A small but neat feature of the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 was the "Mass Effect: Genesis" comic that allowed new players to go through the story of the first Mass Effect and make all of the decisions that would come into play in the sequel.
Mass Effect 3 is surely being designed with an eye towards bringing in new players—when I spoke with BioWare's director of marketing David Silverman, he made it clear that the game would be quite welcoming to newcomers. As he put it, viewers were able to come into Star Wars: A New Hope without knowing what brought on the conflict between the Empire and the Rebels. It was enough that the story had conflict and drama, clear drama, Luke, the Force, Vader, and the Death Star.
Mass Effect introduced the Reapers; Mass Effect 2 let us know what their plan was. Mass Effect 3 will be a the final big conflict, and so newcomers shouldn't have too difficult a time hopping on board.
Before our hands-on at PAX, we were shown two "Previously on Mass Effect" videos that detailed the story so far and explained the various races of the Mass Effect galaxy. When I asked Silverman if those videos would replace the comic that caught newcomers in the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2, he answered in the affirmative.
And while I thought the comics were a great idea, Silverman made the entirely valid point that really, the only people who cared about the decisions (Does Wrex live or die? With whom does Shepard hook up?) were the people who had already played the games. To newcomers, the choices didn't resonate that much. "Do I hook up with this girl, or this girl?" he asked. "Well… this one's blue, so, sure!"
Personally, I'm very interested to see how BioWare actually makes all the choices of the first two games play out in the concluding chapter. (Can't help but wonder if Conrad Vermer is finally going to go ahead and propose marriage to my FemShep. Or try to kill her.) And while it's certainly true that creating a comic that spans both games and lets players make every possible choice would have been more than a little cumbersome, it's a shame that I won't be able to see the full range of potential consequences without at least playing through Mass Effect 2 a few more times.