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.