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ME2 characters and new details revealed

Shepard "much bigger and more powerful".

BioWare has unveiled some of the new characters, locations, weapons and story details for Mass Effect 2.

You'll play as Shepard again for at least a portion of the game, according to an OXM preview read by NeoGAF. He will be "much bigger and more powerful" and "presented in a darker, grittier style".

We'll be able to recruit a new character called Thane, a smooth, suave assassin shown breaking another person's neck from behind in a screenshot. Plenty of characters will return from Mass Effect 1, such as Joker (voiced by Seth Green), and we'll also meet many new faces, such as a Krogan called Grunt and a tough and wiry Salarian scientist. There's to be an entirely new Drell race, too.

Three new locations are described, including a giant anti-Citadel that caters for the less savoury characters of the universe. A Cerberus mothership will provide ample attraction, and we'll explore an Asari planet called Illium, which is heavily built-up - a bit like Coruscant from Star Wars. This could be the place we saw at the end of the GDC developer footage.

Apparently we'll use weapons that can dissolve enemies or nuke an entire room, and the Mako planet-explorer vehicle has been completely overhauled - as has the transit (elevator) system.

There will be no texture pop-ins, and those who religiously follow either the Paragon or Renegade path are promised very special endings.

The article further unveils what, specifically, BioWare is going to show at E3. There we'll apparently find out whether Shepard is dead - sounds like he isn't; we'll see the new transit system; we'll be treated to some uncharted world exploration; and we'll find out who we're playing as and who will be joining us on our "suicide" quest.

Some of this was teased in the Mass Effect 2 Pre-E3 trailer, of course.

BioWare also mention in the article that ME1 will be getting one more piece of DLC. This, as we know, will be the Fight Club-style arena. The developer describes it as "substantial" and says the content is being "finished up" now.

E3 takes place next week in Los Angeles. We're going, and we'll be bringing you our thoughts on the very biggest and best the show has to offer.

Mass Effect 2 is due out on PC and Xbox 360 early next year.

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