To borrow some choice words from Warren Ellis: “People call me a cynic; but I think it might be truer to think of myself as just a constantly disappointed optimist.” This has been on my mind since the inevitable reveal of “Mass Effect: Andromeda” this week at E3, an event that I pay only the slightest amount of attention to. What I’ve observed: that multiplayer footage from “Star Wars: Battlefront 3” was drool inducing, everyone in the world who wasn’t me had their dream of a “Final Fantasy VII” remake come true and BioWare/Electronic Arts are giving us another chance to slap the old N7 patch on.
Now this by itself isn’t anything surprising. Of course there was going to be another “Mass Effect.” Nothing that popular was going to go away forever, and the powers that be have decided that three years was proper time/distance we needed from that divisive previous installment to swiftly hit the reset button. My play through of the saga is firmly in the books and I haven’t revisited “ME” since 2012, so I’ve gained some considerable distance from it all. They’re good games; check that, they’re great games, but in retrospect the fan worship and awe factor is kinda embarrassing. For instance, I used to think this was cute; now I watch it if I need a healthy laugh.
While I acknowledge its flaws, I wasn’t a member of the seemingly massive “ME3” hate mob, which got unspeakably boring long before it reached its peak. Nonetheless, the missteps of that installment – along with many of the other not so flattering moments EA has had since – makes me cautiously optimistic (see the other quote). In no particular order, here is what I’d like out of “Mas Effect: Andromeda.”
- For it to NOT be a prequel/interquel/side story: I don’t need to tell any of you this, but it bears repeating: prequels/interquels/and side stories suck. They are cowardly cop outs designed to prevent writers/artists/actors etc. from taking real risks (creatively speaking) so your audience can keep playing with the same old comfortable, familiar toys. There’s certainly many moments in “ME’s” back story that would lend themselves to these sorts of games. Thankfully, the “Discover a new galaxy” tagline in the trailer implies that this won’t be the case.
- For it to actually build off the events from “Mass Effect 3:” This one is going to be a tall order. The broad, open-ended, choose-your-own-adventure style of the series would probably require BioWare to build a completely different game for each variation of the “happy” ending attainable in “ME3.” If this is after the trilogy, then how is humanity (and everyone else, for that matter) exploring the stars without the Mass Relays? Did some other form of super fast space travel get invented since then? How did we reach this new galaxy? This is by far my most unreasonable desire, but a fan can dream.
- To be able to play as other races: “ME3’s” multiplayer did this; why not have this option in the campaign? The “Humanity is special” trope is wearing pretty thin at this point.
- Leave Commander Shepard in the past: The revered status Shepard attains in “ME3’s” postcredits scene was the dumbest, sappiest thing I’ve ever seen in a game. Let’s not turn this guy/gal into a god/goddess please. Don’t have his/her grandkids running around Andromeda. And for Christ’s sake, don’t make the playable human a Shepard descendant. Shepard’s time is over; let’s move the series past him/her.
- Bring Back Garrus: I don’t care how it happens as long as it happens. The future has many more guns that need calibrating.
- For someone to make a “Guardians of the Galaxy” mode of any “Mass Effect” game: Alright, so this is kinda silly, and it wouldn’t fall on the developers to make it happen. But seriously…do it. You know you want it.