VideoGamer.com: Why did you switch the reload system from the overheat system? Will ammo be infinite?
CH: What we found, again in watching people play and analysing the game ourselves, was that the overheat idea is cool for the IP, and we wanted to keep that, but it also meant you end up playing with less consideration of where your bullets are going. That's a big part of combat, is considering each round of fire as a resource. That makes you consider it more, there's a little tension to combat, and that's one thing that contributes to some of the top shooters, just having a good feel and tension and drama in combat. Even if you never run out of ammo it still makes you think about what you're doing just a little bit more.
The other thing was the overheat system in Mass Effect 1 would cause people to overheat their weapon, and then now you're stuck for a few seconds. We wanted to make things a little bit more visceral, a little bit more fluid. Related to that, another thing we did was we reduced the charge time on powers. So now you can fire powers much more frequently and have a lot more fun on the battlefield. In terms of the overheat and ammo, our goal then became to be able to add that tension and resource consideration to combat, again as part of getting to the best gameplay we could, while retaining the idea that the Mass Effect universe established, of you're firing tiny projectiles at near light speeds, so you don't really run out of them because they're so tiny and you have a reserve, but there's still overheat. The idea is you have a clip of thermal heat syncs. They're universal. They're designed to be universal, so you can pick them up from the ground, you get them from enemies and armour lockers and stuff like that. It adds an ammo like tension to combat, but at the same time it still continues to work with the way the technology in the Mass Effect universe works.
You can see how it ties in with some of the other improvements we've made. For example, sniper rifles are much improved. They feel smooth, accurate. We've also added part-based damage. If you hit a mech with a high-powered sniper rifle, and you hit him in the knee, it'll blow his leg off just below the knee. Then you see it falls down and crawls towards you, all kinds of great stuff like that. But if you have that kind of part-based damage, head shots, things like that, if you have unlimited ammo, then you can just blast away until you get that shot. As long as there's a concept of needing to provide a little consideration for the rounds you're firing, then you end up thinking, well, okay, I've got my sniper rifle, I have X number of shots left, I'm going to make this one count, and then you get a headshot, it's that much more rewarding and it helps the combat work a lot better.
VideoGamer.com: How did you improve the enemy AI?
CH: We did a bunch of things. First of all, each of the enemies has received custom scripting. They have different behaviour. Some enemies are defensive, they take cover, it's hard to dig them out from behind cover. If you advance they'll retreat, so they're always heavily defended, very tactical. Other enemies will stand and move towards you relentlessly, but they'll flank you as well. So when you fight several of them you very quickly find yourself surrounded by them. We have husks in Mass Effect 2 that are much scarier than in Mass Effect 1. They're the zombie-like humanoids. But in Mass Effect 2 they'll run towards you and then they maul you when they get to you. You can take a few of them out pretty easily, but there becomes so many of them that they end up flanking you and coming up to you from behind. It's a different kind of enemy to fight. It's things like that, where we've given them custom behaviours and unique AI, where you have to think about what's different about each enemy. They generally are a lot smarter.
And then there are a lot of technical things we've done. The cover system helps them to take cover more reliably, more accurately. They have a man pulling system, so you can vault over pieces of low cover or storage containers or boulders and things like that. You'll see an enemy that's running towards you and he'll vault right over a piece of low cover and keep charging towards you. Stuff like that contributes to the overall experience.