For a game that probably won’t be out for a couple of years, there’s plenty of hype already for Mass Effect 4, the upcoming addition to BioWare’s extremely popular and critically-acclaimed science fiction RPG franchise. Previous talk from the developers has suggested that Mass Effect 4 could either focus on one of the secondary characters from the original trilogy, or could be a completely unrelated storyline set in the same universe, but at this point most of the details are still being kept very secret.

It’s actually a little erroneous to refer to the next game as Mass Effect 4, since BioWare has previously been very firm in their assurances that the game won’t feature Commander Shepard, and that to think of it as a direct sequel to the previous games would be a “disservice.” However, until the actual title of the game is announced (hopefully the writers will go with Mass Effect: The Next Generation), we’ll continue to use Mass Effect 4 as a temporary moniker.

Last month, BioWare Montreal’s Studio Director Yanick Roy asked fans on Twitter to suggest things that they’d like to see in the teaser trailer for Mass Effect 4 (meaning that one is close to being unveiled?), and within a matter of hours had received over 200 responses. He has since continued to volunteer small pieces of information and teases in answer to some of the many questions that he’s received from fans of the series

Unless you have a serious mental block when it comes to navigating dialog trees, the gameplay of the Mass Effect series has so far not been notably difficult or confusing for those new to gaming or to the RPG shooter genre. The central threat of the Reapers, however, has spanned all three games and those who picked up only Mass Effect 2 or Mass Effect 3 may have found themselves missing out on the many references to events from earlier games. With that in mind, cutting ties with the existing storylines could definitely make the next Mass Effect game more appealing to those who don’t want to invest 70-100 hours into previous games just to get caught up.

Female Shepherd gay romance option in Mass Effect 3

For LGBT gamers and those who prefer to explore same-sex relationships within the Mass Effect universe, Roy has also indicated that the developers intend to continue having the option of gay relationships. Though this has become fairly common in modern RPGs, there was a minor controversy when it was revealed that Mass Effect 3 would be the first in the series to offer same-sex relationships, so it’s a relief to hear that BioWare isn’t planning to quietly remove this option from their future stories.

Most of the questions asked have been related to the story and characters, since these are the elements that really drive the Mass Effect experience. However, when quizzed on the matter of how similar or different the gameplay would be to previous installments in the franchise. Roy said that they plan to draw inspiration from Mass Effect 1, as well as Mass Effect 2 & 3. Could this mean that we’ll see the Mako back in action and bouncing cheerfully over the surfaces of alien planets once more?

Roy is still taking questions on his Twitter account (though obviously there are some that he can’t answer), so if you’ve got a burning inquiry of your own regarding Mass Effect 4, why not take it to the studio director himself?

Source: Yanick Roy [via Xbox Magazine]