A new Mass Effect game — we'll call it Mass Effect 5 for simplicity — is officially being developed by Bioware. We had a feeling a new entry into the beloved space opera series was in the works, but now it's official.
After the divisive Mass Effect: Andromeda it was thought that the Mass Effect series was on hold, potentially shelved completely. But on November 7, aka "N7 Day" used to commemorate the Mass Effect series, Bioware came out and said a new Mass Effect game is under development, alongside a remastered take on the Mass Effect series due in 2021.
Based on the brief description given by Bioware's general manager, Casey Hudson, we shouldn't expect Mass Effect 5 to release any time soon. However the fact the studio is willing to talk about it and reveal a few tantalizing details is great news.
Mass Effect 5 release date
While we know that the game is coming, there's no release date just yet. Going by the statement from Bioware's Casey Hudson that the game's in its "early stages," we've likely got a couple of years to wait.
As such, we'd tentatively predict Mass Effect 5 could arrive some time in 2022. But we'd not be surprised if it's comes along in 2023 or even 2024. Basically, we've got a decent wait to endure before we get a brand new Mass Effect game.
Mass Effect 5 story and setting
The N7 Day post from Hudson mainly focuses on the upcoming Legendary Edition remaster of the original three Mass Effect games (see below), but we were shown one piece of concept art as a teaser.
On the side of the ship in the concept art, we see "XT8." This is a common naming convention in the Mass Effect universe for vehicles used by the Alliance, the human faction in the game.
As it uses two letters and one number like Mass Effect: Andromeda's ND1 Nomad, rather than the two-number designations of original trilogy craft like the M35 Mako, M44 Hammerhead and UT-47 Kodiak, we can infer that the new game will be a sequel to Andromeda. In Mass Effect: Andromeda, the game was centered around humans and other races from the Milky Way galaxy arriving in the Andromeda galaxy, after a 600-year journey.
This fits with an interesting observation from Rock Paper Shotgun's Imogen Beckhelling, who believes that one of the silhouetted figures in the background is an Angara, a race of aliens introduced in Andromeda.
On the other hand, it could just mean that this craft just belongs to a civilian organization, like the Andromeda initiative. As such we can't tell if Mass Effect 5 is an Andromeda follow-up or another game taking place in the Milky Way. But it could hint that wherever the next game is set, it could focus more on ordinary citizens rather than the galaxy's military and political elite as the original trilogy did.
Mass Effect 5 gameplay
We've seen no footage of Mass Effect 5 in action but that doesn't mean we don't have high hopes for the game. The original Mass Effect series blended third-person action and role-playing systems with conversation, character interactions, and a bevy of choices. And on top of that was sprinkled on some mild exploration.
This combination worked very well, leading to a series of games that felt taught and thrilling from start to finish. But Mass Effect: Andromeda tried to adopt more of an open-world feel, leading to a lot of busy work and bloat to the game that soured its overall experience.
So we're hoping Bioware goes back to its roots a little and concentrates on building a game that's more story focused rather than exploration orientated.
That's not to say there's no room for exploration and building upon the Mass Effect trilogy foundations. Some space combat would be great fun, as would the scope to play as other races or explore a story from different perspectives like Dragon Age Origins allowed players to do.
Whatever direction Bioware takes Mass Effect 5, we're hoping it focuses on nailing the single-player experience rather than try and draw upon its multiplayer efforts.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
While you wait for the sequel to appear, you'll be able to play the original games in a new refreshed format next year. The Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is a remastered version of the original Mass Effect trilogy, along with all the DLC and other content bundled in. And it'll be released in Spring 2021.
The remaster is coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and will boast better "textures, shaders, models, effects and technical features" as well as 4K resolution, HDR and higher frame rates among its improvements.
While the Legendary Edition won't be on sale specifically for the PS5 and Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the game will be playable on these newer consoles. And it will offer some other unknown "targeted enhancements" to take advantage of their greater power too.
There's no mention of 2017's Mass Effect: Andromeda being part of this package, likely because it's a generation younger than the original trilogy. Perhaps we'll see this game reimagined in the coming years so all games can be played at their best on the newest consoles.
Mass Effect 5 outlook
The key thing to take away from the information so far is: be patient. While it's very exciting to see Bioware start up the hype machine, there's not a lot to really grab onto at the moment.
It's possible that will change in the coming few months and years, and there's nothing stopping you from making your own theories about what the game will involve. We're just glad Bioware hasn't abandoned the Mass Effect franchise, and we're cautiously optimistic to see what it will come up with in the next few years.