Evening Reading: Massively Effective Side Questing

By Garnett Lee, Jan 28, 2010 6:00pm PST One of the more subtle parts of Mass Effect 2 I'm really enjoying is how well it weaves together the supporting materials around the central storyline. RPG's typically include side missions of one sort of another but they often feel removed to some degree from the main focus of the game. At best they come of as pleasant distractions that pay off with a boost to developing characters or access to better stuff. At worst they become tedious traps I can't wait to get through so I can be back to the "real" game.

In Mass Effect 2 I've found that in some cases I don't even click to fact that I'm playing nonessential content until after I look back it later once I've walked away from the game. The balance they've struck with is the key. These extras aren't purely off the beaten path nor are they beating me over the head to go do them because it will help me out. They happen naturally, within the context of the events in the game.

A couple of important mechanics are at work behind the scenes. One of them is picking up these extra missions as a passerby to conversations in the world. This is significant because it's a built-in test of whether I care to take the mission or not without directly confronting me with the decision. When I walk by and stop, I'm taking the initiative to listen. Another clever trick is the quick payoff for what I'll call assignments of opportunity. These are things that happen seemingly spontaneously in the level. For instance, helping someone out of jam that I didn't even realize was in that situation before I intervened.

Here's a few of the missions Shack took today in case you got occupied by other quests during the day:

I know we have some serious photographers so I thought I'd share this cool look into the past thing

Here's an unexpected combination of a trackhoe and waterskiing

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