Let’s face it, although it was nice to see something from BioWare regarding the next title in the Mass Effect franchise, what EA had to show at their E3 2014 press conference was underwhelming. All we got were a few pieces of concept art and some brief quotes about the universe, before BioWare Creative Director Casey Hudson signed off with a, “We’ll have more to show you in 2015″ message.
But before they completely blow the lid off Mass Effect 4, BioWare took the stage at Comic-Con 2014 to share a little more about their vision for the future of the Mass Effect franchise in a panel titled “Charting a Course: Developing the Next Mass Effect.” The panel, again, mostly focused on overarching concepts more than concrete details, but it did include some newsworthy reveals.
First and foremost, BioWare wanted to establish that this next Mass Effect game will be set during the same time period as the first ME trilogy, but will not feature Commander Shepard. The developers didn’t rule out the possibility of running into familiar places, but since this game will focus on exploring a vast universe that’s not necessarily a given.
On a similar note, BioWare confirmed the return of the Mako — the all-terrain vehicle from the first Mass Effect. The crowd seemed very receptive to the idea of the Mako coming back, but that’s likely because they hope BioWare will be able to get things right this time.
The panel presentation also included some concept art for the new N7 armor sets players will be able to wear as either a female or male character. Whether that character will have a predetermined identity like Commander Shepard or if they will play him or her as a blank slate is unclear. It does sound like the player character will be an N7 Operative, which could put a unique spin on things.
While the idea of a new Commander Shepard-type character is intriguing, if BioWare wants to take a completely different approach we doubt fans would mind. Ultimately, it depends on how the story and gameplay work.
And finally, the developers briefly touched on multiplayer — specifically that their focus is on a cooperative slant more so than a competitive one. That isn’t to say that competitive multiplayer won’t be in the game, but fans of Mass Effect 3‘s riff on horde mode will likely be the happiest to hear this news.
Unfortunately, that was it when it came to new Mass Effect news. We didn’t expect much from the panel, so what BioWare had to show was a surprise. The return of the Mako will likely draw a line in the sand among fans, but the brief footage they showed of the vehicle in action instilled some hope that this version will be much improved. Whether or not the game as a whole, however, can improve upon the original trilogy and welcome in newcomers won’t be clear until later next year.
How do you feel about the Mako returning for the next Mass Effect? Would you prefer a game that plays as close to the original Mass Effect games as possible or a radical deviation?
Mass Effect 4 currently has no release date.
Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina