Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is almost here. While replaying these games will be an exciting time for Mass Effect fans, myself included, I also think it's a great time to reflect and ponder on what the franchise did to become so beloved. While it's certainly a ways off, BioWare has confirmed that the next Mass Effect game is in development, so these are the five things the next Mass Effect could learn from the Legendary Edition.
Focus on the team
BioWare is known for writing fantastic characters, so of course part of what worked so well for the original trilogy was the intimate focus on Shepard's squadmates. Everyone has their own favorites and rankings, but at the end of the day, the team is what mattered. When people remember Mass Effect, they remember talking Wrex down on Virmire, or comforting Tali learning of her father's death. They remember making it through the gauntlet of the Collector Base, and who perished or, against all odds, made it out alive.
BioWare's bread and butter is storytelling and characters, so I'm confident this can be done well, but the next Mass Effect simply has to have a fantastic team fans will find memorable.
The promise of the unknown
One of the greatest things that made all three Mass Effect games so special was the mystery of being up against a threat you didn't understand. From finding and confronting Saren, unaware of his manipulation at the hands of the Reapers, to learning the truth of Sovereign, to building up your team in order to take on the Collectors, to attempting to unite the galaxy, with uncertainty at to how it will all play out. It's a lot, but it kept you intrigued over three hours-long games. Whatever the next Mass Effect touches on, mystery has to be a huge part of it.
Provide wonderful exploration
While the planets were often barren, limited by the technology and hardware of the time, exploring uncharted worlds in the original Mass Effect was key to crafting the fantasy of being an explorer in the stars. This is something that the oft-maligned Mass Effect Andromeda actually did a good job with. It allowed players to roar, run, and jump pack across ice worlds and alien forests alike.
While open-world fatigue can be real and there's no reason to bog the map down with dozens of items to check off, making sure the next Mass Effect feels and looks great to explore, with reasons to explore it, will make it far more memorable.
More Krogan Love
Of the three original games, Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 had the best lineup of squadmates, in no small part due to having a Krogan squadmate. Krogan squadmates are great. You're originally presented with the idea of a mono-minded race that's spread in propaganda in the world of Mass Effect. The Krogan you travel with — Wrex in Mass Effect, Grunt in Mass Effect 2 — are warriors, yes, but beneath their blunt honesty and love of battle is a poetic side, one mired in tragedy and loss that culminates in one of Mass Effect 3's greatest moments should you choose to cure the Genophage.
As such, a Krogan squadmate is not only needed but Krogan romance options are as well. Whatever your preference or gender, no one should be left out here. Everyone deserves Krogan loving and this a must-have for the next game.
While I'm not going to rehash the controversy born out of Mass Effect 3's ending, the fact is, player decisions mattered in the trilogy. The best RPGs allow the actual role-playing apsects to matter. The small ripples and repercussions of choosing how long to prepare for the assaults on the Collector Base, as well as how prepared the team is, are memorable to this day. Going into Mass Effect 3, the fate of all civilization seemed to rest on Shepard's shoulders.
Concessions will have to be made in terms of finding a common ground story for the next Mass Effect to build upon and that's okay, as long as the game is built around new challenges and new tough choices to confront players with.
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