Store-Specific Pre-Order Bonuses. Mass Effect‘s Got ‘Em.

If there's one thing retailers love more than the used games market, it would be exclusive pre-order deals - which they can use to entice you into putting money down now to guarantee that you'll give them more money later. EA has issued a press release today detailing what you can get for giving GameStop this guarantee for Mass Effect 3.

We first received word of this from Pixel Apocalypse.

All pre-orders receive the M55 Argus Assault Rifle - a weapon which, based on its description, behaves similarly to the M-15 Vindicator rifle from ME2. GameTrailers has a new trailer showcasing the rifle:

Digital pre-orders through EA's Origin Store also receive the AT-12 Raider Shotgun - a close-range weapon with a large spread and fast rate of fire.

And those who pre-order through GameStop/EB Games receive the N7 Warfare Gear pack, which includes a second rifle and a suit of armor:

N7 Valkyrie Assault Rifle – Deliver two rounds per shot with deadly accuracy and stop the opposition dead in their tracks with superior high caliber rounds.

N7 Defender Armor – Improved shields and health, players can survive even the most punishing of battles and withstand sustained enemy fire. The N7 Defender Armor also
offers:

Increased ammo capacity. Additional ammunition compartments to ensure players are always battle-ready.

Amplified weapon damage. Built-in power cells provide an additional punch to weapon fire.

The Mass Effect has not been immune to this frustrating phenomenon, but with Mass Effect 2, the armor was, depending on your class, fairly easy to emulate with in-game pieces. The guns, in this case, don't seem to make a big dent in the weapon balance. With a combination of ammo capacity and weapon damage, and defense bonuses, it's quite possible that this armor will be necessary for a combat-based class, such as the Soldier or Vanguard.

With multiplayer on the horizon, as well, it's possible that these promotional items can tip the balance. Of course, in a non-competitive game like ME3's multiplayer, it isn't a dire issue like, say, Battlefield 3, where the spectre of pre-order exclusive items caused a boycott campaign. However, this is an issue only if these items are also useable outside of the main campaign.

If you're interested in these bonus items, you can find the pre-order bonus page here, and Evil Chris Priestly has posted an FAQ on the BSN with details and some clarifications.

Myself? I plan on voting with my wallet on this issue. I don't need digital guns badly enough to promise GameStop that I'll buy the game from them in 2 months.