interview

Mass Effect: The Q&A For Hardcore Fans

by Joe Juba on Apr 21, 2011 at 08:00 AM

Mass Effect is a blockbuster franchise with a legion of loyal followers, and certain pieces of information about Mass Effect 3 are on everyone's must-know list. What characters are returning? How will Shepard's choices affect the fate of the galaxy? However, some questions about the series go off the beaten path; they are born from an attention to detail, an affinity for speculation, and the will to thoroughly read the in-game codex. To get answers (or at least hints of answers) pertaining to these topics, we talked to Mass Effect 3's lead writer, Mac Walters. Some may dismiss the following interview as trainspotting, but dedicated Mass Effect fans are likely to learn a few tidbits of tantalizing info – and learn which storylines might resurface in the trilogy's conclusion.

GI: Was the fact that Harbinger is a Reaper supposed to be a surprise at the end of ME2? It was presented like a reveal, but players (and Shepard) would have to be pretty dense to not have it figured out.
Walters:
No, it wasn't meant to be a surprise, but it was important that we make the connection clearly at the end of the game. The goal was to reveal just how close the Reapers were to returning to our Galaxy, and to foreshadow the fate of humanity if Shepard failed to stop them.

On the original cover of Mass Effect: Revelation, both of Saren’s arms appear normal. However, in the first game, one of them is clearly made from Geth/Reaper technology. Did this aspect of his design change during development?
Good eye! It is common for most of our characters, especially those as important as Saren, to go through many revisions throughout the course of the game. And it's not just the visual concept – the voice, background, and even the gender of our characters can change (Saren got off lucky with just an arm change!). However, in this case, the difference is because we’re seeing Saren before he was indoctrinated and working with Sovereign (the time period for Revelation was about 18 years prior to the events of Mass Effect).
 
Why do most of the Reapers we’ve seen so far have similar insect-like appearances? The human Reaper looked different, but otherwise it seems like the Reapers mainly build themselves out of bugs. Is that correct?
The exterior of the Reapers does follow a similar pattern, an efficient design for the purpose they were created for. However each Reaper is created from a unique species, and as we saw at the end of Mass Effect 2, the core of each Reaper is designed in the likeness of that species.

In ME 2, Conrad Verner seems to the think that Shepard held a gun to his face, even if players chose the paragon option in ME 1. Was this just a glitch, or is there some story reason behind this?
Well, it may have been a glitch, or maybe Conrad was just having an off day (even more off than usual). Stay tuned in Mass Effect 3 to see how Verner deals with this embarrassing misstep with Shepard.

Where is the Illusive Man physically located during the course of Mass Effect 2? What’s going on with that colorful cosmic display outside his window?
The colorful cosmic display is a clue to the location of the Illusive Man, which I can't reveal. Not yet.

Some Asari have eyebrows. Some don’t. Are they born with or without? Or does it vary based on the individual?
Actually, they aren’t eyebrows at all. They are unique color patterns that vary for every Asari. We, being humans, naturally associate those particular markings with eyebrows, but the Asari don’t think of them in that way at all.

Legion couldn’t fully answer Shepard’s question about the reason it chose Shepard’s armor to repair itself. Can you give us any insight?
Legion is a complex organism. And like many of us evolved organics, he is not always certain about why he does the things he does. But I think it's safe to assume that Legion saw in Shepard a sort of kindred spirit. Legion is unique among his kind, as is Shepard, and he no doubt inferred a sort of bond with this unique human individual. And… there was a hole.

Some fans were disappointed by Liara’s apparent lack of enthusiasm when re-encountering Shepard in ME 2, especially given the lengths she went to in the Redemption comic. From a story perspective, is there an explanation for why she isn’t happier to see the Commander?
Liara was happy to see Shepard. But she was confused about his return from the brink of death and his role with Cerberus. Add to that, she was dealing with the loss of Feron, and maybe struggling with her feelings for the roguish Drell who had sacrificed himself for her. Of course, as we saw in The Lair of the Shadow Broker, once that situation was put to rights, her feelings for Shepard were once again made clear.

Some fans have speculated that Aethyta (the Asari Matriarch behind the bar at Eternity) is Liara’s “father.” Is there any truth to that? Will we find out more on that topic in Mass Effect 3?
The writers are keenly aware of the speculation and there are indeed discussions about how this plot line will resolve in Mass Effect 3. And that’s all I can say about that.

Do Reapers have individual personalities?
That's right up there with "Do Reapers have a soul?" or "Are they truly alive"? All great questions, but all questions that we are waiting to answer in Mass Effect 3.

More Mass Effect 3 coverage:

For extended coverage of Mass Effect 3 all month long, be sure to check out our hub!