Mass Effect series lead writer Mac Walters explains how the controversial ending of Mass Effect 3 will influence the story of the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda.
While the Mass Effect series is generally praised for its superb storytelling and complex characters, there were many that voiced disappointment with the ending to Mass Effect 3. The game's original ending was so divisive that it resulted in fan petitions demanding that BioWare tweak the trilogy's conclusion, which the studio eventually obliged. BioWare hasn't forgotten about the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy, and is instead taking the lessons learned from it to inform the writing of Mass Effect: Andromeda.
This is according to Mac Walters, the lead writer of the Mass Effect franchise at BioWare, who spoke to IGN at The Game Awards in Los Angeles. Walters admitted that the monumental task of creating a trilogy of games where player choice mattered from one entry to the next made it especially difficult to create an ending for Mass Effect 3 that would leave all fans satisfied. That's partly why Mass Effect: Andromeda isn't going to be the first game in a new trilogy.
Since Mass Effect: Andromeda isn't the start of a new trilogy, BioWare will not be confined to creating an overarching story with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. In theory, this will allow players to carry their progress with Commander Ryder and other characters to an indefinite number of sequels, as opposed to ending their stories in just three games.
"I think we learned from that sort of sense of how much people invest in their characters and how important it is to them to carry that forward. If there was one thing that was important it was really to look at how we would start Andromeda with a new protagonist, with a new character that people could fall in love with as sort of a fresh start."
Mass Effect 3's ending and the game's story in general has had additional influences on Mass Effect: Andromeda's writing. Walters said that one of BioWare's goals in Mass Effect 3 was to present "more shades of gray" choices for players to struggle with, so that there wasn't a distinct "right" and "wrong" answer to any given situation. It's easy to see how this shades of gray approach applies to Mass Effect 3's ending, as one could argue that none of the choices players were presented with at the end were outright good or evil.
In terms of Mass Effect: Andromeda, fans can expect the line between "right" and "wrong" choices to be blurred even further. As has been previously reported, Mass Effect: Andromeda is abandoning the Paragon/Renegade morality system that has governed player progression in the past, so there already seems to be evidence supporting Walters' claim that the new game will have more shades of gray.
While the ending of Mass Effect 3 may be a bad memory for some fans, it's reassuring to see BioWare acknowledge its missteps and try to learn from its mistakes for Mass Effect: Andromeda. Based on the game's presentation at The Game Awards 2016, it's already shaping up to be rather impressive from a gameplay standpoint, so hopefully the lessons learned from Mass Effect 3 will help its story shine as well.
Mass Effect: Andromeda will be available in the first quarter of 2017 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.