Skip to main content

Anthem combos - how Primers and Detonators work, elements and damage types explained

Your Javelin does use guns, but your main damage dealing source are the gears. Each one has a specific element that's effective against certain enemy defences, but also has a bunch of icons next to them. Just what do those icons say? Well they're Primers and Detonators, and when used effectively, you can deal some huge damage to your adversaries. This guide will go over the basics of performing combos, as well as show you which elements are best used against which shield.

Anthem combos guide

Looking for help with missions, or how to get to grips with navigation in Anthem? Be sure to check out our Anthem guide for everything you need to know about Bioware's latest space adventure.

The Storm Javelin is unleashing its Ultimate ability

Combo effects

When you perform a Detonator attack on a Primed enemy, there is a combo effect for the Javelin that did the Detonator damage. So if your Storm teammate used the Ice Blast primer, your combo effect will trigger when you hit them with your Colossus's Lightning Coil. There's plenty more on the individual skills and whether they are Primers or Detonators in our Anthem Javelins guide.

As for the combo effects themselves, it's worth trying to build your Javelin's loadouts - details in our Anthem Loadouts guide - to maximise the potential of your attacks. We'll bring you more on that later in the guide, but for now here are the combo effect bonuses for each of the four Javelins:

JavelinCombo bonus
RangerCritical Target Damage: Large damage to detonated enemy.
ColossusArea of Effect Explosion: Deals damage to enemies around the target affected by the detonation trigger.
InterceptorAura: Enemies near you gain the elemental effect from the combo'd enemy overtime.
StormArea of Effect Spread: Spreads the elemental effect to nearby enemies.

Primers and Detonators

Anthem has three main types of damage. While one isn't exactly much to write home about, the other two complement each other. Below are all the types of damage that can be dealt to enemies in the game:

  • Primer: These attacks coat enemies with an elemental effect that can be detonated for extra effects, but only if their shields are stripped. This is indicated with a black circle icon within a clear circle when selecting a skill in the forge.
  • Detonator: These attacks have their damage amplified if the enemy is previously coated in Primer damage. Doing this is called a "combo" and shows up on the HUD. This is indicated with a four-pronged exploding star icon when selecting a skill in the forge.
  • Damage: Raw damage that isn't affected by any other previous damage. Has no icon in the skill selection menu in the forge.


Knowing which elements you should be taking into fights is also vitally important, well towards the latter parts of the game it will be. In any case, different elements work well against different kinds of defensive protection, but they also have an effect on unprotected enemies. Note that there are also some skills that are listed as "Blast" and "Impact". These aren't tied to an element, but indicate if the attack is an area of effect or targeted skill. Armoured enemies are the ones with yellow health bars, while shielded enemies have the blue shield above their main health bar.

ElementBonus Armour damage vs.EffectJavelins that have the element in their skills
IceShieldsFreezes enemies to the spot.Ranger, Storm, and Interceptor
LightningShieldsApplies the Shock status effect, which deals initial damage to an enemy, and then surrounding enemies will be damaged.Ranger, Colossus, Storm, and Interceptor
AcidArmourWeakens enemies to deal more damage to enemies via guns or abilities.Ranger, Colossus, and Interceptor
FireArmourDeals damage that ticks over time.Ranger, Colossus, and Storm.

How to combo effectively

Before we get into this, it's also worth noting that Melee attacks have Primer and Detonator properties. Ranger is the only Javelin with a Primer melee attack, while the others are all Detonators. Javelin's also have an ultimate attack. For the Ranger, Colossus, and Interceptor, these are all Detonator attacks. The exception to this is the Storm, it's ultimate is classed as both a Primer and a Detonator making it a devastating combo generator by itself. Use this to kill troublesome foes or large groups at a time.

You should have multiple loadouts for your Javelins, reaching the maximum number of five different builds. Try to have one Javelin for solo missions that can use both a Primer and a Detonator attack. A decent example of a combination that works is the Colossus with the flamethrower and lightning coil. Its aim is to set enemies on fire, before detonating them with the lightning coil. The subsequent explosion from the combo bonus from each enemy will make short work of incoming spawns.

Your other loadout slots should focus on your Javelin's strengths for use in full teams of four. For example, the Storm's primary focus is using Primers of two different elements to coat enemies with Primer damage, while the Interceptor uses their melee-based Detonator attacks to trigger their combo. The two also work well during the Interceptor's ultimate, as the Storm can maintain their Primer effect while the Interceptor goes berserk. Rangers meanwhile can use Detonator attacks to target the toughest of the enemies from afar.

That's everything on the damage types and how to perform combos. Dealing damage is just one part of Anthem though as you will also be able to fly around with your jetpack. If you are struggling with getting to grips with it though, don't despair. We have a guide on Anthem PC controls to help get you up to speed as quickly as possible.

Read this next