No One Mention The “Mass Effect 4″

By John Walker on February 7th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.

See – because it rhymes with “war”, and that’s a reference to a thing a man said in a TV show 37 years ago. The ever-watchful eye-turrets of Eurogamer spotted that BioWare community manager Chris Priestly took to the studio’s forums to declare calling Mass Effect 4 “Mass Effect 4″ is “doing it a disservice”. It’s a game that “does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side.” Meanwhile, BioWare Montreal’s head Yanick Roy has explained that Mass Effect 4 could take place after Mass Effect 3.

Currently all that’s known about Mass Effect 4 is that it doesn’t feature Shepard, and doesn’t continue or detail the previous trilogy. It seems this goes to the extent of your chosen Mass Effect 3 ending not having any influence over the tale being told, so separate is it. Said Priestly,

“We have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. That is the only detail you have on the game. I see people saying ‘well, they’ll have to pick a canon ending’. No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda.”

Yanick Roy then appeared on the forums to clarify a little.

“What Chris is saying is that thinking of the next Mass Effect game as Mass Effect 4 would imply a certain linearity, a straight evolution of the gameplay and story of the first three games. Story-wise, the arc of the first trilogy has also been concluded, and what we will do is tell a new story set in the Mass Effect universe. That doesn’t mean that events of the first three games and the choices you made won’t get recognized, but they likely won’t be what this new story will focus on.”

Uh… Wait, which one then?

“In other words, because the game takes place before of after the first trilogy does not mean it necessarily is a straight prequel or sequel.”

No, those aren’t other words for the thing you said before! Are my choices going to have an effect or not? Do I need to keep my ME3 save games? I’M SO CONFUSED!

It makes sense that BioWare doesn’t want to call Mass Effect 4 “Mass Effect 4″, since they’ll be hoping to pick up a new crowd in a way that higher numbers on RPGs don’t tend to engender. And sure, it’s not the Shepard trilogy, so it makes perfect sense to go for “Mass Effect Subtitle”. But it strikes me that Roy’s clarification really only serves to make things far more bemusing – our choices in the first trilogy may still have an effect? So then it couldn’t take place before, could it? Unless they’re introducing time travel, and they’d bloody better not be.

This is all, of course, just a symptom of BioWare’s wanting everyone to know the game is happening, but not wanting to say anything about it yet. Both are obviously perfectly reasonable, but when you’ve a fanbase as rabid as BioWare you’ve got to expect every remark to be torn to pieces.

Mass Effect 4.

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120 Comments »

  1. Brun says:

    Don’t you mean “M4ss Effect”?

    • misterT0AST says:

      “Mass 4ffect”.

      • SuicideKing says:

        MASSFACE

      • Pop says:

        They’ll do a DMC: Devil May Cry for the reboot, complete with a controversial redesign of the main character. And that’s why your decisions both won’t and will matter, because you’ll get to make them all again, but this time playing as a sultry rebellious teenage man-baby/woman! Get ready for ME: Mass Effect.

        • Fox89 says:

          I would love to see them try to redesign a protagonist whose appearance and decisions are player defined!

          • meatshit says:

            The new Shepard will be a Krogan who tragically castrated himself in a parkouring accident during the Reaper Wars. You’ll guide him through personal quest to rediscover what it means to be a man and finally triumph over his fear of chest high walls.

        • Beemann says:

          Mass Effect: Kai Leng?

      • Kitsuninc says:

        Mass Eff4ct. It could take place in a kitchen.

    • Low Life says:

      Mass Effect 4: Future Warfare

    • Beemann says:

      The true brilliance of the two word name is that you can utilize the number TWICE
      M4SS EFF3CT = Mass Effect 4 trilogy, part 3
      Truly Bioware are marketing geniuses

    • Steven_Flowers54 says:

      what Billy answered I cannot believe that some one can profit $9096 in four weeks on the computer. did you see this web site… http://www.ebay.com.qr.net/j8jT

  2. Shooop says:

    “Are my choices going to have an effect or not?”

    Did they in the last game? Then why would they now?

  3. ichik says:

    They honestly don’t know wtf they are doing.

    • D3xter says:

      I’m suspecting this isn’t going to end very well for them. Their “fan base” is still pissed off about the “Prequel” and the subsequent PR fallout, they have an entirely new team making the game on an entirely new engine (Frostbite 2) for “Next Generation consoles” and BioWare were never known as the techy types like CryTek or DICE and EA is probably breathing down their neck to get it ready for next year.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        This is blatent nonsense. Bioware were at one time the best rpg engine builders in the business IE, Odyssey, Aurora you couldn’t get more rpg functionality in an engine.

        They suck steaming bowls of shite now, but they didn’t used to.

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      That’s nothing new. What you said applies the their past three games.

  4. SocraticIrony says:

    Aha. It’s a reboot!

    • tobecooper says:

      And a First Person Shooter.
      (“Mass Effect 4 would imply a certain linearity, a straight evolution of the gameplay

      • kael13 says:

        You can bet your arse it’s going to be even less of an RPG than ME3. EA probably feel there’s too much mainstream potential for the universe.

        However, I have just checked that forum thread out and extracted this titbit: (apologies for formatting. This is Yanick Roy responding to another post in the thread)

        “I’m quite willing to believe that EA tells you guys to look at games like Cod and BF3 for gameplay inspiration, so take this sometimes humble fan’s advice and look at Deus Ex instead.”

        “While I’m sure EA would love to see us achieve the same level of commercial success these games do (who wouldn’t!?), please believe me when I tell you they want us to do “BioWare Games”!”

        • Bhazor says:

          They want us to make “Bioware Games”

          God help us. We’ve had ten years of diminishing returns and now we’ve got the tribute band.

          • RProxyOnly says:

            “Tribute band”, lol, very funny.

            Sad but true I guess.

        • Premium User Badge Joshua says:

          I do keep wondering why people say that “Sequel to mass effect” will be less of an RPG then it’s predecessor, even though Mass Effect 3 was more of an RPG then Mass Effect 2 was – and is widely considered to have the best gameplay of the series.

          • RProxyOnly says:

            At most they are shooters with rpg element.. rpg certainly isn’t the main classification.

    • zhivik says:

      I agree, it sounds very much they want to start clean and forget that Shepard and the Reapers ever happened. I think a good comparison is Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia, as the fourth game didn’t have absolutely anything in common with the trilogy preceding it.

      I don’t know, given the way they wrapped up the story, it might be actually a smart move. On the other hand, the Bioware team that works on it is the one in Edmonton, in other words not the primary one. The odds are this is likely to be a cash grab, based on the love of Mass Effect fans for the setting.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        They’re not getting a clean slate, not after a decade of shit, maybe in another decade IF they make REALLY good rpgs from now on… but of course they won’t, so no.. no clean slate.

  5. DaFishes says:

    Jesus christ, but Priestly is bad at his job. It’s supposed to be the community guy who comes in and clarifies what the developer meant, not the other way around!

    • TimMc says:

      I’ve somewhat forgiven Bioware. I now reserve all my ME3 hate for Chris ‘MakeItUpAsIGoAlong’ Priestly and EA. Never touching another thing he is involved in.

    • Patches the Hyena says:

      Chris Priestly is absurdly bad at his job. He basically issued a thinly veiled ‘Get fucked’ to people saying they got migraines and eye problems from staring at this overlay: http://bit.ly/XscwDE

  6. Ergates_Antius says:

    because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side

    Technically speaking, it does.

    • phelix says:

      Quite. Why would you name your new game Mass Effect if it had bollocks to do with, er, the other three Mass Effects, other than hype and cashing?

      • Jason Moyer says:

        The same reason any corporation does anything. Branding.

        See also: BioShock Infinite, which Irrational didn’t want to be part of the BioShock franchise.

      • Rao Dao Zao says:

        Same universe, different galaxy!

    • Premium User Badge darkChozo says:

      Alternate timelines, maybe?

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        Could be, but it’s implied they’re set in the same universe (and I’d consider an alternate timeline a different universe – but we’re getting into nerd physics there…)

    • Sleepymatt says:

      Actually no… he has left room for it to come above or below :P

    • greenbananas says:

      Except it might not come at all. Oh, who am I kidding? Bring on Kentucky McMass Effect King, everyone’s favorite mistery meat burger. With optional “French Fries” DLC.

    • Josh W says:

      It happens during, you play shepard’s fish.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        I thought it was his jockstrap you were playing, in the next one.

  7. mrmalodor says:

    It would not bother me if nobody ever mentioned the Ass Effect franchise again.

  8. rulez says:

    First they ask the community if the next game should take place before or after the events of ME3. Now they ask to not call it ME4.
    They should just shut up and make whatever they like. Asking fans just makes an awkward and insecure impression. If the story is as good as ME1-3 and combat/gameplay as good as the last last 2 + heavy weapons from ME2, it’s going to be awesome.

  9. QualityJeverage says:

    They’re wording it in a really odd and confusing way, but it seems to me like they just want it to be its own story in the universe. Rather than having it constantly described in terms of how/when it relates to Shepard’s story.

    • Grygus says:

      That would be super easy, though. It could be done with a dash of actual facts. Here, I will demonstrate:

      “Mass Effect 4 is in development, so any of this could change, but right now it takes place during the events of Mass Effect 2 in a completely different storyline in the Attican Traverse. It will have nothing whatsoever to do with Commander Shepard, and the people in this story are utterly unaware of the Reaper threat. You will not be able to import a saved game, since none of your previous decisions are relevant to this story.”

      There are no spoilers, no names, no plot given away. There is also no confusion, and yet there is enough for fans to start the wild speculation that they crave, jump-starting the hype machine, which is the actual purpose of saying anything in the first place.

      • aliksy says:

        See, it sounds like you’re competent and intelligent. You don’t have a place at EA.

      • Premium User Badge darkChozo says:

        To be fair, it’s entirely possible that those kinds of facts haven’t been finalized yet. Given how tight lipped they’re being and how far off this probably is, it’s rather likely that “it’s set in the Mass Effect universe” and “it’s not part of the main trilogy” are actually the only things they can say for sure at this point (maybe add on “it’s an action RPG” or whatever it’s going to be, but still). Doesn’t change the fact that they’re being needlessly confusing about it.

  10. stiffkittin says:

    Hmm, Fawlty Towers reference?

  11. Berzee says:

    They should do like Final Fantasy, and have someone named Shephard in every game but sometimes he’s a sweary pilot, and sometimes he’s a doctor with a yellow hat, and sometimes he’s an old governor, or a craaaAAAaaaaAazy monster. Also he is sometimes a minor cameo character, sometimes a party member, YOU NEVER KNOW.

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      There’s certainly room for little, blue, asari, Shepard babies, that would be fun.

  12. DiTH says:

    This game is huge.You have 500 hours of gameplay.
    And ofcourse all your actions shape the endings.They now have 15 different colors so 5x the endings of the mass effect trilogy.
    *spoiler*you die in the end.*spoiler*

  13. CdrJameson says:

    I’m currently running around a space-station called the Citadel, but it’s not Mass Effect at all.

    It’s KOTOR 2.

  14. DK says:

    It’s Bioshock Syndrome. It’s supposed to have nothing to do with the previous Bioshock, but you’re calling it Bioshock. Don’t fucking call it Bioshock if it’s a different setting in a different world with different characters.

    Don’t call it Mass Effect if it’s a different setting in a different world with different characters.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      But see, I saw the latest BI trailer and thought, oh that looks just like bioshock. And then the title came up. So it does sort of work.

    • gwathdring says:

      Bishock Infinite is supposed to be related to Bioshock. With the reveal of Elizabeth’s powers, it’s entirely possible that they take place in different universes … but they’re definitely part of the same “universe” as in “DCU.” They’re a family of games with similar themes, similar settings, similar aesthetics and similar design philosophies. It’s not called Bioshock 3 for a reason, but it makes sense to call it Bioshock. Additionally, Levine heavily implies that there are even more solid reasons for it than what I’ve already stated above. Time will tell, on that front.

      As for Mass Effect, I can see this going either way. But Bioware loves their franchising, so I’d expect Mass Effect 4 to be sufficiently Mass Effect-y whether or not it is also sufficiently good.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Torment, Tides of Numenera?

  15. Premium User Badge darkChozo says:

    Dat PR fumbling. It’s not like this is a new thing, it’s a shared continuity spinoff. Considering that’s it’s a space opera with a fairly fleshing out setting, it’s not like it’s a particularly surprising thing to do (oh hi there Star Wars EU).

  16. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    I could see saves from the main trilogy being used to some effect in a prequel. Because the game knows what YOUR canon ending is, it can provide retroactive foreshadowing (oh yes) that imply certain future events.

    I do agree that they phrased it somewhat awkwardly, but really, is there anything to gripe at here? They’re making a game in the ME universe and have obviously not decided on all the details yet. Big deal.

    This is true though:

    They should just shut up and make whatever they like.

  17. abandonhope says:

    Pretty brave of CD Projekt to end The Witcher after three. I think it displays confidence in themselves and their fans, along with an uncompromising passion for what they do. Oh, what? We’re talking about EA/BioWare?

    • Kadayi says:

      Not quite the case tbh. CDProjekt clarified later that it’s a case of TW3 being the last game where you play as Geralt, but they haven’t discounted making further games set within the same setting in future.

  18. Mr. Mister says:

    Effected Energy?

  19. Cooper says:

    Exclusive:

    Next Mass Effect game to be a 4x with real-time strategic battles.

  20. LintMan says:

    You guys just don’t get it, man. There is no “before” or “after”; Mass Effect 4 is ALL AROUND US. We’re, like, inside of it, dudes. It’s like a moebius strip or that snake eating its tail – there’s just no beginning or end. It’s just… cosmic.

  21. aliksy says:

    Honestly I don’t give a shit about EA or Bioware anymore. They didn’t even put ME3 on steam for me to pick up cheap.

    • Premium User Badge Thurgret says:

      I got it in December or January sometime there for £6 on… honestly, I forget the site. Possibly Green Man Gaming? I have no idea how they are able to distribute Origin keys so cheaply, but they are.

      • Premium User Badge Llewyn says:

        GMG and Gamersgate both had it on offer at £7.50 within a few days of each other (maybe even the same day) which made me think it was an EA-sponsored offer, especially as EA has run more formal sales through both sites in the recent past. GMG also had a 20% off code running at the same time, which is where your £6 came from.

  22. PatrickSwayze says:

    The Citadel Project was our last, best hope for peace. A self-contained world fifty miles long, located in neutral territory. A place of commerce and diplomacy for thirteen million humans and aliens. A shining beacon in space, all alone in the night. It was the dawn of the new cycle…the year the Great Leviathan War came upon us all. This is the story of the next of the citadel stations. The year is 2187.
    The name of the place is Citadel 2.

    • strangeloup says:

      Something something Deconstruction of Falling Starchild.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Two Million five hundred thousand tonnes of bullshit spinning, all alone on the shelf.

  23. zeekthegeek says:

    I imagine what will actually happen is that it does take place after ME3 but they found they wrote themselves into a corner so they retconned a bunch of it.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Well, thinking about it, it is rather strange they can tell so little about where they’re going next. Especially since when a game is nearly finished one supposes the people working on the story have time to start working/thinking on where to go next.

      It is possible they had some ideas and the one they wanted to go with got canceled or had to be altered greatly (possibly because of the Mess Effect 3 ending backlash).

      At least that seems more likely than those folk not being able to come up with a workable concept at this point. I mean, how long has it been since Mass Effect 3 was released? It seems unlikely they’ve been doing nothing since that happened.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Then fired the writer again.

  24. Createx says:

    Honestly, I thought the Mass Effect Universe was pretty standard space opera fare. Nothing really unique about it.
    Hyper gates? Check.
    Non-humans, but humanlike? Check.
    Ancient super-race? Check.
    Bio-engineered monsters? Check.
    Common gunfights when you could just microwave your opponent or nuke everybody? Check.

    Honestly, the only thing I found interesting about the world were the Geth, but they did too little with them imho.
    It’s not as if I didn’t enjoy ME 1&2, but that was more due to decent dialogue and characterization, not due to the backdrop.

    • Asurmen says:

      While I get your point, for the sake of argument, there are non-human like aliens in ME, and even the bipedal aliens are still different enough from humans compared to, say, anything in Star Trek. Plus why would you nuke everyone or try to weaponise microwaves when good old bullets accelerated to appreciable fractions of C work just fine?

      • Createx says:

        It was more to illustrate the point that they have a million ways to kill opponents without putting their whole team in danger. That goes especially when that team contains The Hero Of The Galaxy.
        As for the races, sure there have been worse, but ME is in no way even close to creative there.

        • Premium User Badge Llewyn says:

          More to the point, when the target is the Hero of the Galaxy. The planet where Shepard encounters the Rachni queen struck me particularly as one where the Reapers’ agents should have just been blowing up the whole planet with Shepard on it.

        • Asurmen says:

          Such as what weapons? Considering that a lot of missions involve retrieving people, equipment or info or defending places, what sort of weapons could they have possibly used that didn’t also potentially destroy their objective? This is while still making it attractive as a game as well.

          As for the aliens, there’s a mix of humanoid and non-humanoid races. That sounds pretty good to me. Did you want everything to completely freaky? What exactly was wrong with the ones present? Physiological, social, political? You diverge too far from human experience, and you could potentially end of with a situation where the player cannot relate to what is being presented to then, and not care about any of the characters.

          • gwathdring says:

            Sentience that has nothing recognizably human in it would be difficult to communicate in any medium. We can only approximate inhumanity because we can never truly escape our own experience. For the purposes of a game like Mass Effect, even some of the more understandable inhuman aspects become difficult to portray. When you don’t have words and analogies and verbal imagery with which to explain a foreign way of existing, it becomes very hard to communicate intelligence and sentience and culture without either:

            a) Resorting to Space Africa and Space Asia and Space Australia.

            b) Resorting to people who are, essentially, human with a few particular things we associate strongly with human society missing and a few new things added.

            c) The not-awful version of a. Space Southern Canada, Space New York, Space North Chicago, Space 1850s Middle-Class Boston. Taking real cultures and places and authentically adapting them into the context of the world, rather than borrowing only the sweeping stereotypes.

            Mass Effect, thankfully, cleaves mostly to the second route. They suffer a little bit from Space Social Darwinism and Space Racial Profiling, but there are clearly individuals and individual factions within each culture–even if each species only has one real culture entity in the first place. They make a decent effort to avoid cultural monoliths, all in all.

            The trouble with truly unrecognizable aliens is that they can easily become animals. Part of the fauna. If we cannot recognize anything of what we deem intelligent and intelligible in another species, how can we hope to understand them as anything other than Space Horses and Space Dogs and Space Cats? We face this problem even on our own planet as exemplified by the common line drawn between people and animals–it’s more severe a line than just humans and non-humans, dogs and non-dogs. We forget about the diversity here, and give ourselves precedence over our imaginary blank landscape. Take ourselves simultaneously for the norm and the glowing, top-of-the-heap exception. We’re starting to uncover intelligences and sentience in other species and starting to understand those intelligences in ways other than “Like us, but dumber in this area.” We’re starting to understand new paradigms that aren’t human-centered. And I don’t fault us for that–it’s hard trying to step outside of yourself and measure the unmeasurable. It’s a lot like Milky Way Astronomy–trying to understand things about our galaxy and picture it as though we weren’t in the thick of it. Indeed, trying to understand any of the cosmos from this (relatively) fixed perspective, relying on the motions of other bodies through our sky to tell us what we cannot see for want of moving our own planet to another spot.

            All of this considered, making aliens that are too alien puts us into dangerous territory. It is easy to over-emphasize difference. To misunderstand the importance of difference. To create stereotypes that mimic the social injustices of our society. To find that alien unrecognizable as a thinking creature simply because it doesn’t think or seem enough like us. And then, unless this conflict is the point of the work, we’re in trouble. We can’t use these characters together because they have no common ground. No way to interact sensibly that the audience could understand. We’re left with a funky looking, seemingly alive thing and a bunch of people.

            So let’s say we go with Option B, from way back near the top. If we put enough humanity into our non-humans for our characters to understand each other (or indeed, to misunderstand each other in a meaningful way), why not put a little humanity into their biology as well? Make their technology and language and appearance interpretable? You might ask, then why use the aliens at all? My response would be because it’s fun and traditional and that it’s perfectly sensible not to use them and just put people in space and give them time to develop complex, interacting space-faring civilizations.

            Edit: ack! Reply fail! I should mention that I’m agreeing with you–just in an overly-elaborate fashion.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      It’s a terrible storyline, and completely different to what the first suggested it’s be. Full of plot hole and ridiculous actions through ridiculous motivations.

  25. Cytrom says:

    Hahaha… NO.

    Bioware is dead, and I’m not giving EA money for killing it.

  26. osragati says:

    uptil I saw the check for $6857, I didn’t believe that my mother in law was like trully making money part time from there labtop.. there mums best friend started doing this 4 less than nineteen months and resently paid for the loans on there villa and got Mercedes-Benz S-class. read more at, http://www.Cloud65.com

  27. Astalnar says:

    So, it is a reboot.

  28. Lev Astov says:

    So it’s a standalone side story, then? Cool. Nothing more to discuss here.

  29. Lemming says:

    I’ll be sticking with Obsidian for my ‘Bioware’ games now, thanks.

    • isr1eg says:

      Yeah, what buggers me is that they create awesome storys and concepts, yet the game itself always lack something and is full of bugs. Alpha Protocol even had that timer for decisions before Walking Dead.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Oh yeah.. I mean you’ll ‘really’ get polish and quality from them….(do I put some kind of smiley here to illustrate sarcasm, or did you get that?)

  30. Rad says:

    The amazing thing is, that as soon as I think I couldn’t care any less after they drove the Mass Effect franchise into the ground, EAWare surprises me again!

  31. QualityJeverage says:

    ME3′s ending disappointed me of course, but I still had a splendid time with it overall. Still like the franchise, I’ll at least give this one a look.

    Oh, wait, here comes a new RPS commenter memo…

    Rabble rabble I hate everything.

  32. isr1eg says:

    Well, i think they will do exactly the same thing they did with dragon age. But then, dragon age 2 was named dragon age 2, even if dragon age 3 is not named dragon age 3… someone care to explain the logic ?

  33. sinister agent says:

    I’m honestly thinking of a Dune-like ‘sequel’, which is so many thousands of years into the future that the events of the original are barely alluded to with any specifics, because let’s face it, how often do most people today namedrop Hammurabi in a typical week?

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  35. GuybrushThreepwood says:

    I’m assuming Mass Effect 1-3 was a dream? (harp tones, blurry screen)

  36. Screamer says:

    Ag will they just shut up an make a game like ME2, (which I think struck the best balance) where I can play as Garrus!

  37. El_Emmental says:

    D4nce D4nce: Calibrations, the Kinect Mass Effect

  38. Allafif says:

    It does not need to exist before, or after, or to the side. It is one facet of 4 harmonic corner timeline rotating simultaneously around squared equator and cubed Citadel, proving 4 Games, Not 1Day, 1Self, 1Earth or 1God that exists only as anti-side.

    • dude3516 says:

      I had to register just to let you know that I love you. That was brilliant.