Mass Effect 2 to Mass Effect 3: Differences and Similarities

Cover and Combat Systems

Though it has been greatly refined for Mass Effect 3 and will factor into the “differences” in the two games, if you played Mass Effect 2, you know what to expect from ME3′s combat system. Players will be expected to hit the deck and hide behind objects, blasting enemies while keeping their heads down. Leaving cover is still an incredibly inadvisable danger with enemies tending to realign their sites on your noggin the second you poke it up, so keeping clear of fire is the best (and only) way to ensure your survival, kinetic barriers or no.

Players also will deploy their various “powers” in the same way as last time, mapping them to specific buttons. All biotic and tech powers used this way will have a global cool-down for both Shepard and his squadmates. And speaking of cool-downs, health will also regenerate over time as in Mass Effect 2.

Speaking of squadmates, the tried-and-true squad commands will also be back for players, although now squadmates have a much greater tendency to stay back and out of your line of fire (rather than running directly into your crosshairs and then standing entranced, as in Mass Effect 2). They’ll also suggest flanking maneuvers more often, apparently.

(Some of the) Looting

Mass Effect 2′s looting got a serious downgrade as compared to Mass Effect. Players found themselves gravitating toward objects marked with hotspots in ME2, which they would interact with by hitting a button only to see Shepard unfurl the ubiquitous omni-tool, wave it around and receive credits. That is…well, mostly the same, unfortunately. Looting isn’t quite as minimal or as uninteresting as it was in ME2, but you can still expect to skip exploration almost altogether and not feel like you missed too much.

Melee Combat (or Lack Thereof)

It’s worth noting that, while there has been much made of the new “omni-blade,” the laser sword-like attachment to Shepard’s holographic computer tool, in Mass Effect 3, the melee portion of combat remains pretty well unchanged from Mass Effect 2. Players now have the ability to commit what is basically a one-hit kill or throw on a single enemy by holding down the melee button — which is effective — but melee remains a sort of quick slap when executed as a tap of the button.

Mass Effect 2′s melee system was more tacked-on afterthought than serious alternative to shooting, and while you can now sneak up on people and rip them apart ruthlessly, it remains a not-so-viable system in Mass Effect 3, as shown in the demo.

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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).