San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), the largest multi-genre entertainment and comic fan convention in the US, was held not to long ago. In addition to comic book news, the con also features gaming industry insights, and is home to some of the most loyal franchise fans. Here is where Mass Effect development team BioWare decided to make a pit stop and drop a few bits of information on their next installment to the highly anticipated hit franchise, Mass Effect.
If it seems that BioWare are keeping their lips sealed on details about the next Mass Effect, it’s because they are. Even at this year’s E3, BioWare appeared at the EA press conference and showed Mass Effect in Developer Diary form, essentially beating around the bush and sharing little “wanted” information. However, the trailer was informative, expressing their focus on expanding playability. BioWare also showed effort in attempting to keep fans’ wishes in mind while creating an expansive new universe to discover; “new places, new characters, new people to fall in love with.”
The Mass Effect teaser trailer from E3.
SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON
BioWare excited fans weeks later when they announced that they’d be having a reveal/Q&A panel at SDCC. Fans filled the conference room as they waited to hear from lead panelist Mike Gamble (producer), Carl Boulay (lead animator), and Noel Lukasewich (senior artist). Up until this point, little more was known publicly about the next Mass Effect game other than that fact that Commander Shepard would not be filling the lead roll. With no confirmation on whether or not the game will take place pre- or post-Shepard, an answer to the question “when?” is still anyone’s guess.
Mass Effect Mako animation.
Still “years away” from being able to say what exactly is going to be in the next Mass Effect game, the team did drop some pretty juicy details that were more than enough to win fans over in the room.
THE N7s ARE BACK
BioWare shows off the new armor for male and female N7s.
Starting off the briefing, producer Mike Gamble introduced the base look for our new male/female hero. Sporting red and blue “tentative” colors and more detail then ever before, both models bear a resemblance to the the black and orange N7 model that was shown at E3 2014.
The black and orange N7 model that was revealed at E3.
A few key elements to our new hero, like the glass helmets which have been used in place of the old crash helmet, help support the exploration concept the next Mass Effect is expanding on. Clothing-like material is used as a type of under armor with detectable armament pieces visible. The N7 logo is still present on the sleeve. The clothing-based under armor is used to support free range of motion, as your hero will need to be quick and flexible during this exploration-geared adventure. No confirmation on whether or not suits will be fully customizable, but BioWare does want the player to feel truly immersed in their gameplay experience, and nothing does this better than allowing players to make characters their own.
As seen in the images above, snap-on pieces have been talked about as possible customization options for game play and atheistic. Continuing on with the panel, no faces of the hero were shown, and as far as anyone can tell, we won’t be able to choose our hero’s species (Human, Turian, Volus, etc). Again, all this is still very much subject to change.
THE MAKO MAKES A COMEBACK
The Mako…yep, it’s back.
If you’ve played ME1 then you know what the Mako is. Love it or hate it, its coming back. Redesigned to be sleeker and quicker, the new Mako has been made for a new generation. If you haven’t played the first Mass Effect game, the Mako was a vehicle you and two of your AI team members would use to traverse open planetary environments. As great as the concept of the Mako was, back then it wasn’t without its faults. Buggy along with bad physics, your ride in the Mako could go from cool and enjoyable to out-of-this-world frustrating when you climbed up a mountain or fell in a ditch and couldn’t get back out. Acknowledging these errors, BioWare is confident that they can make the Mako a smoother, more enjoyable ride. They even showed off concept footage of the Mako in action, skimming across dirt plains similar to the Sand Shark buggy from Jak 3. At the end, the Mako even hops into the sun set, showcasing a possible thruster mechanic.
As you might imagine, after everything was said and done there were plenty of questions waiting to be asked, and here are a few key ones I picked out. By the way, before you get your hopes up, no, BioWare had nothing to say about when the game is going to take place at SDCC. Also, remember that everything that was discussed is still a “work in progress,” i.e., not finalized.
Q: Will the next Mass Effect feature “aliens and what-not” on your team again?
A: YES, Mass Effect wouldn’t be massively effective if it failed to include the many different species we’ve all come to love.
Lead animator Carl Boulay also goes on to explain how they couldn’t say much about squad mate composition but there will definitely be “what-not” on your team.
Q: Will players be able to customize their causal outfits?
A: Producer Mike Gamble answered the question saying, “The way our character artists have been building things in layers and in steps, it’s unique. You can take some of those armor pieces off and the actual under-armor can be your causal outfit, and that level of customization applies to everything that you’re wearing.”
Q: Will the Mako be customizable, upgradable, and will the thrusters be making a return as part of the Mako’s movement capabilities?
A: Confirmed by Mike Gamble, the thrusters do exist (seen at the end of the Mako Return video), but with the game still in its early stages of development he didn’t sound so sure they’d stick around, or at least didn’t want to reveal that they would be. He went on to say their focus is making sure the Mako is “responsive and doesn’t get frustrating.” As far as customization, it has been a topic of discussion. Gamble even adds, “We feel as though, if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in these vehicles, they should reflect you as the player and customization is an element of that.”
Q: Will the next Mass Effect feature more giant creatures like Thresher Maws on more planets?
A: Mike Gamble: “We’re looking at creatures of all sizes this time around. It’s part of creating a galaxy that’s rich and dense with different kinds of life, not just ones 4-6ft tall. It’s something we’re looking at but there isn’t anything solid.” He went on to say, “Thresher Maws were fine in ME1, but nowadays we couldn’t bring back that same level of gameplay. We’d have to make it solid and a really engaging experience, so we want to do it right if we do it at all.”
Were any of these Q&As helpful in holding you over til the next bit of Mass Effect news is released? If you would like more information on the projects over at BioWare, make sure you’re watching GamesCom 2014 this August 13th-17th.
Did we miss any Mass Effect information? Let us know in the comments below.