What we know: Development progress, release date, engine and more
Although BioWare has since updated us to let us know the new Mass Effect is "somewhere in the middle" stage of development, we still haven't heard a peep about gameplay, story, setting or much of anything else for that matter.
While it was great to see Mass Effect go from a risky new IP to one of the most beloved properties in gaming, the growth in popularity was a bittersweet pill to swallow for fans of BioWare's classic games and RPG purists.
With each new entry, the gameplay elements that got cranked up the serotonin levels in RPG fans were progressively stripped away, leaving a streamlined, action-focused experience that - while no doubt impressive - lacked the extra depth of stat-driven role-playing.
If we're being realistic, the Mass Effect fanbase is probably too broad to re-introduce those elements. and such elements could risk alienating them, but games like Fallout 3 and Skyrim are evidence that there's still demand for honest-to-goodness, number-crunching, equipment-managing role-playing.
We'd love to see some of those classic RPG mechanics re-introduced for the next Mass Effect.
Although it's a big ask, we think the solution is creating two versions of the same experience, one where the intricacies of weapon and ability stats are exposed and open to fine-tuning by the player, and one where the game takes care all of that behind-the-scenes for the
Even in Mass Effect 3 it felt like the game was crunching those numbers under the hood, it was just that none of us got to see it. In our ideal world we can select the hardcore mode and see how powerful each weapon is, and upgrade them as we'd like. We'd be able to fiddle with individual character stats and - yes, organise our massive inventory (we actually miss that).AN UNDERSTUDY
A strong argument could be made that Shepard is in fact the least interesting character in the Mass Effect universe. This is more a compliment to BioWare's ability to create fascinating secondary characters than a slight against its leading man or woman.
Although BioWare wants a clean break from Shepard's story we think there's still a good opportunity to delve into the history of supporting characters such as Garrus, whose days in C-Sec are referenced numerous times during the main trilogy but never really explored.
Wrex is a fierce Krogan Battlemaster and supposedly the most famed bounty hunter the battle-bred humpback warrior race has ever produced, but we've never been privy to the exploits that earned him this notoriety, and would very much like to experience them ourselves.
Perhaps Saren who, before the age of Commander Shepard, was held up as the most acclaimed Spectre of all time could take centre stage. It would certainly be interesting playing the character while knowing corruption and indoctrination lies in his future.
Similarly, Thane is an intergalactic hitman. A character - to steal that wonderful line from Blade Runner - who has seen things you people wouldn't believe. Imagine a Mass Effect type experience combined with Hitman: Blood Money-like gameplay, where you've got to scope out targets, figure out the various ways of taking the mark out and then executing the best one.
The Mass Effect universe is overflowing with characters that deserve some time in the spotlight. That's a testament to the game's fantastic writing. Perhaps BioWare can delve deeper into its own characters.FUTURE PERFECT
Alternatively, the fourth entry in the series could jump into the future and let players experience the consequences of their actions first-hand, but through the eyes of a character that was born many cycles later.
It would be very fitting of a BioWare game and, with some creative writing, could be a great way to carry forward all the decisions players have made in the trilogy thus far, as well as trade off the hundreds of hours of investment players already have in some of the characters.
At the end of Mass Effect 3, the entire mass relay network is heavily damaged. Although it would be interesting to see how the various races adapt without functioning relays, lore boffins will know that damaged relays could potentially devastate nearby planets and wipe out life. From both angles, the impact of the relay system's destruction could yield some fascinating stories.
The Mass Effect 3 ending left a number of questions BioWare could take a crack at addressing.
We'd love to see BioWare explore what happens to cultures and social hierarchies when the relay system collapses. What does everyone do with all that defunct technology? What happens when formerly warring races and factions are forced to live side-by-side? How did people come to terms with and handle something like synthesis?
We want answers, especially since that second question could result in the creation of a bunch of new races.MULTIPLY
Mass Effect 3's multiplayer was a pleasant surprise for us.
What we expected was a tacked-on multiplayer comprised of the usual team deathmatch, free-for-all and capture the flag gameplay modes. But what we actually got was a honest-to-goodness horde co-operative multiplayer mode based on the wave-based survival mechanics of Gears of War 2 (and others). And best of all, it could be played co-operatively online.
Going online with a group of friends, each playing as a different class, and then working together to wipe out increasingly difficult enemy waves using the key strengths of each class had the same kind of feel as playing Team Fortress 2 with a group of buddies that know what they're doing. It was an exhilarating experience that was difficult to step away from thanks to a drip feed of new DLC.
We'd love to see BioWare expand on the multiplayer, and take its cues from games like League of Legends and Monday Night Combat. Players could group up and then attempt to fight their way through massive maps with the goal of reaching the other side and destroying a key area. Like creep mobs in a MOBA enemies would endlessly respawn, with harder varieties entering the fray as the game progresses.
To keep things interesting, each kill would be rewarded with experience and, at milestones, a new ability in the skill tree could become available. Of course, the player would be able to pick their path of progression to suit their playstyle or the needs of their team.
We'd also be up for a competitive mode that uses the same format, but also drops in another human-controlled squad that will inevitably clash at some point during the battle.We played through each Mass Effect title three times. The first time was as a good character, the second as a bad character and the third as a fugly character.
Yes it's a silly thing to want, but some our fondest Mass Effect moments were going into matters of life and death, or engaging in diplomatic discussions with aliens with our deformed, discriminatingly ugly character.
For the next Mass Effect we'd like to see BioWare give us more customisation options, both for our equipment and our characters.
Games like Forza have shown that, when given the opportunity, the variety of customisations the gaming community is able to create is absolutely stunning. We'd love to be able to draw up our own armour sets, or download some from an in-game store of some sort. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has an entire economy built around users creating and selling weapon decals, BioWare could have the same.
On top of that, we'd like to be able to create our own character from scratch and pinch features from other races. Of course, it'd be mad to ask for the ability to play as a Hanar character - combat would be out of the question, but we would kill to have our hero speak using the Hanar voice (maybe he/she has some Hanar ancestry, who cares, what ever it takes to make it happen!).
Basically, just let us create horrifying looking main characters for lulz, alright BioWare? Thanks.