I Hope Mass Effect 5 Isn’t The Force Awakens Of Bioware RPGs

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a great film, but it’s also a hollow one. Intended as an experience to introduce Star Wars to a whole new generation of young fans, it apes the narrative of 1977’s A New Hope to an obscene degree, repeating character motivations, plot points, and even the giant planetary space station designed to destroy the galaxy. It’s all a bit lazy, but intentionally so, propelled forward with a charismatic cast of characters who would inevitably be done dirty in the sequels. Poe and Finn deserved better.

Modern films and games have a habit of pandering to nostalgia, or staying close to ideas that have worked remarkably well in the past, relying on previous successes to push forward new stories instead of conjuring up fresh ones. Remakes, remasters, and reboots can be counted in the same camp I suppose, companies and publishers taking the safe path in the fear of alienating passionate communities that have long been together.

With the confirmation that Mass Effect 5 (or whatever it ends up being called) will return to the Milky Way, I fear a similar path awaits. Andromeda, for all its faults, wasn’t afraid to enter new territory. Commander Shepard and everything about them was left behind, regarded as an object of the past never to be unearthed again. That story was over, and it was time for new heroes to step forward into the limelight.

BioWare wasn’t afraid to annoy people with this new direction, and if it was executed a little better, I feel fans would have embraced it with open arms. Sadly this didn’t work out, and the next iteration of the space opera will take us back into familiar territory. While I imagine it’s still several years away from release, with Dragon Age 4 on the way first, the reveal trailer provides a few small clues as to where we might be heading. Liara lands on a snowy planet alongside a trio of squadmates, searching for something that is unknown to the viewer.

After a few moments she leans down, wiping snow away from a pile of debris to reveal the iconic N7 logo. It could be Shepard’s final resting place, or simply where the legendary spectre left behind their fractured armour following the events of Mass Effect 3. I sincerely hope they’re dead. If they’re still alive, the sacrifice that the majority of players made to defeat the Reapers will feel pointless, and a returning hero will take the impact away from a new roster of characters who rightfully deserve the spotlight.

The trailer doesn’t give anything else away, with Liara’s return and the importance of what came before being the only sticking points. BioWare shouldn’t depend on the legacy that came before, forcing ageing characters into the spotlight simply to ensure existing fans remain satisfied. They absolutely deserve a level of presence, but place them into senior roles, overseers for young heroes who serve as the main focus.

Liara was a close friend, and potential love interest, of Shepard, meaning she could spread the importance of their actions and the sacrifice they made to defeat the Reapers. All of the lore and details that BioWare spent years compiling will be relevant once again, waiting to be built upon with exciting new details. This isn’t an excuse to depend on the original trilogy – on the contrary, it should be a springboard to expand into something far more ambitious. The events of the original trilogy must not be forgotten, but they also shouldn’t be relied on.

When the new entry will take place is also a mystery, but I hope it deals with the aftermath of the Reaper invasion in some manner. Billions were killed, with galactic infrastructure being torn asunder in the face of an unstoppable threat. It’s a miracle we survived at all, and the effort to rebuild civilization and restore a sense of normality is no easy task. Having to take on the threats that emerge as a result of this chaos would be fascinating, or perhaps another deadly enemy is simply sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment of insecurity to strike. There’s so much potential for Mass Effect, so a retreading of past fables would be such a shame.

As a franchise, Mass Effect has told some of the most compelling stories the medium has ever seen, building a universe to rival the greatest of science-fiction properties. If you ask me, it more than deserves a spot alongside the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek in the sci-fi pantheon. But as I said earlier, this legacy shouldn’t be taken for granted. BioWare has so much material to fall back on, and could easily christen this next entry as the return of Shephard and call it a day. Many would love that I’m sure, but for me, it’s a series with so many great, fresh stories just waiting to be told.

Next: I’m Only Making One Renegade Decision In Mass Effect Legendary Edition

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Jade King is one of the Features Editors for TheGamer. Previously Gaming Editor over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.

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