Mass Effect’s original concepts: Tali’s original face, infant Human Reaper and more

BioWare has revealed a number of shelved ideas and concept art from the Mass Effect trilogy.

The details come courtesy of Matt Rhodes, a veteran designer with the celebrated developer, who divulged some interesting plot concepts regarding Commander Shepard’s battle against the Reapers.

First up, Rhodes revealed that a “very, very early idea” for the Commander would have seen him utilize Reaper technology in his various exploits. Ironically, this would eventually lead to Shepard going down a similar path to Saren, before being confronted by the new human Spectre – just as he once approached the traitorous Turian in the original game.

Elsewhere, Rhodes also spoke on how he drummed up various concepts for Tali’s face, “when her appearance under the mask wasn’t a big deal yet.” He ultimately settled with a more alien design featuring white skin and feline-looking eyes.

"The debate about whether or not to reveal Tali’s face was one that lasted a long time. Versions of her were being worked on fairly often," Rhodes said. "Personally, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to push players to the edge. Tali was like a pen pal, or a friend you’ve only ever known online. Depending on how attached to her a player was, how well could they handle her appearance challenging their expectations?

If she looked a little too alien, just a little too repellant, would they still feel the same way about her? Or did her personality and your history together trump appearances? It’s an interesting area to explore and I hope we can find other ways to ask that question."

BioWare ultimately settled on another design altogether, giving the fan-favourite Quarian a more human appearance.

Early art work for the Human Reaper from Mass Effect 2 is also shown, depicting a more child-like appearance than the lumbering creature faced in the final version.

There’s a ton of art work on Rhodes’ blog, so be sure to give it a look. You’ll also find concepts for Dragon Age there, too.

What do you think of these initial concepts for Mass Effect? Did you feel Tali’s original appearance was more befitting for her alien heritage than the final design? Let us know in the comments section below.