By Joseph Leray
For “Mass Effect” obsessives like myself, the most recent of the sci-fi series’ numerous dust-ups has been what to call the next installment. “To call the next game ‘Mass Effect 4’ or ‘ME4’ is doing it a disservice and seems to cause a lot of confusion here,” Chris Priestly, BioWare’s community manager, explained on their forums.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
Yannick Roy, the head of the BioWare Montreal studio working on the ambiguously-named title, later dropped in to clarify his colleague’s somewhat testy assertions: “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.”
“That doesn’t mean the events of the first three games and the choices you made won’t get recognised, but they likely won’t be what this new story will focus on,” he concludes. “In other words, because the game takes place before of after the first trilogy does not mean it necessarily is a straight prequel or sequel.”
Fair enough, but what are we in fact supposed to call the new game? I’m throwing “M4ss Effect” into the hat, here.
Here’s another interesting tidbit, again from Roy: “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.”
Details on what these new systems might be are obviously unavailable, especially given how early in development the “Mass Effect” seems to be. “Early in development, things fluctuate so much that any detail we communicate could have to be ‘uncommunicated’ a few months later,” Roy wrote. “I think we’d rather have something solid to show by the time we step in the spotlight.”
That likely won’t be for many months, but in the meantime, BioWare’s Edmonton studio is still gearing up for another batch of recently-teased “Mass Effect 3” DLC.