Mass Effect 3 Preview Roundup

By Jonathan Barnes, 7 years ago
The universe is coming to an end. The Reapers have arrived. Earth is lost.

This, is how Mass Effect 3 is set to open.

For gamers who played the recent "Arrival" DLC for Mass Effect 2, this should not come as much of a shock. At every turn, the Reapers get closer, ever closer, to bringing our "inevitable annihilation". If you're anything like me, the chance to fight the inevitable can't get here fast enough. With that in mind, Game Informer's Joe Juba might be the luckiest man on the planet as he was given exclusive access to the first glimpses of the dramatic climax that will be Mass Effect 3.

The Narrative

There's no better way to get started with this preview roundup than with some words from Casey Hudson, the executive producer behind the franchise:

This is what we've been looking forward to the whole trilogy. If you think about the IP that we've built, really every one of the arcs that we've got going are leading towards this long list of incredible moments, and that's what Mass Effect 3 is made out of.
Mass Effect 3 begins on Earth several months after the events of Mass Effect 2. Unfortunately, it's not wine and roses on the third rock from the sun. In the opening moments, Shepard's worst fears come to fruition. The Reapers arrive and overwhelm our defenses.

The rest of the game will have Shepard gathering allies, not just one soldier here or there, this problem is too big for a rag-tag group of elite personnel. The Reaper invasion will force Shepard to gather universal allies, forcing entire species and races to come together to take back Earth and fight the threat of universal extinction.

The Gameplay

Mass Effect 2 represented a huge evolution in gameplay over Focusing more on shooting mechanics, the game became a third person shooter with an RPG backbone (or vice-versa if you're the dissenting type). BioWare was keenly aware of both the praise behind this shift as well as the backlash from hardcore RPG fans. While the gameplay of Mass Effect 3 will closely resemble that of ME2, BioWare has promised to bring back more of the RPG flavor.

Leave it to Casey Hudson to explain:

You start out with some of these basic powers you would have had in Mass Effect 2, but quickly they start becoming evolved powers. That's where we've added more and different options for you. We know that people wanted to have not only the ability to allocate skill points, but to have a little more choice in that.
Such choice will come in varying ability sub-types, meaning each biotic power, tech skill or soldier talent can evolve in several different ways, not just the two that you were restricted to when you maxed out the power in ME2.

This choice factor isn't limited to class specific abilities, however, accessory choice is returning to weapons as well. Gamers will be able to, once again, customize their weapons in ME3 with different scopes, barrels and materials, allowing you to tailor your weapons to your specific needs and play styles.

BioWare has promised that while this new mechanic will allow gamers to shop for more things in stores and allow for greater customization, it won't be returning to the style of ME1 which had gamers weighed down with screens full of inventory that had the tendency to become cumbersome and unwieldy.

Now that the RPG fans have taken a deep breath, I'd like to assuage the panic of the TPS crew. While ME3 will play in a similar fashion to ME2, there are several improvements to the shooting mechanics. Shepard will now have the ability to peek out from cover as well as leap gaps and small objects without being forced to take cover behind them first. Ladders have also been added to the gameplay dynamic so battlefields can now have more of a vertical element... snipers rejoice!

Speaking of snipers, BioWare has also lifted the veil on weapon dedications. In ME3 weapons will no longer be restricted to class, so your biotic Adept can now wield assault rifles... or any other weapon for that matter. Unfortunately, this will restrict loadouts, as you will only be able to take two or three weapons with you on each mission, unless your Shepard is a soldier, in which case he/she can bring the entire armory of guns.

Your Squad

One of the great things about the Mass Effect franchise is that everyone's Shepard is unique and with that unique Shepard, gamers have no doubt crafted a unique crew with whom they like to run. Over the course of the first two games, Shepard has teamed up with over a dozen different squad members each with their own stories, strengths and weaknesses. While some of your crew may have died off at the end of ME2, BioWare has promised that you have a good chance to see many of your surviving squadmates at some point in ME3. Thusfar the following characters have been confirmed as being playable to some extent:

* Liara
* Garrus (if he survived ME2)
* Ashley or Kaiden (whichever survived ME1)
* James Sanders (a new human character)

Furthermore, the following characters have been spotted in the game:

* Wrex (if he survived ME1)
* Mordin (if he survived ME2)
* Legion (if he survived ME2)
* Captain Anderson

Some Final (for now) Facts

* The game is a single player experience ONLY. BioWare has stated they would love to do more in the multiplayer world, but ME3 will be single player only.

* Expect to fight lots of "husks" in ME3, but not just human ones. BioWare has spoken of Krogan, Rachni, Turian and Batarian versions.

* ME3 will feature a "story thus far" option that will allow new gamers to jump into the game without playing the first two. This feature will allow gamers to make some of the critical, narrative-shifting decisions that were made in the first two games.

* BioWare is interested in possibly making a Mass Effect MMO at some point.

* The Illusive Man is back... and he is NOT happy with Shepard.

If you're interested in hearing more about what BioWare has in store for Mass Effect 3, I would HIGHLY suggest picking up the May 2011 issue of Game Informer to read Juba's piece. It's very well-written, tons of screenshots and concept art, as well as an interview with Casey Hudson. Furthermore, be sure to check out Game Informer's Mass Effect 3 Hub (in the external link) for tons of bonus features, videos, art and info.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.