Mass Effect 2 making use of ME1‘s save games is something everyone’s probably heard of by now — if you killed off Wrex in the first game then you won’t be seeing him in the second. But what of all the fancy equipment and powers your Shepard has acquired? Gone.
“There’s something that’s happening with the story that explains what happens with your abilities,” lead designer Casey Hudson said in an interview with Computerworld. “It’s something we can’t go into detail about for obvious reasons, but it actually happens the other way around. Our goal with the story, in terms of getting the game started quickly and players into really compelling story situations…that dictated and allowed us to do certain things including changing the way that your abilities work and the way you develop your character.”
But the story isn’t the only reason, “Part of it, too, is the fact that we’ve gone in and improved literally every system in the game, your powers, the controls, aiming, the way that your character stats work and how you build a character, the inventory system, weapons, and so on. All of those things have been dramatically improved, so there’s no direct way to map the stuff you had in Mass Effect over to Mass Effect 2 anyway.”
However, BioWare has taken steps to ensure that once players boot up Mass Effect 2, it will still feel like they’re playing the character they spent three ME1 playthroughs beefing up, “[..] we’re taking into account all of your accomplishments in terms of building a character from the first game. So things you’d expect to be acknowledged, like if you were a level 60 character, or you were highly Renegade and don’t want to start out at the middle again. If you import your save game from Mass Effect, these kinds of things will be acknowledged in ways that map across to the new system. You will feel, even in terms of the character that you build, that you are continuing as that character.”