Bioware stirs their extensive IP, but with Shepard gone, how will they approach a new installment in the series?
“Thinking of the next Mass Effect game as Mass Effect 4 would imply a certain linearity, a straight evolution of the gameplay and story of the first three games…” Chris Priestly
We can’t call it Mass Effect 4, and Bioware aren’t letting much slip about the Mass Effect bun that’s currently in the oven. The new installment won’t be carrying the Shepard flag and isn’t thought to be a linear addition to the family. But where will Bioware go, and will the fans be ready to love again after ME3’s disappointing ending?
“The other thing I can tell you is that, while it will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games, with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts. You can still expect the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact though, including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling.” Yanick Roy Bioware.
Dig deep and you’ll find the trail of crumbs leading to the newest installment in the Mass Effect series, through forums, twitter and interviews, people are searching for answers about Bioware’s new game. Currently under development, it will be running on the new Frostbite 3 engine, and let’s not deny it, Battle Field 4 looks bloody terrific with it. The work gone into the Frostbite engine has given the game designers more room for creativity whilst making characters look more realistic, and I’m quite happy if this means more space walks. Although sharing the same origins, the combat engine used in the new ME will have a very different feel from that of Dragon Age 3, and from DA3’s release date, I have a feeling we might have to hunker down till 2015 for Mass Effect.
There have been various debates over who we’ll be playing as in the next installment, Bioware’s development team talked about picking up with one of the already existing characters from within the IP . We could be seeing a game centered around Garrus Vakarian, Grunt or Aria. Dusty Everman championed Garrus for the newest protagonist stating:
“While being one of Shepard’s most loyal friends, Garrus has also had some of the most driven personal goals. He’s a hero in his own right, as Archangel and beyond. Who wouldn’t want to see the further adventures of the bold, charming Garrus Vakarian .”
The lead designer of the series Preston Watamaniuk however wants to see a game revolving around the Krogans, with the potential of a melee combat system whilst being able to play as Grunt or Wrex. Mac Walters, the lead writer for the Mass Effect series wants to focus on one of the smaller, less developed characters like Kai Leng for example.
Mike Gamble, Mass Effect’s series’ producer, on the other hand believes that Javik would be a suitable front-man to bring the series in a new direction. One thing is for sure, there will be no Lazarus project for the Commander.
Bioware will not be dropping same sex-relationships with the next ME and I’m glad, for all the bad press that they had over their LGBT options and the romantic interludes they included. I would love to see Bioware explore more interactions between characters, as it gave the ME trilogy so much depth in terms of player immersion, (most of the time).
Cutting ties to make it accessible to a new audience whilst appealing to their core fans seems to be the direction that Bioware will go for. Such as possibly dropping the reaper conflict to ensure that newcomers to the story wont have to invest 90 hours worth of gameplay to understand references or get involved with the plot. But Bioware might not glaze over the past events, Chris Priestly having written on the subject,”That doesn’t mean that events of the first three games and the choices you made won’t get recognised, but they likely won’t be what this new story will focus on.” I’m a tad concerned about this, because you may or may not have killed off various characters during your gameplay, so here’s to hoping they won’t play around with the immediate timeline.
One can only wonder whether we will return to the Citadel
All in all, I’m excited for this project to come to term, no matter which direction they choose to take this game in and regardless of who will become the new face of the series. I will still be giving it a chance, and despite the gripes about ME3’s ending I hope the fanbase will too. For now, we’ll just have to wait it out.
Thoughts? Unspent Vitriol? Desperately hoping for a Garrus spinoff?
Use that box below.