The debate: should Mass Effect 4 be a prequel?

Update: BioWare has hinted it may do Mass Effect spin-off games.

Yes hollers devoted Jar Jar fanboy, David Meikleham

I’ll level with you. I really like the Star Wars prequ… wait, come back! I’ve just torpedoed any credibility in this wordy Shepard scuffl e out of the Normandy’s tail pipe, right? Well, bear with me anyway and I’ll tell you why Mass Effect should get its moody Anakin on and go back to a galaxy with far, far too many randy blue ETs.

Firstly, Shepard is done. His/her swans have been sung off the stage after Mass Effect 3’s definitive, if controversial ending(s). With the overarching plot of Bioware’s trilogy exhausted, it’s time to embrace a new time period to reinvigorate the sci-fi saga. What era would I like to be DeLorean-ed into the past to, you ask? Considering the first game takes place in the year 2183, sometime in the early 22nd century would be a good fit.Giving you a galaxy-spanning quest around the time man first masters the titular relay system that enables speed-of-light space travel would lend a prequel’s narrative a pioneering spin. A less advanced era would also give rise to slightly shonkier, lived-in tech that Uncle George’s original Skywalker trilogy portrayed so effectively.

Alternatively, Bioware could choose to be less ambitious and set a prequel just before the original to offer a more direct backstory to Shepard’s saga. If the studio chose to pursue this route I’d gladly get a naked Krogan tattooed on my face for an adventure that follows Mass Effect 2’s ace assassin Thane.

No argues Shep-lover and Lucas-basher Phil Iwaniuk

“Would you be more interested in a game that takes place before the [Mass Effect] trilogy, or after?” asks series creator Casey Hudson on Twitter. Hold on – the next ME? That’s not a trilogy. It sounds like Bioware rolling the dice once more to rearrange the dog-eared jigsaw pieces until they spell out something that exonerates ending-gate, but runs the risk of removing the mystery and charm of the entire universe. Not like that’s ever [cough, Star Wars I-III] happened before.

The Mass Effect universe wasn’t created by referendum. Casey Hudson didn’t post “watuupp, what RPG should I make?” on MySpace before the first game went into pre-production. A few talented artists put together a unique creative vision, and when it arrived, part of its enjoyment was the discovery of a fascinatingly realised universe. If we’re forced to revisit ME before the events we’re now privy to, where’s the wonder? We know how the universe works, and how it all turns out.

When Bioware first started Mass Effect, it was after working within the constraints of the Star Wars universe for two games; the studio felt it needed a blank canvas to express itself on. That time has come again: Mass Effect is buckling under its own hulking weight, and an anime prequel is already in production, giving a potential new title even less room for manoeuvre in that crowded space. But look, above all else: Star Wars Episodes I-III.