Combining jump-in multiplayer action with RPG storytelling might just create a whole new world…
We’ve already seen enough of BioWare’s latest to have us drooling at the prospect of exploring a vast, beautiful alien world in flying mechsuits with our friends. But hang on, you’re thinking, this is BioWare, right? Where’s the romance? Where’s the deep storytelling? How the hell is all that going to work in an online multiplayer game?
Well, much of this was answered by the game-makers at PAX West recently, when a panel of developers revealed more, along with a cool new gameplay trailer. And the answer it seems, is in what BioWare is terming ‘Our World, Your Story’.
“We really are focusing on meshing together two ways of amazing storytelling,” reveals producer Mike Gamble. “You can play with your friends, go out in the world, there are these cool world events – and these are common between everyone playing the game. That’s what we call ‘Our World’. But we still wanted to tell a BioWare-quality story, we wanted you to feel as though you understand the characters, and have the opportunity to really engage with them. In a multiplayer game, that’s tough, so that’s how ‘Your Story’ came about and where Tarsis really grew from.”
Fort Tarsis is the game world’s hub, a bustling settlement from which
“We are focusing on meshing together two ways of amazing storytelling”
your Freelancers go out and tackle threats to this bastion of civilisation in a brutal world. It is where your role-playing will be done, where you make choices before going out on a co-op mission. Here you can mod and personalise your Javelin, talk with people to discover their stories and explore the world’s lore, and it’s where BioWare’s penchant for storytelling and role-playing will be given full rein. Story time There are a number of mission-giving agents from different factions, like the shadowy Corvus; Arcanists, interested in the world’s lore; and Sentinels, Tarsis’ police force. Mission-types will be in keeping with the aims and priorities of the agents; for example Arcanists will have you exploring deep into the dark corners of the world to investigate the secrets of the planet’s past. Out on a mission, you’ll have a Cypher – essentially the ‘guys in the chair’, support characters who guide your missions, helping identify threats and problems. You also have a ground crew, each with unique abilities and roles. And there are other rival human factions such as The Dominion who seek to use the Anthem of Creation – the thing used by the ‘Gods’ to create the planet – for evil.
BioWare stress that the role-playing is optional for those who just want to get out and have a blast with their mates. However, BioWare has evidently focused a lot of attention on Fort Tarsis as a hub for its reactive storytelling, and has hinted that the kind of depth and reactivity you’ll find in Fort Tarsis might be seen in future
Mass Effect and Dragon Age games. So what about romance? It seems that when it comes to in-game relationships, it’s more Downton Abbey than Love Island.
“There are a lot of ways that you can develop close bonds,” says Gamble, “and we wanted to focus on that. The reference that our writers use is Downton Abbey; if you’re familiar with that show, there’s not a lot of characters there, but every one has a unique, interesting story that connects to other stories.”
The game is taking shape beautifully for its February release, and we’re more excited than ever to strap into our Javelins and get freelancing.