BioWare has explained how your Mass Effect save-game will be put to use by the sequel, which is due out next year.
"When you're playing the first game, everything that you do is setting a variable so that as the story progresses we know that you did a certain thing on a certain planet, and then internal to the game, we can reference those things. Your Mass Effect save-game contains all of that information," lead producer Casey Hudson told PC World (thanks vg247).
"When you import it into Mass Effect 2, now we can continue mining all that information. And it's not just what your ending was, or a couple of the big choices, you know, where we could have stuck a conversation at the beginning and asked you what you did and moved on. This is literally hundreds of things."
Mass Effect was conceived as a trilogy, and it sounds as though decisions made right at the beginning have the potential to dramatically reshape your experience later on in the series, rather than simply across the course of each game.
"The save-game has every variable that you've set as a player, and as we delve into the detail levels of things like actual words that are spoken, art that appears in levels, sounds and music and subtle things as such... those can all be looked at, and how they comprise the world of each sequel can be affected by your choices in the prior ones," Hudson explained.
We had a chance to check out Mass Effect 2 at E3. The verdict? It seems to be balancing refinement with continuity, and should be perfectly playable even if you never got round to the enormously enjoyable original.