Mass Effect 3 Review - Is It Good or Bad?

How far will you go to save Earth?

To this day, Mass Effect 3 is known in its community for having one of the most divisive game endings of all time. After all these years, the question remains: is Mass Effect 3 good or bad? In this article, I will offer a fair and unbiased review of Mass Effect 3.

About Mass Effect 3 

 Mass Effect 3 is the sequel to Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, and the last installment of the trilogy. Like its predecessors, Mass Effect 3 is an action RPG that gives players the opportunity to shape the story through a series of complex choices. It is often described as being a space opera, as it is set in space and involves a large cast of human and alien characters–many of which you can romance. Players get to play Commander Shepard, an elite human soldier who must get different species to work together to fight a common enemy, the Reapers.

Mass Effect 3 was developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. It was first released in North America on March 6, 2012. Although the game was critically acclaimed for its art direction, emotional depth, and voice acting, its ending was a huge disappointment to fans across the world, many finding it to be too reductive in terms of choices. The backlash was so intense that BioWare released extra content a few months later in an attempt to appease their fanbase. 

Despite its controversy at the time, Mass Effect 3 was highly successful at launch, selling close to 1 million copies within the first 24 hours, and grossing over $200 million within a few months. The trilogy recently experienced a new wave of popularity with the release of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, which offered a remastered version of all 3 games to veteran players and newcomers, also giving access to all the DLCs.

Mass Effect 3 Story

Mass Effect 3 Story In Minutes (SPOILERS)

 After years spent trying to warn everyone of their impending doom, it finally happens: the Reapers are here, and they won’t stop until they’ve destroyed all organic life across the galaxy. Within the first few minutes of the game, you (as Commander Shepard) are forced to leave a burning Earth behind. You alone can convince species from all over the galaxy to unite and fight against the Reapers before it’s too late.

It’s impossible to explain what makes this story so good without going into details and spoiling the best narrative beats. At its core, Mass Effect 3 is gripping, full of energy and emotional punches, especially if you’ve played through the entire trilogy. The game does a great job at making you feel like the fate of the entire universe depends on you. You will celebrate every unlikely victory with your team, and feel crushed at every setback.  

When Liara T’Soni cries, you cry with her.

Mass Effect 3 Gameplay

Mass Effect 3 Gameplay (PC HD)

One of the best features of the Mass Effect trilogy is the option to import your saves from one game to the next. This not only means all the narrative choices you’ve made in ME1 and ME2 carry over, you also keep the same face throughout. If you’re looking for a change,   you get to modify your character’s appearance at the start of every game. For people starting from scratch, you can choose the default appearance, either male or female, or pick one of the premade ‘heads’. These preset characters have many customizable features, such as hair, facial structure, mouth, or jaw.

At the start of the game, you also get the option to change which class you play as, even if you’re importing a previous save. In Mass Effect 3, there are six classes to choose from: soldier, infiltrator, vanguard, sentinel, adept, and engineer. If you like guns or enjoy being in the thick of things punching enemies, you will love being a soldier or a vanguard. Classes like infiltrator, sentinel or engineer (often called support classes) allow for a more stealthy playstyle. The adept class gives you Jedi-like powers that come with the satisfying addition of ‘biotic explosions’ in this third installment.

No matter which class you choose, expect plenty of combat against three main types of enemies: Cerberus (rogue human terrorists), Reapers (aliens), and Geth (robots). Each of them comes with grunts as well as ‘bosses like’ characters that are a lot harder to kill. 

Don’t let a banshee grab you. She will literally impale you with her arm!

While the original Mass Effect had a vast open-world and let you step down on planets to explore for hours on end, Mass Effect 3 is much more restricted in that aspect. When you’re not fighting, you’re usually going from one corner of the galaxy to the next, scanning planets for artifacts or war assets…straight from the map. 

The game may lack in exploration, it sure delivers when it comes down to character interactions and deeply satisfying storylines. Many narrative threads started in  ME1 and ME2 are resolved in this third game. Although the number of playable teammates shrinks from 12 to 7 between ME2 and ME3, you will get many opportunities to reconnect with characters you’ve learned to know and love. The people (humans and aliens alike) you met at the start of Mass Effect will stick with you until the very end. 

To this day, ten years after its initial release, Mass Effect 3 remains a great game to replay. All you need to do to experience a vastly different playthrough is change your class, or decide to play as a Paragon instead of a Renegade, which leads to completely different outcomes. Players looking for more challenges in their combat can also up the difficulty settings.

Mass Effect 3 Combat

Mass Effect 3: Pure Soldier - Tuchanka (Insanity)

In Mass Effect 3, you fight alongside two NPC teammates, usually picked for their complementary skills–biotic, tech, or firepower. The more missions you complete, the more you level up, with a max level capped at 60. As you level up, you gain ability points to spend across your ability tree. Depending on the class you chose, you will be able to upgrade your powers or abilities accordingly. The ability tree even branches out midway through the game, giving you the option to be either aggressive or defensive in your playstyle.

There are 6 different types of weapons to kill enemies with in Mass Effect 3: assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, SMGs, heavy pistols, and heavy weapons. Unlike the other two games, different classes have access to different weapons. While soldiers can still carry all of them, adepts can only carry SMGs and heavy pistols. Weapon weight is the reason behind this change: the more weight you carry in Mass Effect 3, the longer it takes for your powers to recharge. As an adept, you want your power cooldown to be swift since you fight mainly with your biotics. On the other hand, you rely almost solely on your weapons as a soldier.

The multiplayer system keeps the same combat mechanics from the main game, with similar classes, powers, and weapons. One notable difference is that with multiplayer, you get to play as one of the many alien species from the Mass Effect universe. Another major difference is the inability to bring up the ‘weapon wheel’ in multiplayer. playerWhile playing the main game, you can essentially ‘freeze’ the action by bringing up the wheel, which gives you time to switch weapons, choose a power, or order a teammate. You still have the ability to bring up the wheel in multiplayer, but the game will not freeze for you, encouraging you to use hotkeys instead.

If you’ve played through ME1 and ME2, you will love combat in Mass Effect 3. It is much smoother and more dynamic; as a player, you feel faster and more agile, with a new ability to grab enemies while in cover. A real effort was also made with the sound effects: one of the best additions to Mass Effect 3 are the ‘combo explosions’. They not only deal a lot of damage, they are also extremely satisfying to hear.

Mass Effect 3 Mission System

In Mass Effect 3, your main mission is clear from the get-go: you must convince other species to join your fight against the Reapers before all is lost and everyone is annihilated. Considering how many of these species hold a grudge against each other or are even at war, it’s easier said than done. 

Unlike the first game, which gave you pretty basic ‘soldier on a mission’ sidequests, every sidequest in Mass Effect 3 is linked directly to the main story, all of them helping with the war effort. You can be sent to rescue a team of Cerberus scientists that had a change of heart and are now being hunted by their former employers, just as you can find yourself stealing vital data about Reapers and how to fight them. Perceptive players might even notice that some of the places you visit during sidequests actually become maps you play on in multiplayer games: you and your online teammates are now tasked to defend these areas that were liberated by Shepard.

Mass Effect 3 Graphics

Mass Effect 3 - Legendary Edition vs Original Graphics Comparison

For a game that is almost 10 years old, the graphics are still impressive. They look even more polished in the remastered edition–although Mass Effect 3 arguably received the least amount of upgrades in terms of graphics. A few textures could do with a little more details, and some scenes still suffer from being too dark, but overall, it’s a beautiful game to look at for thirty hours, even through your tears. 

Each planet you visit has a distinctive feel and atmosphere, making it easy to get completely immersed in this universe and its lore.

Does this Reaper look intimidating? Wait until it gets closer and you have to fight it on foot!

Mass Effect 3 Developer

Most of the bugs that could be found when Mass Effect 3 first launched have been fixed a long time ago, although a few of them remain. During my last Mass Effect 3 playthrough with the Legendary Edition, about 20 hours into the game, I lost the entirety of my credits in the middle of the Leviathan DLC, which is apparently a well-known glitch amongst fans. A friend of mine also reported that during the Omega DLC, they kept losing medigels and health every time they died during the final boss fight, until they had to beat that level with no health and nothing left to heal themselves. Talk about a challenge.

Developers at BioWare are known for listening to their community and doing their best to fix problems, though. When the game originally came out and fans all over the world loudly voiced their anger and disappointment over its conclusion, they released an extended ending as a DLC–which has become the default ending in the remastered edition. 

BioWare also released the Citadel DLC one year after the initial launch. This DLC has long been proclaimed to be one of the best ‘fan service’ DLCs ever made, with a wonderful mix of exciting storylines and hilarious character interactions that will, once again, probably make you cry a little.

Mass Effect 3 Price

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition costs about $60 full price, and is available on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. Look out for offers, though, as they regularly bring down prices closer to $40 across all platforms. The original game is still widely available for a much lower price and is playable on PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U. Keep in mind that if you purchase the original version, you will have to buy each DLC individually. Buying the Legendary Edition means you get all 3 games, as well as over 40 DLCs.


Although Mass Effect 3 has lost its deeply beloved exploration system from the original game, this last installment strikes an impressive balance between meaningful storytelling and immersive combat. At the end of the day, Mass Effect 3 is an action-packed, emotional, and exhilarating conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. Fans may always be divided about its ending, it does not negate the 30 or so hours of quality playtime that comes before the final 10 minutes.


  • Characters and their relationships
  • Immersive narrative
  • Ability to shape the story through choices
  • Intense and dynamic playthrough
  • Smooth combat
  • High-quality art direction


  • No more planet exploration
  • Combat can get repetitive 
  • Some persisting bugs and glitches

Score: 8/10

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Ellie has been writing and telling stories since she was a youngling. It was inevitable that she would eventually call ‘grappling with words and language’ a career—and loving every moment of it.
Gamer Since: 1995
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, Far Cry 6
Top 3 Favorite Games:Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3

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