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Mike Gamble, the lead producer on BioWare's upcoming co-operative action-RPG Anthem, had a chat with Eurogamer during this year's E3 event. For the most part, he talked about Anthem, naturally, but at the same time he also touched on the studio's long-time fans' fears that co-operative multiplayer games will become BioWare's only shtick from here on out. Here are some sample questions:
BioWare games have shooting in them, but I don't necessarily play BioWare games for the shooting.
Mike Gamble: I dig that. The Strider and the characters in it do give you that sense of who your family is in the game. You saw Halek the mechanic who looks after the Strider, he's jolly - sometimes he's angry but in this he's pretty jolly. You have Faye, your oldest friend with whom you have a lot of history, and then Owen who is your cipher - your communication, your eyes and ears in the field. When you play the game you build relationships with these characters as you go, and these are just your immediate crew. There's tons of characters back in Fort Tarsis which we showed last year a little bit - we didn't show it at all this year, we're saving that for the future. Much as with your crew, you have relationship moments, you spend time with them in story moments, but that is limited to Fort Tarsis and in the Strider because, as Mark [Darrah] said on stage this is a shared world and you and I will have our different versions of Tarsis, we just come together in the world to play missions.
We will show more of what that storytelling, what that BioWare DNA looks like, in addition to talking about how the game's being balanced for multiplayer, how there will be a good loot chase. It's a tricky thing to introduce new IP but it's also a tricky thing to introduce it when everyone has an expectation based upon what you've done or what you should be doing. So it's key to be very clear what this game is - it is not a single-player corridor shooter, it's not a Mass Effect game, it's not a Dragon Age game, as much as those IPs are special to us. As much as we have various projects in the works and there's a team working on Dragon Age stuff right now, and Mass Effect is certainly not dead, Anthem is different and we have to highlight those differences, of which co-operative play is a big difference.
Where do you see the future of Mass Effect lying? Is it another game, or will it just be comic books from here out?
Mike Gamble: I don't know - Casey [Hudson, BioWare boss] and Mark and I and EA leadership have to sit down and work out what that looks like. You're very near and dear to it - so are we, as creators, and we want to make sure there's a future. But that comes after Anthem, after all that stuff we're talking about. That's future.
Is there anything else you would say to fans who've seen the limited amount shown during E3's press conference but who obviously don't have access to the demo here? Those people telling you 'this doesn't look like a BioWare game'?
Mike Gamble: There's an amazing cast of characters in this game. Tarsis is a place that is yours where you can make choices and see consequences. You can play the story of the game solo. There's an incredible world to explore and it is full of lore. It is full of things you will want to learn about - where the Scars came from, what the Dominion from the North is. It's not just in any shape or form you with a gun just flying around shooting things. It's a whole package. For players who want this to be a traditional BioWare game, that is part of the game. It is different - it's not a single-player linear game, and yes there are no romances or active companions flying with you, but there's all the other things which weave into the DNA of what makes a BioWare game. In addition to amazing combat, amazing mobility, a cool open world.
To people worried this is a template for future BioWare games, is there still an audience for the more traditional Dragon Age and Mass Effect experiences?
Mike Gamble: Yeah, absolutely. No one should worry this is a template for anything. We're making a different type of game with Anthem, we made a different type of game with Andromeda, and a different type of game with Inquisition, and I can go all the way back to Baldur's Gate. We make different types of games every two or three years since. We've made an MMO, we've made open world, we've made [ME spin-off] Jacob's Story for iPhone. We've made so many different kinds of games and that will continue. We don't have a new template for a new type of game, we just have a template for a great game. Or, at least, we're trying.