“Handcrafted gameplay” on Mass Effect 2’s uncharted worlds

Feedback on what’s considered one of the biggest faults of the original Mass Effect — the empty, repetitive planets that players got to explore — is something BioWare has said they’ve taken into account in the past. Now, in a recent roundtable discussion, Project Director Casey Hudson has clarified a bit on what to expect on that front in Mass Effect 2, and the key word appears to be diversity.

“… when you find missions out there in the uncharted worlds, there are always missions where something special happens, and you get really good handcrafted gameplay and art that you can’t see elsewhere in the game,” Hudson explained, making it sound like exploration beyond the main storyline will be a worthwhile activity the second time around. “I think people will find them to be really rewarding, really rich, because there’s something different around every corner.”

No longer will completionists have to drive the Mako around dead planets to gather resources, either, as that activity has been turned into a planet-orbiting mini-game, “Instead of having to drive around on a planet in the vehicle as a mission, where you’re just really picking up rocks and having to jump out and do that kind of stuff, now it’s part of a really cool planet exploration mini-game where you’re spinning the planet around underneath you, you can feel with the controller rumbling, you can hear the sound of anomalies and resources being picked up by your sensors and close in on them and send space probes.”

The game hits the PC and Xbox 360 next month, on January 26th in North America and 29th in Europe, with a Collector’s Edition to boot.