Mass Effect 4: Fan Concept
I have been a fan of Mass Effect since day one, and my readers well know how much it is my favorite game series. So you might understand how excited I am to do this article. It is very different from my normal ones. I have played the trilogy more times than I can count, and I absolutely loved the Legendary Edition. When the first teaser trailer dropped for the next Mass Effect, I was jumping off my seat, excited and cheering for what could be next. I frequent a Mass Effect fan group on Facebook and one thing I see regularly is discussion and debate around how Bioware should and will treat the endings to Mass Effect 3. The teaser trailer for Mass Effect "Will Continue" told us very little, but what we do know is that it will take place AFTER 3, and Liara is in it. Many in the community feel like Bioware will have to pick a cannon story arc, a canon Mass Effect 3 ending choice in order to continue the story in Mass Effect "4". The endings have just too divergent paths for the galaxy for all to work into one cohesive story. It got me thinking about how I would write the story for Mass Effect 4 if I was faced with just divergent endings. I came up with a fan plot for Mass Effect “4” that I’ve been developing for fun, and here is what I think makes it interesting: it accomplishes (sort of) letting BOTH Destroy and Control be "canon" in one game. It in no way is meant to be a prediction or a leak. This is 100% my idea.
My game idea validates fans who pick either Control or Destroy ending without losing the drastic ramifications of either. Although, I don't subscribe to the idea that picking a canon timeline to continue the story somehow invalidates the choices we made in the game, but I like my idea how we could see both timelines in one game. I always looked at Mass Effect as a multiverse. We see the timeline we choose, but just like DC or Marvel, ect... why can't all the variations be canon somewhere in the multi-verse?
Andromeda attempted to circumvent this very problem (admittedly imperfectly) by going so far away and in the future that the endings were irrelevant. However with Mass Effect “4” and Liara’s return, and a return to the Milkyway, Bioware will be forced to either pick an ending or get super creative on how to import the various different galaxy states that the endings leave with. If they trivialize it, then they risk alienating fans and their choice. If they pick one, they could anger fans of one ending. The endings were controversial back in 2012, but in 2021 the fan base is incredibly passionate about their ending choice.
To give some context, I jokingly refer to myself as a “Control Ending Snob” as I’ve always argued how it is the best choice. I wrote an entire article about how Shepard being open to the possibility of the Control Ending earlier in the game, could have limited much of the conflict in ME3. That all being said, I’m confident that Bioware will pick the Destroy ending. It is the one that ME3 implies you are “working towards” the whole time. It is the one that feels the least “else world”. Synthesis seems very "else world" and utopian. You spend 3 games trying to stop the Reapers…and in Destroy, you just succeed at that. I like Control and always pick it…but Destroy seems like Bioware’s canon. Besides, with the trailer we have, we have seen dead reapers and no one is “glowing green”. It seems all but confirmed that Destroy will be the only timeline pursued in their story. However, I have an idea for mine... Here is a plot synopsis below for my story idea.
ME4 Fan Plot Synopsis:
(I want to thank GiFriends artist, @Nico_artoooo for helping bring a scene from my concept to life to help illustrate a moment in my fan plot.)
The setting is 600 years in the future, post Mass Effect 3 Destroy Ending timeline. It takes place in the Milky Way Galaxy, but shortly after the events of Mass Effect Andromeda happen.
We find out in codex that in the years since, the Alliance and the Council space have merged into the unified Council Alliance space, with Humanity, Asari, Turians, Salarians, Hanar, Elcor, Volus, and Elcor are member worlds. The Quarians (if they survived) are either on their homeworld flourishing, or their homeworld is a wasteland filled with crashed ships and dead Geth. The Geth have been extinct for 600 years thanks to what became known as the Sythentic Purge. (Red Destroy Blast) The purge killed AI’s and crippled a lot of techology. It took years to rebuild the Relays and reconnect the galaxy, but it is stronger and more united than ever.
Liara is still alive and she is the player character in the beginning of the game. She is a council alliance spectre/commander given command of the SR3 Normandy. A larger, modern version of the famed ship that saved the galaxy 600 years ago. The Normandy is now very much a multi-species ship as all council races serve on board.
Early in the game, the Normandy receives a distress call from an outer world, and learns of a new galactic threat. Not knowing much about them, they are simply "the Antagonist". They are an ancient race of mysterious beings. They are hundreds of thousands of years old. They aren’t AI or Organic, but something more. We don’t know much about them, other than evidence shows they came from outside the galaxy. Liara, being an archeologist at heart is fascinated by them. Throughout the early course of the game she learns they are planning an invasion now that the Reapers are gone. The Antagonist, never ventured into the Milkyway because the Reapers rivaled their power and acted as a deterrent. They feared the now extinct Leviathans, and they feared the Reapers. The Antagonist oppress a few dozen galaxies, but quarantined the Milkyway as “infected”, the Reapers kept them away.
In a conversation with a crew member, Liara makes a comment that it is ironic that the entire galaxy came together to rid themselves of the Reaper threat, only to learn that the Reapers keep the Antagonist away. While the Reapers preserved the harvest cycles, the Antagonist wants to completely suppress and control organic races. She also makes a passing comment that she wishes Shepard was still there; she misses Shepard, that He/She would know what to do. If your EMS is high enough in ME3, where Shepard takes his/her “breath” she can have an additional line where she expresses gratitude that Shepard died in old age and was able to have a full life. If Shepard romanced Liara in the games, she can make a additional comment saying she loved Shepard.
On a mandatory mission, Liara is sent to a system, she is reacquainted with the Andromeda Initiative. Part of the private organization stayed behind to work on a “super relay device” They spent the last 600 years constructing a massive object in space that will allow for instant travel between Andromeda and the Milky-way This was meant to be completed by the time the Arcs made it to Andromeda. Liara and the Normandy travel to the Nexus and gain several story missions that recruit the Ryder twins as Squadmates. In lore, they learn that the Antagonist simply had not conquered the Andromeda galaxy yet, as it was farthest away from their space.
(Back to Milkyway)
War is coming, and communication seems impossible with the Antagonist. Liara learns (from plot) of a device on a planet. It is an ancient device created by an ancient race, even more ancient than the Protheans. It was a device an ancient race was building to survive the reapers but could be used against the Antagonist. This planet is controlled by the New Krogen Empire. To reach it one much get passage from New Turchanka. In the time since ME3, the Krogen have amassed a space fairing fleet and have colonized dozens of worlds, including a new homeworld. If players cured the Genophage, then their space is larger, and worlds are far more populated, but the Krogen are peaceful with the Alliance. If players did not cure the genophage then they are more hostile and aggressive to the Council Alliance but have a smaller reach and fewer population. Also, upon approach to New Turchanka is the seat of the Krogan Empire, where players meet either Emperor Wrex or Emperor Wreav. Emperor Wrex is one of the oldest Krogen to ever live at 1600 years old, and is pleasant toward Liara. Emperor Wreav however is either only slightly positive or near hostile towards Liara depending on whether or not the Genophage was cured. Grunt may also be present as Lieutenant to Wrex/Wreave if he survived ME2 and ME3. Wrex, Grunt, or Wreave, give Liara the key to the next location depending on various ME3 choices.
Here, Liara may gain Grunt as a Squadmate if he’s alive. Wrex cites his old age and poltical position as reason to stay behind.
Liara and the Normandy travel to the planet, and find this ancient artifact. Upon reaching the ancient device, they are greeted by a VI. Being a VI, and not an AI, it survived the Purge. The VI tells them that the device is an inter-dimensional portal. It was created 100,000 years ago by the Insuannon, the predecessors to the Protheans. Their plan was to have their few remaining population escape the Reapers by traveling to a different timeline, into the multiverse, escape to a reality where they simply didn’t exist.
They partially succeeded but failed to escape before indoctrination took hold and they all died. The device is unfinished and can only send a message, not traverse.
Liara asks the VI if the device could be used to stop the Antagonist. The VI says, “Scanning the multiverse. Yes. There is an alternate universe coexisting near yours. A being known as …Shepard could save you from the Antagonist.”
Liara gasps in confusion, “It’s been 600 years. How could [he/she] still be alive?”
The Ai asks Liara if she would like to send a distress call. She speaks into the message, “Shepard. If you can hear me, this is Liara. I am from a adjacent universe than you. We need your help. We are under attack from a powerful alien threat. We won’t survive without your help. Please lock on to these spatial and temporal coordinates. There is a beacon on [Planet X]”
There is no response, but the VI says that the device will keep transmitting until there is an answer.
Liara transplants the device to the Normandy and they go about with the game until a distress call comes from the Citadel. The Normandy rushes to the Citadel, where we see a small fleet of Council Alliance ships standing in defense of the station. A massive fleet of Antagonist ships is approaching the Citadel.
The Antagonist fleet is massive, drawfs the size of the Council Alliance fleet both in numbers and ship size. There ships seem, hazy, transcendent, like on a higher plan of existence. They don’t stand a chance. Liara prepares the bridge crew for the imminent assault. Just as the massive Antagonist fleet approaches the small Council Alliance fleet, suddenly we see a glimpse of the ancient device on the Normandy start to flash and pulse. Several portals start appearing behind the Council Alliance fleet. Out pouring from the portal… is mix of Reaper and Geth ships!
The massive Reaper and Geth fleet appears out of nowhere behind the CA fleet. However, these ships, don’t look exactly like the ones we saw in ME3. They permeate with blue light.
Then, in grand reveal, We see a glimpse of Shepard standing on the bridge… of a Reaper. This Shepard…is different. [His/her] eyes, glow blue, and their cybernetic skin looks more machine than before, but it is still Shepard. EDI and Legion (mysteriously still allive) are are standing on either side of him. Now an immortal being in control of the Reaper fleet, who has taken a physical form as a downloaded AI, has heard the distress call and traversed the timeline to save the Destroy timeline.
All ships open fire.
Cut to black.
Next, We get to see the galaxy from the perspective of Shepard, the immensely powerful being with a fleet of Reapers, allied with the Geth and EDI. We get to see a vastly different timeline. History has progressed very differently on this side.
Shepard stands on the bridge of his Reaper ship, receiving a distress call from a ghost…from his long lost and dead love interest, Liara Tsoni.
Player gains control of Shepard. This is the Reaper Control AI Shepard's story...
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