At the moment, a select group of Xbox 360 owners are participating in the beta tests for the new dashboard update. A few days ago, those participating noticed an option to download the beta for Mass Effect 3 – this beta was only supposed to go live next year.

Naturally, because everybody knew that BioWare didn’t mean to release the beta this early, nobody downloaded it and they all went on with their own business out of respect for the hallowed RPG developer. Nah! They totally didn’t do that! Everyone and their mum grabbed copies of that thing and then took a bajillion screen shots and video clips for all of us to gawk at.

The error was on behalf of Microsoft, who apparently phoned up BioWare and had a conversation that probably started something like this: “BioWare! Baby! How’s that development coming on? It’s awesome, of course it is! You guys are great. Listen, about that Beta for ME3. Funny story actually, you’re going to LOVE this.”

BioWare has since released a statement explaining what has happened and asking those who downloaded the beta to be kind when judging what they see. Interestingly, the beta detailed single-player game modes that BioWare clearly did not want to unveil as yet. These game modes will tailor the single-player campaign to suit all tastes. These options include just how heavy the RPG element will be, and even allow you to turn on and off any decision making in the conversations. What? Isn’t that like switching off, you know, Mass Effect?

Hello everyone!

As most of you know by now, this evening an accidental leak occurred of some early Mass Effect 3 beta code. Microsoft has advised us that through human error at their end, content which was meant for internal beta testing was flagged incorrectly and released to individuals who had signed up for the beta of the Xbox Live dashboard update. It has since been taken down and deactivated.

We’d like to stress that the leaked code is in a rough, unfinished state and was not meant for public release. The content is not final, and is not reflective of the quality of the finished, polished game due for release on March 6, 2012 (March 9 in Europe).

One feature that was present in this early build is a set of game play modes that are in development. In the beta code they are referred to as “action mode”, “story mode” and “RPG mode”. We want to stress that these features are still in the early stages of development and will receive considerable iteration and refinement. These modes are designed to give players an even finer degree of control over their game experience than ever before. Whether it be someone who finds the combat difficult but wants to experience the amazing story, someone who wants to focus on the action and combat game play, or fans who want the rich, story-driven RPG Mass Effect experience they’ve come to love – Mass Effect 3 will support all of these options. We’ll have more info in the days ahead!

If you sniff around the interwebs you’re bound to find enough beta screenshots and shaky-cam footage to fill ten Citadels.

Source: Kotaku