The Mass Effect franchise has been made famous by allowing players to make decisions that affect the plot in both major and subtle ways. When the original game was released, it was way more interactive than your typical RPG. What’s been hard to calculate is just how many connections there are between the player’s choices and the game’s story.
Yesterday at GDC, Armando Troisi, the lead cinematic director for Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 explained that there are a startling number of choices from Mass Effect that carry over to the sequel. Troisi calls Mass Effect 2’s ability to read your console’s save files the “uber-feature” of the series. It’s this feature that allows decisions the player made in the first Mass Effect to affect his or her experience in the second game. Troisi shows off a pretty cool example of this that contains some Mass Effect spoilers so we’ll let you click the link above if you want to indulge.
That example is just one of about 700 “plot hooks” that carry over to the sequel. We can’t say we’re not impressed by BioWare’s ability to reward players who played both Mass Effect games while still not leaving newcomers in the dark. This kind of storytelling is something all game and even television producers should learn from. For example, the hit ABC series Lost is well regarded by its fans for hinting at past episodes, but it’s been hard for that show to strike a balance and entertain viewers who haven’t been watching every season. Maybe Armando Troisi could teach those guys a thing or two about sequel storytelling.