Mass Effect 3 is, without a doubt, one of the most highly-anticipated titles of the year - easily earning a spot on our 25 Most Anticipated Games of 2012 list. However, over the last week, news broke that the action-RPG title would see paid campaign DLC on day one. It was a revelation that undercut some of the excitement for the title - given that certain players felt as though BioWare was withholding content just to milk customers for even more cash money.
The debate of launch date DLC will no doubt rage for years to come but the question of whether or not players will get their money's worth when Mass Effect 3 launches at retail can now be put to rest - since the title will reportedly feature 30-40 hours of gameplay.
According to Gamestar, a German gaming magazine, the final retail build of Mass Effect 3 features:
- A 15-20 hour-long main story campaign.
- 40 hours worth of gameplay time.
- 90 minutes of cutscenes.
- 100 scenes, conversations and/or events that change depending on imported save-game info.
At this point, it's unclear how much of the remaining 20-25 hours of non-main story campaign play will dedicated to side quests versus co-op multiplayer. Though, as we've previously mentioned, multiplayer and side-missions will have an affect on Shepard's overall success at the end-game.
Fans who were concerned that the conclusion of the Commander Shepard trilogy wouldn't finish with a satisfying, or at the very least competent, conclusion can rest assured - as the magazine reports that the title does not feature any "cliffhangers" or major "loose ends."
That said, the magazine's definition of "loose ends" must not cover potential teases about where the series might go in the aftermath of Mass Effect 3 - since there is "an interesting sequence after the end credits." Gamestar doesn't specify regarding what players can expect from the after-credits sequence - though it's safe to say that you're going to want to hold-off on that bathroom break. Regardless of what exactly is shown, expect that the footage will represent an evolution of the story (rather than a simple continuation) - as well as, maybe, answer why BioWare is encouraging players to hang-on to Mass Effect 3 game saves. Maybe Shepard resorts to desperate measures to expel the reaper threat? Measures with lasting implications?
Considering the quality of prior Mass Effect installments, coupled with epic live action and cinematic trailers, it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that Mass Effect 3 pre-orders are outpacing expectations - and are already well-ahead of similar Mass Effect 2 metrics (at least in the UK). According to EA UK product manager Will Graham:
"Currently our pre-orders have broken the targets set, we are well ahead of where we were at the same point with Mass Effect 2 and we have all of the platforms aligned for launch, which is a first for the Mass Effect franchise."
Admittedly, Graham is speaking about UK pre-order sales; however, there's absolutely no reason to expect anything different from North American numbers along with other international regions.
Mass Effect 3 releases March 6, 2012 for the PS3, PC, and Xbox 360.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.