Picture Mass Effect in your mind. Got it? Okay, so it seems like a safe bet that what you’re currently imagining is either EA’s default iteration of Commander Shepard (seen glaring above) or your own personalized version of the character. One way or another, you’re imagining the protagonist of the Mass Effect series to date, and why shouldn’t you? In a franchise full of weird aliens and space-age technology, Shepard has always been the most relatable, reliable, human element of BioWare’s series.
Unfortunately, it seems that with the release of the Wii U iteration of Mass Effect 3 on November 18, Commander Shepard will have led his last mission to the stars. According to BioWare, the next Mass Effect game will feature an entirely new protagonist.
Fabrice Condominas, a producer at BioWare Montreal, was recently asked by VG247 where the developer goes next with the Mass Effect series. Obviously it’s a very successful money-making franchise, so neither BioWare nor publisher EA would want to see it just drop off the radar completely, right? While the developer may not have solid plans in place for new Mass Effect game, Condominas did offer a glimpse at what the firm is currently thinking.
“There is one thing we are absolutely sure of — there will be no more Shepard, and the trilogy is over,” Condominas said. “This is really our starting point. Now, the Mass Effect universe is vast, and very, very rich. So at this point in time, we don’t even know what kind of time frame we’re going to be in. All we’re doing is more gathering ideas from the teams, gathering feedback to see several things.”
“So first, we don’t want to make ‘Shepard 2′, or Mass Effect 4 with like, ‘Oh there’s no more Shepard but you’re a soldier in the universe’. So this will be a very, very different context for sure, and nothing has been decided on the rest,” he adds.
Alright, so BioWare is in the very early stages of production on this thing — specifically, the studio is still brain-storming ideas — but as of yet has not decided on who might be the lead character for the next Mass Effect title. That’s to be expected, but more crucially it offers fans a window of opportunity to speculate on who/what should be the hero of the next game.
Obviously there are myriad reasons to make the next Mass Effect lead a human. Familiarity is a useful trait in the exotic Mass Effect universe, and we doubt that many players would be able to feel much emotional attachment to a creepy, insectoid alien. That said, we’re growing increasingly excited about the possibility that the next Mass Effect game might star an extraterrestrial. Sure, the writers would have to do a bit more work to convey emotional resonance, and the game’s lack of a recognizable human star might impact its sales, but think of how cool it would be to explore the complex alien cultures Mass Effect’s creators have built over the past decade as one of the aliens themselves.
Regardless of which direction BioWare takes with this hypothetical game, it is still very hypothetical. You wont likely see a new Mass Effect game for the next few years, so try not to get too involved in planning this thing out within your own minds. We’ll let you know when/if BioWare opts to release further details on this title.