As the run-up to Mass Effect 3’s launch kicks into gear, we’re starting to see Bioware bringing people in to have a look at the trilogy’s grand finale. I’m sure my invite is just lost in the mail somewhere, but in the meantime you can take a look at this interview Game Informer’s Phil Kollar conducted with series Producer/Mastermind Casey Hudson. There’s a boatload of material there that’s worth digging into, like how they’ve added the ability to autoset the individual customization options to emphasize more role playing, action, or story. There’s also the obligatory multiplayer pimping that just makes me want to cry. Here, however, is the bit that stuck out to me regarding the topic of choices and consequences in this game as compared to what we saw at the end of Mass Effect 2:
Yeah, and I’d say much more so, because we have the ability to build the endings out in a way that we don’t have to worry about eventually tying them back together somewhere. This story arc is coming to an end with this game. That means the endings can be a lot more different. At this point we’re taking into account so many decisions that you’ve made as a player and reflecting a lot of that stuff. It’s not even in any way like the traditional game endings, where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C.
It’s more like there are some really obvious things that are different and then lots and lots of smaller things, lots of things about who lives and who dies, civilizations that rose and fell, all the way down to individual characters. That becomes the state of where you left your galaxy. The endings have a lot more sophistication and variety in them. It would be interesting to see if somebody could put together a chart for that.
The utterly superfluous final boss battle aside, that final 2 – 4 hour chunk of Mass Effect 2 was my favorite aspect of that game because you were making choices that had actual impact. Pick the wrong squaddie for a mission and that person dies. I still feel bad about my choice to have Grunt lead the Normandy crew back to safety. I was sure a lethal warrior was what that situation called for. Ah well. He was an alien and therefor devoid of a good Christian soul. I probably did him a favor.
My biggest grievance with that game was that these choices were all crammed in at the end, rather than spread out as you played through the whole of the game. Think about how cool it would be if there were a real threat that bringing the wrong person with you on a mission could result in them being killed or even just injured and therefor removed from the game for a few missions (X-COM style!). I’m not sure there’s anything I like better in a good RPG than when your choices have weight and with this being the end of this particular story arc, Bioware can get away with doing some crazy stuff if they so choose. I’m less than confident they’ll go as far in this direction as I’d like, but I still find the prospect delicious. Is it March yet?
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