Can you give us some examples of how the gameplay has been altered and added to for Mass Effect 3?
The first thing that people will notice is that everything is a lot more polished, and Commander Shepard has a lot more mobility - you can move a lot more fluidly, and you have a little action you can do as Commander Shepard to roll, leap across gaps and fall and climb, and things like this that really give you access to more of the game environment.
That gives you a more interesting way to get around and move into, around and over cover. It just feels like you're a much more capable character. And everything else about the combat - the feel of the weapons, aiming and so on - all of those things have been improved.
I think we've gone full circle in terms of the combat: people are playing it, and saying it is competitive with the very best shooter experiences, and yet it has so much more as a game, with the role-playing elements and a really great interactive story. That's probably the key thing: that now you're able to experience a whole new level of combat gameplay.
And I guess the other thing that we've really worked on is adding a lot of depth to the role-playing systems. We looked at Mass Effect 2 and realised that what we wanted to have for Mass Effect 3 was more interesting and more intelligent decisions that players can make to really customise their play-styles and customise their character.
But in ways that that require you to think about what you value, versus just finding things that are obvious progressions - like just getting a Level 3 shotgun in place of a Level 2 one. We wanted to give players choices within those things. So we've created a weapons bench, where you can see your weapon, turn it over and look at it from different angles, and plug in actual parts, and see how those parts change the look of the weapon.
You can see the stats listed for that weapon, as you're modifying it, you're looking over and really trying to optimise things that are important to you - whether it's rate of fire or how much kick-back it has. You may have a favourite weapon, but there's one thing about it you find annoying, so you can start looking for mods that minimise that. Or you might have a shotgun that you love because it has a tremendous amount of kick and power to it and you can find things that really enhance that.
That also applies to your armour - you're still building your armour piece by piece, making it look how you want, in terms of the form of it, the colour - even when you're switching out shoulder pads, helmets or whatever, it's still like you're making choices about what kind of character you want to be and how you want to play.
That also extends to the powers. We've added some new powers that are really cool, and we've added some effects to those powers, so you can do new things in terms of how they combine with your squad-members' powers - you can create cool combos in combat.
So instead of just becoming more and more powerful in a few different stages, you're now actually making choices in terms of what flavour of that power you want - whether you want it to chain to a bunch of different enemies, or whether you want to have a large radius effect or a longer duration: you're choosing these things at every stage.
Mass Effect 3 was presented as the third and final part of a trilogy, so what is next in the Mass Effect universe?
We are going to be supporting Mass Effect 3 for quite some time, because I think people are going to have a lot of fun with multiplayer, and we'll be supporting that with new content as we go forward. We also have a really good DLC plan, like we had for Mass Effect 2, so there will be new adventures and new things to do. Then, beyond that, we'll just have to wait and see.
What are your latest trans-media plans, with comics, films and so on?
We've got an ongoing relationship with Dark Horse, and we've got some stuff coming out of that. We've got the feature-film in the works. We've also got an anime movie that's coming out - it's getting pretty close to being done, and it's looking fantastic.
All these things tell different facets of the overall storyline, but it's still ultimately the full story of the trilogy. So when fans check out a novel, a comic-book or a movie, they're seeing parts of the same story that really flesh out the details we can't otherwise show you in the game.