There are people out there playing Mass Effect 4 (tentative title) right now, but it’s not you or me. Employees at Bioware, such as general manager Aaryn Flynn, are playing the game in an early state and have stated as much via Twitter. According to Flynn, the game is “Ambitious. Beautiful. Fresh but recognizable. And fun!”
There aren’t many details on the game just yet, we do know that it will follow a new character, as Shephard’s story ended with the trilogy, and the technology powering the game will be completely new. Otherwise, we’ve got nothing… and is void is felt. The Mass Effect universe – the characters, the sights, the sounds, the stories – is the game’s greatest draw, with the gameplay itself playing a supporting role. The combat and quasi-RPG elements only served as a means to absorb the world itself.
Despite key members of the original trilogy’s team having moved on from the series and ME3 being a slight disappointment, I’m still hungry for more Mass Effect. It’s one of the richest, deepest universes in gaming and I can’t wait to dive back in. We have a long wait ahead of us, though. In the meantime, I’ve put together a list of games to occupy us while wait in anticipation for the next title in the Mass Effect series.
Bungie grew tired of making Halo games and decided it was time to try something new on for size. Yes, it’s another shooter, but it also has RPG elements such as class-based roles and character leveling. The game is very ambitious in that it’s not just going to offer a segregated single and multiplayer experience like most games, but rather an experience that melds the two together so that players have the option of going it alone or teaming up at will. It sounds sort of like an MMO, and Destiny does take inspiration from the genre, but the gameplay looks like it will stay tight and there will actually be a campaign to complete.
Like Mass Effect, Destiny will take players to alien worlds that are full of mystery and horror. We’re going to be part of an epic battle that sprawls across the solar system utilizing space travel and high tech weapons and gadgetry. An excellent way to kill time, and opponents, while we wait for Mass Effect.
Release Date: September, 2014.
No Man’s Sky
In terms of mechanics and the fashion in which you will play No Man’s Sky, it’s nothing like Mass Effect. The former features sandbox gameplay with procedurally generated content while the latter is mostly linear and tightly scripted. Still, both are dripping with and atmosphere and story. Yes, No Man’s Sky is oozing with story – YOUR story. While ME focuses on the story of Shephard and his or her team of soldiers, NMS tells the story of the player and I’m willing to bet it’s every bit as gripping.
In terms of atmosphere, Mass Effect was all about making you feel your surroundings, not just looking at and hearing them. I actually felt like I was in a place; the disconnect between the screen and my brain was minimal. NMS is going for the same sense of feeling with the design of its world, deeply engaging the player and encouraging them to explore not simply as a means to an end but because it’s fun and exciting in itself.
No Man’s Sky should satisfy your need for space faring adventure. That is, assuming it actually ends up coming out before Mass Effect 4!
Release Date: TBD.
Starbound is an independently developed space sandbox game that allows you to explore the galaxy, as well as engage in Minecraft style world building such as farming land and collecting objects in order to erect cities. There will also be quests and NPCs to give you a sense of direction within the game’s procedurally generated planets. Where Mass Effect mostly held your hand, Starbound allows you to get creative and play the game however you like. One of the things I’m really looking forward to in Starbound is the audio – the soundtrack is already available on the game’s website and if you check out some videos you’ll see (or hear, rather) a lot of thought and personality were put into the sound effects.
The game is currently playable in early beta form on PC right now.
The Halo series hits many of the same notes that Mass Effect does for me. I’ve always been a huge fan of the aesthetics and music of the Halo games, I love the level design, the enemies, and the soundtrack which adds a thick layer of emotion to it all. There are hardly any details on the next Halo title, but we do know it will –no surprise- be exclusive to Xbox One, that Master Chief is returning, and the story will revolve around the Reclaimers.
Release Date: 2014
You’re gonna need a decent PC for this one. Star Citizen is a space sim to the core and, similar to Destiny, is going to offer a shared experience between the singleplayer and multiplayer gameplay. You’ll venture out into the galaxy with thousands and possibly millions of other players, but depending how you decide to play the game, you’ll have the option to focus more on the narrative and story or the freeform multiplayer. Going the story route will still allow you to play cooperatively with other people in the galaxy, you can opt to allow friends to drop in on your missions and act as your wingmen to assist you. Multiplayer, on the other hand, will test the limits of your skills while you duke it out with pirates and competing explorers.
One of my favorite aspects of Mass Effect was the Normandy ship itself, which in its own way was another character to learn about. Not to mention it’s where Commander Shephard hosted his private bedroom parties. In Star Citizen you’ll get to build your ship up and customize it to suit your play style, not to mention actually fly the darn thing subject to the laws of physics and all.
The level of detail is astounding in Star Citizen – if you enjoyed exploring planets and space stations in Mass Effect, you’re going to be completely engrossed by all the dark corners you can poke your head into. And one of the greatest parts of it is that you’ll be interacting with real people, not just NPCs.
Star Citizen is expected to release in the beginning of 2015. However, we may get the game in “early access” form sooner than that.