Comic-Con 2011: Mass Effect 3 Hands-On Preview - Biotics and Branching Upgrades

We take a quick look at one of the RPG elements missing from Mass Effect 2.

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Here at Comic-Con 2011, EA is giving fans a chance to get some hands-on time with Mass Effect 3. While the demo is technically the same as what was shown behind closed doors at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last month, we took a second run through this heavily combat-oriented section of the game to see if we could spot anything new. Fortunately, it was a successful mission for both us and Commander Shepard.

The first thing we noticed that wasn't really covered at E3 was Mass Effect 3's reworked upgrade tree. The demo started us off with a choice of classes: soldier, sentinel, or adept. Being big fans of shooting people who are frozen upside down in midair, we decided to go the biotics route with the adept class. What greeted us next was the chance to spend some upgrade points on our squad's various skill trees. But unlike the linear skill progression of Mass Effect 2, there's some extra

We should probably note that these aren't the most wildly splintered pathways, but they are nonetheless a different take on character progression than the previous game's offerings. In ME3, your skills start along a single path and then splinter into two branches where you can select only one upgrade or the other along a sequence of possibilities. So, for example, you might reach the point in upgrading your pull biotic--you know, the ability to suspend hapless enemies in midair--where you'll need to decide whether you want a longer duration or a wider field of attack. Choosing one cancels out the other, leading you to another set of options. According to BioWare, this feature has been worked into the game to add a bit more traditional role-playing customization--the loss of which many fans mourned after ME2.

After upgrading our squad, it was on to the same demo from E3. Here, Shepard, Liara, and Garrus have dropped down onto the Salarian homeworld to free a female Krogan from quarantine in hopes of reversing the Krogan genophage. We won't go into the details of this mission all over again--you can read our E3 preview right here--but we did spy one interesting change in terms of enemy design.

It appears BioWare is trying to encourage more squad teamwork with some of the new enemy types. The one that caught our attention the most was a Cerberus soldier sporting not only heavy armor, but also a mighty bullet-blocking riot shield. While there were plenty of ways to take this guy out, the quickest and most effective method involved drawing him into the air with pull--at which point his shield arm floated limply off to the side--and letting Garrus tear through him with armor-piercing fire. Voila. Heavy enemy down.

And that about does it for what we were able to glean from this second pass through the Mass Effect 3 E3 demo: a few more RPG qualities and a few more squad-based shooter qualities. You can expect to see more substantial preview coverage of Mass Effect 3 over the coming months leading up to the game's March 6 launch.

Discussion

29 comments
eliebaz
eliebaz

Never played ME1 or 2, never got the chance, always when it came out i had other games on my shopping list but i cannot miss this one, it looks like an incredible game graphics look lifelike, and i enjoy the concept of future based games. :)

Devchi
Devchi

Everything sounds pretty cool. Mixing the best aspects of ME with the best of ME2. But there's one thing that I wnat to know. ME3 event will occur only in Earth? Where's the rest of the Milky Way? What about the Citatel, Illium, Omega and stuff? Exploring the Earth should be thrilling, but not while ignoring everything else.

CaineFH
CaineFH

I sure hope they make it NOTHING like ME2. ME2 was a mistake, and nothing like Me1. The end of lvl monster in ME2, was redicolious. Donky kong did not live in vain.

stormlord87
stormlord87

It's a swing and a miss for 'role-playing elements'. Upgrade paths and weapon customisation do not make a role-playing game, dialogue does. It draws the player in to emotionally invest in the protagonist and those around him. An RPG also requires that the plot be influenced by the players decisions in a significant way. Seeing how so many people playing ME1 & 2 feel deeply about the characters that Shepard fights with is evidence enough that ME's got the role-playing it needs.

Flamewolf75
Flamewolf75

@SuperSorasx maybe if you chose to give the collector base to the illusive man, the cerberus operatives will be using collector technology.

vadagar1
vadagar1

Skyrim, ME3, Diablo3, SC2 HoTS.... man my social life is so gonna die horribly :D

SuperMessy
SuperMessy

I loved ME2, but hopefully they can add more RPG elements in ME3.

cbb1018
cbb1018

this game looks epic cant wait to see how it all ends

Sagacious_Tien
Sagacious_Tien

Im happy to see that some of the RPG has been put back into ME3. I can only hope that the game has been given sufficient time to be all it can be upon release.

SuperSorasx
SuperSorasx

@Scradin Your theory is pretty sound, but I'm almost certain that it's incorrect. During one of the demo videos I watched, Shepard mentions something about the Cerberus soldiers being indoctrinated. This can only mean one thing: the Reapers. If that's the case, then your ending of ME2, whether it was Renegade or Paragon, won't matter in ME3(In terms of Cerberus' alliance with Shepard). This way everyone will have the same enemy and the main story plot won't be different for the players. You can do some research if you'd like, but I'm thinking your best bet is that the Cerberus has been indoctrinated.

Scradin
Scradin

@punkdsk8erdude My theory for the Illusive Man going after you, is he's, well, selfish. You're not only helping all of humanity, but every single living organism. And he isn't a very big fan of Aliens. Also, when you basically said "Screw you" at the end of the game, you destroyed the most valuable technology he may have ever gotten. So, he hates you. But, if you choose to be a renegade and do everything for him, I dunno.

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

i cannot believe i waited till a month ago to play mass effect 2...WOW it was good! i can't wait for this to come out. But with the new "branching" skills trees, i wonder how skills will transfer if you use your previous mass effect character? In ME2, you had 1 of 2 choices for each skill when you reach the 4th level of it, and it seems like this new skill tree system builds off of that, which sounds great. I'm also very very curious about this mission about curing the genophage!!! In the past, it was always up to the player to make decisions about the genophage for example when doing Mordin's loyalty mission and deciding whether or not to save, destroy, or whatever else the options were with the cure at the end. I'm curious as to how this will all play out..maybe they are trying to cure it so the krogan can raise a massive army and help stop the reapers? I'm also curious as to why cerberus is FIGHTING you now!!! I know it's possible to piss off the illusive man depending on your final decision in ME2, but even if you do choose that way, why would they try to kill you after rebuilding you and knowing you're the best hope against the reapers? well, i guess ill have to play to find out! im stoked for this

EA_LOVER
EA_LOVER

cant wait it will be great

Kazmo-Khan
Kazmo-Khan

I'll admit, out of all the series of games that I've played, the Mass Effect series is the one that i like best.

zync-
zync-

ME3 will be So Epicness then the world will have to make a new system rating for this game.

Ronnie_Rim
Ronnie_Rim

If it has : The story, exploration, and epicness of Me1 + The gameplay and graphics of Me2 = win

Pete5506
Pete5506

Sounds great, can't wait to get my hands on it

Zondergrod
Zondergrod

wtf is with the segmented lens flare? It's been around since ME1 and it drives me nuts.

Okplay
Okplay

Sounds really good,can't await to try out at March :)

perkinsj26
perkinsj26

The Mass Effect series is one of my all-time favorites.

adventurer360
adventurer360

sounds awesome, i liked the rpg quality in mass effect which was loss in mass effect 2.

topsemag55
topsemag55

Sounds good - can't wait to buy this on release.:D

Satross
Satross

Can't wait to get my hands on it at Gamefest in Birmingham ^^

DesertLynx83
DesertLynx83

Sounds cool. Can't wait! Wish I was there...anyone who's there is lucky!