Mass Effect 3 director Casey Hudson has revealed how the game's pool of squad recruits is going to be smaller than Mass Effect 2's, as well as additional information about character redesigns and their combat ability.
"Twelve was a big number [of squad mates] in Mass Effect 2 - almost too big", said Hudson, as part of the ongoing course of Mass Effect 3 magazine content that's being consumed and digested by the internet hive mind (or NeoGAF) as we speak.
What's been changed, then? "We're focused on a smaller squad with deeper relationships and more interesting interplay in Mass Effect 3."
"We're not going to have twelve again but we are going to do more with the characters on your squad including Liara, and Kaidan or Ashley. And we're bringing everyone back - every main character is in Mass Effect 3 somewhere."
It's also been confirmed that Tali is returning as a squad member, provided she survived Mass Effect 2, but BioWare isn't talking about whether we'll get to fight alongside Wrex again.
There will also be no new romance options in Mass Effect 3, and BioWare also revealed that 70 per cent of players were unfaithful to their Mass Effect 1 partner in the second game - a choice that will come back to haunt them, apparently.
Lead artist Derek Watts, however, has been speaking about updating the look each character. "The people who redesign the characters are the same people who did the original characters," Watts said, "and they know best how these things are supposed to mature. Stuff changes. Garrus' armour is going to change. Even Shepard has changed quite a bit. His armour has changed a lot since the first Mass Effect."
As for combat, enemy AI has been boosted to create a more dangerous opposition, so Shepard won't be able to just stick around in one choice spot of cover for an entire fight. "We wanted to make it so that when the player's fighting in the moment they feel like they have more options than aiming, shooting, and using powers," according to lead gameplay designer Christina Norman.
"We really want to make mobility a factor that plays into combat," says Norman. "You'll always ask yourself, 'am I in the right position on the battlefield? Where are my enemies? How am I going to get from point A to point B?' Players should never be walking into these safe places with great cover and stay there for the whole fight. It's about how you're going to move through the battlefield as the enemies move through the battlefield, and how they're reacting to one another and to you."
As for your powers, there's a greater emphasis on combining powers (which we already know can be upgraded more than once) for added effect. The example given is the Soldier's Concussive Shot ability, which can combine with Cryo Ammo to deliver an arced blast of ice that can freeze multiple enemies in an area.
More details on Mass Effect 3 are expected to come at at E3 next month. The game was recently delayed from late 2011 to early 2012.