Its official, MASS EFFECT 4 is underway, although the Normandy SR-2 and her crew are probably not. Bioware Montreal Studio Director Yanick Roy announced that MASS EFFECT 4 is already in development at his studio, as opposed to the Bioware Edmonton studio which developed the other three games in the franchise, which featured Commander Shepard and a crew of his or her choosing discovering and then combating a galactic invasion by a race of sentient machines known as Reapers.
Details are incredibly scarce on where or when this next instalment will take place, or who will be the protagonist, as fans of the trilogy already know, MASS EFFECT 3 finished in a very final manner for some of the characters of the series, and depending on the choices made by the player in the endgame, the MASS EFFECT universe (and life itself) could end up in any one of a number of drastically different states. This obviously makes any sequel that takes place after the original trilogy problematic, a problem also confronted by the MASS EFFECT film in development at LEGENDARY PICTURES.
Obviously aware of the controversy that greeted the original, relatively short, ending cinematics for MASS EFFECT 3 and the resulting fan backlash due to a lack of closure, (that eventually resulted in a patch being delivered with more story added), and that changing developers in a franchise can be considered a cause for both celebration and derision in fan circles, the announcement seemed to go out of its way to outline both Yanick and his studio’s historical involvement in the franchise. Yanick Roy himself was Senior Development Director on the original MASS EFFECT before departing to head up the Montreal studio which then became responsible for “half the cinematics for ME2”, the N7 missions and some of the post release DLC. Bioware Montreal was also responsible for the multiplayer portion of ME3 and the upcoming ME3 OMEGA DLC. The continuing involvement of the original Bioware Edmonton team and Executive Producer of the series Casey Hudson was also highlighted to reassure fans.
Despite this, one part of the announcement looks sure to be a cause for more outcry, as Yanick states that “while it will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games, with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts. You can still expect the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact though, including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling.” The game play in the MASS EFFECT games evolved over the course of the series as some of the more tactical elements of the gameplay was reworked to a play a little more like a shooter. At this point it is unknown whether the statement above indicates that this progression will continue or if the franchise will more in a drastically new direction.
For the full announcement head over to http://blog.bioware.com/2012/11/12/an-update-from-bioware-montreal/
It's also been revealed that the game will run on the Frostbite 2 engine developed by DICE, which was most recently used in BATTLEFIELD 3.
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