Mass Effect 4: Sequel?

Spoonius

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I have a theory about Mass Effect 4 that I think might be plausible. First of all though, I'd like to start by declaring that this is NOT simply another ME3-fueled rant.

We all know how ME3 ended. We all know about the community backlash. We all know about Bioware's cryptic announcements and 'false advertising [http://www.bbb.org/blog/2012/04/mass-effect-3-is-having-a-mass-effect-on-its-consumers-for-better-or-worse/]'. That's not the point of this thread.

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I will take a moment however to mention the Indoctrination Theory. I was a big advocate when I first heard about it, and I still am.

I'd always felt uneasy about ME3's end sequence; it was all too surreal, not quite right. IT explained almost everything coherently, and in my opinion transcended ME3's finale from a crushing disappointment into a potential masterpiece; a pinnacle of meta-gaming and an unprecedented achievement.

If true anyway.

In short: Indoctrination Theory suggests that Shepard was undergoing repeated indoctrination attempts throughout the duration of ME3, and that everything following the ill-fated charge to the Citadel grav-lift at ME3's conclusion was actually a hallucinogenic indoctrination attempt by Harbinger.
It's theorised that the events of that sequence (the Anderson/TIM confronation, Starchild, the 'colour-coded' ending sequences, etc) never actually happened in reality, but were figments of Shepard's mind as he lay unconscious in London.

Here are the most comprehensive video explanations of IT I've seen yet (also linked by Spanishax). They're lengthy, but enthralling:

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Ultimately Indoctrination Theory was neither confirmed or denied by Bioware, who instead opted to leave the ending "thought provoking" and "open to non-literal interpretation". Even if true, the theory itself remains just that: a theory. It's still plausible and MUCH more profound than the ending we got otherwise, but to be concrete it needed to be followed by an actual end-game. A chance for Shepard to do what he/she does best, and take on the Reapers one last time. As such, most of the fanbase believe that IT has basically been ruled out at this point.

But...

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What if Bioware do actually have additional plans to expand Mass Effect 3's ending though? Not via DLC or an online press release, but with Mass Effect 4? Or another game entirely?
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I recently watched this Rocket Chainsaw video [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BnNK3Q-nLs] regarding an alleged PAX ME4 marketing conference during which several sample questions were posed to long-time fans. I believe that it may actually be credible, and if so then several points stand out:

- An emphasis on N7 (identity, concept, iconic equipment, etc). This would only be a valid marketing concern if either the new protagonist is yet another N7-level human special forces operative... or Shepard will be making a return in some form.

- An emphasis on discovery and acclimatisation to new surroundings. This could mean anything; exploring new worlds and civilisations... or simply adapting to a post-Reaper wasteland in search of food, materials or shelter ("Fallout 4: Milky Way" style).

- Gauging fan interest in a sequel. I wouldn't be surprised if there are legit business reasons for a direct sequel to ME3 (even if that sequel doesn't turn out to be the ME4 game currently under development):

  • - Bioware may want to finish their story, but they need to restore their public image.
    Indoctrination Theory is a trump card, even if it wasn't their initial intention (although it's well known that they did play around with the idea of physical indoctrination, and some elements of the theory are just too damn coincidental to ignore).
    It's way too late for ME3, but providing a satisfactory conclusion to the story elsewhere may mitigate the damage to their once-impeccable reputation (and thus future sales).

    - EA is always seeking additional income, often by drawing out existing projects and selling them piecemeal. If the accounts of ME3 being rushed are true, then Bioware may have originally wanted to provide a proper ending after release, but been unable to due to time constraints.
    EA, being EA, may have had the bright idea of turning the epilogue into a fully-fledged (and fully-priced) sequel instead and limiting Bioware to just the Extended Cut for ME3. Or EA may just want to use the guarantee of a proper resolution to draw sceptical fans back into the series. Either way, they'll want to retain consumers just as much as Bioware do, and a full sequel that gives the fanbase everything they asked for and more would be a win for every party involved (although that wouldn't take back the broken promises).

- The omission (or 'downgrading') or several familiar species. The video narrator thought this might be related to protagonist options, but I think it's something else.

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Bioware have been very secretive about ME4's setting and story, only really hinting that Shepard would no longer be the game's protagonist and that a sequel to ME3 is unlikely.

That said... If you were working on a sequel to a game that you implied there wouldn't be a sequel to, in order to sell content that was promised to buyers of said previous game, then you'd want to give the fanbase as much time as possible to cool off before asking them to pay for something they should already be entitled to. Although that's probably just wishful thinking on my part. :p

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Anyway, my theory about ME4. I'm going to assume that IT is true, or at least coincidental enough to be viable. That's just my personal belief, and this is just my personal prediction (which I'm doing for fun after all):

- Post-ME3 ("one more story" please, Mr. Aldrin...).

- Survivors of all species are now stranded in (or entering into) the midst of a "galactic dark age" (Mac Walters' words) following the extensive destruction wrought upon their civilisations by the Reapers. If this is actually the case then I'm betting a post-apocalyptic Earth will be front and centre.

- The Crucible has been activated (for real this time). The Reaper threat has been mitigated... but not eliminated entirely. Due to Earth's proximal position to the Crucible, it may become a galactic 'base of operations' (especially if the Reapers there have been bit hardest by the Crucible).

- A protracted war for survival is still raging across the Milky Way, as unified guerillas across the galaxy put up the greatest resistance the remaining Reapers have ever faced.

- Lacking their previous numbers and/or capabilities following activation of the Crucible, the Reapers may have adopted a different modus operandi:

  • - Maybe they're attempting to sabotage the Mass Relays one-by-one and section off the different species for easier eradication.

    - Maybe they've built up a veritable army of indoctrinated sleeper agents and are fighting an offensive guerilla war of their own, using them to assassinate galactic leaders and sabotage resistance defences. Finding new methods to detect indoctrination would become extremely important for the survivors (like dogs in the Terminator franchise, or the classic blood tests in The Thing).

    - Maybe Bioware could even re-introduce dark energy as a narrative element, as a vital resource for the Reapers to feed upon for example. We already know that both Object Rho and at least one Mass Relay (both Reaper-built) have used dark energy for that purpose.
    Hell, Maybe the key to killing a Reaper or disabling its weapons is simply wrapping it in a mass effect field and starving it to death! Combined biotics ftw. :O

- Some species have been hit far harder than others (for example, the exposed Quarian Flotilla in space). This is likely related to the 'species omission' hinted at above by the Rocket Chainsaw video. Canonically devastating certain species and reducing their presence in-game would do two things:

  • - Add some real gravitas to the setting and alter the inter-faction dynamics somewhat, keeping things fresh. Allegedly Bioware will be incorporating two all-new races as well.

    - Reduce Bioware's workload (if certain factions can be omitted somewhat, then the two new factions can be introduced without the effort of doing so hindering development or increasing costs too much).

- This setting could occur weeks, months, years, decades, or even a century after the events of ME3 (remember, the Protheans took almost two centuries to eradicate).

- The player may be able to select their protagonist from a number of different species (I seriously doubt the protagonist would be anything to do with "N7"). Although this might force them to go the Dragon Age route (a silent protagonist), which would suck.

- Shepard's story (as well as those of his associates) WILL be extrapolated in one of two ways:

  • - Proactively, with the player taking control of Shepard as a protagonist once more. Even if only for a brief period (eg., Altair in AC: Revelations).

    - Retroactively, via exposition alone. Shepard has become a legend of almost Christian proportions; an invincible warlord, fallen hero, inspiring diplomat... tragic villain... whatever. His exploits (and possibly downfall) are history, and the repercussions of his actions referenced throughout the game.
    This would be the more efficient (albeit slightly underwhelming) way to end Shepard's narrative; every single choice and player variable could be accounted for in depth without the need for anything but text and casual NPC dialogue. The results would be extremely comprehensive without becoming an impossible workload.

- A number of variables in the game will likely be affected by your ME3 saves. This is supported by comments from Mike Gamble. Maybe certain gameplay elements could be linked to ME3; for example, the results of your Quarian, Geth and Krogan story arcs could determine their availability as protagonists and/or alies.

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Concept art for the game is starting to emerge [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/129436-BioWare-Photos-Offer-First-Glimpse-at-Next-Mass-Effect], so I guess we'll find out soon enough anyway. Sorry for the lengthy post; I had fun writing it and got carried away. :)
 

tippy2k2

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There is one GIANT issue standing in the way to a direct sequel here...

For everyone complaining that all three endings were "the same", they would all have VERY different results if you continued the story (not to mention all the side stuff that could be different).

You talk about Quarians as an example for a species hit hard by the destruction of the Citadels. Well...they were hit very hard in my game for they blew up. I cured the Genophage, which is going to have a very different impact than someone who decided not to do it. These are just two examples from my own play through.

For the main course, you have HUGE differences between the three cupcake endings. Either:

A. The Reapers were destroyed and are no longer a threat. However, you just killed millions of sentient robot life as well

B. The Reapers are in your control and they're still doing whatever it is that mind-controlled Reapers do.

C. Everyone has turned into androids after fusing all life and robots into one super race

Hell, you'd need an entirely different game based on whatever choice you made. One year or one hundred thousand years later, the story would have to change based on which major end choice you made.

So in conclusion, they're likely going to continue stories in the Mass Effect universe. However, I would be incredibly shocked if they ever made a direct sequel.
 

Zhukov

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Spoonius said:
I will take a moment however to mention the Indoctrination Theory. I was a big advocate when I first heard about it, and I still am.
Oh for...

The Indoctrination Theory was total bollocks. Always was.

It was a frantic excuse born of desperation.

"No, the ending couldn't really have been that shit! No! I won't believe it! It must have been a masterpiece of meta gaming! Yes, yes, that's it! A masterpiece!"

The only reason it had any evidence at all was because there was originally going to be a sequence in which Shepard did get indoctrinated. However, they couldn't make the gameplay work as they wanted, so the scrapped it. However, elements of the foreshadowing remained. Most of which were later cited by the IT proponents.

If nothing else, the Extended Cut rendered it utterly void.

...

I would go over why a direct sequel would be both very difficult and a very bad idea, but Tippy2k2 summed it up quite nicely.
 

sanquin

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tippy2k2 said:
So in conclusion, they're likely going to continue stories in the Mass Effect universe. However, I would be incredibly shocked if they ever made a direct sequel.
Or they could go with the easy and cheap choice reset. Let's say they set the story 200 years later. I'm going with the blue ending as the intended ending here.

A: The reapers were destroyed, civilization rebuilt, etc.

B: There was an uprising against the shepard controlled reapers, and they were eventually destroyed.

C: With new technology they eventually reverted themselves back to biological lifeforms.

The quarians could just not be included in the sequel at all, or if they are there and the player got them destroyed they could go for a twist! A secret colony was present all along and the quarians are still alive.

There are plenty of cheap and easy cop-outs they could do do make a sequel and still have it fit with the choices the player made in the trilogy. It would immediately tell me it will be a bad game if they went with that approach though.
 

Hoplon

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Yeah it's not a direct sequel and no IT id not credible.

Should have seen the terrible ending coming when at the end of ME2 your response to not wanting to give the Collector base to any one wasn't "It will just indoctrinate you all you silly sod, all reaper tech does that" since you know you had just seen what happens on even a dead reaper earlier in the same game.
 

RJ 17

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Edit So much for being brief, I suppose :p. And thanks to that, two of my biggest points had already been mentioned by Zhukov and Tippy. End Edit

Spoonius said:
I will take a moment however to mention the Indoctrination Theory. I was a big advocate when I first heard about it, and I still am.
I could likely make a post almost as long as yours on all the reasons the IT theory is false, but I feel like being brief. This is not to say I wouldn't have very much enjoyed the IT theory since it does tie in everything all the way back to the first game and it does indeed make a lot of sense. It falls apart in two ways, however. The first being the fact that if the IT is true, then the galaxy is doomed. Suppose the final events after Shepard gets blasted in the face by Harbinger are indeed just a metaphor for the struggle against Indoctrination that's going on inside Shepard's mind. What are the possible outcomes? If Shepard pics Blue or Green, he/she apparently gives into Indoctrination and becomes a Reaper agent. Reapers win, game over, the cycle continues. If he/she picks Red, then Shepard breaks free of Indoctrination. Woo-hoo! Go get'em, Shep! Wait...that's right, you're currently laying broken and bloodied on a battlefield being overrun by Reapers and are likely about to get torn to shreds. Reapers win, game over, the cycle continues.

No matter which ending you pick, the magic bullet is never fired. Throughout the entire series it's firmly established that the Reapers can NOT be defeated in a straight-up fight. It's going to take some kind of space magic. Enter the Crucible, and the biggest deus ex machina of the series that pissed everyone off. There is no "well that didn't work, but lets continue the fight!" Yeah, the Protheans fought on for 2 centuries...but it was a war they were doomed to lose. Just as the current war in ME3 is a war that's doomed to be lost. There'd be no point in having a story take place later in the war since everyone knows the Reapers are going to win anyways.

Whether or not you agree with that, though, there is the little fact that the EC completely destroys the IT by basically saying "No, it is the literal interpretation. If you choose red, the Reapers are utterly destroyed, but the galaxy can rebuild. If you choose blue, then the benevolent will of ParaShep takes over the Reapers and they then become a galactic peace force that help expedite the reconstruction of the relays. If you choose green, then...whatever the hell Green was supposed to do actually happens and "everyone becomes the same", reaching the pinnacle of evolution, and synthetics and organics are able to live in perfect harmony with one another and the now pacified Reapers."

So yeah, as interesting and coincidental as the IT is, it's just another case of people giving credit to the writers where it's not truly due. Believe me, I've been a defender of Mass Effect since the whole controversy over the ending exploded, but even I admit that the writers just aren't nearly that good. They didn't come up with the IT theory, the fans did, and they did it to help cover-up/rationalize the tremendous failing of the writers over the original botched ending.

Anyway, my theory about ME4. I'm going to assume that IT is true, or at least coincidental enough to be viable. That's just my personal belief, and this is just my personal prediction (which I'm doing for fun after all):
Sadly, since the IT theory can't possible be true, much of your theory for the next ME game falls apart as well. Please understand that I'm not trying to be a buzz-kill or come down on you or anything, I'm just engaging in a discussion you started with you're very well-written post.

  • - Post-ME3 ("one more story" please, Mr. Aldrin...).
  • The way I always looked at this was "Buy our DLC for more stories with Shepard!

    - Survivors of all species are now stranded in (or entering into) the midst of a "galactic dark age" (Mac Walters' words) following the extensive destruction wrought upon their civilisations by the Reapers. If this is actually the case then I'm betting a post-apocalyptic Earth will be front and centre.
    This bit I'm confused over...are you saying that the game will take place after the Reaper War or with the war still going on? If it's after and going with the assumption that the Battle for Earth was somehow won during ME3 (despite the fact that if the IT is true - which you're basing this theory on the assumption of - then the Battle for Earth is doomed to failure) then I could see this happening. If it's during the war, as some of your later points seem to suggest, I'm pretty sure that at that point Earth would be long, LONG gone with the Reapers having made it their central area of operations.

    - A protracted war for survival is still raging across the Milky Way, as unified guerillas across the galaxy put up the greatest resistance the Reapers have ever faced. Earth may well be a galactic 'base of operations'.
    Tying in with what I just mentioned: unless the Crucible is fired off and wins the war (which never happens in the IT), then the Reapers win the Battle for Earth, and as such I doubt anyone would be living there, let alone be using it as the galactic base of operations.

    - Some species have been hit far harder than others (for example, the exposed Quarian Flotilla in space). This is likely related to the 'species omission' hinted at above by the Rocket Chainsaw video. Canonically devastating certain species and reducing their presence in-game would do two things:

    • - Add some real consequential gravitas to the setting and alter the inter-faction dynamics somewhat, keeping things fresh. Allegedly Bioware will be incorporating two all-new races as well.

      - Reduce Bioware's workload (if certain factions can be omitted somewhat, then the two new factions can be introduced without the effort of doing so hindering development or increasing costs too much).
    Can't really argue with this. :p

    - This setting could occur weeks, months, years, decades, or even a century after the events of ME3 (remember, the Protheans took almost two centuries to eradicate).
    Indeed it did take them a while to wipe out the Protheans...but they still wiped them out. If the fleet sent to Earth at the end of ME3 gets smashed and fails in it's task, I'm pretty sure that the rest of the galaxy will not have anywhere near the strength to actually win a war of attrition with the Reapers. That was the galaxy's last and greatest shot. If it fails, the galaxy is doomed and the cycle continues.

    - The player will likely be able to select their protagonist from a number of different species (I seriously doubt the protagonist would be anything to do with "N7").
    Personally I'd really like to see pickable races in the next ME game, but I'll get to that when I offer up my own theory on the next ME game. :3

    - Shepard's story (as well as those of his associates) WILL be extrapolated in one of two ways:

    • - Proactively, with the player taking control of Shepard as a protagonist once more. Even if only for a brief period (eg., Altair in AC: Revelations).
    • Personally I believe Bioware when they say that Shepard's story and role is done, and that the next ME game will have little if anything at all to do with the first game. My reasoning for this is because I believe the best thing they could do would be to try and distance themselves from the controversy over ME3 and just have a completely fresh start with new characters and a new story.

      - Retroactively, via exposition alone. Shepard has become a legend of almost Christian proportions; an invincible warlord, fallen hero, inspiring diplomat... tragic villain... whatever. His exploits (and possibly downfall) are history, and the repercussions of his actions referenced throughout the game.
      This would be the more efficient (albeit slightly underwhelming) way to end Shepard's narrative; every single choice and player variable could be accounted for in depth without the need for anything but text and casual dialogue from NPCs. The results would be extremely comprehensive without becoming an impossible workload.
    This is another thing I'll touch on when I discuss my own theory for the next ME game.

    - A number of variables in the game will likely be affected by your ME3 saves. This is supported by comments from Mike Gamble. Maybe certain gameplay elements could be linked to ME3; for example, the results of your Quarian, Geth and Krogan story arcs could determine their availability as protagonists and/or alies.
Kinda ties in with the above comment and the comment about picking what race you want to play as, so I'll get to that in a moment.

Concept art for the game is starting to emerge [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/129436-BioWare-Photos-Offer-First-Glimpse-at-Next-Mass-Effect], so I guess we'll find out soon enough anyway.
Don't see much concept art there, what I do see is a bunch of pictures of people working on the next ME game. :p

I really like how much thought you put into this, but like I said: sadly a lot of it's based on the IT theory which had been debunked before the EC came out...and the EC itself officially shoots down pretty much everything about the IT theory.

That in mind, here's my thoughts on the next ME game.

The game almost has to be a sequel series, as having a prequel would likely require that humanity be left out of the equation all together since they had only been around the galactic community for...what, 26 years or something before the events of the first game? Admiral Anderson actually fought in the First Contact War, so humanity is extremely fresh to the galactic community. That said, I'd love to see a game taking place during the Krogan Rebellions or perhaps the Rachnii Wars.

But due to something that I like to call "Human Bias in Videogames" (that is the need to have humans be in games) I highly doubt that we'll be seeing a game take place during those two wars. As such, in order for humanity to still be involved, the game would likely have to be a sequel series.

If it is a sequel series, though, then they can't just completely wipe the slate clean and pretend that the events of the original series. This complicates things because, despite everyone's moaning about "ALL THE ENDINGS FEEL THE SAME!!!" they actually don't. In reality the consequences of the three possible endings leave the galaxy in a VERY different state of affairs. If you pick Red, Reapers no longer exist, Geth no longer exist, and it's going to take a very long time in order to rebuild the relay system since nobody fully understands how they work. The Protheans figured it out, so it can be done...it's just going to take a lot longer. If you pick Blue, then the Reapers still exist and are under the control of Shepard's will. They rebuild the relays themselves, thus making the process of reconstructing the galaxy take a lot less time. And if you choose green, then everyone is living in a peaceful, glorious golden age of harmony and enlightenment. And this isn't even taking into consideration all the choices and plot-points throughout the rest of the original series (killing the Rachnii vs sparing them on Noveria, siding with either the Quarians or the Geth rather than making peace between them, etc). There's a LOT of different variables that would have ramifications stretching on for centuries. Can the Krogan truly be trusted if you cured them? What if you shot Wrex on Virmire and didn't keep Maelon's cure, ensuring that some pissed off Krogan is now in charge? As such, even making a sequel series is going to be tricky because, as I mentioned, the galaxy can be a VERY different place depending on how you played through the original series.

Now they could just do it like Knights of the Old Republic II and have a question and answer period where your main character is just talking about the past with someone and you set up the canon for the story that way, or they could allow you to carry over your save file from ME3. Still, it'd likely prove quite the challenge to be able to work a single story that's able to bend and twist and contort itself in order to accommodate every possible outcome from every decision in the original series. Just look at how pissed off people got about the Rachnii in ME3. "Wait...WE KILLED YOU BACK ON NOVERIA!" "Uhhh, the Reapers cloned me!" I'd imagine there'd be a lot of ret-conning needed to establish the setting of the story for a sequel series.

In the end: I really don't have any idea what they're going to be doing with the next game. :p

Seriously, there's almost no time to squeeze in another story that doesn't have anything to do with Shepard if you're going for a prequel and still want humanity to be involved, and going with a sequel series is going to be such a tangled up mess that you just know is going to piss off a lot of people because of how it handles all the stuff that happened in ME3 (and no, I don't think just completely ignoring everything about the original series is an option...the galaxy is still permanently changed in three completely different ways due to ME3's ending).

Soooo yeah, I guess what I'm saying is that we just really don't know enough about what's going on to make any solid predictions. But even still, I can't help but disagree with what you're thinking due to it being based off the IT, which has been officially buried as non-canon thanks to what we see in the EC.
 

Spoonius

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Just to clarify, I don't think anyone here actually understands that if Indoctrination Theory is true, then NONE OF THOSE ENDINGS WERE REAL. They were all a part of the illusion, residual dreams that take place within Shepard's exhausted mind following the actual indoctrination attempt. Of course he thinks he's made the right choice; he dreams about the rebuilding of civilisation, the survival of his crewmembers, their ultimate victory. He dreams that he's victorious, and that the war is finally over. But they're just that: dreams.

Shepard never ascended into the Crucible. He never conversed with the real Anderson or the real Illusive Man. He never really spoke to Starchild. HE'S STILL ON EARTH, covered in rubble and barely alive, everything he's experiencing an enforced hallucination intended to trick or undermine him. He's fighting desperately against Harbinger's indoctrination attempt as the battle for Earth rages on around his unconscious body.
Did you ever wonder why Shepard 'wakes up' if you choose the destroy ending and possess a high enough EMS? It's the ONLY POSSIBLE WAY to do so, that's an objective observation. And when he does awake, he awakes back on Earth. Right where he was before the alleged indoctrination attempt started. Right where he'd been the entire time.

In my mind, arguing that the endings (including the EC endings) debunk IT belies a fundamental misunderstanding of what IT actually is.
 

Spoonius

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Zhukov said:
The Indoctrination Theory was total bollocks. Always was.

It was a frantic excuse born of desperation.
That's your opinion, and I disagree. Indoctrination Theory is actually an intelligent (and comprehensive) hypothesis that ties together many loose ends.

Watch the video I linked and decide for yourself. Or at least provide conflicting evidence. :)

Zhukov said:
The only reason it had any evidence at all was because there was originally going to be a sequence in which Shepard did get indoctrinated. However, they couldn't make the gameplay work as they wanted, so the scrapped it.
No, they scrapped the idea of physical control over the protagonist. They felt that physically restricting the player's movements wasn't working out.

Zhukov said:
However, elements of the foreshadowing remained. Most of which were later cited by the IT proponents.
If anything, that strengthens the argument for IT. With such a mechanic already firmly established, why remove it entirely?
 

Spoonius

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Hoplon said:
Yeah it's not a direct sequel and no IT id not credible.

Should have seen the terrible ending coming when at the end of ME2 your response to not wanting to give the Collector base to any one wasn't "It will just indoctrinate you all you silly sod, all reaper tech does that" since you know you had just seen what happens on even a dead reaper earlier in the same game.
Wait, how does that make IT incredible?
 

Hoplon

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Mar 31, 2010
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Spoonius said:
Wait, how does that make IT incredible?
It doesn't but then I never claimed it made incredible or as you where probably going for, lack credibility. (Weird use of incredible.)

IT is just something I don't think is credible, I'm not going to get in to an extended argument as to why since it isn't even based the official ending anymore.

The bad ending being telegraphed and me not seeing it was just something i was lamenting.
 

RJ 17

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Nov 27, 2011
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Spoonius said:
Just to clarify, I don't think anyone here actually understands that if Indoctrination Theory is true, then NONE OF THOSE ENDINGS WERE REAL. They were all a part of the illusion, residual dreams that take place within Shepard's exhausted mind following the actual indoctrination attempt. Of course he thinks he's made the right choice; he dreams about the rebuilding of civilisation, the survival of his crewmembers, their ultimate victory. He dreams that he's victorious, and that the war is finally over. But they're just that: dreams.

Shepard never ascended into the Crucible. He never conversed with the real Anderson or the real Illusive Man. He never really spoke to Starchild. HE'S STILL ON EARTH, covered in rubble and barely alive, everything he's experiencing an enforced hallucination intended to trick or undermine him. He's fighting desperately against Harbinger's indoctrination attempt as the battle for Earth rages on around his unconscious body.
Did you ever wonder why Shepard 'wakes up' if you choose the destroy ending and possess a high enough EMS? It's the ONLY POSSIBLE WAY to do so, that's an objective observation. And when he does awake, he awakes back on Earth. Right where he was before the alleged indoctrination attempt started. Right where he'd been the entire time.

In my mind, arguing that the endings (including the EC endings) debunk IT belies a fundamental misunderstanding of what IT actually is.
Two funny things.

1: I noticed that you neglected to respond to my little essay yet responded to Zhukov and Hoplon's. I say this is funny because I actually go more indepth on why the IT fails than they did, though their reasoning is basically just a condensed version of mine.

2: The above-quoted post actually shows why the IT doesn't work.

So again, lets assume the IT is true.
Shepard never ascended into the Crucible. He never conversed with the real Anderson or the real Illusive Man. He never really spoke to Starchild. HE'S STILL ON EARTH, covered in rubble and barely alive, everything he's experiencing an enforced hallucination intended to trick or undermine him. He's fighting desperately against Harbinger's indoctrination attempt as the battle for Earth rages on around his unconscious body.
Indeed, that would be the case if the IT was true. Sooooo what next? Shepard's out of the fight, no one gets to the Crucible, no one fires off it's space magic. The fleet above earth is utterly smashed by the Reapers (just as every character in the game said it would be, that its only true purpose was buying time to activate the Crucible).
That's the entire Turian fleet up against what, 4 or 5 Reapers? And yet their entire military force is completely unable to liberate Palavin. Then there's the fact that it took three human fleets and the massive Citadel Defense Fleet to take down a single Reaper and it's pretty much established that no, you're not going to win a shoot-out against the full might of the Reaper fleet.
This means that pretty much every organized military force in the galaxy has been wiped out in one fell swoop. The Reapers then go on to complete the cycle and get ready for the next one. Just as the Protheans proved: you're not going to win a war of attrition against the Reapers. Guerrilla-style combat isn't going to work against them when they just zerg-rush entire planets or, barring that, just bombard the planet from orbit.

So yeah, if the IT is true, then Shepard can break free of indoctrination and wake up on the battlefield! Woo-hoo! Oh wait, he/she is in critical condition, barely hanging onto life after taking Harbingers Lazer-o-Doom straight to the face, and is laying broken and bloodied on a battlefield being completely swarmed by Reapers forces. The ground forces are wiped out. The fleet is wiped out. Quite simply: if the IT is true, every possible ending means that the Reapers win, complete the harvest of this cycle, and move on to the next one.

That, my friend, is why the IT is a load of bollocks, as Zhukov put it. It boils down to the fact that the IT doesn't extrapolate itself to what it would mean for the future of the ME universe. All the IT does is try and fill in all the blanks and plot holes left by the original writing.
 

BloatedGuppy

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Can't recall exactly, but I seem to remember Bioware stating pretty firmly that ME4 would be completely divorced from the "Shepard canon". Picking up the Reaper storyline at any point would seem to fly directly in the face of that.

I'd like to see a smaller, more "human", less epic storyline this time. And less military, too. Maybe a Firefly style space-rogues set up.
 

RJ 17

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BloatedGuppy said:
Can't recall exactly, but I seem to remember Bioware stating pretty firmly that ME4 would be completely divorced from the "Shepard canon". Picking up the Reaper storyline at any point would seem to fly directly in the face of that.
You seem to be ignoring the fact that Spoonius refuses to believe anything that Bioware has to say about anything. He clearly doesn't see how the EC pretty much proves that the IT is a load of hogwash, why should he believe them when they've specifically come out and said that the new game won't have anything to do with the Shepard or the Reapers?

And yes, I do hate myself for the fact that I didn't start a ME topic yet I still ended up writing a massive post for one. >.>
 

Spoonius

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RJ 17 said:
I could likely make a post almost as long as yours on all the reasons the IT theory is false, but I feel like being brief.
If you have a link to something I could read through, that would be great.

Not being passive-aggressive btw. I'd genuinely like to see the best evidence against IT, and I'm open to being wrong... it's just that so far I haven't heard anything truly convincing.

RJ 17 said:
This is not to say I wouldn't have very much enjoyed the IT theory since it does tie in everything all the way back to the first game and it does indeed make a lot of sense. It falls apart in two ways, however. The first being the fact that if the IT is true, then the galaxy is doomed. Suppose the final events after Shepard gets blasted in the face by Harbinger are indeed just a metaphor for the struggle against Indoctrination that's going on inside Shepard's mind. What are the possible outcomes? If Shepard pics Blue or Green, he/she apparently gives into Indoctrination and becomes a Reaper agent. Reapers win, game over, the cycle continues. If he/she picks Red, then Shepard breaks free of Indoctrination. Woo-hoo! Go get'em, Shep! Wait...that's right, you're currently laying broken and bloodied on a battlefield being overrun by Reapers and are likely about to get torn to shreds. Reapers win, game over, the cycle continues.
Indoctrination doesn't equal incapacitation. And even indoctrinated characters are capable of breaking free of their mental restraints (Saren and Matriarch Benezia for example).

But selecting the wrong option could still have drastic consequences for Shepard, his crew-members, his allies or even the entire galaxy without actually breaking the game. For example:

  • - He may be unable to select certain conversation options or actions.

    - He may be forced, against his will, to kill a dear friend or vital ally.

    - He may find it necessary to voluntarily kill himself at the very end of the game, as a preventative measure. Just like Saren did.

    - It may automatically lower his EMS (assuming it carries over).

    - He may spend the rest of the game staving off Harbinger's influence, resulting in spontaneous quick-time events during combat or other physical handicaps.

RJ 17 said:
No matter which ending you pick, the magic bullet is never fired. Throughout the entire series it's firmly established that the Reapers can NOT be defeated in a straight-up fight.
The way I see it, that's what Shepard's been disproving the entire series. They've killed Reapers before. It can be done, they've done it. On the Citadel, on Tuchanka, on Rannoch... :)

The Reapers have never faced a galaxy so united before, which is incidentally why they may find it necessary to indoctrinate Shepard in the first place. They're actually losing Reapers. They're being killed off, and they need a Plan B. If not to complete our cycle, then to retain enough strength for the next one. Sustainability has never been an issue for them, but this time it's different.

Shepard is the key to galactic unity, a key inter-species mediator and an incredibly potent symbol of hope that the entire galactic resistance has mustered behind. Subvert him, and everything could be undermined from within.

RJ 17 said:
Sadly, since the IT theory can't possible be true, much of your theory for the next ME game falls apart as well. Please understand that I'm not trying to be a buzz-kill or come down on you or anything, I'm just engaging in a discussion you started with you're very well-written post.
Thanks, but I don't think you're a buzz-kill. What's debate without dispute after all?

I still maintain that IT is plausible. I know it may sound like the ramblings of a butthurt fanboy, but I find the entire concept fascinating. And like I said, I've actually seen surprisingly little evidence to refute it. Although maybe I just haven't looked hard enough. :/

RJ 17 said:
- Survivors of all species are now stranded in (or entering into) the midst of a "galactic dark age" (Mac Walters' words) following the extensive destruction wrought upon their civilisations by the Reapers. If this is actually the case then I'm betting a post-apocalyptic Earth will be front and centre.
This bit I'm confused over...are you saying that the game will take place after the Reaper War or with the war still going on? If it's after and going with the assumption that the Battle for Earth was somehow won during ME3 (despite the fact that if the IT is true - which you're basing this theory on the assumption of - then the Battle for Earth is doomed to failure) then I could see this happening. If it's during the war, as some of your later points seem to suggest, I'm pretty sure that at that point Earth would be long, LONG gone with the Reapers having made it their central area of operations.
But what if the battle for Earth was won? What if Shepard and the others actually manage to secure Earth?

Remember that with IT in effect, the Crucible was never actually activated. On Earth, nobody actually has any idea what this giant construct they've docked with the Citadel has the capability to do, and they're relying on Shepard to activate it and find out. If IT is true, then the Crucible's true purpose is still a mystery.

Something that occurred to me: what better way to subvert a deus ex machina like the Crucible (which was never even foreshadowed before ME3) that by showing it finally in action, unleashed upon the Reapers... and doing something totally unrelated to its true purpose?

PS: I was referring to a time after the events of ME3, but still during the Reaper invasion (which has potentially become a protracted war of attrition rivalling the campaign against the Protheans fifty millenia ago). It could be set after the Reapers are defeated, but to remove the Reapers would be foolish IMO. Not only would they be irreplaceable as overarching antagonists, but players would be deprived of the opportunity to beat them once and for all.

RJ 17 said:
I'd love to see a game taking place during the Krogan Rebellions or perhaps the Rachnii Wars.
As would I. :p

But people already know how it happens, and know everything there is to know about the Genophage. There'd be no real element of suspense, not on a macroscopic scale anyway. Oh well...

RJ 17 said:
And this isn't even taking into consideration all the choices and plot-points throughout the rest of the original series (killing the Rachnii vs sparing them on Noveria, siding with either the Quarians or the Geth rather than making peace between them, etc). There's a LOT of different variables that would have ramifications stretching on for centuries. Can the Krogan truly be trusted if you cured them? What if you shot Wrex on Virmire and didn't keep Maelon's cure, ensuring that some pissed off Krogan is now in charge? As such, even making a sequel series is going to be tricky because, as I mentioned, the galaxy can be a VERY different place depending on how you played through the original series.
But that's the thing, most of these variables can be accounted for quite easily without them affecting core game mechanics (especially with a new cast of characters on board).

Like I said before, siding with the Geth could prevent Quarians from being a playable race for example. Anything less important could be detailed within the codex, or referenced by NPCs throughout the story. No need for every single variable to have its own game-changing consequences, but just having them accounted for would be nice. Bioware would be able to give each player a comprehensive overview of where the galaxy stands following their actions throughout the original trilogy, whilst also being able to start anew with fresh characters and locales that are independent of many previous variables.
 

Vale

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The epic stuff in Mass Effect was always boring as hell.
I loved the first game because of all the cool side-stuff and investigation and exploration and Urdnot goddam Wrex.
Even the Mako parts were miles better (imo) than whatever they did with the other two games.
The universe is cool. The main plot ain't and Shepard ain't either. Just gimme some sassy foul-mouthed merc with a "get paid or die trying" attitude.
 

Spoonius

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RJ 17 said:
I noticed that you neglected to respond to my little essay yet responded to Zhukov and Hoplon's. I say this is funny because I actually go more indepth on why the IT fails than they did, though their reasoning is basically just a condensed version of mine.
I'm just a slow writer who gets distracted easily...

RJ 17 said:
So yeah, if the IT is true, then Shepard can break free of indoctrination and wake up on the battlefield! Woo-hoo! Oh wait, he/she is in critical condition, barely hanging onto life after taking Harbingers Lazer-o-Doom straight to the face, and is laying broken and bloodied on a battlefield being completely swarmed by Reapers forces. The ground forces are wiped out. The fleet is wiped out.

...

It boils down to the fact that the IT doesn't extrapolate itself to what it would mean for the future of the ME universe.
We don't know any of that.

Why do people assume though that IT automatically rules out an epilogue? Shepard isn't necessarily in a critical condition (in fact, his immense willpower suggests otherwise). He isn't necessarily alone. And, most importantly... he's only ~30 metres away from the real Citadel grav-lift!
 

Spoonius

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BloatedGuppy said:
Can't recall exactly, but I seem to remember Bioware stating pretty firmly that ME4 would be completely divorced from the "Shepard canon". Picking up the Reaper storyline at any point would seem to fly directly in the face of that.

I'd like to see a smaller, more "human", less epic storyline this time. And less military, too. Maybe a Firefly style space-rogues set up.
I'm sure that no matter what direction they take the series, they'll still try to shoehorn in a few fan favourites. But you're probably right.

I miss Firefly.

RJ 17 said:
Spoonius refuses to believe anything that Bioware has to say about anything.
C'mon, that's a bit of a stretch...

RJ 17 said:
He clearly doesn't see how the EC pretty much proves that the IT is a load of hogwash, why should he believe them when they've specifically come out and said that the new game won't have anything to do with the Shepard or the Reapers?
1. EC doesn't do that, and Bioware have specifically said they want to leave the end open to interpretation rather than confirming or denying IT.

2. The quote you're referring to (I think):

  • Mac Walters said:
    Well, I can't get into details, but the idea is that we have agreed to tell a story that doesn't relate necessarily to any of the Shepard events at all, whatsoever. Beyond that, that's what we've been deciding for awhile. But throughout it all, one of the key things is that it has to be Mass Effect. It can't just feel like a spin-off. It has to feel like a Mass Effect game at its heart, at its core. Just without the Shepard character or the Shepard specific companions.
I don't think Shepard and Co will be the primary characters. But I do think they'll probably be incorporated somehow, if only as fanservice. And I think other familiar themes and faces will likely make a return as well.