Mass Effect 3: Current Information
Mass Effect 3 is less than a year and information has finally begun to trickle out. Be sure to check back to this page periodically over the year as we see more and more info leak as we inch closer to the "Holiday 2011" release window. Also, be sure to check out our Mass Effect 3 thread on the forums, which will be full of info (both relevant and irrelevant.)
Officially, this is all the info that we've been given. The teaser trailer clearly shoes the city of London under siege by at least 6 Reapers. The unnamed soldier in residing in Big Ben is an unknown character and there has been no clarification on what role, if any, he will play in the third game. Accompanying the trailer is a snippet from the EA store, which provides a very broad and brief description of the third game's events.
"Earth is burning. Striking from beyond known space, a race of terrifying machines have begun their destruction of the human race. As Commander Shepard, an Alliance Marine, your only hope for saving mankind is to rally the civilizations of the galaxy and launch one final mission to take back the Earth."
It's very ambiguous, but certainly gives us insight into the main goals of Mass Effect 3. Between this and the reveal trailer, one could assume that Earth is clearly going to be a focal point of the game. How much of the game will take place on Earth is unknown, but it will undoubtedly be meaningful.
We also know through many interviews that Mass Effect 3 will be the last game to feature Commander Shepard and will conclude the current story arc. Christina Norman of BioWare has also gone one the record as saying that choices from the previous games will affect the outcome of the third, even including choices from Mass Effect 1 that had no direct repercussions on Mass Effect 2.
BioWare has also mentioned that they are determined to keep exploration as a part of the game, even with the more urgent story being that's being told in the finale. While nothing direct has been said, it will be safe to assume that there will be some sort of fusion of the vehicle based exploration of Mass Effect 1 combined with the endless mineral scanning that was employed in Mass Effect 2.
Another confirmation is that of Clint Mansell scoring Mass Effect 3. Both Jack Wall and Sam Hulick of the previous games are confirmed to have no involvement. Clint Mansell is famous for scoring movies such as Black Swan and The Fountain.
Mass Effect 3 is the cover story for GameInformer magazine's May issue, which is released in April of 2011. This is the first concrete details that we actually have received about the game when concerning ourselves with the issues of plot, characters, and gameplay mechanics. Obviously, since Mass Effect 3 is at least 6-8 months away, all of this should be taken with a grain of salt due to its volatile nature.
It's an extremely safe bet that Garrus, Ashley/Kaidan, and James Sanders are all permanent squadmates.
BioWare released this in regards to character presence in Mass Effect 3. The article goes into some detail regarding the "story mechanic" in the third game, which is going to revolve around recruiting entire species in order to secure their help in the effort to take back Earth. A couple of conflicts highlighted upon were a Geth/Quarian conflict and a Salarian/Krogan conflict. It's probably a safe bet that any squadmates who had vested interests in any of these skirmishes will be playable to at least some extent and maybe beyond, depending on how you resolve (or don't resolve) said conflicts. Obviously, this is just the initial list and BioWare mentioned that every major character will return in at least some capacity, whether it be a solo mission like Lair of the Shadow Broker or a cameo like Wrex in Mass Effect 2.
This also gives us hope for periphery characters that have never had as large of roles as they deserve. GI mentioned that there were "quite a few hints" dropped in their demos they saw that indicated Captain Anderson would be a party member, but that BioWare told him that he was merely a "placeholder." Judging by the pic above however, he looks to be more of a "chokeholder" than a "placeholder".
The only other character BioWare talked about was the mysterious new addition, James Sanders. Sanders was only described as an Alliance Marine that is supposed to be sort of a foil to a new player of the game. He apparently meets Shepard very early on in the game and is basically along for the ride as the Reapers start to invade. BioWare made no comment as to the fact that he bares the same last name as Mass Effect novels leading lady Kahlee Sanders. Sanders was also confirmed NOT to be the British sniper seen in the "Earth" reveal trailer.
BioWare also mentioned that "all" major characters who survived will be back, assuming of course they survived both games. In what capacity these characters will be featured is entirely up for grabs, but their presence is all but confirmed. It was also known that Jack would be redesigned with the only hints being that she'd be "wearing and shirt and wouldn't have 'as shaved hair."
Above: Reapers attack a moon of Palaven where the Turians fled after the destruction of their home planet.
It should be pretty obvious that Mass Effect 3 is going to revolve almost exclusively around stopping the Reapers. BioWare was pretty tight about plot details, but divulged enough that at least gives us an idea of how the game will start.
Shepard is on Earth awaiting trial for his or her actions in the Arrival DLC when the proceedings are suddenly interrupted by none other than the Reapers! Shepard somehow escapes this mayhem in the Normandy and sets the events of the third game in motion. The Reapers are currently dominating Earth and also setting their sights on other parts of the Galaxy, adding some urgency and weight to Shepard's future and past decisions. BioWare iterated that the story would evolve from one of hopelessness to that of possible triumph, depending on the decisions you make along the way. They were also clear in keeping this part of the story under wraps and said that you won't find out about it until you play Mass Effect 3.
Another plot point divulged is that of Cerberus. Apparently, TIM isn't too happy with Shepard after the events that transpired in the 2nd game and now he's out to get him/her. BioWare says that the player won't know the exact reason behind this until Mass Effect 3 ships, but it could be any number of reasons. One of the most popular theories is that the proximity of the Reapers is so little now that the Illusive Man is suffering from the effects of indoctrination due to his brief encounter with a Reaper artifact about 20 years earlier. Also confirmed about the Cerberus involvement will be the presence of Kai Leng, the Cerberus assassin tasked with killing Paul Grayson in the "Retribution" novel. Leng, a former N7 operative like Anderson and Shepard, will probably act as a sort of "rival" for Shepard for the duration of Mass Effect 3.
Apart from Shepard, the galaxy itself is on the brink of civil war. The Salarians are debating the genophage, the Quarians are trying to retake Rannoch, and many other squabbles are all ongoing and also being derailed by the Reaper invasion. Many locales will be featured, including but not limited to Earth, Mars, Thessia, Illium, Palaven, Sur'Kesh, Rannoch, and others. From some inference gleaned from a Swedish magazine, it seems that Shepard's first stop after the initial Earth opening will be Mars, possibly on clue to set you in the right direction for Mass Effect 3's main storyline.
Mass Effect 3 will mostly retain Mass Effect 2 style of combat. A fast-paced cover shooter dependent on the player, not arbitrary number-based skills. However, BioWare is seeking to make the combat more varied and eliminate the predictable and somewhat boring "Large rooms filled with chest high walls for cover".
All classes can use all weapons now and it's up to the player to choose them. However, Soldier is the only class that can use all types. Sentinels/Adepts/Engineers can choose two, while Vanguards and Infiltrators can choose three.
Combat is going to be "more varied" and encounters will be with different types of enemies. Husks of all species will be a prominent enemy, as will oversized Cerberus troops. There was also a promise for more emphasis on melee combat, with each class having a unique melee attack.
The Mako/Hammerhead and scanning mechanic in side missions is apparently being reworked although the final set up is still up in the air.
There are richer RPG elements, allowing for powers to evolve multiple times and be more varied.
Enemy AI is set to be more visceral and cohesive, as opposed to the "clump together, find cover, and occasionally shoot" formula from Mass Effect 2.
Weapon customization is back, but in a different capacity. Weapons will be modified with parts that will affect the weapons in a more Mass Effect 1 style, both in their functionality and outward appearance. However, weapon progression will be much more in line with Mass Effect 2.
There was no word on the status of "power cooldowns" or thermal clips.
Vanguards will be "improved" and tech armor will "return" although the latter might see a aesthetic change.
Gameplay speed will be increased "from 10-15 percent" making the game play faster than Mass Effect 2.