BioWare is in a great position right now. They have a game coming out that they don't really have to show anything for to get people excited about it. In fact, we've not seen a single screenshot or bit of gameplay footage of Mass Effect 3, yet it tops our list of most anticipated games of 2011.
The veil of secrecy - at least to some extend - is about to be lifted with the latest issue of Game Informer including a 12-page preview of the game. Earlier today, we talked about the weapon changes we can expect from Mass Effect 3 and now we'll talk about characters and story.
A posting on the NeoGaf forums reveals information from someone who has the magazine and I've cut out the relevant story and character stuff. It contains spoilers so if you want go into Mass Effect 3 not knowing the beginning of the story, skip this first paragraph:
"Game starts with Shepard on Earth, effectively on trial in regard to the events of Arrival, and in the middle of the trial, the Reapers invade. Prologue involves Shepard's escape to the Normandy, and off to start finding those allies, fighting Reaper troops (husks of all the different species) the whole way."
[Ed. Note: Read our review of Mass Effect 2 - Arrival]
The reapers attacking earth was the backdrop to the Mass Effect 3 announcement trailer that played at the Spike VGAs. Some initial reaction from fans didn't like the idea of forcing the story back to earth but I'm interested in seeing what it looks like in the Mass Effect universe so now qualms here.
As for what characters will be in the game, the Mass Effect 3 will draw from your rosters and decisions of both Mass Effect 1 and 2 and you'll certainly be seeing some familiar faces of old who were not playable in Mass Effect 2.
"Confirmed squadmates: Liara, Ashley/Kaiden, Garrus (if he's alive) and... James Sanders... That must be the guy from the trailer, I don't remember. [Note: BioWare has confirmed that Sanders isn't the sniper dude from the trailer.]"
The user updated the post, explaining that the preview states that these listed characters are "playable to some extent" so perhaps that's something similar to the Joker sequence in Mass Effect 2. Either way, Garrus is essential.
The post continues, listing confirmed characters returning from the last game for the trilogy-concluding title, as well as hinting at the story still revolving around the Illusive Man.
"Confirmed to appear, but not guaranteed as squaddies: Wrex, Mordin, Legion, and Anderson. Obviously, if they live.
The game will by default feature a "previously on Mass Effect" comic to make decisions with if starting from scratch.
The Illusive Man also plays a prominent role, and Cerberus is out to kill Shepard. Reason why is unknown at this point.
The final part of the description also discussed that like in previous games, the ending can be different depending on how you play the game and what characters you keep around you. My question is whether or not Shepard lives through this game and if you have the option one way or another.
In Mass Effect 1, you need to choose between Ashley and Kaiden so you obviously won't get to meet them both this game, like in ME2. I chose to save Kaiden in my playthrough since I used him and his biotic abilities in battle and never really used Ashley since my Commander Shepard was also a soldier.
In Mass Effect 2 though, depending on how you played the game, you can lose a significant pile of characters or you can save them all. As a completionist when it comes to Mass Effect, I did every side quest and earned every unlockable before entering the final act of the game and was fortunate enough to come out on top with my entire team intact.
With that in mind, I expect a number of the Mass Effect 2 characters to not be playable in Mass Effect 3, but if they're alive just to make appearances in the game. I also wouldn't be surprised to see BioWare add more side missions or simultaneous missions which involve more of your characters at the same time. The best part of Mass Effect 2 was the ending sequence when players could assign tasks to different squad members and break up the team, giving all the members of Shepard's elite team a legitimate purpose for being there unlike the rest of the game where everyone just sits in their one room on the Normandy and only you and two friends go out on missions.
The game needed more of that and I think most fans would like more of that in Mass Effect 3. If you’re a fan of the series, read up on the new upcoming Mass Effect novel and anime feature film and check out the cool Commander Shepard Game Informer cover art.
Mass Effect 3 releases this Fall (rumor: November 8th) on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.