BioWare's been keen to talk up the improvements it's made to combat for Mass Effect 2, due out on Xbox 360 and PC in January next year, but it's hardly said anything about what other shiny new tricks the RPG/shooter has up its sci-fi sleeve… Until now. Last night, VideoGamer.com listened in on a lengthy roundtable Q&A, in which project director Casey Hudson revealed loads of juicy new info, including first details on the brand new loyalty system, N7 missions and what you'll get up to in the new and improved Normandy. Here, in the gargantuan full transcript of the session, you'll find all the Mass Effect 2-related info you could possibly want.
VideoGamer.com: When you started to think about Mass Effect 2, what were the main goals you wanted to achieve?
Casey Hudson: We started with two objectives. One of them was all of the things we wanted to do as developers of the first game. We knew that we wanted to take the story somewhere for part two and three of the trilogy. Mass Effect is a trilogy and really the idea there is that we, in creating the new science fiction IP, we wanted to be able to set our goals as high as we possibly could. That was the idea that you would be able to create a character as a player for the first game, and you would be able to play that same character throughout three huge science fiction stories, of the biggest possible scale and the deepest emotional intensity. That was really our goal - telling the story on the biggest canvas possible.
We knew what we wanted to do in terms of where the story would go. We think of the trilogy as one story but we also think of each instalment of it as needing to stand alone as its own story. So, with Mass Effect 1, you play that story, you get to the end and then you feel a satisfying ending. Likewise with Mass Effect 2, you don't have to have played the first one, but we know how it all fits together as a trilogy. We know how the story leads from the first one into the second one, and then where it will go in the future.
So we had our goals for the story and some of the ideas we wanted to add to the gameplay. But then there's the other half of it, which is that millions of people have played this game around the world, and that's where much of the design for the second one has to come from - listening to the way people played it, the feedback we got. We literally took every bit of feedback we could find. Every sentence in every review, comments in forums, we literally categorised everything we got. That became the other half of the blueprint for Mass Effect 2. Then we stood back and looked at what that was, and came up with a singular design that captured all of that stuff, which was basically to give Commander Shepard a story that starts off with a bang, gets things moving quickly, and puts you up against the threat of having to go on a suicide mission and build a team, build up your crew and then go off and attempt something that should be impossible. But it has to be done to save humanity. Humanity is being singled out by an enemy that's a new force in the galaxy. You need to do something that really should be a suicide mission. That tied together the goals we wanted to achieve in terms of the story but also it did things like it brought together all of the subplots back into the main storyline. You go out and get a character, you make them loyal to you - loyalty is a big part of the game - all of these things tied together. So with those two goals of what we wanted and what our fans wanted, that gave us the design for Mass Effect 2.