At this year’s PAX East, Bioware lightly touched upon the idea of a new Mass Effect game. Casey Hudson was incredibly vague in regards to details, but stated that the upcoming title would be “a fresh and new experience.” The game may be called Mass Effect 4, and will be released for next-generation consoles. Bioware has also confirmed development, and if we’re lucky, we may get to see something at E3 this summer.
People often ask me where I think “Mass Effect 4” is going to take place in the series. Although I feel what I truly want will never happen (which is more Shepard, of course), I have many theories about where Bioware will take the game, and why it would work. Of course, the series can be screwed completely by this new installment, but it has the possibility of renewing the magic we felt upon booting up the original game. So, what do I feel should happen? How do I feel about what already has occured? Well, children, pull up a chair, Auntie Shepard is about to tell you a story.
The following questions are real questions asked by real people. Thus, you are about to receive real answers.
“How do you feel about CGHub’s ‘new original character’ contest?”
We’ve become incredibly accustomed to the existing species in the Mass Effect universe. The knowledge of Turians, Salarians, and the sort — as well as their physical traits and behavioral ticks — has become second nature. My friends and I jokingly speak to each other like the Elcor.
Bioware put a lot of work in the final design of the now-familiar alien creatures. If you have the chance to pick up the Mass Effect art book, you’ll see that each creature and character looks completely different from their final result. I trust Bioware to create interesting species, but unless the new Mass Effect‘s set several thousand years in the past, or several thousand years in the future, the company risks alienating (no pun intended) the original set completely. If you purchased Javik as a playable character, he constantly makes fun of the other species. Implying that Drell ate flies, Asaris were tadpoles, and the Hanar were, well, jellyfish. Bringing in a new set of species can, however, truly set the timeline for a cycle; How long does each species last, exactly, before evolving, or extinction?
A new set of species could be a great thing, though. It could really broaden the Mass Effect universe and open a whole new world of side stories. In terms of the contest, it was really cool to see what kinds of things people come up with. Every creature (and human) had a very strong Mass Effect essence to them. Although they weren’t official Mass Effect creatures, the influence was very clear.
“Since more Shepard is incredibly unlikely, would you rather see a new Mass Effect set in the past or future?”
Personally, I’d take either, but I’d prefer a new Mass Effect set in the past, as the comic books and novels do a great job of building up the past and filling in the in-betweens. I was a real big advocator of a PlayStation Vita title that told the story from Liara’s point of view and connected Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. There’s a few things that I could see working.
First and foremost, we need a tale set in Prothean times. Seeing the truth revealed about the Prothean world and culture would be really cool, especially if the story touches upon the little that we know about them from Javik (and Liara’s theories as well). I could see myself really enjoying a title told from Javik’s point of view that ends with him waking up and seeing Shepard (with facial skin taken from archived saves). Then the credits roll.
Mass Effects constantly harps on the size of the universe. If you look at the map, there are lots of untouched areas. Exploring those regions in a narrative that leads up to Shepard, or even something parallel leading to the final push against the Reapers, would be awesome. There’s a lot of potential backstory to fill.
“Mass Effect 4 needs more Drell.”
Funny you should say that, because I often thought about that myself. Same with female Turians — there are only two seen in the series (the game, at least), and they’re both parts of Mass Effect 3 DLC. Species like the Drell, Hanar, Elcor, and even Volus could be given more time to shine. Especially Drell, with their keen senses and ability to visualize memories. They could make for cool gameplay.
“Do you think a ‘Mass Effect 4’ is needed? Will a tangent to another part of the same universe destroy the previous games symmetry?”
Honestly? No. We don’t need another installment in the series, but the fact that Bioware is going to take their time and not pump this out like Halo and Call of Duty comforts me in a weird way. Does this have the potential to ruin Mass Effect forever? Absolutely. Does it have the potential to be even greater than the first series? Yes.
Depending on what angle Bioware takes with the story, species, and gameplay, it can really enrich the series as a whole. Bioware’s had plenty of time to digest the series’ highs and lows and grow from there.
“Will players adopt a new Shepard?”
Commander Shepard is a video game icon up there with Mario, Master Chief, Nathan Drake, and Adam Jensen. Shepard’s been a part of our lives since 2006 — a truly important time in gaming. Shepard’s life began at the start of one console generation, and ended at the near close of it, too.
This “new Shepard,” whether it is a Drell, an Asari, or a whole new species, will be the next-generation Shepard. We may not accept it into our hearts like we did with the original Shepard, but the new generation will — and we will take it for what it is. That’s not a bad thing, by any means. It simply shows that as we grow, a certain character or type of character bonds with us better than others.
“Will there be kittens in Mass Effect 4?”
God, I sure fricken hope so. I mean, there were hamsters, right? So why not kittens?
“Could the choices of the overall ending of your previous character affect the future of this upcoming character?”
If Bioware goes the future route, absolutely! I would really hope they spend a part of the game showing civilization being rebuilt. The way that happens should be defined by the ending you chose. How, might you ask? Let me explain.
If you chose the Control ending, your soul and essence is now controlling the Reapers. Technically, Commander Shepard is the Reapers, as hinted at in the epilogue of that ending choice. This could be a huge advantage in rebuilding the universe and fixing the relays — the Reapers could bear skills that are beneficial to rebuilding.
In the event that you went the weird route and chose the Synthesis ending, everything would change. You would have combined your DNA with the Synthetics, creating a whole new form of DNA for not only humans, but every species. The two becoming one changes not only how the organics and synthetics use the benefits of being both to rebuild, but the future of the universe as well, in terms of advancements.
And if you were like me, and flipped over your table screaming “FUCK THE REAPERS,” you destroyed fricken everything. And that’s where the new game would get weird — you have no more Synthetics. You would have to rebuild synthetic existence, along with most technology, if not all. And to rebuild that would be incredibly challenging.
So really, if the Mass Effect 3 ending were to affect the new game, Bioware would literally have to write three different stories along with developing three different games. In the words of Sweet Brown, “ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!”
“Will Mass Effect 4 have Mass Effect driven floss end up saving the crew of the ‘insert ship name here’ to create a claim that Bioware is promoting healthy teeth?”
Uh. Yes? I would find it quite amusing if they did, actually. HEALTHY TEETH FOR A GOOD FUTURE IN SPACE, Y’ALL.
To conclude my jumble of theories and thoughts, I will say this: Bioware has the power to screw this up, make it great, make it small, make it big — it’s in complete control right now. With the re-doing of the ending and the amazing The Citadel DLC, I think Bioware has a good grasp of what it’s doing. Although we probably won’t see this title until 2014, or even as late as 2016, I feel we’ll enjoy it one way or another, whether as a traditional Mass Effect title or accepting it as a whole new world.