Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Building The Next Mass Effect
Note: There will be spoilers for the Mass Effect series.
Now that Commander Shepard has done the impossible and completed the war with the Reapers, most fans are now asking what could be next. We did so much throughout this trilogy that it begs the question if BioWare could top this. One of the defining aspects of this franchise is that nearly everything you do is recorded in your save file and transferred to the next game. By the time Mass Effect 3 came out, we had history sitting on our hard drives. We just had to finish the journey.
So what if Mass Effect: Next, which is what I’ll be calling it for this article, incorporates everything you did in the first series including your ending choice?
I will be talking about some spoilers but in case you haven’t beaten Mass Effect 3 or seen the insane amount of posts on it throughout the internet, but the game has three different choices at the end. You may have hear about the red, blue, and green endings which are color codings for which ending you picked. For the sake of making this easier to talk about, I will say that those endings are either Control, Destroy, or Synthesis. Okay, now the spoiler gloves are on so continue with care.
So now take those three endings, your choice, and every choice you made throughout the three games and say BioWare’s Mass Effect: Next lets you continue the time in history using everything you did as a backbone for the story. Three different stories that branch off in completely different ways. If you chose Destroy, you’ll find yourself in the ME universe trying to rebuild but is also very vulnerable right now after the war. If you chose to control, you’ll enter a universe where the rebuilding phase is coupling with the Reapers coming to accept their new overlord, potential rebellions (such as Leviathan), and the continuation of the Earth conflict through slow assimilation of the Reaper code by Shepard. What if you chose Synthesis, though? All life in the galaxy is one and the same. Therefore, there should be peace, right? Well, humans are one and the same but we don’t get that luxury. People around the galaxy are going to be terrified at what just happened to them. Some are going to hate Shepard for what he has done to them. Working alongside the Reapers? There will be a splinter group against that. A group like Cerberus trying to reverse engineer the Synthesis? You betcha.
All three possible stories have plenty to run on to justify the time that is necessary to flush out and create these games. The real issue is how would you sell them? Would you go Pokemon and sell three different versions, each containing that ending choice’s story? Or would you have a three-plus disc (or one to two if the next gen systems can carry that much data) collection featuring them all? Either way this idea will take years to accomplish and a gigantic team to mold it together. If players want to buy this game at normal price, the three version Pokemon theme might be the best way. I can’t see a game in which it contains three completely different campaigns, all at full length, commanding a normal price tag. If anything, a full features, multi-disc Mass Effect: Next might cost gamers around $100. So for cheaper sakes and plain fun, let’s go the Pokemon route and create three different Mass Effect: Next games.
The Reapers are gone. Commander Shepard has ended the war but the galaxy is ravaged. While rebuilding efforts are in full swing, there are some who are still at work. The crew of the Normandy does not have the time to mourn the loss of their beloved leader as they rush off to end the Cerberus movement for good. However, when they reach the final Cerberus laboratory, a terrifying secret was uncovered: the Illusive Man was able to complete his synthesis with the Reaper code. Faced with the abominations of these genetic freaks, the Normandy crew comes together once again to stop Cerberus from unleashing more hell upon an already devastated galaxy.
- Assume the mantle of the Archangel as you play as Garrus.
- Lead the new Normandy Termination Squad in a hunt for Cerberus’ new council.
- Multiplayer returns with Termination Squad members versus Cerberus troops.
- Returning team members include: Zaeed, Grunt, Jack, Kasumi, Samara, Jacob, and Legion along with three new members.
With his last human breath, Shepard takes control of the Reaper sub-consciousness and ends the attack on Earth. However, his reach and grasp of the inner workings of these ancient beings is weak still. Some stragglers and rebels break off to either hide or continue the destruction of Earth. Shepard contacts Liara to tell her what is happening. With the combined forces of the galaxy’s fighters and the now controlled Reapers, our heroes fight to save Earth in a new offensive. While Shepard fights to gain control of the entire Reaper armada, Liara searches for a way to save Shepard’s humanity.
- Attempt to save the love you had as you play as Liara.
- Lead the crew of the Normandy in a frantic search for the Reaper homeland.
- A new enemy appears as they try to gain control of the fractured and vulnerable Reapers.
- Multiplayer returns with the galaxy’s races against the Reapers and the new foe.
- Returning team memebers include: Garrus, Kasumi, Miranda, Tali, Legion, Grunt, and Jacob along with three new members.
While the galaxy reels from the destruction of the Mass Relays, the scattered heroes of the Normandy work to keep control of the situation. People are frightened by this new life just granted to them. Many accept the change and begin rebuilding of their worlds and technology, this time side-by-side with once fierce enemies. However, not all are as accepting. A radical group is formed and their first order of business is gaining control over all of Cerberus’ tech and resources. Aimed at reversing the Synthesis effect, this new terrorist cell is threatening the newly formed peace between races and worlds.
- Preserve the fractured galaxy as you switch between Garrus on Earth, Liara (on that planet the Normandy crashed on), and a new character on Omega.
- Three distinct storylines converge as leadership, technology, and survival all come into play and converge on each other.
- Multiplayer returns featured the clans of Omega fighting it out for control. Play as a Blue Sun, Eclipse, or Blood Pack member.
- Returning squad members include: Garrus’ team of Tali and Grunt, Liara’s team of Miranda and a new member, and the new character along with another new member and Zaeed/Kasumi (your choice).
So what do you all think? Do these sound Mass Effect-worthy? Is it the way you would continue the franchise? Mass Effect is huge and the possibilities are endless but with so much emotion kicked up from the ending and the need for the extended cut DLC, I find it too hard to just step away from these endings. I believe BioWare needs to continue this to show what the consequences of all our actions were. We saw the endings, we saw a glimpse of what happens after but give us more. Let us find out the future we molded.