I raise this question, not in bitterness and sarcasm, but in legitimate curiosity. Because BioWare has said they plan on making a fourth Mass Effect game. Of course, since they’re still working on DLC’s for Mass Effect 3, no real production has begun for the proposed game. According to an interview with one of the developer’s producers, Fabrice Condominas, the game is still in the planning phase. However, what he was able to tell was that the game would not include Shepard nor would the new protagonist be a “Shepard 2.” He also stated that the fourth game would be in a very different context from all of the previous in the series.
Like I said, not a whole lot to go on. At this stage, BioWare probably doesn’t have anything really pinned down or developed other than what they don’t want the game to be. This means that the game may be a prequel or take place at any time after the ending of Mass Effect 3. This also means the format of the game could be radically different from what we’re used to playing.
I find myself having mix feelings about this. On the one hand, I love the Mass Effect franchise and would love to see more of it. Unlike what I’ve seen with a lot of gamers, I haven’t turned my back completely on BioWare. I think a lot of people are letting their bitterness at the original ending cloud their memories of just how good the games really are. Sure, BioWare made some choices I didn’t agree with, but the games are still excellent, & I love replaying them. I still have faith that the company can make great games. On the other hand, however, I find myself doubting that the series needs another title. The ending from the Extended Cut seemed pretty definitive, with the exception of the Destroy ending.
It would be interesting if the game was a prequel set during, say, the Prothean era. I can even see a game set much later, showing the galaxy recovering from the war. If that’s the case, maybe the game will have some strategy elements. Mr. Condominas’ commented that they were trying to steer away from making the new protagonist a “soldier in a universe.” The franchise has a rich universe (no pun intended) with lost of races, worlds and events to play around with. I think focusing on something other than the Reapers, at least directly, would be a step in the right direction if they truly want to make something new.
But I still have concerns, because I don’t see how a game can continue after the end of ME3 due to the different endings players can get. All of them radically change the universe. Shepard may survive but the Geth & all non-organic life dies. Shepard may merge with the Reapers & direct them to rebuild the galaxy, living on as some collective unconscious. Or all life may merge into one cybernetic race. I don’t see how a sequel can accommodate these differences, not to mention the dozens of smaller choices players make throughout the trilogy. The only possible way would be for BioWare to choose one ending as canon & go from there.
I guess I’ll just have to adopt a wait & see attitude. It’ll probably be in the next console cycle before we start to get any real information on Mass Effect 4. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.