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Mass Effect 3 – A Look At Leveling And The New Combat System – Also, Co-Op Missions

Posted by on October 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm

The Mass Effect Trilogy will climax with the long awaited third installment on March 6th, 2012. This should give us all enough time to get a few playthroughs in before the end of the world in December of 2012, which I predict will come via a global zombie apocalypse.

We know that the combat system has been revamped and will feature squad leader style play, as featured in a trailer released a couple of months ago, which is included, below.

We also know that the leveling and RPG elements have been refined and I will be taking a look at those after the jump.

What we know about the combat system, at this point, is that it has been completely revamped. It’s been changed so radically, in fact, that previewers have said it’s in a completely different realm than either of its predecessors.

In Mass Effect 3, the focus will be solidly on third person combat making this game, primarily, a third person shooter / RPG hybrid, rather than an RPG with a few third person shooter elements mixed in. Speculation is that EA / BioWare did this to make the game more viable in the market, which is probably correct. RPG’s still have a good base of players but not nearly as solid as that found for third person shooters. For those of you out there who are RPG lovers, don’t worry – BioWare has enhanced and deepened the RPG elements dramatically, making this a very solid RPG core with a solid TPS laid over it.

ME3’s new combat system will feature a wide new array of cover and movement options, including climbable ladders, the ability to do combat rolls, an enhanced version of sprinting and a dramatically altered melee combat system which will allow 1 hit kills via various punches and kicks with enhanced tech weapons. The system will also allow blind firing and the ability to shoot off armor and limbs. Rumor also has it that standard, round, bouncy/roll-y grenades will also be present.

Yeah, I have a semi.

We also know that the AI system has been updated and enemies will now act as units instead of blindly fighting as single entities and, from watching the combat trailer, it seems that friendly troops will assist in kills by using what I’ll refer to as “finishing attacks” like using a sniper rifle against a frozen enemy to shatter them. I really, really hope I’m reading into this the right way.

And without further delay, here’s the combat trailer. Enjoy!

Another thing that has changed, as stated above, is the RPG system. Specifically, skills will now have branches so a base skill will have the ability to split off into more specific skillsets, allowing the player to upgrade one or the other as they see fit. This will allow a much higher degree of customization than the previous releases and should increase replayability quite dramatically.

We’re also being told that each weapon type will retain the ability to upgrade them with new barrels, ammo, optics, etc…with a total of 5 weapon classes and 5 upgrade types per class for a total of 25 different types of modification available for each weapon, as well as multiple power levels of each weapon class, as before. That’s hot!

Let’s talk a little bit more about the leveling system. The level up screens look very similar to those in Mass Effect 2 which will almost certainly put some players off. Let’s be honest, the skills available in ME2 were a bit sparse and didn’t allow for much customization. If you look at the skill trees from Mass Effect and compare them to the skill trees from Mass Effect 2, BioWare clearly took a big step backwards.

Mass Effect had skills a-plenty. Tons of customization could be done though this could overwhelm players a bit.
Mass Effect 2’s skill system removed a lot of options, which could make the game feel a little too constraining.

If you look at Mass Effect 3, however, it looks like they’ve taken a huge step toward finding a happy median, where players have plenty of customization options available, without having to beat themselves up over which options are going to be better at which times. (I know that when I was playing ME, I spent quite a bit of time laboring over which skills to work on)

Here’s what the skill system will look like in ME3, with the new skill branches available.

The new system will allow players to develop their skills according to their style of play – for example, players can choose to favor range, over power or vice versa. This promises to allow us all to have deep customization abilities without handing us a plate which is so full that all of the potatoes are falling off. That’s good because I hate slipping around in potatoes…it can lead to a nasty fall and I’m old and could break my hip.

Of course, BioWare is leaving in the “auto level up” option but I’m not sure, yet, if it will be viable. I wasn’t too happy with it in the past because it never seemed to assign skills to Shepard or his squadmates in a manner that suited my particular play style. It remains to be seen if that will be any more intuitive.

With all of the new features and changes, Mass Effect 3 looks like it may just be what we’ve been looking for, all along. I loved the first two releases but have been hoping BioWare wasn’t going to strip down the game any further. If I’m honest, I preferred the first over the second because I felt like the second release had been cleaned out a little too much and I didn’t have all of the options I wanted. It seems like maybe I wasn’t alone and BioWare has taken steps to combine the best of the first two games into a Mass Effect mega-game. This excites me and I’m very excited to get my hands on ME3 and take it for a spin.

Also, Mass Effect 3 WILL feature co-op gameplay, as confirmed today by Casey Hudson. We don’t have any details yet but, OMGHOT!

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