Apparently we haven't seen everything Mass Effect 3 will have to offer. During today's EA investor conference call, they hinted at "new ways to play Mass Effect 3" and other innovations be revealed at E3. They also mentioned their plans for ME3 to appeal to an even wider audience. That recently announced delay, for instance, was because they are "purposefully shifting it to address a larger market opportunity." Mass Effect 3 will belong in both genres, shooter and RPG. As a die-hard Mass Effect fan I have to speculate what this means for ME3.
I imagine the "new way to play" and making the game appeal to a wider audience must be connected. Let's start with the obvious: multiplayer. Both competitive and cooperative multiplayer would be new to the series but BioWare has denied Mass Effect games would feature multiplayer in the pastt. However, Casey Hudson recently said a Mass Effect MMO "would make sense." Plus, what's more mainstream than a shooter with multiplayer? It makes the most sense but I personally think it would be a terrible idea.
Another option is kind of out there, so brace yourself. Nintendo is planning on launching a console in 2012 with HD graphics that will be able to compete with PS3 and Xbox 360. In the conference call EA said Mass Effect 3 would "launch simultaneously on all platforms." Could they mean Nintendo's upcoming console too? If that new console is capable of playing a game as powerful as Mass Effect, EA would have no reason not to publish this game for it if they want to expand their audience. Plus the Nintendo announcement came just a week before BioWare confirmed Mass Effect 3 was getting delayed. Coincidence? And how long does it take to make a port?
Mass Effect mobile games haven't been successful in the past but that doesn't mean EA is over the idea. Mass Effect Galaxy wasn't the iPhone RPG gamers wanted but according to a chart on EA's site a handheld or mobile Mass Effect property will be out by the end of the fiscal year. A mobile game, or even a 3DS game could be possible, although an interactive graphic novel might be more on par with the iPhone's capabilities. On the subject of 3D, Mass Effect 3D isn't far-fetched.
Both Xbox 360 and PS3 have motion sensing peripherals that for the most part go unused. BioWare could develop planet mining mini-games where you use your body and arm movements to mine planets for Palladium. Okay, I'm mostly joking, but they have expressed interest in taking advantage of the Kinect and Move's capabilities, motion Mass Effect is possible.
One of my fears is that when EA says they want to appeal to a larger market it actually means more shooter and less RPG. Mass Effect 2 lost many of the features that made ME1 a more hardcore RPG, such as inventory menus and character customizations like charisma. Mass Effect 2 on the other hand walked the fine line between RPG and shooter. The only way Mass Effect 3 could be less RPG is by taking out some of the dialogue and character choices, two defining features of the series. While all those words may not appeal to a more casual audience, it would infuriate the RPG fans who have carried the series from day one id they cut back.
We'll know for sure in a few weeks when E3 gets started and you can guarantee I will be talking about it.
Tips, suggestions? Find me on Twitter.