Mar 17 2013

The Next Mass Effect

Shepard an Miranda in Citadel DLC
On a rather unconventional sidenote, I thought I’d post some thoughts on Mass Effect here instead of them disappearing in anonymity in the bioware forums. If you are allergic to anything non EVE related, feel free to ignore this post 🙂

Perusing through the Mass Effect forums, I saw a thread entitled “Casey Hudson wants to hear fan’s ideas on a new mass effect game“. Intrigued, I read a big chunk of the ideas posted in this thread. There are a lot of great ones in there already, so at this point my opinion is probably nothing more than a drop of water in the ocean, but no game moved me as much Mass Effect did – so I will just contribute my thoughts anyway.

Thinking back on what made Mass Effect great, I would say these were the real strong points from my personal point of view:

  • My decisions/actions really mattered
  • Great romance options
  • Believable characters, each with their own story than I could delve into
  • Great combat gameplay
  • Surprising plot events
  • Being able to find a way out against overwhelming odds
  • Mystery and explorationGreat sights, memorable places and locations

I will assume that the next game will be of the same kind, meaning a first person shooter RPG. While a prequel sounds like a great idea, I think the post-ME3 universe would be a lot more challenging. With the reaper threat eliminated and the universe being at relative peace, what could create the right background for a new epic adventure? Not the Krogans attempting to conquer the galaxy anew, and not synthetics trying to enslave or assimilate organics again. Synthetics should be present again however, since exploring the complex relationship between organics and synthetics has been a key component of the series.

To keep mystery and discovery as key elements, we would need either a new domestic threat (in the known ME galaxy) or something from beyond. In the case of beyond, one possibility would be that the races now have the technology to build new mass relays, which puts unexplored reaches of space within their grasp – with all the dangers this entails. In the case of domestic threats, an idea would be to introduce an evolutionary problem, possibly on the biotic level. What if strange biotic glitches started appearing a bit everywhere, regardless of race? The very fabric of biotic energy could be compromised in some way, either willingly by some unknown entity or by an upcoming generalized cataclysm.

Personally I like the biotic angle, because so much in the ME universe depends on it – and since it touches all races (apart to a lesser extent the Krogans), it would be a great way to bring together a multi-racial team again. Where the original series had indoctrination, you could have crazed biotics and possibly biotic mutations. It could impose some unique restrictions on the use of biotics, ar add some intersting side effects if the main character uses biotics. It could also be a way to reverse the current theme of organics vs synthetics: in this case the only salvation of the organics would be the synthetics.

Which leads me to a wild idea that has been waiting to be unleashed: what if the next main character were to be entirely synthetic? As an added twist he/she would not know it at first, and eventually finding out about it would make for a great exploration of the big question of whether machines have souls. Who created you, and for what purpose? Once more you are the key to an intergalactic struggle, while your personal struggle is just as breathtaking as the big picture.

Regardless of where the next Mass Effect instalment will take me, I am looking forward to joining the ride. Personally I believe that the original ME series has been a giant milestone in gaming. It succeeded in captivating its audience, in making it so emotionally involved that the ending of the series made bigger ripples than its creators had envisioned. Hell, no game had ever made me shed tears, so the next instalment has some very high standards to live up to.

Those are my two cents. Aeon out.