Untold Mass Effect stories
Mass Effect moved onto another galaxy, but there remains plenty of untold stories in the Milky Way
With EA and Bioware allegedly reconsidering the future of the Mass Effect series after the review scores for Mass Effect: Andromeda were “lower than we would have liked”, there should continue to be novels and comic books fleshing out the universe’s lore to keep up interest between games. While there are many loose ends in the Andromeda galaxy that may or may not be the subject of Mass Effect 5, there remains many characters and events in the Milky Way that could be explored.
The Tempest crew
Dark Horse Comics published two limited series, Homeworlds and Foundation, which featured Commander Shepard’s squadmates in adventures outside the games. Pathfinder Ryder’s friends should have the same opportunity: krogan squadmate Nakmor Drack is 1400 years old, and first saw action during the Krogan Rebellions. The old lizard mentions some truly outrageous adventures in the game, some of which are an artist’s dream to illustrate (he surfed a shuttle crashing onto an asteroid, or so he tells a bartender.)
Let’s face it, krogan history is one of the richest parts of the games’ backstory: it was shown they were a grand civilization laid low by nuclear war, and that they were uplifted by the salarians to exterminate the rachni. They won the Rachni Wars, only to become a threat to galactic peace themselves, demanding more and more colony worlds from the asari and salarians until they decided they would just take them. The salarians and their new allies the turians developed the genophage, a virus that would bring down krogan birth rates to one in a thousand. Imagine how Drack felt when he realised how unlikely it would be that he would be a father. That said, all of these events are worth exploring, and could be told through the eyes of Drack’s ancestor, Warlord Shiagur.
Foundation delved into the backstories of Shepard’s teammates with some notable exceptions, such as Nyreen Kandros and Aria T’Loak from the Mass Effect 3: Omega DLC. Aria got to be the protagonist of the DLC’s prelude comic series Mass Effect: Invasion, but as an asari she likely had centuries of adventures under her belt, something an author may want to delve into. Aria and Nyreen’s relationship could certainly interest LGBTQI fans.
Samara, another asari squadmate, has centuries of adventures waiting to be explored, from her youth as a mercenary; an ordinary life that was shattered by her children being diagnosed as Ardat-Yakshi; and her taking the role of Justicar to hunt down her murderous daughter Morinth. Psychologically, there’s much for a writer to sink their teeth into.
Legion, the geth tasked with contacting Commander Shepard, hasn’t received his spotlight outside the games either. Geth are a fascinating AI concept: the more geth in a platform, the more capable they are of complex and rational though. Legion would have memories of the Morning War, when the fearful quarians attempted to destroy the newly sentient geth, who responded in kind by almost wiping them out. Would he feel culpable for those genocidal actions during the conflict? A comic depicting the memory of a decentalized AI could be dazzling.
While primary Mass Effect 2 love interest Miranda Lawson (Yvonne Strahovski) has appeared in the comics, these always depicted her just prior to the game: her youth, her relationship with her father and her rise in Cerberus’s ranks should be explored. While it may violate Bioware’s policy to contradict any outcome in a gamer’s playthrough, perhaps we should see Mass Effect 3’s events from her perspective, even though she can die in the second game. Similarly, while Shepard’s mentor Captain Anderson was a protagonist in the novels preceding each game, it would be gripping to see the Reapers’ conquest of Earth in ME3 from his perspective.
The previous cycle
Jumping back 50,000 years ago to the time of the Protheans would basically give the franchise another new galaxy. The Mass Effect 3: From Ashes DLC let you recruit Javik, the last Prothean, who offered so many tantalising morsels of information about his era. He mentioned various alien races from his time like the antagonistic oravores, the advanced densorin, the pacifistic synril, and the AI-enhanced zha’til, all blank creatures on a page waiting to be designed. The Protheans’ ability to pass experiences through touch can enable a writer to tell a story about Javik during his people’s war with the Reapers, as well as his ancestors’ lives before it.
It would be remiss of me to not mention that EA owes fans a revision of the fourth novel in the series, Deception: released in 2012, William C. Dietz’s book received a savaging from fans, and Bioware promised a new edition to correct the many inconsistencies, which never materialised.
Mass Effect is arguably the richest mythology in modern games: for many, it is a less naively optimistic Star Trek for the 21st century. It’d be a shame if all storytelling in it had to be put on hold.
UPDATE: On August 20, Bioware confirmed there would be no single-player DLC for Mass Effect: Andromeda. It is the author’s hope that its story threads are continued in another game as well as printed media.