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Could Mass Effect 4 Succeed Without Shepard? | Screen Rant

Commander Shepard was the star of the Mass Effect series for all three games of the original trilogy, which arguably accounted in part for why many players of Mass Effect: Andromeda found it difficult to form attachments to the game's new player character, Ryder. Could Mass Effect 4 be heading toward a similar problem if BioWare plans on changing up protagonists again?

While some of BioWare's other RPGs have a tendency to introduce new protagonists between every mainline title, such as the Dragon Age franchise, the Mass Effect series followed the story of Shepard all the way from ME1 to ME3. Although players were given the option to alter their character before the start of each new game, changing different facets of their abilities and appearances, the core of Shepard's character remained the same and arguably grew even more developed as the series progressed.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda shifted the franchise away from Shepard and the events of the Reaper war, instead moving to a new location and following a new cast. The game was met with a relatively divided reception among fans, many of whom criticized Andromeda's unpolished features and lack of ties to the original trilogy. Some players additionally found it difficult to properly invest in Ryder and their relationships - and Mass Effect 4 could face a similar hurdle if BioWare opts to follow in Andromeda's footsteps.

Little is known about Mass Effect 4 currently, at least as far as concrete gameplay and narrative goes, as the only news involving the game has come in the form of a teaser trailer from the 2020 Game Awards. It's assumed, though, that it will be picking up the story of the original trilogy, as hinted at by the appearance of Liara T'soni and what seems to be a piece of Commander Shepard's N7 armor within the trailer.

Given that Mass Effect 3 ended with the conclusion of the Reaper invasion, regardless which ending players selected, it's probable that ME4 will feature a new primary antagonist and a mostly-new cast of characters. This is especially likely if the game is set significantly later on after the events of ME3, as some species within the franchise have much shorter lifespans than others. Because of this uncertainty, it's unknown at the moment if Commander Shepard will return as the series protagonist or if the fate of the galaxy will be left in the hands of an entirely new player character.

While many have expressed interest in seeing the Commander return, including female Shepard's voice actress Jennifer Hale, others have claimed that Mass Effect 4 would be better able to stand on its own if it didn't rely on Shepard's popularity. If ME4 is aiming to kick off a new storyline within the universe of Mass Effect, it would arguably be a better idea to start the journey of a new protagonist and allow them to develop as Shepard did through multiple games. It remains to be seen, however, if the game can manage to garner enough fan interest without relying on Shepard's legacy.

Next: Every Mass Effect Character That Lives Long Enough To Be In ME4

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