Mass Effect 4 Merch Has Fans Talking About Commander Shepard’s Return

MrHulthen (YouTube)

Since-deleted text for an N7 Day poster sold on BioWare’s store suggested that the hard-to-achieve, 3.4-second long cinematic was canon. (N7 Day is BioWare’s annual fan celebration of the Mass Effect series.) As pointed out in a recent video by MrHulthen, a YouTuber who specializes in covering Mass Effect, the flavor text initially read: “While Shepard and the survivors are left to pick up the pieces, fans are left wondering what’s next.”


That text was revised—see if you can spot the difference—to “The threat of the Reapers might have been ended, but at great cost including Earth itself. While the survivors are left to pick up the pieces, fans are left wondering what’s next.” And currently, the poster’s product page doesn’t contain any reference to plot details regarding Mass Effect.

Representatives for EA, which publishes Mass Effect, did not respond to a request for comment. Mike Gamble, Mass Effect’s project director, said on Twitter that the original text mentioning Shepard’s survival was put out in error. But if it’s even the barest indication of what the next Mass Effect is about, the potential ramifications are flummoxing, to say the least.


I mean, if Commander Shepard truly makes a comeback, does that mean time travel is in play? After all, if this new game is meant to connect to Andromeda, which takes place six centuries after the events of the main trilogy, the narrative would need to do something to bridge the gap in time. Or, oh, maybe there’s a multiverse thing going on, though I certainly hope not; we’re already at peak cultural multiverse fatigue, and I can’t imagine such sentiment subsiding by the time the next Mass Effect comes out. (The next game does not have a name or a release date.)

Given that we know next to nothing about the plot of the next game at this point, I suppose it’s impossible to rule out the laziest of all worlds: that Shepard actually survived getting disintegrated in an incandescent flash of heavenly blue light, or disintegrated in an incandescent flash of heavenly red light, or disintegrated in an incandescent flash of heavenly green light, or, uh, trampled by an ageless species of intergalactic machines who are strong enough to level cities.


Read More: Everyone Makes The Same Choices In Mass Effect, Apparently

But all speculation is, ultimately, beside the point. The return of Commander Shepard would likely come as a disappointment to fans—it would essentially do away with the entire thrust of the original trilogy, whose appeal was predicated on making tough choices at key narrative moments, of living with the consequences, and seeing the ramifications all the way through to the finale. That finale was pretty damn definitive. Fans have had a decade to let it gestate. There’s no reason to rewrite that history.


Plus, c’mon, if there’s any supposedly dead character who should make a comeback, it’s not the good commander (who, again, has seriously earned some peace and quiet 10 times over). It’s Thane.


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