Mass Effect: The Way of the Gunsword

A new entry called "The Way of the Gunsword" on the BioWare Blog takes us through the brainstorming and decision-making that the design team goes through when coming up with appropriate weapons for the Mass Effect universe, and its appearance certainly suggests that development of a new ME game is likely well past the concept phase. An excerpt:

(Literally anything goes (during brainstorming),) Gaspur says. (The shotgun pitchfork sounds silly, but it could work. If you throw on an Omni-tool with a three-pronged bayonet, I could totally see it working.)

The combat team then refines the mountain of gunchucks, spike grenades, and lightning swords, picking out their favorites and discussing how they can and should function. As the Mass Effect trilogy evolved and more lore was established, they began to design weapons based around each faction's composition was and how it fought.

The brutal krogan enjoy getting up close and personal in fights to take advantage of their hardened bodies and ferocious strength. As a result, their weapons were envisioned as power tools, Gaspur says: heavy, blunt, and efficient. (We wanted them to feel like chainsaws or jackhammers,) he says.

(For Cerberus, our central idea was high-tech, clean, and streamlined. The important thing is making sure each faction has a coherent theme.)

From there, the art and visual effects teams step in to breathe life into tools of death. They shape the look and feel of a weapon based on its intended used and who'll be carrying it. These core ideas affect everything from barrel color to how the camera reacts when a gun is fired, Gaspur says. As a result, the weapons feel more grounded in reality, creating a more immersive experience. It's easier to believe that science-oriented salarians would fire sleek, high-tech weaponry with precise sounds than smoke-belching, cast-iron cannons from a floating pirate fortress.

For a character-specific weapon like Varric's Bianca, the effect of backstory on design is even more extreme. Bianca is a purely mechanical repeating crossbow capable of firing three bolts at once, says Matt Goldman, Art Director for Dragon Age II and Dragon Age: Inquisition. A shotgun aficionado, Goldman decided Varric's one true love would work best as a pump-action, break-breach loader, multi-shot bolt and grenade thrower.