Mass Effect 2 to Mass Effect 3: Differences and Similarities

Each game in the Mass Effect series has been a big change from its predecessor. When Mass Effect 2 showed up on the scene, it made massive alterations from the original, streamlining combat, removing many of Mass Effect‘s role-playing elements, and basically presenting a sleeker game experience in a lot of ways.

Mass Effect 3 is poised to hit shelves and digital downloads on March 6, and when that happens, the series will yet again undergo some pretty sweeping changes in the way they play and feel. BioWare recently released a demo for Mass Effect 3 that shows off a few of these changes, and we’ve heard quite a bit of what to expect from the game from its creators. So here, in essence, is everything we know about Mass Effect 3 to prepare Mass Effect 2 players for the next installment: what’s going to be different, and what’s going to be the same.

The Similarities

Don’t expect ME3 to be the jump that ME2 was compared to Mass Effect. The streamlining that BioWare did between the first two installments of the series, making it rely much more heavily on run-and-gun action and its cover system than on searching for RPG loot, is still the direction overall in which the series is moving. But where ME2 was a big step in that forward direction, ME3 is a smaller one — refining the elements set out in ME2, paring a few of them back, and overall, attempting to make that direction work better than it did last time round. Still, expect to see a lot that’s the same.

Series Mainstays: Dialog, Interrupts, Choices

It goes without saying that the essential backbone of the Mass Effect experience is its morality-based conversation system, and players will know going in that making tough ethical choices in dialog will still play a major role. The recently released Mass Effect 3 demo actually downplayed this element quite a bit, presenting players with choices that lacked consequences (both “Paragon” and “Renegade” conversation choices at the few stages when they were available resulted in the same action), but personally, I believe that was a design choice specifically for the demo. In essence, BioWare didn’t want to blow its wad on the demo in even the smallest of ways — which resulted in a pretty weak demo, actually. But the overall assumption is that the dialog system will be as robust as ever.

We also expect the return of Mass Effect 2′s conversation “interrupts,” or quick moments when the player has a chance to hit a button to make Shepard take “a bold step,” such as blasting a mouthy character in the face or shoving someone out of the way of danger. Those choices are always tied to either Paragon or Renegade choices.

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5 Comments on Mass Effect 2 to Mass Effect 3: Differences and Similarities


On February 22, 2012 at 7:39 am

Are you serious?

Play ME2 after playing ME3 and see how much better and more fluid ME3 is. It’s like the leap from ME1 to ME2.


On February 22, 2012 at 8:40 am

I dont know, Im a Mass Effect fan but ME3 seems like it is leaning on the action side a whole lot more than the RPG side. The series is far from where it started in ME1. Don’t get me wrong, alot of great changes have been made to the series since the first one, but bioware seems to want to focus more on the combat and less on the exploration, kinda like what they did with dragon age 1 to dragon age 2. The combat in ME3 is good, based off the demo, but its not as good as other 3rd person shooters such as uncharted or gears of war. Thats why I don’t understand why there focusing alot of attention on the combat instead of the rpg elements bioware is known to be good for. But, I can’t judge it yet until I play the full game. I just hope its a long, deep experience instead of just an action oriented game that is over relatively fast.

Phil Hornshaw

On February 22, 2012 at 9:40 am


Combat has been greatly cleaned up, but the underlying mechanics are still the same BioWare rebuilt for ME2. I played the two back-to-back immediately before writing this article.


On February 22, 2012 at 11:13 am

I knew it to be honest… there’s a pattern there:

ME was a heavy RPG with shooter elements, ME2 was a heavy shooter with RPG elements, and ME3 tries to balance both based on feedback.

Dragon Age was a heavy RPG with some action elements, DA2 was heavy on action elements with some RPG, DA3……

trial and error is Biowares latest method I guess.


On February 23, 2012 at 4:14 am

I hope that it has breath taking opening scene like ME2. ( Shepherd walk pass the ship that roof is wide open, scrap float pass, and everything went quiet just only shepherd breathing).