Catching Up With PAX – Mass Effect 3 Playthrough

Irene kept me from keeping a watchful eye on developing PAX news this weekend, so apologies for not getting to post these sorts of things sooner. Join me after the break as we dissect a PAX playthrough showing off the Sentinel in Mass Effect 3

Director of Marketing David Silverman walks us through a Sentinel playthrough of the well-publicized mission on Sur'Kesh. In this mission, Shepard must escort a fertile female Krogan through the Salarian homeworld to meet everyone's old pal Urdnot Wrex. By uniting the female with the leader of Clan Urdnot, Shepard hopes to broker a peace deal between the Krogan and Salarians - which would prove a massive help in the battle against the Reapers and, based on their past, would be no small task.

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First off, we'll throw in a congrats to the couple at the end of the video.

Now, this is the first publicized playthrough of the Sentinel class, and the third class to see any details exposed. This video gives a good look at Sentinel abilities, and some aspects of the new cover and combat systems as well.

Sentinel gets some Biotic Love. Squad Menu gets fleshed out.

This is what the powers tree for the Sentinel currently looks like (caveat: Bioware's still working on balancing so it may look different in the final version).

It appears that each class will get an additional power in addition to those available in Mass Effect 2 (my best guess is that the Fortitude you see at the bottom would be gained in a similar fashion to ME2 and is not a Sentinel-specific ability). Here, we see that the Sentinel receives an ability called Amplification - which brings a general cooldown reduction - and also allows you to switch between a Tech mode and a Biotic mode to reduce the cooldowns for respective powers further.

We also get a closer look at how we can spend our points. In GamesCon, we learned that levelling in ME3 would work similar to ME2 with some some minor changes and expansions. Here, we see a total of 6 levels in an ability - up from the previous 4. In levelling a power, you spend the first point on unlocking an ability, and the next two points improving one statistic in that ability. The final three levels are the fun part - each respective level has you selecting one of two possible evolutions for the ability to make. These levels have you making more interesting choices, as well. While most powers in ME2 have you selecting between force and breadth, here we can see that Warp, for instance, allows you to select between an increase in damage or having your Warp field detonate. And that's just the first choice to make to customize this power. I'm looking forward to seeing what else the team can come up with.

Combat Looks Fantastingly Brutal

We already know that the Bioware team's been working hard to improve the combat engine for Shepard's final tale; going so far as to enlist fellow EA subsidiary DICE - makers of the Battlefield series - for a hand in weapon sounds. The assault rifles, in this case the previously DLC-exclusive M-96 Mattock, have a very satisying pop when fired. The SMG highlighted, the M-12 Locust, sound smaller - though submachine guns are lighter weapons, so that's understandable.

Thanks to BogSnot1 of the BSN for this one.

While Mike Gamble, Associate Producer on the Mass Effect team, described the Sentinel's omni-blade attack at GamesCon, this video gives us a first public look at it. By holding the melee button, SentinelShep whips two smaller techblades and stabs a poor Cerberus fool with a forward thrust.

We also get a closer look at some Shepard's other new melee abilities. We see, for instance, that a regular melee attack can now be linked into combos, as opposed to the same pistol-whip animation from the previous two games. In a particular bit of brutality, we can also have Shepard yoink a baddie from behind cover and proceed to omni-stab him while on the ground.

In the face!

While there weren't any big reveals here, Bioware's showing off the revamped combat engine, and a bit of power updates to boot. In short, they're making it really hard to not count down the months until this release.