While Bioware is currently focusing most of their attention on Dragon Age: Inquisition, and rightly so, since it looks off the charts stunning, but afterwards, what comes next? While they have teased slivers of info on their plan for the future of the franchise, there are little to no actual facts on the game itself or what it will focus on.
Well, that's not good enough for me, as I'm already a few hours into playthrough number 4 of Mass Effect 3, and I've started to compile a mental checklist of what I would like to see from entry number 4 (or whatever it ends up being called). I thought I'd share, and if you've got anything you want to add, make sure to put it in the comments.
The Return of Gray
The ramifications of your choices in Mass Effect are great, but the choices themselves are pretty binary. You're either going to be a heel or a good guy, to borrow some wrestling terms, and while that was fine this go round, I would like for the game to be more in line with Dragon Age Origins and The Walking Dead, as most choices in those games are not that simple, and sometimes there is no "good" option, just the best option among bad ones. The Paragon and Renegade system ran its course by entry three, and it needs some reworking in the next gen.
Bring Exploration back to the final frontier
Yeah, I did use a Star Trek reference there, but it worked so sue me. In the original Mass Effect you could traverse various side planets with your trusty Mako rover. The thing is, the Mako handled like a twitchy brick, and while exploring was cool, by planet number two you realized there was little to nothing to find on each one, so the payoff for the 30 minutes you spent driving around this huge place was nil. Yes, one had the thrasher maw, but that was not the case for the others. Mass Effect 2 tried to refine this premise, and gave you access to the Hammerhead, which was mindless fun for a minute or two, but lacked any real challenge and was just something to break up the action. Fine for what it was, but not something I'm jonesing to see make a return. Finally, Mass Effect 3 had Cerberus mechs you could climb into, which was also a nice alternative to the ordinary combat, but nothing can truly replace the Mako and what it represented. Next gen hardware and the team's experience should allow a fully realized Mako, one that controls well, has multiple types of attacks, and allows for more bits of small talk amongst the team you've brought with you. Plus, you're going to have to have something to ride around in when you build your base.
Every Team Needs a Headquarters
You spend 50% of the time on the Normandy, and in the new game I'm sure you will have some sort of ship that is comparable, but what do you do the other 50% of the time? Other than your bachelor pad in Citadel, Mass Effect did not have anywhere for you to call home other than the cramped quarters of the Normandy. This comes down to the fact that I’m 5, and I want a fort, dang it, complete with upgradeable defenses, customizable looks for the inside, and upgradable rooms (research, combat, training, etc). Workbenches and Armor Displays are fine and all, and worked like they should, but I always wanted a central HQ where I could address everything concerning my team without taking an elevator. Taking a cue from Middle Manager of Justice, your base would have training available for party members who aren’t currently on a mission, allowing you to up their stats in certain categories while away from home base, but the caveat would be they remain unavailable for use up to a certain amount of time. I’m a multitasker by nature, so this extra bit of control of how all of my characters level would scratch that control freak itch I tend to have.
Um, Why don't Shotguns Make Things 'Splode?
While we are speaking about tweaks to characters, let's address something else that needs a bit of tweaking. I'm a vanguard in the single player campaign, so moving up close and around the battlefield is something that comes second nature to my character. I currently use a medium to long range sniper rifle and a heavy pistol, and that's for one sole reason. The shotguns kinda blow. Seriously. Even at full damage and up close, they don't pack the punch of a well placed heavy pistol shot, and that should not be the case. Just something that needs to be addressed.
N7 with Friends
One of the biggest surprises of Mass Effect 3 was its stellar multiplayer component, and while I'm sure we'll get some of the general more of this and less of that fixes and tweaks to the mode, one thing cannot change.
Do not add deathmatch.
Seriously, so not kidding about this.
I know it's tempting, but take a look at Tomb Raider for proof that not every game needs a deathmatch style mode. Co-op is where you excel, so build on that rather than adding a generic mode that everyone else already does and better.
We Always Need Heroes
When things start to get overwhelming, any option to stabilize the situation would be welcome, and the idea would be to have some sort of meter or gauge that if built up can call in one of the Normandy's (or insert new ship name here) crew to help with a special attack or support ability (think Marvel vs. Capcom). In this gen’s case, it would be tantamount to Jack hopping in and K.O.ing a Cerberus mech with 2 giant Biotic blasts then flipping the bird to everyone else in the room as she makes her exit. Points for this should be distributed to players for coming together as a team, further discouraging lone wolves to take off and die on the other side of the map.
Alright, so those are my thoughts on the subject. Regardless of what character the new entries center around, these tweaks and enhancements could really go a long way to making an already great series even better.