As if the lovely details pulled from an issue of OXM weren’t enough to satisfy your curiosity for Mass Effect 3, a poster over on the BioWare forums has provided readers with some other details gleaned from an issue of Xbox World Magazine.
The information, which we pulled from an updated Mass Effect 3 post over on NeoGAF, has quite few spoilers in it, so if you wish to remain pure and lily white, do not wander off below the break.
Shepard vs Cerberus
According to Xbox World Magazine, the game will contain fewer squad mates this time around as the developers though that 12 was just too many.
“Twelve was a big number in Mass Effect 2 – almost too big”, said Casey Hudson. “We’re focused on a smaller squad with deeper relationships and more interesting interplay in Mass Effect 3. We’re not going to have twelve again but we are going to do more with the characters on your squad including Liara, and Kaidan or Ashley. And we’re bringing everyone back – every main character is in Mass Effect 3 somewhere.”
Characters in the game have had their appearance updated by the same team which created the original characters. Each player will mature a bit especially in the armor department and Garrus’ armor was used as one such example. Shepard has changed quite a a bit as well, especially compared to how his armor appeared in Mass Effect 1. Cerberus heavy troopers will be sporting massive armour, while Assassins will use the same Biotics as Shepard.
Things have changed with Cerberus as well, and it was noted that no matter how you finished Mass Effect 2, Cerberus are now your enemy. Shepard is unsure why at the beginning why Cerberus is sending commandos after him, but he will discover the reason later in the game when the Illusive Man returns.
“You were begrudgingly working for Cerberus in ME2,” said Hudson, “but they’ve gone a bit further and Shepard has returned to the Alliance so Cerberus troops are a major threat.”
“Cerberus Troopers can do everything that Shepard can do now,” added designer Corey Gaspur. “So your fighting a force that’s a lot more punishing.”
“We wanted to make it so that when the player’s fighting in the moment they feel like they have more options than aiming shooting and using powers,” added lead gameplay designer Christina Norman. “We really want to make mobility a factor that plays into combat. You’ll always ask yourself: “Am I in the right position on the battlefield? Where are my enemies? How am I going to get from point A to point B?’
“Players should never be walking into these safe places with great cover and stay there for the whole fight. It’s about how you’re going to move through the battlefield as the enemies through the battefield move through the battlefield and how they’re reacting to one another and to you.”
Location, location, location
While previous article on locations in the game have been talked about already, BioWare confirmed in Xbox World that the Turian homeworld of Palaven and the Quarian homeworld of Rannoch will be new destinations early on in Mass Effect 3.
Players will also be making a return to Tuchanka, and even go on mining missions on a Martian crater, but it will be the cities of Earth which will really standout as the game’s “showpiece locations.”
“The Seatle/Vancouver megacity on the west coast of North America is a truly gigantic space which Shepard will visit before and after the Reapers take it apart,” said level artist Don Arceta. “If you Google Map Vancouver, the layout is pretty much the exact same as our map. Geographically, it’s very true to the real world.
“You play a game like Gears or War and they just have sandbags everywhere, and we really don’t want to do that. We really want to get away from arbitrary things placed just for the people working there, and we’re just trying to really make sense of these spaces. We try to design the arhitecture first before we blow it up, like, really thinking about how did they actually design this building, and does it function well.”
Levels in the game are large, and need to be because players will be participating in a boss fight against a six hundred foot Reaper. The spaces also need to be large so that Shepard can pilot his fifty foot Cerberus Atlas mech later on in the game.
“I think Lair of the Shadow Broker is a good look at how we design levels now,” said Hudson. “It’s all about sudden shifts in the action. There’s a section on Earth where you’re running a narrow walkway and there’s a war going on all around you and a ship is in the distance. Suddenly its nuclear core blows up and its suchs a shockwave that it knocks you off the walkway and you end up sliding down the glass face of a knocked over high-rise and then you kind of roll and catch yourself and all that happens in a moment of gameplay.
“You have control thoughout and that’s when you’ll realise annything could happen at any time.”
According to the development team, the utter scale of Mass Effect 3, including every fight and every enemy, is bigger than anything ever rendered in the Mass Effect universe or by “the Unreal Engine before.”
For the fans
Players new to the Mass Effect universe and just starting out with ME3 can expect to be caught up rather quickly at the beginning of the game.
According to Hudson, the team will implement something similar to what PS3 users received with ME2, but it may not be the same “comic style,” of prequel.
“We’ll do something in the same style to recap the story”, said Hudson. “It’s essentially a really fancy save game generator. The challenge is to make the game better than ever before, to make it a great entry point for new players, and to make it the ending fans deserve. It’s about making sure it starts the way a great story should start versus just being a continuation.
“And thats tough because there is no canon except for what the player has chosen. In the end, its their game.”
Mass Effect 3 will be released during the first three-months of 2012 on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.