"pretty jarring" story wise.
For Mass Effect 3, BioWare has altered how characters interact with Commander Shephard depending whether a game save is loaded from or not. We get a "story so far" intro.
"In all honesty, we didn't do a really good job of new player orientation," admitted Clifford. "If you didn't play the first game then 2 was pretty jarring for the first half hour."
The opening of Mass Effect 2 had the Normandy attacked by a mysterious vessel and Commander Shephard interacting with two key characters that weren't explained in much depth at all but were hinted at being 'a big deal' to Shepard. The studio will be altering how and what NPCs address the player if saves aren't detected.
"If I'm a new player and some guy walks up to me and is like 'Ohhhh Shepard! Remember that one time?' I would be like 'No. I don't remember that one time,'" Clifford said. "So we wanted to make sure that there aren't those moments that the player is like, 'Who is this? What's going on? What are they talking about?'"
The PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 came with a back-story comic that helped outline what happened in the original game, which didn't release for the platform. Mass Effect 3 will include a "story so far narrative," confirmed Clifford.
Mass Effect 3 releases on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC March 6th in the US, 9th in Europe.