With news on BioWare’s much-anticipated title Mass Effect 4 leaking into the public domain almost like data sneakily sold by the Shadow Broker, speculation among fans has begun to grow as to what they can expect from the game. Being a big fan of the Mass Effect trilogy I began to analyse the Mass Effect 4 news with an almost Spectre-like efficiency, and soon found myself starting to speculate on what this new title might feature.
The more I read the more my speculation began to gather pace, and faster than a Krogan in a blood rage, it quickly turned into a top five list of essential features I want to see in Mass Effect 4. So, read on to discover how I feel that if BioWare respect the original trilogy's time frame, allow character diversity and add more multiplayer options – amongst other things - then they could in my opinion make Mass Effect 4 the best Mass Effect game yet. Please be aware that if you want to avoid minor spoilers for the Mass Effect trilogy, then do not read any further.
My first essential feature for Mass Effect 4 would be setting the game after the original trilogy. Now this may seem like common sense, but BioWare have teased us with a Garrus prequel, which intriguing as it sounds is something I feel is more like DLC than an actual game. In my view if Mass Effect 4 was a prequel then it would contain no drama or tension that hasn’t already been resolved. Take the Garrus idea; he can’t die in a prequel game as he turns up in Mass Effect 1 thus removing Mass Effect 4’s tension and thrills. Of course prequels can work if someone is travelling back in time to make sure Garrus and Shepherd never met, but as time travel hasn’t featured in Mass Effect before this would mean to me the game has sadly, “jumped the shark.” Some games have done prequels well, and I am not against the idea of a prequel that adds to a title's back story; such as the superlative MGS series. To me, the Mass Effect trilogy were games of choices and their outcomes, and that to me doesn't work retrospectively.
My original Mass Effect choices and their outcomes were a major part of that series, and the next feature I want to see in Mass Effect 4 is BioWare factoring in their impact. What happened to the Reapers? Which of my friends lived or died ? These were all choices that were major parts of the original Mass Effect games, and if they and my other choices have no impact on the fourth game, then to me it will feel less involved. Of course if Mass Effect 4 is set a long time after Mass Effect 3, then I accept the effects of everything that occurred prior to a new title might not fit easily into that game. But, history should have recorded some of my actions, and I would like to find out if my old character is still revered as a hero or if when their name is mentioned do people curse due to my pre-Mass Effect 4 choices? In the original trilogy I felt like I was striding through the game like a mighty colossus, people lived or died because of what I chose to do or say, and civilizations crumbled or thrived at my command. Somewhere in Mass Effect 4 I would like to examine the consequences of these actions, and if the game doesn't acknowledge these then it will be less of a Mass Effect game to me.