A new Mass Effect is in development, and although we don't know whether it'll be called Mass Effect 5, we do know a few things about what the story might be. Officially announced back at the end of 2020, all we've had so far is a short teaser trailer and a poster to eek secrets out of. But, from everything we've seen so far, it looks like the focus is back on Commander Shepard's crew and the Normandy.
BioWare is still keeping a lot under wraps about the next entry in the space-faring franchise, with the latest rumors suggesting that Mass Effect 5 development reportedly won't begin in full until 2023. (opens in new tab) Unfortunately, we won't be seeing any of it as part of the E3 2022 schedule, as EA has confirmed it isn't hosting its traditional EA Live event this year, instead choosing to do spotlights on individual games as and when they're ready to show something new off.
Thanks to the announcement trailer and the very first image that was released on N7, we do have some clues to dig into. Until we get more info from EA or BioWare itself, we've gathered together every piece of Mass Effect-related information into one place, so you can pour over everything and get truly excited about our upcoming return to the beloved series.
New Mass Effect poster teases Geth focus
Revealed as part of N7 Day 2021, this new Mass Effect poster teasing the next game. Not only does that crater look a heck of a lot like a Geth helmet, if you zoom in on those teenie space peeps, one appears to be wearing Krogan armor.
Interestingly, in January 2022, BioWare GM Gary McKay revealed in a post on the BioWare blog (opens in new tab) that the poster contains "a handful of hidden treats", including "at least five surprises, all of which point to an amazing future in the Mass Effect universe".
Of course, McKay doesn't go into detail about what any of those are, but does add that he's seeing "some incredible work from both teams", speaking of the Mass Effect and Dragon Age development crew. Seems like we're going to have to wait a little longer for more deets.
"The next Mass Effect" teaser trailer breakdown
During The Game Awards 2020, BioWare dropped the very first teaser trailer for the next Mass Effect game… and holy Liara T'Soni was it quite the trailer. Running at just under two minutes, fans were quick to dig into every second of footage shown to try and piece together what it might mean for the future of the franchise. BioWare project director Michael Gamble caused a lot of excitement when he said "there's a lot to unpack" on Twitter (opens in new tab), and the Mass Effect fan base erupted with interesting theories and thoughts about what the trailer may be hinting at.
Firstly, you can hear the very recognizable horn of a Reaper ring out during the opening sequence. Later on, eagle-eyed fans also noticed you can spot the silhouette of a Reaper in the background as a mysterious figure (who turns out to be Liara) walks through a snowy landscape. Gamble confirmed you do in fact see Reapers in the trailer (opens in new tab), so we're likely seeing the remnants of what was left behind after the final showdown with Shepard in Mass Effect 3.
The presence of Liara is also very interesting. There is a lot of speculation surrounding whether the area we see Liara in is in fact in the Milky Way, given that she uncovers some N7 armor. Some have even been speculating that she's in fact on Earth, which may suggest that the next adventure is likely a direct sequel.
There's also a lot of substantial theories around the possibility that the next is in some way tied to Mass Effect: Andromeda. If it is, it could give us an idea of the timeframe the next adventure will take place in. Andromeda is set some 600 years after Mass Effect 3, and interestingly you can even listen to voice recordings from Liara in Andromeda - given her long life span, it would also make sense for her to still be knocking around long after Shepard.
The very first time Ryder takes off in the Tempest ship, "godspeed" is said to be over comms, which can be heard in the trailer. Gamble also confirmed on Twitter this was "intentional" (opens in new tab), which has also added more credence to the idea that the next adventure will be linked to Andromeda.
Prior to the release of the trailer, many believed it was connected to Andromeda because of the official artwork that was released on N7 Day in the blog post announcement. The concept art titled "Mud Skipper" shows the silhouette of four figures, one of which has the same build as the Angara, which is a race we first encounter in Andromeda. Could it actually be Jaal? There also appears to be a Salarian and Drell, but who they are is currently unknown. The very same image can be seen for just a moment when we see Liara turn and smile in the trailer, which suggests she could have been the fourth figure on the far left of the original image.
Who's making the new Mass Effect game?
The new Mass Effect game is being made by a "veteran team" at BioWare. Shortly after the release of the teaser trailer, BioWare project director Michael Gamble highlighted some of the names returning to help create the next step in the franchise on Twitter.
For starters, Dusty Everman (opens in new tab) has rejoined the development team as a principal narrative designer. Gamble mentions that Everman was one of the key contributors when it came to bringing the Normandy ship to life and was previously a senior level designer at BioWare. Parrish Ley (opens in new tab), who previously worked as a cinematic director for the Mass Effect Trilogy, is also returning to bring "his vision" to the new adventure, along with longtime BioWare programmer and technical designer Brenon Holmes (opens in new tab) and original Mass Effect art director, Derek Watts (opens in new tab).
When will the new Mass Effect game be released?
The question we all want an answer to is of course 'when we can expect to see the next Mass Effect adventure arrive?' Well, we probably won't be seeing an official release date for quite some time, especially considering BioWare is still in the early stages of development. What we can bet on is that we'll see it land on the Xbox Series X and PS5; just the thought of knowing we have a new-gen Mass Effect game in the pipeline is exciting, to say the least.
In the official BioWare blog post, it states that the team is "looking forward to sharing our vision for where we'll be going next." While we probably won't be seeing any big updates about the next game anytime soon, we'll certainly be keeping an eye out for any more news about Mass Effect 5's development going forward.
Mass Effect 5 wishlist: here are the features we’re looking for
Until we officially know more about Mass Effect 5, here's what we'd love to see from the next step in the franchise:
A more linear mission design
As so many games of recent years, Mass Effect Andromeda made the jump to an open-world structure. While you always had the option to travel around the galaxy and solve several side quests at your own pace, the entire story of ME Andromeda requires you to first go to a planet in the Heleus cluster and finish enough quests to raise the viability level of a planet before you can proceed with the plot. These tasks can get repetitive, and both planets and their settlements looked and felt mostly empty. By comparison, gathering your forces in Mass Effect 2 and 3 was an endgame activity, preceded by interesting plot developments. Mass Effect Andromeda has you doing the same things over and over before it lets you get on with the plot, draining the game of suspense. A less open word in the style of previous Mass Effect games would help tighten the plot, which would in turn allow for more interesting missions.
Make it Andromeda 2
This one’s dividing the fanbase: about half of them want the next game to use Andromeda’s setting, the other half hanker for a return to the Milky Way. But acting as if Andromeda never happened would do all the work that went into it a disservice. While the story wasn’t different enough from the original Mass Effect trilogy to win most players over, it did leave open questions. A second part could explore conflicts between the different races after finally settling, or take a closer look at the Ryder family. Andromeda had interesting new alien races, and where the trilogy had several games to allow Shephard’s team mates to grow onto players, the Andromeda crew deserves a similar chance.
An overhauled morality system
Andromeda did away with the Paragon/Renegade system of past games. Generally, we don’t think it a great loss, as the dialogue options always divided into good, rude and vaguely sarcastic even before the system was scrapped, but it would be nice to see a stronger emphasis on consequences. While Mass Effect 3 didn’t make the most of all the decisions you made throughout the series, as far as the games themselves were concerned, you felt the consequences of what you did in some situations quite keenly, for example whether or not you rescued the general of the Quarian flotilla. When it comes to meaningful decisions, there’s still a lot of room for Mass Effect to grow, and we’d like for Bioware to explore such options further.
The ability to control squad powers
Mass Effect Andromeda has fun combat. Easily accessible to those who played a Mass Effect game before, it’s well comfortable in being a cover shooter, and thus didn’t look to innovate, but with the it added some interesting variety with the different combat profiles. Good enemy AI behaviour kept things sufficiently challenging, which can’t be said for your squad mates. Mass Effect team mates have never behaved optimally, but in prior games you make up for that by commanding them to use their powers. This feature is missing in Andromeda. Getting it back would round out the otherwise already great gameplay.