Bioware Says Shooter Combat "Biggest Risk" in Mass Effect 2

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Bioware Says Shooter Combat "Biggest Risk" in Mass Effect 2

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"As a designer working on a sequel, I feel I have a responsibility to [the] fans," says Christina Norman, Lead Gameplay Designer for Mass Effect 2. "Fans are more than just sales. On some level we're all involved in [game] design because we want to make games that will make people happy. So those really hardcore fans are ... the reason I like making games."

Norman says that in spite of the outpouring of love from fans and critics alike about Mass Effect 1, the team at Bioware knew they could have done better with the game and wanted to make improvements with the sequel.

According to Norman, the biggest issue with Mass Effect 1 was that players were often confused by the vagaries of the RPG-inspired combat system. In other shooter-like games, a player could pick up a rifle and shoot things right away, but Mass Effect, borrowing a trope from Bioware's bread and butter, RPGs, started players as a "level one character," meaning that when the player picked up a rifle at the beginning of the game that player was a "level one rifle shooter" and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Not until the player leveled up, after a considerable amount of time in the game, did the player's ability to aim and hit improve.

From an RPG perspective, this mechanic makes perfect sense. But, as Norman says, Mass Effect is more than an RPG.

"Looking at [Mass Effect 1] gameplay footage," she says, "it looks like a shooter, but it's a shooter where you can't hit anything."

Norman's team spent three months on the front end of Mass Effect 2's design cycle re-working just the shooter aspects of the game. She says they wanted to get the shooter feel right and not attempt to re-invent the wheel by re-writing the rules of shooter game play.

For Bioware, she says, as a studio that had built their reputation on making ground-breaking RPGs, making a shooter was surprisingly challenging, and Norman encouraged them to be honest with themselves about it.

"We knew that shooter combat was the biggest risk for us," she says. "What I didn't want to say was 'Mass Effect 2 is a fun game in spite of the shooter combat."

Norman and her team prototyped their proposed changes using the Mass Effect 1 engine, and tried re-creating weapons and other elements from other shooter-type games, like Halo, just to find out the limits of their own systems, and whether or not they could even make good shooter combat.

"If you're trying [to do something] where your team doesn't have a lot of expertise," she says, "it's really important to acknowledge that and say 'hey we need to learn here, guys.'

"Sure, at Bioware we have this amazing history ... but we're not a shooter studio so we've got to learn from all of the people out there who are making amazing shooters. We should start by making shooter combat that's inspired by the combat that's already out there and exceptional and then if we want to innovate, innovate in small areas where there's a really big win."

Creating a global cooldown of biotic powers, refining the weapons and introducing the ammo system in the form of "heat sinks" are just some of the myriad ways Norman and her team revitalized Mass Effect 2's shooter elements. The result? More copies sold and higher review scores. In other words: Really big win.

Norman does, however, acknowledge one area where the company made a significant change to Mass Effect that went over like a lead zeppelin:

"Oh, the mining game," she says. "No one likes the mining game."

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Well, BioWare is nothing if not a game studio that actually listens to their critics. If this trend of fixing what was broke in the previous game continues in Mass Effect 3, we'll probably be getting little less than the second-coming of Action RPGs.

I liked mining. Especially probing Uranus.

Well, at least they admitted the mining game sucked.

I really liked Mass Effect 2's combat. I liked the first one too, but I wouldn't write home about it. Mass Effect 2's however, was brilliant. Best action-RPG combat I've played.

"No one likes the mining game" is right, but I don't agree that the shooter combat has been improved that much. Sure it got better in some ways, but at the same time it got worse in other ways.

The 'heat clip' system was retarded compared to the overheating system in the first, and the cover system meant that every battle was pretty much the same "take cover, shoot enemies when they emerge from their cover". It also made it way too easy to see where fighting would be needed, because as soon as you say a hallway full of chest-high cover you knew there was gonna be fighting (granted, the first game also kinda had this problem, just in a different way). I also fail to see how the global cooldown improved anything.

It's rare a company admits they made a huge mistake so it's nice to see they acknowledge to fact that the mining game was huge flop!

I like the mining... it's hypnotic.

EDIT: And you know what!? I also like the Mako! Take that, society!

HG131:
I liked mining. Especially probing Uranus.

XD

now seriously, did they really said that they backled this game or what ?

T-Bone24:
I like the mining... it's hypnotic.

EDIT: And you know what!? I also like the Mako! Take that, society!

I didn't mind the Mako as much as some of the levels you got to drive it in. A lot of planets were filled with steep cliffs and mountains, which made getting from A to B in the Mako a nightmare. On less jagged terrain the Mako wasn't that bad to drive at all, so if the level designers had just taken the Mako's handling into account when making all those random planets I doubt it would have caught as much flak as it did.

Well yeah... shooting either makes or breaks a game. Look at The Conduit... could barely hit a damn thing... Well... not unless you change the default settings off RETARD and set it to NORMAL FPS.

Calumon: I don't know what a gun is. My censors take it out... Maybe my Friend Culumon knows?

i still don't like the combat in Mass Effect 2.

If I was shot with an electric or fire based gun in borderlands then it affects almost as much as if I shot the target with a elemetal based gun. I will fly if something big hits me.

In mass effect, If i hit someone with biotic power like shockwave after I whittle the target's armor and barrier down, then the target goes flying across the map. The same doesn't happen to me If I get hit with a biotic power weilding enemy after my barrier dies.

ME1 had that same combat problem and ME2 just carried it over.

Hurr Durr Derp:
I also fail to see how the global cooldown improved anything.

This is my main beef with the new system. It takes away from the less weapon-oriented classes; Adept, Sentinel and Engineer.

Most biotics getting the additional nerf of being unable to affect anything with armor, shields or barriers only makes it worse, of course. I mean, yeah, it's a balanced system for Soldiers, Infiltrators, Vanguards and Sentinels... and it's probably alright for Engineers too, but the almost entirely biotic-oriented Adepts just end up with a heap of useless abilities.

I loved everything about the new combat system in ME2. Even despite scarce ammo, sniping is more satisfying, and global cooldowns on powers made the combat more fluid and fun, without breaking the game.

About the clip system - don't you think it was weird that you could shoot 1000 bullets without ANY cost? It made no sense at all. Sure weapons overheated, but it wasn't a penalty hard enough.

JediMB:

Hurr Durr Derp:
I also fail to see how the global cooldown improved anything.

This is my main beef with the new system. It takes away from the less weapon-oriented classes; Adept, Sentinel and Engineer.

Most biotics getting the additional nerf of being unable to affect anything with armor, shields or barriers only makes it worse, of course. I mean, yeah, it's a balanced system for Soldiers, Infiltrators, Vanguards and Sentinels... and it's probably alright for Engineers too, but the almost entirely biotic-oriented Adepts just end up with a heap of useless abilities.

Yeah, the shield/barrier/armor thing is a real mixed blessing. On the one hand it promotes the use of multiple weapon types in your squad (compared to my favorite ME1 approach of "give everyone a shotgun and go to town") since one weapon might be strong vs shield and another strong vs armor. On the other hand, a lot of the biotic powers are useless against protected enemies since the protection blocks the power, and against unprotected enemies it's faster to just shoot them since they go down in a few hits anyway.

This is extremely encouraging, as we have proof that Bioware knows the scanning needs to be replaced more badly than the Mako.

JediMB:

Hurr Durr Derp:
I also fail to see how the global cooldown improved anything.

This is my main beef with the new system. It takes away from the less weapon-oriented classes; Adept, Sentinel and Engineer.

Most biotics getting the additional nerf of being unable to affect anything with armor, shields or barriers only makes it worse, of course. I mean, yeah, it's a balanced system for Soldiers, Infiltrators, Vanguards and Sentinels... and it's probably alright for Engineers too, but the almost entirely biotic-oriented Adepts just end up with a heap of useless abilities.

Warp.

The only barrier adept's can't handle is Shields, and they're also the easiest to get rid of

And Singularity works on enemies that have armor/barriers IIRC, and if you can land a warp inside a Singularity, it will explode.

Altorin:

JediMB:

Hurr Durr Derp:
I also fail to see how the global cooldown improved anything.

This is my main beef with the new system. It takes away from the less weapon-oriented classes; Adept, Sentinel and Engineer.

Most biotics getting the additional nerf of being unable to affect anything with armor, shields or barriers only makes it worse, of course. I mean, yeah, it's a balanced system for Soldiers, Infiltrators, Vanguards and Sentinels... and it's probably alright for Engineers too, but the almost entirely biotic-oriented Adepts just end up with a heap of useless abilities.

Warp.

The only barrier adept's can't handle is Shields, and they're also the easiest to get rid of

And Singularity works on enemies that have armor/barriers IIRC, and if you can land a warp inside a Singularity, it will explode.

Yeah, Adepts are fine. I played through the game as an Adept on veteran difficulty on my first playthrough, and it was fun as hell. Every other class I've tried since then have been boring in comparison, so Adepts seem to be working well enough. If you could just toss every guy with full shields and everything into the horizon and have a turkey shoot right away, it would be laughably easy.

With all the things they took from Halo, they couldn't take "Space armor makes space melee weapons valid against guns"?!

HG131:
I liked mining. Especially probing Uranus.

Actually, the ONLY part of mining I liked was probing Uranus.

I had a go with the Sentinel once, with the exception of the 12sec CD on the armour buff, I was firing off biotics with 1.5sec CDs. That was at level 30 with every possible upgrade. Until then combat was a pain in a Galaxy sized ass. But that one part where you get a free weapon specilisation, I got the Assault rifle, made things soooo much easier it wasn't (maybe a little) funny.

Maybe in ME3 they will have a Man... Element Zero bar instead of CDs for your powers, and all the Element Zero you harvest can be used to make Man... Element Zero potions for a quick replenish.

Heatsinks bite, I hate only having 13 shots in my Anti-Material sniper rifle. And whats with the Collector DLC rifle? It holds something like 400 (I think, never used the butt ugly thing) rounds while other rifles only have about 100, is that because the damage sucks?

And that risk took away from it for me. When I play a Bioware game...I want an RPG, not a shooter. Still a great game, and once FF13 is done, I'll be mopping up the game as my Adept.

Altorin:

JediMB:

Hurr Durr Derp:
I also fail to see how the global cooldown improved anything.

This is my main beef with the new system. It takes away from the less weapon-oriented classes; Adept, Sentinel and Engineer.

Most biotics getting the additional nerf of being unable to affect anything with armor, shields or barriers only makes it worse, of course. I mean, yeah, it's a balanced system for Soldiers, Infiltrators, Vanguards and Sentinels... and it's probably alright for Engineers too, but the almost entirely biotic-oriented Adepts just end up with a heap of useless abilities.

Warp.

The only barrier adept's can't handle is Shields, and they're also the easiest to get rid of

And Singularity works on enemies that have armor/barriers IIRC, and if you can land a warp inside a Singularity, it will explode.

Hence the "most biotics".

Adept's strength used to be its great variety of abilities, but in ME2 you'll usually just use Warp, and Singularity to set off Warp explosions. Throw, Pull and Shockwave were rarely useful.

I'm a big fan of RPGs. I also dislike shooters intensely.
While I did enjoy Fallout 3; because of a lack of VATS, I have no intention of ever playing Mass Effect. Having watched a friend play for a few hours, my take is this:

Mass Effect:
Shooter < - - (!) - - - - - - - - - - - > RPG

Meanwhile, a game like Demon's Souls is:
Action < - - (!) - - - - - - - - - - - > RPG

And it's by far the best RPG of this gen!
(Though I'm mid FFXIII right now and it's quickly gaining ground! The combat in FFXIII is absolutely amazing!)

JediMB:

Altorin:

JediMB:

Hurr Durr Derp:
I also fail to see how the global cooldown improved anything.

This is my main beef with the new system. It takes away from the less weapon-oriented classes; Adept, Sentinel and Engineer.

Most biotics getting the additional nerf of being unable to affect anything with armor, shields or barriers only makes it worse, of course. I mean, yeah, it's a balanced system for Soldiers, Infiltrators, Vanguards and Sentinels... and it's probably alright for Engineers too, but the almost entirely biotic-oriented Adepts just end up with a heap of useless abilities.

Warp.

The only barrier adept's can't handle is Shields, and they're also the easiest to get rid of

And Singularity works on enemies that have armor/barriers IIRC, and if you can land a warp inside a Singularity, it will explode.

Hence the "most biotics".

Adept's strength used to be its great variety of abilities, but in ME2 you'll usually just use Warp, and Singularity to set off Warp explosions. Throw, Pull and Shockwave were rarely useful.

Really? I used throw, warp and shockwave all the time, especially on the later levels. Knocked them off the platforms and gave me time to pick off a different enemy.

Did I mention I was playing on insanity?

s69-5:

While I did enjoy Fallout 3; because of a lack of VATS, I have no intention of ever playing Mass Effect. Having watched a friend play for a few hours, my take is this:

Mass Effect:
Shooter < - - (!) - - - - - - - - - - - > RPG

Have you at least pla... Oh, you haven't. Well, then I have this to say:

Crysis:

Shooter < - - - - - - - - - - - - - - (!) - - > Real Time Strategy

Demon's Souls is an RPG? Jesus Christ. And the best of the gen? You better get out of here before we KotOR, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, Fallout 3, Dragon Age and Persona guys throw you out of town, only in socks.

Also, you are not going to play Mass Effect only because it doesn't have a game-exclusive system? That's like saying "I'm never going to play Diablo 3, because Hellgate London had 1st person view and Diablo 3 doesn't!".

i thought the mining thing was cool the 1st maybe 3 times then i wanted to kill myself

Abedeus:

s69-5:

While I did enjoy Fallout 3; because of a lack of VATS, I have no intention of ever playing Mass Effect. Having watched a friend play for a few hours, my take is this:

Mass Effect:
Shooter < - - (!) - - - - - - - - - - - > RPG

Have you at least pla... Oh, you haven't. Well, then I have this to say:

Crysis:

Shooter < - - - - - - - - - - - - - - (!) - - > Real Time Strategy

Demon's Souls is an RPG? Jesus Christ. And the best of the gen? You better get out of here before we KotOR, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, Fallout 3, Dragon Age and Persona guys throw you out of town, only in socks.

Also, you are not going to play Mass Effect only because it doesn't have a game-exclusive system? That's like saying "I'm never going to play Diablo 3, because Hellgate London had 1st person view and Diablo 3 doesn't!".

What are you talking about?
DA:O (played to finish twice) is pretty generic and not worthy of best RPG, at all (but that doesn't mean it's bad or anything).
KOTOR and Neverwinter are last gen.
Fallout 3 was good but IMO, Demon's Souls is better (and is an ARPG like ME).

And I'm not playing ME because I HATE SHOOTERS. Vats (Fallout 3) is the only thing that makes the shooting experience tolerable. Maybe read before you post?

EDIT: And watching a friend play for several hours, I get the gist of ME quite well. Shoot stuff in TP mode most of the time (like a typical TPS game such a Gears), run around and talk with people sometimes, and there's a levelling system and stats. Yeah, it's still an RPG, but for me, the shooting elements are too heavy.

If you like it, go ahead and play, I won't stop you.

dogstile:
Really? I used throw, warp and shockwave all the time, especially on the later levels. Knocked them off the platforms and gave me time to pick off a different enemy.

Did I mention I was playing on insanity?

Funny. Shockwave really stopped being useful to me once I left Veteran difficulty. Throw found its uses against husks, due to the insta-kill once I'd worn down their extra defenses, but I never found myself in a situation where Shockwave would be more effective against an enemy group than Singularity or Reave.

EDIT: As for Warp... I just said that it's pretty much the most-used Adept ability ever. Pull was that third less than useful power.

Hmm... I did like the mining at first, if only because I knew it meant I'd never have to drive that bloody MAKO again; but then the whole process got more and more tedious the more I had to do it.

Incidentally, it was really satisfying for me to see the MAKO's wreckage.

s69-5:
EDIT: And watching a friend play for several hours, I get the gist of ME quite well. Shoot stuff in TP mode most of the time (like a typical TPS game such a Gears), run around and talk with people sometimes, and there's a levelling system and stats. Yeah, it's still an RPG, but for me, the shooting elements are too heavy.

Depends entirely on your choice of class. About half of the classes you rarely ever have to shoot with in non-boss battles, and rather focus on strategic power-usage.

And this is why I dislike Bioware.

Actually, reading this makes me concerned for Mass Effect 3 on a lot of levels.

To be brutally honest, the changes to the combat system were a big "surprise" which seems to be regarded with a large about of negativity from RPG fans and fans of the first game. Namely the changes catered to the "shooter" crowd who are incredibly vocal. This resulted in some high reviews, but a lot of the sales were a spillover from the first game (which had a LOT of fans especially if you consider the used market).

It's noteworthy that the game has been being flamed pretty hard core for becoming an action game by a lot of the players themselves. You even have guys like Grahm Stark making jokes about it and the reception it's ACTUALLY been getting here on The Escapist in his ENN segement (with the reduction of role playing elements and such).

To put things into perspective let's look at another action-RPG series: The Marvel Super Heroes RPGs. These started out in the X-men legends days as being a pretty hard core RPG stat wise. However each installment reduced the RPG elements. Marvel Ultimate Alliance got a pretty big sales boost by being a ganeral marvel product, however someone involved in development got the same impression that Bioware is getting now that it was the reduction of RPG elements and becoming an RPG in name only that was selling the game. Enter Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 which was a glorified brawler, and which was apparently not the success that was expected because of this. A lot of people took a "wait and see" approach based on some of the things they were saying, and largely because of the downward trend in the RPG aspects.

Bioware is interestingly enough "surprised" by the massive success of "Dragon Age: Origins" which is a number intensive RPG of the so called "old school". Indeed that is why it succeeded and it's also the elements fans want to see expanded upon as opposed to seeing it turned into more of an action game.

With Mass Effect 2 I think they really aren't 'getting it', and are listening to the wrong people. The "Shooter" combat in ME 2, along with the gutting of the inventory system, mission based exps (as opposed to being able to earn exps by killing stuff) and other aspects are things the game succeeded IN SPITE OF, not because of. Had Mass Effect 1 been on the wrong track it wouldn't have succeeded like it did, and ME 2's success is very much a result of the first game.

It's also noteworthy to point out that a lot of people who played ME1 were rather irritated by desicians to limit the potential impact of the first game on the second "for fear of alienating new players" which has lead to a lot of skepticism about a third installment, as well as irritating people who spent a LOT of time replaying ME-1 before the release of ME-2 to get things "just perfect" based on what desicians they wanted to carry over, only to find that only a tiny amount of things actually mattered, which wasn't quite what many of the players wanted.

Rather than considering Mass Effect 2 a success, I think Bioware should consider it a stroke of good luck that the hype from the first game was so powerful. Rather than embracing what they did with ME2, they should be taking a few steps back and consider how to improve elements from the first game rather than scrapping them entirely, and keep the game intact as an RPG experience rather than a second rate 3rd person shooter with a few customization elements and a lot of dialogue and cut scenes. For example people hated the inventory system from ME1 because frankly the loot wasn't all that exciting. There were only a handfull of items in the game all told, and you simply found better versions of each "brand" and once you knew what brand to look for everything else was simply clutter waiting transformation to credits or Omni-Gel. A disappointment considering the itemization in the "Knights Of The Old Republic" game which made the loot comparitively more exciting. In fact as a spiritual succesor to KOTR Bioware should have been looking towards that for an example of what a lot of the people wanted from MAss Effect (more items, more possible equipment slots, etc..)

I'm sure there are those who will disagree (people who dislike RPGs, and/or love shooters mostly) but this is how I see things.

Only time will tell what happens, but I think Bioware needs to look beyond the actual sales here and at what a lot of the core fans have been saying in forums and such, and consider that a lot of those people might not lay out the money for the newest game after this one, I suspect if things continue along these lines you'll see a LOT more people taking a "Wait and see" approach to ME 3 than running out and going "Oh yes, I MUST have it" and making allowances to buy it months ahead of time.

Axolotl:
And this is why I dislike Bioware.

explain please?

If it's the same mining game in ME3, I will kill a Bioware developer.

Onyx Oblivion:
And that risk took away from it for me. When I play a Bioware game...I want an RPG, not a shooter. Still a great game, and once FF13 is done, I'll be mopping up the game as my Adept.

Yes because getting rid of the massive inventory system and altering combat irrevocably destroyed the conversation system i.e. what the actual "role-playing" part is.

...seriously?

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