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Fallen's Blog: The Future of Mass Effect

By FallenXE - 19th November 2017 - 16:24 PM

On 7th November this year, Bioware marked a decade since they launched the first entry in their Mass Effect saga, as well as their N7 Day. Since 2007, Mass Effect has gained a cult, and then mainstream, following and affection rivalled by only few other large IPs and franchises in video game history.

Bioware however, could have potentially wished to celebrate N7 Day this year on a more optimistic note. For this year's Mass Effect: Andromeda release and the backlash that followed, and the announcement of their new IP Anthem, has placed the position of the Mass Effect franchise in a more precarious position than ever.

On this edition of Fallen's Blog, I give my thoughts regarding the state of the Mass Effect franchise and where Electronic Arts could potentially go about with it in 2018. If you have any thoughts or comment regarding this entry please feel free to leave it below or just personal message me.

All opinions stated in this blog are of that of mine alone and does not reflect the opinion or policies of GameReplays.Org.

EA's Corporate Position on Mass Effect

As Kotaku had earlier reported in May this year, EA was scaling down its Bioware Montreal studio which had took the lead in the development for Andromeda, the first time a Mass Effect game was lead developed outside of their Edmonton branch. In August afterwards, the Montreal studio was outright merged with EA Motive and we more or less had the confirmed news that no single-player DLC would be made for Andromeda.

For the 10th Anniversary of Mass Effect, Bioware had released the video below which features plenty of trivia and information as well as interviews with studio management and some of the Voice Actors for the characters of the franchise.

PCGamer noted the optimistic tone of the video; It's an interesting way to wrap up, because it's an implicit rejection of the entire premise of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was all about finding a new home. That attitude is evident throughout the video, in fact, in the way it very clearly focuses on the original trilogy despite coming in the same year as Andromeda's release.

Now, if this potentially hints at the direction that Bioware is to take with the Mass Effect franchise in the future then it is a welcome sign. I list below how they could have originally handled the logical progression of the trilogy and the various ramifications it would have had for the franchise.

How they could have done the Post-Trilogy

In my opinion, I thought that it was a mistake for them to have released the Leviathan DLC in which so much of the lore and mystique of the Reapers were unraveled all at once and without any impact or effect to the overall plot. It felt more of a "do for the sake of doing it". Had it been stretched out more and done well, a full game or two could have been focused on Commander Shepard finding the creators of the Reapers.

Post-Trilogy, I felt that Bioware could have gone a possible of three directions with the lore and plot of the Mass Effect Universe:

  • First Contact War
  • Post-Reaper War
  • Distant Future

Let's examine all the pros and cons that comes in developing a game in each of the above three periods;

  • First Contact War:

    Having a game set during the First Contact War, aka the Relay 314 Incident, would have allowed Bioware to go in detail into multiple storylines, some of which have been touched in the novels. This would include the creation of Cerberus, Humanity's first interaction with the Council races, Admiral Anderson's attempt at being the first Spectre and the Turian's war with the Humans.

    The difficulty of this would be that the character in this Prequel arc has to be someone that either a) we already know from the main trilogy - so that we can see how it affects him or her later on, b) someone who would die at the end of the arc - so that we do not have any loose ends or c) an Original Character that will be able to be used in Post-Reaper War games, to ensure some form of continuity.

  • Post-Reaper War:

    You can already guess the difficulty of this line of thought, and that would be how to justify the different end-game choices from Mass Effect 3 to set-up the future arc of the franchise. Bioware pride themselves as a company who ensures that all player choices matter and are significant so this will be a pretty tough nut to crack for them.

    It will be near impossible to make a sequel to Mass Effect 3 that conforms to every ending in the latter and thus Bioware has to make a choice in which ending they would want to make canon. No matter which ending is chosen the community will definitely be in uproar as some of their choices were not acknowledged and thus this is the difficulty presented to Bioware. Each ending will also present their own unique problem;

    The Synthetic ending will be a convoluted mess as the Reapers are now all sentient and independent, each with their knowledge of their own past civilisation, and how do you operate in a Universe where Reapers are a living factor?

    The Control option will be difficult with the question of how to tackle a Commander Shepard who has set up him or herself as the vanguard of the universe and who could eventually develop a messiah complex in the future. In addition, the threats in this arc has to be scaled down to be personal and realistic because going on the macro scale would make no sense with no threat being large or credible enough to be posed to a universe that has Reapers as its guardians.

    The Destroy option presents the most safe choice, with Commander Shepard (potentially) alive but with the Mass Effect relays severely damaged but not beyond the point of repair. Many arcs can be presented such as the question of tackling an un-Genophaged Krogan species, Turians or Asaris that are retreating from the galactic leadership structure allowing Humans to fill in the vacuum or potentially fighting a hidden army of Protheans.

  • Distant Future:

    Not much has to be said here, since we know that this is the route that Bioware went to take and that resulted us with Andromeda. No doubt that the game is decent for a Mass Effect entry, nothing spectacular but nothing to be shameful about either. The premise of the game was set well and within the timeframe of the game there was no plotholes by itself.

    The results of the Reaper-War was left as a mystery to the occupants of the Ark, especially after listening to the audio logs from Liara to the Pathfinder's father. There was an interesting conspiracy as to who the mysterious backer of the Andromeda Initiative with the Illusive Man being a commonly thrown around name. Lastly there was also an interesting enemy in the form of the Kett who, despite having elements rehashed from the Protheans, Collectors and Reapers, present an interesting foe and who we find out are operating autonomously in the Heleus Cluster without input from their empire's main leadership.

    Personally, not including the graphic bugs that plagued the game at the start, I think that Andromeda was a decent game. That said, the reason why it received such a lackluster reception was because fans and players were much more used to a higher degree of storytelling and emotional attachment that was found in the storyline and characters of the original trilogy. Thus it would have to be that anything that Bioware put out after Mass Effect 3 would have to at least equal if not better the standards in ME3. Of course, not supporting the game with any future single-player DLC, a first for the franchise, is a sure-fire way to bury Andromeda into irrelevance much more quicker.

Moving On

So from this point on, how can Bioware and EA move on? The recent trend of micro-transactions and "games as a live service" a la Destiny makes it certain that some form of financial transaction market will be included within the game.

Now if this was kept to the multiplayer side of the future Mass Effect game it would be saddening but fine. However, should these micro-transactions be embedded within the Single-Player Campaign I think a lot of players and fans will be in uproar, just like how they have expressed their feelings with the recent launch of Battlefront II.

I do fear however that any future Mass Effect game will be an online-only MMORPG similar in vein to The Old Republic and Destiny as EA looks to squeeze what they term as the "average revenue per user".

In an optimistic and idealistic world, EA will use the upcoming Mass Effect novel to craft a decent ending to Andromeda while still building up the potential for an expansion, either one set after Andromeda or one that could tell how the Initiative was set-up during the lead-up to the Reaper War.

EA should then wait one or two years after the release of Anthem to properly build up the marketing hype for this next Mass Effect game so that it doesn't suffer an overlap in consumer base as evident by last year's near simultaneous release of Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1. You would think that whoever is doing Marketing for EA would not be stupid enough to think that making fans choose between two games of the same FPS genre, no matter how niche they are, during the same period was a smart idea.


As a fan of the Mass Effect series I really do hope that the franchise is not butchered and milked out in the future. At the very least if the franchise is to be milked out let it not be in a way that will ruin the gamer's experience, give the game and the publisher bad press and ultimately doom the franchise.

I also sincerely hope that this loot-box and micro-transaction wave will minimise in the near future and that gamers will express to envelopers and publishers that this is not how they want their games structured, or it will be us consumers that will be on the losing end.

Do give me your comments and feedback on this blog entry and if you would like to ask me any questions go ahead and drop me a PM and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Till next time!

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