Yesterday the first artwork for Mass Effect 3 graced the cover of a magazine in teasing of a lengthy and in-depth preview of the game that releases this month. It featured the game’s protagonist, Commander Shepard, standing heroically in front of an earth facing imminent destruction.

What’s inside the 12-page of that Game Informer exclusive has begun to trickle online and now we have details about several aspects of the games. Let’s talk about the weapons of Mass Effect 3 and how they compare to the first two games in the series.

[Update: Read our report on Mass Effect 3 Story and Character hints]

Mass Effect 1 featured a wide array of weapons that could be picked up, modded and exchanged between team members. As you leveled up and explored, you were often rewarded with plenty of loot – it worked like most RPGs and MMORPGs in that regard.

In terms of the uniqueness of Mass Effect weapons vs. other shooters, the original game featured no ammo system. Instead, courtesy of “mass driver” technology, a weapon had limitless ammo but was susceptible to overheating. Here’s the official explanation of Mass Effect weapon tech:

All weapons in Mass Effect fire metal projectiles using mass accelerator technology. Element zero cores reduce the weight of the projectile, allowing relatively tiny projectiles to be fired at extremely high speeds. The bullet, once fired, shatters or flattens when it strikes the target, increasing the force imparted, rather than punching a hole straight through.

Weapons in the Mass Effect universe have effectively infinite ammunition. The ammo is broken off from a solid block of metal near the rear of the gun and is deposited directly into the barrel. Since the bullets fired are tiny, this block is dense enough to allow for an effectively infinite amount of projectiles to be detached. Each weapon determines the necessary weight needed for the block to reach the target and slices the blocks off as a result.

So all of those words translate to unlimited ammo with overheating. Moving on to Mass Effect 2, BioWare attempted to limit weapons in a way by adding heat sink system where weapons could only fire so many shots before a heat sink (a lame attempt at an ammo cartridge hybrid system) would need to be replaced. Heat sinks were all the same, used in all weapons (sans Heavy weapons) and were meant to be interchangeable. Except they weren’t.

The unnecessary ammo system not only didn’t make sense with the game’s mythos, but was broken in that if you used up heat sinks for one weapon, you couldn’t take them from another… even though you have more and they’re all the same.

Continue to page 2 for a description of the Mass Effect 3 weapon systems!

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