The original Mass Effect launched as an Xbox 360 exclusive and a mighty exclusive it was. It later released on the PC but the original game still never arrived on the PlayStation 3. The sequel did however, but PS3 gamers still missed out on the epic origins of Commander Shepard and his first steps in saving the universe and making humans a species to be reckoned with.
Going forward, Mass Effect is multi-platform friendly and next year's Mass Effect 3 will release for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, multiplayer features and all. But what about Mass Effect 4?
Yes yes, Mass Effect 4 isn't official yet and we don't even know if it's being worked on - the groundwork for Mass Effect 4 definitely is being worked out at least in some fashion - but the series does not end when Commander Shepard's journey does. BioWare have crafted a masterful science fiction universe that has limitless potential - Just look at some examples from what we want from Mass Effect 4 to see. There's even potential for a Mass Effect MMO...
Our preference however, is for more great, in-depth stories to be told in the Mass Effect universe, something an MMO can't deliver the same way the current games do. Assuming Mass Effect 4 - or whatever it's to be called - is coming down the road, when and for what platforms will it release?
Mass Effect 2 came out two years and two months after the original. Mass Effect 3 was originally scheduled to be a little more rushed, coming out less than two years after #2. As we know now, it got delayed until March 2012 to add Kinect support, multiplayer features and polish the game. So, by that timeline, Mass Effect 4 would come at the earliest in the fall of 2013.
The current-gen consoles are getting old and BioWare made a point in saying that for developing ME3, this worked out in their favor as instead of focusing on bumping up the tech and visuals, they could focus on story-telling and gameplay. With Mass Effect 4 however, it's a good bet that it'll be available on the next-gen consoles.
We've suspected for over a year now that the Xbox 360 successor (Xbox 720/Xbox Next?) will be unveiled next summer at E3 2012, even though recent rumors point to a full unveil the following year. Either way, it sounds like there's good reason to believe the Xbox 720 will release sometime in 2013 and according to an offhanded remark in Xbox World, that's when BioWare would like to release Mass Effect 4.
So, could Mass Effect 4 be a launch title for the next Xbox? Does that mean it'll be on the PS3 as well? Or will the PS4 be out then as well? The timelines of the hardware releases make the planning for multi-platform games even more difficult. It always seemed that the PS4 would release after the Wii U and Xbox 720 but rumors last week point to Sony possibly trying to get a head start and releasing PS4 before the next Xbox.
Consoles aside, it's comforting to know that Mass Effect 3 is looking to offer the best package yet in the series and that there's more coming after. The important thing is that BioWare keeps the focus on characters and story, since that's what makes the franchise so special.
With new consoles and new tech, comes more development time, so we don't expect Mass Effect 4 to be available until sometime in 2014.
Mass Effect 3 releases for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC on March 6, 2012.
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Source: Xbox World (via Sille Gamer)