Mass Effect 3’s Bonus Content Announced

Bioware recently released some info on the bonuses you’ll receive if you pre-order Mass Effect 3. It’s pretty mild in terms of content but I’m going to write this article as an opportunity to release some of the pent up anticipation I have for the game’s upcoming release in March.

So here we go. The ME3 pre-order offers several in-game items that you won’t be able to get anywhere else (At least until they’re inevitably sold as DLC later in the year). Almost anywhere you reserve your copy you’ll receive the M55 Argus Assault Rifle. You can see it in action in this clip below:

As usual however, there is additional bonus content available depending on where you put down your reservation; buying your copy from Game Stop will also net you the ‘N7 Warfare Gear’, which includes the N7 Valkyrie Rifle and Defender Armor. Here is a preview of what they can do:

Meanwhile, EA Origin users can pre-order their copy of the game and receive the AT-12 Raider Shotgun. No video of that, unfortunately. It does kind of feel like an unbalanced offer, with Game Stop customers getting an extra item for their purchase as well as not being tethered to EA’s less-than-stellar digital service, but I suppose it’s not a game-changing loss.

The pre-order content isn’t terribly exciting, but that’s exactly how it should be. It would be ridiculous for the extra content to wildly overshadow any of the regular gear in the packaged game. These are just some neat, little, mostly superficial tweaks to the game for those of us excited enough to get in early, and that’s great.

In addition to the pre-orders, some of you (And all of me) have put down an order for the collector’s edition of the game. Of course anyone who has done so at any of the participating stores will also receive the above pre-order content, but here’s a refresher on what the CE itself will offer:

The set will include:

  • A tin case, featuring both male and female Shepard (Hell yea, Fem Shep!)
  • A hardcover book featuring the art of Mass Effect 3
  • Even more in-game content:
    • Alternate squad gear
    • Even more weapons
    • N7 hoodie for Shepard
    • A robotic dog on the Normandy
  • A 4 x 6 lithographic print of the SR-2 Alliance Normandy
  • A fabric N7 logo patch
  • Full ME3 digital soundtrack
  • Limited edition Mass Effect Invasion comic
  • Mass Effect avatars (For Xbox only)
  • A bonus character & mission

Phew. All in all, there is a boatload of added content available for fans of the series who put down some money early. While there’s nothing specific in this list of bonuses that I find terribly exciting, as a package it looks irresistible. Although, funny story: When I first read about the N7 hoodie I thought it was the real thing, which got me more excited than I’d like to admit (The story’s not so much funny as it is pathetic).

Finally, I’d like to get out some of my pre-release jitters:

Mass Effect 2 is hands-down my favorite video game and, in a broader sense, just one of my favorite space sagas told in any medium (I’d probably put it at #3, right after Star Wars and Firefly). It’s an understatement to say that I’m anticipating the third act of the trilogy, but to be entirely honest, a lot of that anticipation is mixed with fear.

Bioware made a pretty drastic overhaul to both the gameplay and direction of the story when they released ME2. All of these changes suited the Mass Effect universe perfectly, and were much-needed refinements in most cases, but there was a large gap separating the experience of the first game (a slower-paced action-RPG focused on racial tension and  galactic politics) and the second (which removed most of the RPG elements and focused instead on an interstellar threat). Now it looks as if Mass Effect 3 is going to be just as big of a leap, bringing Shepard to Earth (Which never bore much weight in the franchise) and marketing itself with purely action-focused teasers, like this one.

Now, to be clear, I’m not knocking any of the games. I just want to point out that a lot is up in the air regarding ME3; any part of the Mass Effect experience that I love could be removed, added to, or changed and I’m very protective of my Normandy. All I wanted from a third game in the series was a satisfying resolution and a more responsive melee attack. The latter has been all over the game’s marketing campaign, and obviously (and thankfully) Bioware isn’t going to show everyone the former. So in summary I’m paranoid, anxious and probably giving myself an ulcer over absolutely nothing.

Mass Effect 3 comes out March 6, 2012.

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