Gamers are longing to score some nitty-gritty details about Mass Effect 4, but the developer hasn’t given too many out for the long gestating sequel. While BioWare held a developer roundtable about the upcoming title, specifics about plot and gameplay were unsurprisingly hard to come by. We did learn one thing, though: the next Mass Effect game is going to be big. Really, really big.
In a change of pace from the previous three games, Mass Effect 4 focuses on exploration. Fans will still build their team and shoot a myriad of species in the face, of course, but this time BioWare really wants to take advantage of “the depth and diversity” of the Mass Effect universe. The goal, they say, is a game where “exploration is as satisfying as combat.”
To this end, the worlds in Mass Effect 4 will be absolutely massive. Using the power of next-gen consoles and the Frostbite Engine, BioWare’s developers are trying to make Mass Effect 4 “the biggest Mass Effect yet.” Just look at the concept art, released as part of BioWare’s annual N7 Day celebration.
Sprawling alien landscapes dwarf their human explorers, and bizarre alien architecture seems to stretch for miles. It’s gorgeous and, quite frankly, a little scary.
To help players navigate these huge environments, BioWare is reviving the Mako – the much-maligned tank-ATV-thing from the first Mass Effect. We’ve known for a while that the Mako’s coming back, but the BioWare team quickly assured the audience that they’ve learned from their mistakes. “The handling of the new Mako is just awesome,” one developer said. Another added that some people spend 20 or 30 minutes just driving the Mako around with no real goal. Apparently, it’s just that fun.
A few plot details came out during the presentation, but nothing overly specific. BioWare’s developers confirmed that Mass Effect 4 features an “all new story and all new characters,” and hinted that we’ll meet new races and cultures. Unlike Shepherd, who’s a grizzled veteran by the time you meet her (or him) in the first Mass Effect, Mass Effect 4’s protagonist is still “becoming a hero.” The Citadel probably won’t return; the game has some kind of central hub, but there’ll be a “twist” on the original formula.
At the end of the day, size and exploration dominated the conversation. Developers were quick to mention that gamers won’t have to explore when playing ME4, but BioWare is hoping that fan will want to take advantage of the world the team is building. The dev is making every effort to ensure that each location is just as exciting as it is gorgeous. After all, what’s beauty without danger? According to one developer that would just be a “vacation.”
Mass Effect 4 is currently in development for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and the PC. It currently has no release date.