It may seem that little time has passed since Mass Effect was making headlines, but BioWare is already working toward the series’ next installment. Although the developer hasn’t moved beyond hinting which stories the next Mass Effect could tell, recent comments confirm that the studio’s two biggest RPG franchises will continue to walk similar paths.

Shortly after Dragon Age: Inquisition was mentioned during E3 2013 – release for next-gen systems may be confirmed, but is still a long way off – the studio director at BioWare Montreal has offered an update on Mass Effect development, and how it will be building on the foundations of Dragon Age 3.

While neither game was spotlighted at E3, both of the properties are counted on to be big releases for publisher EA for next-gen consoles. Given the increase in hardware potential – and the somewhat mixed critical reception to both series’ last outing – BioWare seems committed to making the wait worth the fans’ time. Not only will both be developed using the Frostbite 3 engine, but the Dragon Age team remains committed to addressing the fan criticism of Dragon Age 2.

Although we still don’t know much about Inquisition – beyond a leaked Xbox One listing and rumored customization details – BioWare Montreal’s studio director, Yanick Roy, took to Twitter to prove that Mass Effect development is alive and well:

It’s obvious from the size of the design document that Roy was using the term “first pass” lightly, implying that some aspects of the next Mass Effect‘s design are much farther along than others. Roy’s followers brought up the same point, which the director admitted was the case. But when fans voiced their concerns that they were hoping the next ME game wasn’t years away (which is the implication, since it only exists in binder form), Roy assuaged their fears.

According to Roy, the Montreal studio has been hard at work for some time, and since both ME4 and DA3 were being built in the same engine, presumably for the same platforms, the team would be able to “borrow” some elements from their colleagues once development began. Roy went on to elaborate that instead of starting completely from scratch, the “core systems” would be adapted.

Mass Effect 4 BioWare Montreal

Whether that’s good news or bad depends on your feelings toward the growing similarity between Mass Effect and Dragon Age on a philosophical level – foregoing the more ‘hardcore RPG’ elements and systems for a more ‘action-shooter/slasher’ slant. Without more details on exactly which systems will be “borrowed,” fans can choose to take the news as they will. What we do know is that not only will the sci-fi and fantasy RPGs be targetting next-gen gamers, but the size and scope of the two may just be comparable.

How do you feel about this news? Are you simply glad to hear that Mass Effect will benefit from the efforts of the team behind Dragon Age: Inquisition? Or are you more interested in the more hardcore competition in both genres? Sound off in the comments.

The next Mass Effect is currently without a release date or further details.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is expected to release in 2014 for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: BioWare (via CVG)