A Look At The Combat System of Mass Effect 3

By   /   Aug 20, 2011

One of the aspects of Mass Effect 3 that is getting a lot of attention, both by fans and developers, is the combat mechanics. The story has always been great, and we expect the trend to carry into Mass Effect 3, but the combat was somewhat questionable in the original Mass Effect, and though it improved in the sequel, it seemed too linear and shooter-styled, lacking adequate RPG flavor.

All that is about to change in Mass Effect 3, and the GamesCom combat trailer of the game was just a very brief, very quick well, trailer, of the real deal. Personally ask me and I’ll say that the trailer didn’t contain anything special or out of the ordinary. In fact, I even daresay that it was a lacky display of the true potential of the combat mechanics of the game.

Mass Effect 3 has changes in its combat that will really encourage tactical play, positioning, and better use of your squad. What’s most important is that Shepard now has a melee weapon, which is a very, very good thing, despite what some might have to say. I can remember a dozen of times when a raging krogan was less than a foot away from me, and I was shooting at the mass figure while he head-butted my Shepard, killing him in the process. No more of that annoyance with the great new Omni-Blade!

Yes, the Omni-blade is basically an enhanced version of the Omni-tool; it is the normal Omni-tool, but can evolve into an orange holographic blade that can slice through enemies close enough to be sliced through. The trailer only showed us very brief use of the blade, but this will certainly become your best friend when it comes to fights in narrower areas and for finishing off squishier enemies without wasting time.

The Omni-blade may sound a bit of an action-oriented tool, but many other additions that encourage RPG-styled gameplay. The squad commanding options were always there for us, but truthfully they were barely ever needed in either one of the first two games of the series, save for a few relatively harder locations. Squad control has become more advanced, in the sense that there are a lot more tactical options and many more occasions where you’ll be forced to use your squad’s skills to overcome enemies as a team.

Kinect owners will be glad to know that there is also the liberty of voice command. You can give tactical commands to the teammate of your desire verbally, and they almost always responds efficiently. Using teammates to draw fire, flank enemy units, or simply raise an enemy into the air is now an easy option.

Another very, very important aspect of the game is that the fights will be a lot less easy. The AI will be smarter, and you’ll be forced to use tactics and smart cover to live through a gunfight. In simple words, the difficulty has been increased a notch. You’ll need the right set of equipment (yes, equipment will matter much more) and tactics to annihilate enemies. This is a very positive change in my opinion, as previously majority of the fights felt more like intrusions in the main plot and not individual battles for survival.

The cover mechanics have also been changed a bit. The new system introduces better flow in the combat, and allows Shepard to keep his momentum while moving from one cover to another. Shepard can do a commando roll to dodge enemy fire when exposed, and he can move from one cover point to another without intrusion or having to manually get out of cover, something like the system in Gears of War.

A lot of people had complaints about how simplified the character development system of Mass Effect 2 was as compared to its predecessor. The development system in ME3 will be a bit more like the original game’s. There are more choices to choose from, and you can head in a gazillion different directions depending on how you choose to spend your points.

The first few upgrades for a certain power will be pretty linear, but the last few will offer players different choices. For example, upgrading Liara’s singularity will at the end give you a choice of either increasing the recharge speed of the ability or have it do much more damage. There are various options like these for every character, and if you have good sense in character development, then you could create a nearly impenetrable squad of over-pumped bad-asses.

It’s a great thing for both Bioware and fans that Mass Effect 3 seems to be heading in the right direction so far. We’ve already shown appreciation for its potential story, characters and how well it connects with the previous games and their characters.

Now we’re even gladder that the combat is shaping up to be challenging, tactical, and with lots of options. If things keep up the way they have so far, I would not hesitate to say that Mass Effect 3 could be one of the most epic games of 2012, let alone the most epic of the series.

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