General Combat Changes - Mass Effect 3 wiki

The following is a list of significant changes in general combat flow from Mass Effect 2.

  • The player is now much more mobile. Shepard has unlimited sprint and can quickly perform evasive dive-rolls in all four cardinal directions with a single input. Shepard also possesses a much broader variety of context-specific actions, e.g. rolling out of cover, hurdling obstacles, etc.
  • Combat speed is noticeably faster. Weapon reloads, for example, are much faster than ME2. Shepard's shields recharge faster and with a shorter delay time than in ME2, allowing the player to re-engage in combat faster.
  • Shepard's health is now broken into five segmented bars. If the player takes health damage, health will only regenerate up to the current bar. E.g. Shepard loses one full bar of health and half of another. The half-depleted bar will regenerate, but the full one will not. Medigel must be used to heal empty health bars.
  • Powers are even more effective and useful than in ME2, with nearly every power featuring extremely potent abilities at Ranks 5 and 6. It is thus to the player's advantage to specialize and max out powers as soon as possible.
  • A new weight capacity system compels players to make wise decisions between stocking up on large numbers of guns, or using their powers. The more weight carried by Shepard, the larger the cooldown penalty on power usage. Thus, a player who wants to focus on combat with guns should allocate skill points towards bonuses such as shields and weapon damage, knowing that he/she will be using powers sparingly if at all. Conversely, a player who chooses to carry only one weapon, such as a pistol, enjoys massively reduced power cooldowns. This allows "caster" classes and builds such as Adepts, Engineers, and Artillery Sentinels to viably rely on powers as their main offense. This can easily be observed in the ME3 Demo on the initial level on Earth. Shepard begins carrying only a pistol, regardless of class, and the player's power cooldowns are correspondingly significantly reduced.
  • Downed squad members will still automatically revive at the conclusion of a battle, or by administering medigel. However, Shepard can now also revive squadmates by crouching next to their body and performing a revive action. This does not use medigel, but takes significant time and leaves the player highly vulnerable. 
  • Shepard can now carry and throw grenades, which deal significant damage with a variety of secondary effects.
  • The cover system's "sensitivity" has been increased noticeably. Shepard will "stick" onto cover in the environment much more readily.

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