber’s meant to be doing but he seems to be just hanging around for these things to dive at.

Obliterator’s often overlooked. A councilor that’s burning is one that’s not teleporting, and a T3 grenade launcher can light up a bunch of them. It’s slower to drop them than some things, but when hit they’re not leaving and it lobs over walls.

I agree with Tactu about prioritizing these guys, dropping even 1 councilor greatly improves the chances of avoiding a wipe!

P.S. - anyone tried a flame thrower on high tier Squiddies lately? It’s been buffed - I’m game!

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Flame thrower is good for area of denial as always and can help against outcast n packs - and focus on help, they will get through the flames! But it’s rotten against council members, the orbs will cause flame pools to appear anywhere they impact and that can mean you can get a flame pool at your feet which will knock you down almost immediately. Not recommended until you’re hitting them with the flame from the side or behind

Interesting discussion

From my experience, when I was going into The Inner Circle of Hell vs Illuminates in Retaliatory Strike, my go-to primary weapon was the AC-5 Arc Shotgun. I was also using the A/RX-34 Railcannon Turret. I do agree that Recoilless Rifle is not a good choice against Illuminates (because of their shields and because it can’t destroy a closed Obelisk either).

Thanks for sharing that, was cool actually. THe combination of fire walls, an Arc-5 as a defensive weapon (orb busting forever - no reloads to consider) and the towers to shoot beyond your position is pretty smart.

Tactu’s comment on flamers vs council members, yeah, they don’t work for other reasons too. The weapon doesn’t do enough to damage them.

I did however find the flame pistol is sufficient to defeat Cybrog shield bearers, which are a regular pest enemy vs high tier borg. So if it’s unsafe to remove a cluster by the usual methods (charge or flank), you can remove a group head on with it - they get ignited by the flamer and stand in the fire spot. It downs them in about 3 seconds.