Hypothetical ME4: Setting

By Bob Case Posted Saturday Apr 18, 2020

Filed under: Mass Effect 71 comments

After the player has spent 13 hours creating their character and 7 more settling on a name, it’s time for the actual game to start – which means that it’s time to (re)introduce them to the universe of Mass Effect.

The Citadel, one of the best tutorial/kiddie pool areas ever made.
The Citadel, one of the best tutorial/kiddie pool areas ever made.

For those new to the series (a significant group – the last numbered sequel came out eight years ago), this means easing them into the setting and helping them find their feet without overwhelming them with side quests and codex entries. For those who have played the previous entries, it means showing them what’s changed, and what the effects of those changes are.

So what HAS changed? Like I said in the last entry, I don’t want to write out Bioware’s entire story, just come up with an example – a template. A lot of my choices are going to be arbitrary, and (hopefully) therefore flexible. My first arbitrary choice: 100 years have passed since Mass Effect 3, simply because it’s a big round number.

As for what’s happened in those hundred years, the series already has a tool we can use: “domino” worldbuilding, explained here by Shamus. Basically, domino worldbuilding uses a chain of cause and effect to determine what a setting element’s broader consequences would be – for example, the Krogan were uplifted to fight the Rachni, then became a problem themselves due to unchecked population growth, leading to the Salarians and Turians to develop the genophage, leading to the current state of Tuchanka.

In the same way, we can speculate on what the effects of the Crucible going off and the mass effect relays going inert would be. Let’s list a few:

1. A refugee crisis: The effects of the Reaper attack on the Milky Way were far-reaching and devastating. Entire planets were reduced to rubble. Then, to top it all off, significant numbers of non-human species were stranded in Earth’s solar system. Between all the destruction and all the new mouths to feed, things would have gotten pretty hairy. Not only that, but certain species – Turians especially – have specific dietary requirements (“normal” food is toxic to them) that would be logistically difficult.

This is the dark side of Mass Effect 3‘s ending (of course, being attacked by giant space robots rarely has a light side). You would expect political, economic, and social strife is such a situation, and (probably) a widespread breakdown of institutions, with new ones emerging to replace them.

2. Technological regression: The economies of the council races were most likely deeply intertwined after centuries of coexistence. Suddenly removing the mass relays from the commercial equation would be something like if, on Earth, all overseas container shipping suddenly stopped. The effects would be enormous. Advanced economies tend to be interconnected. While studying supply chains, I learned that the lithium in my cell phone batteries probably crossed the Pacific Ocean 4-5 times during the manufacturing process on its way to my pocket. There would be similar dependencies in Mass Effect.

This doesn’t mean that everyone reverts to using rocks and clubs overnight. Knowledge hasn’t been lost (or at least, not that much of it), just access to education, key resources, and manufactured goods. But you would expect a post-Crucible Earth to be in a more hardscrabble, desperate state when it comes to technology.

3. Cultural tensions: Several different alien species – none of which are accustomed to living in such close proximity – would have been dumped into a crowded Earth all at the same time, competing for limited space and resources. It would be inevitable for mutual blame and bitterness to emerge. Each race and political faction would have its own halfway-convincing story about how this whole Reaper mess was all everyone else’s fault. Contrasting the hostility would be those trying to make diplomatic efforts to keep everyone together.

These wouldn’t be the only three changes, of course, but they would be three major ones, and ones you would want to introduce the player to fairly early. These introductions should take care with their pace. We don’t want to drown players in codex entries or expect them to read reams of backstory, not now when many of them are still trying to figure out which button does what. Instead, put them in a situation they can get a handle on.

I’m going to describe this situation with a very specific phrase: Deep Space Nine.

For my money, still one of the coolest-looking space stations ever built.
For my money, still one of the coolest-looking space stations ever built.

I generally always played Mass Effect games as a Paragon, which meant that I played them as a Captain Picard simulator. In fact, many of the moral conundrums the series threw at me reminded me of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mass Effect wasn’t unlike that show in its setup: the Normandy, much like the Enterprise, was the advanced, prestigious flagship; Shepard, like Picard, has to manage a diverse and talented crew while periodically making thorny ethical choices. The quests lent themselves to an episodic structure similar to that of a TV show.

It makes sense to me for a continuation of the Mass Effect series to be more like a Commander Sisko simulator: one that also features difficult decisions, but is a bit darker and more desperate, and asks for a bit more ruthlessness from its protagonist. Note that Deep Space Nine was never Mad Max – yes, it was darker, but only by Star Trek standards. I don’t want to turn Mass Effect 4 into some depression-inducing bummer – the hopeful, inclusive character of the series should remain. But, for the sake of variety, it should be a little dingier.

The player won’t start out as Commander Sisko, of course. Humbler beginnings are called for here. If we follow Bioware’s usual five-act structure, now would be the time when the protagonist joins some sort of secretive, elite organization, like the Jedi, SPECTRE, or the Grey Wardens. That part of the formula can remain, but whatever the player joins – be it SPECTRE, N7, the Systems Alliance, or something else – it should be diminished compared to its presence in the original series. So yeah, maybe our hero is still an N7, but no one outside of our small group even knows what that means anymore. Ours should be a small, penniless faction – that will make our eventual victory that much more satisfaying.

The ruins of the Citadel. I think it would make an evocative, memorable mission to return here.
The ruins of the Citadel. I think it would make an evocative, memorable mission to return here.

As a last request, our story should be specifically linked to Shepard’s. For better or for worse, Shepard hagiography is part of Mass Effect. Making Shepard’s story significant within a hypothetical Mass Effect 4 will serve to make it seem connected to previous entries in the series, and is also a convenient campaign hook.

That brings us to the campaign, and what it will look like. The campaign should feel like a natural extension of the setting, and next entry will cover how.

 


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71 thoughts on “Hypothetical ME4: Setting

  1. Sleeping Dragon says:

    This is not directly related but if we’re talking games in ME setting here’s an idea, make it like DA2 on the Citadel. Now while the tar is getting warm let me explain.

    I know there is a lot of DA2 hate (or at least a big bowl of meh punctuated with raising of irritation) and I kind of agree with the arguments, I’ll try to avoid making this one of my rambly comments so I’ll skip delving into those, however I do believe there was a not insignificant quantity of baby in that bathwater. One of the things I actually really liked in DA2 was the way it was set in one city over a number of years, meaning that we got to see the city change* and characters find or shift their place around it. I posit that it would be really cool to have a game happening in its entirety (or mostly) on the Citadel but spread through the timeline of the entire trilogy, maybe starting soon before Shepard become a Spectre and finishing around the time Reapers take Citadel with maybe the dramatic choice of leaving with the last wave of refugees or giving your place for or staying behind with someone else.

    I honestly think it could work. Citadel is huge so no problem in putting in some interesting locations, it has some places that would be immediately recognizable to fans of the series, Shepard’s party at least visits it every game so it’s perfectly possible to make small cameos, or mention their exploits in dialogue, it is a melting pot so good excuse to drop in any races they might want to use and they could even lampshade why there aren’t any big changes done to the locations because Keepers.

    *Yes, probably not enough, the fact that they could reuse all those assets was probably to a large extent a time and money saving measure.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Passed the edit window. I realise that DS9 sorta uses the same idea, sure there are trips to various locations but the majority of it is set on the same station. In fact if I wasn’t in the middle of a nightshift and sleep deprived I’d probably realise that it was the mention of the station that got me on my “we should use that idea more” soapbox.

      1. Thomas says:

        As soon as Bob mentioned ‘Deep Space 9’ simulator my mind immediately went to Dragon Age 2.

        This is the idea that has me most excited about a new Mass Effect. And it is building on things Bioware have already done – DA2, the Inquisition part of Inquisition. The time skips are the best way to get a different tone from the original trilogy.

        In fact I’m now realising this is one the directions Andromeda could have gone down, and it would have been much better for it. Their colonisation theme didn’t fit the early exploration time scales, you can’t really have established _places_ and _settlements_ in a few weeks. If we’d made decisions and jumped forward 5 years to see how the Andromeda settlements were shaped by those decisions, it would have tied it together so much better.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I wasn’t thinking of Andromeda but yeah, the more I think about it the more I’m puzzled it doesn’t happen often in games. As it is they have to bend over backwards to have all the crises happen and be resolved (or have vague non-resolutions-but-postponed things). I mean this is a big part of a lot of strategy games, where you get to look back on some of your decisions and figure how they got you there, particularly stuff with emergent narratives like Paradox’s grand strategy titles, the kind of stuff like “oh, if only my grandfather didn’t agree to be the vassal of this guy 50 years ago”, so why not use it in an actual narrative? DA2 was attempting that with the idea of the rising tension between mages and templars, though admittedly it is not the best example of having actual consequence to events but again, let’s not delve into that too much.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Yeah, there was a good game buried in DA2, with a lot of original and somewhat untapped ideas. The execution wasn’t great, but it’s worth revisiting.

      It would also be a change from the Mass Effect/Bioware formula of having a ‘long quest’ while chasing some macguffin – which is a fine structure for a game, in its way, but not the only one. ME: Andromeda would have been a better game if it had spent less time trying to be like the previous games and more time doing something new.

      A story of building up a community, fighting for resources, negotiating with other races/communities and seeing how the area around you changes could work really well.
      It might even involve…not saving the universe from a bad guy with a doomsday weapon!

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        To be fair those are not mutually exclusive but let’s be honest, videogames have been totally using “save the world” as an excuse to not have to think of actually interesting plots for decades now.

    3. Syal says:

      Nearly 3/4 of a baby!

    4. Agammamon says:

      I like that idea. Re-use the major events as background and explore the story of a different character during those times.

  2. BlueHorus says:

    Thoughtful worldbuilding (Domino or otherwise), considerations of how the events of the last game might have affected this one and a different tone? These all sound like good things for a Mass Effect game to have.
    Sadly, if I were the type to bet, I’d put my money on modern Bioware prioritising explosions, ‘badass’ characters and fuckable aliens over all the above.

    Cynicism aside, going far into the future is good. The player could encounter dozens of different accounts of this ‘Shepard’ character from different factions – they all know he was important in the fight against the Reapers and, even, know that ended the war, but the specifics of WHAT he did exactly and whether he was a good person or not…opinions vary.

    Allows the writers to A) show he’s a myth, B) avoid having to confirm or deny too much about a ‘canon’ ending and C) it’s ripe material for jokes, callbacks, and winks to the audience.

    1. ivan says:

      Problem with that is that Asari, at least, live a lot longer than just a hundred years. Unless you’re saying the timeskip should be extended further? I’d disagree if so, cos to account for Asari lifespans you’d need to skip to 1000 years ahead probably, at which point all the problems locally specific to ME3’s ending would either be solved, or have evolved into entirely new and unrecognisable problems.

      And it’s not just Asari, I forget which other species, but I think there would be a couple of others that would have personal memory of the events 100 years ago, easily.

      B) avoid having to confirm or deny too much about a ‘canon’ ending

      Regarding this above, tbh I’m sick of seeing statements like this being thrown around. I think it’s time we stopped treating this problem like it’s something we need to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt over, or make excuses on their behalf, saying it’s too hard to write their way through that quagmire, etc.

      No, that is the task they undertook when they decided to make a new Mass Effect game. Set it 100 years after ME3, take on that challenge you set yourselves, and do it WELL. Write it well, include and handle all of the problems that you foolishly left yourselves to have to deal with from ME3’s ending, and do it WELl. Cos like it or not, that is what Mass Effect IS now, that ending, warts and all. So, they need to knuckle down and do it, not avoid doing it, weakly and haphazardly, just DO IT. Yes, it’ll be hard, but they’re Bioware, one of the most writing focused developers who have ever existed. What are you doing, making excuses for them not doing the one thing they’re supposed to be good at, above all else?

      1. Steve C says:

        Well be careful of what you wish for. The standard solution to that is “We’ll set it in the past. It will be a prologue!”

        1. Decius says:

          You’d have to set it a similarly far time in the past or kill off all of the long-lived characters. (wait…)

      2. BlueHorus says:

        I think it’s time we stopped treating this problem like it’s something we need to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt over, or make excuses on their behalf, saying it’s too hard to write their way through that quagmire, etc.

        No, that is the task they undertook when they decided to make a new Mass Effect game. Set it 100 years after ME3, take on that challenge you set yourselves, and do it WELL. Write it well, include and handle all of the problems that you foolishly left yourselves to have to deal with from ME3’s ending.

        Thing is, to me this IS how you do it well. I don’t see it as giving Bioware the benefit of the doubt; I just don’t think there IS a way to salvage ME3’s ending without annoying people or dragging some of the trouble of ME3’s ending along with you.
        Never mind that if you commit to one ending over another, you’re going to get ‘but MY Shepard didn’t do that!’ style complaints.

        In Bob’s last ME4 post, I likened the third game to an exploded septic tank. I don’t want you to go into depth with what you did with all that shit on the walls, tell me what you used as a cleaner or explain what that residual smell is.
        Just get it over with and move on, as fast as possible.

        Yes, it’ll be hard, but they’re Bioware, one of the most writing focused developers who have ever existed. What are you doing, making excuses for them not doing the one thing they’re supposed to be good at, above all else?

        Yeah, I’m not sure that I rate Bioware’s writing ability after ME2, ME3, ME: Andromeda and Anthem. Sure, they’ve made well-written games in the past, but more recently…
        You evidently have a lot more faith in their ability to fix the unfixable than I do.

        1. ivan says:

          Well, sorta my point was, Bioware’s strong point is theoretically writing. If you are going to excuse them from having to be good at that, if you are going to lower your expectations of them in that regard, then isn’t there literally nothing else? If not writing then why have expectations of them, at all? If not for the writing, why expect a new game from them, Mass Effect or otherwise, to be anything but some grey sludge? If you stop holding expectations for Bioware in the writing department, then they are worthless.

          So, If you’re going to make excuses for them in that regard, why even be here? Why be here, in a forum for discussion of the potential merits of a new Mass Effect? Cos, that’s it. That is the only potential merit. Gameplay? That’s what Anthem was focused on. Yes, it was, no matter how much Bioware might try to claim story was some kind of priority.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            I’m a bit confused at what I’m supposed to be ‘excusing’ here. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just saying what I think, which is that avoiding ME3 as much as possible and moving on ASAP is the best thing Bioware could do.
            I don’t see how that’s is the same as ‘excusing’ them for making it, or saying they’re terrible writers.
            It’s always possible that ME4 will turn good…

            …not that I think it will. I mean, I’ll wait for reviews to come out before I pass judgement, but I’m not holding my breath.

            So why bother posting here? Precisely because it’s discussion of a potential ME4, which I think will be FAR more interesting than the ME4 we eventually get. Plus, my time won’t waste itself!
            Remember, we are fully qualified Internet Randoms, posting on Some Guy’s Blog* (well, you might be more than that. I’m not) – we’re not changing the world here. There are no Bioware devs reading this.

            *Sorry, Shamus.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            The thing is ME3 ending leaves you in the same position as if you were trying to do a direct sequel to FO:NV, the world states are so divergent you either have to pick a canon ending, override it with something completely different or somehow avoid referring to specifics.

            I’m under the impression in your post you’re suggesting that the reason Bioware writing quality has been going down is because people have been “letting them off the hook” for it, which is an odd statement on this blog which was largely built on Shamus demanding high standards in storytelling and attracting a community of like minded people. I think I’ve mentioned it before in the comments to this series but I basically consider this something of a mental exercise. I don’t want to do the whole overly dramatic “Bioware is dead” thing but personally I do think they have lost that core competence of “good writing”. Like, don’t get me wrong, good writing shows up here and there, I don’t know if it’s a case of a stopped clock or if writers are given more liberties in certain areas, but main storylines have been mostly just bad.

            Again, for me what we’re doing here is throwing around ideas of how we think “The Inevitable Next Mass Effect Game” could be made interesting, or not awful in some cases. If I was to give a serious no holds barred answer to a question of “what I think Bioware should do next” it would be: Do a completely new game, not part of a franchise, and if you mess up writing this time just close the studio. Because I agree with you, their core competence is, or was, writing. If they can’t do decent writing anymore than they’re basically just another AAA mill riding on big production values and marketing budgets.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      … avoid having to confirm or deny too much about a ‘canon’ ending…

      The proper way to go would be to do what most games do in these cases and have the canon ending be somewhat of a mix of the actual ones. The appropriate thing would be to have it be a mix of the “destroy” and “control” endings, whereas the Reapers are destroyed but all the other synthetics are left, perhaps by acquiring control of Reapers and use them to destroy each other. And let’s just ignore the “synthesis” ending under the basis that it’s absolutely fucking idiotic.

      There really is no way to leave things vague. Either the setting doesn’t have synthetics, which means the “destroy” ending was canon, or everyone is part synthetic, which means “synthesis” is canon (ugh!). By process of elimination, if synthethics are a separate thing and are still around, “control” was canon. Really, the best thing to do is to create an ending that’s a mix and handwave things.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        Depending on length of time passed, it’s entirely possible to destroy all synthetics, but work back up to their tech level. Considering the proposed century long timeskip, simple AI and similar would still absolutely exist if be less common.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Yep. All the synthetics are dead, but their bodies are still there, and the schematics and histories remain.
          It’d take a few years to start reverse-engineering them again – or flat out just make more, because you already know how to.

          Of course, it could be taboo after the war, which’d be interesting from a storytelling perspective.

          1. Mattias42 says:

            I really wish more stories slash games explored that sort of ‘well-known taboo’ thing, now that you mention it. As in, the ancient whatever isn’t lost knowledge… but near everybody too a man has collectively decided that it’s vile, a downright stupid idea to do, and/or always too dangerous.

            Kinda like… making Molotovs, I guess, for a real-world example? You do it wrong, and you burn your own face off. You do it right… and, well, it’s seldom to amuse Little Timmy, if you know what I mean.

            Think that could have an interesting risk/reward thing for a player, even. Like, a lot of power at a risk… but you tank your reputation. That sort of thing.

      2. Liessa says:

        I know many game series take that approach, but personally I absolutely hate it. It makes my choices from the previous games feel completely pointless. I’d far rather they just picked an ending and told players “there’s no ‘canon’ ending, we’re just choosing to tell the story that continues from this one.”

        1. BlueHorus says:

          It makes my choices from the previous games feel completely pointless.

          I’m surprised that you didn’t get that feeling from Bioware games already.
          I certainly did – specifically, in Dragon Age 2 when Zevran, the elven Assassin/Sex Pest character turned up to offer me sex. Which was odd, because I distinctly remembered killing him in Dragon Age: Origins.
          And then in ME3, when all those characters who might or might not have died in ME2’s Suicide Mission were relegated to cameos with minimal effect on the story.
          (Apart from Garrus or Tali? I’m assuming they would have been in the third game regardless of what happened in ME2, due to their popularity.)
          And other examples, but you get the idea.

          Story-driven computer games simply cannot have choices as meaningful as Bioware promised in their marketing of the original Mass Effect trilogy. I’d even go so far as to say that part of the reason ME3’s ending was so controversial: all your choices boiled down to Red, Blue, or (if you did well) Green Space Magic.

          To steal an idea from Bob, it was like a Ponzi Scheme with ME3’s ending as the part where the con becomes undeniable.

          1. Liessa says:

            Re Bioware games: I frequently do, and I hate it so much that I often don’t play game series beyond the first installation. I never played ME2 or ME3, for example (though admittedly the “you have to work with Cerberus” plot was the main reason for that), and from what I’ve read about those games here and elsewhere, I can’t say I regret it. I’d rather just imagine what comes next than have them retrospectively ruin the first game for me as well.

            I realise not every little thing you do in one game can be reflected in the next, but if they want the ‘choices matter’ advertising to actually mean something, I really do expect big decisions like the frigging ending to be reflected in the sequel. Blending all the endings into one unsatisfying fudge just feels like a cop-out. I’d rather the writers didn’t offer me a choice at all than offer one, only to retcon it because living up to their promises is too difficult. Or, as I mentioned above, just pick one ending and say “OK, we’re going with this one for simplicity’s sake.”

          2. Echo Tango says:

            This is why I prefer smaller games, like Telltale’s The Walking Dead – it’s only following a few characters around, not changing entire galaxies. A sequel could follow one or two of them, but everything else gets lost in the incomplete historical records, oral histories, rumors, etc. :)

    3. Asdasd says:

      Listen. I can get on board with your post. But fuckable aliens are a justifiable priority whatever game you’re making.

      1. rvrtld says:

        Well, sure, but then again, EVERY alien is fuckable if you’re into it…

        1. Decius says:

          Hooloovoo pornography is 50 shades of blue.

          1. Geebs says:

            Depends on what prism you use

        2. Geebs says:

          It’d be nice if BioWare could finally manage to write a story where the main character doesn’t insist on hitting on their subordinates all the time. Maybe if the studio weren’t in a state of permanent crunch, they’d have time to attend some seminars on appropriate behaviour in the workplace.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Or games in which your companions read too much into your actions.
            A couple of times in Bioware games I’ve had to fend off a NPCs who’ve completely failed to notice that I’m not interested in them.
            Hell, I was nothing but mean to Merrill in one playthrough and she STILL came to my house to try and sleep with me. Holy shit, woman, take a hint.

            1. Liessa says:

              Liara in the original Mass Effect, oh my God. A handful of vaguely friendly conversations and suddenly she’s all over me, getting into cat-fights with Ashley, even after I specifically told her I wasn’t interested. Similar thing with Alistair in Dragon Age: Origins. I don’t particularly like modern Bioware’s tendency to label every dialogue option, but it does at least avoid the situation where you can accidentally start ‘romancing’ someone just by not being a complete jerk to them.

            2. Sleeping Dragon says:

              Interesting in that I seem to remember that the “kill the romance” dialogue options tend to be pretty effective, it’s been a while since I’ve played though. I seem to also remember hearing this is more of an issue if you’re not pursuing a romance at all, like the game notices and is like “Are you sure? You’re missing out on a feature!”

              That said, while I will admit to enjoying snogging a companion as much as the next player, I kind of dislike how Bioware romance model has built this expectation that romantic relationships are going to boil down to the player character gracing a select companion with their attention and sending the rest of the harem away, we could use romance being a little bit more messy and interesting.

          2. Ninety-Three says:

            The main character doesn’t insist on flirting with subsordinates any more than they insist on kicking puppies or whatever the dark side path is. It’s just an option, and Bioware’s Saturday morning cartoon concept of evil means their games are stuffed with far dumber options than romance.

            1. Geebs says:

              Well, you can to a certain extent extrapolate behaviour by observing what somebody doesn’t do. Outside of extorting a sex worker, Shepard never attempts to initiate a relationship with anyone not either heavily indebted to them (e.g. travelling on the ship that Shepard commands) or directly under their command. Certainly looks like a pattern to me.

          3. Agamamon says:

            That would basically be impossible. A significant portion of Bioware’s most hard-core fanbase has been composed of people who love Japanese ‘dating sims’ but are too embarrassed to admit it.

            Its why their romantic interests are written to have no identity of their own – everyone is ‘player-sexual’. Everyone is basically a barbie doll for you to work out your romantic frustrations on.

            Bioware thinks we’re all Dark Helmet.

            https://youtu.be/eGoXyXiwOBg?t=7

            1. Liessa says:

              This wasn’t always the case; KotOR, ME1, Dragon Age: Origins and Jade Empire all had characters with their own sexual preferences. The ‘player-sexual’ thing only started when the ‘dating sim’ contingent of their fanbase started to get louder and more influential, and I believe Dragon Age 2 is the only game where all the romantic interests are like that.

          4. AndrewCC says:

            No. Fun. Allowed.

            – HR Department

    4. Ninety-Three says:

      avoid having to confirm or deny too much about a ‘canon’ ending

      Is this really a problem? The previous Mass Effect games did almost nothing with the idea of stuff carrying over between games (really the only significant bits are squadmember deaths), would it be so bad if they just picked an ending to make canon and told everyone else to deal with it? If it weren’t for that ending, a new Mass Effect game with a new protagonist might not even need the option to import ME3 saves.

      1. baud says:

        Personally, I’d also be in favor of Bioware sticking to one ending, most likely destroy, since it doesn’t leave enormous changes behind (synthetics can be rebuilt, as pointed above), or control and the reapers having left after the end of the war. And if Bioware really want to have choices from the ME trilogy, instead of the save import (which doesn’t work when using a set ending), they could instead ask the player the same major choices at the start of the game, with the player in a discussion about Shepard, with the PC telling/discussing Shepard’s story (or something to the same effect) and each choice made (on Rannoch, the Geth/Quarians/both survived…) become the choice for this game.

  3. OldOak says:

    Dunno Bob.
    You’re really bringing in a lot of my favorites (hell, DS9’s so welcome — if you’re going to mention B5, you’d just hit my sweetest spot :) ).
    But you’re still too personal and dismissive on your ME123/ME4 trail, which somehow doesn’t get to me.
    I mean, honestly, ME:A is still out there, you liked it or not, and it really became part of the picture. There’s no blank to drag across it that would hide it from (at least some of) the audience.

    1. ivan says:

      Ehh, not really? If it’s being set in the Milky Way, then Andromeda is indeed, irrelevant. I forget exact numbers, but it took them centuries in freezecold nappy time to get there. Presumably it would take approximately as long if anyone wanted to come back again. Soo, unless, I guess, you mean to set ME4 after someone came back from Andromeda, after that game is finished, so like minimum 4-500 years after ME3, then yea it’s irrelevant.

      But that’s suppositions, what did you mean to mean?

      1. Thomas says:

        We could be ambitious – set the game 600-700 years in the future (which would be an interesting contrast with ‘in living history Asari’ and ‘distant history humans’) and then start with a small but rising tension in the Milky Way. And then at the end of the game, Andromeda contacts the Milky Way, setting up a sequel that spans galaxies and ties both stories together.

        It’s ambitious, but no less ambitious than Bioware’s apparent plans for DA:4 which have been escalating from at least DA:2 (if not earlier)

    2. INH5 says:

      Andromeda was set 600 years after ME3, because that’s how long the trip took. So if this hypothetical game is only set 100 years after ME3, none of those events will have happened yet and the Ryder siblings will still be in cryo along with everyone else who set off on the voyage.

  4. AndrewCC says:

    Gonna nitpick a few points of your setup for the game:
    1. There’s not significant numbers of aliens on Earth, we’ve seen the size of the good guys fleet and they had at most a few thousands ships. Let’s be real generous and give them 10 000 ships. Now, the Destiny Ascension was the Asari flagship and it was unique in the good guys fleet for its size and crew: 4 times bigger than the biggest human ship and 10k crew. The turians probably had ships on par with humans. Let’s be generous and say on average each ship had 2500 crew. That’s 25 milion crewmembers. And at least half of them died in the fight. About a third of them were human, probably more, since the asari got absolutely smashed on Thesia and the turians took big loses on Palaven. A few million refugees might seem a lot but the Reapers were not fighting a regular war, their aim was extermination, in the months(years? timeline is fuzzy) they had control of Earth they probably killed BILLIONS of people. If anything, there’s a dire need of people to help rebuild. The trained soldiers of the fleet aren’t gonna be refugees, they are gonna be the people who’re gonna help you rebuild.
    1b. Turians and quarians(do the quarians help in the battle? I’m having trouble remembering) not having proper food would seem to be a problem, but they probably have a few months worth on their ships and it’s probably not hard to set up greenhouses growing stuff for them.
    2. Interstellar shipping is logically mostly raw material going to factories, and finished goods going to clients. It makes no economic sense to ship PCBs around between star systems. Most goods are probably manufactured in-system, under license or by the local branch of whatever company was making it. The exception is probably luxury goods that don’t want to outsource their IP to outside manufacturing. Getting raw materials that you used to mine from other systems is gonna be a pain, but the fact is, the Solar System has enough raw material for potentially QUADRILLIONS of people living in it. You just gotta mine the asteroids belt. And now you’ve got thousands of leftover ships that you can repurpose for this. The Earth is pretty much ruins but give it a couple decades and it’s probably fine, for examples look at how cities that were razed from the map in WW2 sprang back up again: Warsaw, Hiroshima, Dresden, Stalingrad. Getting Eezo to fuel Mass Effect(TM) will be a challenge, they might have to switch to lower grade starship drives that don’t allow for FTL.
    3. Earth isn’t crowded anymore, as I pointed above. The turians are probably hard at work rebuilding everything, the asari are running all the bars, and dancing in them too, and the quarians are off mining asteroids. The Citadel is in Earth orbit too, there’s probably enough living space on it for every single xeno of the Alliance fleet, and it’s empty of its former inhabitants, since it’s been in Reaper hands for months and months.
    Unless you introduce jarring, ham-fisted conflict like Andromeda did, with the wannabe colonists (the best of every race, ha!) devolving into raiders in just a few years, there’s probably little to fight about in the short term (and yes 100 years is short on a galactic scale)…unless you were being silly and for some reason cured the krogan genophage… but no rational person would do that, right? I mean, it was the whole lesson learned from the Rachni wars: don’t use the Krogan in your wars unless you have something to keep them in check with.

    I’d personally set a sequel far, far into the future, like 10 000 years or more, with the relays still off, and set the whole game in the Solar System, with no FTL (no more Eezo= no more Mass Effect), and colonies on every single moon and planet, millions of habitats in orbit of everything, the turians have made Mars their own and are getting beligerent, the quarians have grown to have a gigantic fleet with many many billions of people on it, the asari now control most of the finances, and are seducing everyone and having more asari babies (they’re actually quite horrifying in that they can mate with any other species and the babies are always and only more asari), there’s Ardat Yakshi stalking the streets of every metropolis and there’s Justicars hunting them. Basically turn the setting fully dystopian cyberpunk.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      You forget that Earth is basically a dumpster fire right now. Having relatively few people compared to the total population pre-Reaper attack means nothing if you consider all the resources that were lost in the war. Earth is now basically in the aftermath of an apocalypse. Like in The Walking Dead or Mad Max, there’s few people around, sure, but they’re all constantly fighting for the scarce resources left.

      Sure, cities like Hiroshima and such were able to rebuild after being destroyed, but they had the benefit of other cities still existing to provide help. This isn’t in any way a situation comparable to current existent history.

      Also, don’t act like tensions wouldn’t be high between races. These people can barely hold it together in times of peace and prosperity. After a war everyone would be trying to find reasons for why they deserve the priority.

      1. AndrewCC says:

        “Scarce resources left” is wrong. As far as we can tell the Reapers’s methods of extermination were massive invasion and just turning every sentient into genetic goop and/or assimilating them into their armies. They didn’t nuke planets from orbit and they didn’t go directly for the resources needed to live like water and food growing facilities. There’s probably massive agricultural complexes that were tended to by machines, maybe they’ve fallen into disrepair, or maybe the Reapers themselves have taken them over, because their armies of half-machine-half-biological abominations probably still need some organic nutrients. So food is probably not an issue for races that eat human food. Meanwhile, like Karma The Alligator said below, the quarians can probably help feed the turians, even if their greenhouse ships did not come to Terra, they have the expertize to convert stuff to their use, they’ve been doing it for millenia.
        With food taken care of, living acomodations is the next big problem. It’s solvable. The Citadel is mostly untouched and can easily house all the xenos (letting them use it is logical, since it neatly solves that issue, while letting just humans live on it would create a priviledged upper class.) You can use the Citadel as a technological base from which to rebuild everything else. The tech in Mass Effect is pretty good and if you dedicate all effort to it, you can rebuild enough to give everyone shelter in a few years.
        Any conflict that arises is very likely to be intra-human, since a big chunk are just undisciplined civilians, while the xenos are all soldiers, specialists and scientists with a clear command structure. They will be either too useful to the rebuilding effort for the human leadership to antagonize them. If you want inter-species conflict you need to give it a long time, for the factions to settle, and for the reason for all of them being on Earth to be forgotten, which is a long time, considering the asari live for 1000 years.
        Give everyone time to settle into the Solar System with the Relays disabled and for new factions to form. You need a few thousand years at least for enough growth to happen that there’s a shortage of space and resouces for everyone. Once everyone forgets and the Reaper War fades into myth, you can have come up with some really cool stuff. + You can handwave the different endings away much easily on that timeframe.

    2. Kyle Haight says:

      This almost sounds like a Mass Effect version of The Expanse, with the Turians in place of the Martians, the Quarians as Belters and an Asari version of Chrisjen Avasarala. Replace the protomolecule gate with a reactivated mass effect relay and the setting is complete.

    3. Karma The Alligator says:

      1b. Turians and quarians(do the quarians help in the battle? I’m having trouble remembering) not having proper food would seem to be a problem, but they probably have a few months worth on their ships and it’s probably not hard to set up greenhouses growing stuff for them.

      Quarians are also very well versed in the art of growing stuff on their ship (which I think I remember seeing in the allied fleet), so at least for a while their food wouldn’t be too big of a problem.

  5. Robbert Ambrose B. Stople says:

    Shocking as it may be, I think the ME3 ending with most potential is the low EMS Destroy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0idk0OPjsec). Yes the one where supposedly the Lion’s share of the galaxy get’s wiped out by the Crucible. I wrote supposedly because we don’t see it happen, even on earth we only see fatal destruction in the London area, where the Citadel was directly above.

    The strength of this ending is it’s ambiguity, It be very easy for Bioware to show in a potential sequel that the devestation is far less total than implied, London and it’s immediate surroundings get the worst of it, but even elsewhere in Brittain there could be plenty of survivors. The main casualty of the crucible would have been technology since most of it was the result on Reaper meddling with galactic society. Then intruduce new forms of travel and scientific concepts to keep the Science part of the franchise relevant.

    As a side, note I agree that Paragon Shepard broadly emulates the role of Captain Picard, though I’d argue that the comparison isn’t perfect. Note how I used the world ‘role’ rather than ‘character’. See Picard could be quite abrasive and dismissive to others and he generally didn’t mingle that much with the crew. Compared to a paragon Shepard Picard could be suprisingly distant and rude even. However the popular image of Picard as the open-minded and ever fair explorer holds up quite well.

    1. Syal says:

      It be very easy for Bioware to show in a potential sequel that the devestation is far less total than implied,

      Ugh, don’t do that. It’s like the Matrix Reloaded doing that. “Well, we showed he could fly in the first movie, so he can fly now but nothing else.”

      1. Echo Tango says:

        But the Animatrix was pretty good, and people could float in that. :)

  6. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    If you want the game to happen 100 years after the war, you’ll need a lot more dominos than that. Just compare now with 1920 and wonder how much of the cultural baggage from there survived until now. The galaxy will have had time to rebuild to full (in a few decades most likely) and the post wars tension would have gone away (and given way to entirely new and different tensions). The game you’re describing right now sounds like 20 years after the war, 30 top.

    1. Richard says:

      Not really.
      The Mass Relays themselves still wouldn’t be working because nobody knew how to make or repair them.
      That means two things:
      1) FTL travel to any other star system is slow and expensive.
      2) FTL communication with any other star system is not possible.
      The only inter-system communication is via Lightspeed or fast-picket FTL ships physically carrying messages.

      So there can’t be a rebuilt Galaxy, only rebuilt star systems.

      Any star system that didn’t already have a self-sufficient colony can’t have had any resupply since the Event, so is almost certainly now a dead system – perhaps with Fun and Interesting not-entirely-dead and decaying machinery (and perhaps surviving remnant of the failed colony…)

      Any star system that was self-sufficient and didn’t lose too many people and machines in the war would be mostly rebuilt, but only with whatever knowledge was stored locally.

      There would of course be memorials for the lost, and you can designate anything you like as being a memorial ruin (and then the player can be one of those to desecrate it of course…)

      There would also be some ‘lost knowledge of the Ancients”. That can’t be things that have to be common knowledge, like building FTL starships, most weapons etc, but you can have the civilisation ‘forget’ some specific advanced technical details neeed to advamce the story.

      Possibly the simplest macguffin is the method of restarting a defunct relay.
      ME1 established that people don’t go around turning them on without Council approval (which won’t be given), so we can assume that turning on a fully-functional Relay was a closely guarded secret, not easily discovered (or every mad scientist would turn them on), and thus can be completely unknown to any of the residents of Sol because none of the top Council people who know how happened to be there at the time.

      While we do see mass relays explode as the end of ME3, it’s already established that they have some kind of self-repair system (because they need no maintenance).

      In fact, the entire storyline could be of discovering how to turn the local relay back on and reassembling it.

      As mentioned in the previous post, 20 years is too short a time. The differences between the three endings can’t be waved away because almost everyone you’d meet would have lived through it.
      Heck, all the members of Shepard’s crew who survived the battle would still be around!

      It can’t be too far in the future or the setting becomes too divorced from ME1-3 and nobody cares anymore.
      100-200 years is probably the sweet spot – some Asari, Elcor and Krogan would remember the battle for Earth personally, but for everyone else it was two or more grandfathers ago which makes it history only really studied by enthusiasts.
      Everyone else is busy trying to make a living – not that many people really know much about what happened in WW1, and fewer know what happened in the Crimean War (1850’s).

      1. Echo Tango says:

        The remaining technology would accelerate re-building and re-learning efforts. A quick google shows me that Hiroshima was rebuilt in about two years, with an entire world left to pitch in. If any substantial portion of factories, libraries, or laboritories were undamaged, I think 20 to 30 years would already have a lot rebuilt in the Mass Effect world. A century or two would have the mass-effect relays already re-paired, re-activated, or reverse-engineered. At that point, somebody either invented more Reapers, evolved themselves into Reapers, or the whole galaxy is just chillaxing in a post-singularity sit-by-the-beach-all-day world. :)

      2. Boobah says:

        Possibly the simplest macguffin is the method of restarting a defunct relay.
        ME1 established that people don’t go around turning them on without Council approval (which won’t be given), so we can assume that turning on a fully-functional Relay was a closely guarded secret, not easily discovered (or every mad scientist would turn them on), and thus can be completely unknown to any of the residents of Sol because none of the top Council people who know how happened to be there at the time.

        The Earthers turned the Charon relay on by accident. If they aren’t broken, turning them on is trivial; the whole point was to have new species find and use the things.

        Which doesn’t mean getting a working relay (and the possibility of a working network) is a bad way to get the plot rolling.

  7. Geebs says:

    As a last request, our story should be specifically linked to Shepard’s. For better or for worse, Shepard hagiography is part of Mass Effect.

    This, to the extent that BioWare have pre-emptively screwed all future attempts to have anything noteworthy happen in the Mass Effect universe after the events of ME3. That scene with the Stargazer establishes (in the tritest manner possible) that nothing even as remotely interesting as THE SHEPARD has happened to the galaxy in the subsequent however many thousand years.

  8. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

    This is completely beside the main point, but the perspective in that picture of the Citadel is horrible, and looking at it -once I noticed -is almost nausea inducing. There is not nearly enough tapering on the wards.

  9. Mako says:

    You know… I’ve been going through ancient Diecast episodes lately, and I’ve come across this beautiful summary by Josh Viel on the subject of Mass Effect sequels:

    …and that’s really the reason, I think, it still resonates with a lot of people, and people are still really mad about it, is because in the first game, which was 2007… you know, 2007 to 2012, that’s five years to be waiting for this to get resolved. And the first game set up this, like, SUPER GALACTIC EXISTENTIAL THREAT, like, the Reapers, I would compare them to like, the Borg in Star Trek, as the sort of ultimate villain race, that…. you can’t negotiate with them, you can’t outsmart them, and they’re coming to destroy everything. And that was the big thing, (…) and the first game just kind of ended on this question, like, how are you gonna deal with that? You know, you beat them this one time, when it was just one of them. How are you gonna deal with the rest of them when they come?

    And everybody sort of expected the second game to do that. And it didn’t. So everybody was waiting for the third game to tackle this, and really, like, see the secrets behind the Reapers, and see how all of this is gonna end, and how they’re gonna come up with a clever way to win, and they didn’t. It was just deus ex machina, and an ending that makes no sense… I would say the ending isn’t even the important part. It’s the thing that everyone remembers, but it was sort of the capstone on this game where everything that you were kind of hoping would happen didn’t really happen. You didn’t really answer anything, you didn’t really get to see it come about in the way you kind of were hoping it would, where it wouldn’t just be, the Reapers would show up, and we found this thing on Mars, of all places, that is the key to defeating them for all time, the end! And then the Citadel’s at Earth for no reason, and it’s just… the Reapers are all using stupid tactics to attack the races of the galaxy, instead of doing what they were going to do originally in the first place, what they’ve done every other time, according to what you’ve learned in the first and second games, they’d just go and take the Citadel and shut off the mass relay network, the end. So it built up this great big threat, and it didn’t really do anything with it.

    Josh (Diecast #71, Aug 10, 2014)

    You can’t build a story on the Mass Effect sequels. It would be like trying to build a house on quicksand.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I think even making a single sequel showing more Reapers was already too much. It’s been a while, but I recall that they were asleep until woken up by the one that (normally) takes over the Citadel. It’d have been better to leave them as a giant unknown threat – did they get a signal out? Are they already on their way? Nothing’s coming through our mass relays, so maybe they’re still asleep? The world could continue on, with some factions trying to prepare for the incoming threat, some trying to fight their own smaller wars, and other people who think they’re just a myth, if it’s far enough in the future.

  10. Agammamon says:

    As a last request, our story should be specifically linked to Shepard’s. For better or for worse, Shepard hagiography is part of Mass Effect. Making Shepard’s story significant within a hypothetical Mass Effect 4 will serve to make it seem connected to previous entries in the series, and is also a convenient campaign hook.

    I . . . disagree. I think this sort of thing is a crutch too often leaned upon. Its part of the whole ‘everything happens only to a small group of highly interconnected people’ trope.

    Its been slightly over 100 years since WW1 – think of how many of the people from that time that you could reasonably connect, say, a third world war to. That was a massive, world-changing event and there are certainly direct ties to WW2 from WW1 but those people are basically entries in the history books now and their actions have been so diluted by time and other crisis that you’d be hard pressed to link anything from to day to the actions of any group from then.

    Shepherd can be gone (except maybe as a historical character – maybe you see some monuments or something), N7 *should* be gone as the government that created it was either straight up destroyed or so damaged that it would have been irrevocably changed by the events.

    There are certainly events from that time with the capability to change things though – as you point out, the Krogans and the genophage, the fate of the Rachni queen, Geth. Big stuff that can be explored.

    But, IMO, Shepherd’s done. Time to move on.

    1. Lino says:

      That may be how real life works, but it’s not how big franchises work – Shepherd is the most recognisable character of the entire Mass Effect franchise, and having him relegated to a mere codex entry is something I can’t even imagine a big studio like Bioware or EA doing.

      1. Agammamon says:

        I don’t expect them to take that risk – but they’d be better off if they were willing to do so instead of being so formulaic.

        Neither the first nor the third Star Wars trilogies were made better by shoehorning in characters from the first one.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Any of my friends who’ve mentioned the new Star Wars movies, all love the references, old characters, etc. There’s people younger than me, who watch TV shows on Netflix, that I was barely old enough to watch in the first place. Happy Days was a call-back to a decade (two?) earlier. It seems to me as though most people want nostalgia, happy olden-times, etc. Us who want fresh new things are in the minority. :)

      2. Richard says:

        N7 absolutely would still exist. It’s a truly heroic historical pseudo-military-unit that saved the whole galaxy!
        Whichever Earth government rose from the ashes could claim a reasonably-legitimate historical link, and would have an “N7” designation.

        Military organisations love to claim long (some might say ridiculously long) history.

        There are several real examples of currently existing army regiments which predate the country they serve:
        The Royal Monmouthshire Engineers date back to 1539.
        The Coldstream Guards date back to 1650, and the Grenadier Guards to 1656.

        The Kingdom of Great Britain was formed in 1707 – 168 years after the Royal Monmouthshire Engineers.

    2. Gethsemani says:

      Connecting a guy from WW1 to WW3 is indeed a stretch, but I think your post is based on the assumption that Shepard’s legacy would be driven by armed conflict. A better way to do it would be to point to Shepard’s understanding of the Protean’s, Shepard’s understanding of how Reaper tech worked or something similar. Not many discuss General Haig in relation to a potential WW3, but Einstein is still relevant for physicists, Freud is still semi-relevant for psychologists and a lot of explorers followed in the footsteps of people who had made similar journeys centuries earlier.

      A potential story, as mentioned above, is that of getting the Relay network up and running again. Shepard obviously did something to bring them down, so if you figure that out maybe you can reverse it? You could probably base most of the game on the question “What did Shepard do after the Reapers were defeated?” and have the player and PC find out together, culminating in some big reveal that sets up the second game.

      1. jbc31187 says:

        You’re right that Shepard’s legacy *should* be the Prothean connection, but Bioware had forgotten all about it by ME2.

  11. Thorin says:

    As I wrote in your last thread, I think we need a cleaner slate then just switching up the same old universe, by tinkering with existing races, in this case jumping ahead x years. You’ve got to upend the entire chess board. New races. New dynamics. A fresh start. And new story. Here’s how I introduce it.

    You are the captain of the smuggler’s frigate Huckleberry Finn, which is tethered to a Mass Relay in the Halstaad system. You are jetpacking through space navigating toward an opening, in the underbelly of the Mass Relay, where a huge section has been removed allowing access to the innards of the ancient structure. We see the reflection of Gannish Minor reflected in your helmet. Once inhabited, a millennia ago, it is now a barren rock, devoid of atmosphere circling a red dwarf.

    Two engineers accompany you on this spacewalk into the Mass Relay. One is an Asari named Nara, a roughneck who keeps Huckleberry’s engines spinning. The other is human, cleverly named Mr. Smith assigned to your crew by the enigmatic Mrs. Blake (read Cerberus). You’re not sure what you did to attract the attention of Mrs. Blake but she commandeered your vessel and crew three months ago as you docked on Earth. She gave you an ultimatum, lose your ship and spend ten years in jail for the goods seized from your hold, or bring her science team to the Halstaad system.

    Ms. Blake’s voice crackles over your comms instructing you and Nara to fiddle with a bunch of doodads inside the Mass Relay. You do not know exactly what Mrs. Blake has planned, but you know she intends to power down the Mass Relay so that her scientists can study it. She’s chosen this remote system for secrecy, and wants knowledge or technology that is hidden inside. She claims it is safe to power down the Relay, assuring you of intimate knowledge of Earth’s Mass Relay, and it being powered on for the first time.

    After powering down the Relay, you are jetting back toward the Huckleberry Finn when you find yourself enveloped by a giant blast of X Light (Where X = Red, Blue or Yellow). Your comms come alive with nervous shouting from your crew. “Holy shit! Did you see that giant…

    A. Red laser
    B. Blue laser
    C. Yellow laser

    That just hit the Mass Relay?!”

    Jump ahead six months. Your crew and Mrs. Blake are at each other’s throats. Your team was able to return power to the Mass Relay and it seems to work perfectly, but you are unable to find the Citadel nor any other Relays, such as Earth or Thessia on your sensors. The Relay appears disconnected from the rest of the Relay system, as if all the other relays had been destroyed… Hmmm…

    You’ve connected your ships computers to the Mass Relay and spent these months struggling to remotely locate another Relay, any Relay. Using records contained within the the Relay itself you finally locate another at the very edges of your sensor range. Mrs. Blake uses yours to communicate directly with this other, eventually managing to power it on remotely.

    You don’t know what you’ll find in this never before seen system, but you can’t stay in this barren system devoid of life. Besides, you only live once! You hold your breath as your crew spools up the Huckleberry’s engines. You grip the arms of your seat as you say goodbye to the Halstaad System rocketing through the Relay into the unknown. When you arrive, the Huckleberry Finn is floating though space debris, through the wreckage of an enormous space battle.

    Welcome to Danarath. This is the first system you find in your new Mass Effect Universe. Something here is wiping out fleets of ships. You have the knowledge to turn on mass relays, turned off long ago because of the Arachnai. Who knows what has become of Turians, Assari and other races that might have came through before the Relays went dark. Not to mention all the new races that might potentially inhabit these explored sections of the Galaxy?

    And look there! A bright blue planet lay beneath you, perhaps there are some interesting people to talk to. What are you gunna do next?

  12. kikito says:

    I dig this setting. I think the fact that we are in the citadel should be revealed at the end of the tutorial though.

    Have the tutorial happen on a sewer system, an air conditioning unit or a slum with no exterior vistas. Do the tutorial thing. Then end up with the player going up to some building. And then WOAH. Super vista.

    It will work for experienced players (“Oh we are on the Citadel”) but it will work with new players as well (“Oh huge space station”).

    Yes, I have been deeply influenced by Zelda: Breadth of the Wild. It did a lot of things right.

  13. GoStu says:

    I was with you for a bit, but I disagree on being near Earth or the Citadel. Right at the end of ME3 that place was FULL of Reapers and the Citadel and the Crucible and the Catalyst and every other proper noun starting with C. There was even a Mass Relay at Charon; if it blew up, there’s no Sol left. If there’s one place in the Milky Way Galaxy left that would have access to the answers about “so what happened?” at the end of ME3, Earth is it.

    I think the Deep Space Nine idea is inspired though, so I’d use something like *that* but set it somewhere on the borders of Alliance space, Attican Traverse, and the Terminus systems.

    Remember all those colonies that were so important to the plot of Mass Effect 2? Use something like that. Right as the Reapers started to hit, many many potential colonists hit on the idea of founding a colony via conventional FTL and getting off the Relay network, and then going to ground – even if The Reapers were scouring the galaxy, the plan was to hide and count on the galaxy being a big place. They didn’t leave a record (or left false records) of where they were headed.

    Start with batches of original colonists, plus later refugees that fled into this stretch of space; maybe it’s an unusually-high concentration of Garden Worlds and terraforming candidates that hadn’t quite been developed yet, so a rush here in a crisis would have been natural. Build some tension between original colonists and later arrivals, who run the gamut from “panicked people looking for a spot in a hurry” to “outright bandits”.

    Salvage some of the things that worked from Andromeda and iterate on them. The ideas of “settling an area” and “making a new home” are still something that can be worked on – no need to chuck the baby out with the bathwater, I found the whole viability mechanic to be an interesting hook and I’d rather build on that.

  14. jurgenaut says:

    If it’s going to be an aftermath story, I’d prefer it having to do with backwater communities in the ass end of space – getting cut off from supplies and transportation. Without a steady supply of (urgh) heatsinks, the wildlife actually becomes a threat. Maybe you have a diverse community on your planet. Some quarians and geth crash land, fleing the relay extinction event.

    What happens when cliques of individuals are left to themselves? The civilizations of the milky way go uncivilized.

    A krogan warband with a battlecruiser just pulled into orbit and wants a piece of your planet. The geth who arrived starts building up processing power and creates more units. People are being murdered, and everyone blames the drell guy. The only asari in the colony is a flirt, and fistfights are breaking out over her. The turians want to crack down on liberty, because chaos is spreading. Biotic chips are breaking, and there are no replacements – what happens with the biotics?

    When civilization has fallen, are you the paragon who tries to hold it up?

    And then, because it has to be there, an ancient and hither-to unknown dark force rises from its slumber and starts wreaking havoc. Bleh.

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