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Everything we know about the next Mass Effect

Is this Mass Effect 4, or something else?

One of the most shocking reveals to come out of The Game Awards 2020 was a trailer for "The Next Mass Effect," a new sci-fi game from developer BioWare that seems like a direct follow-up to the franchise's original trilogy. Which central character is featured in this new story? And what does it mean for the future of the franchise? Here's all that and more.

When is the Mass Effect 4 release date?

The very first we ever heard about this upcoming game was on December 10, 2020 during The Game Awards. And considering it was only a brief cinematic teaser, you can rest assured that the game is still very far away. BioWare revealed it was in "early development" in a tweet.

By comparison, Mass Effect: Andromeda entered early development around November 2012 and was released in March 2017. Does that mean this next game won't be released until 2025 or later? Possibly. But it's still far too early to tell. The first Andromeda teaser was released in June 2015, which could be a sign that a 2023 release date is possible.

Is there a Mass Effect 4 teaser trailer?

"We know now that in the early years of the 20th century, this world was being watched," a voice that sounds like some kind of Earth-based newscast says. We hear chatter about "first contact protocol" and then see debris from what must be a destroyed ship, seemingly referring to the events leading up to the First Contact War between mankind and the Turians.

In Mass Effect canon, humans explored the far-out reaches of space after discovering a Mass Effect Relay. A network of these massive, ancient devices allows for instantaneous travel throughout the Milky Way Galaxy. They were attacked by the alien race known as the Turians while trying to reactivate a dormant relay.

The debris could also refer to the destruction of Mass Effect Relays, which occurs in one possible Mass Effect 3 ending.

The trailer shifts gears away from this to show a small starship landing on an icy planet. A lone figure finds a crest in the snow, and it reads N7, referring to the highest level of Systems Alliance military special forces, commonly associated with original trilogy protagonist Commander Shepard. We finally see the person's blue skin as she smiles, and it's all but certainly Liara T'Soni, an Asari who was a close companion throughout the first three games. There also appears to be three figures in the background near the ship.

When does Mass Effect 4 take place?

Liara was one of the most important characters in the original trilogy.BioWare

There's really no way to know thus far, but Liara does appear older than she did in Mass Effect 3. Her race does typically live for about 1,000 years, however. So expect this one to take place several centuries after the original trilogy of games.

What is the Mass Effect 4 story?

It sure seems like Liara is the protagonist in a new game set hundreds of years after the original trilogy at a time when then Mass Effect Relays have been destroyed and Shepard is long-dead. She'll likely have an all-new crew comprised of different aliens. But there's no telling what this adventure entails. It may be a pseudo-sequel to both Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda.

BioWare Project Director Michael Gamble has been dropping hints on Twitter about the game, and some of them are quite telling. The trailer does depict two separate galaxies at the start, which might be the Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy. Gamble did confirm that this duality was intentional in yet another tweet.

Another tweet from Gamble confirms that the object Liara is climbing in the trailer is the corpse of a Reaper, the massive alien species that has been periodically wiping out all sentient life in the Milky Way Galaxy seemingly since the dawn of time.

Reapers were never present in the Andromeda Galaxy, but messages were relayed to and from Liara in the Mass Effect: Andromeda game. As noted by Polygon, it takes about 700 years to travel from the Milky Way to Andromeda through the void of space. Liara could conceivably survive such a journey without needing cryosleep.

Mass Effect 4 is currently in development.

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