BioWare wants to start a whole new game with the next Mass Effect and calling the project “Mass Effect 4” is a “disservice” according to BioWare community manager Chris Priestly.
On the BioWare Mass Effect forums today community manager Chris Priestly posted this message in a forum thread titled “How is BioWare Going to Keep Everyone Happy in ME4?”
“To call the next game Mass Effect 4 or ME4 is doing it a disservice and seems to cause a lot of confusion here. We have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. That is the only detail you have on the game. I see people saying “well, they’ll have to pick a canon ending”. No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda. Wherever, whenever, whoever, etc will all be revealed years down the road when we actually start talking about it.
I do not call the game ME4 when I talk about it ever, bucause [sic] that makes people think of it more as “what happens after Mass Effect 3” rather than “what game happens next set in the Mass Effect Universe”, which is far more accurate at this point. Obviously fans are going to speculate content, character and story until we actually reveal details in the years or months to come as you have almost no actual details, just don’t get bogged down in “well how are they going to continue ME3…”.”
It seems as if BioWare wants to make sure that fans understand that the next Mass Effect game will be in the same universe, might have some plot thread overlap, but will be an entirely different story. The continuation of Shepard’s story (including the Reapers) seems to be basically off limits in terms of the storytelling aspect of the game.
However, the storytelling aspect of the next Mass Effect game is not the only thing that is going to be different. Because the game is being built on a new engine, many gameplay mechanics will be reevaluated by the team. BioWare Montreal boss Yanick Roy also went to the forums to clarify.
“What Chris is saying is that thinking of the next Mass Effect game as Mass Effect 4 would imply a certain linearity, a straight evolution of the gameplay and story of the first three games. But because we are switching to a new engine and need to rebuild a bunch of game systems, we have an opportunity to rethink how we want these systems to be going forward instead of just inheriting them from the previous games. Story-wise, the arc of the first trilogy has also been concluded, and what we will do is tell a new story set in the Mass Effect universe. That doesn’t mean that events of the first three games and the choices you made won’t get recognized, but they likely won’t be what this new story will focus on.”
Roy also confirmed that the alien races, the lore, and the technology that made the Mass Effect series so unique will still be present in any Mass Effect game they make.