■ Credit for this section goes to deviantART user MrPolvikoski, who made good points and I thought I share with the rest.
Ever since the launch of ME3, the fans all around the world have been sharing ongoing discussion about the future of Mass Effect series. Some are open for new games, some are treating the idea with suspicion, and some absolutely hate it. In this series of short articles I would like to bring some ideas out. These views are my own, but they are based on long discussions I've had with other well beloved Mass Effect fans. I will try to keep the text short in each chapter, but will still bring out all possible point of views. I also give permission to share these articles, and encourage everyone to keep up the active discussion.
Chapter 1. The Mass Effect MMO
After the ME3 was released, some fans - even Bioware including - hinted that one of the possible routes to continue the ME series might be MMO. For those who don't know what MMO means, it is a short term for "a massively multiplayer online game". It is a multiplayer video game which is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously. By necessity, they are played on the Internet, and feature at least one persistent world. They are, however, not necessarily games played on personal computers. Most of the newer game consoles, including the PSP, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, PS Vita and Wii can access the Internet and may therefore run MMO games. Additionally, mobile devices and smartphones based on such operating systems as Android, iOS and Windows Phone are seeing an increase in the number of MMO games available. MMOs can enable players to cooperate and compete with each other on a large scale, and sometimes to interact meaningfully with people around the world. They include a variety of gameplay types, representing many video game genres.
Some fans embrace this idea with love, while some absolutely hate it. I myself am between the two. Yes, I'll admit how great it would be to play with other fans in an interactive ME universe, and to share adventures, club nights and good action together. But at the same time I feel a deep concern. This style of gaming would undermine the very causes of why we love the ME games. The great thing about the ME games is that you are the center of the story and your choices matter. You can customize and build your story through your own personal emotions. You decide with whom you become friends, and who you even fall in love. Moreover, your choices will determine the fate of the whole galaxy and all the people around you, no matter do you like it or not. We've grown to love this kind of gameplay as a ME fans, because it makes the Shepard's story very personal to us. We all have laughed and cried with our Shepard. He's the image of our own personality.
Now I want you to think about something - imagine that one day Bioware launches ME Online. You buy the game and feel excited about it. Finally you are able to play new ME game after years of waiting. But as you start to play the game, you suddenly realize that something has changed. Suddenly you are just one of the millions of players. Your choices do not matter, and you can't share long conversations with all the npc characters you meet in your journey, and there is no more paragon and renegade options. The depth is gone. You realize, soon or later, that you are only playing typical pretty looking MMO, where you receive missions and struggle through them, and then after the mission you get a prize, new armor or weapon, and some cash. That's it. That's not the ME series you know and have grown to love. This is one the main reasons why games such as The Lord of the Rings Online made many Tolkien's Middle Earth fans angry, and I think the same sad destiny awaits The Elder Scrolls Online once it comes out. You take this beautiful and rich world, and force it into a formula, in which it doesn't fit at all. I don't want that to happen with Mass Effect. Mass Effect deserves much better than being just one of the many MMOs out there, which all have their highlight moments, but in the end they will all fade out, until they one by one disappear.
Of course, Bioware could create totally new MMO system, which could have certain gaming elements from previous ME games. Then again, so much as I know something about coding, that would propably be the coder's personal hell and might demand a lot of time, money, testing and developing. But would it be worth it? Yes, definitely, because fans wish to play ME game which would still feel like ME game, and not just some typical MMO which is trying to convince us being ME game.
Personally, I also think that the ME MMO could be too easy and lazy step. When I say easy and lazy, I mean it necessarily wouldn't offer anything new to the ME Universe. These days, when the game designers and writers can not come up with anything new anymore, they suddenly decide to turn their game series into MMO. Such a move is always like bouncing on the razor's edge, because there is no guarantee it will work. Instead of bringing together all those things which we love about in certain fantasy world or game series, it will break them into pieces and - like I said above - force the pieces into a formula. In the longer term, it does not give me, as a player, anything new to be experienced, and I can't enjoy it either.
Then again, the ME MMO might offer for Bioware the chance to get the ME series back to its rpg roots, because - and this is something that most fans agree - ME3 was more closer to a shooter, than keeping the good balance between roleplaying and shooter. With new MMO system which could fit into the ME game series, Bioware might succeed to deliver us fantastic MMO game, where you could choose your own race, share long conversations, keep your paragon and renegade options, travel all around the galaxy, while you enjoy your adventure with other players (and who knows, you might even have the option to start a relationship).
But, fortunately for us, all of this is still and only a wild speculation. Like I said, the ME MMO is only one of the possible routes that Bioware might choose to continue the ME series. Right now, all that both the ME series and Bioware as its creator needs is time. During this time, we fans need to chill out and hope for the best.
In the next chapter I will bring out some of the views about the possibility of making prequel(s), and also something that I call as "the star wars syndrome".
Take care, and embrace the eternity!
Best regards, Mika Polvikoski