I know, I know. Another Mass Effect related post by me.
Sorry (not sorry).
Late last night one of my oldest friends had just discovered last fall's "Mass Effect will Continue" teaser and blew up my phone with Facebook messages about it. I guess he thought I am as out of the loop as he is so he sent me links to the original teaser video, links to a couple deep dive YouTube videos, and ended with a message saying, "You must be excited!". With no hesitation, I typed back a simple two word response:
When the teaser first came out, I watched as the collective Mass Effect fandom lost their minds on social media. While I understood the excitement, I was just left feeling kinda bummed.
First, it's difficult for me to become enthused about a game based solely on a CGI teaser that doesn't really tell us much. I had much the same reaction to the Beyond Good & Evil 2 trailer back in 2018. It looked nice, had some promise, but didn't show us anything about the game itself. It was a glorified animated short. With the game industry's track record of releasing amazing CGI trailers only to turn around and release a game later that looks nothing like the original tease, I've become highly cynical and don't start taking notice of games until I see legitimate, non-curated, gameplay.
Second, the vast majority of the talent that made the Mass Effect series what it was is long gone from BioWare. Mac Walters is, I believe, one of the very few who remain. Casey Hudson has started his own new venture and, after the failures of Anthem, it's unlikely Drew Karpyshyn will return for any future BioWare projects. Besides, following Mass Effect: Andromeda, I was left questioning whether or not Walters and Hudson -- now just Walters -- really understood what made the Mass Effect universe special. Andromeda took various elements of the Mass Effect series and blended them into a passable game but Mass Effect is more than just having fan-favorite races, familiar plot beats, a big ass galaxy map, and an obligatory romance subplot.
Finally, my biggest issue is that, as a direct sequel, they're going to have to make choices that permanently retcon the original trilogy, which is in opposition to the trilogy's core premise of "your choices matter". There are dozens of choices, large and small, throughout the trilogy that have lasting impacts on the galaxy. Specific outcomes for each choice will need to be made official, or retconned out of existence, for the sake of sequel continuity. As much as I want more Mass Effect content, I'm not sure I'm okay with that. The Mass Effect trilogy was the last time I really felt like I was truly "role playing" in a non-table top game. I am Shepard, not just playing the character of Shepard. The choices I made in the game on my original Shepard, although limited by the game's framework, are the choices I would make if I truly existed in that universe. That's why I have a genuine, strong emotional attachment to Liara as the choices I made regarding her and her related romantic subplot weren't made just for the sake of gameplay or achievement hunting. No other video game RPG since has provided the same connection -- not The Witcher franchise, not Cyberpunk 2077, and certaily not Mass Effect: Andromeda.
My original Shepard circa 2007-2012 (and whom I recreated in 2021's Legendary Edition) was a mostly paragon Engineer who worked tirelessly to unify the galaxy and launched the final mission with an obscenely high galactic readiness and EMS score. When the Extended Cut endings came out this meant my Shepard, who chose the Destroy ending, was also canonically alive (and, in my head canon, retired, supporting Liara's post-Prothean career while working through years of PTSD and physical trauma, and helping his friends rebuild the galaxy -- but I digress). If they canonize the Destroy ending, that's great as it aligns with my choices. But for a player who chose Control or Synthesis as their preferred ending, canonizing Destroy will leave them feeling disheartened because that's not the Shepard THEY created. If they were to canonize Control or Synthesis, I'd personally feel less invested in the sequel because that's not the galaxy my Shepard -- or rather I -- helped shape.
The presence of a destroyed mass relay in the new teaser exemplifies the problem any future game will have with story consistency. At the conclusion of the trilogy's extended cuts, which are now the only canon endings, one ending outright shows the relays being rebuilt (Control), one says the Reapers are rebuilding them (Synthesis), and one heavily implies that the remaining species repaired the relays because it shows a fully rebuilt London and Citadel, with all the species spread across the galaxy (Destroy). In the fourth possible option -- the do nothing option -- the relays are never destroyed as the cycle continued on. So the presence of a destroyed relay leads to more questions than answers about continuity.
I'll keep watching for more information on the series' development but, for now, I find it best to treat the teaser the same way I treated The Elder Scrolls 6, Overwatch 2, and Beyond Good & Evil 2 teasers: Filed away as things I may or may not see in my lifetime and appreciate what currently exists with the stories as they stand.