Mass Effect and Commander Shepard’s story offered a gret technical achievement in interactive storytelling. So few games come close the the level of choice and adaptation that the franchise offered and even fewer, if any, on the scale of BioWare‘s trilogy. Spreading out the story across three AAA titles in a way that allowed for massive choice potential was something entirely new. It’s a story many gamers became emotionally invested in and the series enjoys an incredibly loyal fan-base. (Even if that loyalty was tested by Mass Effect 3′s conclusion)
That is why fans who feel most connected to the series’ central character might be disappointed to hear that the events surrounding Commander Shepard and the original trilogy won’t have any bearing on ‘Mass Effect 4‘.
Talking to Complex, series writer Mac Walter has ruled out any of the Commander’s influence on the new game. Shepard not being the lead character of the next game is nothing new, but Walter’s comments certainly shed new light onto what the next game in the franchise could be.
“Well, I can’t get into details, but the idea is that we have agreed to tell a story that doesn’t relate necessarily to any of the Shepard events at all, whatsoever.”
Taking the mythos of Mass Effect into account, it may be possible to discern a few things about the next game. Walter seems particularly adamant that the franchise won’t relate to Shepard’s story “whatsoever” This might suggest that the next game is a prequel or set many years after the original games. Shepard’s story is fairly all encompassing for the Mass Effect universe with Shepard also becoming a recognized celebrity. To have a game set in the same timezone, but not reference Shepard, could be a little complicated.
Mass Effect 4, for want of a better title, will also be accessible to new players jumping into the universe for the first time. All these changes and appeal to a wider audience could have loyal fans worried but Walter did assure them that even without Shepard, the next game in the franchise would still be Mass Effect.
“But throughout it all, one of the key things is that it has to be Mass Effect. It can’t just feel like a spin-off. It has to feel like a Mass Effect game at its heart, at its core. Just without the Shepard character or the Shepard specific companions.”
What would you like to see from the next Mass Effect game? Would you prefer to go backwards or forwards in the timeline? Are you sad to see Shepard isn’t going to be influencing the game at all?