Over on the studio's official forums, community manager Chris Priestly hinted at what is to come with the next entry in their epic sci-fi franchise, saying, "To call the next game Mass Effect 4 or ME4 is doing it a disservice and seems to cause a lot of confusion here."
He then went on to add: "We have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. That is the only detail you have on the game. I see people saying ‘well, they’ll have to pick a canon ending.' No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda.”
This, however, doesn't mean that your previous saves from earlier games won't carry over, as the decisions you've made could still have a bearing on the universe at large. BioWare Edmonton boss Yanick Roy addressed this and more on the forums, saying:
Thinking of the next Mass Effect game as Mass Effect 4 would imply a certain linearity, a straight evolution of the gameplay and story of the first three games. That doesn’t mean that events of the first three games and the choices you made won’t get recognized, but they likely won’t be what this new story will focus on.
If you had three games centered around a group of key soldiers in the US army during World War I and then decided to make a game about another group of people during the Second World War, the games could have many points in common and feel true to one another.
You likely would have to recognize how the events of the first war influenced the ones of the second, but you would not necessarily think of it as a sequel. Again, the analogy is not great, but what I’m trying to say is that the ME universe is so rich that we are not limited to a single track when coming up with a new story.
What makes it Mass Effect is indeed the alien races, the technology, the lore, history, etc. You can safely expect those in the next Mass Effect.
So there you have it. An entirely new story set against the backdrop of the star-studded universe we've all come to know and
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