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Mass Effect to get arena DLC next

Plus: sequel will be "much darker".

BioWare has said the next downloadable addition to Mass Effect will be a Fight Club-style arena. Expect less of a focus on story, and more on gambling and good old-fashioned dust-ups.

"We had something in Mass Effect 1 that again, we weren't able to pull off just because we didn't have the time and we didn't think we'd be able to do it well enough, which was a fight club or an arena. So we're actually working on that for our next downloadable content piece and we're hoping it'll be really special," said BioWare's Preston Watamaniuk. He was speaking in a documentary bundled with Mass Effect Platinum Hits and leaked to YouTube (thanks, Joystiq).

"We wanted to be able to give people a much more combat-oriented, lighter-story experience," added Mass Effect project director Casey Hudson. "You're going to go to a kind of casino gaming fight club space station."

BioWare has previously used arenas in both Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. There's no word on when the content will be available for Mass Effect.

BioWare boss Ray Muzyka went on to stress the importance of post-release content for Mass Effect as a series.

"Mass Effect, like I said earlier, is this big toy box; this enormous galaxy with millions of stars and planets to explore and we can select the interesting ones and develop them out and continue the storyline as we did with the Batarian race in Bring Down the Sky," he said.

"From a franchise perspective it's going to help fill in the gaps and understanding and continue certain plotlines and develop other certain types of gameplay. And really we'll try and customise it and build other types of post-release downloadable content to different play-patterns and to suit different types of players."

Casey Hudson said players will also be able to carry characters from Mass Effect 1 over into subsequent instalments in the series, making post-release content more appealing.

As for news on Mass Effect 2, Hudson suggested we'll be looking at a "much darker experience" that touches on different themes to the first game.

"In the second game you're actually going to go through a darker period where you're really looking for answers; it's a lot harder to find what the realities are, and there are a lot of twists and turns and it's generally a much darker experience," he said.

Preston Watamaniuk added: "We are going to continue on other themes such as technology: what does it mean to be alive? How does synthetic life or intelligence compare to real-, true-life or organic life? How do you cross those boundaries, can we cross those boundaries, should we cross those boundaries? We really want to push into that direction."

Watamaniuk explained that BioWare wants to make player decisions span across the entire Mass Effect trilogy, too, otherwise there would be no point including them.

Mass Effect 2 is due for release by April 2010, and on multiple platforms. BioWare hasn't yet explained whether that includes PS3.