What to expect: Mass Effect 3

Much of this information comes straight from the lips of the developers, and there are a lot of juicy details here: many of which could be classed as spoilers.

NameMass Effect 3
Summary:It'll be a long wait for ME3: let's all hope it's worth it.
Games Info:Developer: BioWare; Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform:PC,PS3,Xbox 360
Test Platform:PC

The July 2011 edition of the UK’s Xbox World magazine featured a lengthy article on Mass Effect 3, most of which was promptly and excitedly reposted on BioWare’s forums. Much of the information comes straight from the lips of the developers, and there are a lot of juicy details here, many of which could be classed as spoilers. Read on if you want to know more, or turn away and pretend you never saw this article if you want to come to the new game with a clear mind.

First up is the matter of squadmates. Executive producer Casey Hudson notes that “twelve was a big number in Mass Effect 2 – almost too big” and claims that the new game will feature a smaller squad with “deeper relationships and more interesting interplay”. Liara, Kaidan or Ashley, Jack and Garrus all return as squad members, though all with substantial redesigns by the original artists. And Hudson notes that “every main character is in Mass Effect 3 somewhere” – even if they’re not in Shepard’s squad.

As for Shepard herself – yeah, that’s right, FemShep and proud – Hudson notes that she is “more agile than ever before – you’re falling, climbing, jumping, rolling between cover, SWAT turning, you can melee and grab enemies over cover objects... there’s a new heavy melee attack for every class.” Shepard’s new-found mobility is an important part of combat, as the level design is much more unpredictable and varied. Says Hudson: “You could always tell when a fight was coming [in Mass Effect 2]. You would walk into a room filled with low cover and before we could get dramatic about it, you already knew a fight was coming. So now we’re building environments that don’t have crates and sandbags and that kind of cover; we have environments that have natural opportunities to take cover.”

Hudson notes that Lair of the Shadow Broker is the benchmark for how the team has been designing environments for the third game. “It’s all about sudden shifts in the action,” he says.

And as for the environments themselves, players can expect to visit the Turian and Quarian homeworlds of Palaven and Rannoch early in the game, as well as a return to Tuchanka, a mining base on a Martian crater and the game’s main “showpiece locations” – Earth cities.

“If you Google Map Vancouver the layout is pretty much the exact same as our map,” said level artist Don Arceta. “We really want to get away from arbitrary things placed just for the people working there [...] like, really thinking about how did they actually design this building, and does it function well? These spaces are large enough to accommodate a six hundred foot Reaper bossfight, and a fifty foot Cerberus Atlas mech Shepard himself pilots later in the game.”

For new players, there’ll be an experience similar to the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2. “It might not be comic style, but we’ll do something to recap the story,” said Hudson. “It’s essentially a really fancy save game generator.”

For loyal fans who have played the series from beginning to end, the team says they have a “big spreadsheet” of all the possible choices Shepard may have made from Mass Effect 1 and 2, and that they are keen to continue the idea that “there is no canon except for what the player has chosen.”

Looks like BioWare is trying its best to make Mass Effect 3 the best possible entry in the series. Hopefully the fact the game has been delayed until 2012 will give them the time to make it as close to perfection as the series finale deserves.

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Tags biowareMass effect 2mass effect 3commander shepardshepardme3shep

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Pete Davison

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