BioWare’s newest Mass Effect installment is likely still a long way away, but it is exciting that fans were given an official announcement. In terms of which direction the narrative will take, it is anyone’s guess, but having certain characters such as Liara T’Soni appearing in Mass Effect’s cinematic teaser reveal creates some implications as to where the story may take place and what its narrative threads may be.
Eidos-Montreal and Square Enix’s Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy released last year and had interesting comparisons drawn to the Mass Effect games. Some comparisons were fair, and while fans were generally pleased with Guardians of the Galaxy, it is now unclear whether Eidos-Montreal or another developer will have the chance to continue this IP with a sequel given its performance. If anything, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was a stern reminder of all features and mechanics that fans adore about Mass Effect, so one’s loss may become the other’s gain.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy’s Future is Uncertain
Two Square Enix superhero outings are seemingly on the chopping block after an acquisition by Embracer Group: Marvel’s Avengers and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel’s Avengers continues to usher in new characters and patch updates, but Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy’s future seems more uncertain. Guardians of the Galaxy was received positively by fans and earned critical praise for its narrative, but that does not seem to have affected how the game’s perceived “underwhelming” financial performance. That alone may hinder a sequel when Embracer has multiple original IPs it could develop in the near future.
Even as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy seemingly falls flat, there are lessons other games could learn, and its talent should not go to waste. Embracer’s acquisition bode well for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy if a sequel is made under a new developer and publisher, but there is one indication that no such sequel will happen any time soon.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Talent Moves to Mass Effect
One significant name from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy’s talent pool has since departed from Eidos-Montreal, and their newest role is intriguing. Mary DeMarle lending her talents to Mass Effect as senior narrative director is a considerable forfeit for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but also a big addition to Mass Effect’s team. It also lends credence to the idea that the Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy IP could being shelved for the time being, as Eidos-Montreal surely would not have wanted to part ways with a lead behind its Best Narrative winner at The Game Awards 2021 if a sequel was around the corner.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was inspired by Mass Effect, primarily in terms of how combat was designed around a single playable protagonist who has control over the abilities of NPC companions. But where DeMarle is concerned, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy only really compares to Mass Effect in terms of having a party of companion NPCs that players can converse with in-and-out of battle, as well as its sci-fi backdrop. That said, few developers equal BioWare’s accomplishments in fantasy and science-fiction RPGs, particularly when choices that players make in dialogue and narrative are concerned.
Mass Effect Has More to Gain than Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy had binary choices that players could make throughout, but they rarely ever amount to anything beyond an alternate route to the same destination. Mass Effect arguably features its own binary Paragon or Renegade choices; however, no matter what choices the player makes in Guardians of the Galaxy, they likely only lead to a cutscene or short sequence. It does not take them on a branching narrative path like Mass Effect might.
Guardians of the Galaxy’s choices are more comparable to that of a Telltale game, which would commonly adhere to the scripted narrative with a bit of autonomy along the way. Mass Effect has a much wider scope than Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and can therefore accommodate player choice to a substantial degree with players perpetually reminded that any action or inaction taken could lead to a dramatic consequence – sometimes one or two sequels later.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy only has the one installment, but based on its insignificant choices, there are hardly any that could have an effect on a future sequel. Regardless of how much choice players had in determining alternate paths or dialogue, Guardians of the Galaxy had an emotionally heartfelt narrative that fans loved, and this is primarily what DeMarle brings to Mass Effect.
It will be interesting to see how much of an effect Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy’s narrative chops have on the next Mass Effect, if at all. BioWare taking in DeMarle demonstrates that the camaraderie and narrative-driven emphasis of Guardians of the Galaxy may be what Mass Effect is also striving toward. One narrative director may not be demonstrative of Mass Effect‘s entire story, but DeMarle’s work on an emotional, character-driven narrative would run parallel to the interconnected companion relationships that Mass Effect is known for.
An untitled Mass Effect sequel is in development.
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