Editor’s note: Ryan Smith is a longtime gamer and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh, NC. A graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in business and marketing, he has written in the past for WRAL Tech Wire and GameArgus.com. He currently plays Xbox 360 and PC as well as Nintendo DS. For story ideas, tips and feedback, he can be reached via e-mail (ryannicksmith@gmail.com)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Critically Acclaimed Mass Effect 2, sequel to what is in my opinion one of the greatest games ever made, was very lacking in its RPG elements. The character customization, level up process, equipment choices and just about everything else were greatly simplified from its predecessor. The first Mass Effect was very much an RPG, with many of the features that come standard in Bioware games front and center.

Bioware has picked up on the fact that many fans were sad to see these elements removed from the sequel. In an interview with RipTen, Mass Effect 3’s lead developer Casey Hudson provides a little insight on to how exactly they plan to bring these back to the Mass Effect series.

One pretty exciting method of customization is the way in which you will be able to tweak your weapons in Mass Effect 3. In Mass Effect 1 – where you could actually modify your weapons – Hudson states that “We had the ability to mod weapons in Mass Effect 1, but it never felt as real or as physical as it should be, and there weren’t enough interesting decisions to make.”

That is no longer the case in the second sequel. You will be able to set your weapon down in front of you and customize it with scopes, mods, barrels, different ammo types and more.

In addition to the return of weapon customization, we also see a return to the first title’s level up process and talent tree progression. In the original Mass Effect, each character had a variety of powers and weapon specializations you could level up, while in the sequel it was vastly simpler – further making it seem a shooter and not an RPG.

In the third title we will see not only a return to the original talent progression, but Bioware is also making it more complex than ever before. Don’t worry though, for those who find that troublesome, “Auto-level” is still a feature for Shepard and his/her crew.

It is this element of choice that makes role playing games so immersive and really helps you experience the story on a personal level. That is why I ultimately feel the first game was so superior to the second – not a common opinion, but Bioware did see a common sentiment among RPG veterans and they seem to have addressed it.

“There’s so much stuff that we’ve added for Mass Effect 3, in terms of the number of different weapon types, the different mods, you character progression, the way Shepard is able to move around the environment, new weapons like the omniblade or hand grenades, when you add all that stuff up and you can start naturally choosing how you play,” Hudson said.

RPG to its core or not, the Mass Effect series is one heck of a ride. But with those elements, maybe Mass Effect 3 will be a game to truly remember, like the original was.

The game is due out March 6 of next year. Watch a video trailer for Mass Effect 3 here.

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