IGN continues to take us through their Mass Effect 3 impressions by answering community-submitted questions and providing a few more videos that show off the campaign and multiplayer, the Normandy, and hijacking an Atlas. A generous quote from their Q&A:
HappyPantsEd asks... From the limited things that I've seen and read, the entire universe is at odds with the Reapers. My question is, while trekking around each planet and area, how do side quests work out? Do they resolve around the Reaper threat in some way or do they seem to be more unrelated to the main quest?
Colin answers... The game does indeed take place under the direst of circumstances. The Reapers aren't so mythical after all; they're preparing to do away with organic life in the Milky Way, as they purportedly do every 50,000 years.
One of the more unfortunate aspects of Mass Effect 3, therefore, is that a lot of the game's side quest have very little to do with that larger Reaper threat, and have more to do with ancillary tasks. Some of these tasks -- such as N7 missions -- do connect to the game's main narrative, but there's enough disconnected from the main story that many things admittedly seem out of place.
Things were bad in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, but not this bad. Why is Shepard therefore being asked to do fetch quests? If the Reapers win, everything is for naught, and the game would have felt a little more realistic and true to itself with more of a pinpoint focus on the Reapers only.
There are other concerns I have with side quests. One concern centers on the sheer amount of random side quests earned when running through places like the Citadel. Overhearing random characters speaking triggered side quests in past Mass Effect games, but in Mass Effect 3, this is brought to an almost absurd level. You can earn multiple side quests within a minute of each other by running through a new area of the Citadel, for instance, without having known to listen to the actual conversations for context. And the codex does a poor job of explaining your actual task. All of this comes off as a bit sloppy and unnecessary.
The other complaint pertains to side quest timing. I've failed several side quests because I didn't do them soon enough, but you're never given much of an explanation of timeliness, or given fair warning that time is even a threat. So take heed from my experience, and knock out side quests as soon as you earn them. Otherwise, you may eventually get cut off from them forever.
gamer4f48be01aa379 asks... Does killing enemies give you experience points? They removed this from ME2 and it was a bad idea.
Colin answers... Killing each enemy doesn't give you experience points, but experience points are bundled together at times based on things like enemy waves. For instance, when you're playing through a side quest with three phases, you may net experience points based on killing each wave of enemy present, plus completing the actual task or tasks at hand.
This is basically the same system as Mass Effect 2, sure... but splitting the experience up and giving it to you more frequently than at the end of a mission definitely makes you feel like you're getting it for more interesting reasons than just completing the actual side quest.