This week, Microsoft began it's "Fall Preview" program for the new Xbox 360 dashboard. The preview program allows users to try the next generation dashboard before the rest of the world, but for many users it came with an extra treat -- Mass Effect 3.
The game was not planned to be available to the public, which is obvious through the placeholder textures and music not intended for release. BioWare quickly released a statement, as well as pulling the game. The company said that:
As most of you know by now, this evening an accidental leak occurred of some early Mass Effect 3 beta code. Microsoft has advised us that through human error at their end, content which was meant for internal beta testing was flagged incorrectly and released to individuals who had signed up for the beta of the Xbox Live dashboard update. It has since been taken down and deactivated.
This is a big deal. The leak that was online contains a large chunk of the game, it's playable, and it reveals new features about the service. Play Mag reports that new modes are as follows:
Action Mode: For those who want to emphasize action and combat and minimize story management.
Story Mode: For those who want to emphasize story immersion and minimize combat pressure. Story mode will set manually-selectable replies in conversation and a minimal combat difficulty.
RPG Mode: For those who want to explore both realms of story and combat. RPG mode will set manually-selectable replies in conversation and a normal combat difficulty.
The beta also has support for EA's Origin service, as well as multiplayer baked in. Multiplayer contains two maps; "White" and "Ghost" and has playable races of those in the Mass Effect Universe. Play Mag says that those who tried the Multiplayer weren't impressed at this stage.
BioWare went on to say that:
We’d like to stress that the leaked code is in a rough, unfinished state and was not meant for public release. The content is not final, and is not reflective of the quality of the finished, polished game due for release on March 6, 2012 (March 9 in Europe).
One feature that was present in this early build is a set of game play modes that are in development. In the beta code they are referred to as “action mode”, “story mode” and “RPG mode”. We want to stress that these features are still in the early stages of development and will receive considerable iteration and refinement. These modes are designed to give players an even finer degree of control over their game experience than ever before. Whether it be someone who finds the combat difficult but wants to experience the amazing story, someone who wants to focus on the action and combat game play, or fans who want the rich, story-driven RPG Mass Effect experience they’ve come to love – Mass Effect 3 will support all of these options. We’ll have more info in the days ahead!”
This is a serious blow for BioWare, as most companies like to be able to tease releases like this and keep the story exciting and secret.
Unfortunately the game cannot be played anymore, even if downloaded, as you need to be connected to Xbox Live to play single player and multiplayer. We hope this isn't a view of whats to come.
We've embedded the mind-boggling first 14 minutes of gameplay. If you dislike spoilers, you'll probably want to avoid this one.