BioWare has gotten the formula for a successful action-RPG down pat, a fact proven by both Dragon Age and Mass Effect. But BioWare’s Casey Hudson has now explained that fans of the series are in for some significant changes with Mass Effect 3. Not only will completely new enemy types be introduced to the “only trilogy in gaming,” but players will be able to take aim at certain points on their opponent’s body, drastically changing the flow of the fight.

We’ve known for some time that Mass Effect 3 would be subtly shifting even closer to the slick shooting mechanics of Mass Effect 2, but these new details are a sign of much greater depth than even we had expected.

To date, the enemies of the Mass Effect universe have been relatively simply opponents. Firing on them takes off a standard amount of damage, with shots to the head taking slightly more off of their health bars. Some of Mass Effect 2‘s DLC offerings showed that the developers were looking to explore more areas of combat, particularly in boss battles. As a result, we had suspected that the new mechanics would be used more frequently in the third game.

While the latest Mass Effect 3 screenshots gave a look at the Cerberus operatives that will be giving Commander Shepard a hard fight, but the Reapers are going to be causing the biggest problems. The ship-sized creatures won’t be doing the main fighting, but taking over other creatures to act as their footsoldiers.

In an interview with PC Gamer, Hudson explained just how much a dose of Reaper technology will change the way past enemies fight:

“It’s quite different, that’s where we’re putting a lot of our fun new special activities, around these new abilities that they have. So we’re giving them heavier melee stuff that they might do, or one of them is able to suck back the health of the enemies you’ve killed around it. So as you’re killing enemies next to it, your squadmates are working on this character, and it’s able to suck in the health. You start thinking about tactically, “is it better to work on this character first, or fight the guys first to get them all cleared out? Because it’s going to suck their health if I try and fight them both?

“So they have special abilities that their origin species don’t have, but it’s always kind of hinting back at what that species is good at.”

Fans will be happy to hear that the game will offer some new takes on enemies, but it’s unquestionably going to be the new tactical targeting systems that gets them the most excited. Taking on a massive mechanized enemy with a small fire team can quickly descend into simply crossing your fingers and shooting, which won’t suffice for a game as large as ME3.

The new system won’t just offer weak spots on larger enemies, but alternative strategies that could drastically change the flow of combat. Hudson offered some examples of how the system will be put into place:

“One of them is the Atlas that you saw, so it’s the big kind of mech thing. The cool thing about that is obviously once you see it moving, you get more of an idea of what it’s about — it’s a massive, heavy thing that’s got a huge cannon on it. But it’s piloted by a Cerberus trooper that’s on the inside — you can actually see him in there, and if you concentrate on the little glass shield that he’s behind, if you can take that shield out. Then you can damage the guy that’s in there, and then you kill the guy and the machine’s dead.  Or likewise if you kill the machine, then the guy can hop out and you fight him. So there’s some fun stuff in there in terms of fighting a machine that’s actually piloted by a guy.

“And then the sac thing, that’s where the Reaper-ised Rachni has a few of these sacs on him, so as you’re fighting him — in terms of location based damage — you really don’t want to hit one of those things, because then it unleashes the little creatures that are inside that scuttle along and try and climb up you. Those are a couple of the more fun ones.”

The idea of coordinating fire on the pilot of a vehicle to take the superior weaponry out of the fight isn’t a ground-breaking idea, but certainly unexpected in the fast-paced combat of Mass Effect 3. If accuracy and knowledge of enemy tech are important to finding these weaknesses, then the developers statements about leveling being important in combat make a lot more sense.

What stands out to us from Hudson’s comments is also the role that the Reaper-ised Rachni will play. It had previously been hinted that the decision to either save or kill the Rachni in Mass Effect would come back to “haunt” players. If the Reapers are capable of taking over the creatures, then choosing to save the race, while noble, could result in an entirely new battlefront for Shepard and his crew.

What do you think of the new targeting system and alternative combat strategies that BioWare has come up with? Has this gotten you excited for some new gameplay, or is it a little late in the game to be changing the formula?

Mass Effect 3 is set to be released in early 2012 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

Source: PC Gamer