EA’s press conference featured a lot of tiny looks at huge projects that are coming in the future from DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront to a brand-new IP from BioWare. While it was exciting to hear about all of these anticipated titles, the one that I personally can’t wait for is the next Mass Effect game.
Bioware’s Montreal studio is working on another title in the popular Mass Effect series that will break away from the previous three games and not be the story of Commander Shepard. Mass Effect has been one of my favorite game series since it came out in 2007 (Mass Effect 2 is my favorite game of all time), so I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in the franchise.
We don’t know a whole lot about this next Mass Effect game but we do know that BioWare is breaking away from Commander Shepard and bringing us a whole new story. There is a lot of potential for this game to be either great or a disappointment. Here are some things I would love to see happen in the next Mass Effect game.
Old With The New
There is a tendency when you are trying to create a new game based on an old series to branch out and show gamers something they’ve never seen before. This new Mass Effect game seems to be built on that premise and it is a great way to keep the series fresh. However, I do believe that the story of this new game could benefit greatly from some level of connection to the older games.
Obviously we are expecting to see the familiar alien races, the Alliance and other staples of Mass Effect but it would also be nice to have one or two characters cross over the stories. These would not need to be significant crossovers but definitely something that could tie the universe together and still allow for it to be a new game.
I think the easiest way to do this would be to have someone like Liara show up briefly in the new game. The Asari have a very long life span so even if they set this game a long way in the future, it could still be conceivable that Liara would be around. It wouldn’t need to be a long or drawn out callback, just enough to help advance the story of this game and connect to what made the Mass Effect universe so special to begin with.
More Open Worlds
There needs to be a balance between the massive and barren worlds of the original Mass Effect and the streamlined mission-based worlds of Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. Exploration and freedom were always two of the things that drew gamers to the Mass Effect franchise and they need to be even better in this new game.
Don’t get me wrong here, I thought the previous Mass Effect games were great RPGs but they felt much more linear than they probably should have (especially as the series went on). The few hub worlds that were there offered some open world sensibilities but I think having a few big sandbox worlds in a new game would do wonders to make this game stick out from the crowd.
The current gen consoles can do a lot, and generating gigantic and living worlds is something that tons of games are taking advantage of. Build off the previous games by really fleshing out some alien planets and allowing players to not only experience the landscapes through missions but to actually explore them at their leisure. It would create a special kind of experience that goes beyond simply providing fun and exciting battles in space.
The lore of the game is something that I believe will definitely be a part of the new game, but it is important to mention nonetheless. The Mass Effect universe is so much fun to inhabit, in part, because of the rich backstories and lore of the universe that BioWare created.
The fantastic Genophage story arc (that reached a near-perfect conclusion in Mass Effect 3), the Quarian and Geth conflict, the quick rise of humanity to power (which other alien races resented) and so forth are the foundation of what makes this game series so special.
A lot of time and effort went into making that world a real one and a lot of time and effort will need to go into expanding that and adding to it. It won’t be enough to simply sit back on the alien races and backstories that we know, BioWare needs to up the ante and bring us more races, more backstories and more conflicts to overcome.
Play As Alien Races
Since this story is not Commander Shepard’s story and the BioWare team can go wherever they want with it, it would be great if a new customization option in single player allowed gamers to choose what race they would like to be. I personally enjoy playing as a human but it was fun to step into the shoes (or whatever) of a Turian, Krogan, Asari or any of the other alien races in the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer.
Taking that to the next level and allowing it in the main game would be a cool way to add replay value, entice more gamers to pick up the game and just flesh out the universe even more. How great would it be if the other characters treated you differently based on what race you decided to be? For example, people would be more timid and nervous around a Krogan or more loose and relaxed around an Asari. That kind of customization and attention to detail in the world could be a huge step forward for the series.
There are about a million other things that I could list that I’d like to see in the next Mass Effect game from BioWare, but I will leave it at that to keep this from going on too long. The point is that I absolutely love this franchise and see so much potential for it to keep going up. There are a lot of great things that have been done and a lot of great things left to do. Here’s hoping BioWare has another ace up its sleeve for Mass Effect.