I’m into around a third of my second playthrough of the first Mass Effect game in the Legendary Edition but my mind does wander to the future of the franchise. No, I’m not talking about Mass Effect Andromeda. I do believe BioWare and EA should have taken another look at the possibility of continuing that story, I know that starship has sailed… or flown away as the case may be. This was definitely cemented with the new teaser showing off the next entry in the Mass Effect series.
They don’t really show a lot in this teaser trailer and it does seem BioWare has a long way before it has something concrete to show. I say they can take their time as they have to prove themselves once again after all the flak they’ve taken with Mass Effect Andromeda and Anthem make fans lose faith in them. However, I can give them a few suggestions on what to do with their upcoming entry. So, without further ado, here are a few things I personally would love to see in the next Mass Effect game.
#1 A totally new customizable main character
I know there are some fans wishing the next Mass Effect game will have Shepard come back for one more adventure. I’m the direct opposite. I believe it’s time for some new blood to take the reins for this new trilogy. However, I would definitely want this new protagonist to be totally customizable like they did in Dragon Age: Inquisition with its hero, the Inquisitor.
This means I want a full suite of character creator tools. Not only do I want to be able to construct a really handsome or beautiful hero, I also want to be able to do much more. I don’t want to to just be locked in playing as a human. I want to be able to play as the other races like the asari, salarian, turians and quarians. I want what race I pick influence how I play the game and how powerful my class abilities will be.
I want to be able to pick my history as well and make it play into the game’s story in one way or another. We got something like that with Commander Shepard but picking Spacer, Earthbound or Colonist didn’t really work it’s way into his or her narrative. For example, if I pick asari, maybe they should give an option if I’m pureblooded or part human, salarian or turian. That’s just one example and I’m sure BioWare can think up of many more scenarios. Heck, I would love the option, if you pick an asari heroine, you get to choose if you’re actually the daughter of Shepard and Liara!
#2 Set it way, way in the future
It’s already hinted that the next Mass Effect is set some time after the events of Mass Effect 3. You can determine this as the asari you do see in the trailer appears to be Liara but has aged somewhat. She was quite young in the original Mass Effect trilogy as she was just around 106 to 109 years old during those events.
Knowing that the asari race can live for a thousand years, she has definitely aged quite a bit because of some of the wrinkles on her face. I’m guessing she’s already reached the Matron stage but probably reached it much earlier than most. Even so, I would assume this means centuries have passed so a lot of her friends, even Wrex, must have passed on by this time. The only one who might be alive is Grunt as he was technically just born.
I actually do want the next Mass Effect being set way in the future. This allows BioWare to be a little more creative as they’re given more freedom to be creative with Mass Effect’s future. It gives the writers more opportunities to think outside the box and tell a new history. I wouldn’t want too much baggage from the previous games but I do want to be surprised with what happened after Shepard stopped the Reaper threat.
#3 Make Paragon-Control the “canon” ending
I don’t really expect BioWare to import old save games when the next Mass Effect is released. If they can, well, they have a whole lot of writing to do to accommodate 3 separate endings! That’s a lot of revisionist writing they’ll have to take into account. That’s one of the reasons why I do love the idea it’ll be set way in the future as you won’t feel the effects of Shepard’s final decision directly. However, if it were up to me, I would write the next Mass Effect following a Paragon Shepard picking the Control ending.
Now, it’s very simple as to why I would think Shepard took the Paragon route all throughout Mass Effect: that’s how most gamers played the games. Most people had Wrex survive Virmire and cured the genophage. A good chunk also saved both the quarians and geth races. This does show how much a good majority of Shepards out there want to do the right thing. So I would expect these decisions to be carried over to the next Mass Effect game.
Now, why am I suggesting BioWare follow the Control ending? Simply put, it’s the ending a Paragon Shepard would pick! Synthesis might make sense at it allows for both organic and synthetic life to fully understand each other, but it also doesn’t seem to to make sense as it strips each race, both organic and synthetic, of their individual identity. I can see why some might see this as the best ending but it doesn’t quite sit well for me.
I also can’t get behind the Destroy ending, which is the ending the teaser for the next Mass Effect is hinting at. Yes, you do see an aged Liara climbing up the corpse of a Reaper buried in snow. You also see the debris of the Citadel and the mass effect relays, strongly affirming the idea Shepard chose to destroy the Reapers and all synthetic life in the galaxy.
However, I just can’t believe a Paragon Shepard, someone who managed to broker peace between the quarians and the geth and someone who has EDI, a synthetic lifeform as part of the crew, would incidentally wipe out all synthetic life in the galaxy. This only leaves the Control ending, wherein Shepard uploads his consciousness to the Crucible and takes control of the Reapers.
So, why does the trailer show dead Reapers and a destroyed Citadel then? Well, why does this have to link to the events of the original Mass Effect trilogy? Why not make this the crux of the next Mass Effect games? Some mysterious force has managed to destroy even the mighty Reapers and the Citadel and it’s up to a new hero to stop whatever it is. Makes a whole lot of sense, doesn’t it?
#4 A new sentient race
The galaxy is already teeming with different lifeforms. There are the humans, asari, salarians, turians, quarians, krogans, hanar, drell, elcor, volus, vorcha and batarians (or what’s left of them). We also have the possibility of the geth and whatever EDI is to join the fold. BioWare managed to give every race a whole lot of lore to follow.
Assuming the next Mass Effect game takes places centuries in the future, that should have been enough time for a totally new race to gain sentience and make it into space. It’s also possible some aliens from a totally different galaxy pull an Andromeda Initiative and decide to depart from their galaxy into our own. Whatever the case, I would want to see a new race or two pop up in the next game. Adding a new alien will definitely shake things up. Humans won’t be the newbie on the block anymore, for one thing. It also has the possibility to link their arrival to the new conflict and how connected they are to the new evil that’s infesting the galaxy. This may lead to some of the legacy races not trusting these newcomers, adding an interesting wrinkle if you should trust them or not.
#5 Paragon and Renegade choices that matter
While I can appreciate the option to be a Paragon (good) or Renegade (bad), I do have a few issues with the system. For one thing, whatever path you choose never really truly matters. You still get to do the same quests and follow the same general story whether or not you go Paragon or Renegade. Some things do change, like how people may treat you or, in the case of Mass Effect 2, who in your squad makes it to the end or dies during the suicide mission. At least if you destroy their loyalty by making a foolish choice, anyway.
I also don’t like how practically every Paragon and Renegade choice is clear cut good or bad. There aren’t any gray areas where making a Renegade choice actually feels like the right thing to do nor are there Paragon options which feels wrong. You instantly know what’s the good guy choice and the bad guy choice. The closest I felt torn was way back in Mass Effect 1 when you encounter the batarian terrorist Balak. You either choose to let him go to save the hostages or attack him now so he won’t be able to pull off any other terrorist actions in the future. The really dumb thing is that, if you do let him go, Balak doesn’t do anything bad afterwards! He just appears in Mass Effect 3 as a cute wink and a nod to fans!
I would definitely love some more moral gray areas in your choices or, at the very least, make the choices extremely difficult to make. Do you sacrifice a squad member to save a colony? Should you rescue a doctor who has the medical knowledge to help thousands of people but will have to kill the unwitting platoon of soldiers who are just doing their job? I want the choices to be hard and your decisions have strong repercussions.
I would also want some side missions to be locked out based on your Paragon or Renegade status. Make it so some quests can only be taken if you have a high enough Paragon or Renegade level as this will really encourage players to, think of what path they want to take. This will also heavily add to the replayability as most gamers will want to see what other quests and rewards they could get based on how good and how bad they are.
BONUS: A side quest or new group of baddies called “The Cult of The Shepard”
Honestly, this was one of the things which popped into my mind when I was the Stargazer scene after the credits. I guess it was supposed to be a message of hope. What I got was a more ominous idea for a new entry in the Mass Effect series.
It seems innocent enough as the Stargazer seems to be telling his grandkid about the events of the Mass Effect trilogy. What caught my attention is when the kid asked the Stargazer to tell him another story about Shepard. However, the child didn’t call him “Commander Shepard” or just “Shepard.” He called him “the Shepard.” Why add a “the” to Shepard’s name? This made me think that, in this supposed future, historical records aren’t all that accurate and Shepard’s adventures have reached mythological stature, making him out to be more of a demigod-like being than just an ordinary person. This made me come up with the idea of a group who decided to follow Shepard’s ideals but not as a person but as a god, becoming this weird cult who follows the word of “the Shepard.”
I mean, I would love to see how this new cult would fit into the grand scheme of things as they’ve twisted the events of the Mass Effect trilogy into something else. Maybe have a mission where you have to invade their compound in order to get a “holy relic” that belonged to “the Shepard” or something like that.
What do you want to see in a new Mass Effect game? Let me know in the comments section below!