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I've only recently played through the Mass Effect trilogy, though I was just as captivated by its depth and drama as many longtime fans of the series. I eagerly, though somewhat tentatively, await the next installment. I've heard from various sources that they plan to take the next part of the series in a whole new direction and with new staff leading the way, all of which cause me concern owing to the parallels they draw with some of our generation's most disappointing continuations of long-lauded artistic works.
I know not whether my trepidation is justified (I would be most grateful for enlightenment in that regard from a more knowledgeable member of the mass effect community), it simply seems as though mass effect was another "lightning in a bottle" project that many artistic circles these days seem bent on recreating at the peril of their subject material. Far be it from me to tell the game developers how to do their jobs, but I thought I'd just pop in and shell out my two-cents on some of the things I'd look forward to seeing in Mass Effect 4 if it isn't too late to contribute ideas already.
I am well aware that artistry is far from a democratic process, though it is in a way a forum between creator and spectator, and these are just my lambs for slaughter in that arena.(If any of my ideas seem interesting or might garner attention from professional areas, I'd be grateful if someone pointed me to a place where I could submit feedback to the developers themselves.)
EDIT: From the sheer volume of my ideas, I've decided to publish my thoughts periodically over the course of several posts.
1. Central Conflict
Most good stories or epics require some good antagonist to stir the pot...erm, plot in this case, but it doesn't look like ME4 has good stock to draw from in that area. After facing a threat as seemingly omnipotent as the Reapers, what force or foe could live up to, or surpass, their standard in order to provide a rewarding and challenging enemy to face?
Well...one day my mind started to dwell around the Asari (for no reason in particular ;) ), an advanced, vulcan-esque race whose wisdom and poise served as an axis for the rest of the galactic society to revolve around. Or were they as stoic as they seemed? The events of Mass Effect 3 revealed that their power and prestige as a space-faring civilization may have been built upon hypocrisy that they managed to hide from their interstellar neighbors...who knows what other skeletons they could've had rattling around in their closets (among other things ;) )?
Suppose their "all female" race (I'm aware that they're technically gender-less, but bare with me) once shared an ancient history with a male faction whom used their biotic/telepathic capabilities for more controlling and belligerent aims than their female counterparts. Draconian and self-righteous at their best (similar to Justicars), rapacious and cruel at their worst (similar to Ardat-Yakshi), the Asari males would've been an Imperial yet Industrious presence in the galaxy...at least until the appearance of the Reapers. Outmatched and facing extinction, the male Asari arranged for the preservation of their species via cryogenic stasis (much like the Protheans that would inherit their legacy), choosing to conceal the female and juvenile members of their race first as a gesture of chivalry. But unbeknownst to them, a group of female malcontents would prematurely spirit their sisters away to a secret location, leaving the male Asari at the mercy of the Reapers (or lack thereof), thereby initiating a heinous "gendercide". After awaiting the departure of the Reapers, the now all female race of Asari would develop new means of reproduction with the scientific assistance of the nubile Protheans (later disposing of them in the same manner as before, yet preserving their technological influences for the next cycle).
Time and history would expunge the knowledge of their crimes from the Asari's hands, though their departed husbands would prove far more retentive. Seeing it as their only alternative to extinction, the male Asari twisted their biotic powers into a perverse means to transcend corporeal existence, effectively becoming spirits or ghosts. Filled with rancor and hatred for their condemnation, the male Asari spend their afterlives parasitically feeding on the disembodied spirits of those claimed by each cycle of the Reaper's deadly aeon and plaguing the dreams of those in the interstice for entertainment (appropriately dubbing themselves the "Harvesters"). They spend the eons biding their time, slowly building strength so that they may return and exact revenge on their wives, and all the rest of the universe, from beyond the veil. A fate worse than death awaits all those dwelling in this or any galaxy.
Though a complication has arisen in their plans for retribution. A human upstart has vanquished their corporeal benefactors and put their plans to pause. Livid at his meddling, they (A. Hold his disembodied soul in incarceration if Synthesis or Destruction were chosen, haunting him to his dying day if he survived destruction)(B.Haunt, hound and threaten his immortal reaper ascended form if he chose control). Hearing whispers and threats of the planned destruction of his intergalactic progeny, Shepard's ghostly form moves to warn those who have followed his legacy to find a way to combat this new threat, though all his living heritage will perceive at first is a dreadful plague beyond the grave (or a f#$king terrifying Reaper).
I thought the "Harvesters" might prove to be a foe that's menacing from a psychological/spiritual standpoint and it would allow players to re-connect with Shepard and the choices he made without cheaply bringing him back from the dead (done once already) or fully rehashing events from the first trilogy. Physically, I imagine the "Harvesters" to look like their female counterparts with their "hair-tentacles" fully extended into dreadlocks or tendrils, maybe with some catfish-esque mustache whiskers and beards.
Thoughts? I hope my contributions don't come in too late to catch the story writer's attentions, but if they do, then at least we have something fun to speculate about. Thanks and Cheers!
Edit: Those with the best ability to combat the Harvesters would likely be the Drell (can already re-live their most painful moments with full clarity, so would be callous to their mental wheedling), the Krogan (secondary nervous systems make them difficult for spirits to possess or control them), the Ardat-Yakshi (possessing murderous instincts of their own, they might even worship or work for their departed fathers), the Ancient Leviathans (they have naturally honed powers of indoctrination that would allow them to resist the Harvesters, at least until death which doesn't come swiftly for them), the Rachni (would be resistant, though not immune, using their own brand of telepathy), the Hanar (maybe) and only the most powerful and experienced Asari Matriarchs.