VideoGamer.com: Can you explain the new features of the Normandy?
CH: That stuff is about what the Normandy does in space as part of the space exploration, but the Normandy itself as a space is greatly improved. The Normandy has three areas where it interacts. One of them is the way you explore the galaxy and the galaxy map, the things you do there. Another one is its role in the story. People will remember in Mass Effect 1, it almost becomes a character in the story where Joker and the Normandy are able to do incredible things during space combat, and it becomes a real hero for the storyline. Similar things happen in Mass Effect 2, just incredible space battles, huge epic scope, but there is interactivity there in the sense they play out differently based on the upgrades you've done to the Normandy. To do those you need certain members of the team, you need to be able to find resources by exploring and doing missions. These resources allow you to do research projects and upgrades to the ship, and then your ship will do different things in these space battles than they would otherwise. There will be different outcomes, and there may be a life and death situation for people on your team. That's the second thing.
The third thing is the Normandy has an environment you get to be in. That's probably one of the more fun and surprising improvements to the game. When we think about the Normandy from the first game, that's where we really wish we could have done a lot more with it. In Mass Effect 2 we're doing those things. Really it's the fantasy fulfilment of having your own star ship. I mean, what do you want to do in a star ship? You want to be able to walk around and have people that give you updates. You're the boss, you're the commander of the ship, you can see everyone working for you, and they've got stuff to say to you, you've things to do.
Your quarters in Mass Effect 2, it's in a different part of the ship; it's in a loft at the very top deck of the ship. There's a ton of stuff in there that's really cool. You've got everything from your armour locker, where you customise all your equipment and change every detail of the colour and the materials and switch out parts. Basically a lot of the things you buy in the stores, you end up working with in your quarters. So you go back, you change your outfits, your casual clothes and all that stuff, but then you also have a fish tank. You buy fish in the store, and you go see the fish that you've bought in there and you can feed your fish. You have a personal assistant. She'll catch you as you run past going to the galaxy map and she'll say, oh, you know Miranda wants to talk to you on deck two, so you run over there. You have a personal terminal that has email. A lot of the different things you do on missions, choices you make, you'll get emails that follow it up and tell you the ongoing story of what happened there. Or you get emails from other characters in the Mass Effect universe that progress the storyline in an interesting way. You have a science lab where, if you get a scientist, then you can open this science lab and go in there and do research projects. It goes on.
The whole ship is so rich and full of things to do. Even better, what used to be slow elevators or slow transitions from one deck to another now is faster transition and it actually is part of the narrative. You go to the elevator control and then you see what's on the elevator control panel as the schematics of the Normandy reveal where you are in the ship, and they show you different decks as you transition. Then all of a sudden you're there. So it makes it an interesting part of the narrative. I find that now, in between missions out in the universe, I come back to the Normandy and I just want to run around and do all the new things and check out the stuff I bought, talk to everybody, because it's a lot smoother and there's just so much more to do. I think people will be really excited about that.