Fan reaction is a huge part of the BioWare design, but according to Zeschuk, the Mass Effect team still goes with what they want to do. "Fan reaction is usually a really important part of what we do. We listen to everything the fans say, everything the press says. And when we make a sequel, that's one of the guiding things. Overriding that though really is the team's choice. And I think that's interesting because obviously the fans have been very vocal about who they want to see and how they want to see them. We've made our choices, and they may or may not be happy with what we did. But at the end of the day, they're going to think the experience was incredible. And you have to remember there's a third part, as well. Hey maybe you didn't see who you wanted to see in number two, but maybe you'll see them in number three. We're going to keep fans guessing."
The combat has been revised in Mass Effect 2, making it more approachable to fans who wanted more of a shooter experience. But has it gone too far? "I think fans that like the original controls ... I think everybody's going to adapt really nicely to the controls and the type of combat feel we have in Mass Effect 2. A lot of what we did was actually fundamentally make things slicker. So, the way cover works works better, enemy AI works better, framerate is super-solid. You can still pause at any time and direct orders. And in fact, for people that prefer a deeper tactical experience, you can designate specifically where each team member goes. So, there's actually an even greater level of tactical control, and you can pause and do the action."
Another point of contention in the first game was the Mako. Fans' outcries against the vehicle made way for the Hammerhead "hover tank," which can only be accessed through the DLC Cerberus Network. "It's not a wheeled vehicle, so it's going to have a bit of a different control scheme," Zeschuk teased.
The Cerberus Network itself has confused many following the game. "Once they see it, they'll get it," Zeschuk promised. He did address one of our nagging issues: the seeming need to download a DLC pack to access future DLC. While some content will continue to be made available through the Cerberus Network, it appears most premium DLC will be able to live without the add-on. "For other stuff, you would be able to purchase it simply through Xbox Live," Zeschuk clarified.
Something fans probably shouldn't expect in Mass Effect 2 the game, or its subsequent DLC, are space battles. "Space battles is always been something we've kind of thought about ... I can't guarantee it would be in Mass Effect 3, that seems a little scary, but you never know."
Of course, with BioWare promising to keep track of all your decisions across all three games, one wonders if there's the possibility of finding yourself in a corner. "If you kind of just barely succeed, you don't want the third one to be wrecked as a result. So, we'll make sure it's designed in such a way so that you can still succeed, but perhaps the ultimate super amazing ending is if you flawlessly execute the mission in number 2, then you're set to be great for 3. We have a lot of multiple endings in our games, and as Mass Effect as a trilogy -- it would be pretty cool to have really different classes of endings, depending on how you've done throughout the entire series, and how far you've pushed the Renegade/Paragon stuff."
Zeschuk provided even more insight into Mass Effect 2 and even commented a bit on Dragon Age 2. To catch more of our interview, stay tuned for the next episode of the Joystiq Podcast.