Quick Garrus, to the Retconmobile! (Where does the Mass Effect series go from here)
Last week I wrote about my views on the ME3 ending controversy. Today, I’m looking for silver linings. As much as I hate the way the ending was presented, I still firmly believe there is no need to fundamentally change the conclusion. The implementation was rubbish and there are massive holes that need to be filled plot wise but apart from that, I can live with the fact that Bioware wanted to tell a dark and brooding tale. This whole post is me looking at possible directions that the franchise can go in from this point on.
Obviously, there are going to be massive spoilers about the Mass Effect series here.
So let’s recap shall we? Even with EA Bioware’s announcement of incoming DLC that better explains the events around the ending of ME3, certain things will remain unchanged:
- The mass relays blow up.
- The fleets are left stranded around earth, effectively cramming a number of species together in a space that has limited resources.
- Some key characters will survive e.g. Joker, Admiral Hackett, Major Coats and at least some of the Normandy’s crew.
Right, so given all that, there is still no clue as to which of the three possible endings will be taken as canon. This bit is important because the question of synthetics remains unanswered from a continuity stand point. Imo the Geth are too interesting to be killed off outright. The theme of organics vs synthetics is an integral part of the ME universe. My gut says the renegade option will not be taken as canon because of these reasons. So what possibilities exist?
1) A prequel. This would be the easiest. It would also be a complete cop out and horribly clichéd. That being said, I would not mind a story set around the time of the “First contact war”. The one down side would be having a full human complement. Since this was the first time humanity came into contact with an alien species, there is no way the protagonist would have anything but humans in his/her squad. Plus we already know how that story ends. On second thought, I’ll pass.
2) Time travel. I cringe as I write this. I have always hated time travel as a plot device. To my mind, it’s the easiest way of saying “Sorry we fucked up. We’ll try and fix it now” without actually saying it. Going back in time and giving us a different ending would be worse than what we currently have.
Image source: http://www.good.is/post/which-time-travel-movies-hold-up-to-science/
3) More protheans. This one is interesting. The “From ashes” DLC gave us a prothean team mate. The story suggests he is the only surviving member of a species that was wiped out eons ago. It would not be too much of a stretch to find some more. Especially if they can lead to:
4) Rebuilding the relays. Galactic civilization and all travel technology was centered around the mass relays. There can easily be a story written around rebuilding these. Find a prothean scientist or two and viola; we now have a “fetch and gather” quest of galactic proportions.
5) Major Coats. OK, I confess this is pure speculation on my part. I just have a feeling that this soldier’s part in the tale is not yet done. Whether it be through a small DLC pack or a full blown sequel, we should be seeing more of this guy. He was featured in the promo video where he was sniping baddies from inside the Big Ben and was an integral part of the resistance on Earth. I’m actually surprised we got to see so little of him in the game. Though he only had a dozen or so lines in ME3, they were well voiced and gave a lot of weight to his character. This dude is a badass just waiting for a shot in the big leagues.
6) A giant reset button. One could argue this is what the destruction of the relays actually is. A chance to go back and tell a different story altogether. The galaxy was united under Shepard but now he/she is dead. There are too many people and not enough resources or space to go around. Old hatreds are ignited and new alliances are formed. Throw some synthetics in the mix and you have a real powder keg. The key to this would be how the writers tell the tale. The premise is brimming with promise but one misstep will bring the whole plot flat on its face.
All things considered, there is one thing I can say with absolute certainty: there will undoubtedly be more Mass Effect games. The series is too much of a cash cow to be ignored. All criticisms aside, Bioware have done themselves and gamers everywhere a huge service by creating a world that, in my opinion at least, surpasses those of Star Trek and Star Wars. Their response to community feedback is also very heartening to see. Those two things alone bode very well for fans like me.
Make it happen Bioware.