Rumor: Mass Effect 4 details revealed by online survey

Mass Effect 4 concept art

A Reddit user has posted what he claims is a survey from last month that, if legitimate, seems to shed a lot of light on what's coming in Mass Effect 4. The game will be "far removed by time and space" from the events of the first Mass Effect trilogy, according to the post, with players leading an expedition searching for a new home for humanity.

I am compelled to emphasize the "if legitimate" part of the previous paragraph, because all of this is entirely unverified. It sounds believable, and you may recall that something similar happened back in 2012, when a survey outed a number of details about Dragon Age: Inquisition. But that would also make this a very effective camouflage for jerk-around nonsense. Bottom line: reader beware.

If you're still following me down this rabbit hole, here's what's purportedly coming: Mass Effect 4 will take place in the Helius Cluster, a clump of hundreds of solar systems in the Andromeda galaxy (which, to clarify, isn't the one we live in) that will be more than four times larger than the space encompassed by Mass Effect 3. As "pathfinders," players must collect resources, build colonies, and deal will all manner of alien races, some friendly and some not so much. As the game progresses, players will also encounter the Remnant, a mysterious, vanished alien race whose lost technology "holds the key to gaining power in this region of the galaxy." Naturally, you won't be the only one gunning for it.

Each crew member will have a unique personality and abilities, as well as loyalty missions that will unlock new skill trees. It will also be possible to recruit mercenaries into AI-controlled "strike teams" that can be deployed on randomly-generated missions, like colony defense and artifact retrieval. Strike team missions can be handled directly by the player as well, either solo or in conjunction with up to three others in cooperative multiplayer mode—and speaking of multiplayer, there will also be a new "Horde Mode," in which teams of up to four players take on increasingly difficult waves of enemies to earn experience and multiplayer-specific weapons, characters, mods, and equipment.

Dialog will also have an increased importance in the new game. "The next Mass Effect adds deeper control over your conversations through a greater ability to interrupt and change the course of the conversation as it is happening. During certain conversations, you will be able to take action based choices, such as the option to pull out your gun and force someone to open a door instead of convincing them to do it through conversational guile," the post states. "Action based choices give you more options for how you approach dialogue with characters in the game and can lead to more extreme outcomes on the story as it evolves around the decisions you make when interacting with a huge cast of NPC characters."

Other topics mentioned in the survey include planetary exploration in the Mako, optional "Elite Remnant Vault Raids," battles against Khet outposts, and seamless transitions from interstellar flight to surface exploration. It's quite a lot to take in, and it all sounds very Mass Effect-ish, which doesn't mean anything in and of itself; after all, if I was bored and looking to mess with people, making the (fake) new game sound a lot like the one that went before it just makes sense.

So what do you think? It sounds good, but also quite like the sort of stuff you might make up to sound just convincing enough. With E3 looming increasingly large on the calendar, we'll likely know soon enough.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.