San Diego Comic-Con 2011: The BioWare Base

Every year the presence of video games grow stronger at the San Diego Comic-Con. BioWare had an especially large presence at the Hilton directly across the street from the convention center. A large, inflatable Normandy hovered high above the crowd and the intense looking John Shepard peered out from a large Mass Effect 3 banner.

Nevermind that I’m a Mass Effect fangirl, the BioWare base was one of the best offerings at Comic-Con this year and it wasn’t even inside of the convention center. Inflatable omniblades, customized dog tags, amazing cosplay, six FemShep designs for fans to vote on, fan art, Executive Producer Case Hudson and Director of Marketing David Silverman were roaming around as were several of the voice actors such as Jennifer Hale (FemShep) and Michael Hogan (Captain Bailey in Mass Effect 2, also known for his role as Colonel Tigh in Battlestar Galactica). Every day the BioWare base offered a various array of events: a costume contest, voice actor signings and panels about their upcoming games. To top if off, fans got the chance to play a bit of the Dragon Age 2: Legacy DLC, Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Some photos I took while at the BioWare base:
Autographed by Jennifer Hale! Shadowtrooper! Betty (left) and myself with Michael Hogan! With FemShep and my fav, Garrus Crystal & Rana McAnear, the face model for Samara, as Samara! Friends Betty and Omar pose

Unfortunately for me I was scheduled to cover enough panels that it didn’t allow me enough wait time to stand in line and play any of the games *insert sound of fangirl heart breaking here* but alas, I did get to hang out in the evening time and meet and get an autograph from Jennifer Hale, took some photos with Michael Hogan and spoke to David Silverman and several others on the BioWare marketing team. Believe me, my fangirl heart was all aflutter the entire time I was at the BioWare base despite not getting a chance to play any of the games.

A lot of important news came out of SDCC about the BioWare games (some of which came out during E3 this year, but let’s recap it anyway):

Mass Effect 3

  • Executive Producer Casey Hudson shared that in Mass Effect 3 there are tougher decisions that will maorly impact the players game.
  • More intense action with the addition of the omniblade. Check out the omiblade in action here at 1:22.
  • More customization of weapons and powers.
  • Cerberus atlas is a vehicle that can be controlled by Commander Shepard if you can get the Cerberus pilot out of the vehicle without destroying it first.
  • Images of FemShep were revealed for fans to vote on. Voting has been well underway and although there has yet to be an official statement from BioWare, it appears that Shepard #5 has won by a landslide at 30,059 votes.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

  • There are 19 major worlds available.
  • James Ohlen, BioWare Senior Creative Director, stated that there will be 500 worlds hosted by the year 2025. Whoa.
  • There will be 200 hours of gameplay available for each class, but that excludes crafting, raiding and so on. Sounds hefty, both great and not so great for anyone expecting to be productive outside of playing SW:TOR.
  • Holiday 2011 is the targeted release date for SW:TOR.

Although I did not get hands on with the games as I mentioned, my internet friend Freddy did get hands on with Mass Effect 3. Check out his thoughts on the game below:

When I first walked up to the Bioware home base I was just expecting to check out artwork, cos-play and other Comic-Con goodies to be expected. But just before entering I was told there was a Mass Effect 3 demo (braingasm). The line was long, but it was a cool wait. They had it setup where the line moved around the stage so we could watch all the festivities they had going. I watched a cos-play contest, filled with people from KOTOR, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age. Some were really great, and the rest were amazing. I remember in particular one Miranda cos-player that was very pleasing to the eye. Also along the line were all the artwork submissions for another contest. So there was plenty to keep me and the rest of the line entertained during our 2 hour wait. But when we finally made it to the front we were treated like VIP. They brought us into closed rooms and explained the demo and how it was going to work, all the while catching people unfamiliar with Mass Effect up to date. They had xbox 360 setups with a demo of a level I had seen them play through at E3 and other events. It was the one where you have help Mordin and Wrex to rescue a Female Krogan that may hold the secret to curing the genophage. The gameplay was mostly the same as ME2, with added capabilities. You can now use a lethal melee attack with the Omni-Blade that varies depending on your character type. The aiming sensitivity was definitely higher, which took a little while to get used too, and some of the added rolling/cover maneuvers as well as some of the audio (voices) still needed some fine tuning, but I’m sure they’ll get that done by the deadline, overall the game play was solid though. Love the frag grenades though, highly useful, and fun to see a group of enemies blasted into bits. And props to them for letting you choose which Shepard you wanted to play with, BroShep or FemShep. After the demo was over they had a few computers set up for us to post status updates about the demo and Bioware’s base in general. They even gave us awesome medals (actually made of some sort of metal) with codes for an ME3 Alliance Normandy SR-2 prop for your xbox avatar. I wish I could’ve stayed after but had to hurry back to 4th & B where I was playing a show that night. Would’ve been nice to hang out and converse with Casey Hudson and other writes/voice actors that were just walking around. I had a blast and can’t wait for ME3 this next March. I have the Collector’s Edition pre-ordered and will be eagerly waiting to see how they build the Mass Effect franchise after this Trilogy.

Sounds like a great time and that he was very lucky to get a chance to try out the game! Were you at Comic-Con and did you stop by the BioWare base? Did you get a chance to play hands on with any of the games? Let us know what you thought!

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