(Pocket-lint) - The original Mass Effect trilogy is one of the most beloved gaming sagas of all time, a soaring space epic that managed to nail both small character moments and dialogue and the sweeping arc of its galaxy-scale story.
It's so well-liked that the mere announcement of a remaster for the trilogy made big waves, but that pales compared to the hype being generated for the now-confirmed next full entry in the series. For now, we've got no title and few details, but you can find out all the important facts right here.
Next Mass Effect release date
Even getting confirmation that the next Mass Effect game is in active development has taken plenty of time, so the headline news here is that a firm release date is still very much a ways off. However, we've made real progress nonetheless!
It was only in November 2020, on N7 Day, that BioWare made the small announcement that it was working on the next game, along with a single piece of concept art that's above, as the header image for this piece. We thought that was encouraging enough, but then in December 2020 BioWare debuted a teaser trailer at the Game Awards.
It's a brief look, and we'll get into its implications for the new game's story down below, but it conspicuously doesn't end with any sort of indication of a release window, which is hardly a surprise. It's therefore vanishingly unlikely that we'll see the game release this year. In fact, late 2022 would be our starting bet, and we should probably prepare you for the possibility it could take longer.
Still, that might be a while off but there's still comfort in knowing that it looks like the saga will carry on eventually.
Next Mass Effect platforms
Those rough conclusions we can draw about the game's release window being far off can lead us to some fairly obvious guesses about platforms, too. By 2022 or later you'd expect this sort of AAA game to be geared squarely at the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, taking advantage of next-gen power and speed.
The games have also always historically come out at the same time on PC, too, so we see no reason why that would stop. Nintendo's joyous Switch is a console marvel, but we'd be enormously surprised if it could hold a candle to the sort of power the game will need in a couple of years' time, so without hardware updates, it won't be on Switch, sadly.
Next Mass Effect Story
This is where things get a little more speculative, but also a bunch more interesting - there are so many possibilities for what BioWare could choose to explore with a new Mass Effect, but that teaser trailer gives us a few firm hints about what to expect.
Firstly, it clearly takes place after the conclusion of Mass Effect 3, so this isn't another major time-jump for the series. Unlike Andromeda, the middling follow-up we've had so far, it looks like it's also going to commit to making one of the optional endings of Mass Effect 3 the canonical choice. We know this since the trailer clearly features a defunct, floating wreckage that was once a Mass Relay, the fast-travel service around our galaxy.
However, it doesn't look like Andromeda is getting abandoned by any means - in fact, the most likely bet is that the game will follow from Andromeda on a timeline basis, but deal more directly with the events caused by Mass Effect 3's ending.
Fronting the show for now, too, is Liara, the beloved blue-skinned alien from the original games, older and wiser. In the trailer, we see her searching among the wreckage of a defeated Reaper and finding part of the helmet worn by your old player character, Commander Shepard. That's enticing and encouraging news.
The figures in that concept art, meanwhile, have drawn some attention and look an awful lot like the silhouettes of Thane and Mordin from the first trilogy, as well as Jaal from Andromeda - the latter being an alien of a race that was new in Andromeda, further indicating that it's part of the new canon.
What exactly the story will look like is still entirely unknown, of course, but the inclusion of returning characters, and the hint that Shepard might not be quite out for the count, will be getting pulses racing.
Next Mass Effect gameplay
Finally we come to gameplay, and while we can't be sure of much on this front either, there are some fairly sensible guesses to be made. The Mass Effect series has always been a third-person shooter fused with an RPG, but it's fair to say that it's become heavier on the shooting as it's gone along. Or, at least, the shooting got better over time.
We see no reason this should change in the new game, and in fact one of the areas where Andromeda made some good strides forward was in combat, which was punchy and variable once you started to embrace and experiment with the many powers and options available to you.
You should also expect a chunky story filled with side quests, all offering up choices for how you want to resolve matters, along with a roster of companions to gather and choose between as you set out on missions. Who these will be is anyone's guess at the moment.
Similarly, it's hard to predict how many locations and planets we'll be able to visit, but we're hopeful that BioWare is setting the bar high on all these counts. For now, all we can do is wait to find out.