THE BUZZ: The Mass Effect franchise has been no stranger to controversial gameplay decisions over its lifetime, and now it looks like we can chalk another one up. Last night, Xbox Live members that received access to the 360 dashboard preview program were welcomed with an option to download a beta of Mass Effect 3—one that according, to members of NeoGaf, contained not only multiplayer portions of the game, but also a chunk of the single-player campaign that revealed some previously unknown details.
The most potentially controversial bit of the beta has to be the inclusion of three separate single-player modes (each of which seem to cater to the different play styles Mass Effect offers): Action mode, story mode, and RPG mode.
- Action Mode: For those who want to emphasize action and combat, while minimizing story management. Action mode will set automatic replies in conversation and a normal difficulty.
- Story Mode: For those who want to emphasize story immersion and minimize combat pressure. Story mode will set manually-selectable replies in conversations, while having lower combat difficulty.
- RPG Mode: 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.
Along with this information, a slew of pictures were taken by NeoGaf members that got their hands on the leak. Once discovered, the content was quickly pulled and Bioware released a statement on their message board saying:
“As most of you know by now, this evening an accidental leak occurred of some early Mass Effect 3 beta code. Microsoft has advised us that through human error at their end, content which was meant for internal beta testing was flagged incorrectly and released to individuals who had signed up for the beta of the Xbox Live dashboard update. It has since been taken down and deactivated.
We’d like to stress that the leaked code is in a rough, unfinished state and was not meant for public release. The content is not final, and is not reflective of the quality of the finished, polished game due for release on March 6, 2012 (March 9 in Europe).
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. We’ll have more info in the days ahead!”
EGM’s TAKE: While we’re sure EA’s PR would have preferred to reveal these types of details about Mass Effect 3 on their own terms, this isn’t really a bad thing for them or anyone else. Three different play modes is certainly surprising, but it also makes a lot of sense with a game like Mass Effect. The series has always teetered on the line between science fiction RPG and full on action game, and it looks like Bioware understands that some of their fan prefer one style over the other.
It’s also a relief that they have the foresight to see that some of us want the both styles of play. In the end, if it means more sales from one crowd or the other, good on Bioware for seeing that type of potential in the market.