After Shepard: What We Want From ‘Mass Effect 4′

Jan 6, 2011 by  

Future Mass Effect Games

At this point in popular culture, the concept of a spin-off has become common knowledge. A character or world created in a work of film, television, or print is seen as not only capable of providing significance to the original piece it appeared in, but also able to justify a project devoted exclusively to itself. The results can vary greatly depending on how right the creative minds were (we’re looking at you, Joey, and your Friends) but the same phenomenon hasn’t been seen to the same extent in the world of gaming. Sure, sidekicks have gotten their own titles, but rarely are they pitched and marketed to the same degree as their flagship games.

What seems to be popping up in its place is the creation of entire game worlds that offer an infinite number of story possibilities. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Dragon Age 2 are two franchises that have taken a different approach. BioWare, the team behind the world of Dragon Age 2, also possesses another property of a world larger than any one narrative. That of course, is Mass Effect.

Mass Effect, and its sequel Mass Effect 2 take place in a future where mankind has come into contact with a vast intergalactic community of different alien species, putting the player into the boots of a human soldier tasked with saving not only our own civilization, but those of our new allies.

The narratives vary, and player choices determine how much of the societies are seen. But the Mass Effect universe is the star of the franchise, a fully-realized array of alien systems and space stations, infused with technology that can allow players to bend space and time to defeat their opponents. A universe like this has more potential than any one game could ever tap, or even a single genre. Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 are unmistakably formed around a third-person shooter foundation, with RPG elements similar to other BioWare franchises and including mini-games and moral choices added to increase the depth of gameplay.

The science fiction that BioWare has crafted can become so much more, if the world (read: universe) of Mass Effect is allowed to star in other future titles. BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk has already gone on record that the franchise will continue after Mass Effect 3, and EA has similarly expressed the same optimism for the future of the Mass Effect property. We’ve already summed up everything we know about ME 3, but now we’re looking even further into the future.

We’ve put together a few titles that we would love to see in the Mass Effect universe, from slight tweaks to the formula to entirely new projects. Have a look, and join us in hoping that these dreams may one day come true:

Mass Effect: Cerberus

Future Mass Effect Games Cerberus

The pro-human military group known as Cerberus has had an interesting history intertwined with the adventures of Commander Shepard, beginning as a monstrous and heartless terrorist group that conducted experiments on humans and aliens alike. They were pure evil in the first Mass Effect and Shepard shut down several of the group’s projects in his (or her depending on the player) travels, and eventually learned that they were responsible for the loss of Shepard’s unit in one of the character’s origin stories. In Mass Effect 2, BioWare showed players the other side of the coin, where a terrorist group committed to the survival of humanity can prove to be mankind’s only hope.

While other alien races ignored the Reaper threat in Mass Effect 2, only the group’s shadowy leader, The Illusive Man, did what was necessary to protect human settlers, recruiting Shepard in the process. ME2 showed how a morally ambiguous ‘cabal’  could at times prove a necessity, but we want a game that goes the distance: give players the chance to fight for the bad guys.

Mass Effect prides itself on its moral decisions, but a large number of the choices that make up the Renegade/Paragon morality system of the series are a little on-the-nose. Giving the player a choice between ‘hearing what a character has to say’ and ‘eliminating their entire race’ may seem like a tough call, but players really only have to choose between being an evil monster – and have some content rendered inaccessible as a result – or being the good guy. There’s no doubt many players chose to turn to the dark side, – and BioWare could tell you exactly how many – but the story isn’t built to allow that shift to be as important as it could be.

Future Mass Effect Illusive Man

A Mass Effect: Cerberus game would be built around shaping the player into a freedom fighter, willing to do horrible things for the greater good. If the player gave up their own morals for the good of mankind, then their dark actions would progress the story naturally. If the player instead chose to deny the narrative and character they were presented with, the story would be far more difficult, potentially leading to their death.

The Mass Effect series of novels paints Cerberus operatives as unrivaled in brutality and efficient killing, and a single cell can take down high value targets with incredible ease. Planning is just as important as execution, with agents often left to decide the best way of achieving a task. Adding stealth weaponry and hand-to-hand combat to Mass Effect‘s already-honed mechanics, as well as adopting a strategic approach to missions would offer a unique experience in the franchise, and place the player into an entirely new role.

Mass Effect may have given players the opportunity to follow their own moral compass, but provide a game that will incentivize morally questionable behavior, and you have a perfect companion to Commander Shepard’s epic.

Mass Effect: Origins

Future Mass Effect Games Origins

Fans of Dragon Age: Origins were seriously disappointed when they learned that the robust character creation system that allowed players to choose their own race, specializations, and backstory would be removed from Dragon Age 2 in favor of a system similar to that of Mass Effect. Since Mass Effect fans didn’t know any better, the customization of classes given to the human Spectre Shepard seemed like standard fare for an RPG. But now we have to think: how different would a Mass Effect game be if other races were made available.

Put the player into the role of a proud Turian, called upon to defend his planet and heirarchy from an outside invader, possibly even the humans in the First Contact War between the two species. Maybe even set the game further into the future of the universe, when the Quarians take arms against the Geth to reclaim their lost planet. Since the stories of the universe are so inter-connected, the decisions Shepard made regarding the Geth in Mass Effect 2 could even be imported to alter the storyline, creating a bridge between one character’s story and the next.

The choices for developers here are limitless, and every idea would offer a completely new and exciting experience. Now that fans are well aware of how the humans fit into the galactic picture, creating a game that puts those same players in control of a Krogan, tasked with maintaining order among the rival clans and conquering your opponents would make every game feel even more integral to the overall world.

Future Mass Effect Wrex

Dragon Age: Origins gave players the opportunity to take control of any character in the protagonist’s party, but Mass Effect only allows orders to be given. The fact that we have never been given the opportunity to see the world through any other species just makes the idea that much more irresistible. If the developers really wanted to blow fans away, then give us a game that makes a playthrough with every species possible.

We aren’t talking about a simple re-skinning or change in voice actor, but a creation element on par with that of Origins. It seems an obvious idea to let eventually allow players to choose between a Turian, Quarian, Krogan, even a Salarian or Batarian role in saving the galaxy from catastrophe. Origins not only proved that it could be done, but that BioWare was capable of coming up with a great story to accompany it.

Who better to bring the same scope and replayability to the various races and societies of the Mass Effect universe?

Continue reading for our ideas on the multiplayer potential of the Mass Effect franchise…

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  1. Honestly, I love the Mass Effect series. Simply Epic. Now, I wouldn’t be completely opposed to a…spin-off. I’ve played spin-offs of other games that were quite enjoyable, but when it comes to games like the Mass Effect series, I do hold more opposition to it.

    For me, it’s about the character. We have this series that centers on one character: Commander Shepard. Some people, like myself, become familiar with said character. So for me, although a spin-off might be fun, I just don’t think it would be, or feel, the same WITHOUT Commander Shepard. It would be like Devil May Cry without Dante, or Super Mario Bros. without Mario and Luigi. Or like Sonic the Hedgehog. Without Sonic. I suppose I’m just spoiled. I’ve played many game series that stick to one central character, on the whole. And playing spin-offs of these games without the characters I’ve become so familiar with; it’s just not the same. :| That’s my two-cents. So no, Bioware. Please no Mass Effect 4. Let it end with 3.

    • Personally I believe that there lies untapped potential for an interesting and more expansive Mass Effect series. However I do believe that ME1-ME3 would/should rightly be considered the flagship of the series. I would greatly welcome a story that doesn’t center on Commander Shepard because I believe that ME as a whole is more than the sum of its parts and that includes the Shepard character, as Shepard IMO was simply “a part” albeit a central part of an even bigger picture. Since ME3 is suppose to conclude the Shepard arc then its perfectly feasible to build upon what was already forged in the trilogy, and that what makes a new ME series so appealing to me. While the story may not require a more galactic threat like the ME trilogy it can revolve more around a small scale threat with an interesting story driven by interesting characters and for me that was what made ME so good, the characters. So I would truly support a new story worthy of the series as oppose to relegate the series in a constricted box simply because the main character from the previous one may not play a role. Like I said, its more than the sum of its parts, which is another reason why Star Wars and Star Trek were such huge successes.

    • I have played many games and once its beat I am finished with it. However, the Mass Effect series; I have played more than two times and I am still ready for another round. I am a writer by heart and I can see another Mass Effect in the future pipeline.

      I honestly did not care for the ending on the 3 Mass Effect; unless they continue the story where they left off. Here are some ideas; Maybe the Reapers leave and give the galaxy a chance this time, because all species will know what the consequences would be if they continued to live the same as they did, and then since the Reapers left the Krogan grew in numbers and so did the Rachni and that began the new galactic war between all species.

      Maybe they find peace after the Reapers are destroyed and in the future another hidden species challenges the galaxy.

      Maybe the Mass Effect galaxy and its species has war against another galaxy.

      Maybe they show Shepard as a child and the wars that mankind had to gain a role in the galaxy and the Skillian Blitz.

      There are many ways to make another Mass Effect without damaging its image and greatness. They could just come up with a new hero of a different era; past or present. Preferably the future.

      I so hope that they do because the weapon usage, dialogue, women, traveling, driving or flying ships is so cool. I miss how easy it was to collect minerals in Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 3. I would be cool if we could actually get into some star ship battles in space. If we could actually command the ship with the Connect.

      IT WOULD BE SO COOL IF WE COULD ACTUALLY CONTROL A STAR SHIP IN SPACE AND IN A BATTLE WHILE USING THE CONNECT. IT WOULD FEEL LIKE WE WERE ACTUALLY ORDERING CREW MEMBERS TO DO THEIR JOBS. IT WOULD ALSO BE COOL TO STILL HAVE ALL THE GROUND MISSIONS, RELATIONSHIPS, VISITING PLANETS AND SO ON.

    • wow dude you tried to steal my name. Nice one you have no creativity of your own. Will the real kaizzer please stand up. (stands up).

  2. The end of mass effect 3 made me re-imgaine the ME series thus far as a long origin story. Shepard is Kirk in the original series, next comes a Next Generation or Voyager.

    • They could easily do a game on the First Contact War with the Turians, the Rachni War, Krogan Rebellion or the Geth Quarian Conflict. There are an entire galaxy of stories that can be told.

  3. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they either make a TV series out of The Mass Effect Series, or a Trilogy of Movies. So cool

  4. The thing I love the most about the Mass Effect universe is the depth. There is so much potentiel in the material. I am a dork that reads the codex in the game. So there is definatly all kinds of directions that they could go with the series.
    I would kind of like to see a Halo Wars type game were you could take part in some of the bigger battles.
    Maybe something with the ships. It would be so cool to pilot the normandy.
    I hope Bioware does more with the series

  5. i think the next mass effect game should be based off of your final decision in mass effect 3. I would not go with the next game based on cerburas no NO WAY.

  6. Bioware should let your character get a tattoo or be an asari or any other race from mass effect heck mabye they could make it the same as any mass effect story but from a different race point of view

  7. The Mass Effect trilogy will always stand with the best games ever. Everyone is talking about this shepard/no Shepard stuff. Personally I would be extremely disappointed to hear of a mass effect game without Shepard. True the mass effect universe was about more then him, but fundamentally is was about John Shepard’s rise to a galactic symbol and hero. He was the game. No other disagree with me, that’s fine. Maybe In order to please all do a system similar to that used in resident evil 6 where you cam pick a different character and have a completely different store (intertwined together) you can fulfill wishes of playing as different races (asari/turian) but also give people who want Shepard still (like myself) the ability to play as him. Just a thought… I just know that to me Shepard is THE icon of the mass effect universe, you can kill him off or get rid of him. Halo tried it with master chief (halo odst did not get good reviews or fan base/ Halo reach did better but still was not the normal Halo fan base)when 343 brought Halo 4 it exploded and grew an even larger tan base. That shows that fan connect with their iconic Herod and tend to shy away when that hero is removed.

  8. Here’s an idea: After the reapers are defeated, peace only lasts so long.
    With the reapers (and (Spoiler?) Shepard) gone, they fall back into their old ways and fight among themselves. Because Shepard dies, there could (and maybe would) be stalwart followers of Shepard even after his/her death. (Shepardists, maybe?)

    Or perhaps you chose “Control” as your ending. Maybe the old Shepard grows discontent with how the universe is running and screws everything up to get people to work together again. He/She decides that the only way to get people to work together is to present them with a common goal.
    Or “Synthesis”. Now that reapers have minds of their own, that means they can also cause trouble simply because they want to. With new minds would be new personalities. No longer would the reapers be one entity, but a series of entities, each with their own personality and morals. Some of the reapers could decide to destroy humans simply because they want to.
    (Which would mean reaper strike teams, wouldn’t it? Anti-Reaper Defense Squads?)
    Or “Destroy”… I don’t have much for destroy… Yeah, I got nuthin’.
    . . . Well… Maybe Shepard becomes an ideal. If you remember from the post-credit scene, there’s an old man telling a child the story of Shepard. Maybe this is to explain how they got to their current situation, where the universe is warring and there is rampant in-fighting (or some other occurrence).
    It could result in some sort of Dragon Age: Origins type ending, where it’s destroy or die.

    Either way, if some sort of conflict came out of the reaper conflict, then they can all tie into a new opening. Maybe replace a couple lines or give a new opening based on what you did in ME3′s ending. And perhaps drop little tidbits concerning how your actions affected different races (and so on).

    Playing as different races with any of these ideas would work pretty well.

  9. If there is going to be a mass effect 4 I want Commander Shepard. Yes Shepard was an arc that was just part of a bigger picture but it was a very important and valid part that without would have weakened the story line as a whole. I personally agree with the comment that said that the story wouldn’t be the same without Commander Shepard and I don’t believe I would enjoy playing another mass effect game without him (or in my case ‘her’). I feel that I have worked very hard to do the right choices and make the best allies to strengthen and bring the galaxy together as a whole and would not really enjoy starting all over in that world with a character no one knew or respected.

  10. Miranda Lawson is boss of the Normandy in mass effect 4

  11. Miranda Lawson is the boss of the Normandy in mass effect 4

  12. I want the ME4 timeline after the trilogy. A new character and we get to see what happens after your choices of endings in the trilogy. I think this will be better to give us a connection further in the game. The effort, story and the choices you made matter if this is integrated to a new game. A fresh start with a new plot and new MC in the after trilogy timelime looks best for me.

    A spin-off within the trilogy is good but it won’t be that satisfying because we got to play Shepard who is like the chosen one of the galaxy. It would be severely lacking to connect to a sub character to compare with the connection you have with Shepard when you played the trilogy.

    If they also try to make a sequel, maybe a story about Anderson during the First contact war. It can maybe alienate the players who loves to customize everything about their main character which I am also guilty of in playing this series. I prefer to be able to play both genders to milk out the story and playing Anderson will just lock the character’s position since we already played the trilogy.

    Well, that’s just my opinion but I really love this franchise since it has a ton of potential for it to just end.

  13. I want to have a Mass effect game where we can choose which cycle to fight in against the Reapers since they are the main enemies of the series. Imagine playing as a Prothean or as an Inusannon and seeing the cycle’s events!

  14. I love the idea of a Mass Effect Origins game. Giving a storyline, with every race is fantastic, but please do not leave the Geth out of the mix. They were my favorite race throughout the entire trilogy, I feel they have endless possibilities, and with the right imagination, the highest degree of potential. They are unknown, hated,feared and don’t fit into the galaxy. They are also the only major non-organic race, aside from the Reapers. This eerie similarity could also create an awesome spin off. Maybe the Geth heretics see all organics as a major threat to the well being of organic survival, just as the Reapers did, and then one anomaly Geth unit sees the potential, like Legion. The Geth unit would warn the heretic Geth about the repercussions of their actions, and then his story would just be fighting the Heretics and prevent them from further tarnishing the Geth’s already tarnished reputation.

  15. I really dig the Origins possibility- make it similar to Dragon Age in giving the character it’s own unique origin. The thing is, after Sheppard leaves a great deal of storytelling- :spoiler: (note: come on, it’s 2013, if you STILL haven’t played ME 3 through, what are you doing here?) Sheppard simply broke the Reaper cycle which freed the universe to write its own destiny. There are limitless possibilities- one thing that is amazing about ME is the diversity of the game which provides tremendous alternatives. What about rebuilding the gate system, perhaps? A new ME would be like rediscovering paradise so to speak- the Citadel is I think, gone if I remember correctly (since ME1 finally made it onto PS3 I have a Sheppard who is now traversing all 3 games- she just made it to ME3).

    What is inspiring about the ending of ME3 is it opened things up by no longer bonding history to the Reapers so to speak. The races are capable of recreating their own gates and creating their own galactic order. With all the races in the mix still remaining I think the series could make for amazing political intrigue- why not have an origins story which branches altogether with the rebuilding of the gates and Spectres? Branching out could unearth some new storylines based upon the rebuilding of the galactic order, new alliances, enemies, etc….with ME’s combat system it could be very fun and satisfying.

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