Forget the grain of salt; take this one with a whole spoonful.
On Reddit, a user who goes by benjamin_stone (account since deleted) claims that he filled out a survey regarding the next Mass Effect game. This survey, if it exists, could be the first real look at what BioWare’s has in store for the next installment of their RPG space opera. It could also be a complete load of hooey.
That being said, there’s a precedent for this sort of thing. The first details regarding Dragon Age: Inquisition leaked via a survey that turned out to be stunningly accurate. Rock Band 4 was also first mentioned in a Harmonix-penned survey; the title was officially announced just a few months later.
If the Reddit post is a hoax, it’s an incredibly detailed one. According to benjamin_stone, the new Mass Effect takes place in the Helius Cluster in the Andromeda Galaxy, “far removed by time and space from Commander Shepard’s heroic acts” in Mass Effect 3. Players assume the role of a “pathfinder” charged with finding a new home for humanity, and they will explore various planets to establish colonies and forge strategic alliances with alien races. The in-game world is roughly four times the size of Mass Effect 3, and the story revolves around a mysterious race called the Remnant, who possess technology that will “determine the fate of humanity.”
Scouting, resource gathering, and crafting are all big parts of the new Mass Effect, as befits the game’s focus on colonization. Characters include someone named Cora, who can deploy a “deploy a biotic shield,” and a Krogan named Drack. As in previous Mass Effect games, players build their relationships with crewmates via dialogue and in-game decisions; for example, players can choose whether or not to help Drack hunt down outlaws who stole a Krogan colony ship. Players will be able to interrupt conversations with extra dialogue options or action-based decisions like drawing a weapon.
Benjamin_stone also discusses a new system called the “Strike Team” which sound similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition’s War Table. Players can hire teams of mercenaries and send them on timed missions around the galaxy, gathering experience, resources, and items. Players can also perform Strike Team missions themselves as part of the game’s online multiplayer; the more players that join in a Strike Team mission, the harder it is – and the bigger its rewards. In addition, Mass Effect 4 (or whatever it ends up being called) will ship with a multiplayer hoarde mode.
While exploring, players can raid Remnant vaults, stealing the technology inside, and will have the ability to take down Khet Outposts, driving the alien race from the galaxy. The game will contain over 100 planets, all of which can be explored via the Mako, Mass Effect’s all-terrain vehicle. Supposedly, travel will be seamless; benjamin_stone’s post claims that “transitions between activities, like flying your Tempest (space ship)… then jumping into your Mako (land vehicle)… all happen smoothly without loading screens.”
If all of this sounds too good to be true, well, it probably is. While benjamin_stone’s report jives with what’s been announced so far – a storyline that runs concurrently with Mass Effect 3, a focus on exploration, and new multiplayer modes – there’s absolutely no corroborating evidence. Without some kind of hard confirmation that this survey is real, Mass Effect fans shouldn’t get too excited.