One fan’s thoughts on where BioWare can take the next instalment of the Mass Effect franchise. WARNING: This contains some minor spoilers to Mass Effect 3’s endings!
To say that gamers were let down by the original endings of Mass Effect 3 would be an understatement. The public outcry was so loud that BioWare eventually caved and updated them with the Extended Cut DLC. But that time has come and gone. Shepard’s story has been completed. It’s time to look at the future and how BioWare can weave a new series set in the Mass Effect universe.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a clear picture on what direction they’re going to take. There’s not much information on what Mass Effect 4 is all about and I don’t think they’ll reveal much, if anything at all, in E3 since they’re probably going to focus more on Dragon Age: Inquisition this year. So, what I can do is just give my thoughts on what I would like to see in Mass Effect 4.
1. Make it a sequel, not a prequel
I definitely would want it to be set after the events of Mass Effect 3. None of that “prequel” crap! No “alternate timeline” foolishness. No, the next Mass Effect game has to take place in the future. But how would they make it fit seamlessly with the three endings (no, I’m not counting the “Rejection” ending of the Extended Cut DLC because that would be dumb) of Mass Effect 3?
Simple! Mass Effect 4 takes place way in the future. I would have it set a millennia after the Reaper War. This does mean that all of Shepard’s crew has passed away by this time. This leaves the writers a virtual clean slate to work with.
But what about the events of the previous games?
2. Do not give the option to import old save games
This is controversial in my opinion but it would be for the best. I think BioWare would be hobbling themselves if they give gamers the option to import their old save games. Trying to craft a story based on all of the key events in the previous trilogy would be disastrous and confusing. The writers will need the freedom to craft a new story for what is essentially a new trilogy set in the Mass Effect universe.
While I would love to see what events would change based on this, I rather close the book on the Normandy crew’s story and focus on a new batch of memorable characters.
But what about Shepard’s history?
3. Shepard’s legacy is more of a legend rather than historical fact
Remember conversation between the Stargazer and the child during the endings of Mass Effect 3? He specifically says that some of the details of Shepard’s story has been lost because it happened a long time ago. In fact, the child doesn’t call the hero “Commander Shepard.” Rather, he calls him “The Shepard.”
I would think that there would be a new religion based on the exaggerated retelling of tales of Shepard’s adventures, making him a sort of messianic figure. Now, I’m not sure if the group would be a force of good or evil, though.
If Shepard’s gone and just a myth, who’s the new hero?
4. You can pick from three different races for the new hero
I’m guessing most fans would like a chance to play a different race other than the plain ol’ boring human. In Mass Effect 4, I’m hoping BioWare gives gamers the option to select between asari or turian characters, specifically. Each race would have varying strengths: asari will have better biotic recharge times, turians better accuracy and human will be a sort of middle ground between the two aliens.
Also, each race will also have their own special side quests and change how they interact with some NPCs! Combining this with a revamped morality system, this should lead to much more dialogue possibilities. It may be hell for the writers to think of the different scenarios but I know fans of the series will appreciate the variety.
What about the other alien races?
5. The quarians, geth and krogans’ home planets are wiped out early the game
As much as I love the quarians and geth (the krogans, not so much), I think these races have to die out. Why? To patch a couple of issues with the ambiguousness of the fates of these races and to introduce the villain of the game.
First off, during the events of the entire trilogy, Shepard essentially has to decide what happens to the quarians, geth and krogans. Even the passage of a millenia cannot fix this problem with a “one size fits all” solution. Killing these three races pretty much solves the issue.
Additionally, if the new villain (whoever or whatever he/she/it is) annihilates these races during the first few hours of the game, the stakes will feel much higher. We saw the Reapers kill off the population of an entire planet but to literally blow it up? Now, that something scarier.
Now, about the other races…
6. Give the other races some importance.
In the original Mass Effect games, we only see the batarians and vorcha are targets to shoot at. Call me an oddball but I’d like to finally get both of those races as an available squad member! I want to see them side with the good guys for once! I’d even give them the ability to use biotics thanks to all races using neural implants to simulate the ability.
I’d also like to visit the hanar homeworld and how they interact with the drell species. Or even check out Irune, the volus’ home world! I think it would be interesting to see how their governments work.
Are we just going to stay in the Milky Way then?
7. Add a couple of new races (and even new galaxies)
One thing that I liked about the Mass Effect series is its universe has a very lived in feel. A lot of historical events have passed and, while we never experienced them, we learned about them through dialogue. We discovered the tragic history of the Ranchi Wars and how the technological superior salarians uplifted the primitive krogans to help them win. We also found out about the First Contact War between the humans and turians during the early years. Now that we know much of the old history, I’d like to learn of a couple of new ones.
Introducing new races can be as simple as finding an undiscovered Mass Relay that leads to another galaxy. Or the Citadel can try to investigate where the Reapers came from exactly and discover other primitive races while doing so. If Mass Effect 4 takes place a thousand years after the events of Mass Effect 3, then we’ll have roughly 1,000 years of catching up to do with these new races as well.