Things didn’t look good for Mass Effect for a while there after the critical and commercial failure of Andromeda, but thankfully, that didn’t last very long. BioWare have confirmed that the next Mass Effect game (lets call it Mass Effect 4 for convenience’s sake) is in development, and like many others, we have a list of things we’re hoping to see it do, from improvements over predecessors to bringing back old features to adding completely new things. Here, we’re going to talk about those things.
NO OPEN WORLD
On paper, Mass Effect and open world seems like a solid combination, and BioWare tried their hand at that with Andromeda. To say the very least, it didn’t work out very well. Long stretches of emptiness, an abundance of bland side quests, and pacing issues followed in the wake of Andromeda’s open world design, and the game was poorer for it. Mass Effect 4 will, hopefully, go back to the linear design of the original trilogy, with missions set in linear handcrafted levels, interspersed with more open hub locations throughout the galaxy with room for exploration.
This goes hand-in-hand with Andromeda’s open world issues. Mass Effect has put an emphasis on driving on two occasions, and neither of those have been anything to write home about. Mass Effect 1’s Mako was an absolute nightmare, and though Andromeda’s Nomad definitely controller better, driving around vast stretches of emptiness wasn’t a lot of fun. Perhaps it’s best if Mass Effect just lets the whole driving thing go, you know?
Andromeda had a lot of issues, but combat was definitely not one of them. In fact, Andromeda’s combat is the best we’ve seen in a Mass Effect game- kinetic, adrenaline-fueled, and appropriately tactical when it needed to be, with the perfect blend of combos, movement, and right usage of weapons and abilities. Mass Effect’s combat has improved significantly with each successive entry, and while we’re hoping to see that trajectory continue with Mass Effect 4, we’re hoping it will do so while building on the foundations laid down by Andromeda.
CONTROL OVER SQUADMATES
If there was just one issue with Andromeda’s combat, it was that it took control over squadmates away from the player entirely. Yes, Ryder was much more mobile than Shepard ever was, but not being able to even command your squadmates to use their abilities definitely took something away from the experience. A Mass Effect game that has Andromeda’s combat but also allows partial control over squadmates the way the original trilogy is what we’re hoping for with the series’ next outing.
Mass Effect doesn’t put as much of a focus on RPG elements as much as more core RPG franchises do, but we’d like to see that change with Mass Effect 4– at least to some extent. Mass Effect 1’s progression mechanics struck the perfect balance between role playing and action, and Andromeda certainly tried to move in that direction as well (though it didn’t do that quite as successfully), and we’d like to see Mass Effect 4 try that as well. Give us more control over our upgrades and abilities, more options to introduce some actual build variety.
MEANINGFUL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CLASSES
Speaking of build variety- how awesome would it be to play a Mass Effect game where the class you pick for your character has a tangible impact on the way you play? That’s not to say Mass Effect’s classes haven’t been successful in doing that at all in the past to any extent- but the changes between a biotic and a soldier, for instance, often end up feeling rather limited by the time you’ve spent even more than a few hours playing as either. Perhaps the best and most obvious way to make classes feel meaningfully different from each other is to give them all many more exclusive abilities than they have had in the past.
BETTER WEAPON UPGRADES
Mass Effect Andromeda’s weapon upgrades were a bit of a mess. Collecting blueprints, gather resources, crafting blueprints, and to top it all off, navigating the terrible menus to do all of that- it was the opposite of fun and smooth. Upgrades and weapon modding in Mass Effect 4 need to be much more streamlined. Have players work towards a smaller range of options, but have each of those options offer proper, meaningful rewards that make them worth the effort. Upgrade your rifle so that it can shoot biotically-charged rounds to send enemies flying? Don’t mind if I do.
A SHIP THAT YOU CAN FLY
Obviously, we’re going to have our own ship in Mass Effect 4 – it wouldn’t be a Mass Effect game if we didn’t – and it’ll have a lot to live up to, especially when compared with the Normandy. As much as we want it to be an excellent hub location to call home though, what we really want is to be able to actually fly that thing. No, not the way you could “fly” the Normandy in Mass Effect 2– we’re hoping for proper sections where you’re actually flying the thing. That might fly in the face of the whole “no open world” thing we spoke of earlier, so perhaps the game could have specific sections where we’re flying the ship. Either way, just give us control of the damn thing.
BETTER SHIP CUSTOMIZATION
Ship customization is an important part of any Mass Effect game, and Mass Effect 2 in particular handled it very well, with the upgrades that you had or hadn’t made to the Normandy determining whether certain crew members would survive the Suicide Mission. With Mass Effect 4 though, BioWare will hopefully take things a little further. Having upgrade and customization options for the ship that have tangible and mechanical consequences on the gameplay would be the perfect scenario, and could even work very well with a ship that you actually get to fly.
We now live in a time where RPGs have moved away from binary good-and-evil choices in favour of moral complexity and decisions that aren’t purely black or white, and we’re all for that. But the Paragon and Renegade system of the original Mass Effect trilogy was excellent, because it didn’t determine whether your choices were good or bad as much as it determined the general personality and disposition of Commander Shepard. We would love nothing more than to see the Paragon/Renegade system make a return in Mass Effect 4, though with a little more nuance this time around.
Having to make tough choices that can have massive repercussions on the entire galaxy has always been one of Mass Effect’s biggest strengths, but sadly, that aspect of the experience wasn’t nearly as prevalent in Andromeda. From the Rachni queen in Mass Effect 1 to the entire Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2 to the fate of the Krogans or the Geth-Quarian conflict in Mass Effect 3, this is a series that has often challenged its players with hard choices. Our hope is that Mass Effect 4 will be full of similar moments as well.
PLAYING AS NON-HUMAN RACES
This is something that Mass Effect fans have wanted for a long, long time. In a series that has so many diverse alien races with rich histories and background, it’s a little surprising that we’ve only ever been able to pay as a human so far. Hopefully, Mass Effect 4 will be the game to change that. Who wouldn’t want to play as an Asari biotic, or a Turian sharpshooter, or a Krogan tank, or a Quarian tech expert? At the very least, we would at least like to have the option.
Thanks to its Loyalty Missions, Mass Effect 2 is one of the best ever examples of a game where the side quests are legitimately better than the main story, which is why it’s so surprising that the series has never tried to do something similar since then. Sure, Andromeda also technically had Loyalty Missions, but those were total crap, Loyalty Mission only in name. We want actual, proper Loyalty Missions in Mass Effect 4, the kind that have actual consequences and can dictate the relationships between characters, and even whether or not certain characters live or die.
MORE ALIEN RACES
Getting to meet new alien races and learn about their rich lore, backstories, histories, and cultures has always been one of Mass Effect’s defining traits, and the surprisingly low number of new alien races in Andromeda was a huge disappointment, especially considering the fact that it was set in an entirely new galaxy. Based on Mass Effect 4’s teaser trailer, it seems like it’s going to take us back to the Milky Way, so we don’t know how the game will be able to introduce more new alien races in a galaxy that it already mined over the course of three games- but we’d sure like to see it do just that.
MORE FOCUS ON LESSER KNOWN RACES
Of course, Mass Effect already has plenty of alien races in its lore as it is, and we’d love to see it shed more light on some of the lesser known ones with its next game as well. The likes of Turians, Salarians, Krogans, Asari, and what have you have all dominated the series for as long as they have been around, but what about the Volus, the Batarians, the Drell, the Hanar? The Drell in particular are fan favourites, thanks to Thane Krios, and we’de sure love to learn more about those races.