Mass Effect 3 was released March 6, 2012 in North America, March 8, 2012 in Australia, Switzerland and Poland, and March 9, 2012 in Europe. The game was originally slated for a 'Holiday 2011' release but was delayed to "[ensure] that it exceeds everyone's expectations" and "address a far larger market opportunity." Prior to that, Ray Muzyka had stated that the release timing would be based on maximising both "quality" and "commercial success".
BioWare released a Collector's Edition of Mass Effect 3, the Mass Effect 3 N7 Collector's Edition. This edition has numerous exclusive items, Downloadable Content, a free digital soundtrack, and an exclusive Xbox 360 Normandy Avatar Prop among other things.
Mass Effect 3 was also included in the Mass Effect Trilogy, a boxed set containing all three Mass Effect games. The Trilogy was released on November 6, 2012 for Xbox 360 and PC for $59.99 USD. A PlayStation 3 version of the Trilogy was released on December 4, 2012 for $59.99 USD.
In 2021, a comprehensive remaster of all three games in the original Mass Effect trilogy was released, dubbed Mass Effect Legendary Edition. This featured many changes to Mass Effect and its sequels Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3, including major overhauls to graphical quality and gameplay. Legendary Edition consolidated not only the three games, but almost all of their original downloadable and other content, with a few exceptions.
Retail bonus items
Depending on where the game is purchased, what edition is purchased and whether or not it was pre-ordered, the customer may be entitled to one or more Retail Bonus Items.
The following table details which items are available based on which version of the game is purchased, and whether or not the game was pre-ordered.
|Standard Edition||N7 Collector's Edition||N7 Digital Deluxe Edition|
|Mass Effect 3: N7 Collector's Edition Pack||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Mass Effect 3: From Ashes||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Mass Effect 3: N7 Warfare Gear||✓ 1||✓ 1||✓ 2|
|M-55 Argus||✓ 3||✓ 3||✓ 3|
|AT-12 Raider||✓ 4||✓ 4|
1Announced for the following retailers:
4Available exclusively for copies of the game pre-ordered through EA Origin.
A demo of Mass Effect 3 was released on February 14, 2012, for Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3. The demo contains both single-player and cooperative multiplayer content. While all players were able to play the single-player content, access to the multiplayer portion was initially limited. Those who had purchased a copy of Battlefield 3 were able to gain access to the multiplayer portion of the demo immediately upon the demo's release; access was unlocked by redeeming the Online Pass included with new copies of Battlefield 3. All non-early access players were able to play the multiplayer portion of the demo beginning February 17, 2012. The multiplayer part of the demo was deactivated March 5, 2012 though the singleplayer portion remained accessible.
On Xbox 360, downloading the Mass Effect 3 demo and playing the multiplayer portion of it did not require Xbox Live Gold membership. Microsoft temporarily lifted the Gold membership requirement for the demo in the weeks that led up to the release of Mass Effect 3.
The demo features a level on Earth during the beginning of the Reaper invasion, with David Anderson as a temporary squad member. The objective is surviving and making a rendezvous with the Normandy. The Demo then switches to a mission on Sur'Kesh where Commander Shepard, with Garrus and Liara, must save a fertile krogan female from a Cerberus attack.
EA sent copies of Mass Effect 3 into the stratosphere from six different cities around the world. Copies of the game are called space editions and were accompanied by an exclusive prize. They were attached to Weather Balloons with GPS trackers and were launched from New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Berlin, London, and Paris. The balloons were trackable at the Official Mass Effect website.
Players: 1 (single-player), 4 (co-op multiplayer)
Resolution: Xbox 360 and PS3: HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p // PC: Screen & Card Dependent
Publisher: Electronic Arts, Inc.
Developer: BioWare Corp.®
Format: 2x DVD (Xbox 360 and PC), 1x Blu-ray (PlayStation 3), Digital Download (PC and PlayStation 3)
Rating: "M" for Mature (NA), MA15+ (Australia), BBFC 15 (UK), PEGI 18+ (EU), USK 16 (GER)
|OS||Windows XP SP3 / Windows Vista SP1 / Windows 7|
|Processor||1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent AMD CPU||2.4+ GHz Core 2 Duo Intel or equivalent AMD CPU|
|Memory||1GB RAM (Windows XP) / 2GB RAM (Windows Vista / 7)||2GB RAM (Windows XP) / 4GB RAM (Windows Vista / 7)|
|Graphic Card||256 MB video memory with Pixel Shader 3.0 support; NVIDIA 7900 or better; ATI X1800 or better.1||ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB,|
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT 512MB, or better recommended
|Disk Space||10 GB|
|Sound Card||DirectX 9.0c compatible||100% DirectX compatible sound card and drivers|
1 NVIDIA GeForce 9300, 8500, 8400, 8300 and AMD/ATI Radeon HD3200, HD3300, HD4350 are below minimum system requirements.
Wii U version
Mass Effect 3 was released on the Wii U console under the title Mass Effect 3: Special Edition. Development of Mass Effect 3: Special Edition was handled by the studio Straight Right. The Special Edition includes past Mass Effect 3 downloadable content, as well as an "interactive back story covering previous events in the Mass Effect universe", similar to Mass Effect: Genesis.
Copies of Mass Effect 3: Special Edition include the following:
- The full Mass Effect 3 game
- Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut
- Mass Effect 3: From Ashes
- The M-597 Ladon
- Mass Effect 3: Resurgence Pack
- Mass Effect 3: Rebellion Pack
- Mass Effect 3: Earth
- Mass Effect: Genesis 2
- Mass Effect 3: Firefight Pack
- Mass Effect 3: N7 Warfare Gear
- The AT-12 Raider
The game is playable using the Wii U GamePad or the Wii U Pro Controller.
Wii U GamePad functionality
Mass Effect 3 Special Edition for the Wii U includes optional touch screen functionality. The Wii U GamePad displays a map of the current area along with icons for elevators and stairs; turrets and drones; enemies and enemy grenades; objectives; and squadmates. It also displays names of NPCs in the map that otherwise would require players to physically approach them in order to resolve active missions. Using the touchscreen, it is possible to give tactical orders to the squad, such as changing their positions by dragging their icons on the touchscreen or using Powers mapped to the sides of the gamepad screen. Miiverse integration allows players to post messages online and take screen captures of the game in the middle of play.
On Multiplayer, the GamePad screen displays the general kill tally of all players in the game session. It also has a microphone button that allows players voice chatting through the Wii U's GamePad microphone. Miiverse integration is disabled in Multiplayer.
Off-TV play is available on both Singleplayer and Multiplayer. When on Multiplayer, the microphone button won't be displayed but players can tap on the touch screen just the same to chat with other players. Connecting the earphones to the Wii U GamePad will disable the game sounds on the TV speakers. All the game audio will directly stream into your earphones.
Earth is burning. Striking from beyond known space, a race of terrifying machines have begun their destruction of the human race. As Commander Shepard, an Alliance Marine, your only hope for saving mankind is to rally the civilizations of the galaxy and launch one final mission to take back the Earth.
Fate of the galaxy
- Main article: Mass Effect 3 Guide
The story is the "epic conclusion" to the story started in Mass Effect and continued in Mass Effect 2, as well as the conclusion of Commander Shepard's story. The player's choices in the previous games were expected to have a much more significant impact on the plot than the choices in Mass Effect had on Mass Effect 2. As Mass Effect 3 is the end of the trilogy, the developers were not constrained by the necessity of allowing the story to diverge, yet also continue into the next chapter. This was to result in a story that diverges into wildly different conclusions based on the player's actions in the first two chapters.
Throughout Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard will be bringing the civilisations of the galaxy together as allies to take back Earth and repel the Reaper invasion. The player's choices throughout not only Mass Effect 3, but the entire trilogy, will affect the fate of these civilisations and the endings the player can receive.
As with the previous games in the Mass Effect trilogy, Shepard is able to recruit companions that can follow the Commander into battle:
- Kaidan Alenko 1
- Tali'Zorah vas Normandy 2
- Liara T'Soni
- Garrus Vakarian 2
- James Vega
- Ashley Williams 1
- Javik 3
While some squad members are required, and core to the story, some are optional and others are only available for a single mission. Project Director Casey Hudson has also stated that Mass Effect 3 has fewer squad members than Mass Effect 2, focusing on "deeper relationships and more interesting interplay".
1 One or the other, depending on the outcome of Virmire: Assault in Mass Effect.
2 If survived Mass Effect 2.
3 Mass Effect 3: From Ashes DLC.
The following characters appear in some capacity in Mass Effect 3, provided they survived the events of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2.
1 Temporary squadmate. 2 If survived in past Mass Effect games.
The following characters make their first game appearance after appearing in other Mass Effect media:
- Kai Leng, from Mass Effect: Retribution and Mass Effect: Deception.
- Kahlee Sanders, from Mass Effect: Revelation, Mass Effect: Ascension, Mass Effect: Retribution and Mass Effect: Deception.
- Oleg Petrovsky, from Mass Effect: Invasion.
The following characters make their first appearance in the series:
1Requires Downloadable Content
Commander Shepard and the team visit a wide variety of new locations in Mass Effect 3, including:
- A Geth Dreadnought
- Cronos Station
- Jon Grissom Academy
- 2181 Despoina2
Locations returning from previous games include:
Save File Transfer
- Main article: Save File Transfer
As with Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3 allows the player to import their save file from the previous game, carrying over their decisions from both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, totaling over 1000 variables. As Mass Effect 3 imports decisions not just from Mass Effect 2, but the original Mass Effect as well, some of the player's decisions from Mass Effect that did not have impact in Mass Effect 2 can potentially have an impact in Mass Effect 3.
If Commander Shepard died in the player's Mass Effect 2 playthrough, the player is unable to import their save game. Mass Effect 3's story is a continuation of Shepard's story and if Shepard died in Mass Effect 2, that death is considered final. Similarly, any squadmates who did not survive the suicide mission at the end of Mass Effect 2 will not return in Mass Effect 3.
A player importing a save from Mass Effect 2 is able to change both their appearance and their class at the beginning of Mass Effect 3.
In a presentation by Lead Gameplay Designer Christina Norman, at the Game Developer's Conference in March 2010, titled Where Did My Inventory Go? Refining Gameplay in Mass Effect 2, Norman outlined her goals for Mass Effect 3. These included richer RPG features, more combat options and more complex enemies.
According to Project Director Casey Hudson, Mass Effect 3 continues, with adjustments, the approach of Mass Effect 2 by focusing on "an awesome sense of exploration, intense combat, a deep and non-linear story that's affected by your actions, and rich customisation of your armour, weapons and appearance" instead of an approach where the player "(equips the) hero by sifting through an inventory of hundreds of miscellaneous items and spend hours fiddling with numerical statistics," noting the "overwhelmingly positive" response Mass Effect 2 received for its approach.
- Main article: Combat (Mass Effect 3)
Mass Effect 3's changes to Mass Effect 2's core combat mechanics are not as drastic as the changes Mass Effect 2 made to the original Mass Effect; however, improvements have been made and new capabilities introduced. These include:
- Difficulty was increased, with Casey Hudson describing Normal as "the new Veteran". True to the statement, the Veteran difficulty was removed.
- An increase in overall combat speed of 10-15%.
- The player is now more agile in combat. Changes to movement in combat include the ability to roll, leap over ledges or gaps without taking cover first, optimised maneuvering and firing from cover and the removal of fatigue while running. 
- Melee plays a larger role, all classes receive improved melee with each one receiving a unique heavy melee attack.
- Enemy AI has been improved. Enemies now perform specific functions on the battlefield and coordinate with other enemies. For example, "cover buster" enemies, such as Husks, are often paired with a "suppressor" enemy type, which will try to keep Shepard in cover while the Husks get in close.
- Several powerful enemy types are now capable of performing special animated attacks at close range that can instantly kill the player or allies. These animations are sometimes referred to as "sync kills."
- Main article: Weapons
Mass Effect 3 makes several changes to the way weapons worked in Mass Effect 2, these include:
- The ability for all classes to wield any type of weapon. However, classes are limited by a new "weight" attribute which applies to weapons. Weapons all have differing weights, even within the same category. The severity of weight varies based on what class Shepard belongs to. Technically, any character can equip one weapon of every category at once, but going over the character's maximum weight attribute negatively affects the amount of time it takes their powers to recharge. The Soldier and Infiltrator classes have the greatest freedom to wield a wide variety of weapons and still remain an effective force in combat with powers, whereas the more power-dependent Adept and Engineer have the least flexibility in this regard. Most classes can easily carry two weapons with no penalty (or even a bonus) to their cooldowns. With weapon mods and upgrades, a player can easily increase the maximum weight of weapons Shepard can effectively carry. Alternatively, players can choose to lighten their weapon loadout to improve their power recharge time by as much as 200%.
- The return of weapon modifications. Players are once again able to modify their weapons with different parts, such as barrels, scopes and materials, that will affect the weapon's combat performance and appearance. Unlike Mass Effect, however, these new mods do not feature a "quantity". Instead, finding a single "copy" of a mod is sufficient for the player and all of their squad members to use the mod simultaneously. Finding additional copies of a mod improves the existing mod's level (Roman numerals I through V).
- Along with entirely new weapons, all weapons that the player could acquire in Mass Effect 2 are available, including downloadable firearms, such as the M-96 Mattock, though you will have to reacquire them throughout the campaign. The weapons themselves also have upgrade levels which can be purchased (Roman numerals I through V in a first playthrough of a character, VI through X in a second run), in addition to the mods.
- Grenades are more prominent. As in Mass Effect, grenades are now of limited quantity, and supplies must be replenished after they are expended. The new grenades have a different appearance and mechanics than those in Mass Effect. Mass Effect 3's grenades are "round, [and] conventional", they are thrown at enemies and detonate after a short time. In addition, grenades have a secondary effect depending on the class of the player (like the Adept gaining Cluster Grenades, which will split into 3-4 grenades after being thrown, or the Vanguard forgoing the grenades completely for the powerful Nova attack).
- Enemies are also capable of using grenades against players, which can add significant challenge to combat by forcing players to shift from cover positions.
- Main article: Powers (Mass Effect 3)
Mass Effect 3 features larger skill trees that offer a greater degree of freedom when it comes to choosing skills. The player has many more points to go around compared to previous games, allowing them to build up almost all of their powers to their maximum potential. To keep things from being linear however, powers at the 4th, 5th and 6th Rank gain one of two bonus effects, whereas Mass Effect 2 only offered a choice of two evolved versions of a power upon reaching the fourth and highest Rank.
Power Combos have a much more prominent role in Mass Effect 3, strongly encouraging the use of related powers back to back. Mass Effect 2 offered only a few combos such as the Warp detonation.
In addition to Powers returning from Mass Effect 2, there are several new additions to the lineup. These include:
- Cluster Grenade
- Defense Drone
- Frag Grenade
- Lift Grenade
- Proximity Mine
- Sabotage (replaces AI Hacking)
- Sentry Turret
- Sticky Grenade
Casey Hudson had previously indicated that the vehicle exploration segment of the Mass Effect 2 DLC pack Overlord was an attempt at addressing issues players had with the exploration segments in the original Mass Effect, and lessons learned from its implementation could be used to implement similar segments in Mass Effect 3. Ultimately, Mass Effect 3 did not contain any vehicle segments, though players are sometimes able to hijack the Atlas, a Cerberus mech, during combat.
While Cristina Norman has noted that "nobody liked" the mining mechanic in Mass Effect 2, Casey Hudson stated that the mining part of the game would be changed into the Search and Rescue mechanic, in order to preserve the notion of exploring the galaxy in a non-linear fashion.
Mass Effect 3 for the Xbox 360 includes optional Kinect functionality. Kinect allows the player to choose dialogue options by reading the paraphrase aloud and give tactical orders to the squad, such as changing positions or using powers, with voice commands. The Kinect features do not not serve as an alternative control system, but "augment" in-game conversations.
Different play styles
Mass Effect 3 features different play styles for people who prefer a different presentation. The three different styles are Roleplaying, Action, and Story.
- Roleplaying is the same Mass Effect game style as in previous entries.
- Action mode streamlines the cut scenes with pre-selected dialogue options, throwing in a mix of Paragon and Renegade choices.
- The Story style makes combat very easy for players who are invested in the story, but struggle at playing the game.
Play styles are selected upon beginning a new game of Mass Effect 3 without importing a save file from a previous game. Elements of each play style, such as pre-selected dialogue or decreased combat difficulty can be selected independently via the options menu.
Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War
- Main article: Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War
Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War is a "bonus" to the Mass Effect 3 single-player campaign. In Galaxy at War, the player can manage and experience the galactic war on multiple fronts. The system monitors the "Galactic Readiness" level, which is measured by Commander Shepard's ability to utilize assets, such as people, weapons, resources, armies, and fleets, to confront the Reapers. Galactic Readiness is influenced in several ways, including co-op multiplayer and iOS games.
- Main article: Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer
Mass Effect 3 features an online four-player cooperative mission mode separate from the single-player story. In this mode, players can create custom characters to fight on different fronts of the galactic war in the form of initially six different maps. Players can choose to play as human, turian, krogan, asari, drell, salarian, and quarian characters, each with their own unique abilities. Multiplayer characters gain experience through gameplay, allowing them to level up and unlock new powers. Players can also acquire weapons and upgrades.
Multiplayer downloadable content packs added batarian, geth, vorcha, and volus characters, as well as new maps, weapons, equipment types, and gameplay features.
Successfully completing missions in co-op mode can affect the single-player campaign of Mass Effect 3 through the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system. Playing the co-op multiplayer mode is optional, but unless the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut pack has been downloaded, it is impossible to achieve some endings in the single-player campaign without it.
During development of the Mass Effect Legendary Edition remaster of the trilogy, BioWare confirmed that Mass Effect 3's multiplayer would not be included in the final version of the remaster. As of the release in 2021, the multiplayer mode is not a part of the game.
- Main article: Mass Effect 3 Soundtracks
Composer Clint Mansell, known for scoring films such as Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain, composed the score for Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 composer Jack Wall was not involved.; however, Sam Hulick returned, as well as Christopher Lennertz, Cris Velasco, and Sascha Dikiciyan, who composed the soundtracks for the DLC for Mass Effect 2.
- Main article: Downloadable Content
All of the following DLC is included with Mass Effect Legendary Edition.
- Mass Effect 3: From Ashes: includes a new squadmate, a mission, two achievements and the Particle Rifle.
- Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut: provides new scenes, cutscenes, and an extension of the original ending.
- Mass Effect 3: Firefight Pack: contains seven new weapons, two unique to single player, one available in single player exclusively as a promotional giveaway for the PC, and four previously only available in multiplayer.
- Mass Effect 3: Leviathan: features new areas on the Citadel, and an adventure to find the mysterious Leviathan.
- Mass Effect 3: Groundside Resistance Pack: contains seven new weapons, two unique to single-player and five previously only available in multiplayer.
- Mass Effect 3: Alternate Appearance Pack 1: contains an alternate appearance for Garrus, EDI, and Liara as well as the Cerberus Ajax Armor set for Commander Shepard.
- Mass Effect 3: Omega: features the battle to retake Omega with Aria T'Loak.
- Mass Effect 3: Citadel: Features a conspiracy on the Citadel targeting Shepard and the fight to uncover and stop it.
- Online Pass: required to play online multiplayer.
- Mass Effect 3: Resurgence Pack: adds two new maps, six new characters, three new weapons, and four new weapon mods.
- Mass Effect 3: Rebellion Pack: adds two new maps, six new characters, three weapons, one new objective, and a new equipment slot.
- Mass Effect 3: Earth: adds three new Earth-based maps, six new characters, three new weapons, five new weapon mods, eleven new gear bonuses, a new objective, and a new difficulty setting.
- Mass Effect 3: Retaliation: adds a new enemy faction, new enemies for other factions, sixteen new characters to be unlocked over time, three new weapons, three new ammo bonuses, five gear bonuses, Challenges, and "Hazard" versions of the six original maps.
- Mass Effect 3: Reckoning: adds new classes, new weapons, and new gear.
The current Mass Effect 3 patch version for PC and Xbox 360 is 1.05. For PlayStation 3, the current patch version is 1.10. For Wii U, the current patch version is 1.1.
- "Earth" - Mass Effect 3 Announcement Trailer
- "Invasion" - Mass Effect 3 Trailer (E3 2011)
- "Fall of Earth" - Mass Effect 3 Gameplay Trailer (E3 2011)
- Game Informer, May 2011, Issue 217
|Mass Effect Series|
|Games||Mass Effect (CE, ♫) • Mass Effect 2 (CE, ♫) • Mass Effect 3 (CE, ♫, Multiplayer) • Trilogy • Mass Effect Legendary Edition|
Mass Effect: Andromeda (DE, ♫, Multiplayer)
|Mobile Games and Apps||Mass Effect Galaxy • Mass Effect: Infiltrator • Mass Effect 3: Datapad • Mass Effect: Andromeda APEX HQ|
|Downloadable Content||Mass Effect • Mass Effect 2 • Mass Effect 3|
|Books||Revelation • Ascension • Retribution • Deception • Nexus Uprising • Initiation • Annihilation|
|Comics||Redemption • Evolution • Invasion • Homeworlds • Foundation • Incursion • Inquisition|
Conviction • Blasto: Eternity is Forever • He Who Laughs Best • Library Edition • Discovery
|Films||Paragon Lost (♫) • Mass Effect|