Mass Effect 2: Commander Shepard can see through walls

It’s no secret, at least not to the player, that Commander Shepard knows what’s in the next room. In fact it’s clear from the first moments of Mass Effect 2, as you experience your own supposed death on the ambushed and wrecked spaceship Normandy.

Heading towards the shielded cockpit, through a hull breach that reveals the vaccum of space, you are able to lock on to your pilot Joker. Trying to rescue him from the torn apart vessel, his name appears in a red box at the top of your screen before you can even really see the cockpit, with a little grey instruction below saying ‘talk’.

Why you’d try to talk to Joker from this far outside the protective barrier, is unclear. Yet the talk interaction is still grey, inactive, you simply have a premonition of what will happen. Once within the barrier that talk becomes white, for ‘will talk now’, and Shepard can convince Joker that it is time to abandon ship.

However your prediction of the interaction that should lead to your death wasn’t without cause. As told in a cutscene before the event, you take it on yourself to take care of Joker, to save him, so it is in your mind to talk. You could have predicted this. Never mind that if you take a renegade tone you will also take an ableist stance, calling your disabled pilot a ‘cripple’ and grappling him dangerously, at least you know you will sacrifice yourself for him.

The foresight you hold as Commander Shepard isn’t clear until the game progresses, once you have been miraculously revived by Cerberus’ Lazarus Project. Since no ship or station you visit can survive your presence without invasion or sabotage, you must escape this facility under seige, guided at first by Miranda, your own personal Jesus.

This is where I found out about my powers as Shepard. Having shot down a few of the hacked mechs causing massacre, I poked around some dead bodies in a corridor looking for what the interaction indicator told me was a grenade launcher on a dead guard. It was there, surely, but there was no sign of it on these bodies and I moved on. Little did I know that I wouldn’t find it until opening the next door, since it was with the body lying beyond.

This knowledge of ‘what lies beyond’ will never be mentioned in the game. Despite other bio-enhanced features being noteworthy and upgradeable, there is no acknowledgement of the fact that Shepard can know what’s in a room without ever having seen it. For instance on their first mission figuring out threats to the galaxy, they will encounter distressed mechs and Quarians (the name for a species that must continually self quarantine). Just beforehand Shepard will be able to presage meeting someone, a guard specifically, just by looking at the wall of the building the Quarians are in. Seeing an interaction with said ‘guard’ makes it clear that the plot will bring you face to face with survivors, showing the potential effectiveness of Shepard’s unique gift.

While left unacknowledged, we can still ask how it is achieved. Is it Sonar? Remote viewing? X-ray vision? Nanotech? Either way it becomes clear that this highly sought after ability is something that Shepard will never own up to, share with their team, or use to any official advantage. Meanwhile, as a tool for making players aware that a room contains interactions, like salvageable parts, doors, conversations, wall safes and computer terminals the commander’s foresight is unavoidable. Both useful and world breaking, the eyes of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 2 can see beyond.

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