BioWare might have its hands full with the development of Dragon Age: Dreadwolf right now but Mass Effect fans are clamouring for information on the next Mass Effect game. First announced at The Game Awards in 2020 with a short CGI trailer, the next Mass Effect (which doesn’t have an official title) is still in the works but don’t expect to hear anything from the studio for a while – or at least until the next N7 day. Here’s everything we know so far about the anticipated RPG.
The CGI trailer for the next Mass Effect zoomed into a galaxy – believed to be the Milky Way – with another galaxy off in the distance, though it’s unclear if this is Andromeda or not. We eventually see the wreckage of a derelict mass relay floating through space before zooming onto a planet, where we follow a hooded figure walking on a defunct Reaper. The figure, revealed to be Liara T’Soni, picks up an N7 visor and smiles, looking on at a crew waiting for her on the horizon.
Everything We Know So Far About The Next Mass Effect
Sequel to Mass Effect 3 or Andromeda (or Both)
The appearance of Liara in the reveal trailer, along with the Reaper corpses, was our biggest indication that the next Mass Effect game will be a continuation of Mass Effect 3‘s story. However, it’s unclear exactly how much time has passed since the events of the third game as Asarians are known to live for at least a thousand years. Furthermore, Liara seems to be older in the trailer (as seen by the wrinkles on her face), suggesting that she has become an asari Matriarch like her mother, Benezia.
If BioWare also wanted to make this a sequel to Andromeda, it could easily set the timeline of the next Mass Effect several hundred years after the third game to more or less coincide with Andromeda‘s events. That way, it would be catering to fans of both storylines without alienating each other.
Return of the Geth
Due to the defunct Reapers seen in the reveal trailer, it’s assumed that BioWare settled on the “Destroy” ending of Mass Effect 3 as the potential canon of the story. In this ending, Commander Shepard sacrifices themselves to save the galaxy and destroy the Reaper threat once and for all, essentially ending all synthetic life in the galaxy in the process – including EDI and the geth.
However, an image posted by BioWare on N7 day in 2021 revealed a new poster for the next game where we see the clear outline of a geth’s face forming a crater. On N7 day in 2022, the developer posted a decoded message which revealed Liara seemingly talking to a geth. Safe to say, the geth have returned but will they be friends or foes? Other theories suggest that Cerberus could be the main villain again and might be attempting to establish humanity’s dominant foothold in the galaxy after the fallout of the Reaper invasion.
Liara’s cryptic conversation with a geth wasn’t the only thing that BioWare released on N7 day in 2022. The studio also dropped an image which shows a new, sleeker mass relay being constructed in space. If the Citadel’s wreckage ended up somewhere in our galaxy and near Earth, it makes sense that humanity would be using the technology in an attempt to rebuild the relays and further their power in the galaxy. That’s just wild speculation for now.
A Team of Talents
Development on the next Mass Effect game possibly began in March 2019 according to the LinkedIn profile of Project Director Michael Gamble, who has a long history at BioWare including working on the original Mass Effect trilogy and Andromeda. As for the team that Gamble put together, it largely consists of several veteran talents who worked on the trilogy that have returned to BioWare to work on the game.
These include lead technical designer Dusty Everman, lead cinematic animator, Parrish Ley, technical designer and producer Brenon Holmes and art director Derek Watts. However, BioWare also brought on new talents to work on the game including YouTuber Michael Tucker and famed Deus Ex and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy writer Mary DeMarle, who will be the senior narrative director.
BioWare also confirmed that the next Mass Effect game will be single-player, though it’s not known if multiplayer or co-op of some kind will be added during development. For now, it looks like the focus is on building a strong single-player offering which is fantastic news for fans.
Unreal Engine 5 (Maybe?)
The original Mass Effect trilogy was built on Unreal Engine so it only makes sense that BioWare would want to return to the same engine, particularly Unreal Engine 5, for the development of the next game. Andromeda‘s development was plagued with issues due to EA’s mandate of using the Frostbite Engine on all of its major projects at the time. Luckily, EA’s tune seems to have changed over the years and it might be affording its studios more freedom to work on whatever engine best suits the development.
While it hasn’t been outright confirmed that the next Mass Effect game is being built using Unreal Engine 5, the job descriptions for several positions at BioWare seem to hint that the team is back on Unreal. We’ll just have to wait for an official confirmation on this one.
Well… not really. Back in May 2022, BioWare’s store released an N7 lithograph which might’ve accidentally teased the return of Commander Shepard in the next Mass Effect. However, Gamble later clarified that this was simply a mistake and the studio wasn’t actually teasing Shepard’s return.
That said, the studio hasn’t outright confirmed that Shepard will not be in the game either. It’s possible that Shepard could return and before you say anything, remember that Cerberus practically brought them back from the dead in Mass Effect 2 after they become a human meteor. There are plenty of in-game ways to bring Shepard back but that begs the question: do they need to come back? We can’t know for certain. All we know is that Liara is looking for Shepard but their fate is still a mystery.
Dragons Come First
Unfortunately, it’s all hands on deck for Dragon Age: Dreadwolf first at BioWare. The studio shifted a number of the Mass Effect staff over to work on the next Dragon Age, which is a lot closer to release than Mass Effect. However, the core team continues to work on the next game, even if it’s still in early development. On that note, our best guess as to when we can play the next Mass Effect is probably in 2026 or 2027. BioWare seems to be taking its time to get it right and we say: take all the time you need.