Mass Effect was hardly an exercise in introspective contemplation but BioWare says it’s cranking up the action even higher in the sequel so gamers will see it as a true “shooter RPG.”

Third-person shooter sequences were a major component of Mass Effect and the game often felt as much like an over-the-shoulder shooter as it did an RPG. Some gamers criticized the gunplay as awkward and unintuitive, however, leading BioWare to “amp up” the action in the sequel.

“There’s a few bigger buckets of things we’re working on,” BioWare Co-Founder Ray Muzyka told IGN. “One of them is the intensity of the action, amping that up so people will see this as a shooter RPG… It’s going to feel like shooter fans are going to have a great experience.”

I thought the action bits felt great, at least in the PC version of the game, but on the other hand, random planetary exploration was a huge disappointment. Fortunately, Muzyka reiterated that BioWare is working to improve that aspect of the game as well. “Exploration, we’re still trying to tighten up that experience,” he continued. “It’s still optional and there’s still uncharted worlds that’ll be optional, but we want every single one of them to feel like they’re adding something important to the main storyline. So you feel, yeah they’re optional, but I feel like I really want to do that.”

BioWare is more able to focus on improving gameplay in the sequel, according to fellow co-founder Greg Zeschuk, because the fundamental technical hurdles of the development process were all overcome in the original release. “The great thing about a sequel is you start from the point where you know everything works, you know what the good and the bad things were,” he said. “The key thing is, when you’re working on a sequel like Mass you start from day one knowing most of the answers. And then you know what your faults were and you can address those specifically.”

He said one of BioWare’s “big objectives” for Mass Effect 2 was to go through reviews and user feedback to determine what worked and what didn’t in the first game. “We made a list of the features that reviewers and fans and internal people, all whose opinions we respect, thought were really important to make the game better,” Muzyka added. “Then we added a bunch of cool **** on top of that.”

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