The private beta of the demo contains two major features:
- Singleplayer – You can only play the default male Soldier class “Sheploo” in this demo. It is actually a two part experience, involving the very beginning of the game, which introduces you to the game controls and tell you a story with the opening cinematics, and an extended version of the Sur’Kesh mission we’ve seen from various convention demos.
- Multiplayer – Galaxy At War, the multiplayer component of Mass Effect 3, adds a cooperative element to resource gathering for the optimal Mass Effect 3 ending. Multiplayer is, of course, completely optional, but can be a compelling feature addition to the franchise. Unlike singleplayer in the demo beta, you have access to all classes in multiplayer, however, you are limited to using a maximum of three powers. The number of powers you have available either correspond to your character’s level or purchasable upgrades called “Reinforcements” (see Customization and Reinforcements section).
The singleplayer portion of the private beta seems to include an option for three game types, which simply bundle combat difficulty selection and conversation mode choices:
- Action Mode (Normal Difficulty, Automatic Dialogue Selection)
For those who want to emphasize action and combat and minimize story management. Action mode will set automatic replies in conversation and a normal difficulty.
- Story Mode (Narrative Difficulty, Manual Dialogue Selection)
For those who want to emphasize story immersion and minimize combat pressure. Story mode will set manually-selectable replies in conversation and a minimal combat difficulty.
- RPG Mode (Normal Difficulty, Manual Dialogue Selection)
For those who want to explore both realms of story and combat. RPG mode will set manually-selectable replies in conversation and a normal combat difficulty.
Not to worry though, because regardless of your selection, you are presented with an options menu – after naming your character and prior to starting the game – allowing you to change the game type settings:
All of the in-game combat difficulty descriptions:
For players who are more interested in story than combat. Shepard and squad members are stronger while enemies are weaker and much less aggressive. Weapons are easier to handle. This is non-representative Mass Effect combat experience.
For players inexperienced with shooters. Shepard is tougher and does more damage, and enemies are slightly weaker and less aggressive. Weapons are easier to handle.
For players with some experience with shooters and RPGs. This is the baseline Mass Effect 3 combat experience.
For players who are looking for a challenge. Enemies are more powerful and aggressive. Advanced gameplay skills will be required.
For players seeking the ultimate challenge. Enemies are tenacious, react quickly, have heavily upgraded weapons, and use their powers mercilessly. Every advantage in combat will need to be exploited.
BioWare producer Jesse Houston has been quick to reassure fans that these three offered game types are simply a prototype and do not constitute the only options that will be available in the final game.
One feature that was present in this early build is a set of game play modes that are in development. In the beta code they are referred to as “action mode”, “story mode” and “RPG mode”. We want to stress that these features are still in the early stages of development and will receive considerable iteration and refinement. These modes are designed to give players an even finer degree of control over their game experience than ever before. Whether it be someone who finds the combat difficult but wants to experience the amazing story, someone who wants to focus on the action and combat game play, or fans who want the rich, story-driven RPG Mass Effect experience they’ve come to love – Mass Effect 3 will support all of these options
This should look rather familiar to players of the previous games in the series. One of the main differences appears to be in the display of the health and shield bars prominently at the bottom center of the screen.
We noticed that health regen seems to work a little differently in Mass Effect 3 from Mass Effect 2. In ME3, you will the health bar separated from the shield bar, and divided into fifths. Whereas health would regenerate with your shields in Mass Effect 2, in ME3 only the current fifth will activate. So, for example, if your health is cut in half, covering will only restore to it 60%. Your health recovers fully outside of combat.
To be continued...