- Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 Developer(s) BioWare Publisher(s) Electronic Arts Director(s) Casey Hudson Producer(s) Jesse Houston Writer(s) Mac Walters Composer(s) Clint Mansell Series Mass Effect Engine Unreal Engine 3 Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) NA March 6, 2012
AU March 8, 2012
EU March 9, 2012
Genre(s) Science fiction action RPG, third-person shooter Mode(s) Single-player, co-op multiplayer Media/distribution Optical disc, download
Mass Effect 3 is an upcoming action role-playing game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Officially announced on December 11, 2010, the game is scheduled for a March 6, 2012 release and will mark the final chapter in the Mass Effect trilogy of video games, completing the story of Commander Shepard.
Gameplay in Mass Effect 3 will be influenced by decisions from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 and have settings throughout the galaxy, including Earth and Mars. Combat has been changed and refined; in particular, the cover system has been improved, there will be more options for moving around the battlefield, instant melee kills and more conventional grenades will be introduced as well as improved artificial intelligence. A four player multiplayer co-op mode will also be available.
Mass Effect 3 will follow from the events of the Mass Effect 2 DLC expansion Arrival and follows Commander Shepard's mission to save the galaxy from the Reapers by rallying civilizations of the galaxy together, while also having to deal with Cerberus, who have decided to turn against him/her.
Players with saved files from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 will be given the option of importing them into Mass Effect 3. If a saved file is imported, over 1,000 variables will be pulled that will help shape how the final chapter is experienced. If there are no saved files available, there will be no origin-story comic for new players to help them make quick decisions like there was in Mass Effect 2. Imported characters' appearance and class will be changeable, with more features and hair-styles included in the character creator than in Mass Effect 2. Commander Shepard will always start the game with some powers. Upon finishing the game, there will be a New Game+ option that allows players to continue playing after the main story ends or start again with their finished Shepard and collect items they missed the first time around.
Mass Effect 3 will have three pre-set campaign modes: Action Mode, Story Mode, and RPG Mode. In Action Mode, conversations will have automatic replies and a normal combat difficulty. In Story Mode, conversations will have manual replies and a minimal combat difficulty. In RPG Mode, conversations will have manual replies and a normal combat difficulty. This last mode is reflective of the typical Mass Effect series experience. Overall, the RPG elements in the game have been improved over those in Mass Effect 2, with a more detailed leveling up system and increased weapon customization. To level up characters, players will have skills that start along a single path and then eventually splinter into two branches where they can select only one upgrade or the other along a sequence of possibilities. Players will also be able to customize their weapons with different scopes, mods, barrels and ammo types. There will be 25 weapon mods total — five per weapon type — and each of them will have multiple power levels to collect. The game will include mini-games (although planet scanning is unlikely to return) and Hammerhead and Mako missions. To select dialog options, players can use Kinect to speak their choices instead of selecting them with a controller.
As of August 23, 2011, BioWare has confirmed the return of previous characters Liara T'Soni, Kaidan Alenko or Ashley Williams, Miranda Lawson, the Illusive Man, Garrus Vakarian, Legion, Samara, Morinth, Tali'Zorah, Urdnot Wrex, Jack, Mordin Solus, David Anderson, Zaeed Massani, Kasumi Goto, Kelly Chambers, Thane Krios, Jacob Taylor and Ambassador Donnell Udina from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Some characters will not return if they were killed at any point during the previous games. The number of characters available as permanent squad mates will be smaller than in Mass Effect 2 for the purposes of deeper relationships and more interesting interplay, including same-sex relationships for both male and female Shepards. If players achieved a love interest in both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, then both previous love interests will be vying for Shepard's attention in Mass Effect 3. This "love triangle" will be resolved by the end of the game. BioWare has also confirmed a new character called James Vega.
Combat in Mass Effect 3 has been changed and refined from Mass Effect 2, and further emphasis has been put on third-person shooter aspects to make the game more commercially viable. In a preview for IGN, editor Arthur Gies went so far as to say the game "plays like a shooter" and that "combat-wise, Mass Effect 3 is in an entirely different space" from the first two games. In an article for bitgamer, Joe Martin gave a conflicting impression, noting that with regard to combat, "not a lot has changed".
The series' cover system has been improved so players no longer need to slide into cover and then hop over objects. Players will have more options for moving around the battlefield, including a refined sprint capability, combat rolling, and the use of climbable ladders. Players can also blindfire their weapons from covered positions, and have opportunities to shoot selected armor pieces and limbs off enemies. Verbal orders can be issued to move squad mates and use their powers with the use of Kinect. Moving and shooting, a previously "suicidal maneuver" in Mass Effect 2, will finally be a viable option because of a revised melee system. Players will be able to execute formidable punches and attacks, and instant melee kills will be introduced specific to each class; for example, by holding down the melee button, a soldier Shepard will deliver a killing blow with a tech-blade in his/her wrist armor. Actual, round, conventional grenades will also be available.
Mass Effect 3 plans to be the most difficult in the series, with increased artificial intelligence to challenge players and increase the sense of reward. Enemies no longer act as individuals as they did in the previous games, instead fighting and supporting each other in units. Enemies include 15-foot tall Cerberus mechs, assault troopers, and ninja-style shock troops, as well as Reaperized husks of all races and Reaper ships ranging from 500m to 2km long. Some changes will be made to already-existing class types; for example, Engineers will be able to build turrets.
Mass Effect 3 will offer a multiplayer co-op mode called "Galaxy at War". In the mode, players will be able to play alongside up to three other players in unique missions that can impact the outcome of the single player campaign. Each mission was designed specifically for multiplayer, and will involve taking over enemy strongholds. By completing these missions, players will give themselves a better chance of attaining a perfect ending in the single player campaign; although, they are not necessary to do so. The mode has been compared to Gears of War's horde mode.
No characters from the single player campaign will be featured in the multiplayer mode. Players will create brand new characters for themselves and be able to play as members of non-human species, including asari, drell, krogans, salarians, and turians. Every race will have unique powers - such as a "Krogan Charge" for krogans and different movement options out of cover between drell and humans - and all classes will be playable. The maximum level that created characters will be able to reach is 20, and just like in the single player mode, leveling up will include skill branches.
Gameplay in the multiplayer mode will only allow for players to carry two guns at a time in their inventory, and there will be no ring menu to change weapons; instead, weapons will be changed by holding down a button.
Mass Effect series chronology
In Mass Effect 2, the Normandy is attacked by an unknown starship and Commander Shepard is killed. Shepard's body is recovered and (s)he is brought back to life by Cerberus, a human supremacist organization led by the Illusive Man. Shepard learns that the Reapers were responsible and working by proxy through an insect-like species called the Collectors, and that they are responsible for entire human colonies disappearing throughout the galaxy. Shepard recruits squad mates, earns their loyalty, and defeats the Collectors after traveling through the Omega-4 Relay.
Locations in Mass Effect 3 will include the salarian homeworld Sur'Kesh, the asari homeworld Thessia, the turian homeworld Palaven, the quarian homeworld Rannoch, a human mining base in a Martian crater, and a giant city on Earth representing the combination of Seattle and Vancouver. Players will also return to Tuchanka — the krogan homeworld — and Illium, as well as the Citadel.
Mass Effect 3 will begin with Commander Shepard on Earth for trial as a result of events from the Mass Effect 2 DLC pack Arrival. During the trial, Earth is attacked by Reapers. Faced with insurmountable odds, Shepard is forced to flee the planet in order to gather support from alien civilizations and mount a counter-attack while also having to deal with Cerberus, who have decided to turn against him/her. It is possible for Shepard to lose to the Reapers.
In an interview with PSM3 Magazine, Casey Hudson said of the plot, "Mass Effect 3, in simple terms, is a little more like the first game. You're collecting pieces of a story, but the more you investigate and explore these themes, the more the game will unlock and you'll see the bigger picture. In a way, it's more of a traditional story where you're learning about things and the plot changes as you find things out." The game will complete the story of Commander Shepard and will mark Shepard's final appearance in the series.
From the start, BioWare envisioned the Mass Effect series as a trilogy, with the first two games being a preamble to the third. For this reason, BioWare was able to begin production on Mass Effect 3 before Mass Effect 2 was even released. The game was directed by Casey Hudson, who previously led the production of the first two Mass Effect games and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. To design the game, BioWare made sure to use fan feedback, similar to what they did for Mass Effect 2. In particular, the game's development team paid close attention to past mistakes in the series as well as the critical failings of other BioWare titles such as Dragon Age II. The team was able to devote most of their time to gameplay and storytelling because, according to BioWare Edmonton General Manager Aaron Flynn, they didn't have to worry about technology as it was "pretty maxed out". Initially, the game was predicted to be released at the end of 2011 or early 2012.
On December 10, 2010, Electronic Arts posted the official synopsis for Mass Effect 3 on their website, although the listing was later removed pending an official announcement at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards. The following day, the game was confirmed for a "Holiday 2011" release and accompanied by a teaser trailer. On March 21, 2011, actress Tricia Helfer announced via Twitter that she would be reprising her role from Mass Effect 2 as EDI, and had already started voice-recording sessions. Actor Seth Green was soon to follow, announcing that he would be reprising his role from Mass Effect 2 as Joker.
The first detailed information regarding development of Mass Effect 3 started being released in April, 2011. On April 20, Belgian website 4gamers.be reported that BioWare were collaborating with Battlefield developer DICE in weapon development for the game. The same day, Game Informer released the first-ever screenshots of Mass Effect 3 to help promote their May 10 cover story. On May 3, 2011, IGN announced that Mass Effect 3 would be presented and demoed by Electronic Arts at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo. The next day, BioWare announced that the game's release date had been pushed back to early 2012, in part so it could be tweaked to appeal to as wide a market as possible. On June 1, EA Games' online store uploaded artwork by mistake which revealed the game will have Kinect support. The artwork was later removed. At the 2011 E3 Convention, BioWare finally confirmed Kinect support in a gameplay video. The game's collector's edition, cover art, a new teaser trailer and official release date of March 6, 2012 were also revealed. For the first time, fans were shown actual gameplay videos, including a 15 minute demo supervised by Casey Hudson. At Comic-Con 2011, fans were given an opportunity to play a demo version of the game. Hudson and lead writer Mac Walters were both in attendance, with Hudson sitting on the Legendary Pictures panel to talk about the upcoming Mass Effect film and Walters sitting on the Dark Horse Comics panel. At Gamescon 2011, a new trailer was released demonstrating 50 seconds of combat gameplay. The game was also demoed at PAX Prime 2011.
On September 13, Casey Hudson posted to Twitter that the game was seeing signs of its final stage of production. A few days later, lead writer Mac Walters revealed that writing for the game was almost finished. Music started going into the game around the same time. On October 27, the development team transitioned into an "editing" stage where story elements were evaluated and key lines or scenes were re-written. Character lighting was being polished as of November 7.
Internal leaks and multiplayer
On October 3, a leaked South African advertisement hinted at multiplayer capabilities for Mass Effect 3. On October 10, multiple BioWare employees took to Twitter to announce that the game would have a multiplayer component. The announcement confirmed longstanding multiplayer rumors, stemming from a BioWare job listing in 2010 for someone to take Mass Effect's "existing single player user experiences and make them multiplayer safe". On October 12, an official trailer for the multiplayer mode was released through BioWare Pulse. Soon after, it was reported that a demo for both multiplayer and single player modes would be released in January 2012.
On November 4, a private beta of Mass Effect 3 became available on Xbox Live. The beta was only available to players who signed up to beta test a new version of the Xbox 360 Dashboard. In a response from Jesse Houston, it was revealed that the leak was the result of "human error" at Microsoft. Houston stressed that the leaked code was in a rough, unfinished state not intended for public release. Despite BioWare's quick response, some fan videos still made their way to YouTube. From the beta, some information was extracted from game files that represented rough notes from early story drafts. In an interview conducted shortly after the leaked script was removed, BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk revealed that feedback from fans who read it might be used to tweak the story before the game was released.
Mass Effect 3's music will be composed by Golden Globe-nominated composer Clint Mansell. Mansell first stated he would be scoring the game during an interview with The Quietus on February 9, 2011. Electronic Arts officially announced his involvement shortly thereafter with a Facebook post. Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 composer Jack Wall will have no involvement with the production of Mass Effect 3 due to undetailed and "complicated" reasons.
Mass Effect 3's weapon audio is being redesigned and refined. BioWare's audio team has been in discussion with other EA studios, including DICE, in order to improve their combat soundscape. The game will have 40,000 lines of recorded dialog; twice as much as the first game and almost twice as much as the second game.
Numerous gaming websites have called Mass Effect 3 one of the most anticipated games of 2011, with IGN ranking it number one in their "Top 10 Xbox 360 Games of 2011" column. Following the 2011 E3 Convention, IGN nominated the game for Best Role-Playing Game and Most Anticipated Game, and EEDAR called it the most promising retail title of 2011. In an interview with Computer and Videogames, BioWare marketing director David Silverman went so far as to call Mass Effect 3 the "best game we've ever made".
Mass Effect 3 will be released in multiple editions. Alongside the regular edition, there will also be a collector's edition and a digital deluxe edition, each of which will include bonus content and unlockable items; most notably, four exclusive weapons found in the N7 Arsenal Pack. The digital deluxe edition will be exclusively available through Origin, EA's rebranded PC game store.
BioWare has announced they will be adding the female version of Commander Shepard to the series' marketing. Often referred to as "FemShep", she will be featured in an upcoming trailer for the game and grace the cover of the Mass Effect 3 N7 Collector's Edition. To help decide the official female Shepard model, BioWare let fans choose between five prototypes on Facebook. Eventually, the fifth prototype won and a new fan vote was held to decide its hair color, which ended up being red.
New copies of Mass Effect 3 will include an online pass which, upon activation, allows buyers access to the online multiplayer mode. Buyers that purchase the game used will be required to pay an additional fee to obtain their own online pass if they want to play the game online. The online pass players receive from new copies of the game Battlefield 3 will also unlock early access to Mass Effect 3's online multiplayer demo.
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