If BioWare is becoming known for one thing, it’s story. Mass Effect 1 & 2 set players off on an epic adventure taking them across the galaxy in an effort to protect humanity from an alien threat. Well, more accurately, had players prepare themselves and their companions for a fight that would some day come. With Mass Effect 3, that fight is taking center stage. We’re all hungry for some clear details on how the final chapter in Commander Shepard’s mission will play out, and thanks to new footage from the game being shown at E3 2011, we’ve finally got some answers.

Read on for details on the mood, setting, missions, opening scenes and characters of Mass Effect 3, but if you want to avoid even the mildest of spoilers, stop reading now.

It’s easy to understand why fans would be so desperate to know more about the way the story of ME3 will be delivered and what kinds of content and mood it will entail.

After all, those who have played the series from the beginning have likely invested close to a hundred hours into Shepard’s journey, and that kind of dedication demands to be rewarded. With Mass Effect 2 taking a sideways direction as opposed to fully addressing the Reapers’ threat to humanity, there may be some who worry that the game won’t fully deliver on the scale and emotion that the narrative demands.

One mission shown from the campaign at the E3 demo takes place on what seems to be a Geth installation, giving Shepard plenty of chances to exercise his totally overhauled weapons and cover system. The crew — Shepard, Mordin, Garrus, Legion and Liara are all on hand to help rescue a Krogan female who appears to be held in a stasis chamber of some kind.

Dialogue exchanged between the characters led us to believe that the Krogan female — who was rather ornately dressed for one of the notoriously gritty creatures — is in need of help that only Mordin can provide. The scientifically-gifted Salarian notes that if he cannot free her and save her life, then the Krogans will be unlikely to aid the Turians. Urdnot Wrex is also mentioned in jest, relating to his inevitable proximity to any fertile Krogan female, but doesn’t appear himself.

Any fan of Mass Effect knows that tensions run deep within the Krogan, Turian and Salarian societies after countless battles and the biological culling known as the genophage. We know that Shepard’s task for Mass Effect 3 will be to round up allies and loyal races to oppose the Reaper invasion of Earth, so one could deduce that this particularly important Krogan female — possibly important due to her fertility or position within Krogan clans — has been captured by the Geth.

The Geth have a history of worshiping the Reapers as deities, so it’s not unlikely that they have taken her hostage at the Reapers’ bidding. Shepard’s rescue of her could be what he needs to get the Krogans on Earth’s side, but the implication that it would also help Turian support implies that the so-called ‘loyalty missions’ could be more dynamic and connected than we may have thought.

This is all speculation off of a few lines of dialogue and knowledge of the game’s universe, but don’t be surprised to see if some of our suspicions turn out to be true. Now exactly how the Geth and Legion storyline will develop as a result is anyone’s guess.

Mass Effect 3 Tali Legion

The Krogan rescue soon goes awry when Cerberus operatives arrive on the scene, hunting Shepard down. Their reasons for hunting the Commander are still unconfirmed, but we think it may have something to do with Shepard walking off with the now-Alliance-branded Normandy that was financed and built by the terrorist group.

From that point on the combat is the star, and while the weapons are undoubtedly one of the sources of the game’s popularity, we’re more concerned with how the third game will bring closure to Shepard’s tale at the moment.

The developers may be sure that the final game will be satisfying, but with backlash over Dragon Age 2 still fresh in people’s minds, blind faith is a lot to ask. What we can definitively say is that if the opening events to the game that we were shown at E3 are indicative of the team’s approach to the brutality of war and the importance of Shepard’s fight, then we’re all in for a treat.

Mass Effect Executive Producer Casey Hudson emphasized that this game would be all about war, and while some may have taken his previous statements to that effect as a sign of intense combat and large-scale warfare, it seems from the story moments that they mean much more.

Hudson introduced one of the sections of gameplay as taking place near the very beginning of the main campaign, when Shepard is facing a military hearing, likely for his affiliation with the anti-alien terrorist group Cerberus. We’ve previously been given details on the massive West coast super-city that falls prey to the Reapers, so we can safely assume that’s the location.

The court proceedings are cut short when the Reapers touch down and immediately begin turning the city to rubble. Captain Anderson breaks Shepard out to help him defend the city and its inhabitants, and players are plunged into the action.

Continue to Page 2 for more details on the Reaper attack!

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