The producer of the next Mass Effect game is looking for fan feedback: Do you want the fourth game to be a sequel or a prequel?
Producer Casey Hudson of BioWare Montreal, which is developing the next iteration of the Mass Effect franchise, is soliciting fan opinions about the next game via Twitter:
Parsing through your thoughts on the next #ME game. Would you be more interested in a game that takes place before the trilogy, or after?
— Casey Hudson (@CaseyDHudson) November 19, 2012
My vote: sequel all the way.
It’s not that there’s no stories to mine from the time before the original trilogy. There’s tons of backstory and mythology there. The issue, for me, is that Mass Effect has always pivoted on the choices of the player. If the next saga were a prequel, set before games 1 through 3, we would already know what’s to come. How can our choices have any importance if we know what the future holds, regardless of our choices? I suppose it could be done, but the future excites me more than the past.
Better to start fresh. [Minor spoilers ahead.] Pick up the pieces of the original trilogy and show us how the galaxy has changed because of it. What’s become of mankind? Not to mention the Asari, the Turians, the Salarians, the Krogan, and the Quarians. Mass Effect 3‘s epic finale opened the door to show us a new age, a breaking of the eons-old cycle of death and rebirth, with loads of rebuilding to do. Will the races of the galaxy come together to build a new galaxy from the ashes of the old? Or will they drift further apart? And assuming the Reapers are out of the picture, there’s an opportunity here to create an entirely new threat that’s bigger and badder, and maybe even from beyond our galaxy. Whether Shepard’s in the game or not, a sequel provides a wide open canvas to paint on.
The only downside to doing a sequel is that BioWare will have to settle on one specific ending of ME3 to build on. Unless they go the Deus Ex: Invisible War route, and use a backstory that incorporates all of the available endings. Then again, Deus Ex: Human Revolution showed us that prequels can be pretty darn compelling when done right. But that title was the exception, not the rule. Halo 4 just recently made a great case for sequel trilogies that build off of what came before while introducing cool new enemies and a terrific new story to tell.
Please, BioWare, don’t do a prequel. Mass Effect has always owed a creative debt to Star Wars, so just look to that franchise from a galaxy far, far away once more to see how disastrous prequels can be.