Following the controversial conclusion to Mass Effect 3, it wasn’t long before fans began to speculate on what BioWare has planned for the future of the franchise in Mass Effect 4. Of course, calling the game Mass Effect 4 is presumptuous at this point – since the game developer has, so far, only disclosed that they’re working on a “new Mass Effect” game. In fact, while BioWare may have some core ideas regarding where they are headed with the next series installment, development on the project is definitely still in flux.
A couple days back, Mass Effect series executive producer, Casey Hudson, put a call out for feedback from gamers – specifically asking what fans would like to see in the “new” game. Anyone following the subsequent flurry of responses to Hudson’s question quickly saw a trend in requests: Fans want playable alien races.
Responding in a new tweet, Hudson thanked everyone for their feedback – and acknowledged the increasingly popular request:
Great suggestions coming in for the next #MassEffect game. Seems to be lots of interest in playable alien races.
The recognition only further fueled the fire – as followers began to suggest how playable alien races could further enhance the unique narrative experience of Mass Effect as well as offer further gameplay customization. While the Mass Effect lead has yet to follow-up with further insights, or an official confirmation, Hudson is no stranger to how quickly the internet responds to rumors and speculation – meaning, if playable alien races were not (at the very least) a possibility or (more likely) already on the list of planned features, there’s no way that he would have publicly highlighted that specific request.
We already know for sure that Commander Shepard will not return (at all) in the next Mass Effect game – which definitely leaves room for non-human protagonist options. We already got a taste of customizable aliens in the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer arena – where certain races, like the Krogan and Vorcha, control a bit differently from traditionally human-like races, Quarians, Turians, and the Geth. While there are certainly technical hurdles to overcome, it’s hard to imagine that playable alien races would be a major challenge for BioWare – especially considering they’ve got a primarily blank story canvas.
While Hudson remains series executive producer, BioWare’s Montreal studio is set to take the lead on the next Mass Effect installment (prior games were helmed by BioWare Edmonton) – which, as mentioned, will mark a fresh chapter in the franchise. A new lead-studio, and new storyline certainly, leaves plenty of room for anxiety among fans but, in an open letter from studio-director, Yanick Roy, the developer promises a “respectful” evolution of story and gameplay in the series:
While it will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games, with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts. You can still expect the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact though, including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling.
Gamers might get anxious when they read “exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts” but, following years of similar anxiety, Microsoft’s in-house 343 Industries developed a new chapter in the Halo series – with fresh gameplay changes and an engaging shift in story (read our Halo 4 review). Unlike 343 Industries (at the time of the Bungie transition), the Montreal BioWare studio has the added benefit of experience working intimately on story-driven campaign DLC – among other contributions to the Mass Effect series. No doubt, fans will now be looking very carefully at the Montreal Studio-developed Omega DLC in order to determine whether or not Roy and his team are worthy of the “next” full-fledged Mass Effect.
In addition, Roy also hinted that the next Mass Effect game will easily out-do the current offerings in terms of performance and visuals – given that the game is built on EA’s Frostbite engine:
There is really not much I can tell you about the game right now, except that it will be built with the amazing technology of Frostbite as its foundation, enhanced by many of the systems that the Dragon Age III team has already spent a lot of time building.
Some gamers might be skeptical about the future of the Mass Effect series – especially after the mixed reaction to Mass Effect 3‘s ending but the pieces are in place for a compelling and fresh installment. Of course, the only way to ensure that BioWare doesn’t drop one of your favorite franchise features is to weigh-in with your Mass Effect suggestions – or, as the open letter suggests, keep an eye on the studio’s job postings!
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The next Mass Effect game does not have a current release date – so stay tuned for further updates!