"Mass Effect 3" is coming out later this year, during the holiday season. The very last downloadable add-on pack for "Mass Effect 2" hit at the end of last month, offering players a glimpse of the grim future to come in BioWare's upcoming trilogy-capper. Details about the game have been relatively sparse -- really, that's an understatement... we don't know anything -- until now, thanks to a new cover story in the latest issue of Game Informer.
The GI issue isn't out, but one NeoGAF poster managed to snag a look. Let's start with the characters. Liara T'Soni, Ashley/Kaiden (depending on the events of the first game) and Garrus will all be able and playable "to some extent." Where applicable, the character(s) will also have to have survived the previous game's suicide mission. Also playable will be James Sanders, which is very likely a nod to the "Mass Effect" novels.
Wrex, Legion, Mordin, Anderson, Udina and, of course, The Illusive Man will also be returning, though all are confirmed to be non-playable characters. The story will apparently open with the Reaper invasion of Earth, which is also where Commander Shepard happens to be in the aftermath of events laid out in the final "ME2" DLC pack. Cerberus is also apparently out to kill Shepard in this story -- and The Illusive Man plays a key role -- but there's no indication as to whether the end of the previous game influences that.
On the gameplay side, BioWare is shooting to strike a balance between the RPG-heavy focus of the first game and the more action-oriented play of the second. Skill trees will be larger and individual powers will reach multiple benchmarks at which they offer added effects.
On the weapons side, "ME3" will borrow the ME2" approach of serving up a small assortment of firearms, each with unique attributes, though the first game's weapon mods will be returning. Any character class can use any weapon, though which class you are dictates how many you can carry into a given mission. The Soldier, for example, can bring them all.
Also, there's no multiplayer. Seriously-- was anybody expecting or hoping for multiplayer?